The "Great Gatsby Collection" is now available at Brooks Brothers -- and yes, there's a pink suit. I've seen much speculation lately over F. Scott Fitzgerald's own connections to the celebrated American clothier. Yes, he did wear Brooks Brothers clothes; yes, he did give Brooks shout-outs in his fiction. And Brooks designed not only suits, shirts, and evening wear when Fitzgerald was a young man -- but custom-made uniforms for newly minted officers during World War I.
The Daily Princetonian, or as it's called the Prince, Princeton University's campus paper, carried advertisements for Brooks from its first issues in 1876. During Fitzgerald's day at Princeton, representatives from the store would come down from New York for fittings, on dates announced in the paper. When Brooks moved to its new building, "convenient to Grand Central, Subway, and to many of the leading Hotels and Clubs," they ran repeated advertisements in the Prince in 1916 to make sure all their shoppers knew.
By this time, the Princeton campus had essentially become an officer training site for the war, with lectures on military law, tactics, and organization taking the place of classes on poetry and mathematics. On April 27, 1917, Fitzgerald signed up for a place in the War Department's military training camp that coming summer, and by May he had begun an intensive training course on campus. The lectures began at 8 a.m with trench warfare, followed by patrol formation drills in Dillon Gym, with more lectures in the afternoon.
How did Fitzgerald look, in his officer's uniform from Brooks Brothers that spring? Here he is. In this front-page Prince photograph of the officer trainees, Fitzgerald stands front and center, in the middle of the third row back, white-blond hair gleaming, in his combat sweater and uniform pants. As he would say not too much later in This Side of Paradise, of himself and his Princeton cohort, they'd never be so young again.
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