The J.Crew Kenmare Suit, Reviewed

Like most ready-to-wear suits, it didn’t fit perfectly off the rack. (You should still be prepared to take yours to the tailor for minor alterations.) The sleeves were a tad long for my short reach, and the waist could be adjusted a touch. But the trousers were spot-on, a welcome surprise given my tricky build and general pants-related persnicketiness.

Excuse the creases, this guy is box-fresh! 

Photograph by Gerald Ortiz

Photograph by Gerald Ortiz

The Fabrics

An enduring part of J.Crew’s appeal lies in the range of interesting materials within the brand’s repertoire. The Kenmare is no exception. The fabrics are exciting and frequently off-kilter—think luscious English corduroy (we’re looking at you, Wes Anderson), or a zippy, dizzying take on tweed that has Babenzien’s fingerprints all over it. (Naturally, it’s available in regular ol’ navy wool too). In tandem with the construction and dialed-in fit, the materials make the Kenmare one of the most fun suits available for the price, without detracting from its versatility.

The Final Verdict

So to return to those nagging questions—yes, the Kenmare is indeed good. It feels care-free but not careless, a tough line to straddle for any company, let alone one with J.Crew’s reach. (It also feels of a piece with the tailoring proposed by brands like Noah, the streetwear-adjacent label Babenzien relaunched in earnest in 2015.) The trickier question, then, might be who the Kenmare is for. That’s less clear, though the ambiguity isn’t necessarily to its detriment. Ultimately, the Kenmare seems designed for dudes who want to wear a suit for the sheer thrill of it, not because their 9 to 5 requires them to. The silhouette is still classic enough to sync up with an Oxford-cloth shirt and brogues, but its relaxed vibe naturally lends itself to wearing as separates, with a faded pair of jeans and cowboy boots or a scuzzy mohair cardigan and derbies. For the price, there are scant other options made with the same quality or panache.

Whether J.Crew can replicate the excitement the Ludlow engendered in the 2010s remains to be seen, but the Kenmare feels like an appropriate successor. Over a decade after the Ludlow’s heyday, you’d be hard-pressed to find a mass-market suit that more savvily captures what tailoring looks like right now, and where it’s headed in the next few years. Which means if you were looking for an option to restore your faith in the suit’s relevance (and maybe convince you to start wearing one again—y,know, just for fun) it’s an excellent place to start.

J.Crew Kenmare suit jacket in Italian wool

J.Crew Kenmare pleated suit pant in Italian wool

J.Crew Kenmare double-breasted suit jacket in Italian wool

J.Crew Kenmare pleated suit pant in Italian wool

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