Friday, February 05, 2010

Going to the tailor

As a rite of passage, all men visiting Hong Kong have to get a suit made. It doesn't matter if you never wear a suit back home. Or if you have a dozen suits already. From the humblest bricklayer, to the richest scion of banking, all must buy a suit.

It will be a lot cheaper for a small Indian gent to take your measurements and consign them to Shenzhen for tailoring. But there are a few negatives to this.

Classic style that ... does go out of style. All these tailors learned their trade dressing dyspeptic employees of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, back when it was stuffed full of Englishmen stuffed full of lunch, or at least that is the simplest explanation for why they want to dress you like a fifty-year-old man. From the nineteen-fifties. This simultaneous aging plus time-travel would be a neat trick, if you didn't look so staid and fusty at the end of it. Or perhaps you'll get lucky, they'll get "ambitious" and you'll be a facsimile of what a man was wearing in the third advert inside GQ magazine. Hopefully their copy isn't creased too badly.

Self esteem issues. Your tailor is a sharp-eyed expert of the human form, and apparently delights in pointing out your failings. So you might start off standing proud, but pretty soon you'll wilt, as you discover that one of your shoulders is lower than the other, you have a "disproportionately big neck" and your left leg is "silly". Ok, the suit that will be so excellently tailored will hide your physical shortcomings, but with the price that you'll be reminded of those flaws every time you wear anything else.

Collars being put on inside out. Well, that's actually more just a reason not to buy cut price bespoke shirts in Beijing.

And finally, feeling like a six year old again. Because as some sort of "bonus" they'll stitch your name into the lining. Now, occasionally you'll find somebody who thinks that's a good thing, because they already own a selection of monogrammed hankerchiefs, underpants and spats, all with their initials picked out in a contrasting colour. The rest of us will feel like they're back at school and their mother has stitched their name into their garments because they can't be trusted to look after them for themselves.

(So will the guys with the monogrammed wardobe. I suppose they don't realise this is a bad thing.)

Although given my propensity to forget where I've left my clothes, perhaps the tailor is on to something.


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