State College, PA, Sunday, September 29, 2013, 4:11 p.m.
I have just returned from Harper’s Fine Clothing and Sportswear for men in downtown State College. Johnathan Preston, one of the store’s savvy salesmen, took the following photograph of me before I left the store:
In this posting, I begin to describe what I plan to wear when I give Joanna away on Saturday.
My sartorial choices follow a dress for success perspective that dominated the thinking of Washington, D. C. power brokers during the 1970’s and 1980’s when I lived on Capitol Hill and worked as a speechwriter (and did other kinds of writing) .
I also provided advice on what to wear when going on television including make up suggestions. While ABC’s Good Morning America has a make up artist, television stations in Atlanta, Miami, and Boston did not.
Even though I was in my 30’s when I began appearing on my television to “flog my book” (as one of my colleagues put it), self-application of makeup was helpful, I learned how to apply cosmetics from the late lamented Garfinckle’s Department Store.
Let me provide a Joanna-related perspective regarding my sartorial behavior.
Diana first experienced labor pains while she was involved in trade negotiations at a conference room at the State Department late in the afternoon. The following morning Joanna was born ON HER DUE DATE in 1984. Diana speculated the labor pains were induced by the Indonesian trade officials with whom she was negotiating on behalf of the U.S. Commerce Department, where her title was International Economist.
It was not the officials themselves who were to blame but the distinctly clove-scented cigarettes they smoked at a time when smoking in government office buildings was commonplace. Diana called from a land line–cells were a distant dream.
I picked Diana up from the State Department, made her comfortable at home, received the go-ahead from our obstetrician to bring her to the hospital, showered, shaved, put on a Brooks Brothers navy blue two-piece suit, a starched blue shirt, and black penny loafers.
That is the outfit I wore under my hospital gown when Joanna was born. Her birth was immediately followed by my cutting the umbilical cord–all by myself with enthusiastic rooting by the obstetrician and the nurses.
I will not comment here on what is clearly an atavistic and anti-feminist concept; viz. giving away the bride.
Joanna especially was never mine to give.
Jade, fine fellow that he is, will not treat her as chattel as the concept implies.
That said, I am delighted to participate in a meaningless ritual everyone involved regards as meaningless since it involves putting on a Brooks Brothers suit.
What Brooks Brothers suit?
All my Brooks suits have moth holes in the pants.
This may surprise you, but there are not a lot of dress for success adherents in State College or at Penn State’s Architectural Engineering Department where I work.
Fortuitously, my dear friend Kathy Forer helped me out. Kathy’s late father David Forer, a deft and witty cartoonist and illustrator, had superb taste in clothing. The suit shown in the photograph above and which I am currently wearing was made in Brooks’ custom shop from material David chose himself.
It is the most beautiful, best-tailored suit I have ever worn. According to Keith Houseknecht at Harper’s, the color is medium gray with thin ivory pinstripes.
One feature I regret never having been able to incorporate into my wardrobe involves suspenders–more accurately described by the British term braces.
I just took this photograph to show you one of the suit’s many suspender buttons sewn into the inside of the pants. A friend who grew up wearing Brooks clothing said the truly affected have the tailor remove the belt loops on the outside waistband so one can not wear a belt.
David Forer was not an affected dresser.
I have bad tendencies in that regard.
I have to honor the man who designed his own suit with such good taste.
More sartorial details to come here at www.joelsolkoff.com.
Copyright 2013 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.
My thanks to Harper’s www.harpersshopformen.com At Harper’s, my thanks to Anna, who did an excellent job of tailoring. My thanks also to Keith, Jonathan, and Judd Williams for their impressive knowledge of the nuances of dress for success clothing, nuances little followed today but which helped pay the mortgage when Joanna was growing up.