Sharp Dressed Man

We all have our talents.

My Dad’s? He can look at you and tell you what size suit you wear. He knows if you should bump up to the “Tall” sizes, and when to advise someone to walk away, before they alter the crap out of their proposed purchase. It came in very handy throughout the 50+ years he work in retail, specifically men’s apparel.

While he always said he was thrilled to have daughters, none of us doubted his enthusiasm when The Big Guy came on the scene. Here was a tall, slim male that looked good in just about everything he wore. Before long, The Big Guy’s wardrobe was being revamped; a shirt given to Dad by a traveling sales rep, advice on what styles he should wear. For Christmas, the year before we were married, The Big Guy hit the motherlode – a garmet bag with a gorgeous pair of khaki pants, double-breasted navy blazer, a shirt and tie.

And it ALL fit.

Dad didn’t have to lay a measuring tape on you, he could eyeball your neck measurement; your arm length, your inseam, and he wasn’t off very often.

Suffice it to say, other than some sweatshirts and shorts, The Big Guy hasn’t had to buy any clothes from the time we were married. Dad’s wardrobe was expansive and impressive, so when he received purchasing credits, or simply found a great deal, he would pull it aside in the right size for his son-in-law. He was always proud of how my hubby looked and my hubby was thrilled to be turned out so well. I think Dad liked to dress his son-in-law in fashions that he himself could not carry off, even if was the latest look. He understood the art of making a person look good.

Four years ago, another suit showed up. Beautiful dark chocolate brown with stunning accessories. The caveat was that this would likely be the last suit; Dad was retiring as a suit jockey.

This is why we were so surprised when my parents combined The Big Guy’s Christmas and birthday presents; a shopping trip for a new suit! The Big Guy was thrilled and intimidated at the same time; he literally could not recall the last time he bought a suit.

I got to tag along, why I still don’t know, but the three of us walked into a major men’s clothing chain to capitalized on a huge sale. We were soon attended by staff member who was a confusing combination of overly helpful and neglectful. He wore a gorgeous salmon colored shirt with a bold tie, however, his pants were very on-trend and so tight he may have required surgery to fit his feet out the bottom. The long, pointed shoes he wore made him a genetic link away from Ronald McDonald. He wasn’t overly tall, and the length of his kicks indicated that he would NEVER blow over in a wind storm. His suit jacket was cropped short so you could see his butt and much more fitted around the waist. Don’t get me wrong, he was VERY stylish. Just not a style that was hitting any one of us.

While he did point out the area where we could find the size of suits we were looking for, he didn’t help us look for the suits. We grabbed an armful, located a dressing room and let The Big Guy go at it. Dad was keeping his distance, not wanting to step on the saleman’s shoes (and with those shoes, it would have been really easy). Ironically, the rep was nowhere to be found.

The Big Guy steps out of the change room with a look of horror on his face; he has on a pair of pants just like the sales reps. They are slim fit and mold to his leg, which causes him to shake out his legs, trying to make fabric drape like the regular-cut pants he’s used to. To no avail. He spins back into the change room. One down.

He steps out again with the second suit on and feels much more at ease, until out of nowhere we hear;


It’s the phantom sales man. He’s popped out of a clothing carousel somewhere and declares the suit as simply unsuitable. The Big Guy’s face tightens and although Dad is trying to get some feedback from him, my poor hubby is having none of it.

This was a decent shot until we heard from the peanut gallery...

This was a decent shot until we heard from the peanut gallery…

A third suit is modeled and again, the young salesman comes out with, “That’s SO wrong for you!” in a voice loud enough that people parking their vehicles are now in the loop.

The Big Guy is done. A quick tete a tete in the change room reveals what I thought to be the case; my husband doesn’t want to work with anyone else but his own stylist, my father. I agree to run interference with the sales rep while my Dad consults with my husband. They find two suits that are not only “RIGHT” but look great on him.

We move on to shirts and ties. The salesman is back in ready to roll. He brings out boring, old-looking styles because he’s picked up on the fact that this “old” customer and his “ancient” father in law are not going want anything remotely stylish.

The three of us proceed to blow his mind with our selections; purple, brown, plaids, patterns. He’s amazed at how well our choices work with both suits. I tell him that our style tends to be funky, (not freaky – okay, I left this part off!)

As we walk out of the store, we agree, that while it’s one thing to be a slave to fashion, but it’s quite another to know your own style.

And we also agree that when it comes to salespeople, my father is the last of generation.

4 thoughts on “Sharp Dressed Man

  1. Hi Sarah, Thank you for this delightful story. One time, finding myself in Arthur, I impulsivelybounced into Sussman’s(?) to say hi to your dad and watched as he assisted a young man who was shopping with his family. Sarah, his courtesy, his attentiveness and his genuine desire to help has stayed in my memory all these years. Oh, to have someone help me, or anyone, the way your father did. It was heartwarming that someone could be so professional and caring, knowledgeable and intelligent. Thank you for bringing this memory back to me. Hugs, Judy

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