Since we are talking three-piece suits below, this graphic seems apt. The Monty Python boys in action, circa 1970.
We are in the midst of the three-day Labor Day Weekend here in the United States, traditionally seen as the end of the summer season and the start of fall, although warm temperatures hang on in many places across North America until at least October, and Autumn does not begin officially until the Equinox 'round about September 21st, give or take a day.
Which brings us to clothing and today's thrift/charity shop find. I've wanted a heavier weight three-piece suit for quite some time -- my father used to have and wear several during his executive days on Wall Street in Manhattan during the 1970s and 80s -- but have had no luck turning up anything locally or online. And, let's be honest, male academics aren't really in need of a such a garment these days either. Most of them look as bad as the students they teach. Nevertheless, you can imagine my surprise when I came across a Polo Ralph Lauren suit, made in the good ol' U.S. of A., in heavy, very soft wool flannel during a quick stop at one of my two reliably good local thrift/charity outlets earlier today.
As you'll see once the camera has finished charging, and I upload a photograph or two, the suit is a lovely, mottled mid- to dark gray with chalk stripes. The previous owner must not have worn it very much because there is no sign of wear on the elbows, across the seat of the pants/trousers, or anywhere else on the three pieces that comprise this suit. No holes, snags, pills, or stains leapt out at me either as I examined everything in the shop before making the decision to buy.
The coat is fully canvased and features a single vent. It's even got a functioning boutonniere hole on the left lapel. In addition, there are double forward facing pleats on the pants/trousers, which are lined to the knees, with brace buttons inside the waistband. Finally, the young lady behind the cash register even threw the shaped wooden suit hanger into the transaction with a smile. How's that for service?
The two coolest bits of information about this suit are yet to come. First, it cost less than US$5, including tax. Second, once I returned home and tried everything on calmly for a second time, it fit like it was made for me. My wife, the Grand Duchess, confirmed it when I modeled the suit for her a short while later. And as far as I can tell, only the waist of the pants/trousers will need to be altered. It needs to be let out an inch or so, and I'll also ask my tailor Mrs. V. to remove the belt loops since I plan on wearing this with braces.
Otherwise, the inseam and sleeve lengths are perfect, with the former having a medium break on the tops of my shoes, and the latter allowing about 3/4" of linen to show. The vest/waistcoat fits snugly but not too tightly, and when buttoned the coat fits well with a neat upper back, shoulders, and chest. It features a suppressed waist, but nothing too pronounced or tight. Just right. I suspect at this point that some wags might scoff and say "You'll look like Bertie Wooster in that get-up. . . or an old-fashioned bank manager from the 1930s. You had better get yourself a bowler hat and a black umbrella, old boy!" Bowler hat notwithstanding, there are certainly worse things a guy could resemble.
The lesson in all of this excited blather about three-piece suits is that if you look long enough, you will eventually find that item you covet and at a rock bottom price. Dressing with some classic style and sophistication need not cost an arm and a leg. . . contrary to what many might think. You must simply have a clear idea of what you want to add to your wardrobe and be persistent in your search for it.