A Tight Fit

October 22, 2015

6 min read


“You might be happier in portly,” the suit salesman told me. What exactly does that mean?

I hate trying on clothes. If there was any other way to get new clothes, I would do it in a second.

I especially hate trying on clothes that turn out not to fit, because I don’t like putting on clothes that are too small. That’s the reason I’m buying new clothes in the first place. And what do you do when you’re buying clothes? You get into a tiny little closet that has a seat and a small hook and a door that doesn’t go down to the floor and you put on several pairs of pants that don’t fit until you find one that does.

A man’s goal when buying new clothes is simple: don’t embarrass your wife.

And I can’t just walk into the dressing room with one suit. First, I find every suit in the entire store that can possibly fit me. Then I come into the dressing room with all of them, and I have to try to get them onto that one little hook. Which clothes are supposed to go on it? The ones I came in with, or the ones I’m trying on? Why don’t I just change in an airplane bathroom, while I’m at it? Then I have to keep track of which suits I’ve tried on and which suits I haven’t, and pants are falling out of hangers, and the store is hot, and there’s no room to sit down. I’m never even sure I get out of there with two parts of the same suit.

I have to buy a suit now, because my wife’s sister is getting married (yes, still), and apparently, it’s necessary that I be in pictures. But a big reason I’ve kept pushing off buying this suit, aside from hating buying suits, is that I wanted to lose weight before this wedding. I don’t want to buy a suit that comfortably accommodates my current waist size, because then I won’t want to lose weight.

“Lose weight? No way! I just bought a suit!”

Sure, I know that they say that when you’re buying clothes, you should buy something slightly skinnier than your size, so that every time you put it on, you’ll go, “Whoa! I need to lose weight!” But like I said, I don’t like wearing things that don’t fit.

And anyway, my current suit still seems to fit. The only thing reminding me to lose weight is the once a week that I put on the suit, and I say, “Wow, this is really wearing thin! I can see my reflection! I need to buy a suit soon, right after I lose weight!” But unfortunately, that once a week is Shabbat, and that’s the last day I’m going to lose weight. Then, after Shabbat, I change back into my weekday pants, and I forget about suits until the next Shabbat.

So I looked around, and the first store that I thought of going to was the one where I normally buy my weekday pants. I don’t want to say the name of the store, but I will say that they keep their bigger sizes on lower shelves, for some reason. The size 33 pants are at eye level, and the bigger you are, the farther you have to bend down. How are we getting back up? Are the shelves reinforced?

They know how big these people are. The number is right on the clothes!

So I went out after Yom Kippur, and I tried a different store. I tried on some suits, bought one, and brought it home to try on for my wife. Your wife is really the only person who has to care what you look like. Your goal, when you’re out in public, is not to embarrass her.

Then the holidays happened.

So I tried it on for her first thing after Sukkot. Boy, was that a bad move. I don’t know if it fit properly when I bought it, but it definitely did not fit after the holidays. This is why if you buy a suit before the holidays, you’re supposed to wear it on the holidays, so at least it will grow along with you.

“It doesn’t fit right,” my wife said.

“It’s not supposed to fit right,” I said. “It’s an incentive to lose weight.”

So now I had to go back out to find another suit, even though my opinion is that once I come home with a suit, that’s my suit. But my compromise was that at least my wife would come with me, seeing as she’s still the only one who cares how it looks. .

The first thing my wife did, when we got to the store, was ask an employee what size I am. It never occurred to me to do that. I don’t have great experiences with those people. The guy always starts by saying, “You tell me!” And you say whatever size you were 3 years ago, because that was the last time you bought a suit. And he says, “I don’t think so!”

You’re not in denial. You figure, “I bought a suit back then, and I still wear that suit, so that’s my size. I didn’t realize I actually stretched out the waist so that the number on the pants is no longer accurate. No one came in and crossed out that number for me.”

The annoying thing about buying clothes is that it’s not like shoes, where you memorize your number, and that’s it. Suits are always different. Even in the same size, there are different “fits”. And they all have politically-correct terms so they don’t offend anyone, so I have no idea what any of them mean. There’s Classic Fit, and Modern Fit, and Athletic Fit. No store is like, “Let me take you to the obese section.” That’s what my doctor calls it. I’m a little offended, but at least I know what it means. And knowing what it means gets me in and out of the store quicker.

No. They say, “You might be happier in portly.” What does that mean?

So I’m back in the dressing room, trying on a suit while holding five others, and I have to keep coming out to show them to my wife. The annoying thing is you can’t just leave your weekday pants in the dressing room. It’s not like you get a private key. I keep all my valuables in my pants, so I’m walking in and out of the dressing room, showing her suits, with a pair of weekday pants over my shoulder.

“Here, hold these. I’m going back into the dressing room.”

In the end, we went to multiple stores, and I bought “suit separates” – suit pants and jackets sold separated – which my wife assures me are the same color. I’ve made my peace with it.

I figure the nice thing is that suit separates allows me to come back if I do lose weight, and buy another pair of pants to match the jacket. Unless it takes so long for me to lose weight that they discontinue the suit.

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