First of all, let us establish that I am not a clothes horse; very much the opposite, in fact. I know little about pop culture, and less about fashion, but I know what I like. It is my opinion (for what it's worth) that -- for men -- the most flattering types of formal wear are the tuxedo and the military dress uniform. Having never been a military person, I don't get the honor of wearing the latter, but the former, I would don daily if I had the liquid assets and the excuse. I love a nice tuxedo. Of course that "liquid assets" thing pretty much eats away at my opportunity for tuxedo-donning.
This post is not about a tuxedo, but will explain my inner angling toward hors-i-ness.
In 1991, when I was an employee of Sta-Con-Tatelyle (I never know what to call it these days, as it has been passed around like a small-town whore), I was assigned to the corporate headquarters -- Decatur, IL -- for an industrial research effort. This effort involved a good deal of overtime and swing-shift labor, but was the most exciting working year of my life. The company was booming, the checkbook was open, and we learned something new and interesting every day.
We, the family, resided in an apartment, paid for by the company, about 1.5 miles from the local mall. At the mall was a Bachrach's haberdashery, and in the window was a suit after which I lusted, mightily. The suit was a black, double-breasted, pin-stripe affair, with the stripes alternating a teal and mauve in color. Now "teal" and "mauve" are made-up words to describe the colors green and lavender for women. In fact, "teal" is a kind of duck, and "mauve" is actually an in-between color of burgundy leaning towards lavender. But, to communicate with the fairer and more intelligent gender, these are the words I must use.
One week, in the spring, after a particularly lucrative compensatory notification, I told my young bride that I was going to Bachrach's to purchase the suit. I was excited about it, as was she, because she had not -- heretofore -- seen this side of my personality. Thus, off we went.
We arrived at the haberdashery, and -- for the first time since I had noticed it -- the suit was gone from the window. This caused me to worry, but in we went, so that I could inquire. I went to the counter to ask after the suit, and the clerk asked, "You mean this one?" and pointed behind him at the wall, where it hung, handsomely, in all its wool finery. I told the young man that I wished to purchase the suit, and he zipped from behind the counter to show me all of the accoutrements that I would need to go with it.
This was a new thing for me, but it made sense as we dove headlong into the process. Why buy a new suit if one has no socks, shirts or ties with which to complement it? I got measured for the purpose of securing the proper size jacket (40 regular), and making certain that the pants were properly trimmed (32/30; I was in better physical condition at the time). After the measurements, I had to select some dress shirts. I believe they successfully sold me on four of them, as well as accompanying ties with each. Then I had to get matching socks, so I didn't look goofy with -- well -- plain black, for God's sake. Oh, and pocket squares! Can't forget those! That was a new folding talent I had to learn.
After all was said and done, I left the store with the extras, a promise of the suit's readiness a few days later and a receipt that registered between $750 and $800. I felt like such a spendthrift.
You know what? It was totally worth it, every time I put the thing on. Especially when I wore the plain white Perry Ellis shirt, the most comfortable dress shirt I have ever worn. It was like wearing a cloud, but lighter and softer. Maybe I was totally in touch with my feminine side, but --when I wore the suit -- I felt good, head to toe.
Of course, I can't wear it anymore, 'cuz that was 20 years and pounds ago. It still hangs in my closet, looking abandoned and forlorn, wishing that I would simply drop the extra weight and don it again, promising the same old feeling. Like that'll happen.