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The Short Man Buys a Suit

December 24, 2008 by · 26 comments

Roger Conner Jr.

Photo: karsten.planz

A man does not buy a new suit every day, and that is a good thing.  Leaving aside the cost in cash, buying a new suit gives a man entirely too much time to think.

A blue jacket and matching slacks with vertical pin stripes and mild blue shirt comes to five hundred dollars and change.  I already had a decent tie.

I sit on a nice leather couch while the tailor works at attempting to make the clothes fit a man my size and height.  I think he had hoped for a taller customer.

The bane of a short man, buying a suit, attempting to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, put lipstick on a pig, any number of cliché’s fit.

I am surprised it is not a common expression of disdain:  “That’s as useless as putting a suit on a short man.”

The greatest fear is appearing comic, like Danny De Vito as Louie De Palma, or Edward G. Robinson as a little gangster.  No matter how finely cut, no suit could help them.

A man’s suit is a portable stage set, attempting to create a particular effect.  Comedy is usually not the effect that is being attempted.

A suit even carries attempts at optical illusion.  A short man will often purchase a suit with vertical stripes in an attempt to appear taller.

The primary target audience for the effect a suit creates is a prospective mate or partner.  For most of us men that means women, who seem to be gifted in seeing past the optical illusions.

The writer Saul Bellow once said that the problem for a short man in a suit and tie is the tie is too long, and the knot at the collar too big, no matter how you tie it.  Most women do not read Bellow.

Perhaps a vest would help.  Bored, I sit on the couch looking at a glass case containing neatly folded men’s vests.  Vests, like ties, are often too long.

Vests can often be luxurious.  Laying aside the appearance of a suit provides opportunity to enjoy the luxury of the materials.  A suit can be a comfort item even for a short man.

Color can also be a nice luxury.  Anglo Saxon Americans seem to have become frightened of color.  Our palette is now grays and browns and black.

The former “flower power” generation now wears shades of gray and brown. I wonder if bright colors make a man look taller as I look across the room at a lone orange shirt.

I do not know the brand name of my suit.  Brand names do not seem to matter now as much as they did to men in the old days.

Brand name can mean something.  If a man is going to pay good money, the brand name is an added option.

It is more rewarding to get to use a known name if one is asked what kind of suit they are wearing. If I can say “Brooks Brothers” that should be considered an additional benefit.

Good quality materials add value to a suit.  The age of great materials seem to be behind us.  Men do not often own items of gold, bronze, silver, mahogany or other noble materials.

Wool, silk, or camel hair jackets are a luxury and can be enjoyed even by a short man, and quality leather shoes are also a luxurious but expensive touch. Heels can also add height.

My tailor has finished making alterations, and hands me the suit to try on.  He still seems disappointed.

I look at myself in the mirror.  It is a nice suit and looks as well as can be expected on me.  My tailor and a saleslady attempt to help by complimenting my appearance.

The saleslady is nice.  I find out in conversation that she is married.

I arrive at a banquet that evening.  The suit is comfortable on me, and I enjoy the feeling of luxury it provides.

One of my female friends says the suit looks nice and I thank her.  She is friendly in her distant sort of way.  “The tie seems a bit long though”, she says.

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