Magazine article The Spectator

Suits You

Magazine article The Spectator

Suits You

Article excerpt

For the first time in five years I have a brand-new suit. Charcoal grey with wide grey and blue pin-stripes. Singlebreasted. By Christian Dior. I got it in a Cancer Research charity shop. The jacket fits like a glove; the trousers are too long by only a couple of inches.

Coco Chanel once denigrated Dior's stuff by saying it was designed by 'a man who doesn't know women, never had one, and dreams of being one'. But with luck only a Coco Chanel will be able to perceive any sexual ambiguity in the design of my charity shop suit and there aren't many of those at the dog and ferret club monthly meetings where the suit will be mostly on view. Should some ferret-, lurcher- or terrier-owning committee member question the masculinity of my suit, however, I have only to pull open the jacket and draw their attention to the label. Anticipating controversy, perhaps, the label underlines that the suit is from Christian Dior's 'Monsieur' range, a range especially designed, moreover, for Harrods.

My suit's first outing wasn't to the dog and ferret club monthly meeting, as it turned out. Its debut was at The Spectator amid the architectural glories of St Bride's, Fleet Street. I was down for the first reading, from Luke, in which the Angel appears unto Mary and says, 'Here is the news.' Terrified at the thought of standing in front of all those luminaries and pronouncing from the King James version, monument of the language, benchmark of my trade, and therefore a kind of examination, I wanted at least to look like I hoped to be taken seriously. Dressing smartly and appropriately, I hoped, would be a start.

An hour before the start I studied my reflection in a shop window in Covent Garden. The suit was fine. No one, hopefully, would be able to see the folds of material gathered around my ankles as I stood at the lectern. The tie, tiny mallards, in hallucinogenic colour, hundreds, possibly thousands of them flying strenuously upwards towards my left shoulder, unfortunately was not fine, I decided. Too frivolous. If the Angel Gabriel had turned up with a flock of mallards on his tie, would Mary have believed his forecast about the conception and subsequent delivery of the Son of Man? Unlikely. Thank goodness I'd belatedly come to my senses.

I darted across the road to Tie Rack and stood in front of the display. …

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