My First Charcoal Suit

Wolverhampton Coat of Arms

If you’ve been reading the 5YP blog for a bit you’ll know by now that I think that Every Man Needs a Charcoal Suit.  Here’s how I discovered mine.

Whilst attending a work related Conference in Wolverhampton I found myself with some free time after the first day and wandered about the city centre. I stumbled across a small menswear boutique and decided to have a look round.

There were a number of beautiful items in this shop, all of which were pretty pricey.  In particular, I noticed a very smart dark grey suit.  They appeared to have one left and it was in my size.  The price? £300.

The shop’s proprietor came over and said, ‘I see you’ve discovered our discounted items, sir. They are generously discounted because they are last season and we are a small shop so we need to move stock on. Do let me know if you need any assistance.’

I tried hard not to hyperventilate. I couldn’t quite imagine what price the suit had been discounted from if it had a ‘generously discounted’ price of £300. I knocked about in the shop for a little longer but eventually worked up the courage to ask what was the original price of the suit.  He came over had a look and said, ‘Ah. The discounted price is not displayed on this suit. The original price is £300. The discounted price is £50.

Charcoal 2 button, Ralph Lauren

Suddenly, the suit looked irresistible. That they had a tailor in the shop who could make minor alterations to the suit so that it fit me properly, was icing on the cake. So for £60 including £10 worth of alterations I bought my first charcoal suit. It was ready for collection within 24 hours.

I didn’t immediately realise how much of a winner I had on my hands.  I simply saw a bargain and went for it.  However, it didn’t take long for it to become apparent. I had quite seriously misunderstood the dress code for the Conference I was attending. For some elements of the Conference people got quite dressed up.  For other elements they were very happy to be very casual.

As it was my first time I hadn’t quite understood such a wide range of attire might be desirable and so had not brought even a jacket with me.  It was summer so I brought polo shirts and jeans. I had brought a couple of formal shirts and one tie just in case. Luckily I had a perfectly fitted charcoal grey suit that I had just purchased.

But I wondered would the suit work with the ‘just in case’ shirt and tie I’d brought a long? I needn’t have bothered to be concerned. The suit went so well with the shirt and tie it looked as though they had been selected especially to worn together.

I later discovered that this was not some sort of divine providence or that the style gods were smiling on me.  Rather, it was simply the versatility of the suit.  Any formal shirt you own will work with a charcoal suit. If you find that you own a formal shirt that does not work with a charcoal suit, perhaps you need to get rid of that shirt.

This became my go to suit whenever I needed one.  A funeral?  Charcoal suit works.  A wedding? Charcoal suit works.  An important meeting? A function where you are not too sure of the dress code? Don’t want to be too shabby but don’t want to be overdressed?  A charcoal suit will work every time. I wore it on average once or twice per week for the next 6 years or so until I wore holes into it.

Wolverhampton’s civic motto is: Out of Darkness Cometh Light. Not sure if that is a reference to my dark charcoal suit, but I’ve certainly seen the light.

If you don’t yet have a charcoal suit in your wardrobe you might want to look into it.

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