When I was growing up, there were shops close by to the house we lived in. That’s how it was in those days. One shop I always remember was the newly opened gents outfitters.
In Between The Butchers & The Grocers
It was called something like, ‘Bernard’s Suits’ and had a little tag line underneath which said, ‘for the well-dressed man.’ Even though I was only 6 or 7 at the time, I remember thinking what a strange place for an outfitters shop. It was perched in between George Mason the grocers and Dewhurst the butchers. On opening day, Bernard’s Suits was very busy, they had made a big fuss locally about them setting up the business.
Back in those days, I don’t think I had seen many men wearing suits in the area where we were living. The dress sense was more corduroy trousers or slacks as my mother used to call them and open-neck shirts. The only time I saw men in suits were at funerals, weddings or when the bailiffs came knocking the front door! As for the opening day, there were plenty of kids in attendance as they gave away free balloons. I think my mother came away with a pair of socks for my dad.
This Was The 1960s
Don’t forget, this was in the 1960s when U.K. film stars of the day were people such as the great entertainer, Norman Wisdom. Bernard’s Suits had managed to get Norman to attend the opening ceremony and cut the ribbon. Again, it seemed a strange choice of celebrity to open a tailors shop. Norman was famous for wearing ill-fitting suits as can be seen in any of his films. This must have had a catastrophic effect on the fortunes of the shop. People would say things like, “Oh, I wouldn’t buy a suit from Bernard’s, that’s where Norman Wisdom gets his from!”
So it was, the shop lasted less than 12 months and sunk without trace. They didn’t have a closing down sale either, because they realised they couldn’t give the clothes away after their opening day gaff. Oh well, as Norman would say, “Mr Grimsdale!”
You can find more about the wonderful Norman Wisdom here.