I was invited yesterday to speak at a school for an end of term assembly and to stay on for lunch afterwards. This presented a bit of a challenge because it was likely to be the kind of occasion for which I would normally wear a suit and tie. However, I’ve given up both for Lent.
I gave some thought to this and came up with an ensemble that would be sufficiently formal: a grey/taupe linen pin stripe blazer over a navy knitted waistcoat and navy suit trousers. I was reasonably pleased with what I saw in the mirror before I set off for my speaking engagement, which went well I think.
Then came the lunch. It was at this point that I realized I might have underestimated the formality of the occasion.
The School was a large one of over 2000 pupils. My speaking engagement was merely one of four different end-of-term events run simultaneously that morning in 4 different locations. Lunch was a gathering of the great and the good from the school’s senior teachers, managers and governors.
That this was a school that traced its heritage back to the late 1400s meant that their great and good were of pretty good vintage. That venison was on the menu might also give some idea of how well heeled was the gathering.
It was at this point that I was introduced to a very stylish clergyman who had been speaking at one of the other end of term events. He was dressed in a very well tailored RAF blue single breasted pinstripe suit with a plain sky clerical collared shirt in an oxford weave. This was a man who looked very at home among the great and the good.
As we engaged in polite conversation just before lunch began I couldn’t help noticing that his suit was not only impeccably well tailored, it fit him incredibly well. There was not the faintest hint of a ‘Leeds crease’ between the shoulder blades, the result of a jacket that is slightly too small. Instead the fabric draped over his shoulders just so.
And speaking of shoulders, the outermost part of his shoulders fit precisely to the shoulder seams of the jacket, the sleeves of which fell to just above his wrists, expertly displaying half an inch of his shirt cuffs. The jacket tapered gently from chest to waist but was far from tight.
This was no Daniel Craig look, who looks like he might burst out of his suit at any moment. Rather it was a looser but just as flattering fit. Somewhat annoyingly, there was no evidence of a middle-aged paunch to spoil the suit’s lines around the midriff.
Naturally, his trousers were hemmed at just the right length so that they weren’t too long with the resulting concertina effect just above the shoes. Needless to say, the black shoes were buffed to a shine.
Perhaps what I noticed most was simply the air of confidence with which he wore it all. This was a man who looked comfortable and at ease with himself. This was not a man who looked like he was trying. Instead he looked effortlessly stylish.
I found myself hoping that this was an expensive suit which had been tailored, or at the very least adjusted, to his precise requirements. I am conscious that some people can find off the rack suits that fit them really well. I am among them. However, I struggled to imagine anyone being so fortunate to find a suit which fit this well.
Had I known him better I would have asked for permission to take his photo to post on this blog. However, that would have been overly presumptuous after a 5-minute conversation
He was far from the only well dressed man at lunch. There were a number of very smart and very well tailored suits on display, many of which, as it happens, were in pin striped blue, navy or grey. There was one very confident man in a tan and blue tweed three-piece number.
I confess that I felt just a little shabby in this company in my crumpled linen blazer. However, I suspect that even if I had been wearing a suit, I might still have felt just a little shabby….
However, hats off to the very stylish clergyman. I clearly have much more to learn about suits!