The Alex Mill team believes in not overthinking things. Don't stress about what to eat for dinner, don't agonize over how to number your to-do list and definitely don't worry about what to wear.
Founder Alex Drexler, son of former J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler, first broke down the basics for men in 2012 and made a button-down shirt with such perfect proportions that women soon snapped them up. With the help of Somsack Sikhounmuong, former J.Crew chief design officer, this spring Drexler launched Alex Mill for women, now at Nordstrom. It's a collection of tees, button-downs, pants and jackets that is perfect for effortless dressing.
What does effortless dressing mean to you?
Drexler: If you put too much thought into anything, whether it's choosing a restaurant or where to go out, sometimes you start to have blurred vision. Effortless dressing is thinking about it but not overthinking it.
Sikhounmuong: You kind of go with your gut. But even when you're being effortless, you're not being sloppy. You could definitely swing too far in the other direction. It's a fine line. Effortless but never sloppy.
Who are your style icons that dress this way?
Drexler: Bruce Springsteen—he knows how to wear a white tee better than anyone. Andy Warhol.
Sikhounmuong: He definitely had a uniform. Picasso is one that you see in the same things. Even Jane Birkin—there are lots of photos of her in jeans, a T-shirt and a straw bag, and she looks so good. So many of the stylish people we know never look like they tried too hard. There is a certain ease.
What are your personal favorite pieces?
Sikhounmuong: A pair of vintage jeans that I love that I found out in LA two or three years ago. And a grey sweatshirt that's sort of beaten up and the fabric is nice and light.
Drexler: A white T-shirt and a white button-down, which I feel are iconic pieces. They can never go wrong. They work with everything.
What piece would you suggest starting with when building a capsule wardrobe?
Sikhounmuong: We do this slub cotton that was actually a huge part of our men's business. When we launched women's, we did this exercise where we looked at a lot of the men's pieces that women had been buying and did a women's version. The slub yarns are kind of uneven, so when it's woven it gives you the nice structure of a T-shirt, but it doesn't give you the weight. It's light and comfortable, but it's not sloppy. The other T-shirt is this modal-cotton blend. It's a little dressier, more fitted. You could wear it to work or out.
How would you dress that tee up?
Sikhounmuong: We did a look with the modal tee in navy with a navy skirt. So head to toe, one color. You could wear it with a dressy flat or a little heel or a nice sandal to go out at night. Accessorize it with a bag and jewelry. It's always easy and elegant to do just one color.
Tell us about the little rosettes you've added to some of your shirts.
Sikhounmuong: We had been talking a lot about personalizing your pieces. What would make someone smile? Be a bit of wink? These rosettes were inspired by men's cufflinks. We thought maybe we could do a women's one.
Drexler: They can work in a lot of places, say on the lapel of a blazer or a buttonhole.
Sikhounmuong: They're sort of like a corsage.
How does one cultivate an easygoing personal style?
Drexler: When you're looking in a closet there's a lot to choose from. So you want the right pieces because each one takes up space. Our idea is to make sure you have the right ones. We've tried to create pieces that are versatile.
Sikhounmuong: I probably have three pairs of jeans I love, one T-shirt, three sweatshirts. I always find myself gravitating toward these same pieces because I know I look and feel good in them and I don't have to dilly-dally when choosing what to wear. There's peace of mind in that.