About the Author: Adam Terry is a 30-year-old Technical Trainer in the heating and manufacturing industry. He’s #menswear by day and #workwear by night. He enjoys raw selvedge denim, Scotch whisky, and working on maintaining his dad bod.
I’m a huge fan of unstructured sport coats and blazers, with no less than a baker’s dozen hanging around in my closet in various styles and fabrics. Their versatility, comfort, and ease of wear regularly take me from a semi-formal “business casual” office to weekend dinner dates with the wife and our friends. This wheelhouse style of jacket is one everyone should own – something that can be worn with everything from dress trousers to chinos and jeans. My favorite happens to be a classic 3-roll-2 blazer in a buttery soft navy Vitale Barberis Super 120’s wool by Southwick from Haymakers & Co. in Nashville, but I thought I’d take this new arrival from J.Crew for a test drive to see how it truly compares to something made-to-measure that’s three times its price.
Size shown is a 40R on 6’0″ / 180 lbs.
I’m normally a “slim but not skinny” 40R off the rack and wear a 40R in the previously mentioned Southwick jacket, Suit Supply’s Havana cut, and J.Crew’s Ludlow cut. This jacket is no exception – a 40R feels trim without making me feel like I just ate an entire cheese pizza.
The shoulders fit pretty well except for a little overlap; they’re simply not shaped as naturally “soft” as the more expertly crafted (and more expensive) options.
The collar and notched lapels have a lovely bit of pick stitching around the perimeter, but are otherwise rather flat. The narrow lapels measure in at 2.5″ and are representative of peak J.Crew of 2014. With general styles and proportions shifting wider and looser, I’d love to see 3.5″+ lapels on this jacket to give it some real character.
Pick stitching and the still standard 2.5″ lapel width Ludlows carry.
The sleeves taper nicely from the shoulder and feature four nonfunctional buttons in a warm shade of brown faux horn that helps keep you out of Judge Smails territory.
Up front you have a welted breast pocket with a row of pick stitching and two flap pockets. While I normally prefer patch pockets on sportier, less casual jackets, I think the flap pockets look “right” and add dress-up versatility on this piece. Around back, dual side vents keep everything modern and tidy.
Flap pockets, not patch, and more pick stitching.
The particular fabric J.Crew’s design team chose for this jacket is rather brilliant. Woven in Connecticut by American Woolen Company (in a former Loro Piana factory), this wool/cotton blend is woven like twill and feels substantial, yet soft and refined. There’s a whisper of texture without going overboard and a slight sheen that helps elevate it above the likes of Target’s Merona Cotton Blazer. Where J.Crew Factory’s Thompson Unconstructed Chino Blazer feels like wearing, chinos on your chest, the Unconstructed Ludlow Blazer feels like a proper “smart casual” jacket.
Color wise, the shade of navy blue used here is dictionary accurate and extremely versatile.
55% wool and 45% cotton. Substantial, yet soft and refined.
Very, very solid at this price point. For under $200, you’ll be hard pressed to find a blazer that’s made this well that’s more versatile. Sure, the J.Crew Factory Thompson Unstructured Chino Blazer is a little cheaper at $168 USD (“valued at” price, but usually around $100ish with sales), but the fit and construction of Factory garments is like buying store brand Oreos; sometimes there’s a noticeable difference. Are you getting a made-to-measure Blazer made from luxury wools and championing American manufacturing? Of course not.
Don’t expect it to go on sale soon, but that’s fine. Even at full price (yes really) it’s solid.
The J.Crew Unstructured Ludlow Blazer in American Wool/Cotton meets or exceeds all of Dappered’s Updated Navy Blazer requirements:
- Minimal shoulder padding? No padding!
- Quality, medium to lightweight wool? Quality wool blend!
- Slimmer Fit? Ludlow slim!
- Less Structure and Lining? No lining (other than the sleeves,) no structure!
- Patch Pockets and/or extra stitching? Weaseled this one in with pick stitching.
- Contrast buttons that aren’t gold or brass? Brown faux-horn!
If this doesn’t end up being Dappered’s Best Affordable Blazer/Sportcoat of 2018, I’ll be shocked. It’s that good.