17 November 2008

A Sob Story

I've recently been making the rounds of Boston's venerable old men's shops in a desperate search for part time employment. I've hit them all: J.Press, Andover Shop, and most recently Brooks Brothers. No dice yet. But that is not the sob story.

Ever since I was a teenager, I have made a habit of filling my closet with clothing from these three brands, as well as others on the same level, and I have been fortunate to come by a lot of great items. I've been even more fortunate to have paid some kind of bargain price every time.

Truth is, I have never, repeat never, actually purchased anything in any of these places. Sure I've gone in and looked around. I've politely declined sales help with the usual "No thanks, just looking". I have never been the first owner of any of my better clothes. I have never put on a brand new suit, had it fitted, and come back a week later to pick it up. Truthfully, though I often wear such clothing by choice, I haven't been required to on any kind of regular basis for at least 15 years.

As I read the accounts of others regarding places like these, it makes me pine even more for some kind of "good old days" that I am too young to have experienced. One by one, as these places lose their identity and sell their souls to sweatshops and marketing, I wonder if I will ever be fortunate enough to experience them first hand, or am I doomed to a lifetime of sartorial archeology.

" World's smallest violin" and all that...

5 comments:

Seth said...

I sympathize. Working at a vintage store while in college, I acquired my first real clothes from the owner who would run across a proper tweed suit or a BB shirt in her inventory and give me the items saying, "We'll never get what it's worth, and you're the only person I know who will really appreciate it, so just take it." At the time, I would walk through someplace like BB and sigh, knowing that it was all out of reach.

A couple of years ago I took some risks and have found myself situated a bit more comfortably, though by no means "comfortably." I also made the (accidentally) brilliant decision to move to a city with a J.Press. I walk through regularly, and have been lucky enough to pick up a few odds and ends. I'm certainly not one of the fellows who walks out with a trunk of new clothes, but I do find it satisfying to pick something up, even if it's only one item at a time.

Still, I recently had a conversation with one of the gents at the shop in which he assured me that style is coming back. I don't know that I really believed him, though his commission from me is not worthy of a lie. But I can say that discovering this world of "trad" blogs in the past couple of months has at least given me the comfort of knowing that I'm not the only young fogey out there (though I probably don't really qualify as that young anymore).

Belabored point being, that, the rise of the barbarians notwithstanding, there are enough of us out there to perpetuate civilization for a bit longer. Don't give up hope quite yet.

Thomas said...

Don't feel bad...I am 51 years old, and I like you have only bought from these shops second-hand....It's not the end of the world.

Giuseppe said...

I don't feel bad about this at all, it's just that one of these days, it would be nice to be treated like a real 'customer'.

I have a weird hope that the economy will tank so far down that in the end we wind up with an old fashioned localized service culture in which most people are allowed to participate, not just a few...but maybe I'm just a pinko.

Anonymous said...

"...the rise of the barbarians notwithstanding, there are enough of us out there to perpetuate civilization for a bit longer."

That's what it all comes down to in the end: an attempt to perpetuate one dimension of civilization a bit longer.

Thanks, Seth.

Anonymous said...

"I have a weird hope that the economy will tank so far down that in the end we wind up with an old fashioned localized service culture in which most people are allowed to participate, not just a few."

Amen!