I'll preface this with admitting that I should probably either drink less coffee, or just stop drinking coffee altogether. My temper, never good at the best of times, is now wound tighter than badly tuned snare skin - ready to crack and split at the first badly aimed hit.
All I wanted to do was buy a suit.
I am speaking at a career conference at the National Institutes of Health on Friday. Dress code is, of course, the dreaded "business casual". What does that mean? A suit without a tie if you're me. There are far more sartorial ways of carrying it off...just Google the phrase and you'll see amazing combinations of trousers and shirts and blazers/jackets (supposedly optional, but I think not (the jacket, not the shirt or trouser)). It can be hellish expensive, but it need not always if one knows one's frame and good clothier/tailor.
Alas, for off the shelf combinations I am out of luck most often. I am blessed with a svelte frame and I can't "do" most combinations. Pleats are right out, as is anything double breasted. I am 6'3" and thinner than the proverbial bean pole. Even though I've put on more than a stone (14lbs to you non-Brits) in the last year, and now weigh a respectable, healthy 180lbs (13st to you Brits) I am not by any measure broad shouldered. Suits tend to hang off me, draped like damp washroom char in a laundry.
I am also, as if this 'curse' weren't enough, blessed with a youthful face. So anything fancy makes me look like I am a graduate on a job placement interview.
Simple black suits and pinstripes work fine though, so to make business casual work all I needed was a black suit. I can take off the fucking tie and its casual right? Right?
Three. Fucking. Hours.
Three. Three hours driving hither, yither and yon. Betwixt and between stores I drove, looking at, sampling in, and trying on and yet nothing. The final store I couldn't even fucking find. (Fuck you google maps and your grey "mall like area" graphics. Some of us have trouble with directions. Details help.)
Every store the same - aloof staff, raised eyebrows, needless drama this 37yr old professional need do without. SRSLY - 'can' the fucking attitude...yes I've bought suits before, yes I know my price range, no I don't want fucking wool (in memphis?!), and yes...I mean a plain, fucking plain, black suit. No, I don't need a belt, socks, shoes, cufflinks, tie, tie clip, handerchief or godamned motherfucking cummerbund!
Cumerbund? Really? The poor bastard didn't even know the name and did the "Aaron Rogers Touchdown" move (Brits imagine someone showing off their new Baron Haarkonen anti gravity belt (yes, I know that doesn't help. Google "state farm aaron rogers")).
Here a neologism via my friend Prof-like Substance: Dude. Fuck. Sigh.
And so, failure in hand I'll go with Plan A on Friday: black pinstripe, 'English' cut, Billy London suit with a deep lavendar Perry Ellis shirt, silver cufflinks, and no damned tie.
The Usual Sartorial Grace and next time I'll order online.