Remember the spooky “light as a feather, stiff as a board” game you may have played at a sleepover when you were a kid? Where a bunch of people gathered around a person lying on the floor, and by using “only” a couple of fingers (per person) to lift , that kid on the floor somehow, someway, came off the floor almost levitating, so very easily?***
Right. You might need to call in your old Junior Séance Medium Club chums when you attempt to get this jacket out of the box. Because light as a feather, it is not, while its stiffness is also genuinely surprising.
Up close with the “Fiore” basket-weave cotton fabric.
Okay, so it’s not as heavy as a human body, but it isn’t what many are going to expect either. When this “Fiore” cotton shawl collar dinner jacket first appeared on the J. Crew website, more than a few of us had to re-insert our eyeballs back into their sockets. It looked like a lighter weight, breezy, summer-version of the deep, dark, and plush velvet shawl collar dinner jacket J. Crew releases each fall. A perfect jacket for warm weather gatherings that would go great with linen chinos and suede single monks. Something that was effortlessly cool both in style and construction.
It still looks fantastic in person, but the weight of the thing has much more in common with the fall/winter appropriate velvet jacket, than say, J. Crew’s popular, lightweight, unconstructed Italian Cotton blazer.
Size shown: 40R on 5’10” / 185 lbs. Sleeves need to be shortened for sure.
The texture of the basket-weave cotton looks fantastic. It’s immediately noticeable to a viewer that it’s different from a plain’ ol chino. But with that weave comes a surprising amount of rigidity. The kind of stiffness you’d find in a pair of new shoes that need to be broken in. But does a jacket need to be “broken in?” It has a half canvas inside, so yes, you could say some break in time would benefit in terms of movement & drape, but none of J. Crew’s other half-canvas jackets (suiting, club blazers, etc…) feel like this when you first slip them on. Does it feel terrible? Like you’re clanking around in a friggin’ suit of armor? No. It does not. But it’s going to cause some returns.
The rest of its attributes are what you’d expect from a Ludlow. Decently trim, slim shoulder pads, non-functioning and easy to tailor sleeve buttons, and dual vents in the rear. Since it’s a dinner jacket, the front has only one single button, instead of the two buttons most of us are used to on sport coats and blazers. And that shawl lapel & slightly lowered button stance is perfect.
Non-functioning sleeve buttons = easy tailoring.
But despite being just half lined in the back, wearing this in warm weather might be a risk. The fiore cotton isn’t a loose, airy weave. Many a warm-weather sportcoat is so lightweight and airy that by holding it up to the the light, you could catch some sun-rays peaking through. And I gotta say, I was expecting that here too. But that is NOT the case with this one. Think kevlar instead of a tropical wool or cotton-linen blend.
Yet it’s still a perfect warm-weather shade of blue. The sleeves are easy to tailor. And that shawl collar… It’s going to be a tough call for some, and maybe the pliability of the fabric won’t bother most. Just be prepared for something much more substantial than J. Crew’s other warm weather sportcoats.
***Do the math. It’s not that hard to lift someone up if you’ve got five or six people helping out.