J. Crew Ludlow Slim-fit knit blazer in Italian wool – $199.50 ($450)
Note: At post time this thing is 55% off, which is quite the steep discount since “normal” J. Crew codes and promos seem to fluctuate between 30% and 40% off. It’s part of an “up to 50% off dressy-ish” styles select item sale, which is odd because the thing is… 55% off. And that makes me question my understanding of the phrase “up to.” I know nothing. Anyway, that sale ends Thursday March 18th.
This is not a replacement to a timeless navy blazer. You’ll want to head to Spier and Mackay or Suitsupply or wait for a mega sale on the J. Crew Legacy (seen here) for one of those. What this IS, is an incredibly comfortable, super versatile, luxury “swazer” hybrid made from extraordinarily nice knit Italian wool.
And it can also fit and look a little wonky sometimes, because it’s a touch short in the tail and lays more like a sweater than a structured, smooth, tailored sportcoat.
Got all that?
Size shown: 40R Ludlow fit on 5’10” / 190
The fabric really is something. Most knit blazers are made from cotton or cotton/poly blends. Sometimes they’re even super casual, and cut from sweatshirt material. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. A sweatshirt-like knit blazer looks great with beat up jeans and a t-shirt. But this J. Crew Italian wool option isn’t that.
Not your average swazer fabric. This stuff is amazing.
Made from a fabric created by the Italian Mill Lanificio Subalpino, the knit is noticeable but not overly chunky, the 100% wool is smooth to the touch, and the thing feels like… a hug? A good hug. Not a creepy “Get this weirdo off me” hug. No, a good, welcome hug. It’s soft but not gooey. It feels great. Not gross.
It moves really well too. The sleeves are lined for easy on/off, and the back is just butterfly lined. The weight of the fabric is… medium? Again, it’s part sweater, part blazer. I don’t see it excelling in sweltering heat. For that you’d want an airy, crisp, unconstructed fabric like the Bonobos Italian wool hopsack. But for three-season use, this fabric will breathe, regulate your temperature, and be all sorts of comfortable.
Could maybe use a touch more length.
The tail could be a touch longer. But again, most knit blazers don’t carry with them the standard of an almost to fully butt covering tail like a suit jacket or sportcoat. They’re basically a sweater after all. Longer than a cardigan, but almost always shorter than something more traditional. Gives off a bit of a modern vibe. But that can look chopped on some frames. Combined with the slightly lower slung button stance of the Ludlow template, from some angles it feels like it’s missing a half inch or inch of fabric on the length. But, thems be the times, shorter jackets and all that. They do offer this jacket in more precise chest measurements, as well as short and long options. So those of various non-average heights won’t be out of luck. Drape is closer to sweater like too, because, well, it’s a knit. It won’t have quite the precise lines and smooth look of a suit jacket or blazer or sportcoat. There’s a bit of squish here. It’ll be more relaxed looking. Because it is.
Versatile and comfy.
So what do you wear it with? A lot. Since (again) it’s basically a super nice sweater, pairing it with dress slacks and a crisp dress shirt seems like a mismatch. Wear your true, smooth, sharp navy blazer for that look. But anything “below” that in terms of formality and it should do the trick. OCBD and chinos as shown throughout this post? 100%. Polo and tech 5-pockets? For sure. Even a t-shirt and jeans for a quick outdoor Tuesday Taco Night meetup would look awesome.
Just try to keep the Cholula off it. Since it’s wool, dry clean only. And since it’s spendy, a fumbled burrito could end in tears.