You know that scene in Casino Royale where Daniel Craig’s rugged blue-collar Bond says he doesn’t need a tailored suit? Then he tries one on and can’t stop looking at himself in the mirror, clearly pleased with the look?
That was me today. He put the suit jacket on me, a cool slate blue with subdued white stripes, and, man. Kill me now. The fleeting thought of, gee, just think how good I’d look if I’d lost that 70 pounds in the last week. Or if I was just 5 inches taller. But a good suit hides a lot of things (okay, maybe not that many, but a lot).
This was my first time ever having a sales associate who knew what he was doing take me into his professional arms and outfit me. And then bring a tailor in to mark the suit for alterations. The sales rep, Joe of Wilkes Bashford, kept saying, "I want you to get a suit you're comfortable in, and one you'll wear more than once." Hey, good idea.
There’s only a month left before the wedding, not enough time to start from scratch or get other off-the-rack pieces from other places. Nope, Joe had to do his magic in this store. Hey, who knew?
And who knew it was so involved, that it would take so long? It’s a matter of what colors work with my skin, for God’s sake, with my height, with my hair (!). When he asked what color, I said, “Well, my instructions are gray. Dark gray. Well, she said ‘gray’, and I added ‘dark.’” When Maryann interjected “black?”, Joe frowned and shook his head. “Not black.” Gee, that would’ve been my first choice.
I tried on a dark gray wool suit jacket that was just divine, but it was a tad too small and he didn’t have another. So then I tried on gray pants with white stripes, and although they fit well, they screamed white stripes. Maryann and I agreed that we didn’t like that pair. (Nobody seemed to care that the legs were 10 inches too long, and I keep tripping on them or walking on this fine material.)
Then we went to the shirts. First a tuxedo shirt….I can’t button it because, gee, where’d the buttons go, but he wanted to see how the neck fit. Then he gave me a pink shirt with buttons, but it was too large – and Maryann said pink is good! And he said, no, no, not a pink shirt. The tie will be pink.
Tie? I’m not wearing a tie. I told Maryann months ago, no tie. I…am…not…wearing…a…tie. Too masculine. Never have, never will.
So, another shirt -- “gee, you have a small neck” – and finally we got the right fit. It has French cuffs. I’ve never worn French cuffs. I don’t really like them. God, they’re big. “Don’t worry,” Joe assures me as we bond over this very long process. “When you put on the pink knots, everything will be brought together.”
And then he brings me a dark blue suit with muted white stripes, and matching pants (whose legs go on forever), and….yeah. That’s just right. The shirt works, too. So I try the whole ensemble on….and I feel like Bozo. I’ve got pants that are too long, a white shirt that is ludicrously too long in the arms, French cuffs that keep coming out of the jacket, a suit that bulges at the bra level…and they both think it’s a great look. Then we add the pink tie…and it kinda works. What a nice texture. What a beautiful, popping pink. I have to make a decision. It looks really good on me. The exquisitely dressed tailor comes in with his pin cushion (really), and marks the suit in all the bulging spots. In the meantime, Joe is shouting, “Pink knots!”
Next, the shoes! What an ordeal this is turning out to be. I get redressed and we go back down to the main level where all the real people are. He asked me what size I am. 9 Medium – so he turns to the shoe guy. (There are so many experts here, with thinly defined areas of expertise. Very welcoming, very friendly. And at one point, even Mr. Wilkes Bashford came in to shake my hand and welcome me.) The shoe guy says that the equivalent is a size 6 in a men's, and the sizes don't go down that small. So Joe thinks, my God, we have to get her some women’s shoes. Apparently this is quite a reach for him! I think he’s afraid of getting a feminine look which will go against the look of the suit and tie.
The woman salesperson -- very nice, very elegant – brings me these gorgeous, black, handmade Italian boots. The boots were cut off just above the ankle, and my slightly shorter black pants barely covered them. “No, no,” Joe says, “That’s all wrong.” My, God, Joe, these are beautiful shoes! They really are works of art. “I want lace-up.”
So she brings out the same sort of shoe, only with laces. Black. Smooth leather. Very long and narrow toe. The most form-fitting shoe I have ever worn in my life. In fact, I think it’s alive.
The heel is about 1.5 inches, more than I’d been wearing. Uh oh, say Maryann and Joe in concert, the pants will be too short now. Joe tells me to try the pants back on with the shoes. So I go into the dressing room, again with pants that are way too long, and put on the shoes, trying to keep the pants from falling all around them. I come out. We all agree after I prance back and forth, trying desperately not to trip, that these are the shoes. Well, at least they’re cheaper than the men’s shoes. We have to bring the long-suffering tailor back to re-measure and re-mark the pants. What's kind of amazing to me in this whole process is that I was never measured, just marked.
It’s belt time! I won’t bore you with the details, but, man! That process took a long time, too! With the help of another very nice male sales associate, we agree on a belt with a small silver belt buckle. Very stylish.
It’s over. Three hours of people fretting over me, three hours of trying things on and off, things that weren't really meant to fit me in the first place. I need dinner, fast.
I have never in my life been so pampered. And pampered in a non-judgmental, helpful way. The wool in the suit felt so smooth against my skin. The leather of the shoes was like baby's skin. The wine he offered us helped the pampered feeling. When I was working, this kind of thing, shopping for clothes in this way, would have helped tremendously in a process I learned to dread.
This is the last piece of preparation for the wedding. I just have one question:
What are pink knots?