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Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend a lunch meeting for work that was held at the Minneapolis Club.  When I moved to the city twelve years ago, the Minneapolis Club was one of the first buildings I encountered as I was walking through the downtown, and I was immediately struck by its sophisticated style and beauty.  While certainly not one of the largest buildings in the downtown, it is by far one of the most distinguished.

The Club, founded in 1883 by Minnesota business and civic leaders including John Pillsbury and Charles Loring (names still prominently associated with Minneapolis landmarks today), harkens back to that classic era of the private men’s clubs.  Over the past 130 years the Club would be housed at several sites, before coming to rest at its current downtown location, and has hosted numerous world leaders including several US Presidents, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama.

Since it is a private club, membership is by invitation only, and a visit to their website reminds us that they, in fact, seek out “A diverse membership with no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, disability, age, marital status or national origin.”  This forward thinking is a standard that has come to symbolize Minneapolis, and that, combined with the Club’s care and concern with providing superior service, is what has placed it among the Five Star Platinum Clubs of the world - high praise that is well earned.

Since I suspect it is unlikely that I will be asked to join, I was honored to have the opportunity to step inside for my work event.  Unlike the stereotype of stuffy private clubs, the staff is amazingly friendly, helpful, and polite, and the Club provided a most gracious atmosphere.  Providing a contemporary environment while maintaining a traditional grounding is a difficult line to tow, but the Minneapolis Club seems to have perfected it to an art.

Lunch is served!

Though I consider myself fairly progressive and modern, I do have a somewhat traditional side to me that appreciates the importance of heritage and charm, and so I have always been drawn to the Minneapolis Club.  I’m please to say that my experience of them first hand did not tarnish my impression of them at all.  If anything my impression was enhanced, and I can truthfully say that I feel privileged and honored to have been hosted by such a fine institution.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


There’s no doubt about it.  Brooks Brother’s is having an amazing month!  

So what makes this month so special for them? To start with, the month began with their 195 birthday.  On April 7, 1818, Henry Sands Brooks opened H & D.H. Brooks & Co.  The store was located on the northeast corner of Catharine and Cherry Streets in New York City.  Over the years the store would change locations, but it’s commitment to providing the highest quality of goods would remain constant as it clothed leaders from all walks of life including 39 of 44 sitting US Presidents.

On April 8 - the day after their birthday - Brooks Brothers won the “Brand Bracket” sponsored on line by Great Lakes Prep. The “Brand Bracket” is prep clothing’s fun equivalent to sport’s “March Madness.” Top brands are paired up and voted on over the course of several weeks, until two candidates remain.  This year’s final pairing pitted Brooks Brothers against Southern Tide.  The voting went down to the wire with Brooks Brothers prevailing, 2705-2678.

Following a last minute appointment with my tax preparer on April 15, I decided to head downtown for a little shopping.  Of course Brooks Brothers was one of my stops.  When I first walked in the door I was greeted by one of the most awesome displays of clothing, which, James informed me, was the new Gatsby line.  It was love at first sight! I immediately went online for more information, and let me just say there is a particular pink suit that I am lusting after!

My local Brooks Brothers store's Gatsby Collection display

The Gatsby line was inspired by the new Buz Luhrmann film “The Great Gatsby.”  Truthfully, I was initially upset when I first heard that they were going to be remaking this film.  I’m not especially a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio (for me, that role will always belong to Robert Redford - 1974 film), but this collection from Brooks Brothers was able to change my mind some.

I am very impressed with the film’s costume designer, Catherine Martin, for taking the time to meet with Brooks Brothers before tackling the designs.  F. Scott Fitzgerald was a life-long Brooks Brothers customer, and so was very familiar with the clothes that shaped that era.  Brooks Brothers opened their archives to Martin, who was able to view actual clothing from that period, and this collaboration resulted in a most stunning, and historically accurate costume display.

The second piece that came from this collaboration is the new “Gatsby Collection” that Brooks Brothers has just released.  The clothes, inspired by the styles of the 1920’s, have been updated for today, while maintaining their traditional look, fit and feel.  Unlike so many clothing lines today that feed into what is currently trendy, these clothes have a very traditional feel without feeling stuffy.  This collection and the collaboration with Martin, were enough to change my mind, and influence my decision to see the new “Gatsby” film.

So all things considered, Brooks Brothers is having and AMAZING month!!! 

I’m a relatively newcomer to Brooks Brothers, but they have fast become my favorite store.  My love for their clothes is a given, but as I learn more of their rich history, tradition, and unwavering attention to the smallest details, I have gained even more respect for them.  Happy Birthday Brooks Brothers, and congratulations on a successful collaboration, and an awesome new clothing line!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013


My Dad’s favorite book was Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.”  This was a groundbreaking book (no pun intended) in its day and as we celebrate Earth Day, it seems only fitting that we should remember her.  

This was my dad's copy of "Silent Spring"

From early on I can remember My Dad telling me that, “We have to be careful what we put into the ground, because, ultimately it comes back to us.”  Dad, a farmer, was greatly influenced by Ms. Carson’s landmark book.  For as long as I can remember, he tried to incorporate as many organic methods to farming - and our family garden - as he could.  Manufactured chemical pesticides were shunned, and organic fish emulsion replaced chemical fertilizers.  My Dad knew the importance of caring for the land, and passed that awareness onto me and my siblings, and for that I am truly grateful.

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson’s book inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and, more importantly, a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides.  So as we celebrate Earth Day today, let us also celebrate the work of this truly inspiring conservationist. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013


After a very busy, and sometimes stressful Holy Week, followed by some amazing church services for the Triduum, I arrived at Easter.  As I’ve mentioned before, I host the holiday dinners for my friends, and Easter was no exception.

The Table is set.

The centerpiece is in place.

The guests are starting to arrive.

As the holiday drew near, I pulled out my Mom’s china, along with various serving dishes inherited from other relatives. Items were purchased to put together the place cards, the centerpiece was “figured out,” and soon the table was set. I love to entertain and so I look forward to the holidays, as they provide me with lots of opportunities to do nice things for my friends.  This is such a small way to show these people how thankful, and blessed, I am to have them in my life.  

The desserts are starting to arrive as well.

Some are rather fun!

As usual, I provided the main dish and a couple of side dishes, while everyone else contributed side dishes and desserts. Everything turned out perfectly and a good time was had by all.

My outfit for Easter: White oxford button down from Jos. A. Banks, navy pants from Izod, belt from Perry Ellis, bow tie from Tommy Hilfiger, yellow sweater vest from Brooks Brothers, yellow/navy/white argyle socks from Brooks Brothers, and my favorite cordovan cap toe shoes.

The rest of my week was relatively calm, as I was fortunate to have a few days off work.  I spent some of that time thrift store shopping and those “treasures” will be part of a future post I’m sure.  I also was able to stop by Brooks Brothers for a couple of new bow ties.

James Sewell Ballet's performance of "Lover," set to Rodgers and Hart songs.

At the end of the week on Saturday night, I had the opportunity to see my friend Anton dance with the James Sewell Ballet Company.  The JSB is one of my favorite dance companies in Minneapolis, and I have seen them perform several times, but this was first time I was able to see Anton dance with them.  This was also the first time I was able to see a performance at the still somewhat new Cowles Canter For Dance And Performing Arts.

The Cowles Center For Dance And Performing Arts.

The Cowles Center has a wonderful history explaining how its two structures, the old Masonic Building and the Shubert Theater came together to form the the backbone of this amazing new performance venue.  The most fascinating thing for me is how the Schubert Theater was moved two blocks, over 12 days, to it’s present location.  At a weight of 5.8 million pounds, the building is the largest structure to ever be moved using rubber tires and is duly noted in the Guinness Book of World Records.  A short video clip may be seen here.

My outfit for the ballet: Shirt by Polo Ralph Lauren, navy pants from Izod, belt from Perry Ellis, bow tie from Social Primer, yellow sweater vest from Brooks Brothers, navy and yellow rugby striped socks from Brooks Brothers, and cordovan wingtip shoes.

The JSB performance was amazing, the Cowles Center was beautiful, and I was able to experience an enjoyable and fitting end to my week. 

On a sadder note, the final piece that closed out that weekend, was the death of Lilly Pulitzer.  Lilly is a household name in most prep circles and instantly brings to mind brightly colored prints that are sure to brighten everyone’s day.

Lilly’s story is wonderful.  In the words of Lisa Birnbach, author of The Official Preppy Handbook, “Her story is so funny, so counter-intuitive - she was bored, had kids, opened an orange juice stand.”  That truly is a quick synopsis of her life.

Lilly Pulitzer

She was born Lilly McKim in 1931 to socialite parents Robert V. McKim and Lilly Bostwick McKim (her mother was an heiress to the Standard Oil fortune), and attended the usual prep schools (she attended Chapin School in New York City, along with Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis) and eventually eloped with Herbert (Peter) Pulitzer Jr. in 1950.

The Pulitzers settled in Palm Beach, Florida where Peter owned a number of orange groves.  Lilly eventually opened a juice stand on Via Mizner, just off Worth Avenue, and the stage was set for her business to take off.  Working every day at the juice stand left the inevitable stains on her clothing.  To help camouflage these stains, she designed a sleeveless shift dress made from bright, colorful printed cotton.  

Customers at the stand began asking about the dress, and she started selling them from the stand.  Soon she was selling more dresses than juice, and decided to shift her energy into making these dresses.

In 1959, Lilly Pulitzer, Inc. was officially established with lilly as its president.  The company originally catered the the elite socialites but in 1962, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy appeared on the cover of LIFE magazine wearing a “Lilly.”  From that moment on public demand for these dresses increased substantially, and the availability of the dresses went more mainstream. 

Lilly closed the business in 1984 but it was revived by current President James B. Bradbeer, Jr. and CEO Scott A. Beaumont.  Over the years hundreds of people have been touched by the cheerful and fun clothing with the humble beginnings in a juice stand.  Lilly will be missed, but her clothing will live on as a testimony to her wonderful style and beauty.

Lilly print!

Sunday, April 7, 2013