O’Connell’s, Main Street Clothier Since 1959

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O’Connell’s may be located on Main Street in Buffalo, NY, but it’s certainly not “Main Street” in its wares. The company has been offering the real deal since 1959, and is still family owned.

The website Department of Style recently paid O’Connell’s a visit and produced a short but fun video. Check it out. — CC

37 Comments on "O’Connell’s, Main Street Clothier Since 1959"

  1. Southwick. Hertling. Alden. Atkinsons. Mackintosh.

    T’s all gooood.

  2. Private label Gitman Bros. shirts and the O’Connell’s salesman in the Department of Style video wearing a starched shirt will devalue O’Connell’s ivy cred among those purist that believe the BD should be worn with the nonchalance laundering of a hobo. 😉

    O’Connell’s is like all old school ivy shops, cluttered and one can buy a boater.

  3. Not only is their product line-up excellent, but I have found both their phone and email assistance to be fantastic. I hope to visit them in person at some point. Also, a big big plus is $5 UPS Ground on US order with no minimum. You have to love that!

  4. Dickey Greenleaf II | March 24, 2013 at 2:02 pm |

    First, and foremost being first-class and also first-rate of an eloquent expert of such things and affairs. I’d like to say, cheers to 54 years on the exemplar excerpt of Oconnell’s Clothing. A place where the quintessence, elegance, exquisite, and the exactitude have fervid for generations, with great flair.

  5. A.E.W. Mason | March 24, 2013 at 2:29 pm |

    O’Connell’s indeed. I’d venture it’s the last place around to get the “real deal.”

    Last week I got a disturbing e-mail offer from J. Press, informing me that there was a 20% discount on items it was discontinuing. They were items I’d have considered pretty basic to J. Press. Then I checked out J. Press online yesterday and what I viewed convinced me that J. Press is going the way of Brooks Brothers, and not because of York Street. The traditional 3-button sack suit will be slowly edged out for the new, more slim, more “hip,” more “you-can-get-it-at-Bloomingdales” kind of suit.

  6. After the York Street nonsense from J. Press and the recent Brooks Brothers catalog, it is nice to see a company that has stuck to their roots getting some press. Best of luck to O’Connell’s. I look forward to supporting you for many years to come!

  7. I agree with Dickey!

  8. It’s great to see my favorite hometown shop getting more national press. I’m fortunate to live about a mile from O’Connell’s and I struggle to not spend every penny there. Their website doesn’t have 10% of their actual stock. You must make the pilgrimage to Buffalo, you won’t be disappointed.

  9. I’ve got a somewhat tangential question: what’s with readers’ aversion to all things slim? I don’t get it. If you flip through the pages of Take Ivy or peruse pictures of Steve McQueen, you’ll see nothing but slim-fitting clothing.

  10. Seriously, someone please elaborate.

  11. Straight Arrow | March 24, 2013 at 9:17 pm |

    @Jack,

    There was no slim-flit option available at the time that the Take Ivy photos were taken, but there were Japanese photographers with a fixation on men’s crotches and backsides.

    As far as McQueen was concerned, you need only Google McQueen and gay for an explanation.

  12. A.E.W. Mason | March 24, 2013 at 9:18 pm |

    @Jack

    I’m glad you asked that question. In fact, personally, I don’t have an aversion to “all things slim.” My English suits have shape, certainly, and I have sevearl slim fit shirts.

    My point is that with so few clothiers offering classic American styling, which I also love, it’s disappointing to see yet another one of those old line institutions bend to fashion. But I understand that it’s a business decision and I respect that. J. Press has no duty in law or custom to remain “a sartorial museum,” to use Michael Anton’s description.

  13. A.E.W. Mason | March 25, 2013 at 12:07 am |

    There is also a big difference between softly tailored jackets with shape as worn by, say, Fred Astaire or Jimmy Stewart (see the movie “Rope”), and what we’re getting now. The skirt of a jacket should cover the belt buckle at the waist. The jackets in the new BB catalogue are not so much slim-fitting as tight-fitting.

  14. Frisco Trad | March 25, 2013 at 12:42 am |

    For those who find O’Connell’s too modern for their taste:

    http://www.cablecarclothiers.com/

  15. Frisco Trad
    Cable Car is a great shop, but their web site needs cleaned up. Surely they aren’t actually asking $138 for a wool surcingle belt.

  16. If this keeps occuring with Trad shops, I’ll have to start having everything custom made!

  17. O’ Connell’s deserves three cheers, a round of applause, words of praise, and offerings at the altar of gratitude. Yes. Indeed.

    In the spirit of this sort of celebration, I mention another great men’s shop that, finally and lamentably, went the way of dust. It is no more, but, not so long ago, it still was. And it was unique.

    Before the Prenners (wisely) moved their blazer buttons-and-repp ties operation to the sartorial capital of the Trad Universe (Charleston), many a Low Country Gent was outfitted by Max’s Men’s Store. It was the essence of Southern Traditional. They did not cater to popular demand. It’s as though they remained stubbornly undarted, soft shouldered, button downed, and flat fronted as a matter of principle. Hyperbolic, yes. But not too far off the mark, I think.

    What happens when such a heavy cross carried? Well, Good Friday. Max’s breathed its last. No Easter moment, though. The stone covered the tomb. Until Jos. A. Bank moved in. Ugh.

    Max’s shut their doors for the last time in 2004. Or was it 2005? Either, sufficient reason for grief. Where did their loyal customers go? This was one of the last remaining 3-button, natural shoulder clothiers. Family owned, as well. The Krawcheck family, that is. Max died in 1988.

    By the time I was introduced to Max’s, it was mostly by way of hand-me-downs. A bit tattered and frayed, and, in the case of an old Norman Hilton sack blazer, decrepit.

    Here’s the thing: as recently as 2004, a tourist wandering King Street could walk through the doors and delight (or not) at an inventory that invited the modifier “Ivy.” More than a handful of items in “Charleston Green” (yes, there is such a thing. Forest approaching black). All the time-tested makers and models. The lapels, tie blades, and pant bottoms were a bit wider, but that was to the good. Leave the less-than-3″ lapels and neckwear to the hipsters, gents.

    Would a member of the Krawcheck family write a piece of remembrance? Perhaps. Maybe Maxminimus, who probably visited Max’s more than a few times, can chronicle with greater skill than I. Someone should say more, I think. I hope.

  18. @Jack

    Back in the 50s and 60s (the “Ivy Style heyday”) the clothes were made for and marketed to young men. Specifically college-age men. Hence they were slim fitting by default. In fact one of the defining features of the “Ivy Style” when the garmentos first started using that term in the early 50s, was that it was all about trim fits, and slim lines – a departure from the quite baggy fashions of the 30s and 40s.

    But over the course of the 70s, the Ivy Style ceased to be a style for young men, and instead became a style for portly old men. Hence the makers and retailers stopped catering to the young and physically fit.

    Specifically, consider that in the mid 60s, the people born during the early peak years of the baby boom were in college. That was a huge demographic segment – the sheer numbers of that birth cohort have been distorting the US economy and politics in all sorts of ways ever since (that birth cohort is the pig moving through the demographic python). The “Ivy Style” clothing found in stores has tended to match their progress over the years, especially in respect of waistline. So the clothes got fat as the boomers entered middle age. And then they just stayed that way. And now, even younger post-boomer types who think of themselves as “traditionalists” assume that the clothes they knew in the 80s was how it always was.

  19. O’Connell’s saddle shoulder ‘Scottish Shetland Wool Sweater'; 35 colors available $165; Cable Car Clothiers ‘our fully fashioned crewneck sweater in soft shetland wool’ 9 colors available $695 (with larger sizes 10% added). Am I missing something here?

  20. That the target demographic for natural shoulder clothing was young, college-age men–this is not entirely accurate.

    Look at the many Norman Hilton ads. How many of them feature a model who appears to be under the age of 25? 30, for that matter. Few reveal a gent walking around a campus.

    There was the eccentric narrowness of the Ivy Heyday, which lasted for, what?, maybe six or seven years? And then there the other features of the look, that have stood the many tests of time–both before the Heyday and since. The natural shoulder, the plain front pants, the straight lines.

  21. SE
    I’d have to agree, has the drop of an off the rack suit changed in a half century?

  22. @ M Arthur: Thank you; in the catalogue 10/11 (http://www.cablecarclothiers.com/2011Catalog.pdf; page 13 item H) it gives the $695 prize; probably a typo.

  23. Cameron wrote,

    “the quite baggy fashions of the 30s and 40s”

    Which were a departure from the tight, narrow-shouldered fashions of the teens and twenties, and were less baggy than you seem to think.

    The twenties saw the birth of Oxford bags, a ridiculously baggy trouser designed to be worn over knickers (knickers were banned from the classrooms of Oxford, hence the name of the pant). These pants influenced what was to come.

    The thirties saw the birth of the Drape Cut, which, far from being baggy, was designed to accentuate a man’s shoulders and height, and minimize his waist. The Drape Look included full-cut trousers, which look better on a wider variety of shapes than stovepipe-cut pants do.

    There’s a reason many men’s style aficionados idolize the thirties: it was, in many ways, the sartorial peak for men’s clothing. The Drape Cut makes men look manly and authoritative, as they should.

    The fifties saw the drape cut exaggerated into a caricature called the Bold Look, with excessively broad shoulders, extra-wide lapels, and baggy jackets. The Ivy League Look seems more a reaction (in part) against that look than the elegant look of the thirties and forties. (Yes, I know there was more to the Ivy League Look than that–just keeping the post short.)

    The Houndstooth Kid had a couple of posts about this, including the one linked here.

  24. @ Straight Arrow – Neither explanation you’ve given holds water.

  25. @Cameron

    Thanks for your response. I had developed the same hypothesis on Ivy clothing “growing” with its original target demographic as you. If the premise that the original Ivy look favored slim-fitting garments is accepted – which, in light of certain photographic evidence is difficult to dispute – it follows that the looser mode of dress favored by this blog and its readers is something of a perversion.

  26. Most Brooks Brothers catalogues throughout the decades depict men wearing clothes that fit well. Enough to flatter, accentuate, and remain comfortable, but not enough to billow and blouse.

    Although I will say that drapes and swells really are flattering, even on the very thin.

  27. A.E.W. Mason | March 25, 2013 at 9:53 pm |

    I have to say I quite agree with S.E. on this. I believe you other gentlemen are thinking of the slim cut worn by college boys, who were starting to become a little “hip” and “cool,” think “Rick and Dave Nelson.” The grownups at the old line law firms and in the board rooms, however, were not partaking.

  28. Photos of men actually wearing clothing in books catalogs is relatively recent event.

    Tight high water pants in the 60s was the equivalent of greasers “pegging” Levi 501s at the time, surprise, skinny jeans weren’t new. At the time I figured my cohorts wearing them either didn’t know how to wear trousers or were buying them prefinished off the rack at Macy. Pants that fit don’t show one’s junk, fit thru the hips, don’t have gaping on seam pockets, don’t get caught on one’s calves and fit without a belt.

  29. “The original Ivy look”?? What’s that?

    Brooks in the 60s. More than one chronicler recalls that Brooks didn’t budge very much. They revised the no. 2 jacket, which was a nod to men who wanted more shoulder and more tracing through the middle. But, really–was that jacket short-and-narrow as the York Street and Black Fleece (and J. Crew and…) offerings are? Come on.

    I’ll concede there was a period of weirdness, but it came and went.

  30. I think most of us can agree that the rule of the golden mean applies.

    One inch lapels and ties and 16″ pant bottoms are as “out there” as four inch lapels and ties and 24″ bottoms.

    Three inchlapels and ties, and pant bottoms around 18″. This works for me.

  31. 3″ ties, S.E.? Surely not! I find 3 1/2″, give or take a quarter inch, to be just right. Incidentally, I wear a 37 short and am slender.

  32. S.E & Henry – As a 37 short I would take 3″ ties over 3.5″, but prefer 3.25″. I do recognize the 3.5″ to be very classic just a tad wide for my slender build.

  33. Okay, yes. Somewhere between 3 and 3.5.

  34. Was in there today. The place is amazing, lives up to its reputation.

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