After managing 33 years of my life without a suit, I finally bought one a few days back. Yes! I am now a proud owner of a Giovanni suit. For you lesser mortals who have never heard of Giovanni…well, it`s an entry level suit brand that`s sold in Lifestyles and Shopper Stops of the World.
Before we get into how I was forced into buying a suit, let us go through a bit of history.
Anthropologists believe that the need for clothes didn`t arise immediately after Adam & Eve plucked the forbidden apple and brought forth a new emotion called ‘shyness` but happened only 100,000 years ago when being ‘shy` started becoming fashionable. Clothing has come a long way and now being ‘Not Shy` is fashionable. More on that later, though.
As can be guessed, the first clothes were made from natural elements – animal skin, grasses, leaves, and bones. If you lived near a source of water, you also had clothes made of shells. Since, Eva Mendes hadn`t yet posed in PETA`s anti-fur campaign one can safely assume that back then people were wearing clothes made of fur too.
When my parents entered this World sometime in late 1940s and early 1950s, cotton & Rayon were the World`s favourite clothing materials. All the Nylon produced was being used up in making parachutes which dropped airmen over enemy lines.
My maternal grandfather who was a Head Constable in the Police Department during the British Era would visit the only garment shop in the town, once a year, and buy meters of a colorful, flowery cloth. He would then take his whole family – six sons and one daughter – to the nearby tailor who sat under a tree to give measurements. Thus, for a whole year after this purchase my grand father`s family would be draped in a colorful, flowery material.
I laughed, when I first heard this story. But it had its benefits…his children never got lost in town fairs. Once my mother did get lost…but within minutes the family was re-united. The gentleman who re-united the family is known to have said: “I have to be blind to miss a family of nine, all draped in clothes with red flowers on yellow background.”
My paternal grandfather didn`t believe in clothes. His son (that`s my father) would only get to wear the Khaki shorts that the Government School in Paramakudi, a municipality in Ramanathapuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, required him to wear. If you are old enough, you probably remember that in those days shorts didn`t have buttons or zippers. My father had to keep re-tying the lace that the front of his shorts had. I remember him saying: “The only saving grace was that, we didn`t have to bend over…as you do while tying your shoe lace.”
With only one Khaki shorts to wear for a year, they wore off pretty soon. So much so, my father earned the nickname ‘Knife bottoms` for managing to wear off the rear side of his shorts by the sixth month.
Having spent a year with just one Khaki shorts, my father didn`t want me to endure the same pain. So I started getting two shorts to wear for a year – one on my birthday and another for Diwali. Unfortunately, Diwali and my birthday (26th of April) are separated by six months and I never had two new shorts at any point in my life.
Having a lot of cousins and short-framed uncles can be a huge boon. Before I was 18, a lot of seconds started coming my way. These were rich cousins and working uncles so the trousers & shirts were good. My first jean of sorts…was a stone wash trouser with ‘Love is Sweet Poison` written on the trouser`s right leg…top to bottom. One of my uncles had bought that after his girl friend had ditched him…and I, who hadn`t even fallen in love, was forced to covey the message to the World.
As years passed, clothes ceased to be a problem. There were plenty of them…and I could afford to buy one pair every month. But I didn`t. The guilt was too much for me to handle – after all, life had continued even with one torn-at-the-behind khaki shorts.
A few days back my CEO said I had to attend a sales call the very next day. Corporate etiquettes dictated that I wear a suit or at the very least a blazer on the occasion. Unfortunately the time was short and I had to make do with the best formal attire I could manage – a sky blue shirt and navy blue trouser. Of the nine people in the meeting, I was the only one that didn`t ‘suit` the occasion. I bought my first Giovanni suit the next day.
“Rekha, I don`t feel comfortable spending Rs 7000/- on one pair,” I told my wife.
“You need to change with the times. You can`t stick to torn khaki shorts all your life. Clothes make half the man, remember?” My wife replied.
“What do you mean? Are you insulting me?” I retorted.
“No no…at 165 cms height you were half a man…and with the suit on…you make a full man.” She responded.
P.S: No wonder I couldn`t buy a Raymond suit…after all, it is for the complete man!