Charles Petzold

Anxiety Amid the Wool and Chalk

October 17, 2007
New York, N.Y.

Well, I knew this day was coming. I've been dreading it for weeks, and suddenly Deirdre sprung it on me and I really had no choice.

When it comes to clothes, I am a very simple person. If I need a new shirt, it's probably a pocket-tee from the Gap or Old Navy. If I need new pants, it's a pair of Levis 505s, 32 waist, 30 inseam, and I don't even have to try them on. The only choice to make is the degree of fadedness of the blue.

Long ago I actually owned a couple suits from my office working days at New York Life Insurance Company. But I left New York Life in 1985 and those suits are long gone. I remember over 10 years ago giving away my last suit to a friend who used it in a karaoke performance of "I Am Woman" that involved her actually ripping the suit off her body.

But now I need a suit. I'm getting married in 11 days, and my normal "getting dressed up" criteria (i.e., putting on my least faded pair of jeans) just won't hack it. I dread the whole suit-buying ritual — those endless racks of brown and gray, the "May I help you?" from the custodians of the wool, bouncing erratically from hating everything to loving everything, sizes, cuts, fabrics, patterns, and then getting chalked up after you've finally made a decision.

Deirdre was very tolerant — she has a similar clothes-buying anxiety herself, I understand — and we managed to have a relatively short and painless experience picking out a nice suit this evening at the Burlington Coat Factory on 6th Avenue and 22nd Street. The jacket has three buttons. It's darkish gray with crisscrossed pairs of pinkish threads spaced about an inch apart.

It's suddenly a very special suit, because it's the suit I'm getting married in.