13 January 2011

A First Time For Everything

I finally did it, I crossed the line. I bought something new in the sartorial holy land that is Andover Shop.

There's the proof, that paper bag right there. I'll keep it forever. I feel like a teenage girl who gets kissed on the cheek by a rock star and vows never to wash her face again. Cripes, I'm blushing.

Being both cheap and broke, my purchase may not have been a big one, but for me it was enough. A collar pin, $17.50 plus tax. Ever since my pal ADG pointed out that only a degenerate would wear a slide on falsey collar pin, I haven't worn mine. This one sticks right through, leaves a hole in your shirt. It's almost like learning to drive stick after a lifetime of faking it with an  automatic.

The Andover Shop exists outside the limits of our mere human world. It's a place so ripe with soul that it practically hugs you as you come in. At the center of it all is Mr. Charlie Davidson, the owner.Sartorial god amongst mere mortals, this short statured old fellows love of jazz, foul mouth and "clothes madness" will keep any admirer enthralled for days. He held court resplendent in charcoal flannels and a hunter green blazer, absolutely ancient tassel loafers, a blue oxford shirt with a mythic collar roll, and black repp tie with purple and yellow stripes. Years ago, I stopped in and got caught up in an hour long conversation with the man himself about the long lost haberdashers of Boston. I didn't buy a thing then, but he told me to feel free to drop by anytime to "shoot the sh*t". Over the years I have done just that, our conversations always end with a laugh and a slap on the shoulder,  and I always leave with a smile on my face.

Today was no different, only I actually bought something. Charlie couldn't have cared less, god love 'im.

I was wearing my favorite scarf, a thing I reclaimed that originally hailed from his shop. I told him the story of it's provenance, to which he replied. "I love that sh*t. That's why I like talking to guys like you."

We talked about Miles Davis. "Who was that guy who did the arrangements on Kind Of Blue? The guy who did Birth of the Cool?" He asked. His old assistant chimed in "I know the guy, but I can't remember his name". Charlie said "I wasn't asking you, you can't even remember your own name sometimes." I chuckled and said "Gil Evans". "Yeah, that's the guy." said Charlie. I'm brimming with pride. I told him that just the other day, while playing Kind of Blue for my kids, I realized that my thrift store copy is a original pressing. "You mean an LP?" Charlie asked. Feeling confident I answered " Is there really any other way to listen to that kind of music properly?" He laughed, and I beamed.

When the time came to leave he said "Nice seeing you again, kid. Stop by any time you like, you know, just to shoot the sh*t."

p.s. as for my own shop...
at the request of customers and readers, I've added a "new" tab to the shop. This will enable frequent visitors to view only the latest additions if they wish.

a note on sizing:
the sizes listed on the Affordable Wardrobe shop are the result of my own measurements, regardless of the nominal sizing on the tags. Jackets marked "short" measure less than 30 inches from collar to tail, "regular" between 30 and 31, "long", over 31. Waist sizes on trousers are also the result of my own careful measurements.

Thanks and Happy Shopping.

11 comments:

OldSchool said...

Money well-spent, considering the fact that it will literally last a lifetime (and more).

Inimitable Phillips said...

Back in the day when your writer was slinging a guitar around "the square", drinking lunch at 33 Dunster and munching on grilled cheese and fries at the Tasty, I would often hazily think to myself, "Boy,that place has some nice clothes..." Next time I travel east from Wormtown, I swear the place is on my list. Thanks for the tweak and all the best!

ADG said...

"...It's almost like learning to drive stick after a lifetime of faking it with an automatic..."

Shit, that's brilliant. What a great story.

Yankee-Whisky-Papa said...

For collar pins, consider setting aside a few shirts exclusively for them. While a washing machine generally takes the hole out of the collar, it is not certain to. For the shirts you do set aside for the collar pin, follow the military innovation of actually sewing a tiny ring of stitch (like a button-hole) around where the pin will pierce. Contrasting thread color is a saucy touch as well, and don't forget to pin club collars... they look especially fantastic.

Britt Sudduth said...

Nice pick up on the tie bar G! I would sure like step in that shop someday. Your discription is really appealing!

Thanks,
Britt Sudduth

Signore Direttore said...

Great story. Love those traditional shops - their proprietors are always beyond category. And the blog is great - been reading for a while now. I seem to remember seeing many oxford shirts with pre-cut and stitched holes in the 80s. I like Y-W-P's idea of contrasting stitching.

Michael said...

No way I'm destroying my shirts...I will wear it as a lapel pin...in fact I do...

Conor said...

Well done G. I love my collar pin (from ADG). If I'm not wearing a BD it's a shirt with the pin in. I also use it as a tie pin.

(thanks again for the gift ADG)

C.Sharp said...

This piece is heartwarming. I am glad you had the experience of buying something retail. I remember thinking once after reading one of your early posts that you should do this once, just to have the feeling one used to have all the time in the old days. Building a relationship with a shop keeper and going through the ritual of it all. I am sure it felt different being the buyer this time considering your past experience as a seller of mens clothes in a BM store. Also I am a bit envious of your great relationship with Charlie.

Simoncini Strategies said...

I love the old-style haberdashers. I shop almost exclusively in Chicago at Syd Jerome's, the owner of which, Sid Shapiro, has been in business fifty years (his store is one of the greatest, IMHO, stocking only the best from Oxxford to Isaia). Anyway, Sid is a profane gentleman, full of great Chicago and industry stories, usually laced with a cuss-word or two. And every employee of the shop had better know their business and their customers! I think that the edginess, to put it politely, of the old-style haberdashers comes from the fact that they built their businesses working directly with manufacturers, whose owners and employees were essentially blue-collar. In fact the Oxxford "plant" in Chicago is just that -- a plant still situated in an old manufacturing district, around which most of its former neighbors have been converted to lofts. If you go there, you meet crusty old (and some young) artisans. Most people who work in "retail" today have no reason to go anywhere near the original manufacturers. So they haven't picked up the vibe.

Scale Worm said...

Is your Kind Of Blue a colymbia 6-eye stereo?
Wicked! I have that album is so many pressing forms from 1959 lp mono to SACD. My favorite work, period.