It’s Summer Somewhere: A Brief History of Resort Collections

The concept of a Resort collection is, on the face of it, a bit strange. After all, the last thing most of us really need in the depths of winter are lightweight pieces cast in an array of candy colors. The history behind this pseudo-season is interesting, dating back about a hundred years and intimately tied to the cultural concept of “luxury.”

At the end of the nineteenth century, as railroads spread across the United States and revolutionized travel and transport, wealthy families from the north sought to escape frigid winters with jaunts south. The season for such cold-weather avoidance generally started in the weeks around the winter holidays and lasted through…well, whenever one wanted. Palm Beach, Florida, became one of the most popular destinations for this pre-jet jet set and, in 1924, Brooks Brothers joined in the fun.

In December of that year, we opened what was only our second branch (Newport, Rhode Island, came first, to cover the summering set) on Palm Beach Avenue not far from The Breakers and The Royal Ponciana hotels—two ultra-luxurious hotels that helped make Palm Beach a hot spot. The practice became more widespread as first the automobile and then air travel made the trip more accessible to a population that, in the economic boom that followed the Second World War, had more disposable income and more leisure time than ever before. By the middle of the twentieth century, a winter vacation to someplace warm was more or less an established part of the American Dream.

Savvy retailers, including Brooks Brothers, quickly introduced a new slate of offerings to meet the needs of these vacationers. After all, it simply wouldn’t do to be strolling about a see-and-be-seen destination in last summer’s clothes! And thus was born the practice of releasing a line of warm-weather styles in the midst of winter’s worst weather.

Resort collections, sometimes called Cruise collections, have always been defined by certain key elements. Nautical themes and bold prints often abound, as they do in our latest collection, as a nod to the ocean-bound nature of many winter getaways. Heavy wool is swapped out for crisp linen, lightweight cotton and breathable fabrics like seersucker. The color palette changes too, using bright pops and dreamy pastels as an antidote to the mid-winter blues.

Here are a few pieces for him and her that are sure to boost your spirits in classic style, whether you’re headed off on a warm-weather jaunt or just looking to jump-start your spring wardrobe with a hint of warmer days ahead.