Thursday, November 1, 2012

Product Review: The Workhorse, aka Merino

A big "thanks!" to J.Crew Guy In Canada who is graciously reviewing Men's items from J.Crew with us.

In this review, J.Crew Guy In Canada reviews J.Crew's Merino sweaters for men, in particular the Slim Slub Merino V-neck Sweater (Item 95555; $89.50) and the Slim Slub Merino Crewneck Sweater (Item 95531; $89.50)
As temperatures dip and cooler weather comes along we all like to to layer up and stay warm.  The tough bit is how to do it without looking like a homeless man or the Michelin Tire guy.

Cashmere seems to steal the spot light from most of the other knit offerings at J.Crew.  And like most of you I love the very soft, plush undercoat from the Mongolian goat.  But once the initial 'it's so soft' wears off we're often left with a beautifully colored sweater that pills too easily.  Merino of the other hand is light, very polished and wears like iron.  The J.Crew merino sweaters are my favorite item that 'crew elves produce.

I do have a number of J.Crew knits from cotton to cashmere to merino to blends.  They all have their good qualities, but for my money the merino kicks them all to the curb.  The company has increased the offerings from the standard v-necks and crewnecks to slim slub v-neck #95555, slim slub crewneck #95531 both with suede elbow patches in a contrasting color.  Then there are zip necks and even turtlenecks and even cardigans.  They all have one thing in common, that incredible long wearing knit in a fine gauge.


The higher the gauge number the more polished and thinner the fabric.  The merino in a 12 gauge is smooth and light enough to wear under a blazer, hello Ludlow or simply popped over a white tee and worn with jeans.  My go to colors are navy and varying shades of gray.  Women have their little black dress, I have the merino v-neck.  I work with dark purple and rich burgundy but my favorites are the expected navy and gray.  From tweed wool pants to chinos and jeans they never fail me.  From cool summer evenings to the dead of winter these sweaters work perfectly.  And as they don't wrinkle they are ideal for travel too.

Some say that cashmere is J.Crew's signature knit, but I disagree.  Cashmere surely gets the most press to the high margins and the good returns it gives to the company.  I do have a number of cashmere sweaters from a  variety of companies and designers, but unless it's the good stuff it all seems to pill to easily.  My friend merino on the other hand is bullet proof.  I've tried merino from Lord and Taylor, BR and J.Crew and the crew's offerings are the best cut and offer the best value.  They are fitted but not tight, the arms are just the right length; BR knits seem to often been made for monkey arms.  The waist and cuffs of J.Crew keep their shape and the v-neck is slight and not some nasty cheesey deep v, am I looking at you again BR?

With companies like BR adding nylon to many of their sweaters while still calling them merino rings false to me.  I'm good with spending more for full 100% mernino.  Thankfully J.Crew prices of merino are very affordable and if you watch for sales you can get exceptional value.
Another fantastic review! "Thanks!" again to J.Crew Guy In Canada for his insightful take of the Merino sweaters, a classic in everyone's warddrobe!
 
What are your thoughts on J.Crew's Merino Sweaters for Men? Do you own any of their Merino Sweaters? If so, please share with us your review. :)

21 comments:

  1. Awesome review! J.Crew Guy in Canada highlighted all the reasons why I love a good merino sweater. Thanks for the comparisons to other brands. I'll know where to focus my eye when looking for options. I love a guy in a sweater. And a good fitting sweater. *Swoon* But fit, cut, warmth and a fine gauge that does not pill makes me very happy. These are the reasons that I turn to the merino sweaters in my closet in a pinch without a second thought. Getting the male perspective is always helpful and enlightening.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I couldn't agree more! For all of these reasons, merino is where I put my money.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have sweaters on the gift lists of several of the men in my family for Christmas this year. I honestly didn't think of looking at J. Crew for mens clothes! Silly me, I always look at the womens rollouts. Great review, JCGIC, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Men, women, anyone! Merino has always been my favorite. Cashmere is too tempermental. Way to go J Crew guy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I looove that elbow patch sweater, and I am considering getting it for myself. The men's knits are so awesome. Their plain old cashmere is twice as thick as the normal women's cashmere. Thanks for the review J.Crew guy in Canada! Love your reviews!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great review. Unfortunately I find J.Crew merino incredibly itchy but I'm sensitive to wool. Although, my husband, who is not sensitive to wool also finds it too uncomfortable to wear. The men's cotton/cashmere sweaters are a nice alternative. Warm, soft, nice colors and the pilling is almost zero. I wish J.Crew would make more cotton/cashmere sweaters for women instead of the nasty dream yarn. I only have one - the grandpa cardigan from SP09, but it's lovely and I would buy more if they had them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. +1 for the men's cotton/cashmere- my husband has a few and loves them.

      Delete
  7. Great review! I've been buying the merino sweaters for my husband for years, they're great, and he's very hard on his clothes.
    My son gets his very first one this Christmas: he's growing up, it's time for a manly sweater!
    Thanks JCrewGuy!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks, I think I will take another look, I had a cashmere sweater on my list for my husband. I love that J Crew offers sweaters in tall for men. I hate it when my husband wears sweaters from other retailers, and they hang too short at the back. In Canada my go to store is Harry Rosen but I have found J.Crew a great alternative.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Terrific review, J. Crew Guy in Canada! My dh would agree 100%…he's never been a fan of (pill-y) cashmere and the merino looks so sharp and clean on. He was a BR merino fan for years (BR was his go-to store), but he was drawn to the colors of the JC merino sweaters. He's liking the cut on the J.Crew items more this year (spoiled by Thomas Mason fabric as well). I'm envious that he has such a nice selection of "basics" to choose from (LEC, J. Crew, BR)...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Can anyone advise how the men's merino tends to fit? My husband is more the t-shirt and jeans type, but I was thinking he might wear the Merino half-zip and trying decide what size to get him. He's 5'11, 190 lbs, 34" waist. I want to size so he can layer over a t-shirt and not look too fitted, but not sloppy either. He normally takes a L t-shirt. Any suggestions from the Jcrew menfolk? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I buy JC menswear regularly for my husband (6'4", 185 lbs, wears tall-large). If your husband takes an L in tees, he should also take an L in the sweaters. I find the menswear is not as variable in sizing as the women's, and is much more reliable.

      Delete
    2. imbachick - I'm also thinking size L for your husband. However, if he has a large chest you may need XL. I would find out his chest measurement. Oh, my husband wears L in BR & ON and takes L in J Crew. HTH

      Delete
  11. Great review, JC Guy! I hope you come out with a blog!

    I have to agree re: the merino. I have been buying merino wool sweaters from J. Crew for years now, and they look and wear amazingly well. They are really great value for the cost-per-wear. Right now, I am obsessed with the Tippi sweaters and cardigans - they are my workhorses for office wear. I recently bought a merino wool V-neck sweater for my husband during the last additional 30% off promo - it came to about $45, which is a great deal for such a good sweater. I hope to score a couple more in the winter sales.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Me too. I love J Crew's merino. I can wear it under a suit jacket, particularly turtlenecks in winter, without getting too warm (if I wear a long sleeve cashmere sweater under a suit jacket I get too warm). I've succesfully washed merino sweaters in my washing machine, then laid flat to dry, without any increase in wear on the sweaters. I like cashmere and lambswool for coziness and I think merino looks more professional for work.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you for the thorough review!

    Can anyone comment on the quality of the Mens Lambswool Sweaters? How does it hold up, is it prone to pilling, etc.? TIA.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got my husband one of the lambswool sweaters last fall and it's holding up well so far. There has been some light pilling under the arm, but that's where I expect to see some and it hasn't been bad at all. I really like the men's sweaters in general and find them to be better quality overall than women's (which uses too many blends, IMO).

      Delete
  14. Add me to the list of merino fans! I have always found JC's merino sweaters to be the best-wearing and therefore best-looking. And if anyone's husband/BF is anything like mine, cashmere is way too hot for him to wear indoors for any length of time, but merino is always perfect and looks great, casual or dressy.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love the sweaters with the elbow patches and am so happy to hear they wear well. Could anyone advise me on a blazer & vest combo for men? My husband has been wanting one for years but can never find the right one. Do they have to match? And he doesn't wear full suits ever so he will not need pants to go with. Thx!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marisa, check out a previous post about the Ludlow jackets and how these blazers fit and such.

      As to the vest question, mathing vests and blazers are more dressed up while ones that work together but are made from different fabrics are more casual but still look pulled togther.

      If the pants workw ith the vest/blazer are jeans then go with a vest/blazer in two different fabrics, but if the pants are wool you can 'mis match'. It's trickier to do but looks great when done right.

      Delete
  16. Total agreement on J Crew's merino.I throw them in the delicate cycle in the washer and even put them in the dryer on the extra low cycle to remove a bit of dampness then dry flat and they look great. My family is tough on clothes and these still look good after several years of wear.

    ReplyDelete

Dear J.Crew Aficionadas & Aficionados: Please feel free (and encouraged) to share your thoughts and opinions. :) However, please note that this is still a personal blog. So comments that are considered inappropriate (e.g. obscene, racist, homophobic, personal attacks, rude, and just plain mean) will be removed.

And now back to J.Crew! :)