The great American Suit -- whether it is tailor made, off the rack, cotton, wool or worse, it is a silly thing for a man to wear. The ubiquitous man's suit is a confining, twisted and deceptive form of apparel that has somehow become a cultural icon -- a symbol of class and placement, of order and conformity; a rayon polyester costume in the drama of daily life played out from our office parks to our halls of legislation to our nightly news.
Wherever man makes his decisions, he decides to wear a suit. Why is that? How did this all come about?
Fear of intimacy?
Armor for his daily battles?
An inherent result of insecurity in an ever-changing and challenging universe?
Whatever the reason, the suit seems here to stay. However, I think the standard issue man's suit is absurd and somewhat evil.
Photo by Kibiwot Limo
1. Shoulder pads. Whether one has shoulders or not, the shoulder pads tucked into the lining of a man's suit lends him a false sense of linearity, sleekness and proportion. Trouble is, that most men have none of those qualities inside where it counts; a man relying on such costuming to take responsibility in these areas is pathetic; but such reliance is easy and is often the rule when dealing with men in suits.
2. What color is that anyway? Are the various colors and sheens found on a man's suit really those found in nature? Yes, under the sea. The aquatic slightly gray, slightly green and slightly blue hues you see before your eyes on the streets of American cities are not from a Jacques Cousteau documentary on Swordfish, they are your co-workers and bosses, accountants and bank clerks, money managers and mid-level marauders... all decked out in that safely hued and bland world of the American suit.
3. Brothers in arms. What arms? You mean to tell me I worked out for three years at the club and I look the same as the milquetoast who drives the beige Saturn next-door? The great leveler of any body type -- the American suit does not show off any physical advantage nor does it highlight one's shortcomings.
4. No I.D. required. If you are a white man in this country, you can buy a suit and pretty much be given a wide birth. Is that fair? Why do you think they keep making suits?
5. A misguided form of respect. I would rather show up at a friend's wake, a wedding ceremony or Bar Mitzvah, in a collar-less shirt and jeans -- in what I feel best in, at my best, acting my best than wearing a suit.
6. Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacey and any number of killers and criminals always wore a suit at their sentencing. It seems to say, "See, I am willing to put this on and look like any other phony baloney, gimcrack yahoo. Do not sentence me to death! You would not do it to Jay Leno."
7. If God had meant us to wear suits, he would not have made them so itchy. Sunday morning, 1965, Easter Sunday, my, my that new suits feels so comfortable doesn't it?
8. False sense of authority. It goes way back to around mid-century when only such oligarchic icons as Oliver Wendell Douglas and President Taft wore suits. The rest of us just ran around barefoot acting like Mickey Rooney or the Dead End Kids. Suits have always been aligned with images of power and prestige. I said images.
9. Why are Leno and Letterman, Conan and sportscasters, newsmen, senators and hockey coaches wearing suits? Where are they going? They are at work, put on a sweater and let your humanity make us laugh, report our scores, entertain us or govern our country! I dare you.
10. It is a tie! What on earth is that piece of cloth knotted around ones neck, drooping down towards ones waist, for? What purpose does it serve? How did it come about and why doesn't anyone question it? It reminds me of an exclamation point, or a special Alien Device that lets the Aliens know which one of our males is a Wendy's manager.
11. "Miami Vice" Reruns. Don't Don Johnson and Philip Michael Whatzhisname look foolish in an 80's retro kind of way jumping in and out of dumpsters and roof tops in those linen suits?
12. People for the ethical treatment of double knit. Let's stop the feeding frenzy at J.C. Penney and allow all the little Rayon's out there to grow and prosper and replenish. Let's stop the madness!
13. Knights Wore Armor, Actuaries Wear Daycron. I think polyester blends -- all those little hooks looping within other hooks are the modern-day descendants of Chain Male from the days of old. Our suits have become a comforting outer armor staving off any fear or disadvantage; we do not like each other, we compete on everything, we covet and envy our neighbor's stuff, so let's all put on our suits and duke it out.
The suit is an integral part of our culture but I say it is time this worn out symbol of intimidation is sent to the cleaners for good, and we all have to face each other in our pajamas. Wouldn't that be interesting?
Look what it has done for Hugh Hefner.