Features, Ask Norman

Achtung! A New Dear Norman

0 Comments 21 March 2013

Dear Norm,

First time, long time. Here’s the thing – with spring just around the corner I went to my local men’s clothing store to get some new threads for the nice weather. I’ve skipped a wardrobe upgrade for the past couple of years for a number of reasons and was in need of something new.

After I walked around for 20 minutes I was shocked at how atrocious the men’s selection was. I went to another store and was again disappointed. Every shirt had a sillly graphic or some type of shoulder strap. I was ensconced in neons and pastels. I couldn’t even find an adequate pair of slacks. For a minute I thought I was hyperventilating.

Norm whatever happened to a T-shirt with a breast pocket and a pair of dungarees? Please help me find something that won’t make me look like a complete jerk!

Style Starved in Stamford.


Dear Style,

Thanks – always great to hear from a fan.

Ah, fashion. So easily mastered yet muddled by the bored, powerful and insecure. What you describe is just a new juke on a different dance floor. I recall bell bottoms, leisure suits, shoulder pads. You name it, I never bit.

Your instincts for simplicity are right on. I remember Anopopei, 1941, the heat of the campaign in the South Pacific. The platoon was bivouacked on the south shore unloading a new shipment for officer’s mess. The heat was oppressive as the early morning fog had burnt off. In the midst of unloading crates I took a break on account of kidneys being shot.

As I caught my wind and watched the enlisted men work I realized how stylish the fatigues were. Elegant, yet simple. Not too showy but had something to say. At that moment I realized fashion wasn’t about the clothes at all. It was about the man. In fact, the less the clothes had to say the more than man could do the talking. I liked that.

After the war I brought the idea of minimalist simplicity to Kornheiser’s Clothiers on West 57th and 2nd Avenue.  For myriad reasons a business relationship never blossomed between Roy and me. But come the following winter he ransacked the local army/navy, did some minor alterations, and made a killing the following spring. Thus creating our modern army/navy store fashion illumination.

As for your question I have two responses. Number one, don’t focus on the ‘where’ or the ‘what’ but concentrate on the ‘how’. Number two, keep it simple.


- who has written 512 posts on The Shade.

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