In the 1980s, at the height of the American catalog business, Alfred Gingold wrote two parody catalogs that looked much like LL Bean’s. The covers had those softly painted pictures idealizing Maine hunting life, and the inside was filled with descriptions of preppy clothes and outdoor gear. He even wrote some testimonials, just like you’d expect to find in a mail order catalog. (One was from a reclusive bachelor who liked to order and return the same things every month, just for the sake of human contact).
Gingold had some really funny descriptions for his facetious products. Some of my favorites:
- “Old Sport” Shoulder Tie: A thin, flexible wire sewn into the lining of this tie permits it to be worn nonchalantly over the shoulder even when no wind is blowing. Carefree, unselfconscious appearance. A seemingly casual yet extremely affected piece of apparel, this tie is a favorite of prep school boys, university wits, and unbearable literary types. Three patterns: Boring Red Foulard; Tedious Blue Foulard; Camouflage.
- Social Climbing Shoe: A slim, insubstantial shoe with inflated price, this moccasin is a favorite among parvenus, hanger-ons, and snobs. Brass ornament broadcasts affluence. Supple calfskin upper is joined to beaverboard outsole with saliva and library paste. Suitable for lawn parties, thickly carpeted restaurants, or putting feet up where they can be seen. Two colors: Rich Brown. Rick Black.
- Fidgeter’s Skirt: Women who are on first dates, job interviews, or trying to quit smoking will appreciate this good looking skirt with many features for frequent adjustment. Wraparound style with overlapping back panel and button waistband permits extensive centering activity, panel straightenage, and button play. Skirt provides 8” beyond normal waistline for nervous binges or wind. Patch pockets hold all feasible essentials. Fine quality, medium-wale corduroy has neat appearance, is comfortable and able to withstand repeated brushing and smoothing.
- Our Weekend Jacket: Intended for weekend wear in spring and summer, this good looking jacket lets the compulsive or obsessive executive known when he is not at the office. Raglan sleeve construction combines trim, easy fit with insufficient pocket space for wallet, papers, pens, and credit cards. Waist length of about 25” is too short for anything but a leisure garment. Vest wearage and linen display at cuff look very foolish with this jacket, increasing evidence to wearer that he is to relax. Knit-lined stand-up collar can be buttoned snugly if lack of necktie causes anxiety. Two-button flapped handwarmer pockets will not hold anything more substantial than a candy bar or two tickets to a game. Dry clean or let get dirty.
- Jackass Slacks: Comfortable, light in weight, and unutterably hideous. Authentic Indian Madras fabric is 90% handwoven cotton. Garish plaids are made up of virulent, incompatible colors. Unlikely to go with any other items in wardrobe. In this fabric, traditional tailoring with regular rise and straight leg is unflattering to all body types. Accentuates thick waist, pear-shaped bottom, and wide hips even if wearer does not have them. Front and rear pockets bulge unattractively when used (Women’s Slack does not have rear pocket). Hand Wash. Nonbleeding. Patch Madras is 100% cotton and should be dry-cleaned or, preferably, buried. Slacks are suitable for wear to costume parties, hazing rituals, or as a consequence of World Series bet loss. Three offensive Madras patterns: Nauseating Navy and Red. Nauseating Navy and Green. Putrescent Patch Madras.
Gingold’s catalogs easily rank as my second favorite piece of comedy involving LL Bean. My favorite being this.