Paul Stuart in the '80's.

Flanderian

Connoisseur
From time to time mention is made here to the effect that the '70's was all tie-dyed bell bottoms, and the '80's all Miami Vice and Armani. While such styles may dominate the public imagination, and old TV shows, they largely weren't main stream, and clothing that was both more traditional and quite handsome could still be found. This was particularly true among better Manhattan retailers such as Brooks, Press, Chipp, F. R. Tripler and Paul Stuart. All having varying degrees of TNSIL (Ivy/Trad) antecedents.

Paul Stuart's early roots were as more adventurous Ivy clothing, and when I purchased my first suit there in 1971, this was still true, and this influence continued until comparatively recently. The last decade, or so.

My Internet wandering last evening yielded an unexpected reward; a high quality, large format photo from either a very late '70's or very early '80's fall and winter catalog. I still have the catalog around somewhere, but am too lazy to look for it. :D

But I'm offering it here for any whom it might interest, and as evidence that it wasn't all bell bottoms and Miami Vice.


the-monsieur-and-paul-stuart-guide-to-dressing-with-colour-1.jpeg
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
To support Flanderian's point, I had my first summer job on Wall Street (back then, it wasn't called being an intern) in '82 and began working full time after college in '85.

From '82 on, I started regularly going to BB, J.Press, F.R. Tripler, Stuart and Gorsart (and a few others) mainly just to look or when one of the other guys who actually had money to spend went and I'd tag along.

Those stores back then were - compared to today - Ivy heaven. To the best of my memory, you weren't buying any of the current fashions - Miami Vice, etc. - in them. The only way fashion impacted those stores was in lapel and tie widths, some color options and things like that - but the core Ivy cannon was, especially for BB, Gorsart and Press, their stock and trade.

As a kid not from a Wall Street background and knowing (honestly) nothing about Ivy dressing then, I could feel that I had entered another clothing world when I started to see what those stores were doing. In college, I had worked in Sterns department store (a basic, mid-level affair) and, while there were some trad clothes - especially in men's suits, ties, etc. - it was a hodgepodge of trad mixed in with a lot of fashion (watered down for department store) stuff.

But BB, Gorsart and Press felt different - mature, thoughtful, with a confidence and vibe that said "we know what we are doing, we've done it this way for a long time and [mistakenly] we'll be doing it this way for a long time to come." I connected the well dressed guys at work - I could tell they had a style, I just didn't understand it then - to those stores and started to learn.

Those of us who love Ivy, would kill to go back to the '80s and be able to shop in any one of those stores - BB, Gorsart or Press. That said, Stuart was different - somewhat Ivy / Trad but with an English or "fancy" overlay. Stuart still hewed to the overall construct, but it brought a more "fashiony" and upscale feel. To the true Ivy guy, Stuart was too fashion-forward and too expensive (part of the Ivy ethos was not paying too much and, definitely, not looking as if you paid too much).

But to Flanderian's point, nobody was going to any of those stores to look like Sonny Crockett.
 
Last edited:

peterc

Super Member
Fading, another well written and insightful post from you. Thank you. I feel the same way you do. Those shops were indeed Ivy Heaven. Gorsart, in particular, felt like you were entering a secret club. I still have, at my parents' house, the 36R Paul Stuart CDN. made navy herringbone double breasted overcoat I bought in the winter of 1987/88. It looks like it was bought yesterday and, because it is cut "oversize" (i.e., properly), it almost still fits me despite the fact that today I have to buy a 46R suit/sportcoat.

Good days indeed.
 

wildcat1976

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
+1 Flanderian and Fading Fast.
Arriving clueless on Wall St. in 1976, my first boss sent me to Gorsarts on me first day of work. Climbing up the creaking staircase and yanking open the solid metal door (gosh it was heavy) led me into a clothing world I had never seen before. Soon I was introduced to Brooks and Press by observing the wardrobes of my colleagues. I also noticed senior management types favoring Paul Stuart and Saville Row suits. Indeed it wasn't all Miami Vice and bell bottoms back in the day.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
+1 Flanderian and Fading Fast.
Arriving clueless on Wall St. in 1976, my first boss sent me to Gorsarts on me first day of work. Climbing up the creaking staircase and yanking open the solid metal door (gosh it was heavy) led me into a clothing world I had never seen before. Soon I was introduced to Brooks and Press by observing the wardrobes of my colleagues. I also noticed senior management types favoring Paul Stuart and Saville Row suits. Indeed it wasn't all Miami Vice and bell bottoms back in the day.

So funny as my first boss - a scripted out of central casting Ivy guy (Volvo in the garage) - was a Gorsarts acolyte who claimed "same stuff as BB, 30% cheaper" (he wasn't wrong, overall). He sent me there, like you, to start to learn how to dress.

I love your accurate and redolent description of the creaky staircase and factory like door. Also, do you remember the exposed pipes overhead and the long row of "dressing" rooms - little cubbies of cheap plywood with a curtain for a door?
 

fishertw

Elite Member
So funny as my first boss - a scripted out of central casting Ivy guy (Volvo in the garage) - was a Gorsarts acolyte who claimed "same stuff as BB, 30% cheaper" (he wasn't wrong, overall). He sent me there, like you, to start to learn how to dress.

I love your accurate and redolent description of the creaky staircase and factory like door. Also, do you remember the exposed pipes overhead and the long row of "dressing" rooms - little cubbies of cheap plywood with a curtain for a door?
Not having a great deal of experience in NYC, as I read this recollection from many years ago, it reminded me of a visit to LS Mens Wear in NYC just a few years ago. Somewhat the same experience with the pipes running overhead and less than street level access to the shop.
 

wildcat1976

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Fading Fast
I do indeed remember the factory-like atmosphere of Gorsarts. It was the polar opposite of the refined interior design of Paul Stuart, where one walked on carpet, changed in wood paneled dressing rooms and spoke in hushed tones. Great memories.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Fading Fast
I do indeed remember the factory-like atmosphere of Gorsarts. It was the polar opposite of the refined interior design of Paul Stuart, where one walked on carpet, changed in wood paneled dressing rooms and spoke in hushed tones. Great memories.

That first boss I referenced used to say that you paid 30% more for BB's mahogany wood, fancy address and comfortable fitting rooms.

And I hear ya on Paul Stuart which is another level up of luxury-store emersion from even BB - I think Stuart imports its store air from Nepal.
 

Matt S

Connoisseur
I was not in Paul Stuart in the 1980s, but I do have a jacket that I believe is from them from the 1980s. It's something I took a chance on from Ebay, and it paid off. There's no brand label, but everything points it to being from them. I met a friend of mine for dinner wearing it, and he told me that he had a Paul Stuart jacket just like it back then, down to the exact same fibre contents.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Not having a great deal of experience in NYC, as I read this recollection from many years ago, it reminded me of a visit to LS Mens Wear in NYC just a few years ago. Somewhat the same experience with the pipes running overhead and less than street level access to the shop.
Fading Fast
I do indeed remember the factory-like atmosphere of Gorsarts. It was the polar opposite of the refined interior design of Paul Stuart, where one walked on carpet, changed in wood paneled dressing rooms and spoke in hushed tones. Great memories.

Another NYC store - back in the '80s - that had that beaten-down warehouse model was Moe Ginsburg. It was in the, then, depressed (now it's a hot, trendy) area of lower 5th Avenue in an old factory - think worn, wide-plank wood floors, exposed brick walls, large, cloudy factory windows, high unfinished ceilings (with beams, pipes and wiring all exposed) and creaky massive elevators. Ginsburg was an old-style discounter stuffed full of racks and racks of clothes that you plowed through on your own where, amidst a bunch of not-great stuff, you could find an Oxxford suit 80% off list (which I did once) or Burberry and other similar brands at significant discounts.

My girlfriend and I would spend a few hours there several times a year on a divide-and-conquer effort to find things - pulled a four-figure Polo overcoat out of there for about $200 once. Then, we showed up one day - girded for battle - only to find the store had gone full-on upscaled. They spent a fortune converting the former space into a very pleasing looking "normal" retail store. It still had some of the same type of merchandise, but only at modest discounts now and it also had a lot of full-priced items (heresy to the old store).

We left disappointed and, clearly, so did many others as the store was out of business in about 18 months.
 

127.72 MHz

Elite Member
My first real job out of college was in 1988 and Stanley Blacker suits paired with Land's End Pinpoints were about as luxurious as it got for me.

I do have a couple of recent Paul Stuart jackets and a "Stuart's Best" suit made by Oxxford. I like them all.

Long live Paul Stuart!
 

Flanderian

Connoisseur
Reminiscences of Paul Stuart -

Paul Stuart has always been a private label retailer. Once a common practice, now far less so. Goods sold by them typically carried their label rather than the maker's. When bought my first suit from them in '71 they had, I believe only two significant makers for tailored clothing. Southwick, which was their value-priced line ;) and was labeled Southwick for Paul Stuart, and that just labeled Paul Stuart which was made by Samuelsohn and cost perhaps 1/3 more. But this was an era when common wage earners could still afford to shop there. Prices were higher, but not astronomically, and so was the quality and style. Goods were still priced in part by cost, and sometimes items could be found that were actually less costly than similar goods of lesser quality elsewhere.

Paul Stuart worked very closely with makers, often doing their own unique designs, and having cloth woven specifically for them. When Joseph Abboud began his own label, I read in several sources that he had previously been a designer for Paul Stuart.

In 1984 Paul Stuart decided to do something very unusual: I was first arrested by the extraordinary looking suits and sport jackets in their typically beautiful and extraordinary window displays. They had a depth of color and texture I had never before seen in suits. What Paul Stuart had done was to locate coating weight tweed, 20oz or more, and have Samuelsohn make it into suits. Disregarding whether such could even be worn indoors, it had a fabulous appearance like nothing I've seen before or since.

That same year I needed a couple more ordinary suits for business and decided to order them from Paul Stuart. I combined this enjoyable task with a family holiday shopping trip into Manhattan. My daughters were then aged 8 and 10, and having already obtained some goodies they spent roughly a 1/2 hour playing with them on the large landing in the middle of the grand staircase.

Paul Stuart was Cliff Grodd, and Cliff Grodd was Paul Stuart. Now Cliff Grodd is gone.
 
Last edited:

peterc

Super Member
Re: above. Very much enjoyed reading your post. Nothing much I can add except perhaps that, and considering everything else, Paul Stuart is still a national treasure.
 

SG_67

Connoisseur

“I abhor dullness and resist flamboyance,” Mr. Grodd told The New York Times in 1985. “That’s a hard line to walk — to be distinctive, subtle, disciplined, with a sense of humor.”

What a perfect encapsulation of the Paul Stuart style. One can always tell when a company or firm is driven by one persons vision vs. a corporate monolith that staggers forward, carried only by momentum.
 

127.72 MHz

Elite Member
Reminiscences of Paul Stuart -

Paul Stuart has always been a private label retailer. Once a common practice, now far less so. Goods sold by them typically carried their label rather than the maker's. When bought my first suit from them in '71 they had, I believe only two significant makers for tailored clothing. Southwick, which was their value-priced line ;) and was labeled Southwick for Paul Stuart, and that just labeled Paul Stuart which was made by Samuelsohn and cost perhaps 1/3 more. But this was an era when common wage earners could still afford to shop there. Prices were higher, but not astronomically, and so was the quality and style. Goods were still priced in part by cost, and sometimes items could be found that were actually less costly than similar goods of lesser quality elsewhere.

Paul Stuart worked very closely with makers, often doing their own unique designs, and having cloth woven specifically for them. When Joseph Abboud began his own label, I read in several sources that he had previously been a designer for Paul Stuart.

In 1984 Paul Stuart decided to do something very unusual: I was first arrested by the extraordinary looking suits and sport jackets in their typically beautiful and extraordinary window displays. They had a depth of color and texture I had never before seen in suits. What Paul Stuart had done was to locate coating weight tweed, 20oz or more, and have Samuelsohn make it into suits. Disregarding whether such could even be worn indoors, it had a fabulous appearance like nothing I've seen before or since.

That same year I needed a couple more ordinary suits for business and decided to order them from Paul Stuart. I combined this enjoyable task with a family holiday shopping trip into Manhattan. My daughters were then aged 8 and 10, and having already obtained some goodies they spent roughly a 1/2 hour playing with them on the large landing in the middle of the grand staircase.

Paul Stuart was Cliff Grodd, and Cliff Grodd was Paul Stuart. Now Cliff Grodd is gone.

Flanderian, this is a wonderful contribution to the thread. This is commonplace for you here at AAAC.
Regards,
 
Your email address will not be publicly visible. We will only use it to contact you to confirm your post.

IMPORTANT: BEFORE POSTING PLEASE CHECK THE DATE OF THE LAST POST OF THIS THREAD. IF IT'S VERY OLD, PLEASE CONSIDER REGISTERING FIRST, AND STARTING A NEW THREAD ABOUT THIS TOPIC.

Deals/Steals

Trad Store Exchange