“I’m going to need a SWAT team ready to mobilise, street maps covering all of Florida, a pot of coffee, 12 Jammie Dodgers and a fez.”
(Photo from bakingfortheoffice.com)
Ah, Doctor Who – sometimes, it’s like the writers can see into my very soul (points if you can tell me which episode this quote is from).
Now we’re exactly five months away from our wedding, I’m starting to get that feeling in the back of my nose – an anxious, fluttery feeling I usually associate with moving house/work stress/a dress I love but can’t afford going into the sale just before payday. So, I’ve written another to-do list, this time broken down into handy sections (such as ‘invitations’, ‘decor’ and ‘ceremony’), with the sub-lists written in order of priority.
Yes, I was planning before, but that’s only because I’m the sort of person who likes to be ahead of the game (as opposed to The Boy, whose attitude to my numerous to-do lists is, “Why write a list? You’ll just make yourself feel bad about all the things you need to do”. We are the very epitome of John Richardon’s Putters and Leavers sketch).
So, while I’m Googling “Vintage teapot job lot”, “Vintage wedding china UK”, “TARDIS cake topper wedding” and “Printers in the UK that will print my wedding invitations without wanting to design them” in an increasingly frantic way, The Boy has graciously offered to write a post all about his experience suit shopping. He’s nice like that.
Ladies and gentlemen, The Boy.
Carrie-Ann (or The Girl, as I guess I should be calling her for the sake of consistency) has been dropping some really subtle hints on the fact she’d like me to do my bit for the wedding.
Mainly, the one thing that I have to do all by myself: buy a suit.
The hints were so subtle as to be imperceptible. There were the anxiety dreams she would describe to me, where I’m wearing jeans and a T-shirt at the wedding. There were the whispers in the night: ‘Buy a suit, buy a suit, buy a suit.’ And then there was that blog post where she told hundreds of our friends that she wished I’d stop being lazy and go out and buy a suit.
My mum, who is sensitive to these sort of delicate hints, dropped me an email in the week:
‘I think you should look for a suit at the weekend.’
‘Really? Why not just wait until Black Friday. Or the January sales. I could get one cheap.’
‘Because I think your fiancée might go out of her mind unless you do.’
‘Well… why didn’t she say anything?’
So on Saturday, I descended upon Hatfield Galleria on the hunt for a suit. I chose this particular location because, as I soon discovered, there are precisely 1,450 suit shops for me to peruse (number may not be accurate).
My mum was in a tow and, because we’re both significantly indecisive when it comes to apparel, my younger brother came with us. He’s the sort of person that can glance up at you for about two seconds, and say: ‘You look like a twat.’ I felt his skills might be needed.
After looking at seemingly identical racks of blue, black, grey and pin-striped suits, I finally made my way into Moss Bros, where I helpfully informed the store assistant – a man I will call Miles – precisely what it was I was looking for.
“I am looking for a suit that looks a bit geeky,” I told Miles, moments after he asked me if he could help.
“Of course. A man after my own style,” he replied with a level of confidence that would shortly be destroyed.
“Basically, I want to look like The Doctor.”
“Right, well, I’m not sure…”
“But not THE Doctor, you understand. I don’t want some fancy dress costume. More… a suit The Doctor might wear if he happened to be shopping for a suit in Moss Bros.”
“Basically, imagine I am going to play the next Doctor, and I need a costume. That’s what I want.”
“You want a suit that looks like the one a science fiction character might wear in the future?”
“That’s precisely it. I knew you were the man for the job Miles.”
“My name’s Steve.”
Now, for all of my faults in direction, Miles was a bit useless. Mainly because after a few minutes he found out I worked as a games journalist, so preceded to pepper me with questions about how he could become one. “What’s the job like?” “Is it as cool as it sounds?” “Will Valve ever release Half-Life 3?” “Xbox One or PS4?”
After I stopped answering him, I eventually tried on three suits. Two were quirkier, slim-fitting geeky suits, which I quite liked but my family were a bit indifferent towards. And then my mum persuaded me to try on a full suit with tails.
I reluctantly put it on and, if I ignored the atrocious waistcoat… I didn’t look half bad. In fact, I looked a bit like a groom. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to look like a groom, I want to look like The Doctor. But seeing as I am going to be a groom, perhaps look like one isn’t such a bad thing?
We left the store shortly after that. As that particular suit was a hire model, I couldn’t get measured for it until the end of the year anyway. So there was no point making a decision then.
We took a well deserved break and a cup of tea, before we strolled over to Paul Costelloe’s outlet store. And it was here that I saw it – a dark blue grey woollen jacket, with a matching waistcoat, a blue shirt and a bow tie. It was standing proudly on a torso dummy in the centre of the store. That was it. I was staring at the 13th Doctor (John Hurt’s War Doctor doesn’t count, you understand).
I found the jacket on a rack and it was in my size! And a waistcoat, too. They didn’t have the same bowtie as the one on display, but I found a gold one that was, frankly, even better. But there was one, teeny, tiny problem.
“Do you have any trousers to go with this?”
“Oh, there are no matching trousers, sir.”
“Oh… why not?”
“Well, it’s not actually a suit. It’s more a casual jacket.”
A casual jacket. A £300 casual jacket. With a waistcoat. This wasn’t what I needed. The kindly shop owner handed me some smartish trousers to try on with it and I loved it. As did my mum and my brother. But we all pulled the same face when it came to the trousers. It wasn’t quite right.
Now, there’s a whole ‘mis-match’ trend going on with suits at the moment. Apparently it’s all the rage. I could find some complementary trousers to go with it, which could set the whole outfit off even more. But this was uncharted territory for me. So I bowed out. After four tortuous hours in Hatfield.
I couldn’t find that jacket and waistcoat online. Perhaps the only place in the world to get it is in that store. I expected The Girl to be disappointed, but she wasn’t. I think she was just pleased I tried some suits on and that I may have a good idea of what to do next.
[Ed: Yes, yes I am. That’s why I wanted you to start now and not the ruddy January sales. ]
And I do.
Does anyone have a number for the BBC Costume Department?