If I had the need for one – or the finances – I’ve always thought that owning a ‘Savile Row’ bespoke suit would be something I’d aspire to. But as we’re talking serious money here – at least £3000 – then it’s not an aspiration I’m likely to fulfill. In any case, since I hardly ever wear a suit (and have never had to wear one throughout my working life) then a bespoke suit is not something I can justify in retirement. One can dream, however.
But on those occasions that required a suit, I’ve put my trust in ‘off the peg’ suits, mainly from Marks & Spencer. A few years ago, perhaps 2007, I had need of a new suit, so during our home-leave that year, I bought a rather nice charcoal grey woollen suit, not the most expensive in the M & S range, but not the cheapest by a long chalk. And it served me well over the years, culminating in the OBE investiture I attended at Buckingham Palace in February 2012. I can’t have worn it more than a dozen times or so in all the intervening years.
Early last October as I was preparing for my trip to Bangkok to attend the 4th International Rice Congress (IRC2014 – I had chaired the committee that organized the science conference, the main event of the 3½ day congress) I took my suit from the wardrobe, just to check that it fitted okay. I was very relieved that it did – surprising really since I’d not worn it since my trip to the Palace, and my waistline has the unfortunate habit of expanding from time-to-time.
However, to my consternation, horror even, I noticed that the fabric around the collar had deteriorated, and split. This wasn’t moth damage. Could it have been caused by the dry cleaning process at some time? Checking the fit of the jacket, I reckoned I could ‘get away’ with wearing it – no-one would see the small amount of damage. Relief! I didn’t want to have to spend time finding a new suit at an affordable price.
But then, added horror. I noticed that there was a small hole in one of the trouser knees. And furthermore, on the back of each leg there was a series of holes, some small, at least one quite noticeable. My legs looked like a Swiss cheese! So I had no alternative but to find a new suit, and fortunately I didn’t have to spend a fortune.
Ever since, however, I’ve had this recurrent nightmare. Hilarious really.
In my mind, I’m at Buckingham Palace ready for my investiture. I’m standing in the wings of the Ballroom, waiting for my name to be called. I move forward, and turn to face and bow to the Prince of Wales. And my Swiss cheese legs are exposed to all the guests behind me! Can you spot any holes in the photo below?
Steph assures me that my suit retained its integrity. It nevertheless often brings a smile to my face as I imagine what a faux pas that might have been.