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The Strategist Guide to Shopping at J.Crew

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

Anyone who has shopped at a major online retailer knows it can be hard to figure out where to begin. There are lots of options that all seem as worthy as the next, but the reality is that products from any given brand are not created equal. When you shop as regularly as we do, you learn that many brands just do some things better than other things. With its classic button-downs and boxers, J.Crew is one of those brands (thanks in part to its constant sales). It can be dizzying to shop J.Crew’s entire selection — especially now with its new head of women’s design, Olympia Gayot, and men’s creative director, Brendon Babenzien, making their marks — but we’ve done the difficult job for you, rounding up the best J.Crew items featured in our archives, including the pajama set favored by Ottessa Moshfegh, Scandinavian-style boots that survived a Wyoming winter, and the pants that are a “foil to the relaxed chinos from Polo Ralph Lauren.”

For women

The Tissue Turtleneck just might be the most recommended J.Crew item we’ve written about. Its loyal fan base includes former Strategist writer Chloe Anello; Dominique Porter, founder of sleepwear line the Glad Hours; and Rony Vardi, founder of the Brooklyn-based jewelry studio Catbird. It’s the “only black turtleneck worth buying,” Anello declares, a belief she further committed to after “cheating on it” with other brands. Porter has been a wearer since she was a teen and it was part of her school uniform. Vardi, who’s usually averse to layering, actually likes to layer with this turtleneck, “which works well when you’re going from the cold outdoors to the overheated indoors.”

When we went on the hunt for the best button-downs for bigger busts, brand strategist and blogger Rachel Richardson endorsed this breezy, gauzy shirt. (It later became one of our own favorite white button-downs.) Richardson raves about the fit, which offers enough room in the chest without being too oversize. She likes to tie the ends together to create a crop or tuck it in on one side.

These super-skinny jeans are a bit of a blast from the past. When we asked 25 teens about their favorite jeans back in 2020, a then-18-year-old named Alette mentioned the Toothpick. She first borrowed her pair from her mother — and “never gave them back” since they were comfortable enough to wear every day. The jeans were so beloved, Alette says, she tore a hole in them eventually, so she bought a new pair just for herself. “I kid you not, I wear these jeans every single day, too,” Alette adds.

If you’re in search of cords, Anello highly recommends J.Crew’s. Since her high school had a strict “no denim” rule, she relied on corduroy pants to get by — and even postgraduation, she wears this pair. “They’re slim cut and fit well yet don’t feel bulky or heavy,” she says.

Author Ottessa Moshfegh included these pajamas on her list of what she can’t live without. The self-confessed pajama obsessive bought these after losing the top from a similar set. Former Strategist writer Hilary Reid and Strategist contributor Hermione Hoby also love these PJs, which they own in an earlier version. “They have a slight air of formality to them — they’re the kind of pajamas I imagine wearing while trying to finish the last half of Swann’s Way or reading a newspaper in bed,” Reid says. And Hoby compares them to a set Daniel Day-Lewis wears in Phantom Thread. (For a little luxury: Get these monogrammed for an extra $10.)

These boxers recently made an appearance in our pajamas guide. The shorts are a cousin of the set above and fashioned from the same “end-on-end” cotton. These don’t look like a “bad Risky Business costume,” Anello assures us. Because the boxers don’t have an opening in the front and do have pockets, “they could easily be mistaken for a pair of thin, lightweight, cotton shorts.” She adds, “While they may not look like them, the shorts are exactly what you want from a boxer.” Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla also has a pair, describing the feel as “next to nothing” so they’re ultracomfortable for sleeping.

J.Crew’s cashmere rarely goes on sale, though it’s well worth the splurge. Anello, who happens to be a former J.Crew retail associate, gave its cashmere her stamp of approval, saying she still owns years-old sweaters from the company. And Titilola Sogunro, the blogger behind Titi’s Passion, recommends this crewneck in particular. “It’s a best seller for good reason,” she points out, and she especially appreciates the number of colors (neon flamingo, holiday red, and jungle green to name a few).

Out of habit, especially because of all the chilly rickshaw rides she has taken in Delhi at night, author Diksha Basu likes to carry a scarf. But finding the right one has been a challenge. “They tend to be either too coarse, or too wispy, or not warm enough, or the size of a narrow scarf, not an actual shawl,” she says. But she took a gamble and ordered this cashmere wrap from J.Crew. The material is “almost like muslin but in a way that seems like magic. It’s not flimsy at all,” she explains. It has endured hand-sanitizer spills; her children’s sticky, apple-juice-slicked fingers; and a dusting of Goldfish crumbs. Even her husband has taken a liking to it: “He borrowed it the other night to wear as an oversize scarf and looked as dashing in it as I do.”

“Its sleek look and popped collar will add a sense of preppy sophistication to your closet,” says style influencer Alison Rogel of this blazer. She throws it over a turtleneck, cropped trousers, and loafers. Rogel bought the tailored piece in the tall cut to fit her six-foot-one frame, but it also comes in petite and standard sizes.

This take on the cocoon coat comes recommended by stylist Cindy Conroy. It’s made from J.Crew’s stadium-cloth wool, which is produced in an Italian mill, and Conroy calls its warmth “off the charts.” And there’s “no Michelin Man here,” she says, pointing to its sleek silhouette. Conroy’s tip is to fold down the dramatic standing collar to make the coat resemble more of a wrap jacket.

These Scandinavian-style shoes, which are featured in our winter-boots story, were inspired by vintage hiking gear. Camilla Cho, senior vice-president of e-commerce at Vox Media, took the pair on a trip to Wyoming, where she wore them in 20-degree weather. “My feet always felt super-toasty and warm,” she says. There’s a reason for that: These boots feature a heavier lug sole and shearling lining with cuffs on top to keep the worst of the elements out. (So no wet socks.)

For a fraction of the price of Spanx and Sheertex shapewear, these control-top tights are a favorite of fashion editor Dena Silver. She has “been known to wear control-top shorts with tights because sometimes stockings alone just don’t do the trick” and calls this pair a “godsend” for its “waist-cinching band” and “blackest black” hue.

“Since the 1990s, J.Crew swimsuits have been known for their durability and stylish yet comfortable design,” writes Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo. The pieces were a “status symbol” among the crowd of suburban tweens she grew up with, and that reputation “still holds today,” she says. This ruched, one-shoulder one-piece features a full-coverage bottom and low-cut leg, along with a built-in UPF 50 for sun protection.

For men

Queer Eye’s Tan France introduced us to this white T-shirt. “If you ever see me in a plain T-shirt, it is probably the J.Crew Broken-in Tee,” he says. The “broken in” part of its name is true, he explains, as “too many other T-shirts I’ve tried feel too box-fresh.” Instead, this one is immediately soft to the touch and fits him perfectly — though he sizes up so he can wear the shirt with a French tuck. “Here’s the thing with the French tuck: If the shirt you’re wearing is too fitted, it does not look right. It has to be a bit oversize,” he explains.

Rug dealer Mikael Kennedy got married in this very oxford shirt, which comes in four fits (classic, slim, slim untucked, and tall) and with classic details like a back pleat and locker loop. “They’re not disposable-feeling, but they don’t feel precious, either,” Kennedy says. Model Miles Garber (also the co-founder of candle company Hands) shares a similar sentiment, saying this button-down triples as an everyday staple and a “go-to suit shirt.” And Tim Melideo of the menswear blog Stay Classic credits the button-down for helping “transform my style and get me to really step it up.”

There was a time when almost every well-dressed man that former Strategist staffer David Notis knew owned this work shirt. He browsed it first at a J.Crew in Soho “where the shirt immediately stood out among the sea of chambray and gingham,” he says. Notis, who describes himself as a tactile shopper, appreciated how the stitching, wash, and fabric “seemed like someone had turned a pair of Levi’s 501s into a shirt.” He adds, “When I wear it, I feel like I’m channeling some sort of ’90s Jay Leno dad energy but in a good way.” Since his initial encounter, he’s seen a “denim-shirt secret society” form around it, with former Strategist senior editor Anthony Rotunno and current Strategist style columnist Chris Black owning it as well.

Rotunno included this shirt in one of our monthly Strategist Hauls. And “haul” is right — he stocked up on several after receiving his first as a birthday present. J.Crew says the linen used in this shirt is sourced from Ireland’s Baird McNutt mill, which has been in business since 1912. “I can say the shirts feel good against my skin (they’re not scratchy at all) and are light without feeling insignificant,” Rotunno says.

LPA designer Pia Baroncini steals her husband’s long-sleeved T-shirts, rotating between his Ralph Lauren polos and this J.Crew henley. “I think they’re so chic,” she explains, adding that her taste runs to classic colors like white and navy (called “evening storm” and “dusty ivory,” respectively). It fits nicely oversize on Baroncini, too.

“When I think chinos, I think of (the usually on sale) J.Crew,” Black says. He specifically name-checks the 484s as a slimmer-fit stretchy pant that isn’t super-lightweight but isn’t too heavy, either, so “you’ll be fine in the warmer months.” The pair earned a place in our best-in-class chinos guide as a “foil to the relaxed chinos from Polo Ralph Lauren. And take Black’s advice: “Make sure you style them right so you don’t look like a substitute teacher.”

Photo: retailer

These boxers earned a spot on our men’s underwear guide. Celebrity stylist Neil Cohen recommends this pair for its price and feel — and he wears them specifically for sleeping. They have a four-inch inseam, a traditional fly, and a cotton-covered waistband. Plus, you can choose from all sorts of colorful patterns.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

The Strategist Guide to Shopping at J.Crew