Monday, October 21, 2013

My Toronto #2 - Mr. Casual

From 1965 to 1968 or so, Mr. Casual was the only place I bought my clothes. Situated on the second floor of the (relatively) new Colonnade, it was an outlying settlement of fashionable London, or so it seemed to me. It was presided over by a fellow I knew simply as "Hank" - a mustachioed friendly, low-pressure, surprisingly hip older guy (i.e probably in his early 30's), who dressed casually, as the store's name implied, and who seemed to be in tune with his younger clients. I thought of him as "Mr. Casual".

In 1965, I think Mr Casual was the only store in town that stocked wide-wale corduroy suits, paisley shirts, wool Nehru-style military jackets (in loden green or burgundy), wide ties, big-collared shirts, bell-bottom pants, Edwardian length jackets - it was if the wardrobe supplier to the mid-60's Rolling Stones and half the bands in London had set up shop in TO. For my taste, it was perfect. 

It may have been casual, but it wasn't Mr Cheap. I had my first experience with the danger of a VISA card there - and it took three or four months to pay off the balance. A valuable lesson learned! In Hank's defence, the quality was top-notch. If Edwardian suits (beige herringbone, knee-length flared jacket, wi-i-ide bell bottom pants) had stayed in fashion, I could've worn mine for years!

As it was, and as fashion does, things changed. I started favouring thrift shop jackets, leather jeans, and rugby sweaters decorated by girlfriends. My "fashionable", beaded and braceleted, long-haired, suede-booted self chose to go way down market. I suppose it was a precursor to the lazy and uninspired sloppiness that passes for casual dress these days (and I include myself in that judgment). 

I didn't go back to Mr. Casual again. I have no idea what happened to the store, or Hank. But for a few years, it was thanks to Mr. Casual that I actually made an effort to express myself through what I was wearing, others' opinions be damned. For those memories, I'll always be grateful.