A Great Story From The FB Group

Editor’s Note: MANY thanks to Mr. Jim Moore for this great photo and an even better story. Classic Ivy.

In the spring of 1988, Jos. A Bank was a middle-income man’s version of Brooks Brothers: its undarted coats featured a 3/2 closure and a center hook vent, its button-down collars rolled admirably, and their tailors assumed we’d want 1 3/4 inch cuffs on our trousers. The make of their clothes was not, perhaps, at the level of Brooks and J. Press, but it was decent, and those of us who were dressing Ivy early in our careers were pleased to be able to present ourselves well at a reasonable price.

In the spring of 1988, I was a graduate student in Washington DC. I couldn’t afford the Brooks in the city or the Britches in Georgetown, so I drove out Route 50 into Virginia one Saturday to a Bank’s in a strip mall. There I purchased this coat of Madras cloth; the burgundy collar tag you can see in the photograph reads “CRAFTED WITH PRIDE IN THE USA.” The aged tailor there chalked and pinned things a bit, and a week later I wore the coat out of the store.

In the thirty-five years since, this coat, even more than my seersucker suit, has been the summer stalwart of my wardrobe. I’ve worn it to graduations and weddings, as well as in my classroom; I have worn it in Italy, Spain, France, Hong Kong, Shanghai, San Francisco, Miami, Savannah, and Manhattan. There is a photograph from 1995 in the gallery of the squash courts where I coach, showing me and my team posing in the Hamilton, Bermuda mayor’s office after a spring break tournament; in it, I am wearing the coat.

One morning this spring, I pulled it on and an eight-inch hole opened through the right elbow. I didn’t know quite what to do, so I put the coat back into my closet; its time, I thought, had come, but I wasn’t ready to simply let it go after all these years.

On a trip north a few days later, my understanding wife gently suggested we go farther west than our destination to visit O’Connell’s, where we might consider a replacement. I wound up finding one, in blues and greens, and it is a very fine Madras coat indeed, one which I hope and trust will be with me for the rest of my life. I wore it, to great acclaim, at my nephew’s wedding in Sweden this summer and, most recently this past Saturday, when I was teaching a senior seminar.

A month after what my wife and I now refer to as The Accident, I took the old coat to my tailor, along with a pink Brooks OCBD so far past its prime that it was no longer wearable. My tailor is eccentric, absent-minded, and, occasionally, absent when we expect him to be there, but he is also a genius. He held up the coat, then the shirt, and said to me “come back next week.” Well, it took a bit longer than a week, but it was worth the wait, as you can see in the photograph.

  • Jim Moore

16 Comments on "A Great Story From The FB Group"

  1. Is this the Jim Moore who played at the GVC in Rochester,NY and was a coach at Blair??

    • Sandy– I am he. I was in Rochester from 1997-2006 and was a member of GVC for almost three decades. And yes, I was and am again at Blair Academy; I just got off the court after being run around for an hour by a bunch of 17-year-olds. Now I’m chugging ibuprofen while I’m doing the other part of my job, preparing for class tomorrow.

  2. Brother, you describe me in the first paragraph, just not quite ten years earlier, in Washington, DC. Jos. A Bank was a great place for a guy starting out. On 19th st., NW between L and M St., plus Baltimore, Rockville, Towson, all in Maryland, as well as the one you mentioned in Virginia. You are right that they were a notch lower in quality than Brooks. J Press moved in around 1988. But in my 20’s, I thought it was great. Mostly US made merchandise. Their own factory was outside of Baltimore. They offered several models, and I think the “Valley” was 3/2 undarted, two buttons on the sleeve. I moved on to Brooks, J Press, O’Connells. No longer what they were, but thanks for bringing to mind a lot of good times spent in Banks. My wife sometimes came with me, as there was a ladies section. Great memories. PS- your memory of the expected , standard 1 3/4 cuff is just as it was .

  3. What a fantastic story, and an even more uniquely wonderful jacket following its repairs!

    Kind Regards,


  4. The story was great indeed. The pink elbow patches weren’t, I fear. Navy patches would have been far better.

  5. Randolph Schott | September 21, 2023 at 12:59 am |

    The recent debate on the FB group about darts vs. sack cut on jackets is shocking. If darts are acceptable, maybe heavily padded shoulders will be next.

  6. What a great coincidence that the worn out OCBD matched the colours of the jacket! Pure genius indeed.

  7. Charlottesville | September 21, 2023 at 11:05 am |

    Bravo, Mr. Moore. What a wonderful story, and it even had a happy ending.

    I share your fond recollection of the old burgundy-tagged Jos. A. Bank clothing of the 80s, when I too had a taste for Ivy but not yet the wallet for Brooks and Press. Up until quite recently, I had a JAB 3/2 sack sport coat in Harris Tweed from that era which wore like iron. Your tailor too reminds me of my late tailor, an eccentric genius who still hand-sewed button holes and worked miracles with needle and thread up until his death a few years ago. He is much missed, as is the old school Jos. A. Bank.

    I hope you will share more stories with us.

  8. Poison Ivy Leaguer | September 21, 2023 at 12:22 pm |

    My first experience with Bank’s was in Philadelphia in 1968. A colleague who was a Villanova alum recommended the store. In those days they were a legitimate outlet for a manufacturer in Baltimore. The store was in West Philly across the street from the Penn campus. A few years later, when the students’ attire became much more casual, they moved to Center City. In the 60’s their quality was well above average (e.g. hand sewn buttonholes and Bemberg linings.) They swore up and down that they manufactured clothing for Brooks Brothers. May be the University Shop (?)

  9. I share Poison Ivy Leaguer’s PHL Banks experience. I was starting out in the mid 1970’s and the Center City Jos Banks was a reasonable alternative to BB. My faith in their quality (at the time) was confirmed when while shopping one Saturday I spied the chief corporate counsel of the Fortune 100 company my father worked for doing the same. I doubt if cost was an issue for him, but as a PHL blue blood, value likely was.

  10. Well, there you go!😉

  11. Sandy– I am he. I was in Rochester from 1997-2006 and was a member of GVC for almost three decades. And yes, I was and am again at Blair Academy; I just got off the court after being run around for an hour by a bunch of 17-year-olds. Now I’m chugging ibuprofen while I’m doing the other part of my job, preparing for class tomorrow.

  12. I have one JAB piece, a black necktie with a subtle medallion pattern in it, not printed. Is that a “neat”? Anyway, I wear it with a char grey sack suit for funerals and Lenten evening services.

  13. I guess like everything else, it’s about location. Not all JAB stores are the same. The one near Pinehurst CC had a pretty decent inventory of odd trousers a few years back. Much better than BB.

  14. Used to go to the JAB in Princeton, now only wear 3/2 suits from JPress and O’Connell’s. Just visited the O’Connell’s store for the first time a few weeks ago and it is amazing.

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