Review: The New J Crew Neck-Size Dress Shirts
J Crew is, of course, a go-to store for many guys when it comes to both casual and dress shirts. For years, though, J Crew has only offered their dress shirts in S/M/L sizing. All “real” shirting companies offer their dress shirts in more exact neck and sleeve measurements, allowing for a more precise, exact, and better fit. When it comes to S/M/L sizing, one often ends up with a shirt that fits great in the neck, but is too long or short in the sleeves — and vice versa. Recently, though, J Crew has, to the delight and surprise of many, started offering a number of their dress shirts in rather extensive neck and sleeve sizing. But are these new shirts any good? And do they actually make finding a well-fitting dress shirt easier and better? We, of course, investigated.
Style, Design, Quality & Construction
Of course, the main point of interest in these shirt is the fit, so we will only spend a moment or two on style, design, quality, and construction, but a few words are still worth being shared on this.
I ordered the “Stretch Ludlow shirt in microcheck” in Lavender. I chose the slim fit, being a tall and thin guy, though more on this in a bit. The shirt is as well-made as any from J Crew. Their Ludlow line is definitely a small cut above some of their more casual stuff, and this shirt’s fabric is very nice. It’s super smooth, very comfortable, and has the perfect, slightest hint of stretch. I really love these new technical fabrics that companies have been using, especially when they do a great job incorporating it into a dressier garment without reducing the dressiness at all. That is exactly what J Crew has done here.
The pattern is a very nice, versatile, basic purple check. It would go great with just about any pants, tie, sweater, or jacket you can throw at it, and is a great addition to a wardrobe. I wish the collar was more substantial — which is often my complaint when it comes to J Crew. They make their collars so small they often can border on skimpy. At the very least, I wish they offered some more options with more larger, more substantial collars. Finally, there is no chest pocket, making the shirt dressier, and there is a single button cuff.
(I am 6’1” and 165 lbs., and usually wear a size S or 15” shirt in the slimmest fit available.)
I was very impressed that J Crew offers really exact sizing measurements. While most shirt companies sell their shirts with double sleeve length sizes, J Crew does not. What this means is that you do not have to decide between a 15/32-33 or a 15/33-34. J Crew offers a 15/32 a 15/33 or a 15/34, and so on. Serious props here. This is a great thing that more companies should learn from.
Now, according to the description on the site, J Crew states that these new neck and sleeve sizes compare to their older S/M/L sizes in the following way: S = 15/33, M = 15H/34, L = 16H/35. I have always worn a size S in J Crew’s Ludlow shirt line, and they have always fit me pretty well all-around (perhaps the collar is a smidge too tight; see below for more on the fit). That being the case, I ordered a size 15/33 in their new neck and sleeve sizing expecting it to fit pretty similarly. Additionally, I ordered a 15.5/33 to see if that might not give me an even better all-around fit with perhaps a bit more room in the neck.
So, how did J Crew do? How is the fit on these new shirts? In short, these new shirts are less slim and much longer than you would expect, and have a few fit inconsistency issues to top it all off. Read on for more details on my personal experience being a tall and slim guy…
The 15/33 is significantly less slim than the old, allegedly equivalent, Ludlow size S. Worse, it is way longer. Dress shirts should be longer than casual shirts as they are meant to be worn tucked in, but this seems abnormally long for a size 33" shirt (see the chart below). Even being a rather tall guy, it fully covered by backside and could be shortened about 3 full inches. The collar did fit significantly better though, with more room than the old size S. Finally, the cuff is much larger than it used to be (and is not even the slightest bit slimmer than the size up, the 15.5/33). What this all means is that if you used to fit well into the Ludlow size S, you might be out of luck now. A 15/33 will be too large in the chest and waist (which, yes, could be fixed by tailoring, but that’s an extra step plus more money at which point I would prefer to just go the custom route), and too long. Sizing down to a 32 sleeve would result in sleeves that are too short, as the sleeve length has remained the same as the old size S.
The 15.5/33 is all around bigger, as is to be expected. This means, as a tall and slim guy, it fits me much, much worse. (Take a look at how much room there is in the neck, for instance.) The big problem is that the sleeve length on the 15.5/33 is actually almost a full 2 inches shorter than the 15/33 sleeves. And I checked this on two separate 15.5/33 shirts! Go ahead and explain that one! This seems like a big mistake in J Crew’s sizing.
Compare the fits of those two shirts to my size S Ludlow shirt I have had for years and love. You can see that this Ludlow shirt fits me much better with zero tailoring required. It’s not a perfectly fitting shirt, for sure, but it’s a lot closer, and certainly better overall. Just take a look at the following chart, paying special attention to the measurements of the parts of the shirt I called out above, and how they compare to other brands, and you’ll see just how off some of these new measurements truly are:
Note: The J Crew Ludlow shirt in size S has been washed (though never dried) quite a few times, so factor in some shrinkage in all measurements.
Conclusion: As a tall and slim guy, these new neck and sleeve measurements work out worse for me. The new sizing is much longer, and more roomy than the old. You can try your luck, but be warned: the new sizing does not seem to match up very well to the old S/M/L sizing — despite J Crew’s claims — and these new shirts seem to have some serious fit inconsistency issues as well.
Price, Value & Conclusion
Each shirt will run you $69.50. That certainly is not cheap for a shirt, but it is also very fair for a solid quality shirt like this, especially given J Crew’s frequent sales with which you could likely get these shirts for a few bucks less. However, it is hard to recommend these shirts. They seem to have real sizing and fit inconsistencies, and the changes J Crew has made to try to make finding your exact size easier, have in fact made things more complicated. Hopefully, these issues will be resolved, and is just the temporary result of such a major production change. At the very least, I hope these sizing problems are just a fluke. But, until these problems are ironed out (pun intended?), I would be very wary of these shirts, and at the very least be prepared to order a few sizes and be ready to make some returns — or try them on in stores. For a tall, slim guy like me, it would take a bit of tailoring in any case to get these shirts to fit just right. At that price, I would rather something custom, or a shirt from, say, Bonobos which I find has far more sizing and fit options. But I think, for now at least, anyone, with any body type, might have some issues finding the right neck and sleeve size in these new J Crew shirts. They’re nice, solid quality shirts, with a nice, comfortable stretch fabric Just proceed with caution.
This was really a very nice try by J Crew, and I think a smart move overall. Guys want — and can now get from many, many companies — shirts that are designed more specifically to fit them. But, in this case, J Crew has a bit more work to do until they are really there.