Wednesday, November 29, 2006

it's more important to look good than to feel good

An in-law is getting married. I was asked (through relatives...not directly, mind you) to be a groomsman. Okay, sure. But instead of renting a tux like at most weddings, I was told to wear a dark suit.

Now, those of you who know me realize that I'm not really a suit kind of guy, so it's not like I have one laying around...well, actually I do, but it's a thift store find, and while the jacket fits well, the pants are designed for someone with a 52" waist. Whomever owned this suit before me must've been one ugly freak of nature...I do not want to know what his build was like.

Anyway, other than that, no suit. This meant that instead of renting a tux for $80 or so, I had to instead go buy a $400 suit. I have spent less money buying a car. Yes, I now have a piece of clothing which cost a little under a week's salary, and I might wear it five times in my life...more if relatives start dropping like flies, but I'm not a freshman, and no one's going to give me a relative-killing exam or essay.

And it's not like I can wear the damn thing for work. I'm a 6'5" guy, a big guy, and I tend to intimidate my students anyway. If I came to work wearing a suit, it would either scare them or make them think I must be getting sued. No, if I want any hope of connecting with my students, I ihave/i to dress dressing down for teaching is a stategic move, a carefully thought-out pedagogical strategy (and it has nothing at all to do with my utter loathing of ties, honestly).

So I'm down to wearing the cursed suit for the occasional conference and (hopeful) eventual job interview. Since a suit is a big investment, however, I need to find more places to wear it...maybe on the occasional jaunt to a martini bar or while shopping for comics. Suggestions are, of course, welcome.

I took some friends with me on the suit purchasing run, because I wanted to make sure I didn't end up with a 70's suit with ruffles, and because I'm always horrifically indecisive. They were both excited at the prospect of critiquing my choices. They were also excited to be going to a Men's Wearhouse to see what types of men were currently on the market, and to find out how much a man currently runs.

What did I learn from the experience?

  • When we got to the store, my two friends went to the pet store next door to look at kittens, and I had to call their cell phone to get them to come over and give their opinions. This is when I learned I am not cute enough to compete with kittens.
  • Men's Wearhouse provides surprisingly nice, personalized service. I guess I was expecting a Best Buy-esque anti-customer service, but they were very professional.
  • Apparently, not everyone can wear a three button suit jacket, and sadly enough, I am in that category. One friend speculated that it was becuase I was "too buff," but this is doubtful. It's a shame, because I had to move into a higher price range to get a good 2-button (which, admittedly, did fit better).
  • There is a genderized hierarchy inside the male garment industry. The person who helped me with my selection was a male. When they had to get my alterations marked, they pulled out a female. I guess real men can know fashion but cannot know how to sew.
  • Standing in the bay of multiple mirrors is weird. I never want to look at myself that clearly again. The only thing I could think of doing was the removable thumb magic trick...and that seemed inappropriate.
  • Apparently, one of my shoulders (my right) is lower than the other. After the shopping extravaganza, we all went to a bar, and a friend speculated that it was because of too many years hauling around bookbags.
  • Suits are much like cars in that there's a tremendous amount of unavoidable add-ons. Alterations cost extra. Cedar hanger? Extra. Garment bag? Extra. The one that really got me was the silicone treatment to keep the creases crisp...which is admittedly a good idea, but when the salesman told me about it, I was waiting for him to also try to sell me the undercarriage anti-rust treatment.
  • My wife and my two friends all told me that, in my new suit, I looked good. It's nice having the lust and adulation of those around you.

Maybe I'll have to adopt a whole "upper class" image to go with this suit thing...fine wines, a good car, a real hairstyle, opera, art films...

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