You will know them by the catalogs they keep
Whatever else ‘tis the season for, it sure is the season for catalogs.
I live in a six-unit condo building, and every year the combined units receive buckets of catalogs. And I do mean buckets. As almost everyone abandons their catalogs, leaving them on the hall mail table or tossing them into the basket next to it, I have the pleasure and honor of recycling most of them. So, when I say buckets of catalogs, I know whereof I speak.
Since this is New England, everyone gets L.L. Bean.
But beyond that, while there are sub-groupings, we get an awful lot of disparate catalogs coming in.
My take is relatively modest, and reveals me to be the never-in-style, never-out-of-style clothing wearer that I am. In addition to L.L. Bean, I get Eddie Bauer and Land’s End. But I am a New England loyalist to the core, so the only one of those three I regularly buy from is the great L.L. And I would expect that those in the Midwest would show similar loyalty to Land’s End, while West Coasters would buy their flannel shirts and turtlenecks from Eddie Bauer.
I also get a lot of shoe catalogs. For those who believe that, prior to Zappo’s, one could and would not order shoes sight-unseen and fit-unfelt, I assure you that us foot-size oddities have been ordering from catalogs for years. From eighth grade on, I wore a 10AAAA, and if you think your local carries that size, you’ve got another think coming. (I maintain that if the rest of my body fit my long and skinny shoe size, I would be three inches taller and thirty pounds lighter.) Just recently, my foot expanded to a 10 1/2 AAA. This turns out to be an even odder size, since many shoes, for some reason, don’t come in 10 1/2 anything, skipping from a size 10 to a size 11. Size 11! I do NOT want to go there.
My most precious catalog is from the Vermont Country Store, the most delightful catalog on the face of the earth. While I rarely order anything from it, I order enough to get regular copies, and I read through it with the level of glee and zest that I imagine those living in sod huts in Nebraska in 1899 experienced as they thumbed through their Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs. (I adore VCS, but please put me out of my misery if I begin buying any clothing other than socks from them.)
This year, I did order a few things from VCS, mostly old-timey toys for a couple of the little ones on the list. The kids will probably look at me like I have two heads, but – jeez Louise – who wouldn’t want a baking-powder powered submarine?
Anyway, my catalogs are pretty much all of a piece: durable, timeless, practical, sensible. Which is not unlike how one might describe certain characteristics of my character.
You will know me from the catalogs I keep.
I noticed, however, that not everyone sticks to a theme. And the family upstairs is definitely one of them.
These folks get more catalogs than anyone in the building combined, possibly because they’re the only ones in the building with small children. But the assortment that they tossed in to the basket the other day really got me head-scratching. Sure, there were the predictable Brookstone, Levenger, and Pottery Barn Kids catalogs. The L.L. Bean, the Crate and Barrel, the Hannah Andersson.
Now there’s a combo!
Which I personally think would look even better with a whale belt.
No, it’s not ‘to the hounds’ fakery – we’ll leave that to Ralph Lauren. But it sure is ‘to the cocktail shaker’, isn’t it?
Not that the folks upstairs are buying. Vineyard Vines went tout de suite into recycle. Maybe it’s because, as Holy Cross grads, they can only aspire to second-order preppiness to begin with.
The NASCAR catalog was actually far more perplexing.
Not exactly something I associate with the urban lifestyle, and the folks upstairs – other than for those four years in exile in Worcester at The Cross – are bona fide city folks. She’s from NYC; he’s from Boston. City-city; not suburbia.
Not surprisingly, the NASCAR catalog has a different look and feel.
Unlike the polished prepsters in the Vineyard Vines wishbook, the NASCAR models have shaved heads (males) and big hair and lots of makeup (females). Which is not to say that we can’t all be friends. In fact, I think that the VV holiday pants would look might fine when worn with this jacket, although it would be better it came in Sam Adams, rather than Bud. Small cultural thing. Just saying.
NASCAR and Vineyard Vines: when worlds – and cultures – collide.
Mostly, you will know them by the catalogs they
keep throwaway. But apparently not always.