J.Crew- some people love them and some people hate them; I am somewhere in the middle. I think that they do a lot of things really well. At the same time, I often cringe at the models’ outfits when I am looking through the men’s section of their catalog. However, almost everyone has something J.Crew in their closet, especially me.
Though J.Crew is not regarded as a producer of traditional menswear (see Muffy’s post Why J.Crew is not preppy) they do tend to lean in that direction. I think of their clothing as a mix between Polo Ralph Lauren without logos (I hate logos) and the Gap for adults. What I mean is that their clothes are primarily made for wearing outside of the office. I have noticed that they do a much better job with their women’s professional clothing. I think that they are now trying to improve in the men’s department.
J. Crew recently released a dress shirt that comes in different neck sizes and sleeve lengths. I often use this sizing feature to help me understand what demographic a company is targeting. If a company does not offer a shirt that comes in specific neck sizes and sleeve lengths, then they are not targeting professionals.This used to be one of J.Crew’s faults. They only offered shirts in small, medium, and large. In short, these are sports shirts. Even the shirts that they sold as “dress shirts” featured a collar that was far too small to accommodate a tie let alone attain a respectable collar roll. I don’t know if they have enlarged the collars on their new shirts, but I would not count on it. One last comment on their shirts. They run small. I am a true small (5’7″ 137 lbs) and I wear a medium in their shirts.
The pink university stripe is my favorite. I think it looks good popping out of a crew neck.
Before you start thinking that I hate J.Crew, let me tell you what I think that they do well. They regularly offer a few articles of essential clothing at affordable prices. This is truly what I look for in a company. The essential items that I am referring to are crew neck wool sweaters and chinos. You can also safely pick-up socks, sweatshirts, watch straps, belts, narrow ties and other accessories from them.
J.Crew has been my supplier of chinos for about 5 yrs now and I have been happy with their performance. The number one reason why I turn to them for chinos is that they offer a size 29 waist (I get the essential fit chinos in classic fit). A lot of companies such as L.L. Bean, Lands’ End, Brooks Brothers and countless others do not provide this size. The other reasons why I like their chinos are that they offer cuffs, length to the half inch, they have a regular/natural rise, and they do not have a no-iron finish. Also, British khaki is a nice color (please make olive).
Besides chinos I have quite a few of their lambswool sweaters. For the past 3 years I have picked up one crew neck sweater from them per year. They usually retail for $59.99, which is reasonable in my opinion, but you can generally pick one up for less at the outlet postseason. Another instance of their reliability is that they almost always offer navy, flannel grey and charcoal grey (What more do you need?). In my experience they fit true to size and hold up well for the price.
No company is perfect and J.Crew is no exception. They make chinos I like and suits that I think look like costumes. I have quite a few of their sweaters and shirts (I bought them for casual wear). As a matter of fact almost every pair of pants on this blog are J.Crew. Perhaps I like them more than I know, but if another company came in and started producing a chino in my size they might lose me. If you are on the slender side or just need a sweater to get you through J.Crew is there for you. However, if you are looking for a dress shirt, I don’t think that J.Crew can compete with Brooks Brothers, J.Press, or even Lands’ End.