A young friend of mine just saw “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” for the first time recently and it got me to thinking…
Holly Golightly, of course played by the one and only Audrey Hepburn, always goes to Tiffany’s when the “mean reds” hit or she needs to feel safe and secure. That’s how I feel about Brooks Brothers.
A lot has changed since I first discovered the Brothers Brooks when I was in college.
It was love at first sight. I quickly realized that Sater’s and J.Berman’s, the premiere men’s stores in my home town, were pale imitations. Let me tell you, once you try a Brooks Brothers shirt, nothing else will do. Polo/Ralph Lauren was tempting for a while- especially during the brief era when BB quality slipped, but now that the quality is back at BB, their shirts can’t be beat.
I bet I have more white Brooks Brothers shirts than Don Draper has on “Mad Men”. They last forever, get better with age and usually only have to be replaced due to, uh, weight fluctuations or overly zealous dry cleaners.
When I step into Brooks Brothers, it takes me back to a time when quality and classic style mattered. It makes me feel secure. There is nothing like a classic menswear store to bring out the Cary Grant in a man.
I’ve always been of the “I would rather have a few nice things than a bunch of junk” school of thinking. I think this philosophy is pretty much gone. Also gone area lot of jobs that went to China, Mexico and other places as they took over manufacturing all this stuff so it could be sold cheaply enough for Americans to have lots of it. Quantity became more important than Quality and the downstream costs are not always obvious.
Best I can tell, there are at least 2 generations that have no idea what it was like to buy quality merchandise. Even today’s designer goods don’t have near the quality a Belk’s house brand had in 1970. Today, the sizes (even for the same item) are inconsistent, patterns don’t match at seams, seams are sewn so close to the edge they come undone almost immediately, buttons are barely sewn on, fabric quality is poor, linings are missing or incomplete– except at Brooks Brothers.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad for a lot of the changes over time. As a Gay man and a progressive Southerner, I’m very happy with the social progression of the country. Just wish it could go faster…I still wonder why people don’t take to the streets like they did in the past to drive the change forward, but I guess the internet is the new street-and that’s another post….
Still, I’m disturbed by so many of the younger American people today, who I lovingly refer to, in code to Steve in public, as SJI’s (Slack Jawed Idiots). These kids seem to have no idea of how to behave in restaurants, which fork to use, don’t understand that one dresses differently for the theatre or work than to wash the car, don’t get it that one behaves differently in public than in your Great (misnomer) Room at home and wear Bermuda shorts when it’s snowing.
That’s when I get the “mean reds” and need to go to Brooks Brothers.
Flannel Pants, Harris Tweed Jackets, Silk Ties, Cashmere Sweaters, Madras plaid shorts-in summer only, Khaki pants and quality Oxford Cloth Shirts can really soothe the nerves…
This is a revised repost from February on my other blog: www.lostinthe21stcentury.com