J.CREW: A Brief Overview

J.Crew Shirts - 2

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.

J.Crew ShirtsMore J. Crew shirts than I remembered having.

J.Crew Shirts

J.Crew Shirts - 3

J.Crew Pink Universoty Stripe OCBD

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).

J.Crew British Khaki Chinos British Khaki Essential Chino in Classic Fit

Navy ChinosNavy (currently unavailable) Essential Chino in Classic Fit

J.Crew Brown ChinosBrown (currently unavailable)  Essential Chino in Classic Fit

J. Crew Brown Corduroys Brown Corduroys in Classic Fit (These are great)

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.

J.Crew Lambswool SweatersMarled Flannel Grey Crew Neck| Navy Shawl Collar  | Flannel Grey Crew Neck | Navy Crew Neck

J.Crew Shawl CollarNavy Lambswool Shawl Collar Sweater (4 yrs old)

J.Crew Marled Flannel SweaterMarled Flannel Grey Lambswool Sweater (current season)

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.

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

4 Comments on "J.CREW: A Brief Overview"

  1. David says:

    Nice blog. I’ve been going through the old posts and enjoying them.

    I’ve been shopping at J. Crew for over 20 years. Back in college, I used to work at a store that was next door to a J. Crew and would pop in once a week. I have a shirt and a pair of shoes that were both purchased 10+ years ago that I still wear–in fact the shoes became my regular office shoes last year after their predecessors gave out. I owned a lot of pieces from them in the 90s, but those are the only ones that I still own.

    I have 4 shirts that I purchased within the past 6 years, which is what I would refer to as “current era J. Crew.” The cuts are slimmer, the collars are shorter, and the cuffs are shorter. I like them and they fit well, and wear at least 2 of them once a week.

    I avoid their sweaters after owning 2 of their cotton-cashmere v-necks from back in 2007. The v-neck was cut very deep, the fabric developed a musty smell after a few washings, and the sleeves stretched out even though I stored the sweaters folded.

    I agree that the styling in their catalogs can be cringe worthy at times, though more so with the women’s looks than the men’s. I find that when I visit a store lately, the staff is way over stylized to the point of caricature.

    Anyway, that’s enough of me ranting. Besides, I’ll still be shopping there as it’s ultimately decent quality at a decent price.

  2. oxford cloth button down says:

    David – Thanks, I am glad that you are enjoying the blog! I think that your rant ended just about like mine, decent quality at a decent price. Also, I completely agree with you about the over-stylized staff, but I have been noticing the same thing at Brooks Brothers!

  3. Thomas says:

    So 2 years later what do you think of J. Crew menswear?

    Also I would’ve liked to see some examples of styles you thought were cringe worthy.

    Thank you.

  4. oxford cloth button down says:

    Thomas – What a timely comment. I have started to think that it was time to revisit J.Crew. Hopefully, I will have a post up in the not too distant future. I can say that a few things have changed, but for better or worse?

I would like to hear from you