I must recommend

the Giorgio Armani General Store at Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora, Illinois, a town made famous by Wayne and Garth. I have been shopping there since 2005 and now have the wardrobe of my dreams. I am always ably assisted, in person and by telephone, by Omar, Katie, and Malla. The number there is 630.585.6420. To reach the Outlets from northeastern Indiana, get on I-80W at Angola, Merrillville or Chesterton and drive to I-355N to I-88W. The trip does involve tolls, albeit in the $4 range, and is approximately 200 miles.

I must also recommend

the General Store at the Prime Outlets-San Marcos in San Marcos, Texas. Steve, Pedro, and Paul are also very helpful, like their colleagues in Aurora, and know their merchandise inside and out. The number there is 512.393.6030. The store is located on I-35 between Austin and San Antonio.

Here is the Armani website.

The Black Label

A bit of pedantry: my fellow Armani aficionados will recognize the linguistic similarity of the header to the longtime “white label” subtitle, “Le Collezione,” which means, in Italian, “the collections.” I am using the singular to describe my own collection, which has grown embarrassingly prodigious in size: outerwear, suits, jackets, pants, shoes, ties, socks, dress shirts, casual tops, leather goods, and, I think, an ascot, though I don’t generally broadcast this information for obvious reasons. Armani Collezioni, as it is known in the retail world, and mighty fine stuff, at that, is not to be confused with the famous “black label,” the couture-ish top-of-the line, which tends to be either conservative and Brioni- or Kiton-like, or a bit fashion-forward. An example of the famous etichetta nera is in above and to the left, with its familiar black square-rectangle field with bold white lettering, always a thrilling site in a bargain rack, as well as in the boutiques, and in the allotted spaces in the General Store outlets. Although I treasure all my clothes, even those I don’t really wear any more, the black label is special, and it tends to be all I buy now.

It’s Better to Look Mahvellous Than to Feel Mahvellous . . .

Fernando, the Billy Crystal character from the 1980’s era Saturday Night Live, is absolutely right, which is why I quote him. I’ve been wearing this clothing almost since its famous popular debut in the Paul Schrader film American Gigolo (1980), when Richard Gere struts about in some of the early men’s collection pieces that were available in the USA. Armani also did the costumes for Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables. Although the label is associated with great wealth—as Jed says in the opening of every Beverly Hillbillies episode, swimming pools, movie stars—the maestro is more famous for the democratization of men’s fashion, especially in America, with his unstructured jackets, suits, and overcoats, retro fabrics and patterns. He often appears in one of his navy blue t-shirts, one of his most affordable items. (I own several.) His stuff tends to make even those of us afflicted with premature balditude and stress-related weight look halfway decent. His palette, at least for his men’s line, tends to be consistent, so ten-year old neckties can be easily matched up with new jackets, or even shirts that have not been designed yet. What can I say? It feels good to have it on. Grazie mille, Maestro.