Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Superior haberdashery

Ladies love a well-dressed man. This is what I've heard, at least. They love them and they leave them the way they can take them or walk away from microwaved leftovers. It isn't the clothes that make the man, it's the spirit.

Ladies love Cool J (LL Cool J) and ladies love Lloyd Llewellyn Bean (L.L. Bean) and ladies love Dorchester, Mass. You can't blame them. Dorchester, that bright spot on the Boston map, is a place that shows men's' fashions in their finest light. Canvas duck overalls and High-Viz Lime vests look sporty and functional on Dorchester street corners. Ask any utility worker or idle, overtime-earning cop. Red Wing work boots bought at the shop on Dot Ave next to the Sugar Bowl wear just as well as wingtips around South Station. There is something a little extra to be said about a gent in a bespoke suit though.

Dorchester is chockablock with tailors. There is no excuse for wearing ill-fitting clothes in this neighborhood. Sewing machines are easy to hire along Dot Ave to trim cloth to feature your figure at its best; to take in a seam, to cuff a hem, to tighten or let out a waistband. Dorchester knows the power of superior haberdashery and the seamstresses that ply their trade know how to flatter a gentleman whether he resembles a scarecrow or a Franklin stove.

I was at Shanti last night wearing a suit I had tailored at Lien's Bridal Shop. I ran into a gent wearing a suit and tie. His suit was draped off his shoulders like a wet dishrag hung a refrigerator door. He had dried parsley on his lapel and a wet hanky loose in his breast pocket. He said, "I'm well-dressed but the gals look at me like I'm wearing rags. I don't collect cans for a living." I asked him where he purchased his wardrobe.

He said, "A.J. Wright in Fields Corner." Did he take his outfit for a proper fitting afterward? "No." I sized him up. "There's your problem," I advised. "There's nothing wrong with A.J.'s but you can't wear just anything off the rack. You have to make it yours. Take this windowpane pattern over to Lien's or whatever tailor is close by where you live. They'll have you ship shape in no time. Once your clothes fit, you won't be able to shake the ladies off. They'll be like flies on you." I didn't tell him what he seemed like to me.

He thanked me and promised to support a neighborhood business. Whether this haberdasher's sleight of hand will work or not in the long term is up to him. The clothes don't make the man in the end, it is the man who makes the clothes fit him.

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