Editor’s Notebook: Suiting up for Fashion Week

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_D5C5045brianby Brian Clarey

I knew it was the right suit the minute Ramón draped it across my shoulders. A deep slate blue. Shiny — not quite sharkskin, but slick enough to turn a head. A slim cut, with flourishes like extra pockets on the jacket and basting stitching on the lapels that differentiated it from the sort of thing one might wear to the office or a wedding.

It fit like it was made for me.

It’s the one I’ll be rocking when I host the first ever Greensboro Fashion Week, beginning on Friday night at the downtown Elm Street Center. You can read more about the event in this week’s cover story, beginning on page 16.

But I want to talk a little bit more about the suit.

I’m thinking a crisp, white shirt — it’s good to wear white to the face — with platinum accents and maybe a black tie. Black shoes, of course, though if the event were earlier in the day I’d consider going with brown. The suit could definitely carry it.

I don’t wear suits all that much. Almost never, actually, which is something of a relief. When I was a kid, my dad suited up in a three-piece, complete with necktie and hard shoes, every workday of his life. All the dads in my neighborhood did, because that’s what a white-collar workingman wore: a suit.  It was a badge of honor to those who donned it, a uniform that set them apart from the guys who came home from work dirty and sweaty, with calluses on their hands.

But almost nobody — with the exception of a few lawyers, some bankers and anyone who wants to get ahead in the more established halls of corporate America — wears a suit these days. Suits are relics, vestigial remnants of a more formal past. There was a time when a man bereft of his suit would not, could not, be taken seriously anywhere outside of a steel mill. Now, people wear sweatpants to the office and jeans cost $250.

I for one am glad that I don’t have to don the corporate uniform of the Man every time I go out to earn my dinner.

But Fashion Week is a different story. And it’s as true today as it has ever been: With the proper fabric and cut, nothing looks better than a clean, sharp suit.