Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nattily Dressed

Haberdasher (ha-bə(r)- da-shər) noun, from Middle English haberdassher, from modification of Anglo-French hapertas, kind of cloth; 14th century. 1: (British) a dealer in notions; 2: a dealer in men's clothing and accessories.

Hilaire's. Huber's. Charles F. Berg. Henry Thiele's. John Helmer. Trader Vic's. All names that were recited with reverence by anyone familiar with downtown Portland in the last half of the 20th Century. And, except for Huber's and John Helmer, all gone.

So when our friends Kathryn and Jeff arrived for dinner the other evening, Jeff sporting a natty summer straw (top center photo, on the lower left) from John Helmer, Kathryn mentioned she was going to blog about their trip. I asked if I could post an excerpt here:

"If it were up to me, gloves would still be worn by women shopping downtown and gentlemen would wear hats. (Don’t men look more distinguished in a fedora, rather than a ball cap?) So when my husband decided a summer straw hat was one of his birthday wishes, we headed into the shop on the corner of SW Broadway and Salmon. Bartholomew Cubbins would have been right at home here, as hundreds of hats were lined on shelves and tables for our perusal. Usually I'm in my element in any store, but, though I was more than welcome here, it’s definitely a manly place. A rainbow of ties, buckets of very personable canes, men's clothing and men shopping for that perfect hat. I’ve never seen men vie for a mirror before, so that was a treat in itself.

"A very dignified John Helmer, Jr., may wait on you, and completely brings to mind the British actor John Gielgud—such a gentleman, with a bit of a wink in his eye. The shop is rather like that, too. Very dignified, yet approachable."

Details: John Helmer Haberdasher, 969 SW Broadway. Phone 503-223-4976.

Photos courtesy of gobeyondtheordinary.com.


EcoGrrl said...

one of my favorite places to go since i was a little girl - thanks for the tribute

ecogrrl (i.e., native oregonian)

Kathleen Bauer said...

I'll let Kathryn know. I love these classics, too!