CLOTHES MAKETH THE MAN
It is hard to believe that some people do not understand the importance of possessing a good wardrobe. They are, at one and the same time, in danger of allowing their clothes to ruin any chance of social success, and completely losing their personality. It can reach the stage when friends and acquaintances fail to recognise them and even, in the worst cases, doubt their existence. So, when Sully Dumont had experienced so many friends and acquaintances crossing to the other side of the road, apparently oblivious to his approach, he decided it was time he put on a new mantle. His best friend, Macey, who had, as yet, refrained from crossing the street, but was seriously contemplating it, was greatly relieved to hear of this intention and offered himself as a ready adviser in the matter of style. He was convinced Sully should go for something smart-casual, to include enough colour to make a statement but not enough to be regarded as a radical slogan. He advised him to avoid jackets on the grey scale or shirts in pastel shades, and go for something more expressively extrovert which made a confident statement. Macey’s philosophy was that a good wardrobe was a walking CV that could sell you big.
Sully, though reluctant to accept the inference that he under-sold himself, allowed Macey to accompany him to the nearest clothes emporium to rummage among the forest of clothes rails, and find something bold and up-to-date, which would make a statement about where he stood in the world.
Macey observed that where Sully stood was one thing, but, more important was avoiding the impression that he slept in his clothes, something about which acquaintances had frequently expressed suspicions. Sully gritted his teeth, thanked him for his helpful advice and told himself that his well-meaning friend was hopelessly out of touch with the world.
At first, Sully was inclined to go for a smart devil-may-care look, something that the well-heeled might wear to mingle with the crowd without losing self- respect. He contemplated something with the same colour as his bedroom wallpaper, a mixture of battleship grey and lime green. He always felt confident with these colours as a background to his home life. Macey thought it strange that anyone would want to lose definition by merging into the wallpaper when at home, and look as if he were seasick when out and about. Sully held his ground and said such a combination was zesty, while Macey was convinced it would be seen as a morning-after-the-night-before digestive disorder. Sully began to resent Macey’s frankness, and questioned whether bringing Macey along was a good idea, at all.
Just then, Sully’s eyes lit up as they descended on the outfit which resolved all dispute. A posed mannequin in the shop window, with an intensely self-satisfied tilt of the chin was sporting a two piece suit in puce and white, a black shirt, and a tie in shot rainbow colours, that instantly spoke for itself. Macey said it yelled. But Sully had found the essential means of expressing his extrovert bonhomie. “They embody the saying, “Clothes make the man”, he said, confidently. “Fine”, said Macey , “but who the heck was the man who made the clothes?” No dissuasion, however, could make Sully relent his first intent to be an eyeful.
The purchase was made, accompanied by a good-natured tug-o-war and muttered pleasantries over the garments delivered by a wide-eyed and slack-jawed Macey. “Don’t do it!,” hissed Macey, - but Sully knew in his heart that this outfit was his ‘doppleganger wardrobe’; his ‘alter-ego’ brought to life in worsted and cotton. Macey said, “Never mind the alter ego; the whole thing ought to be altered. It’s excruciatingly ‘id’!”
Sully turned his heel on Macey’s incessant nit-picking, and, having made his purchase, left the dumb-struck Macey with the exit line thrown over his shoulder, “To thine own self be true!”.
The following week, he got his first opportunity to test reaction to his new outfit at a party he was told was being given by acquaintances the other side of the town.
Fired with confidence he turned up, knocked boldly on the door, which was opened by a man wearing an Afghan rug and Rastafarian wig. Despite this, the man persuaded him he’d come to the right place, so he entered to be instantly greeted enthusiastically by a crowd of guests who rushed towards him dressed in various extremely colourful fancy dress outfits. He was overwhelmed by hooting laughter and continuous back-slapping. He was gratified but a little confused by this warm reception, until his pleasure was later qualified by being awarded winner of the fancy dress competition for his amazing portrayal of a mafia godfather dressed to attend the funeral of his least favourite mother-in-law. He also received a special commendation for his courage in walking the streets to the party in broad daylight.
Departing from the party, with everyone’s uncontrollable jocularity ringing in his ears, he thumbed the first taxi he could find and returned home to throw the night’s ‘oscar’ in the bin. He immediately rang Macey, and asked him to come round and provide listening ministry to his depressed state of mind, on condition that he refrained from saying, “I told you so” For months after, however, Macey, would suddenly break out into bursts of uncontrollable laughter for no apparent reason. Unfortunately, this did nothing for Sully’s mental condition and brought on a clothes shop phobia and an irrational fear of losing his identity in a jungle of sprouting clothes hangers, for which he was forced to go for analysis.
© Trevor Danby 2008