Quote of the Week

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”  -Mark Twain

Lisa and I began our journey together 4-years ago last week. I still remember exactly what she wore the first day I met her and how I felt the moment I saw her walk into view—stunning! Anyway, one thing led to another and during our time together since we’ve each accomplished many of our individual and mutual goals. This blog came about as one of our joint goals, but the quote above relates best to one of mine.

I think Mr. Twain’s statement is best illustrated through our personal wedding attendee history. Almost a year ago Lisa and I attended the wedding of some mutual friends. It was our first wedding together and we were very excited to share in the experience. At the time I regrettably didn’t own a suit, so I went without one, thinking A) it will be too hot anyway and B) no one would notice. Lisa, to her credit, knew this would be a problem and repeatedly suggested I get one. But of course, I didn’t listen, procrastinated, and as a result felt extremely awkward during the wedding. I wasn’t the only guest without a suit or jacket, but I felt like I was! Now when I look back at the photographic evidence, I remember exactly how out of place I felt that day. Ekkk!

Three months later, one of my brothers was getting hitched, and I wanted to enjoy the experience and look appropriate so I bought myself a real suit. My brother’s wedding was non-traditional in the sense that there was no wedding party, so I definitely needed a suit, since it wouldn’t be a loaner. To prepare I borrowed several books from the local library  and did online research. The book I found most helpful wasThe AskMen.com Presents The Style Bible: The 11 Rules for Building a Complete and Timeless Wardrobe.” Likewise, the blogs I found helpful were: The Art of Manliness, Real Men Real Style, and last—my personal favorite—dappered.

The process taught me that buying your first suit is like buying a car, because its an investment—in oneself. When buying a suit, I learned I should consider a number of things:

  1. How much I could afford to spend
  2. Where I planned to wear it
  3. The fabric
  4. The cut, the lapel, and the color.

Everything I read suggested navy or charcoal—I’m personally partial to blue, so I chose navy. I also chose navy because its also most appropriate for interviews down the road.

As far as fabric, I chose worsted wool, because of its beneficial properties (i.e. aversion to wrinkling and durability) which made it ideal for a first suit. What I also learned was that wool can be worn year-round, if it’s a tropical wool; the suit I chose however was a three-season suit—worsted wool has a tighter weave—so it’s less airy and not appropriate for a hot, muggy, summer wedding. Luckily I wasn’t buying for that purpose.

As far as cut, I chose a J.Crew Ludlow suit. The jacket is 2-buttoned, has a low button stance, high armholes, and has notched lapels. At 2.5 inches, it’s lapels are small; if I were built a little bigger, 3 inch lapels would be better, but since I’m a 5’8″ 145 lbs runner, I need all the help I can get.

The process of buying a suit and my experience wearing it has taught me that to perform your best you must look your best. Once you look your best, you immediately feel your best–you exude confidence, exhibit better posture, become more likable, trustworthy, exhibit leadership qualities, etc…—and as a direct result, you perform your best. And that’s when a whole world of good happens, because people will notice. This is exactly what Barney Stinson meant whenever he said, suit up! A “suit” is like a modern man’s suit of armor.

State of the Circle, 2014
UWRI, YLC, State of the Circle, 2014

Thus, I found myself in the midst of a quest to cultivate a classic wardrobe, and with the help of others online, I’m on my way. Along the journey, much has happened: I earned a position on the executive committee of the United Way of Rhode Island’s Young Leader’s Circle, saw Lisa match to residency and then graduate, and I landed myself a dream position in Boston. My first suit was a catalyst for positive change and I hope my posts about personal style and growing into manhood become a vehicle for growth and an inspiration to others.

As Roger Mayne’s classic image illustrates, even a boy can look like a dapper, strapping young man in the right clothes.

Boys smoking, London, 1956 by  Roger Mayne
Boys smoking, London, 1956 by Roger Mayne

Suit up men!

-Ryan

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