At six feet six, Dan Layfield has had a lot of trouble finding suits that fit him. Before he started using a made-to-measure service, he'd often go to the kind of big-box stores where he told us "you can never really find anything that fits correctly. I had to get stuff heavily tailored—and even then, it didn't look great." But Layfield, pictured above at left, tells us that J. Crew's new Crosby suit, which is designed to accommodate a bigger, more athletic frame, is one of few that actually fits him well off the rack.
"They took the jacket in a touch," he says. "And they had to adjust the sleeves and the bottom of the pant legs down a bit, because I'm tall. But I thought it fit great."
Layfield, a VP in JP Morgan's risk department, played ice hockey and lacrosse in high school and college and now plays for the New York Knights rugby club, whose members J. Crew enlisted to help illustrate who the suit is intended for.
His teammate Calder Orr, who's six feet four and weighs 250 pounds, says he'd also had difficulty buying a suit off the rack. "Either you get a baggy suit or a suit that's too small," he says. "I always think of Tommy Boy: "fat guy in a little coat." You're going to rip right out of it like the Hulk."
J. Crew's menswear director Frank Muytjens says comments like that from customers who didn't quite fit into the brand's much-loved Ludlow suit are what spurred him and his team to create something for men with larger frames.
"It took a long time to perfect," Muytjens says. "The shoulder's a little wider, we opened up the chest and waist a little bit. The lapel is a little wider to keep the proportions in check. It's an opportunity for this guy to wear the Ludlow suit, but it's not called the Ludlow anymore."
And Orr, who tore a ligament during a game just before the shoot for the Crosby, says the new suit would work just as well in his office (he's an environmental-compliance specialist for New York City's Transportation Department) as it would at formal events.
"It's cut so that you can move around," he notes. "You could dance and not have to worry about ripping your crotch out."
Muytjens doesn't put it exactly that way, but he says he wants "guys to feel as comfortable as in the suits as they do in a pair of jeans. I think that's the key."
Even though the Crosby is a bigger suit, its pricing is pretty consistent with the Ludlow: Jackets cost $425, and pants go for $225. It'll be available (in navy and charcoal wool) in J. Crew stores today. Both of those suits, as well as a herringbone-windowpane version and another in gray flannel, will make their way to J. Crew's website on August 20.
—Details associate online style editor Justin Fenner