By Alan Neff
When last we meet, I shared the statistic that 72% of men shop for their own clothes. Today, I’m addressing the 72% and the portion of the 28% who are willing to take control of shopping from helicopter moms, spinster aunts, spouses, life-partners, one-night-stands, and, in desperate moments, the occasional random bystander.
We’ll never get the entire 28% into stores on their own power. We have to narrow the focus to those who actually would shop for their clothes.
The 1% of the 28%? The gentlemen who employ valets and tailors permanently housed in the servants’ quarters? Out.
The cheese-curl frosted rec-room-dwellers who spend 16-20 hours a day inhabiting on-line avatars who are taller, faster, and stronger than their creators can hope to be? Also out.
The athletic departments of Division One football factories? The guys who wear only blazers and chinos or sweatshirts, shorts, and whistles? Out.
Thanks to the process of elimination and the Iron Law of the Bell Curve, the 28% is probably closer to 20% now. We’re down to the 92% or so who can actually walk into clothing stores without overtly panicking.
And by “clothing stores,” I mean “brick-and-mortar stores, with a tailor on staff.” You should start there because they can size up you up. Literally.
Before you decide on black-and-white versus colors, stripes versus solids, plaids or polka dots, you want to know your sizes. You need to know more than “Small,” Medium,” “Large,” and “Even Larger.” Dress clothes don’t come in adjectives. They come in numbers: I’m a “42 short,” “32X28″ and 151/2, 32-33″ – jacket, pants, and shirt.
And you’re going to buy something there, at least a couple of pairs of socks, because they have to pay the tailors who size you up.
If you’re too cheap or too broke to go that route, you can go to a neighborhood dry-cleaners with – as the phrase goes – “Tailor on Premises.” Bring something to clean, though. Dry-cleaners have to pay their tailors, too.
Wherever you go, you want to get at least the following measurements: neck size, sleeve-length, chest, waist, and inseam. The first two matter for shirts, the chest matters for shirts and jackets, and the waist and inseam matter for pants. You probably ought to get shoulder and neck-to-waist, because those will matter for jackets.
Leave your delusional ego at the door. Facts matter more than hope: make sure you’re comfortably sized as to all of these measurements, but especially your waist and neck. A day spent in too-tight shirts and pants is a day in purgatory.
From the sizing station, we’ll proceed to selecting the actual dry goods – the topic for the next column.