I remember going into Maxwell James with my sister. I was a gangly, barely teenage girl, following my older, cooler sister around, hanging onto her every word of what was “it”. I’d never been in a store like MJ. I was still eyeball deep in Limited Too butterfly tank tops. MJ was bare, almost barren, and chill. It was effortless and something unfamiliar and still had me craving to be there even before I could truly appreciate its simplicity. During that first visit, I quickly figured out who Tammy was. She was, is and always will be, The Cool Girl. Beautiful, warm, beyond hip, and the definition of effortless style.
Tammy is my local, relatable style icon. She has built her Best Basic Life. Not only is MJ an extension of her personal style, but also of her heart. She invests in what’s important- good denim, good basic tees and tanks, people, their experiences, and how she leaves them feeling. She keeps it simple. We relate to her because in so many ways, we are her or strive to be her. Because her style is obtainable, yet completely fabulous. And in doing so, her life’s work reflects that sometimes, “Basic” is Best.
Though upon its opening in November 2005, Maxwell James was intended to be a primarily premium denim store for teens, it has evolved to be inclusive in style, merchandise, customer base, and price point. It has also become a haven. What started out as a “basics” boutique, grew to be so much more. Everyone is comfortable there, everything is easy, and it always feels calm, safe, and like it’ll all be alright. That’s a tall order to expect from a clothing boutique, but it is the foundation upon which MJ was built. Maxwell James still has the same M.O. - invest in your basics and staples, let your trend dreams run wild with affordable, fun pieces, and always enjoy yourself through the no-pressure, engaging, easy-breezy, yet soulful connection that Tammy continues to cultivate as the years pass and MJ continues to evolve into an even more beautiful space (is that possible!?).
So how do we build our own Best Basic Life within our own closet and home? Think about what type of outfits you find yourself wearing most. That will tell you what’s overall most important to you to own. Then break it down to the the one or two most substantial pieces in that type of outfit. For me, I’m a jeans and bodysuit girl. And my shoes always matter. Different versions of that might look like high-waisted, wide-leg denim with a crop top and square-toed mules, or denim cut-offs with a knotted tee and funky sneaks. No matter which way I slice and dice my combinations, my bottom half is my investment piece, my foundation, my reliables. And my top half leaves room for more play in trends. It’s met personal formula. Jewelry, hair and makeup, and handbags are an easy way to create your vibe around your foundation and extend your own personal formula. Externalize your Inner Cool Girl. Multi gold hoops varying in texture and size, a ruched leather clutch in a happy hue, air dried waves and a quick bronze. Whatever your choice, know that it makes you YOU and that is the coolest thing of all.
I have so many memories of my sister and I in the dressing room together, me giggling with delight while she picked up all her beautiful finds from the racks and began to do a fashion show that I was beyond envious of. She was the pinnacle of what I wanted to be- a successful, independent, Cool Girl. Buying what she wanted because she could and because her life was full of adventure and spontaneity, which OF COURSE, required new threads for every dive, dip, and fabulous twirl her life took. When I later became part of the Maxwell James family, nothing made me happier than to see my own mother and grandmother finding that same delight within the racks of our haven. It was the Basic Approach that captured and included us all, and it is the desirable and obtainable Best Basic Life that has continued to keep up in love and coming back for more!
- xoxo Betsy