The Making of a Hunk
Here’s the scoop
I’ve been undergoing a complete makeover.
You see, my stepson Kyle is getting married on Saturday after more than two years of postponements due to Covid. Hordes of relatives from far and wide are descending on Montreal in numbers equivalent to Grand Prix week. It all starts with a rehearsal dinner, followed Friday by a friends and out-of-towners dinner, then, of course, the wedding banquet itself, to be followed by dim sum Sunday morning.
After going through my closet of vintage clothing, all of it too big, it was clear I could not dress my part as eye-candy to the mother of the groom, who wants to show her ex she’s done better in the second round of the relationship game: she’s attracted a hunk. Only problem is, well, I am not a hunk by nature. But by nurture, there was hope.
"I’ll go to Moore’s,” I said. "I’m sure they have nice suits at a good price.”
“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” I was told. “We’re going to Harry Rosen,” Deborah said. “And I’m coming with you. You have no taste,” she explained.
I had no idea you had to dress semi-formally to go to Harry Rosen, but it seems you do. It is a cathedral of fashion, and you have to be respectful. I arrived in my customary khakis from Lands’ End, a cotton cardigan from the same place, a Brooks Brothers shirt, a little too big and with a certain amount of wear evident at the collar and cuffs, and shod in my trusty penny-loafers. My only piece of jewellery was my Apple watch.
As we rode the escalator to the second floor, Nancy, an impeccably dressed saleswoman of a certain age — who we learned was born to a Paris couturière — greeted us and asked if we needed any help. It was a rhetorical question. She surmised Deborah needed all the help she could get if she were to impress the ex, and the ex’s family on the day of the nuptials. A good salesperson just knows.
“I’m looking for a dark grey suit for a wedding,” I explained.
“Black,” Deborah said.
“Black it is, Nancy said.”
I never realized there are so many different colours of black suits. And so many designers at different but always expensive price points. We rule out Tom Ford, given my body dimensions and cost. We tried on some Armani and eventually settled on Canali. Nancy explained in detail how the suit was made, including the materials used on the inside between the suit itself and the silk lining. She explained in the fitting stage that the button holes on the sleeves would be made only later, and they would be with real button holes so I could leave the bottom ones open, indicating to all who knew about this feature that it was a good suit. Presumably, I could also roll up the sleeves if I wanted.
“You will need a white shirt,” Nancy explained.
“I have at least six white shirts,” I replied.
“I imagine then that they are all too big, and they just won’t do if you are wearing a Canali suit."
Nancy fetched a very white shirt, which turned out to be the idea of a shirt, not an actual finished shirt. “The cuffs will be adjusted afterwards, and the shirt will be adjusted by the tailor to fit. This is just the first try-on. It was an Eton shirt. Presumably named for the school, it must be a particularly attractive brand for members of the House of Lords, Conrad Black and the adult sons of deposed African dictators.
“Of course, you will need a tie,” Nancy explained.
“I have three or four Hermes ties,” I interjected. I bought them on various trips. It was a hobby of mine. I have an orange one with turtles, a blue one with monkeys raising barbells, a red one with fishes.”
“You need a black tie,” Nancy explained patiently.
Deborah nodded and rolled her eyes.
It turns out there are just as many colours of black ties as there are of black suits, but Deborah and Nancy chose one with a black-on-black motif, in stock in Calgary. It would be shipped.
Three fittings and three weeks later — where I actually chose what I would wear carefully and set out the clothes the night before like on the first day of school in the fall — I visited the store to get the altered suit, shirt and tie. They trusted me with the belt and the shoes.
I think in the end, Nancy is actually attracted to me and has been flirting a bit, touching me in ways that suggest the man she has made may be the man for her. I don’t have the heart to tell her it is not to be. Maybe I will on my next trip to the store, where we will be tackling business casual and leisure. It feels like a date.
In the meantime, new glasses have been bought so I will look good and see good too. Crest white strips every night are brightening my darkened teeth. A regimen of core and upper body exercises on Apple Fitness is toning my torso and making my biceps bulge. Coaching on what to say (and especially what not to say) is changing my small talk for the better. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain, repeated daily several times, is helping with my elocution. I have cut onions and garlic from my diet and banned cruciferous vegetables to ensure I smell as good as I look.
I have negotiated to keep my gender and race as is, but it was touch and go there for a bit.
When I look in the mirror, I can barely recognize myself. Not quite a hunk, but closer.
My only fear is I will eclipse the bride on her wedding day, and all eyes will be on me.
I hope she forgives me.