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Suits You!

A young friend recently stated that he didn't trust a man who wore an expensive suit.


My first thought was how odd a generalization to make.


Then I thought, good thing my supposedly so called expensive suit was relatively thread bare and that it was deeply discounted at the time of purchase, thus making it by most accounts, a fairly inexpensive suit, suitable for defending spurious lawsuits and specious allegations.


It made me reflect on how great a chasm and expansive a generation gap there can be when we sail through life, relatively oblivious to the passage of time and the differing experiences sustained by another generation.


By this I mean, growing up in the late 60s my generation wore long hair and faded jeans as the signature pieces of our "uniform" of disenchantment and self proclaimed liberty, not to mention our disdain for certain elements of what we perceived to be the identity of the generation before us.


These were largely symbolic gestures, imbued with greater importance than they surely deserved but the genesis and elixir or siren call nonetheless, that galvanized a revolt against the status quo (or what we, in our limited world view, perceived to be the status quo). Hair length, clothing and music, lent credence and appeared to give substance to the form.

As I look around me now, I realize that bad haircuts, mismatched suits and poorly fitting apparel, are perhaps nothing more than the hallmark of a new generation's symbolic discontent with the older generation of which I'm now a part and the metaphorical equivalent of disdain for the older generation's subjectively perceived icons.


But back to the expensive element of the lament.


When my pseudo hippie friends and I wore our tie dyed t-shirts, we actually took out the mason jar rubber bands from the pantry where the preserves were stored and we dipped the white t-shirts into dye and made the shirts. When we wore denim, it got faded only after months of wear. You couldn't buy (and incur the significant expense) of having a manufacturer put the holes in the denim. The fade out happened over time and not by a snap of the fingers and the tap of a credit card.


But here is a question, not meant to just be rhetorical: how does one define "expensive" anyway? Is it simply by price? If you buy a high quality suit at a deep discount at the end of a season, when the price is less than the cost of a much cheaper suit, does that mean you have bought an expensive suit? If wearing an expensive suit for the price of a cheap suit, is justification for being stigmatized with the moral opprobrium of being untrustworthy, I am reminded of the ecclesiastical commandment of judging not, lest one be so judged and not looking for the moat in another's eye lest one invite a beam into thine own. What would the moral opprobrium be based upon, exactly?... because one was wearing a suit at a discounted price? Excuse my cynicism.


While I have a few Canali suits in my closet and even a Brioni, Ive always been partial to deep discounts regardless of any subscription to the mantra of Cosmo Kramer of Seinfeld fame, who was always remarking, "retail is for suckers." When you talk to a tailor, you learn about the hallmarks of a good suit, cut and cloth, like the three "c's" of gemologists, cut, colour and clarity. If the cloth, or fabric, endures or wears twenty times as long because of its weave quality and does not ball or bag or blemish, you'll get twenty times the quality wear and you can do the arithmetic and figure out for yourself which suit, the cheap one or the "expensive" one, truly costs you more. As for me and my house, we will serve the lore, (with all due respect to Judges 24:24) and the folklorist platter served is cold cuts through and through.

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