Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Vintage vs. New: Shopping for Mod threads in Boston

I've been to Boston only once before. It's hard to believe since it's only about a 6-hour drive from Montreal. I would venture to say that it's probably the American city that reminds me the most of home. Packed with great restaurants and boutiques, it's a shopper's paradise.

Being there for only a long weekend, I had to plan my shopping schedule carefully. Luckily, my travel companions Cynthia and Jonathan are seasoned bargain hunters.

Our first destination was the trendy Newbury Street.

A stop at the Ben Sherman store (154 Newbury St.) was in order to have a look at the new fall collection. There was nothing to get overly excited about but I did end up leaving with a classic red polo that had sleeves a lighter shade of red. At 70% off, it was going to make the trip back with me. I was disappointed they didn't have their fragrances in stock. Being an eau de cologne fanatic, I wanted to add one of their scents to my collection.

I have to give them credit for their stunning decor. A lot of thought went into the design of this 2-storey store.

Speaking of great looking shops, Goorin Bros. is well worth a look. This company is one of the few hat makers that make a short-brimmed trilby and porkpie. I bought one in New Orleans last year and can attest to their quality.

Jonathan looking dapper.
A few doors down you'll find the English clothing brand Barbour. Not typically Mod, they have a small selection of smart button-down shirts that would fit perfectly in any Mod wardrobe. 

But if you're looking for a wide range of high quality shirts, all you need to do is to walk a few blocks more to the impressive Brooks Brothers store (46 Newbury St.). Enter the Ivy League side of the Mod spectrum with 3 stories of my favorite American clothing label.

I was attracted to a very Mod looking tie pin displayed on a mannequin. But when I learnt of it's 120$ price tag, I resigned myself to living without a pure silver tie pin for a while longer.

Another shop worth seeking out is Hootenanny (36 John F. Kennedy Street). Situated a stone's throw from the prestigious Harvard University campus, it offers all your Mod friendly brands: Fred Perry, Ben Sherman, Levis, etc. I passed on an affordable 35$ pair of tan Warrior dessies. I'm a snob when it comes to my desert boots and only wear Clarks. Although they looked very close to the Clarks, I'm partial to the originals. I didn't leave empty handed. A fine pair of charcoal slim fit Levis made it's way into my suitcase.

The next day, we took the vintage route. Boston being the quintessential Ivy League town, my hopes were high. Under the guidance and expert recommendations of local Ace Face Dandy Dan Baker, we had a few addresses to visit. He first suggested we check out Bobby from Boston (19 Thayer Street).

Nestled in the hip South End neighborhood, the shop is not a place for sore eyes. It's like stepping back in time. The attention to detail would satisfy any Mod's highest standards.

Like any vintage store, you need a bit of luck and a good eye. It's hit or miss. If you happen to find something you can't live without, it's usually not your size. A vintage boating jacket had caught my eye but it was too small and the 495$ price tag was simply ridiculous.

Cynthia modeling a pink Baracuta Harrington
 I had better luck at the The Garment District. Less high end, they must survive on sheer volume. The place is huge! It's one of the biggest vintage clothing stores I ever been to. The prices are a fraction of what you would pay at Bobby's. The discovery of the day had to be this navy 3-button Brooks Brothers jacket. The golden buttons alone were worth the 11$ price I paid for it.

On the first floor, you can buy clothes by the pound.
Cynthia bought this great Ben Sherman jacket
 I also found a vintage piece I had been looking for, for a while now. This well-preserved satin smoking jacket would make Hugh Hefner proud.

I can already picture myself sipping a martini while lounging around listening to a Mose Allison record reminiscing about the wonderful time I had in Boston.


  1. LOVE mose allison! I had the privilege of seeing him 2x in one night a few years back. took my wife to the early show and brother to the late show. I was happy that he played two different set lists. I got 3 hours of live mose in one eve!

  2. You are one lucky guy! Color me jealous!

  3. what a trip my friend. i'm going there in november for Noel Gallagher concert. i'll check some spot you post. very cool !

  4. You have excellent taste, Sir: Mose Allison and good threads. Enjoy your blog, esp this one about my old hometown.

  5. Good shopping guide Pat, will refer to it should I ever travel to Boston. Vintage Baracutas eh, what kind of damage to they charge for those?

    Agreed with the others, good choice of tune.


  6. Hey Scott!

    I don't remember what they charged for the Batacuta but it wasn't as scary as what the company asks for a new one.

  7. Great post and always great to hear Mose Allison!

    But, as always, you're a step ahead of me. The Goorin Brothers are a San Francisco-based company with GREAT hats! I'm planning on writing about them soon. Glad you made it there and hope you found something cool!

  8. great stuff! takes me back to 1979 when myself and my mates would search out all kinds of shops for old stock ben shermans and perrys!

  9. I spy with my little eye a Baracuta jacket in one of these photos, in a thrift store nonetheless, criminal that someone would part with one, espoecially considering how expensive they are. Those Barbour shirts look pretty cool, I might need to investigate those. Cheers for (as always) a brilliant post on a subject that always stops me dead in my tracks!

  10. Ah, once again I wish I'd known you were going to Boston. There are a couple little shops outside of the Cambridge area, in which most of the shops you visited are located, that you would have liked. Oddly enough, vintage Barracuda Harringtons are pretty much all over the place in Boston. I used to do the rounds of all the secondhand shops quite regularly, and my fave shop, 40 South, in Jamaica Plain, had a ton of them, as well as the places you visited in Cambridge.

    I too found the Ben Sherman shop in Boston "just OK", even though it was close to where my wife worked so I went there often. Newbury Street is quite an experience. Glad you found some cool gear!