Tuesday, April 1, 2014

J.C. Penney swings and misses with new sport jacket

The venerable American department store has been up, down, up and down too many times to count. It has tried remaking itself countless times only to later admit failure and re-install the same corporate leadership that presided over J.C. Penney’s decline in the first place.

Yet a trip into the department store is worth it — at least if you happen to be near a major shopping mall — if only because you never know what you might come across.

There were the genuine Harris Tweed sport jackets this past autumn and winter, which were eventually marked down to under $65 on final clearance. The imitation Barbour coatees from discontinued in-house brand Stafford Prep were also a bargain for anyone who wanted the Barbour look without the hefty price. Need 100% wool pants? Try J.C. Penney, where charcoal plain-front pants from Stafford can still be found, albeit in a sea of polyester, for under $40. Not only is this a great price, but it’s an exceptional value as the quality of the pants are comparable with Brooks Brothers. Most of the department stores also still have the 100% silk knit Wembley neckties in a variety of colors with some marked down to under $15. There was even a fancy Joe by Joseph Abboud blazer with high-end Italian cloth on the clearance racks of J.C. Penney's store in Novi, near Detroit, at Twelve Oaks Mall.

PHOTOS courtesy of J.C. Penney.

And just when one thought J.C. Penney was dead, both a 100% cotton seersucker sport jacket ($90; available here) and a cotton/linen blend sport jacket ($59.99; available here) were released just in time for this spring’s new collection.

None of the local stores, including at Twelve Oaks Malls in Novi, have the seersucker jacket, so nothing can be said for its quality. The linen/cotton sport jacket looked decent online, but was disappointing in person.

Sold under J.C. Penney’s Stafford brand, the sport jacket has a good price and comes in seven colors, which seems like overkill considering that most will probably remain on the racks until moved to clearance sometime in the autumn.

The only good things were the price and range of colors. Everything else stunk.

The cut was too traditional. The shoulders weren’t as padded as in the past, but still too structured. The real deal-breaker, however, was the full 100% polyester lining.

Not only is this very cheap, but it makes a linen/cotton blend sport jacket just as impracticable as the fully lined wool blazer or sport jacket when the warm weather eventually arrives.

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