Few events excite our two sons like the arrival of a Vineyard Vines pop-up store.
Vineyard Vines is a designer clothier that has apparently tapped Chattanooga as a good place to liquidate its merchandise.
About once a year, word spreads on social media that the brand, with its famous whale-insignia casualwear, has arrived for a 10-day, blowout sale. One year it was in an empty store at the foot of Signal Mountain. A couple of times it has been at unoccupied former retail properties in Brainerd.
Walk into one of the Vineyard Vines pop-up stores, and they give you a price list and a plastic trash bag to fill up with preppy wear. This year, the Vineyard Vines pop-up landed in Chattanooga's Southside neighborhood in an unoccupied building near Battle Academy; and our sons, ages 15 and 10, were among the first in line to shop.
While our older son was indulging his preference for hooded pullovers, I noticed our 10-year-old camping out at a rack full of boys' classic blue blazers.
Ten minutes later, he was still there. Twenty minutes later, ditto.
"What the ," I thought to myself. "He'll never in 100 years wear a blue blazer. This is just a ploy to walk out of here with something semi-expensive."
Eventually, I wandered over.
"Daddy, do you think I should get one of these for picture day at school?" he asked innocently.
"Hmm," I said. "Maybe, but then where else would you wear it?"
"I don't know," he said, looking down at his shoes.
We had tried buying blazers for the boys when they were younger, but soon noticed that they became dust catchers, worn once or twice and then pushed to the edges of their closet, like the outermost keys on a piano that never get touched. I didn't have the appetite for another pricey impulse purchase.
After Vineyard Vines folded up shop, I thought the blazer talk was over, but evidently our son kept the discussion alive with his mom.
A few weeks later, they came home from a shopping trip with a two-button blue blazer and a white, open-collar dress shirt. They also bought a pair of gray canvas shoes with black laces.
I learned from my wife that some of our 10-year-old son's friends had announced their intent to wear coats and ties for fifth-grade picture day, and he wanted to be part of the well-dressed crowd.
"Ah, peer pressure," I thought. "And so it begins."
Actually, I was pleased. I grew up with a dad who was considered a sharp dresser and who kept his only son well-supplied with bargains from our local Belk department store.
My belief is that every male American should have a navy blue blazer in his closet from cradle to grave. It's a cornerstone of the male wardrobe and an all-purpose garment for job interviews, funerals and everything in between.
A few days after the blazer purchase, my wife topped off his picture-day uniform with a classic regimental, striped necktie that our son picked from a selection of neckwear she texted him from the department store.
All this called for a dress rehearsal.
Naturally, he came to me for help with his tie. I took a stab at teaching him how to tie a double-Windsor knot around his own neck, but soon gave up. Instead, I tied it quickly and slid it over my head.
Later, he mused to his mom, "I could be president."
"President Kennedy 2.0," I thought to myself, unable to suppress a smile.
On picture day, he got up 10 minutes early so he would have plenty of time to dress and fix his modified pompadour haircut with "product." Despite his best effort, I had to tame a couple of cowlicks with a spray bottle of water.
He was eager to pose for a snapshot afterward and even shot me a dimpled smile as I framed him up in the iPhone.
"I never looked that good on my best day," I thought to myself. "That's a bunch of cuteness, right there."
Even if he never wears this stuff again, it was worth it, I decided.
Some pictures are simply worth 1,000 words and $100. No buyer's remorse here.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6645.