Looking at me right now you might have a few questions- Why am I standing? Why do I have my hair tied in a ponytail? Why, am I wearing a suit? One because I can, two because I feel like it, and three, because this year hasn’t given me any reasons to wear a suit. So I made a reason. This is a video about my fascination with suits.
A lot of my fascination for suits stems from my childhood- growing up you get to see all kinds of suit-clad characters on TV, in movies, and in video games. You’ve got your heroes, like James Bond and John Wick in their trademark tuxedos and black suits. You’ve got villains, like the G-Man from Half Life and his blue bureaucratic suit. You’ve also got the cool anti-hero/anti-establishment types like Kiryu from the Yakuza series, and of course, my personal favorite, Tony Montana from the movie Scarface. he wore a lot of great suits in that movie, but the one I remember the most is the iconic white suit, with the red shirt and cuban gold links chain. I always thought that was the coolest thing back when I was a teenager- the getup evoked the whole larger than life nature of the Tony Montana character, and it all worked together perfectly. I still kinda want that suit, but I wonder if I could pull it off. That whole outfit needs a level of swagger and confidence that I haven’t reached yet. I don’t want a bunch of people looking at me and saying, “well, that just doesn’t suit you”.
A side note on the phrase “it doesn’t suit you”. It has so much to do with how other people view you, and when you’re a teenager or adolescent, you’re at the intersection of trying to find who you are, and also trying to find a way to be accepted in some socal circle. That’s the point of life where you try new things, different clothes, different catchphrases and all kinds of different stylistic choices, while constantly being told what suits you and what doesn’t, because of who you are and where you come from. How you react to that- either by changing your choices or sticking with them- often forms the core of your identity through adulthood. But, I digress.
Going back to suits, another reason I think I’m fascinated with them is that I didn’t have a suit of my own until just a few years ago. I didn’t have one as a child- suits are expensive to get made or to buy, and don’t make the most sense to buy for a child who’ll probably grow out of it and need another one every year.Also, traditional Indian festive wear was a lot more practical, more affordable, and would actually be worn a lot more times in a year.
But I did always gravitate towards the idea of wearing a suit as a child. I’d watched as I said before, grown-ups wearing suits in media as well as in-person, you had your traditional suit-and-tie, the rare tuxedo, the Indo-Western hybrid of wearing a suit jacket over a dhoti, there is also this odd curiosity I have always been fascinated with, called the “Safari Suit” or just a “Safari”- which is a half sleeved jacket with four pockets, popular in the 90s and is a rarity these days. I think I’ve only ever seen political figures or older people wear safari suits, and I really want to know where that trend came from and whether it will ever come back.
I had some close shaves with getting to wear a suit back in the day though. I remember being picked to play the role of Abraham Lincoln for a school play once, and one of the things I was looking forward to about the whole thing was getting to wear a suit, or a costume facsimile of one. Unfortunately for me, the only thing the costume rental place had was a weird stagecoach driver costume made of nylon or polyester or something, and it was a few sizes too big. It did come with a top hat though, so with that and a fake beard, I made for a passable Lincoln.
There was also my high school farewell party, where I saw most of my batchmates wearing suits- I’d opted for a more “out there” look that belongs in a cringe compilation. Also, it was the middle of summer in India, and a suit does not go well with that amount of heat and humidity. I have to admit though, my classmates looked cool, even though they were quite uncomfortable.
Not having a suit doesn’t matter in 99% of social situations, like those days in college where you were supposed to wear ties to class and some people decided to take it up a notch by also wearing a suit. I do remember one instance where not having a suit almost got me in an awkward situation. I was new to the US at the time, and I was invited to a family event. It was an official wedding reception and at the time I didn’t know that the dress code was more “suit and tie” and not quite the traditional indian wear that I had packed and what I was used to wearing for similar events in India. I managed to avoid embarrassment because my cousin was gracious enough to let me borrow a suit jacket and we managed to piece together a formal-enough outfit for the occasion. That was the first time I had donned a suit, well into my adulthood, and even though it wasn’t my own, I felt great wearing it.
After that event, I had the proper justifications to own a suit- before then, every time I brought up the idea of getting a suit made, my parents always shot it down saying “When are you ever going to need one anyway?”. But now that I had a story of near-embarrassment, it was enough to push them over the edge, and I finally got a suit made for myself at 24. Now you might ask, “why is this relatively innocuous event worthy of its own video?”.
The main reason was that the reality of owning a suit actually matched the expectations that I had all those years growing up. It is one of those pieces of clothing that brings out that feel good factor just by virtue of how it looks. The design of the suit in general is made to make you look good- with the padded shoulder sections and the tapering down – it mimics the ideal male physique that we all have in our minds, and enhances how the wearer looks if it’s made well. Speaking of made well, the fact that the suit was tailored to my measurements, an experience that I had never gone through before, with choosing the materials, the design, and getting it fitted to my proportions… I had almost always bought mass produced clothes off the shelf and had them altered in some minor ways, that was the only experience of “tailor-made” that I’d had up until that point.
Even thinking about that experience brings a smile to my face. Just everything about the rush of thoughts that go through my mind – wearing a perfectly fitting suit, feeling great about my reflection in the mirror, getting compliments and feeling great about that, and just the joy of finally being able to experience something you always thought about growing up. It’s a confluence of a bunch of wonderful emotions, every single time.
And that’s what lies at the heart of it all, really- everyone always talks about how much they want to go back to their childhood, where they didn’t have any responsibilities and life was easier, that adulthood is just not worth the extra responsibilities it brings. But I like thinking about it from the opposite perspective. That of how adulthood and an increased amount of agency in the world, has allowed me to experience things that I had not experienced before, and how many of those experiences live up to my expectations. A relatively small deal, an article of clothing, but it signifies so much to me on a personal level. An exercise in delayed gratification that had the perfect payoff. All those years of never getting to wear a suit, made the feeling of finally donning one that much sweeter.
If you’ve watched the video till this point, thank you so much for watching. In the comments, let me know about something in your life that fascinates you like my fascination with suits. Like this video if you liked it, share it with people if you think they’d like it, and remember:
Comfort is a prison you’ll walk right into.