Vintage JCPenney Suits Review (Stafford) – I Am Impressed!

After thirty years of thrift shopping for high-quality vintage men’s suits and sport coats, I can still be pleasantly surprised. In this JCPenney suits review, I discuss the Stafford brand (JCPenney’s in-house brand of menswear) of suits and sport coats. Evidently, I was the last one to know the exceptional value offered by this modestly priced brand clothing line!

Stafford Suits & Sport Coats from JCPenney

I have managed to live most of my life without having a clue that one of the best places to find better-quality modestly priced suits, sport coats, and other tailored men’s clothing is JCPenney. Recently, while browsing in local thrift shops, I purchased a second-hand suit, sport coat, dress shirt and tie from JCPenney’s Stafford menswear brand. With each of these items, it was the exceptional quality that caught my eye.

Stafford Suit Review - JCPenney - Sport Coat
My Stafford Sport Coat – Impressive Quality!

Consider the sport coat shown above. It is a 100% wool windowpane pattern Stafford sport coat that I paid $12.00 for in like-new condition (second-hand) at my local Savers thrift shop. It features half-canvassed interlining construction, a feature seen in top-of-the-line suits and sport coats from respected brands such as Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx. However, the trained eye will also discern additional evidence of exceptional quality such as sturdy and neatly sewn buttonholes, high-quality buttons, high-density stitching, and exceptional tailoring. It has all the hallmarks of a sport coat made with careful attention paid to quality control.

JCPenney Suits Review

Are JCPenney Suits of Good Quality?

The JCPenney Stafford menswear brand gets scant attention from fashion-minded menswear enthusiasts. It does not have the popular appeal (or high prices) of mainstream designer labels. Yet, it has long been one of the favorite brands of frugal businessmen. And for good reason! The Stafford clothing line from JCPenney has an enduring reputation for excellent quality at modest prices. That reputation is well deserved, making Stafford a brand worth seeking out when thrift shopping. Note an interesting quote made in the Wall Street Journal some years ago regarding JCPenney’s reputation for quality:

JC Penney … subjects garments to tough tests for color matching, fabric shrinkage, and pilling … When it comes to quality control Penney’s is more demanding than any of the department stores {Teri Agins, “Why Cheap Clothes Are Getting More Respect,” The Wall Street Journal Oct. 16, 1995, PP. B1, B3}.

Stafford Label - JC Penney
Look for this Stafford Label on second-hand suits.

In this review, I am discussing second-hand JCPenney Stafford brand suits that were made before this department store chain began to have major financial problems. They feature the older Stafford label shown above (not the current redesigned logo shown below) and are 100% wool. These older 100% wool suits and sport coats are available only on the second-hand market.

The suits currently sold by JCPenney online under the Stafford Tailored Culture label are wool/polyester blend suits (including the Michael Strahan collection) that are made to sell at a lower price point. These suits have polyester linings and are not made to the same high standard as the older Stafford suits. Personally, I avoid wool/polyester blend suits with polyester linings. Polyester does not breathe, making suits feel warmer and more uncomfortable. Generally, these suits will not have the higher quality of the older all-wool suits made under the old Stafford label. Look for the older Stafford label when thrift shopping!

JCPenney Dress Shirts Offer Excellent Value

In the photo below, I show a detail from a 100% cotton Non-Iron Stafford Tailored Culture Button-Down Dress Shirt I purchased at a local thrift shop for $1.00 (you can currently find these shirts at JCPenney in the $20.00 – $25.00 price range. Take note of the small round cotton patch used as a reinforcement for the button-down collar button. Generally, you don’t see that sort of quality in dress shirts that cost less than $50.00. It shows that this shirt is made to provide reliable long-term wear.

Stafford Shirt by JC Penney

Here’s another detail from this exceptional shirt. In the photo below, look at the reinforcement sewn in where the front placket and rear of the shirt are sewn together on the hem. That strengthens the shirt, contributing to its durability. By the way, the same manufacturer that makes shirts for JCPenney also makes shirts for Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren. I purchase my dress shirts second-hand. However, if I were purchasing new shirts at retail prices, Stafford brand shirts from JCPenney would be one of my top choices. They offer good looks and durability at excellent prices.

Stafford Shirt, JC Penney

JCPenney also made high-quality silk ties. In the photo below I’m wearing a vintage silk tie I purchased at a local thrift shop for $1.00. It is made in Italy of high-quality silk and excellent construction. They are worth seeking out!

Stafford Silk Tie
One of my vintage Stafford silk ties.

Older JCPenney Stafford suits, sport coats, slacks, and ties are worth consideration by the vintage menswear thrift shopper looking for excellent value. I cannot recommend the current Stafford Tailored Culture suits by JCPenney as they are of cheaper construction (fused rather than half-canvas interlinings) with lower quality wool/polyester blend fabrics. However, the Stafford Tailored Culture cotton dress shirts offer very good value at a modest price. -SplurgeFrugal!