I want to tell you about what was perhaps one of the best shopping experiences of my life.
We were in Toronto for my friend’s wedding. We were all pumped for this because she was the first in our group to get married and three of us guys went up from Jersey to attend. It was a small wedding with less than a hundred attendees, and we were the only high school friends she invited, so we were pretty honored to be going.
Honestly, I was just looking for an excuse to treat myself to a nice new suit. I happen to think few things look better on a man then a well-fitted suit and, being single for some time now and with a brand new job, I wanted to look extra good for this wedding and in general. In searching online for some of the best-made and most affordable options, I came across Suit Supply, a Dutch company that sold fantastic high-quality suits at great prices. It just so happened that they had a location in Toronto and I figured with the USD to CAD conversion, I could score myself a great addition to my wardrobe at a spectacular price.
We were in Toronto for five days so one day I decided to visit the Suit Supply store. Despite my constant attempts to better educate my friends, they still refuse to understand the value and yes in fact inherent ‘manliness’ in paying attention and caring about what you wear. So they went their own way souvenir shopping or whatever it is they did.
Now a couple things about Suit Supply. The first is that the quality of their fabrics is just incredible. Though it is a Dutch company they source their fabrics from these historic Italian mills, the oldest having been established in 1663. This is the exact same mill that also provides the fabric to luxury line Ermenegildo Zegna. (Is it weird for me to be this excited about where my fabric comes from? I hope not.) The other cool thing about them is that their retail locations are always in these interesting and offbeat locations, as evidenced by the fact that I was walking up what was probably once a residence house’s steps to shop for a brand new suit. So already I’m realizing this is going to be a very different experience.
I walk in and there is just…so many incredible pieces to look through. All different kinds of button-ups and accessories and along the walls just so many suits. There’s soft European techno-ish music playing on the speakers and this salesman comes up to me and asks if he can help me find something. So I explain I’m in town for a wedding and I’m looking for a new suit but that I’d like it to be multi-functional, something I can bring out for personal or professional occasions, and that I can wear regardless of season (Really, I wanted a cotton suit because I sweat really easily and if you know me at parties with open bars, I burn a lot ripping up the dance floors. Hahah.)
We move to this lounge-ish area of the store with some seats and sit down and he brings me an espresso and he asks me about what I do for fun and where I work and all these questions that I guess will help him make some suggestions. See this is how I want to shop. This is for me, the best way to go about getting new things. I think women like hopping from store to store and like, their version of ‘the hunt’ but for me there is something so dignified and enjoyable about this personal consultation, relaxing in one store, and having recommendations and pieces brought to me. So I tell him about my job and what I do and what kind of suit I usually wear/style and he goes off and starts coming back with pieces for me to try on. I go into the changing room and it’s just…I am clearly in a guy’s store. The changing room doesn’t have mirrors. It just has floor to wall mural pictures of very sexually charged situations between a guy and a girl. In almost every picture the girl is half-naked and the guy is just towering over her in of course, a perfect-fitting suit. It’s terrible, sexist, but it just screams unapologetic European masculinity and confidence. Like ‘we don’t care what you look like, this is what you’ll look like in our suit’. And my friends thought there was nothing manly about going clothes shopping. (As a side note, Suit Supply has gotten in trouble in the past for their marketing campaign photos.) I’m liking the changing with no mirror thing and then walking out into the lounge again to actually check out what I look like and I love this suit. There are of course some alterations that need to be made before it’s really ‘for me’ but the store also offers tailoring included with the purchase. So we take measurements, I tell him how long I want the sleeves to be, tell him to take it in a bit around the waist (I was optimistic back then that I would only be getting smaller. HAH.), show him how long I want the pants to be because I usually wear boots.
I’m digging all the shop talk, telling him about my preferences, and after he writes it all down he attaches it to the suit and hands it to the in-house tailor while we walk around for some accessories. I’m browsing button-ups with all different kinds of collars and cuffs, vests, pocket squares, ties, cufflinks, belts, I’m like a kid in a candy shop only I’m a man it’s a suit store and the walls are decorated with pictures of very tasteful nude models. I end up getting, aside from the suit, a new belt, pocket square, and button-up. All in all the entire experience took up half a day. Best shopping experience ever.
The wedding was an absolute riot. It was in Mississauga right by the water and my friends took pics there and then we took pics with my friend and her husband at the wedding. I ended up doing shots with the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, and even my friend’s parents. When they played Shawty Got Low I got looow. I did the cha cha slide, the mambo number 5, and the electric boogaloo. Apparently in my drunken confident stupor I even hit on not one but both of my friend’s sisters. I cannot guarantee that I even realized they were two separate different people when I did.
Would I have had the same amount of fun had I come and worn a suit I already owned? Oh yeah, sure, of course. But I wouldn’t have looked nearly as good doing it. And I’ve since worn that suit to company parties, business conferences, and I even wore it when I interviewed for this position. It is one of the best, most expensive, but most versatile purchases I’ve ever made for myself. I will always contend that a man should have at least one multi-purpose, preferably gray, suit that fits them perfectly.
It may not have been, by definition, an entirely bespoke suit, but the experience of buying it was very much mine and the alterations made it characteristically for me. I’m planning on going to Canada to visit my friend again in the spring or summer and I have two goals. Make sure I still fit into my old suit, and buy myself a new one.
Man: 130 Loneliness: 28