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A Stylist's Search for the Elusive Classic Trench

Why shopping is not for the faint of heart, weary or time-constrained among us. Read on for a practical approach to this and other profound questions of life.

Do you occasionally ponder some of life's more perplexing mysteries?

Like what do they do with the fat they remove from no-fat desserts, and just how exactly do they remove it? Or—I love this one from my 4-year-old brother many years ago, "Why does God make weeds?"

Why indeed.

Currently I'm asking myself, "Why is it so darn hard to find classic clothing in stores these days?" It's ridiculous. No wonder more and more folks are hiring personal shoppers like me. Please don't get me wrong. I appreciate the business, but even I am becoming frustrated lately.

Case in point, my client, let's call him John, needed a new trench coat. First, I perused the various store websites. It's always a good idea to see what they are currently offering in terms of style, color and price. I looked online at Brooks Brothers, Nordstrom, Macy's and, of course, Burberry. I quickly eliminated Burberry on the basis of price alone. The rest had only a few black (John's preferred color), knee length, classically styled coats to choose from, but enough to make in-store shopping worth my while, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, there are no "just for men" stores in the Oak Brook shopping center, but I have about eight go-to stores for men and Nordstrom is tops on my list. That said, I was enormously disappointed to discover they had but ONE trench coat on the floor for me to look at and it was not exactly classic. I must admit it was cool looking, cut in a sharp, fashion-forward Italian kind of way. But, it was not at all what my conservative client had in mind. 

Next I went to Macy's where they had only two coats total that could potentially fill the bill. I was not thrilled with either of them. 

Would you believe the next six stores I shopped in had zero trench coats in stock? Here it was, mid-spring, and looking for a trench coat was like searching for the Holy Grail, for heaven's sakes. 

At long last, I found what I was looking for at the Mark Shale store. They, too, were woefully under-stocked, but I found the perfect trench. The quality was unmistakable. It was a Sanyo classic cut with a great removable lining and it was impeccably tailored in a beautiful charcoal black weatherproof fabric. This coat will be a wardrobe workhorse for John for many, many years to come. 

Glory halleluia! Best of all, and most importantly, it looked great on John and he was happy. Whew!

So I'll ask again. Where the heck are all the classics? We need them. We want them. And gosh darn it, we are going to have them. 

Nancy Pipal June 13, 2012 at 11:41 AM
I remember those days! Mr. Floyd's was a favorite of my brother's as I recall. So sad that the service and selection of yore is just about no more! Thanks for your comments, Kent.
Nancy Pipal June 13, 2012 at 11:46 AM
When did Khakis become dress pants? That's what I'd like to know, too! Thanks for the information on brands. I will keep it in mind. And thanks for the encouraging words, J. I appreciate your taking the time to write!
Nancy Pipal June 13, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Amen, brother!
Kent Frederick June 13, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Charley, I always said that I didn't spend 7 years in higher education, so that I could go to work dressed like a school boy on the first day of school. When I was a kid, I couldn't way to be an adult, so that I could wear a suit and tie. It just looked so grown-up, compared to what kids wore. By the same token, a suit really has power. I have found that I get much better treatment, whether in a store, at a restaurant, or dealing with airline employees, if I'm in a coat and tie.
Beth Jaeger June 14, 2012 at 04:29 AM
I was very happy to see that the LaGrange stylist finally found her trench coat at Mark Shale and was pleased with the quality. The gentlemen could have come straight to us and experienced first hand excellent customer service and attention to detail in wardrobing. In today’s challenging economy more than ever it is important to look your best in business and this can be done with quality over quantity. We are coming to the end of our season so the summer sales are in full swing. Stop by any of our three locations -Oakbrook Mall, Northbrook Court and Michigan Avenue - and experience the knowledgable sales associates, the high level of service for which Mark Shale is known.

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