16 July 2012

A Week in Adelaide: Part 2 - Suit Up

Sometime back in May I decided that I would buy myself a nice new suit for the occasion of my sister’s wedding. Having learned from previous attempts to buy stuff that I like, I decided I’d better get out there and start looking around in case it took a few weeks to order in.

There’s basically only one place in Darwin that does professional suit tailoring. I went to see them and let them know what style of suit I was after (have you got anything to match this hat?) and get the whole process moving. It was quite an educational experience. Here are just a few things I’ve learned.

1) Professionally produced suits for Darwin take at least ten weeks to get here. So ordering a suit in May for a wedding in July isn’t enough notice apparently.

2) My taste in suit jackets is not currently fashionable. I can live with that, except that suit jackets with more than two buttons on the front are not just out of style, they are out of existence. It is not possible to purchase a suit jacket off the rack with three buttons. NOT POSSIBLE! Who makes these decisions?

3) All modern jackets are designed with what is known as a “slim fit” Apparently this doesn’t mean that to wear them you have to be slim. It means that they are designed to give the illusion of being broad of shoulder and narrow of waist. Unfortunately I’ve got that the wrong way around, which means most jackets in menswear shops look a little ridiculous on me.

I gave up on local menswear shops in fairly short order, and decided to go with the time-pressure option of picking one up in Adelaide in the week before the wedding. So Monday morning, fresh off a day of buckful frivolity and grandmotherful bereavement I headed for the city centre to meet my sister and complete a tour of Adelaide’s top menswear outlets.

“Three buttons? Uh… no.”

I honestly wasn’t expecting to make it through the day without having to suppress the urge to punch someone. Suit shopping seems a fairly pretentious thing to do in the first place (I’m not sure why. It’s a perfectly legitimate thing to want to buy when you think about it), and that pretension was only amplified by the fact that were doing it in Adelaide, whose commercial operators have never really struck me as down to earth or helpful.

I was pleasantly surprised. The guy in the first shop we visited actually spoke a variety of English fairly close to mine, and seemed more interested asking what I wanted than in telling me what I should want. Also his suits actually did seem to be made for real people as opposed to unrealistically framed shop mannequins. I ended up buying the outfit he put together for me, but not before shopping around a little, and it was here that the fun really started.

In Gauler Place, which runs off the side of Rundle Mall, is a smallish menswear shop called Uzumco, or something like that. If you're ever in Adelaide and looking to buy a new suit, go there and get fitted - not because the suits are necessarily better than anywhere else (I went with a different outlet in the end, although this guy's suits were pretty good) but because the guy is just so damned cool.

The proprietor was a shortish, slightly built Italian gentleman, who had quite obviously devoted his life to the science of finding nice suits. Where other salesman had determined my size by using a tape measure, this guy - I kid you not - just stood four paces away from me, framed me with his hands like a photographer, then ran off into his storeroom. He came back with a shirt and a pair of trousers that fit me perfectly. I was impressed.

Choosing a jacket was even more fun, he waved his hands around again, then sent his assistant out for a very specific jacket. they bought it to me with great ceremony, but I only got it on as far as my elbows before he yelled "Stop! Take it off, I don't like it. No!" He whisked it away and came back with another one.

I was honestly torn between his outfit and the first one, but in the end the Italian suit, while very comfortable, was just a little more "Sicily in the 1930s" than I usually go for.

All I needed now was a tie. I'd been told Mum would be wearing a blue dress, and Dad would be wearing a tie to match it, so I went out to find me a plain blue tie. I figured it was a safe bet, particularly as I went shopping in the biggest shopping centre in Adelaide.

After about an hour and a half of searching, I found the only plain blue tie in Marion shopping centre. It was in Roger David of all places. Both Myer and David Jones failed to supply just simple plain coloured ties. Apparently stripes are very fashionable at the moment. Again, I'm not sure who is responsible for making these decisions, but just in case (as I suspect) it's some housewife in Canada making all the decision based on Google searches, I'm just going to put this sentence in so it shows up on the next search she runs:

Three buttoned suit jackets with plain coloured ties are so hot right now.

Of course it didn't really matter. By the time I sat down at the grand piano wearing a suit complete with black felt fedora, no-one was looking at the tie anyway. But that's another story.
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