The Washable, Stretchable Suit: Bluffworks' Gramercy Blazer and Pants In Review
Disclaimer: Bluffworks sent us a suit for free for the purposes of this review.
As is well known, these days the latest trend in menswear is “activewear” or “tech-wear.” This basically means that more and more companies are making garments that have stretch, are water or wrinkle resistant, are more breathable, and so on. The results have been pretty great, with everything from dress shirts to dress pants getting the “stretch” treatment, all resulting in far more comfortable clothing. Our thoughts? In so far as the “tech” component of these garments goes (mostly) unnoticed, and, say, a “stretch” shirt looks like any other shirt, then why on Earth would we not be including these elements in our clothing? If we can make shirts that are more comfortable (and this new breed of shirts are significantly more comfortable), then why not? And same goes for dress pants, and, now, blazers and suits as well.
And that is where Bluffworks comes in. Bluffworks is a company that has become quite renown for their Gramercy Travel Suit. It is a “tech” suit designed and made in the same fashion as the new kinds of clothes described above. It is made with travel in mind. It claims to be breathable, stretch, resist wrinkles, be machine washable(!), and includes a whole bunch more pockets than a typical suit does (many with zippers!). At $435 for the whole ensemble, though, this suit is anything but cheap. For this review, we are taking a look at the Slim Fit Gramercy Blazer and Tailored Fit Gramercy Pants in “Blue Hour,” and we’ll find out just how good, comfortable, durable, and wearable this “suit from the future” really is.
Quality & Construction
As far as a suit is concerned, the quality of this one is quite an interesting thing to evaluate. The fabric is all 100% polyester — both the jacket and the pants. Of course, usually polyester in a suit fabric is a big no-no, and a sure sign of terrible quality. When it comes to “tech-wear” like this Bluffworks suit, though, things are a little different. A suit that is designed to be water resistant, breathable, stretch and move with your body, and resist wrinkling is not expect to be made out of 100% wool — nor should it be. The quality of this suit, then, needs to be judged in an entirely different arena than a typical wool suit.
Jacket: This jacket is quite nice. The fabric is soft and, far from feeling cheap, actually feels really great. I was almost positive that there were other fabrics like cotton, elastane, or even linen woven in this fabric, but it’s actually all polyester. In many ways, you would have no idea this was a “tech” fabric if you were not told ahead of time (more on this in a bit). Point is, this does not feel like a polyester suit. The way they manage to make the final fabric here is something proprietary, and feels and moves very nicely. The sleeves of the jacket are unlined and the rest of the lining is perforated. It makes for a jacket that truly feels unlike any other I have worn. It’s lightweight and has the perfect amount of stretch. It moves with your body, and feels silky smooth.
I also like the fact that the chest pocket zips closed — it makes storing things like a wallet there seem more secure. This is also a bit hard to explain, but I find that this jacket is less revealing when you do store something in the chest pocket. While some jackets will show lines or pulling on the outside/front of the jacket, I stored my wallet in the chest pocket and it was totally invisible from the outside, and after a few moments I forgot I even had a wallet in my chest pocket. This is a pretty big deal for people that travel and need to keep things in these pockets. Plus, there is also a “hidden” zipper pocket in the back of the jacket. I have yet to have a use for this, but, again, for those that travel a lot, this is the perfect pocket for a passport, or some extra cash.
Pants: The fabric on these pants is the same as the jacket. While I think it works perfectly as a jacket, I think it works a bit less as well in pants. They are still comfortable and all, it’s just that this fabric does not drape quite as nicely in a pant as it does in a jacket. It’s not bad, by any means, it’s just not as “fits like a glove” (yes, that is an adjective!) as the jacket is. There is the faintest stiffness to them that I think detracts ever so slightly from these pants. In short, they’re good, not great (like the jacket). Also, the side pockets zip closed, but the zippers oddly protrude from the side of the pant ruining the upper silhouette. I think this is a pretty big mistake. I am all for tech elements in clothing, as discussed, but when they start to detract from the overall garment, they should have been left out. In as much as the jacket absolutely nails the zipped pockets, the pants fall short.
Washing & Drying: Bluffworks claims you can literally just throw this full suit in the wash, and either hang to dry, or machine tumble dry on low. This, naturally, seemed quite crazy to me. But let me tell you, this claim absolutely holds up. I threw the full suit in the wash with a bunch of other clothing. When it came out, I hung it to dry (since I generally don’t machine dry most of my clothing — heat just, in general, destroys clothing) without leaving it sit crumpled up when the cycle was done (which they caution against), and within just an hour or two, the whole suit was dry and wrinkle-free. It is beyond magical. Plus, and I checked, nothing shrank at all. Throwing a suit in the wash at home, and hanging it to dry, and ending up with a fully cleaned, wrinkle-free suit really feels like living in the future. It’s pretty crazy.
Conclusion: While the suit is 100% polyester, that is by design. The proprieatry "high quality polyester" (if there is such a thing) gives you next-level comfort and movability while wearing these garments. Bending down to pick something up and having the whole suit stretch and move with you is unexpected and delightful. While the pants need a bit of work in one or two areas, these garments are well made and high quality. They are not trying to be some super 140s wool suit. What they are trying to be, though — namely, a tech fabric, travel-friendly, stretchable, wrinkle resistant, breathable suit — they absolutely nail.
Style & Design
There is no question that, by design, this suit is more casual than a typical wool suit. At the same time, though, it’s not that easy to tell that this suit is not wool. When it comes to tech-wear in otherwise dressier clothing, it’s always a concern that it looks like tech-wear. I can say that that is not a real problem here. I have worn the blazer to a formal event already, and it fit in and worked perfectly fine. Honestly, no one would know this is a tech-wear blazer. Still, at the same time, this is far from an interview suit. For one, it’s not a true, deep navy. Second, the fabric does have the slightest casual look to it, and so the overall appearance is one of a more casual suit. Quick meeting after a plane flight? This suit will work no problem. Headed to a formal event? This is not the suit for you. This is a third or fourth suit, not a first or second (unless you travel very frequently, then it might be a different story — though still not a first suit).
The pants, also, have no crease, which also makes them much more casual. I spoke with the company, and they caution against pressing a crease into them. They are just not meant to hold a crease, by design. Again, this makes the getup more casual (and is also another reason to love the jacket more than the pants).
One more negative: I don’t love how cropped/short the jacket is, but more on this in a minute. Otherwise, overall, this suit does a great job of balancing the tech fabric while still not looking to tech-wear. At the same time, the jacket does a better job at this than the pants do.
Blazer: I got the slim fit in the blazer, and let me tell you, this thing is slim. Like, significantly more slim than anything else I have tried off the rack. It needed no tailoring for me whatsoever, which is unheard of for a jacket for me. In fact, it’s actually a touch too tight in the waist. Overall, though, the shoulder and sleeves fit me perfectly, and I am super impressed that this slim fit is actually, truly slim. Kudos. On that note, the jacket is cut very short/cropped. I know and get that this jacket is designed to be more casual and modern, but, at the same time, that is also the weakness. The shorter length makes it more casual and less timeless. This jacket is a size 36 and has a length of 28.00”. My SuitSupply jacket in 36 is a full inch longer at 29.00”, and fits my taller frame much better. If you’re less tall than I am, though, but still slim, this jacket fits wonderfully. Even at my height, the cropped length isn’t ideal, but it’s workable, for sure (especially in more casual settings, which is when I am likely to wear it most anyway, and what it is designed first and foremost for). (On that note, they do offer a Long option as well, though you’d then have to worry about the sleeves and overall proportions, but it is an option.)
Pants: These pants were much less slim relative to the jacket. Also, the bulges by the pockets due to the zipper was a bit of a bummer too. I am going to take these to be tailored just a bit to fit me better (hem + a slight lower leg taper). Usually, most suits and dress pants require tailoring to fit you perfectly. I just got spoiled quickly by the jacket.
Price, Value & Conclusion
The jacket and pants are sold separately. The jacket will run you $295 and the pants will run you $140. That ain’t cheap by any means. For that price, you can get a gorgeous wool suit from SuitSupply. Still, this Bluffworks suit is something totally different and unique that fills a different need. The truth is that, if this review made the Bluffworks suit sound like something you would like, you should/would have both a SuitSupply suit and the Bluffworks suit. Still, I will say that the Bluffworks jacket is superior to the pants, and between the two, it is the one I prefer.
My recommendation, in the end, is as follows: These garments are made very well, fit very well, and wear and stretch and breath and wash unlike any other suit I have ever encountered. That doesn’t mean it is right for you, but if it is, I was very impressed with Bluffworks. Their pants might need a bit of work (and have lots of competition from other companies), but their blazer fits, moves, and breathes better than just about any other I have tried. It’s pretty unique, superbly well-done, and is an excellent addition to any guy’s closet. It’s pricey, yes, but it just might get you to wear a blazer more often!