When Bill and I were part of the working world in the US, we both had multiple suits that were appropriate for all sorts of business occasions. It didn’t matter if we were interacting with a customer, attending a board meeting, or dining with the president of the company, we could always be dressed appropriately. When we went for our interview at the French consulate in Miami to obtain our visa to live in this country, it was a simple decision of what to wear for a couple of reasons: 1.) To be respectful, we wanted to dress in a businesslike manner and 2.) In preparing for the move from full-time work to retirement overseas, we had already pared down our wardrobe dramatically to just one suit each. Little did we know that four years ago in Florida we were already following a trend that has been in motion in France for nearly 10 years—a 58% drop in the sale of men’s suits.
French TV channel BMFTV ran a story about the huge decline of the sale of men’s suits in this country over the last few years. What was once viewed as a symbol of “prestige and power” is now being traded in for a more casual look, at least in areas outside of Paris. Most men, it seems, are happy to have just one suit that serves equally well at weddings, funerals, and job interviews. On a historical note, England’s King Edward VII who reigned from 1901 to 1910 is credited with popularizing the wearing of matching jackets and trousers.
The statistic about the drop in sales didn’t surprise us since it’s rare to see anyone other than the mayor and his deputies dressed up. In my mind, there’s a clue to the situation in a couple of French words: the English word, “suit” becomes costume and the word “casual” can be décontracté suggesting to me that no contracts are being signed. While onboard staff of the trains are generally outfitted in smart looking suit-like uniforms, their colleagues driving the train are more likely to be in t-shirts and jeans.
And speaking of jeans, we now live in a one-size (or at least one-length) fits-all world which explains why we see so many people with their pants legs rolled up. While it’s easy enough to get a waist size that fits, often there is only one leg length—long—so we needed a sewing machine. We quickly settled on the one marked “Jeans Machine” that seems to be strong enough to sew through cast iron which now gives us that finished look.
While looking for another photo to accompany this blog post an advertising flyer arrived that highlights outfits for babies. I believe that in the US these are called “bodysuits” but here it’s a bit abbreviated. I’ll leave you, I hope, with a smile.