I will try to write this without vulgarity and profanity. Partly because someone’s son might read this. Partly because, well, it is a gentlemen’s site.
Lived off of Lands’ End buttondowns for most of my career, back when they made a wide variety. Wore Brooks blazers, suits, ties, accessories, and even one pair of wingtips, but somehow did not own a dress shirt. That has been rectified many times over in my fifties, by retail and by eBay. And those options still are there, although, shrinking — or should I say, slimming down. No more traditional fit anything (if anyone recalls when there were only two fits). No slacks for a traditional man, no full fit shirts, not even a full fit blazer. Gone, all gone. Customer service confirms it.
But I had never visited the flagship store until maybe four years ago while on a business trip to New York. One morning with a couple of free hours, I left a Midtown meeting and trekked to 346 Madison Ave. What an absolute joy to visit the store I had read about for years, and I took in every floor. Got the marrow out of it, to paraphrase a tradly dressed character in a wonderful movie.
To know that such hallowed ground no longer exists is, well, like coming out of covid and finding that movie theaters have gone away and Netflix rules the world, or that my uncles’s decade- old filling station has been replaced by a 7-Eleven, or that my neighborhood hardware store with the oily hardwood floor was run out of business by a Home Depot. But we have memories of olden days, of real America days, and we must grasp those. We must cling to memories while continuing to set a standard ourselves.
The wife caught up with an old friend via Zoom last weekend, but when I walked past the screen the friend inquired as to why I was not dressed casually on a Sunday afternoon. Huh? I wore a rumpled, un-ironed, buttondown over un-ironed khakis. But that was dressed up here in the mountain states region.
Goodbye Brooks Brothers, and for current ownership, good riddance. But hello Mercer & Sons, welcome Michael-Spencer, and glad you stayed, J. Press and O’Connell’s. America needs you more than ever. — JDV