How The Gentlemen’s Corner culture came to be

Well-dressed and smartly-appointed men in four Southern towns have come to know The Gentlemen’s Corner as the place for the finest clothes, accessories and service. From Pinehurst to Wilmington, Chapel Hill to Palm Beach, the clothing emporiums launched by Chris Dalrymple have stood the test of time while keeping in step with the finest manufacturers and smartest fashion trends.

Whether it’s a suit for the boardroom or the courtroom, khakis and a cashmere sweater for the golf course or Saturday afternoon football game, shorts and a smart T-shirt for a day on the boat, or just a belt or bow-tie or pair of socks to tweak your favorite outfit, The Gentlemen’s Corner stands ready to lend its discerning eye.

“I love the clothing business, I love the retail business,” says Dalrymple, who opened his first store in 1978. “I enjoy helping people find the right look for them. It’s having the ability to put things from different areas together to make them work. It’s like an interior decorator. You don’t match things, you blend them and put them together so they work together naturally.”

Any visitor to a Gentleman’s Corner shop is first taken by the array of color—lavender and purple mixed with black; indigo blue setting off a cream linen jacket; “Palm Beach colors” like tangerine, purple and hot pink striped across a golf shirt or in gingham checks on long-sleeve woven shirts.

“Working with color is like doing math or throwing a pass in football—either you can or you can’t,” Dalrymple says. “I can look at a balance sheet and my eyes glaze over. But you show me a clothing line and I can sort it out in a few minutes. Show me a rack of suits and jackets and a table of slacks and accessories and I can mix and match them into any number of really smart looks.”

The Gentlemen’s Corner blueprint worked well for 30 years in Pinehurst, so Dalrymple teamed with Harrison Sasser in 2011 to open a shop in Wilmington, and they are partners again in 2014 with the opening of their Franklin Street shop in Chapel Hill.

“This is an untapped market,” Sasser says of the store located just a block away from the UNC campus. “There’s incredible opportunity here. Clothing stores like this one are doing very well in college towns.”

Dalrymple has seen dozens of styles ebb and flow over his nearly four decades in the clothing business. But the natural fabrics and good taste remain constant, and one of his bedrock philosophies is neatly encapsulated in an old magazine clipping taped to a wall on his Pinehurst store. These are the words of Stanley Marcus, co-founder of the Neiman-Marcus department store line.

“I don’t believe in giving a customer what he wants, I think a great merchant has a responsibility to tell a customer what he should want and educate him about why they should want it,” says Dalrymple.