21 February 2013

Brooks Brothers Global Citizen

Brooks Brothers Catalog, Spring, 1990 

During the bad old days of Marks & Spencer ownership (1988-2001), Brooks Brothers went through a number of bizarre...lets call them 'schemes.' A word with darker connotations in the US than in the UK.  The '90s seemed especially dark and it was hard to tell the difference between the windows of a Banana Republic Store and Brooks Brothers.  Thankfully, that has changed. 

A Roger Sterling moment with London Club tie

Back in the early '90s, I was hanging my clothes somewhere on the North Shore of Chicago and would frequent a popular Chinese restaurant in Highland Park on Sunday nights. It had the highest concentration of Coogi sweaters I have ever seen.  "Not Hot!" was the loud instruction of so many diners that I asked for everything, "Very Hot!"  Much to my own detriment a couple hours later.

Brooks Brothers calls their "Golbal Citizen" collection, "Urbane and cosmopolitan." I call it, "Not hot." The company release goes on,  "It is the blending of seemingly opposite ideas of luxury-technolgy, dressy-casual and modern-classic that sum up the philosophy behind this season's offerings."  Well, I guess that beats my summing it up with a Chinese restaurant.

Miles Davis, "Sketches of Spain."  Slim Keith in Madrid.  Marcona almonds and ice cold Manzanilla Sherry.  Seven and watching a bullfight with my father on a Mexican station in El Paso.  I want every woman I know to buy this.

A TV anchorman suit and tie. Without prejudice -- without character.  Matt Lauer comes to mind in ice cold Zegna.  Thin and neat.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  The Trench saves it with wide lapels and a look of old Hollywood.  Not '40s Noir but '30s Thin Man.  Elegant and full of motion even if it's not moving. 

Ice cold but warm in a 20 room apartment on Park.  Tiny and anemic, she never serves red wine to her guests.  Only white and champagne.  The TV in the oak paneled den is going on 20 years and the bookshelves are filled with yellowing jackets faded from sun and the 1970s.  Her nail polish is white...when she wears it. Her favorite book is a collection of  celebrity dog food recipes.

He wanted a Chesterfield but his wife told him he couldn't have one until he could afford a house with two bathrooms.  He bought one anyway and hung it on the back of his office door for a year before she found out.  Perfect with evening wear. Sternly confident in a navy or grey suit. Make do classic in jeans, suede paddock boots and a white button down on a business Sunday brunch in London.  

Replace the suede paddock boot above with a pebble finish chukka and generate contrast while tweaking the anal retentive 30 year old IT know it all from Schaumberg who tells you to wear only black shoes with a Chesterfield.  You proudly call it 'pebble' while the youth refer to it as football leather.  Or worse, 'awesome football leather.' Equally at home in the First Presbyterian Church on Michigan Ave or under a bible revival tent somewhere in Kentucky where your host is speaking in tongues.

Women always know what hat will look best on them. I don't know how.  It's Godlike.

Pretentious B&W that can be salvaged by inclusion on a NYC gallery web site.

After party at the Four Seasons bar in Chicago.  She likes Beefeater martinis and tells you she always wanted to do it in a coat room.  The simple slit of her dress hides behind her bracelet.  No designer names.  No expensive watches. She's got a good head on her. 

"Camel with fur trim," I tell the coat check girl.  Walking towards the lake past the Drake, she stops at an antique store window and points to an 18th century silver creamer, "No one buys silver anymore. I wonder why?" You smile and say, "Things change. Is that Revere?" 


Brummagem Joe said...

The Chesterfield looks very cool. I tried to find one in this combo a few years back but no luck so picked up a very nice light brown cashmere from BB (in their Jan super sale), had some tailoring adjustments, added dark brown velvet collar, result looks knockout. Even been complimented by a couple of women in NYC hotel lobbies (much to wife's chagrin...lol). I'll keep my open for this and all the other stuff you're highlighting tintin.

Oyster Guy said...

Very entertaining stuff...after this post, I really, really wonder if you shouldn't devote your efforts to women's wear the way Maxim usurped Playboy. I tend to think women dress more for other women, but throw a man's point of view in the mix and maybe you can outflank the mainstream fashion media.

Shall we place bets on whether Ms. Olive comments on the little black number with gold bracelet?

Makaga said...

Great post, Tintin. I've been trying to convince my GF to wear a matador (matadora?) influenced outfit for awhile now. She has the shape and bearing to pull it off. I will show her this picture to make a second attempt.

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

If Peterman had had you writing its copy, the original company might still be with us.

Best Regards,

Heinz-Ulrich von B.

David V said...

Good stuff!

If a hat does not look good on my wife then it will look good on no one. She has the bone structure that makes any wearable hat look perfect.

Alice Olive said...

Oyster Guy: An LBD, her hands and legs. Gets me every time.