Bursting At The Seams

Bursting At The Seams

Blaney Pridgen

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

Given the state of current events, I am thinking a bit of light-hearted nostalgia might be in order.  We cannot be grim all of the time or we lose our bearings.  So, what has happened to the style of men’s suits?

I speak with some authority here.  Long ago, I worked in men’s shops, notably LeGrandes on Broad Street in Augusta.  I also spent over thirty years working in suits as an everyday uniform.  I know a quality, working suit when I see one and wear one, though now in my retired state, suits are occasional wear for weddings and funerals.  For daily work meeting the public and looking and feeling one’s best, cheap suits, even when they are stylish, are never a bargain.

Today, I am seeing suits on television personalities and even political and business leaders that look grabbed off the bargain racks with no seasoned clothier to tell them that they look awful and plain don’t fit.  Coats are pinched too far above the waist, revealing belt buckles and the tails of ties.  Lapels gap back from the shirt collar and the back of coat strains like a straight jacket.  The pants are pistol legged (we used to call them “pegged” alterations for the teenyboppers), too short at the inseam, and ill-fitting at the rise for anyone over forty.  These cuts are wrinkled before the day is over, never sit well, and can be downright pornographic.  Older gentlemen look particularly silly and pained in them.  In these regards, style should be attractive and functional.  Business dress can be as comfortable as the campy duds of casual day, if tailored and fitted sensibly.

While I am complaining, what about some of those ties and shirts?  Whatever happened to the crisp white dress shirt with full collars?  Striped or patterned shirts with busy ties of any type renders the aspect of a man who is difficult to take seriously.  And then there is the ubiquitous unbuttoned collar with a suit coat.  Save that for homecoming.

If men’s dress styles keep going this way, perhaps we ought to give up on the suit altogether.  Perhaps casual day will become every day, as it already is on Sunday, even in church. I may not live to see it, but casual could become too formal for most of us.  What’s next?  Bathrobe Monday?

Now, for true confession…When I was young, way back in hippie days (not happy days), I did dress to make a rebellious statement.  I wore jeans with a blazer or turtleneck to relatively formal occasions.  I even wore bellbottoms and fringed leather vests.  I probably looked like an ersatz John Travolta.  I plead guilty of black Birkenstocks with black socks and a black suit.  I occasionally sport an overstated motorcycle jacket.  Nonetheless, there is a time, a place, and a season to wear a classically cut suit.  Alas, where have they gone?