Yes, it’s true: back in the day, preppy girlfriends would make needlepoint belts for their beaux. In some cases, the belts lasted longer than the relationship. Prior contributor BC explains.
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When we met in the fall of 1981, M. had left Georgetown, where she had been studying nursing, and was working as a salesperson at Brooks Brothers at 19th and L Street in Washinton, DC.
She had five siblings. Her father graduated from Yale, as did all three of her brothers. A very accomplished big Catholic family. I was intimidated by their academic achievements, and was sure that I did not want to raise a big family myself. She did. I loved her, but we broke up amicably, but I have not spoken with her since.
This old belt is a treasured memento. It still fits and I wear it occasionally. It’s held up after all these years, with some patina. We both enjoyed sailing. She spelled my name in nautical flags. She did the needlepoint work and a shoe repair place attached it to the leather belt.
I don’t know how or why M. learned to needlepoint. It was something that nice girls once learned to do, I suppose. — BC
Incredible! One size belt for 36 years, and only one notch in the belt is creased from wear.
Incredible, where did she buy the leather ends?
One cannot imagine what that D.C. store was like in 1981. I was in there frequently and there was more than one girl I recall that fits that description (all in furnishings). After Christmas you could find yourself choosing slacks with GHWB and choosing from a dozen suits at January prices. There was a decent Joseph Banks store around the corner as well. Unlike this writer I’m afraid those clothes have long since been discarded but for a black formal vest. Those were the days of the Georgetown University shop as well. A nice memory.
Which storefront was the Brooks Bros store? The one that’s now the “Potbelly Sandwich Works”? Doesn’t quite have the same toney-ness, does it? LOL
Those were fun times in DC.
Right, the furnishings floor…
Yep, the Georgetown University Shop was an excellent men’s store. I believe that the owner back then, John B. Smoot, purchased the place in 1980 from legendary Washington, DC haberdasher, S. Thomas Saltz. It was disappointing to see it close whenever that was.
And, if I recall correctly, the Day Lilly was still transforming itself into the Chinese Disco on weekends. Motown, beer, dancing…
Well, I used to drop into the Georgetown University Shop on a regular basis during the 1960-64 years. Southwick, Gant, Bass were their staples. I never bought because I was 100% Brooks by then, buying from their traveling salesman, Mr O’Conner in Baltimore and Washington hotels. Also hung out out Martins Tavern, a half block from JFK’s red brick townhouse on the corner, his last residence before the White House during 1960, he moving in January 1961. Bobby K used to be in Martins a lot.
I was transferred out of the area in 1964 and never returned to the GU Shop although I lived nearby twice in later years.
I love the whimsical, hand crafted designs of needlepoint. Tough to get one custom made these days, also wicked expensive. Smathers and Branson is a good option.
“Incredible, where did she buy the leather ends?”
I believe the gal did the needlepoint on cloth which was then sewn on to an existing leather belt. If not it’s still a great story.
BC, Wianno85 and Vern – My time in Washington started in 1985 (aside from elementary school days in Alexandria), but the L street Brooks was still going strong and the end of the year sales netted them a good chunk of my Christmas bonuses. A friend briefly dated a girl who worked there, but I don’t recall her name (he called her “Brooksie”). I still have a few items from that era, but must confess that I have had them let out an inch or so. I think George Will was a Saltz customer in those days. I had a Southwick suit made to measure there. I think it was my first custom purchase ever.
Martin’s Tavern was also still very much a Georgetown institution in the 80s and my wife and I as well as friends enjoyed many a martini and burger in its booths.
Thanks for the good memories.
Oh, I thought the article was “She’s kept my pants zipped up.”
You should try to find her again and tell her that you still have the belt! (And report back to us!)
Mac, thanks for clarifying. It looks like a YRI belt.
I too have an old needle point belt, monogrammed, made by my college girlfriend in the ’80s. I always told my wife that I would get rid of it as soon as she needle pointed me a new one. I still wear it today however, unlike CB, I had mine re-backed and lengthened a few years ago (I sent it to a shop in St. Louis, the needle point belt capital of the world).
As for DC, I still have neckties from the original Brooks Store at 19th & L. Chapel Heel, it was actually where the Corner Bakery is now. For many years after they closed that location, the classic Brooks edifice remained, but sadly today even that is gone. That was a great neighborhood back then, with Press just a block away and Jos. Bank (which was then still purveying well made sack suits and button downs) just around the corner. And if I recall correctly, Saltz was in the same area in a second floor suite? There was another men’s store in the Bender Bldg, the next block over on L. It was more like the Jos. Banks of today, always touting a sale, but they too sold decent sack suits and top coats. Does anyone remember the name of that shop?