Friday, May 24, 2013

J.Crew Cotton Cashmere Hoodie Review

I was a hat person in high school. You know, one of those people who always had a baseball cap on all day long, indoors and outdoors, day or night, and rain or shine. That went on for a few years until my second year or so of college, then my hair started going, and I went back to being a hat person – no hair plus no hat plus summer sun equals bad. The difference this time around was that I became an outdoors only hat person and then became a 24/7 hoodie person. From observing the kiddies today, it appears that every kiddy is a hoodie person. However, being so “not with it” during my youth, I probably just didn’t notice how popular hoodies were.

The usefulness of the hoodie appears to continue even into adulthood. It is the must-have item in the wardrobe of every boy and girl. In no other item will you find a layering item that is capable of covering torso and head, as well as shielding one from wind, rain, and sun. And just in case you want to hide from the world or see someone you don’t like, it will be there for you too.

However, the hoodie is considered an extremely casual item. Even before the Beiber, something about a really boring looking sweater with a hat attached to it made it synonymous with kiddies. Oh, and people wear it when they work out and “knock over” things – probably doesn’t help its case. There is clearly a market opening for a more professional looking hoodie: lo and behold, many people thought of this way way before I did.


Say “hello” to the J.Crew Cotton-Cashmere Zip Hoodie, yours for US$ 115 (Canadian pricing – about 15% cheaper for American shoppers).
J.Crew Cotton Cashmere Hoodie
It is available in navy and heather grey at the moment. I have it in heather grey and charcoal, which was an option offered a year or so ago. This is a “rerun” item or “classic” in that J.Crew keeps it in stock year round usually, and it’s been in their catalogue for at least the past three years now.

In addressing the concern about hoodies being too casual, I like to think that this item answers that issue by just through price and material alone. If anyone asks, just tell them that this is a cashmere* sweater that costs over $100 and not just a random throw-away item. Let’s actually take a closer look at the sweater.


By “cotton-cashmere”, what they actually mean is 95% cotton and 5% cashmere (label). Well, at least it does include both materials. They also stock a 100% cashmere version for US$ 432 ($375 for Americans), but that’s way too rich for me – that’s not true, I seriously considered getting it a while back.

Don’t let the 95/5 split deter you though. It seems like a rip-off, but this sweater just screams quality once you get your hands on it. The first thing that I noticed was that the weave was quite porous. Put the sweater up to a light and I was able to see through it relatively well. However, its thermal insulating properties are still intact (see next section). I like to think that the weave gives this sweater its character. As you may know, most hoodies are cotton or a blend of cotton and synthetic materials. They usually go with a very flat, plain, and tight weave that ends up making them look all the same. The defining feature is usually a massive graphic or the colour -- that’s not the case here.

In addition, the sweater has some weight to it. The material is elastic and stretchy, you can see and feel loose fibres rising from the threads (by design, not a material fault), and the entire sweater feels like spaghetti when you pick it up. By the way, the zipper is metal.

Chimp modeling J.Crew Cotton Cashmere Hoodie
Thermal Properties
Remember that thing about the pores? When worn as a layer beneath a wind blocking layer, the sweater adds a significant amount of thermal insulation. I’ve worn this for two winters now and it’s warm enough to make me sweat on a regular basis on colder days.

However, holes are holes: without a wind-layer, air easily gets through and you will freeze. On the bright side, if it gets warm, the pores increase breathability. Tipping back over to the dark side, the pores let light through, so it’s not the best sun block layer. Rest assured, you can still knock over an establishment without anyone recognizing the back and sides of your head.

Side View of J.Crew Cotton Cashmere Hoodie
I got both of my sweaters in the XS size from J.Crew. For a 5’4” dude, it fits very well compared to other items I’ve tried. There is enough loose material that I don’t feel any restrictions to my movement or tightness across either my chest or waist. Sleeves also fit quite well with help from the loose and elastic material. The only complaint I have is that it runs slightly long, but people like me are not “average” size. As usual, this was probably designed for a really tall and lanky person. If I pull the bottom of the sweater down from my waist, it probably sits around the bottom of my ass.


Love it. It’s a great item for wearing any time, but especially at the office. I’ve been complimented before while wearing the heather grey version, and you will know it when you see it that this is a quality item. My recommendation is the heater grey version because the weave and construction is much more apparent in a lighter colour.


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