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Almost certainly at the seemingly infinite annoyance of those who find the stories either tedious or boring or both, I will (from time to time) pass on true stories based upon actual conversations I have with some of the old geezers in my neighborhood.

Here's the latest. Over dinner, one old fart informed me that during all of his years of living in a New York City suburb and commuting to Wall Street, he considered the habit of shopping a Brooks Brothers a matter of common sense. Not only did you know the quality was going to be at least decent, you knew that you could buy everything you might possibly need in one place. "Sort of like Wal-Mart is for a lot of folks," he observed, "one-stop-shopping. You buy for a whole season all at once, and you don't ask any questions." Expedient. Efficient.

He added that there was a faith in Brooks that was not questioned. As he put it, "It just so happens they sold sack suits, madras, and seersucker, so that's what we bought because Brooks chose to carry that. But if they had carried Hawaiian shirts and sandals, I guess we would have bought that and trusted that it was correct because that's what Brooks sold. We knew they wouldn't steer us in the wrong direction."

This speaks to a trust in institutions--including sartorial--that's since been shaken. Nowadays, "fashion" or "good taste" isn't defined by a certain store and/or the look for which it's known, but rather by a host of "designers" and the outlets--GQ magazine, for instance--for their "designs." I wonder if the heyday of the great store has passed.

How many of us can say, "I wear what I wear because that's what the salesmen at______tell me to buy and wear." Maybe a few, but I dare say not many. Nowadays people take their cues from celebrities, newscasters, and models wearing fashion designers' most recent offerings.

I know people who remain loyal to The Andover Shop--one of them to the point that he calls Barbara at the shop in Andover and says simply, "Send me a bunch of whatever you've stocked for this season. I' sure I'll like it just fine."

I also know people who remain loyal to Ben Silver. And certainly Eljo's (I count myself among this lot). Even, to some degree, to Press.

Cheers,
Harris
 
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