A Pastry Post: Sartorial Suit Adventures

Pastry’s Quest for the Perfect Suit: A Guest Blog by Pastry

When Cucumber and I started our process of planning a wedding, we decided that, rather than a tuxedo, I would wear a suit. I own one already, and (because I am pretty cheap) had hoped that I might be able to skip the expense of one, and wear what I had. So with this in mind, I took it into my tailor, hoping that some minor modifications would make the suit fit me like a glove and look god-like. This was my first reality-check when it came to me and suits. Because in his (very brusque, VERY funny) way, my tailor informed me that my suit was off-the-rack and off-the-rack suits are not for me. Why?

  1. Off-the-rack suits simply look AWFUL on me. I have a very short rise in my pants (queue rimshot). Because of the way that pants sit on my waist, off-the-rack suit pants tend to sit very low and make it look like I have an obsession with an early ‘90s Hip-Hop legend.

polls_mc_hammer_4313_694839_answer_3_xlarge

“A sartorial god amongst men? A role-model for today’s fashion-challenged youth? Or a victim of bad tailoring?”

Often times, an off-the-rack jacket will look fine on me, but the pants will need so much work, I might as well go custom. Additionally, in the case of suit-separates, they CAN work really well, in-theory. Calvin Klein pants in their slimmer fits (paradoxically) tend to look pretty damn good on me. Their jackets, however, are a problem, because…

  1.   If anyone were to describe me, “small” is not an adjective that would be chosen. I’m convinced that in a parallel world, I made a pretty solid defensive football player. I played for a bit as a kid, but a unfortunate formation of my ankles that made running extremely difficult and football practice miserable (I was strong as a bear, so I worked well on the line, but during practice I was consistently at the very end of the distance running game).

Plus, who wants to play football outside in the Arizona heat when there’s Nintendo games to be played?

But ultimately, while this shape may have really benefited me on the grid-iron, when it comes to fashion choices…not so much.

titan4

“Do you have anything in a lightweight wool, preferably in a dark-gray sharkskin weave? And the pants should be flattering to the trailer.”

Adulthood left me with a suit-jacket size of 50R but pants in the 36” waist range. Finding a suit that accommodated these factors was NOT going to be easy.

So knowing that I wouldn’t just be able to use my currently owned-suit meant that I would need to purchase a new one. And I now knew that I couldn’t just run down to the local Saks Off-Fifth and pick up a nifty two-piece. Something custom was in order.

Now, most tailors will do custom clothing (or know someone who will), and my tailor was no exception. When I started to inquire about his custom suitmaking practice, however, he shut me down pretty quickly. “I’m not the guy to make your suit,” he told me, in his densely Italian manner. A flash of irritation crossed my mind for a brief second (thinking he was somehow judging me unworthy of his talents), before he followed-up by saying, “my suits start at around $8000.”

Remember that I’m cheap. So imagine what my reaction must have been to that lovely piece of news – that my wedding attire would be many times the price of Cucumber’s wedding dress. We do tend to challenge gender roles, but this wasn’t a statement I was desperate to make.

Fortunately, Phil (my tailor) is nothing if not helpful. He told me to look into online made-to-measure clothing. I had looked into this a while ago, but had found (through reviews) that when they arrived, they were usually non-customized separates that were picked off-the-shelf as close to the measurements as possible and just shipped.

Man wearing oversized suit

Man wearing oversized suit — Image by © CJ Burton/Corbis

Oh yeah. It’s fully custom. Isn’t it obvious this was made just for me?

Phil, however, informed me that online made-to-measure had improved dramatically over the past few years. Apparently suits can arrive on one’s doorstep, with a nearly perfect fit. And if any tailoring is required, the suit-makers will often include a tailoring budget to allow for some small alterations.

With this all in mind, I ordered a suit from www.blacklapel.com. With my obsessive nature at researching all options before ordering, they fit my desire to provide as many customized options as possible, while maintaining the price point that I wanted to hit.

After ordering, they informed me that because of the Chinese New Year, they were running behind schedule and wouldn’t ship for 8-10 weeks. However, when I happened to check it this morning, their website informed me that my suit had already shipped. By coincidence, Cucumber informed me that I had a package waiting for me at home, and that it appeared my suit had been compressed to the rough density of a black hole prior to shipping.

bh_wip_v14

“Sure, it distorts time and space. But the fabric of reality drapes off the shoulders extremely well.”

I don’t know if I should be delighted or scared about my suit arriving 6 weeks earlier than expected. We’ll see soon I suppose…

Advertisements

Traditions: Duck, Duck, Goose for Life

From mentioning venue duck poop to duck traditions! Something for every duck enthusiast!

In traditional Korean wedding ceremonies, duck or geese carvings are used as a symbol for peace, fidelity and the future blessing of having many ducklings/kidlings. The designs are usually based off the Mandarin Duck, a species of duck commonly found to mate for life. In Chinese culture, mandarin ducks have their very own metaphor to represent a loving couple, e.g. Bob and Susan are like “two mandarin ducks playing in water.”

Side note: I always used Bob and Susan as my example names as a holdover from taking French in college. Our instructor, Pierre from Paris, ALWAYS used Bob and Susan in his examples. When we asked him why, he said in his super thick accent, “Bob et Susan…What could be more American names?” I also spent the entire year writing my essays about snakes in backpacks as “un serpent à sac à dos” was weirdly used as an example in the first chapter of the book. Spoiler alert, the French backpack snakes took many international flights in my French essays. Je suis fatigué de ces serpents motherfucking sur cet avion motherfucking! Doesn’t quite have the same feeling to it…

Ce serpent est venu à une fin malheureuse comme un sac à dos.

 But, back to ducks…

The tradition of presenting wooden ducks stems from the custom of the groom presenting his bride’s family with live ducks or geese as a present prior to marriage. As the modern woman likely does not have numerous Pinterest boards devoted to the live geese/ducks she would like to keep in her fifth-floor-walk-up studio apartment, wooden carvings became all the vogue. Wedding ducks are commonly sold as souvenirs in Korea and China, but should you want a pair of authentic loving ducks for your wedding, you best start looking for a very special wood carver as soon as possible as there are some criteria for wedding duck prototyping.

To be a good wedding duck carver, according to tradition, one must be:

  1. Wealthy.
  2. Healthy.
  3. Married to a good partner.
  4. Not have ever been divorced or have relatives who have been divorced. (This duck pond just got real small.)
  5. Have lots and lots of male children, bonus points for five sons as it aligns with Confucius’s emphasis on family strength through proliferation.

I’m going to write to David Beckham and see if he want to carve Pastry and I some wedding ducks.

Another tradition is to incorporate string on the bills of the ducks. How lovely, you are thinking, decorative wedding ducks in festive outfits! NO. The string on the female duck’s beak symbolizes how the bride should endeavor to always be quiet and support her husband in all things.

PUT A STRING ON MY LADY WEDDING DUCK AND THERE SHALL BE HELL TO PAY.

At the wedding ceremony (though this is no longer common), the ducks are wrapped in cloth with only their string-tied faces peeking out of their tea towel. Once the bride arrives, the ducks are then placed within the ceremonial table/altar. Once they get hitched, the groom’s mom whips out the string-silenced lady duck and throws it to the bride for her to catch in her skirt. If the brides successfully fields the wooden duck, she will have sons. If she was last picked for softball at recess, all lady children for her.

The couple usually keeps the wooden ducks post-wedding in a prominent place within their home. But, duck placement says a lot about how things are going in their union. Facing toward each other, duck life is great! Frolic in that water together! Facing away, no longer playing in water! Things have gotten a bit rough.

The sign that Bob and Susan are going to end up either in marriage counseling or on Maury.

So, I kind of like the idea of carved wooden ducks. But, NO STRINGS. And, really, finding a duck-carver of note may be a serious issue. Mr. Beckham, if you happen to be reading, best work on your whittling skills for next May.