Southern Exposure: A Visit To Eljo’s

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In Charlottesville, VA, resides the legendary menswear shop Eljo’s, whose wares are succintly described on the store’s front sign: “traditional clothes.”

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Founded by brothers Elliot and Joseph Hyman in 1950, the shop has changed locations twice and is currently located just off the bustling Barracks Road shopping district. Eljo’s features an assortment of Ivy and traditional brands showcased with a distinctly Southern flair.

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Names such as Southwick, Sperry, and Royall Lyme are placed alongside newer brands such as Mountain Khakis.

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It’s not hard to imagine how many studious classrooms and rowdy tailgate parties over the decades have been populated by Eljo’s blue blazers and tweed jackets.

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It’s a sad sign of the times, alas, that longstanding UVA shops such as Eljo’s have been pushed further away from campus to make way for bars and alumni t-shirt shops. But old-schoolers take heart: while I browsed in the store, a student came in to be fitted for a classic navy blazer, proof that some traditions staunchly refuse to die. — MATTHEW KARL GALE

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52 Comments on "Southern Exposure: A Visit To Eljo’s"

  1. Boston Bean | April 14, 2015 at 12:45 pm |

    The founders: two more examples of Jewish gentlemen to whom we are indebted for preserving traditional style.

  2. Charlottesville | April 14, 2015 at 3:28 pm |

    Thanks for highlighting the hometown store that supplied a good bit of my wardrobe at one time. I still wear a much loved repp tie purchased there in the early 80s While I did not see much in the way of 3/2 sacks the last time I visited, they do offer them as special orders from Southwick. I need to return soon.

  3. Didn’t care for evocation of ethnic chauvinism of “Jewish gentlemen.” That they were Jews was irrelevant next to the point that they were merchants identifying a market and servicing it, no matter whom or what they worshipped. Seems to me there’s enough co-mercaintilists of all faiths in the tradition that no one faith should be singled out as “special” in its contributions.

  4. Although it is possible to criticize Jews without being anti-Semitic, Dumbfounded has let his anti-Semitic hand show: he failed to capitalize Jew. This is a sure sign of the anti-Semite. And he can’t even figure out the Brooks Brothers, now owned by Italians, has no Jewish connection whatsoever!

    Unless, of course, the Brethren were crypto-Jews, and it was part of their nefarious plot to take over the world by having Lincoln assassinated while he was wearing a Brooks Brothers suit….

  5. Anglophile Trad | April 15, 2015 at 3:23 am |

    @Gantshirt

    We’re talking about an ethnic group, not a faith.

    Would you like to point out another ethnic group that has made as much of a contribution to Trad/Ivy style?

  6. Great job Ivy Style for getting to Eljo’s! Excellent pictures. I think Eljo’s sells the 2 button sack, like the Andover Shop (Southwick Plymouth model). Can anyone confirm?

    So is Ben Silver next?

  7. @Gantshirt

    I think there is a mild amount of defensiveness due to the somewhat constant hounding of Ralph Lauren’s “inauthenticity,” which often takes on a somewhat antisemitic twinge.

    @Henry

    I believe he was referring to the ownership of BB by Garfinckel’s from 1946 to 1986.

    @Anglophile Trad

    Italian-Americans

  8. @Taliesin

    Eljo’s does sell a 2 button sack. They have one made by Southwick, which has double vents, like the Ben Silver house cut. They also have a two button model with a hook vent which I think is made by Empire.

  9. I don’t think there’s anything at all inherently anti-semitic (“crypto” or otherwise) in pointing out that most of the best, most traditional men’s stores carry the names of, if no longer actually owned by, Jewish families. No more so than recognizing that the tailors in those same stores were, more often than not, Italian. And the guys who owned and tended bar in the tavern down the street were Irish. That’s what’s great about America.

    Personally, I do love to “needle” RL fans by pointing out that his last name is actually “Lifschitz”. And I would do the same if his name were “Flanagan” or “Leonetti”. Although I guess I can understand if people think it leans toward bigotry, even if that’s not the way it’s intended.

  10. Anglophile Trad

    I don’t think one can exorcise ethnic Jews from the religion, whether practicing or not. Even non practicing Catholics have their religion in the background of their culture and character.

    That said Jews have nothing to apologise for, the world owes them much. What haven’t they excelled in?

  11. @Paul: his last name is “actually” Lauren. He did a legal name change long before he started his business.

  12. @Paul

    I’m not a big fan of RL myself – his clothing is overpriced, overbranded, frequently overdesigned, and overly reliant on outsourcing.

    But his given name, which was changed by his parents when he was a child, gets way more attention than it deserves. The typical criticism of RL is usually that he changed his name to hide his Jewishness and make himself seem somehow WASPier. The typical undertone, or even overtone, is that he has somehow stole market share away from the rightful (gentile) owners.

    Even if he had changed it for the sake of branding, it would be a wildly uncontroversial move that public figures do all the time. You don’t hear igents sniggering about Archibald Leach or Edward Albert George Adolphus von Wettin Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

  13. Anglophile Trad | April 15, 2015 at 12:38 pm |

    @MAC

    Re: “I don’t think one can exorcise ethnic Jews from the religion”.

    There are numerous secular American Jews who know absolutely nothing about Judaism, absolutely nothing.

  14. Anglophile Trad | April 15, 2015 at 12:44 pm |

    @L-feld

    Anyone other than Joe Ferraro (“Giuseppe Timore”)?

  15. @L-feld: I’m sure you’re right that, for some, the change to Lauren from Lifschitz “says” more than would have a change to Lauren from Leonetti. Whether they see it as hiding Jewishness or stealing what is rightfully somebody else’s (a laughable concept in American culture) certainly says more about them than it does about old Ralph himself. I think I always enjoyed pointing it out because I’ve always perceived the head-to-toe-Polo crowd as very aspirational: some of *them* would change *their* name to Lauren if they could get away with it!

    @Matt: your “actual” name is the one you were given at birth; the rest is window dressing.

    @Anglophile Trad: the most “culturally” Jewish guys I know couldn’t find the nearest synagogue; paradoxically, I have a handful of orthodox friends with whom I play ice hockey. Go figure.

  16. @Anglophile Trad

    the Grieco brothers (Southwick) and Frank Motta (partner of Eddie Jacobs) both come to mind. I’m sure there are others, but I would have to invest some time in it.

    I can only speak for myself, but as an ethnic Jew, I do generally think of myself as having an identity separate from the religion, although it played a (relatively minor) part in my upbringing.

    That said, I live on the east coast, so it’s kind of hard to avoid.

  17. dumbfounded | April 15, 2015 at 1:36 pm |

    I doubt there is anybody on this blog who actually understands the definition of “anti-Semitic”, which is ironic, because jews certainly have a flare for misdirection through the use of words — and that obviously includes family name changes for purposes of obfuscation and preservation.

    Further, it’s often said that nearly all the brands, stores and haberdasheries associated with the Ivy League look are / were Jewish, accept for Brooks… well, a closer look at the history of that company will show otherwise. As such, why do we let jews define WASP style?

  18. “Flair” not “flare”.
    “Except” not “accept”.

    For all this talk about Judaism, your post leaves me with only one exasperated comment: Jesus Christ!

  19. Faith is a faulty epistemology. The ” faithful ” are clearly delusional. Please put than in your pipe and smoke it.

  20. Aaaand now we’ve heard from another kind of bigot: the anti-religious. Thanks for the fact-free rant, Hunter!

  21. Ha ! Way to play the victim/persecution card , Mr. Henry. I’n not necessarily anti-religious, sir. But I am anti-delusion.

    ” Faith is believing what you know ain’t so .”

    – Mark Twain

  22. The house style and offerings available at Eljo’s.

    The South.

    UVA.

    Charlottesville.

    Anyone want to talk about any of those topics?

  23. @Henry,

    Remember the “fedora” atheists I mentioned a while back? It looks like we’ve found one.

  24. Which South, the old one or the new one?

    UVA, great school with an incompetent president. As an aside, will the Rolling Stone mag produce better journalism and actually be relevant own by a frat? 😉

  25. Funny how being “secular” means being so unaware of one’s culture or it’s impact on you.

  26. Charlottesville | April 15, 2015 at 5:20 pm |

    Eljo’s carries Southwick and other makes of blazers and sport coats. As noted above, most (perhaps all) are undarted 2-buttons and many have double vents, which seem to be popular in these parts judging by what I see at church and around the university, but some have hook vents. Shoes come from Allen Edmonds and OCBDs are available from Gittman. Probably other brands as well. As I said above, I need to return and scout out what else is available. Nice tie in the photo at the top, in my opinion. Hope mentioning church won’t cause another holy war among the commenters. All are welcome, Jew or Greek, as St. Paul might have said.

  27. I said this above, but I think it bears repeating. Eljo’s carries sack jackets made by Empire. They are nice for the price point, if you want proper natural shoulders and a hook vent at a lower price point than Southwick or H. Freeman. Shoulders are closer to Southwick style, i.e. constructed, but sloped. Not as flimsy as Freeman.

  28. @JDD

    Please! The preferred term is “neckbeard.”

  29. Hunter, you’ve made claims—stated conclusions, in essence—without any arguments or facts to support them. In legal terms, you are assuming facts not in evidence. Since your claims are without basis, they can be dismissed out of hand.

    Please go find another blog to pollute.

    JDD,

    Indeed!

  30. Ha ha ! Good one, Henry. On the contrary the onus is on you to validate your claim , sir. (But nice try.) Critical thinking 101, knucklehead. However, if you had evidence then you would not need to fall back on faith and/or fantasy. Keep on drinking the Kool-Aid !

    ” Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence . ”

    – Carl Sagan

    ” That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

    – Hitchens

    ” Faith : not wanting to know what is true. ”

    – Nietzsche

  31. ” A professorship of Theology should have no place in our institution ( the University of Virginia) .”

    – Thomas Jefferson

  32. When I first moved to Charlottesville, not long after college, I got a job as a tour guide at Monticello — for $6.35 an hour — and needed work clothes that would match the setting. Eljo’s was above my price range, but when I walked into the Corner location with a thrift-store bow tie (thrifting in C’ville is excellent, by the way), the seasoned salesman very kindly taught me how to tie it. Virginian manners can be pleasant indeed.

  33. Intellectually-dishonest debate tactic #1: Name-calling.

    Also #5: false premise (victim/persecution card? Really?)

    At least a couple more, I’m sure, but I’m not interested in dealing with someone so intellectually stunted as to think that a few quotes somehow undoes three millennia of theology.

    Bye!

  34. K. Arbuthnot | April 16, 2015 at 1:15 am |

    @dumbfounded

    Would I be correct in assuming that you were a fraternity member?

  35. Well, this has certainly been fun. Tuned in for the clothes and got to see a cafeteria food fight. Matzo balls, sauerkraut, lasagna, fish and chips, moo goo gai pan, and good old apple pie, all flying. Say, anyone know what kinds of shoes Eljo’s carries?

  36. Main Line Philly | April 16, 2015 at 4:44 am |

    @George

    Many of us turn in for the clothes and we get occasionally get jazz and football, so why not an old-fashioned fight between sensible gentlemen and bigots, for a change?

  37. Vern Trotter | April 16, 2015 at 6:00 am |

    I believe Henry speaks for the majority of the commenters here. The stones cast at persons of faith are simply gratuitous. Even worse to hide behind the skirts of Sagan, Hitchens, Nietszche, Jefferson.

    Mostly, you can tune in and find an exchange of gravitas. Topics that are important in the order of things.

  38. @ Mr. Henry –

    Please try your best to think for yourself. We have both engaged in ad hominem , which was initiated by you, sir. And thanks for exemplifying a number of logical fallacies for us. Three millennia of theology !? How about three millennia of astrology , sir ? Yes, it would be best for you to quit now in order to save face.

    @ Mr. Trotter –

    Et tu , Brute? Casting stones !? You poor little persecuted faith-head ! There is a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia Student Health Center that will treat your malady. Please schedule an appointment forthwith. Perhaps after consultation and treatment you will finally be able to move from the Kid’s Table to the the Adult’s Table.

    http://www.jandersonthomson.com

  39. Bags' Groove | April 16, 2015 at 11:51 am |

    You’ll soon be longing for some more jazz chat, or maybe even chat about natural shoulders or perhaps loafers…..just so long as BB doesn’t immediately dominate proceedings.

  40. Son of Ed(period) | April 16, 2015 at 12:01 pm |

    If Tomás Torquemada were alive today, he’d be a hardcore secularist atheist.
    Nice article about Eljo’s; I’d love to visit it when I’m in the area.

  41. Worried Man | April 16, 2015 at 12:10 pm |

    Man, nothing gets the comments rolling like some good ethno-religious talk. Aside from all that, it’s great to see a feature on the venerable Eljo’s. I need to stop in on my next trip to O’Connell’s.

  42. Worried Man | April 16, 2015 at 12:17 pm |

    Oh, and an aside: Those Descendant of Thieves shirts in the sponsored ad on the right are some of the ugliest shirts I’ve ever seen. Eljo’s wouldn’t touch those with a twenty-foot hanger hooker!

  43. Stopping in at Eljo’s on your way to O’Connell’s? That’d be quite a road trip.

    Have the “Southern Trad” types completely given up on the 3/2 jacket button concept?

  44. Charlottesville | April 16, 2015 at 1:41 pm |

    @cameron

    I, for one, have most certainly not given up on the 3/2 sack, but they are increasingly hard to find as an off-the-rack option. J. Press in Washington is my best source, and they are occasionally available elsewhere, such as at Alvin-Dennis in Lexington, Virginia. I can always order one from Southwick at Eljo’s, or have one made to measure, of course, but that is not the same thing. Fortunately, my aging stock from B.B. and J.P. wear like iron for the most part, and some suits and sport coats have lasted decades. Ben Silver and Eljo’s have certainly gone the 2-button route and that seems to be by far the most common style that I see in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Charleston and New Orleans (in the rare instances when one sees a man in a coat and tie these days). As recently as the early 80s, the 3/2 sack was pretty standard in this area, at least among professionals, and one still sees them here and there, even on young men.

    @kagi — Any particular thrift shops in Charlottesville that you like?

  45. Worried Man | April 17, 2015 at 10:52 am |

    @ Cameron
    Departing from Atlanta. 🙂

    I VERY rarely see any man around Atlanta in a 3/2. I’m pretty sure all the OTR and house cuts at local places like H. Stockton, Guffey’s, Miller Brothers etc., and definitely Sid Mashburn are 2 or legit 3-button darted makes.

  46. When my daughter and her now husband were attending law school at UVA I would stop in Eljo’s during my visits. The clothing and the conversations about clothes was wonderful.

  47. I am heartened every time I hear of a place like this that has endured! I’ve noticed that most are in the mid-Altlantic and Southeast. Is this a fair generalization? I have a chance at a job in Charlottesville, and one of my first tasks upon arrival, upon acceptance of the position, etc., would be to stop here and make some purchases. Thank you for this!

  48. As for the 3/2 sack, I wear them almost exclusively, although, admittedly, they are harder and harder to find in men’s stores aside from the few big players, e.g., Brooks, O’Connell’s, and J. Press. Mine are ones I’ve either had for years or have found recenly through vintage sellers. If you’re careful, you can find excellent deals these days with used 3/2 jackets, often for a mere fraction of their original retail.

  49. Charlottesville | April 21, 2015 at 9:32 am |

    @Gary – Hope you join us 3/2 sack holdouts here in Charlottesville. We need additional support. Best of luck with the job possibility!

  50. You are all trying too hard. You know what I mean.

  51. For the record, I did not engage in an ad hominem attack, my dear Hunter. Bigot is an objectively definable term: one who holds bigoted views; one who is intolerant of differing views. Your posts show that the term is apt. On the other hand, knucklehead is just a put-down with no objective value. Both are disparaging, yes, but in very different ways.

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