Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die, and in a similar fashion, I would love to look good but I hate shopping. Not with passion because I don’t care enough, but still, enough to own several T-shirts from the previous century.
And that’s why I am a lightning-fast shopper when I do hit the shops. I have an image in my head going in, and when I see the thing that matches that image, I’ll buy it.
Admittedly, it doesn’t mean that I have style, or that I’ll look good (or at least as good as in the image in my head) but most of the times I’ll be pleased with what I see in the mirror.
Today, when I entered a men’s fashion store at our local mall, in my head, I had an image of me in a suit. I walked in, found the corner with the suits and had a look, but quickly – as is my style – focused on the rack with the black suits.
I went in and out of the fitting room with different sizes, sent a photo to Wife, and then walked to the register to pay. The young man behind the counter complimented me on my choice and then asked me to put the jacket on so he could see that it fit well.
“Perfect,” he said. “You’ve bought suits before.”
Indeed, I have.
I think the first suit I bought was the one I wore on my high school graduation day. It was one of those 80s suits that you don’t ever see anywhere now, and I don’t expect them to make a comeback any time soon. Or, have you seen anyone wear a waist-long plaid jacket with rolled-up sleeves and pinstriped pants to go with it? Oh, and a bow tie.
Walking out of the fanciest store in Joensuu, I was happy. Maybe I didn’t look exactly like Sonny Crockett, but I sure was pretty close.
It took me eight years to buy my next suit, and by then, I opted for a more traditional style.
That summer, I had worked with the NHL on an event in Helsinki, as an intern you might say, so I didn’t think about clothes all too much. Yes, the league people all wore suits, but they had meetings with Important People and some of them were Important People themselves, whereas I didn’t and wasn’t.
Three hours before the first game, my then-boss and now-friend took me aside and told me my game operations duty: I was going to have the important task of standing in front of the players and give them the signal to go on the ice when I got the signal in my walkie-talkie.
“Oh, and put a suit on,” he told me.
“Of course,” I replied, and ran out of the rink, into a tram, and headed straight to Stockmann’s department store, the fanciest in town and the only one I could think of.
I walked around for a few minutes, found a navy blue suit and tried it on. It looked good, I thought. I looked good, I thought. Sure, the pants were a little long as were the arms, but that was to be expected with my body type. Short and stocky that is. But, I needed a suit and I needed it fast.
The salesperson asked me to put it on to see if it needed any adjustments, but I didn’t have time for that.
“In fact,” I told her, “I’m just going to put it on right now.”
And like a reverse Superman, I walked into the fitting room in my street clothes and out looking like Clark Kent.
Unfortunately, it was raining outside so when I got back to the arena, my pants – hanging over my shoes – were soaking wet. But none of the players noticed that. I don’t think.
However, the fact that the pants had been too long always bothered me so when it was time to buy my next suit – when I worked at the Canadian Embassy and had officially become a suit – I decided not to make the same mistake again. I also remembered another lesson I had learned during the NHL event.
One day, when I was at the rink, one of the league guys talked about suits.
“You know, I’m not that into brands, that’s not important to me,” he said, and then opened his jacket so we could see the Boss tag inside.
“I mean, who really cares,” he added, and flipped his tie over to reveal the Versace tag.
Oh, how we laughed but when I walked into Stockmann’s a year later, I walked straight to the Boss’s section. However, I didn’t walk out of there carrying a Boss suit. No, no. I did buy the suit but that time, I left it at the tailor’s and when I picked it up it fit me perfectly.
I also bought a Versace tie.
Even though I haven’t been able to wear the black Boss suit comfortably in a long time, I’ve kept it in the closet, next to the one I bought in Paris when Wife and I were there (because they were so cheap), and the one I bought when we got married almost ten years ago.
We’ll be attending a wedding this weekend so the other day, I took a fresh look at my suits and decided to let go of the Boss suit. It was time.
I gave it to Son.
It’s a little big for him, sure, but he’ll grow into it.