Tips tailor-made to make clothes your strong suit

ROGER SIMON

April 11, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

A recent survey of newspaper readers has produced startling result.

Asked, "Would you like to read more stories on the Timber Summit or have a pointed object plunged repeatedly into your eye?" 67 percent of those polled said: "Give us more information on how to buy a suit."

HOW TO BUY A SUIT:

1. Do I have to have a suit?

Probably not.

In today's relaxed business climate in which even members of the Supreme Court wear Lycra spandex body gloves under their robes, a suit is no longer required.

There are two exceptions, however: weddings and funerals.

A blue suit is required for both events, even if you are not the one being married or planted.

I have not owned a blue suit for years, but I have gone out of my way to encourage my friends to keep single and alive.

"Marry in haste; repent in leisure," I tell them. "If you haven't lived together for at least 15 years, you do not truly know each other's disgusting habits yet."

"Take Uncle Gus off life support?" I tell my relatives. "Are you crazy? Haven't you read the recent survey that shows that 15 percent of all people who are buried are not really dead, but just extremely bored?"

2. Why do men hate shopping for suits?

Men do not like to remove their pants except for three activities:

Sleeping, swimming and mowing the lawn in Bermuda shorts.

There is a fourth activity, but, being married, I cannot remember what it is.

So the real reason men hate shopping for suits is that when you buy a suit you have to go into a little room with curtains that don't really close and try on pants while wondering if they really have security cameras in there that beam your picture directly to a giant screen in the employees' lounge.

Women do not care about this.

Every year TV news carries stories about giant sales in which women try on clothes without even bothering to go into little rooms with curtains that don't close.

Men, however, have a natural sense of modesty. And really bad legs.

3. How important is finding a good tailor?

Extremely. It is far more important to find a good tailor than to find a good salesman.

The only role the salesman really has is to say: "We don't seem to have your size, but try this."

The job of the tailor is to make "try this" fit.

The most important thing to keep in mind in selecting a good tailor is that he must have an accent.

And I don't mean a Southern accent or a Bawlmer accent; I mean a foreign accent.

I would no more get a suit from a tailor without a foreign accent than I would get a used car from a guy without a criminal record.

I realize this is a problem for native-born tailors, but they can easily go to accent school.

Just last week I went to a well-known clothing store that I will not name for fear they might give me a huge discount (Brooks Brothers).

4 "Whaddya think of them O's?" I asked the tailor.

"I haff ze green card!" he screamed. "Whoever says no is ze lying pig-dog!"

So I knew he was good.

I also knew he was good because he touched me with confidence. No sniggering jokes here. A good tailor should touch you with the same self-assurance as a good surgeon.

A good tailor should lift the shoulders of your jacket and let them drop back into place. He should tug at the front of your buttoned jacket. He should smooth the lapels to see if they stay flat.

You want to ask him out for a drink afterward, that's your business.

4. Do I get cuffs or not?

This is a tough one.

The old rule was that if the material was light, you got cuffs to hold your pants legs down in the wind.

I always felt this rule was germane only to sea captains who went out in hurricanes, however.

So my personal rule is that I get cuffs on suit pants but no cuffs on slacks.

If you really can't decide, however, get a cuff on one leg and no cuff on the other and see which you like better.

This is also a good conversation starter around the office.

In future weeks watch this space for my next installment:

"Underwear: Who Needs It?"

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