Sunday, June 02, 2013

J.Crew Fleece Utility Zip Hoodie Review

Hoodies! Everyone likes hoodies and every store seems to have some form of hooded sweater available for sale. Go back to my fancy J.Crew Cotton Cashmere Hoodie review for more about hoodies.
Chimp Modeling J.Crew Fleece Hoodie
This is the "poor man's" hoodie at J.Crew at around US$ 70. My order history says that I paid US$ 56.63 (Canadian prices are about 15% higher usually) for the red (sorry, Warm Scarlet) version and I can't find the navy one. Both were purchased on a 25%-ish sale.

At the moment, I do not see the exact same item on the J.Crew website, but the closest is the Vintage Fleece Zip Hoodie available in similar colours. This one goes for US$ 78 for Americans and US$ 90 for Canadians. I say they aren't the same because I don't recall the "vintage" wording in the name, and it's been two years since I got them, so who knows what else changed.

Using Old Navy as the benchmark for affordability, this article of clothing does carry a price premium. Looking at the American (Old Navy section) website, there are a number of hoodies for $15-$25 with solid colours and no graphics. Moving up in quality to the Gap, their hoodies go for $40 to $55. However, one must remember that the Gap and its partners/subsidiaries have 20-40% sales off so frequently, one feels dumb for ever paying full price.

J.Crew Fleece Hoodie Front in Red
Both hoodies are a 60/40 split between cotton and polyester with a solid colour pattern on the exterior (label). The interior is lined with a soft fuzzy/furry (don't know technical name, fleece?) layer with a short pile. A metal zipper is used and white drawstrings are available to adjust the hood. One major important detail about the hood is that it's larger than what I would consider the "usual" size; That is, compared to many other hoodies, this one extends further past my face and provides more shielding -- what exactly is he up to?

The waist has an elastic band, as do the cuffs. Throughout the body, the material is stretchy and does not feel stiff after wearing it for a while. I thought they were too tight when I first got them. One final detail worthy of note is that the material is porous to a degree and breathes somewhat, just not that well. The weave is close enough that when I hold the sweater up to the light, both the body and hood are opaque.

J.Crew Fleece Hoodie Front in Navy

Thermal Properties

The tight weave is good and bad: this is mostly a Fall, Winter, and Spring item. I have used it extensively throughout the winter for layering and I have beat snow storms and cold snaps with it on. However, on the colder and windier days with a breathable peacoat on, I could feel the wind go right through to my skin. It retards the air movement well enough to work down to about -5 C with the peacoat. With a proper wind- and waterproof winter jacket on, the breathability is no longer an issue.

During the forbidden months of summer, this sweater is much too warm, which is a huge shame because the hood is opaque and oversized to help block the sun. I think I've worn it up to about 10 C alone with a t-shirt inside and started sweating pretty bad.

J.Crew Fleece Hoodie Back
After wearing these sweaters for two years, I can say that they are very comfortable. The material is stretchy, not just at the waist, so it feels form fitting. Again, when I first got them, my complaint was that they were way too small and I felt a lot of tightness at the back, sleeves, and arm pits. However, either I got used to it or the material loosened up over time. Regardless, these are my favourite hoodies now -- the navy one more than the red.
I do seem to recall that folded shirt sleeves show up pretty well when worn under these hoodies due to the tightness. One could always size up, but there is a beauty to wearing form fitting clothing. Oh well, if I cared about how I looked, I'd wear my cotton-cashmere fancy schmancy hoodies or blown $400 on the 100% cashmere version.

Great item, excellent hoodie. Hopefully, the design isn't very different between the two hoodies that I have and the Vintage Fleece Zip version currently available at J.Crew. If they are, then I hope that what I have comes back for the Fall season. That is one of the things I love about J.Crew: they carry many of their items year over year and they still work due to the "timeless" vintage look they go for.


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