How does J.Crew Factory clothing hold up over time? Is it worth your money? In this J.Crew Factory review, we aim to answer just that.
If you’re a regular reader, watcher, or consumer of men’s style content, you pretty much know the drill. The author or creator opens a box and talks about the product.
If the piece has a paid sponsor, it’s a generally a glowing review. If doesn’t have one, there’s more freedom. These reviews are, more often than not, based on very short time with the product.
J.Crew Factory was kind enough to send over some of their fall/winter collection in work-to-weekend styles. As it isn’t sponsored and we’re not getting paid (although we do use affiliate links), they don’t have control over the publish date or what we say.
Instead of doing an unboxing and giving initial impressions, I wanted to take a different approach. For the last four months, I’ve been wearing, washing, and living in J.Crew Factory clothing.
In this article, I’m going to tell you what worked, what didn’t. And, we’ll figure out just what’s worth it.
About J.Crew Factory
J.Crew Factory, as you might surmise, is the outlet affiliate of big-brother J.Crew. The styles are remarkably similar – classic, all-American pieces with a slightly preppy vibe. We’ve worn our fair share of it over the years!
There’s a couple of differences, though. Cuts seem to run a little fuller, much the way Old Navy does under the Gap umbrella. They don’t have the big-name, design collaborations regular J.Crew does.
The biggest distinction, though, is the price. Sales are almost constant; it’s not uncommon to see a weekend markdown of 40-50% retail. During the holidays, it’s even more.
It’s no secret outlets are gaining traction in the marketplace. Actually, Jon from The Kavalier did a great video on this a couple years back.
So, what did I pick up from J.Crew Factory?
- Tweed suit jacket in Forest Green, 38 Short
- Matching Tweed suit trouser, 30×30 Slim
- Burgundy v-neck sweater, Small
- Red Check Flannel, Small
- Heather Oatmeal Athletic fleece sweatshirt, Small
- Flex light wash jean, 29×30 Classic
- Flex Corduroy pant, 29X30 Classic
I chose each of these pieces because but because each works interchangeably with any other. Red and Green are complementary colors on the color wheel, and look particularly good in the more muted shades of burgundy and forest green. Take a look below to see what I mean.
Sadly, most of these items have sold out, but because they’re perennial favorites, they’ll likely be in recurring stock.
More importantly, though, we’re judging fit and longevity as much as the styling.
J.Crew Factory: What I Like
Pretty much anything in the casual spectrum is going to be a winner as long as you can get your fit right.
I have the good fortune of living 10 minutes from a brick and mortar J.Crew Factory, so it was easy to pop in and try stuff on.
These have been made to a price, and you can tell. The denim is pretty thin in comparison to a more premium product in, say, the $75 price point.
And the wale in corduroy is definitely thinner and not as soft as some of big-brother J.Crew I have from a few seasons back. Fabric in the “flex” fit is 98% cotton and 2% elastane.
After trying on both slim and straight fits, I found the best way to accommodate for my larger thighs and narrow waist was to take a size smaller than I normally do, but in their straight fit.
A 30X30 in the slim denim was just too constricting for what I prefer. A 29×30 in the straight works beautifully, but if you’ve got slimmer thighs, taking your normal size in a slim should do just fine.
That’s actually surprising to me since, as I mentioned above, J.Crew Factory has historically run quite full in their cuts.
These do score major points, though, on comfort and-surprisingly-longevity. The denim was comfortable from the first wear and required no break-in, likely because of that built-in elastane. Same goes for the cords.
Many of the lower-priced options I’ve tried from mall brands (like Express, for instance) seem to lose their stretch after five or six wears. They start to oddly ‘sag’ in the all the wrong places, making for an oddly-fitting garment.
Not the case here. Both have punched way above their weight in longevity. After four months of pretty consistent wear, with washing and drying on medium heat (just to see what would happen), they’ve retained their stretch.
They shrink upward little and the waist stretches a bit, but nothing out-of-the-ordinary. Way to go, J.Crew Factory!
Sweatshirts and Flannel Shirts
The “Authentic Fleece” is best-in-show of this whole roundup. It’s a poly/cotton blend, so it doesn’t breathe as well as a 100% cotton one would.
But, this thing is so darn comfortable I don’t even care. My wife will attest I’ve worn it nearly every weekend for the last four months.
I took a size Small, and when I first tried it on, I thought it was huge. But, after a few minutes of wear, it started to mold to me and ended up being a-okay. A few washes and running it through the dryer on medium heat helped shrink it just a touch.
This is arguably the perfect casual sweatshirt. The oatmeal color works beautifully with brown, olive, green, and other neutral colors. The fabric is thinner than many athletic sweatshirts, but still very warm.
This makes it great to layer in the fall and spring months, or with lighter denim and white
The flannel shirt is also pretty good. I dig the colorway. The fit is very good – not fitted but not boxy. And, it’s held up very well to washing five or six times over the last few months.
Is it a Pendleton that will last 20 years? Of course not. And, you can tell some corners have been cut with the buttons. But, it will fit you very well, look nice, and wash well.
J.Crew Factory: What I Don’t Like
Now that we’ve talked about where J.Crew Factory gets it right, let’s look at where there’s room for improvement…
With options like Indochino coming in at just around $400, all in, it’s kind of difficult to make the case for off-the-rack suiting as a shorter man.
Even if you get a suit on sale for $250, you’re still going to have to shell out for nipping the waist and shortening the sleeves.
And if you’re under about 5’5″, you’re going to have to get the jacket shortened as well. That’s expensive and usually doesn’t look very good.
But I wanted to give JCF suiting a try. I ended up with this one in their Thompson fit. The fabric is 50% wool/25% poly/25% vicose on the shell and 100% poly on the lining.
The fabric is a pretty deep green, with flecks of yellow and black. It would indeed work quite well for fall and winter seasons. And, at around $250 all in, it might be a pretty good deal.
The trousers are quite comfortable. They’re a touch long, as you’ll see in the photos, but as this is an off-the-rack suit it isn’t a problem.
However, a couple of factors on the jacket make it tough to recommend.
The shoulder is the most important part of any suit jacket, blazer, or sport coat. It should sit cleanly with very little wrinkling, puckering, or ‘divots’.
That usually occurs when the jacket is (a) too big for the wearer, (b) the armhole shape is misaligned with the wearer’s build, or (c) the sleeves are too tight, thus pushing the fabric all the way up and creating a that unsightly ‘divot.’
Here, all three of these problems come into play!
The shoulder pad is quite substantial and really doesn’t follow the natural shape of one’s shoulder. Instead, it kind of juts out in a straight, horizontal line.
It’s unfortunate, actually, as other JCF jackets I’ve had did not come with such pronounced structure. Now, I’ve got a pretty small head and rounded shoulders, so the thick padding makes it look even smaller.
If I’m honest, it’s hard to fix this, especially since the lower armholes contribute to the divot issue when I move.
Additionally, the slimmer suit sleeves and low armholes make for a very awkward fit and actually exacerbate the problem.
This length works well for me, but I think it’s going to be quite long on anyone shorter than about 5’6″.
And, if you’ve read Brock’s guide on why he prefers custom, you know proper length is a game-changer.
J.Crew Factory Sweaters
I picked up a v-neck sweater in a burgundy wine color in their “perfect merino blend.” A v-neck is easier to layer over an Oxford shirt or with a dress shirt and tie.
I usually prefer finer knitwear to fit more closely so it’s easy to layer under a suit jacket. However, this is a little TOO fitted.
The arms are quite tight, the body is quite short, and the v-neck is surprisingly deep. All of these lead to a very awkward fit.
I could, I suppose, size up to a medium. However, I think the v-neck would be a little too chesty for my taste.
The fabric does feel nice to the hand, but seems to wear out unusually fast. Even after two wears the elbows had begun to fade and pill.
The denim, corduroy, and athletic sweatshirt all get regular wear and are absolutely worth it. I’ll occasionally wear the flannel shirt, but do find myself gravitating towards the better-styled (and better fitting) Land’s End Flagship Flannel, which retail for about the same price.
I would suggest passing on the suit, though. The fit is just too far “off” in the shoulder for me to recommend it. I think you’re better off getting one on sale from big-brother J.Crew on sale or considering a custom option. And, I think you can find better merino wool sweaters elsewhere for about the same price.
All in all, though, J.Crew Factory offers well-styled pieces at affordable price points. Aside from this haul, I actually own two pairs of their shorts, a comfortable blue OCBD, and a thick wool shawl cardigan that’s wonderfully made.
I think it remains a great option for men starting on their style journey. You will, though, have some hits and misses.
Thoughts about J.Crew Factory? Leave a comment below!
Mark A Hudson says
Pretty spot on and aligned with my experience. Most pieces fit fine, but the sweaters, I find have variable cuts, fits and quality. I have the same view on the v-necks, and the crews, etc. seem oddly cut, and have folds or blousing in odd places.