The recent headlines about racial profiling at Barneys and Macy’s made me think about my own experience with Barneys, I’ve never had any problem with Macy’s, I don’t even go there anymore except when I need new socks or white T-shirts for work. There is nothing style-wise in Macy’s that I would even think of buying.
Six years ago, when I was the daytime doorman, I had to deliver the mail to the tenant’s front doors, and I did this every afternoon Monday through Friday. As I delivered the mail, using the freight elevator to do so, I had the opportunity to look into the paper recycle bins. I did this so that I could recover the thrown away Arts section of the times, and once a week, the magazine; I would get the crossword puzzles for free.
I also encountered other magazines, People, New York, New Yorker, etc.
I only took Vanity Fair if it had someone I liked on the cover, but always G.Q. and W. I like style.
One day in G.Q. I saw a really sharp tie, it was grey with silver stripes, and it looked like this:
It was made by Band Of Outsiders, some ultra hip fashion house- and it was really fly. I took one look and I thought, “I gotta have this tie.”
I read the specs, wool and silk, available at Barneys NY for $125.
I’d never been in Barneys, it was a place I knew I couldn’t afford, but it was close to Christmas, and I knew I was going to be getting a lot of tips, and hell, I should treat myself, shouldn’t I? After all, I deserve it.
At that time the Mayor was doing these no tax on clothing under $110 days, as an incentive. Not being great at math, I figured I would get the tie on the no-tax day. But I had to go and look at and feel the beauty of this tie, so I went the day before the no-tax day for a preview.
I entered the store, suitably intimidating for a kid from the projects, but also intoxicating.
I found my way to the men’s accessories, and among the Jill Sanders and Ermenegildo Zengas, there it was, the rep stripe tie from Band Of Outsiders.
It was a beautiful tie, the silk-wool blend felt absolutely creamy in my fingers. Satisfied, I took the escalator down. Tomorrow was the day.
On the next floor, there were rows and rows of suits. On a whim, I decided to have a look, to run my fingers through the silks and wools of Giorgio Armani and Brioni. I knew I couldn’t afford it, but looking is free.
I was nonchalantly feeling up suits when a very beautiful tall blond woman in heels and a tight black dress approached me.
“Can I help you find something, sir?”
“Oh, no, thank you. I’m just looking. Actually I’m coming back tomorrow, on no tax day.”
“Well, sir, that’s no tax on items under $110, certainly nothing on my floor…”
I don’t remember if I actually turned red or if it just felt like I did, but the woman’s words really stung. It made me realize why I’d never set foot in Barneys before.
I went back upstairs, got the tie and took it to the register. I had been so infatuated with the idea of getting it that I’d forgotten that at $125 it didn’t qualify for the tax abatement.
After Christmas, and a very good Christmas it was that year, I took the lovely Danusia to Barneys for the after Christmas sale. She wanted a hat.
We looked around, and she tried on a bunch of hats that were on sale, and didn’t like any of them. Then she came across a wool knit hat she liked. It was stripped and fuzzy and big like a Rasta hat. It wasn’t on sale and it was $150. Feeling generous I bought it for her. She told me later that she’d kept the tag on for a week, feeling guilty that it cost so much.
The lovely Danusia channels Lou Reed
I love the hat on her, and I love the tie on me, so for me it was money well spent. And maybe one day I’ll be able to walk in and buy one of those $4,000 Brioni suits, and when I do I’m going to look for the snooty woman who made me feel small that day. I hope she still works there.