I don't get to wear a suit very often, so it's always fun when I do. Today I had the opportunity to trot out a little number that's been languishing in the closet nearly a year since I got it.
Goes magnificently with a blue point collar shirt in 80s pinpoint from the Andover Shop ($1.00) and a handmade bow tie in charcoal wool flannel by Miss Ellie La Veer (generous gift). A sliver pocket square (had it so long I can't remember...bought it at Filene's Basement R.I.P.) seals the deal. A bowler hat and rolled umbrella might have been nice here, but only in London. Let's be reasonable.
Down below I am overcome with a fit of iconoclasm, manifested in the combination of navy pinstriped suit, brown longwings and sucker punch skull & bones socks. Forget for a moment the ridiculous skulls...navy pants with black socks and brown shoes? Scandalous? Perhaps, in that it flies in the face of every "rule" you ever heard about socks and shoes and the color of your pants, but it's downright killing as well, if you'll allow me. One of the distinct pleasure of dressing well by choice is the freedom to disregard any damn rule you like.
But the real point of this post is to reveal one of the "secrets of thrift", or rather to re-iterate the most important one: you can, and indeed should, have your clothes altered. Frankly, it's a rule that applies to anything you buy, but it's especially relevant to thrift shopping, given that simple problems of fit and cut, though easily correctable, can blind you to the potential of a garment. I bought this suit because it was classic and well made, rendered in a realy beautiful fabric. But it did need help. This suit was made in the dreaded and much maligned 1970s. As such, the pants had quite a flare at the bottom. But tapering pants is a fairly simple, and cheap, operation. Simply bring tham to your tailor, explain the trouble, and ask for a narrower leg opening. These pants came down from an 11 inch opening to a perfectly reasonable and far more classic 9 inches, meaning when laid flat the opening measures 9 inches across. Two inches may not seem like much, but it's a huge difference in a leg opening. Oddly enough, the jacket has conservative medium width lapels as opposed to the wide ones popular then, and rather than having the highly suppressed waist and flared skirt of the time, it has an un-darted front. Go figure...
The 1970s may have been a garish and ugly decade, but remember that everybody wasn't running around in yellow polyester and avocado green suede doing coke in the bathroom of studio 54. Some guys were working in banks and law firms, hell, even in men's shops. And don't forget that in many ways, it was the last decade in which grown ups still dressed like they were older than children. The USA was still producing much of what it consumed and the quality of construction of these garments was top notch. It really only takes a modicum of careful editing and a good eye for potential to strike gold on something that a lot of people would consider only for a Halloween costume.
Close-mindedness will get you nowhere as a cheapskate.
p.s. thanks, Jesse.