Not every man should wear a suit and tie every day. I myself wear a suit once a month at most. But every man in America should own a suit. I am defining “man” broadly here – let’s call it sixteen and up. One suit. For when it matters.
“What do you mean, ‘for when it matters?’”
Well, I get an email about three times a week that says, “I’ve got an unexpected (funeral/wedding/job interview/christening/wake/big meeting/court appearance) coming up next week. Where can I get a good suit on short notice for a good price?”
I usually (almost always) help these people. I suggest Brooks Brothers or maybe Suit Supply, two very good sources for suits, and I suggest they try to find a passable alterationist to work on short notice, and I suggest they not try to save money on this because it’s important and because as engineers say: “cheap, fast, good: pick two.”
But there’s something I really want to say to these people that I don’t. Something a little sour. Something I will say to you, man-who-has-not-yet-faced-sartorial-crisis.
YOU’RE A GROWN MAN. YOU SHOULD ALREADY OWN A SUIT.
This particular event may have been unexpected, but did you seriously not expect that something would come up in your life that would require grown-up clothes? Even professional surfers who live in beach huts in Bali have great-uncles who die back in Fresno. And great-aunts who’d feel bad if their grand-nephew showed up at the funeral in khakis and a polo shirt from his catholic high school’s uniform.
You will need a suit, and it is better to buy it on your time. When you buy a suit on short notice, you get something ill-fitting, you pay too much, you don’t have time to make your own decisions about what you want, you can only go to one store, you might not even be able to get it altered… in other words: you’re fucked from the word “go.”
So get real. Take some time, and buy yourself a good suit. One good suit. What my mom calls a “sincere suit.” It should be solid gray and conservatively styled so you can wear it for a good five or ten years when this stuff comes up. A plain, mid-gray suit can be worn to any event which requires a suit, from Easter Dinner at grandma’s to your co-worker’s unexpected wake.
Get yourself a shirt and two ties, too – one very dark for funerals, one a little happier, though still sober, for not-sad events. Neither of these ties should have Bugs Bunny on them, by the way. And some dress shoes, and socks and a belt. Just one set of basic, serious-business clothes. Because you will need them. Not all the time, but sometime. Inevitably.
You don’t have to be a suit-and-tie guy. You don’t even have to be a wears-pants-instead-of-shorts guy. But if you’re a grown man, you should own a suit.