Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Liberty and New York

Photos by Salt Water New England

Starting as a young teen, I would go into New York to get my hair done every other month or so, either by train or driving.  Over a span of two decades I followed the same rising-star hair dresser from salon to salon, from La Coupe to Louis Licari.

And those treks always included popping into Bergdorf's, Saks, or Henri Bendel's looking for "things for my hair".  (Bendel's always had the best.)  My Brooks Brothers wallet was full of store charge cards, back when those were fun to have (and managed by the store's back offices not outsourced to credit card companies).  It was a span of time when it was great to be in the city - a lot of elegance, a little scary, good train service, horrible pot holes, and not yet completely overrun with tourists.  You could feel the transition from the '70s grit to the '80s slick.  And it still had all those wonderful free-standing stores like Alfred Dunhill (where my father would pick up another pipe), the tiny Orvis shop next to Grand Central for tattersalls, and Burberry (or Burberry's) where there were racks and racks (made of plain metal) stuffed with raincoats (where my mother would shop for hers).

It was a different time for the city. 

One item that was always on my list was a Liberty of London small square scarf, silk or cotton, for my pony tail.  I wore them all of the time. 

While I only have a few of those left, I still have a deep love of their fabrics and the feeling they evoke.  Cordings of Piccadilly has a lovely selection of their Ladies' shirts, either in Liberty's cotton Tana Lawn shown here, or silk.  And as we approach that summer to autumn transitional time, they are a favorite to wear paired with a waistcoat.  (Shown here, with a wonderful past-season Made in Britain doeskin and tattersall lined waistcoat also from Cordings.)

Also shown:



  1. I remember the Orvis store well. I worked at Saks between college and graduate school for a couple of years. I used to stop at the Orvis store to pick up flies on my way to Grand Central.

  2. The old New York reminisces are worth my of expansion. I’m sure the comments it would elicit would be equally as enjoyable as your writing!

  3. McCreedy & Schreiber, Abercrombie & Fitch, Gotham Book Mart (“Wise Men Fish Here”), and Scandinavian Ski & Sport come to mind immediately.

  4. I remember first going in the Dunhill store with my father, when I was a young boy in the 1960s. There were always Dunhill cigar boxes in our house. Years later, I would stop in and buy cigars for myself. One of my other favorites was Crouch & Fitzgerald, which is long gone: I still have and regularly use a thin leather document case that I bought there in 1987.

  5. Ah, The good ole days! Thanks for bringing back fond memories of NYC

  6. Thank you for bringing back such wonderful memories of a so, very special time. I shall enjoy on of my old favourite Dunhill pipes this morning, and think of those special times! Thank you!

  7. If one grows up in New Haven, and travels often to New York City, or ends up living in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is very evocative. Every journey begins with the first step. When you enter Grand Central you take the first step on the way home… One year, before marriage and children, Christmas quickly approached. I headed home for the holidays. I settled into a seat in the last car on the train with but minutes to spare before departure. I sat down, unfolded the evening edition of the Post, ready to leave the working world behind and read the entertaining sports section. I opened a beer. I felt a tap on my shoulder. Looking up I saw a high school friend. He nodded, pointed at the beer, and said,
    ”follow me but leave that here.” I grabbed my kit and complied. Wordlessly, we walked through all the passenger cars. When we reached the engine he turned and said, “let’s go, up front.” Little did I know he was the engineer. All the way to New Haven I sat beside him. We sped under innumerable bridges with it seemed barely, just barely, inches to spare. It was one of the most unforgettable rides of a lifetime, in any form of transportation. It was a ride lost now in the past, unimaginable today.

  8. Great memories. Like you with New York, I miss the old Charleston, South Carolina, which had a much more laid back feel. Too much is geared towards the uber rich and tourists these days. Would love to see some photos of you back then.

  9. I have bought several of the Liberty print shirts from J.Crew these past few years. Love them.

  10. I didn't realize Liberty of London was still around. Both my mom and grandmother on my dad's side wore their blouses in just about every family photo from the 80s. My grandmother wore them gardening, perhaps the same ones, right up until her passing a couple years ago. They're a classic and classy look.

    I'm going to dig around and see what I can find for Liberty ties, at least for next spring.

  11. I remember so fondly those days, first with high school trips to Lincoln Center for matinees, Museum excursions etc. Some of my early employment was in Lower Manhattan, and bought my first Brooks Brothers suit at the store on Church Street, and Church's wingtips at a place near Trinity Church. The city was gritty, perhaps dangerous, but alive and fun.


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