Product Review: J. Crew “Bowery” Classic Fit Dress Trousers

Many of the product reviews out in the blogosphere seem to center around expensive high-end products or new items from small companies. These can certainly be helpful, but there are still many people that want to find great products that are a bit more accessible (which is why sites like Dappered are so popular). For that reason, I’m going to try and balance my reviews with products that can be easily found anywhere but still provide a good value to me.

In the past I have written about how much I like Howard Yount trousers; I stand by that review, but there are many people out there (including myself) that would prefer to not spend $100-$200 on dress pants. I splurged for some nice wool flannels since those are hard to find at lower prices, but for more traditional cotton and worsted wool pants there is a broader spectrum of prices available.

I had been keeping an eye on J. Crew’s Bowery trouser for a while, and when one of the inevitable 25% off full price item sales came along I grabbed a cotton pair in hickory.

My first impressions were very good – of course, this is definitely a mass-produced garment and won’t have the attention to detail that you will see from smaller brands, but they are made well and feature solid materials and traditional details. The fabric is surprisingly nice; it is a mid-weight cotton that has some softness but isn’t heavily washed to create a “lived-in” feel like many chinos. These are dress pants, and the fabric reflects that. The fabric is also significantly better than Uniqlo’s celebrated Vintage Chino. The two pants are very different stylistically, but in terms of material and construction quality the Bowery trousers are much, much better. The trousers feature a cotton shirting liner on the pocket and waistband and have a metal clasp and zipper closure with an interior button as well.

The pants do come with some extra fabric at the bottom to extend the length, but it’s worth noting that in my cotton ones there is already a very slight wear mark, meaning there might be a line if one were to lengthen them. If you are in between inseam lengths it’s probably better to size up and remove material than to do the reverse.

As for the fit, these are very similar to my Howard Yount flannels (bought before the fit changed slightly). Mine are tagged 31×30 (my true size), and measure 8” across the leg opening. The rise is fairly “classic” and sits higher than most chinos on the market, which makes them good for tucking shirts into. There is a bit more room in the thigh than I’d prefer, but this is the case with almost all trousers I own because my ectomorph legs need a bit of work. Most guys will probably find the leg space reasonable.

I tried the Bowery Slim fit trousers, and although the thigh is a bit slimmer, they taper too much past the ankle for my tastes (and the rise is a bit lower as well). They may work for some, but are a bit trendier than what I look for in dress clothes.

All told, I think these are a great everyday business casual work pants for the guy who doesn’t need high wool counts or hand-stitching in their workhorse office clothes. With the frequent 20-30% off full-priced items, the cotton Bowery classics come to $56-$64 and the wool ones are $90-$102. Prices can dip even lower if the items themselves go on sale.