The end of the year means it’s time to hand out some awards. No, there’re no little statues to pass along, but over the next few days we’ll still highlight some of the best in affordable men’s style from this past year. And it was a good one. Feel free to send in additional nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is, somehow, a wheelhouse garment that other brands seem to screw up royally. And we somehow went a few years without something like this being on the market, for under a hundred bucks. But J. Crew Factory came to the rescue this year. Crisp chino fabric, just a bit of stretch, a tail that isn’t chopped, and sleeve cuff buttons that are non-functioning (so tailoring the sleeves won’t cost more than the jacket itself).
One heck of a smart-casual sportcoat. And can consistently be had for well under $100.
Like many other J. Crew Factory items, this one takes its main inspiration from an item that big brother J. Crew makes. And while the fabric isn’t quite as light and crisp as the main line’s Italian cotton blazer, it’s plenty fine for the price. It’s a midweight 98% cotton, 2% elastane chino, that moves well and doesn’t wrinkle or rumple by just looking at it sideways. And it’s totally unlined except for the sleeves. That’ll offer nice ventilation in the warmer months, and plenty of air if you run warm in over-cooked offices or apartment buildings during the winter.
Goes great with jeans, chinos, cords, etc. Sportcoat curious? It’d be tough to pick a better beginner option.
Would some have preferred a wool blazer or sportcoat? Like the Half-Canvas wool blazer that Lands’ End debuted this year to much fanfare? Sure. But the versatility, super affordable price, and easy-to-acquire nature of this thing filled a hole that had been existing for far too long in the affordable men’s style market. Here’s hoping they keep making it for years to come.
Also Receiving Votes: Lands’ End’s Half-Canvas Wool Blazer. Spier & Mackay’s (often low/out of stock) navy wool hopsack blazer. The spendy, but incredibly nice, unconstructed Italian wool blazers from Bonobos. Brooks Brothers on sale Regent Fit, wool or wool blend Sportcoats. J. Crew’s Legacy Wool Blazers. Suitsupply’s Havana Fit Sportcoats in whatever fabric that fits your needs. The now sold-out Bensol wool sportcoats at Norstrom.