Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Escape

I made a remark about my recent visit to the quaint mountain town of Lexington, VA in the Washington and Lee University post. My older brother was in town visiting for a few weeks in June, and my family wanted to take a weekend getaway and escape the southern humidity and the crowded coasts, opting for the cooler Appalachian trail.

Situated just across the polished pastures of the university grounds is the local traditional clothing store Alvin-Dennis. I stopped by there years ago, but now with my clothing hobby, I made it a point to talk to owner Alvin Carter, delivering personal customer service since he opened shop in 1963. I introduced myself and he quickly warmed up to conversation, soon talking of our love for classic menswear and the history of his establishment. Mr. Carter showed me albums of old photographs of past customers and sales staff. There were countless black and white 1960s "Take Ivy"-esque vintage pictures. He said that students used to wear coat and tie to class everyday, hence the noticeable and regrettable steady decline of trad custom as he flipped the pages to modern day.

As we conversed, a young man walked into the store. Mr. Carter excused himself and welcomed the familiar friend, whom they had just completed a recent business transaction. The soon-to-be-hitched W&L alumni was going to be married to his college sweetheart that very same evening at Lee Chapel. Alvin-Dennis had outfitted the whole wedding party and was his largest order to date. How nice of the groom to incorporate not only the couple's alma mater, but also the hometown clothing shop, which I imagine he had first walked into as a freshman and just indoctrinated into trad, and now walking out as a new upwardly mobile professional on his wedding day, ready to embrace the next step in his life.

I purposely wore my Duck Head shorts, which Mr. Carter noticed and duly complimented me on. He ordered a shipment when the company rose from the ashes last year, but was disappointed how unknown they were with the current generation of fratstars. He told me how Ducks used to fly off the shelves back in the day. Oh times have changed indeed.

Mr. Carter thanked me for featuring his store on the blog and we exchanged handshakes. I wished him continued health and good business.

After eating a delightful dinner at Bistro on Main with the family, dusk hit Lexington, showering golden light and leaving behind gloaming tall shadows that stretched across downtown. After the meal, we went for some fresh air and found ourselves meandering on W&L's campus, strolling the brick lined university sidewalks and admiring the surrounding Federal architecture. A bell rang, and glancing over to Lee Chapel was the wedding procession, having just gotten out of the service. Respecting my distance but following up on intrigue, I watched the young man and his beautiful wife walk out the picturesque white chapel doors with the youthful wedding party welcoming them in their Alvin-Dennis supplied suits and summer dresses, all of whom I assumed were his fraternity brothers and her sorority sisters. The twilight sun reflected off their radiant faces with the newly married couple laughing and kissing for the photographer, the groomsmen and bridesmaids joyfully clapping, the ring bearer in his bowtie chasing after the flower girl in her white stockings, the well dressed parents and family taking in the lively sight that they'd remember for years to come. I continued my stroll, smiling and lost in tradly thoughts as the sun set on Lexington's ambiance.

 Owner Alvin Carter

Candid back shot of my outfit that day, the Duck Head shown proudly. (I was putting my sunglasses on Horatio Caine style)

"...and the tradition continues"
 My frocket tee souvenirs.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent look into a forgotten era. At least he still manages to make a living. If I'm ever in the area, I will be sure to pop in...