One of the advantages of losing a significant amount of weight is that it provides one with an excuse to buy a whole new wardrobe. In many ways this has been tremendously gratifying fun. Occasionally, though, clothes shopping for a reasonably trim six-foot-two male body can be a frustrating pain in the ass.
I have mentioned before the difficulties I have encountered buying jeans. Any pair with a waist larger than 31 inches feels baggy and uncomfortable; however, these jeans must also be loose-legged because my thighs are sort of muscular. Just try finding pants like that with a 34-inch inseam. Not…easy.
This, however, is a cakewalk compared to buying a suit. I suppose it is some consolation that I am not alone in my newfound struggle—“Slim pickings in a weighty world”.
Before we begin the chronicle of my futile quest for semi-formal ware, a quick men’s fashion primer may be in order. A “regular cut” suit by an American label has a six-inch drop between the chest and waist, meaning that a jacket with a 44-inch chest (that’s my size) comes with 38-inch-waisted trousers, and the jacket is shaped accordingly. European labels often increase the regular cut drop to 7 inches because Europeans eat fewer Big Macs. ;-) The “athletic cut” suit has an 8-inch drop (although some have as much as a 10-inch drop) and the jacket tapers a bit more nicely, instead of hanging down loosely like a boxy tent. Just in case you were curious, there is also a “portly cut” that has a 4-inch drop.
Even with the “athletic” cut, I knew that I would have to resort to alterations and/or separates (some stores have a limited selection of “mix and match” jackets and trousers). I obviously don’t expect to find any suits with a 13-inch drop (although, that would be great); I would like to at least start with an athletic cut jacket, because the more you alter a jacket, the worse it tends to look (and the more it costs to alter). Okay, I need to rant—what the hell is “athletic” about a 36-inch waist. When I reached rock bottom this past summer, and I realized that I no longer wanted to carry around 65 extra pounds of fat, I was a size 36. Grrrr.
Of course, such an argument about whether an athletic cut suit is actually “athletic” is moot because I could not even find such a suit around this area. Men’s Wearhouse? “We don’t carry anything in an athletic cut.” At least the guy in Jos. A Bank was a bit more helpful. (BTW Jos. A. Bank was where I recently bought the absolute best pair of dress pants I have ever owned—a charcoal merino wool/cashmere blend pair with a 31-inch waist that fits like an oh-so-comfortable glove.) He said that they no longer sell athletic cut suits because this area has become corporate central (Merrill Lynch, Dow Jones, and scads of drug companies). The salesman then added that if I gained some of my weight back, they might be able to help me out.
Ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha. Bite my size-31 ass.
How about Macy’s? Yes, they actually had one athletic cut suit in a 44-long, but it was taupe. Taupe? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Taupe?!? Whatever. As I exited the store, I walked past the underwear section, bedecked with rows of boxes with black and white pictures of bare-chested, well-muscled pretty boys, and I pondered, “Where the hell do you guys buy your suits?”
I guess my answer, of course, is the city. I’ll probably end up paying through the nose, and then paying NYC taxes on top of that. I suppose if I had already gotten my physique to where I wanted it, I might spring for a custom-made suit. I don’t know.
Here’s the rub, though. I am not an athlete. I do not have the body of an athlete. I look at myself in the mirror—at the rolls of fat that still spill over my waistband and my still poorly defined chest and arms—and I think to myself that if buying a well-fitted suit now is this difficult, what about in six months or so, when I finally do have an athletic physique?