29 September 2014

Cutting The Losses (An Appeal)


Back in July, I managed to "score" the suit in the above photo from ebay. It's a custom made suit by Alan Flusser, circa mid-90s. I wrote about it shortly after receiving it, using it to illustrate my "Law of Averages" theory as it applies to thrift shopping. It's made of a heavy nailhead cloth, and it's been hanging at the back of the closet in the "on deck circle", awaiting it's trip to the tailor. Every time I take it out to bring it to be fitted, it winds up getting bumped for other pending alterations. The longer I wait, the more I contemplate whether it might not be time to cut my losses on this one.

A three piece double breasted suit, seldom seen since the 1930s, is certainly not an easy garment to come by. Simply having one is something of a second hand/cheapskate gold medal. But when will I wear it? Lord knows I don't really need it. Hell, I don't really need any of this stuff. And the cost of alterations? OK, that's it, my mind is made up....
And then Tin Tin (remember him?) posts this photo, from a mid-90s era Esquire article written by none other than Alan Flusser himself. And I see such a suit in action, and I know now that I must have it...but wait a minute, no, I don't. Perhaps you see my dilemma. Or perhaps you are a more well adjusted, level headed person who is only reading this bog and others like it to marvel at the amount of time and thought that some fellows put into something so ultimately superficial and inconsequential. In any case, I appeal to you for help.

On September 19, 2008, the fellow formerly known as "Longwing" (remember him?) commented in response to this blog's very first post:

"Thrifters have too much shit. You get used to not getting exactly what you want so you tend to buy everything that even comes close."

I refuted him then, even though I couldn't help but admit that he indeed had a very valid point. It's a mild form of hoarding sickness that I have fought hard to keep in check all my life. I feel that I do fairly well, and no doubt operating a second hand clothing business does give me a convenient outlet for unwanted or no longer needed garments. But I ask you, is this not just the sort of situation old Longwing was talking about? Do I bite the bullet and pour more cash into making this suit fit? Or do I recoup my investment and get this thing into the hands of someone an inch or so taller than me? After all, I have a pair of cream colored flannel trousers already at the tailor's awaiting pick up, and a pair of cavalry twills to be dropped off, to say nothing of the dry cleaning.

Torture and anguish, thy name is a less than perfect ebay score. Thoughts and opinions greatly appreciated.

20 comments:

Lindgren said...

It's a beautiful suit. My first response is that you should keep it. I suppose, however, that the cost of the alterations should be considered. Is it simply a matter of taking the pants up a bit? Does the jacket need adjusting as well?

A consideration that doesn't find its way into many AAW posts is how you think a particular fabric and colour look on you. Are you one of the lucky few who looks good in anything? If this suit really suits, then absolutely keep it, I'd say. Even if you wear it once a year with pleasure, it'll be worth it. It'll also make me feel better about certain recent thrift purchases ...

NCJack said...

Sounds cold, but: if you love it so, why hasn't it made it to the tailor already?

Sounds like it's in second place to everything else.

I type this while looking at three camera tripods and three backpacks, none of which are the ones I currently use.

Young Fogey said...

Hi G,

If the alterations will ruin the overall design integrity of the suit, then pass it on. What does "design integrity" mean? Well, as you well know, a jacket has an overall look and feel based on the shape of the man it was made for, whether actual (e.g., bespoke, MTM) or idealized (i.e., off the rack). It can be tweaked without compromising that look and feel. However, if you need to shorten the jacket, or alter the shoulders, or even alter the waist by more than about an inch on each side, then you run the very real risk that the design integrity of the jacket will be ruined, and even though it might fit you perfectly, it will never look right.

It's a matter of degree, and is impossible to quantify. Take it to your tailor, and ask his advice. Decide before you go that he will tell you bad news, and that it can't be altered successfully, and that you will have to sell it. Then, you won't be disappointed if the suit Just Doesn't Work; better yet, you can be thrilled if you get to keep it.

Jacob said...

I always feel like.... if I even have to ask myself similar questions then it's not worth it. True love is at first sight. If there's any doubt at all then you should pass it up, especially since you already have a decent wardrobe.

Tod C said...

For me it only comes in if there is something else I am willing to get rid of to make room for it. Sadly I am someone who easily gets rid of things so this has not been much of a help in my spending.

Sportcoats are my weakness and I already have too many so I know if what you speak. So what is going to make way?

Anonymous said...

Is it useful? Is it well-made? Does it make me look and feel good? Does it have sentimental value? Those criteria help me reduce clutter and focus my style.

I second Lindgren's remark on color. Only optimal colors are allowed near my face, no matter how fine or rare the piece.

Toby said...

I've seen you rock the double-breasted blazers in person, and you rock them well. KEEP IT.

Woofboxer said...

If you like that suit and your tailor can sort it out then go for it. If you only wear it a few times does it matter? One of my wife's girlfriends rationalises her dress purchases by cost per wearing i.e. a garment costs £200, she wears it to go out to dinner on 5 occasions which is £40 a time. Look at vintage purchases that way and the cost is really low. Collecting clothes is a pretty innocuous little hobby really and far cheaper than some male pastimes .... ahem!

Stefano Alberti said...

Keep it.
You are already in love with it. If you weren't, you wouldn't have dedicated time and effort to write more than one (excellent as usual) blog posts about this suit.
If you get rid of it, even selling to someone who can rock it without alteration, you won't be able to look to a picture of a similar suit without biting your lips.
Just like Giovanni Ansaldo once wrote, "that's irrational just like life, peculiar just like civilization, heavy just like duty, sharp just like good manners: it must survive and it has a reason for being yours".
Keep it.

Best regards,
Stefano L. Alberti

Chester Pinkmonkey said...

As someone who has limited closet space, if you're not going to wear it more than twice a year cut it loose.

Mr. Sidetable said...

I have more items of clothing similar to that suit than I can count--things that I bought because I loved them and they were almost right and I knew that with a little bit of help I'd wear them all the time. I wear almost none of them. Pass the suit on.

CYoung said...

On a subconscious level, I think you've already decided. I would sell it to someone that can wear it and use the money to either alter something that you know you will wear frequently or to put toward buying more stuff to sell in your shop (or for you to wear!).

Bernie said...

Thinking about letting things go is the hardest part, but as soon as it leaves my hands there's usually a wonderful sense of cathartic relief. Except for those times when I know immediately I did the wrong thing and am filled with dread and regret. Sorry I am of no help :(

David V said...

Of course you're going to keep it and take it in now to be altered. You will find many uses for it , with and without the vest.

Giuseppe said...

Bernie wins the prize for best answer.

Grant said...

I'm having a similar issue with a much less impressive garment.

I bought a pair of beautiful Brooks Brothers cotton slacks which have red lobsters embroidered all over them off ebay a little while ago. Living in Australia, this is the sort of Prep/Trad items we just don't get here, especially not in thrift stores.

They are, sadly, far too big for me. Every tailor I have taken them to has said that altering them cannot be done, because the crotch is just too low.

And yet, having paid close to $150 for them in the end (shipping costs!); I cannot bring myself to get rid of them.

I love the suit Giuseppe, and if anyone could pull it off it would be you. However, I think maybe it is time to let it go. As you said yourself, why haven't you had it tailored yet?

tintin said...

Great suit. What color Kangaroo hat are you gonna wear with it?

Giuseppe said...

Tin Tin,

I'm torn between canary yellow and safety orange.

AFJ said...

If only the World consisted of such silly problems as yours...

Pls GROW UP

Giuseppe said...

This is a personal blog about clothing. Most of the time, it is admittedly shallow and pointless. If you can not see the use of a little mindless distraction on an occasional basis, then I am afraid you may also have some growing up to do.