Did you have the same response as I when you opened your mailbox the other day? I think my voice dropped an octave with a breathless "No!" uttered in disbelief and awe: we just received a J Peterman catalog!
How thrilling to see this. It's the same crazy vintage-inspired stuff as ten years ago when the company was in its prime. I think it's exactly what the marketplace has been missing since Banana Republic went mainstream.
Do you remember the old Banana Republic catalogs? I adored their style, and this book (I found it on ebay a few years ago) about the company has been a source of endless inspiration to me. I love so much about safari style: the linens, washed cottons, brushed khakis, and rough twills are everything I adore about textiles, and the timelessness of the styles still appeal to me. I'm attracted by the adventurousness, the well-traveleled mystique of someone who had been everywhere and seen everything. Much of it, too, was questionable with regard to wearability. But it oozed rugged glamour.
So back to our friend Mr. Peterman's catalog. Some of it continues to be constume-y and nearly unwearable: witness the Great American Shirt. If I were an advice columnist I would tell my readers to avoid any man wearing this shirt, especially on a first date. It screams "I believe I'm attractive enough to wander my way onto the cover of a romance novel." Not someone with whom I would recommend you get involved, unless you're the fawning type who needs a man to take care of as a hobby (or a full-time job?). Or the Crinoline Dress? This dress seems suitable only for an evening of zoot-suited swing dancing, complete with fedora and speak-easy. But maybe my imagination is just too tired to comprehend kelly green underwired dresses today. I'll try again tomorrow.
On the other hand, I'm all over the Adventurous Shirt Dress. I've been meaning to finish a sleeveless shirtwaist similar to this that I drafted before the arrival of Tsia (four years ago, now...). It's sitting on the shelves of the studio, cut from pinstriped navy linen, just waiting for a quiet afternoon for stitching together. And I love the Latin Quarter Peasant Shirt, which feels a bit like a grown-up version of the 2 + 2 Blouse and which I would probably wear every single day if it were made in the light-weight grey-blue cotton I purchased last weekend with something exactly like this in mind.
I think the J Peterman catalog is important precisely because of the unusual items it includes. The non-conformity of the more exotic offerings are what make it unique, especially today when so much apparel looks the same. I love the possibilities it offers, even if I tend toward the more conservative, wearable (to my mind, anyway) items. So hurray for Mr. Peterman! I may still be mourning the death of the REAL Banana Republic, but I can celebrate the true purveyor of outlandish items; they're what make the sartorial world interesting today.