Everything Old Is New Again – J. Peterman


Do you remember perusing the J. Peterman catalog when we lived in our tiny apartment on 88th Street?  Every piece of clothing was accompanied by extensive, colorful copy and the writers often employed exotic travel stories of how the product was “discovered.” Staring out at the view of the air shaft from our dirty window, we were transported to far away lands.  It was the perfect form of low-cost entertainment for a couple of broke 20 somethings.  

My mailbox held a delightful surprise last week.  J. Peterman is back! 

(an example of J. Peterman’s literary showmanship from the current catalog:)

Caftans originated in Turkey roughly 800 years ago.

They didn’t become really interesting, however, until the 17th century when the Ottoman sultans began importing fabrics from Persia. These new designs incorporated a flower shape called a boteh, which we now call paisley.

Suddenly, every fashionable pasha and his wife in Istanbul had to own three dozen.

I scoured the Nine Streets neighborhood of Amsterdam to find this particular print.

You’ll not only thank me for looking magnificent; you’ll be historically informed.

Persian Gold Caftan

Persian Gold Caftan (No. 3342), in 100% cotton cambric. Sweetheart neckline.

Lots of delicate red piping in all the right places. Mildly daring 14″ side slits.

Women’s sizes: One size.

(Hey, I never knew the word paisley derived from the Persian word, boteh). 

The company, founded in 1987, reached a pinnacle of $75 million in sales before declaring bankruptcy in 1999.  In 2001, the company’s founder, John Peterman, bought back the company with the help of  John O’Hurley.  In case you’ve forgotten, O’Hurley gave a hilarious portrayal of Peterman on Seinfeld, as Elaine’s boss, that is, before he ran off to Burma.

There were some marvelous pieces in the current catalog, including the caftan, shown above, and an “absolutely captivating” pearl beaded top.

My only hope is that they bring back the Urban Sombrero.


p.s. my husband has a theory that all of life’s big moments (and some of the small, unimportant ones) can be tied back to a Seinfeld episode.  We’ll test that theory in the coming months.

Images:  top two are from J. Peterman, bottom is from Seinfeld.


1 Comment

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One response to “Everything Old Is New Again – J. Peterman

  1. Mary Pat Tierney Moll

    I wholeheartedly agree with Tyler on the Seinfeld theory! Long live J. Peterman!

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