Last night Brooks Brothers held a Christmas bash at its flagship 346 Madison Avenue store. The event drew hundreds, with shopping proceeds benefitting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

On the third floor, Wynton Marsalis (pictured at left) and members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, who are dressed by Brooks Brothers, played swinging renditions of Christmas tunes.

At one point, Marsalis thanked Brooks CEO Claudio del Vecchio and asked him to take a bow. From the middle of the room a tall gentleman gestured cordially.

I cleared my throat, pulled out a business card, meandered through the crowd, and made my pitch.

“Well you know we’re not hiring right now,” del Vecchio said with a chuckle, “and a couple people already like to think of themselves as Chief Historian.”

Del Vecchio and I chatted a bit more and he was actually quite responsive. I’ll see if I can get him to sit for an interview come the new year.

Back to the event: When I entered the store, a jazz trio led by Matt Rybicki was playing “Speak Low,” one of my own favorites to play on the piano (it’s in F: I always forget lyrics and composers, but never the key). Since no one was paying attention to them except me and an old man, I requested a couple more old favorites: “Deep Night” (Em/G). They didn’t know it, and offered “Night And Day,” which must be the tune most requested by people who request tunes. I counter-parried with “All The Things You Are” (A flat). Rybicki, the bassist, looked to his bandmates and said, “In three?” The drummer smiled and said yeah. The pianist looked a little apprehensive, and said, “OK, we can give it a try.” Off they went in 3/4 time and of course it was awesome. Musicians seem to be at their best when challenged.

The trio finished up, and the old man and I went upstairs to hear some more Marsalis:

A few minutes later we noticed the trio guys standing near us. I told them that while Marsalis and company were really swingin’, I preferred their introspective and pared-down sound, and the old man agreed. In the many concerts I took in for a couple years running an arts blog in LA, I found I’d rather hear chamber music in a church than the full Philharmonic at Disney Hall, as majestic as that concert hall is.

But enough with music and on to clothes. Several store guys had on their fun pants:

With his “Mad Men” vibe combined with festive tie, this guy stood out from the crowd. I chased him down on the escalator, and no surprise it turns out he works for Brooks on the corporate side. “People won’t leave nasty comments like on The Sartorialist, will they?” he asked. I assured him he had little to worry about:

Now for a few mannequins. I like the look on the right:

Polo coat. High on Christmas list:

Here’s a traditional tie and blazer spruced up with patterned scarf and a sort of single-breasted peacoat. Call it a split-pea coat:

Parting shot: spot the nonconformist. — CC