Whatever suits you

The mayor often wears a suit

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.

Suits for babies

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.

8 thoughts on “Whatever suits you

  1. Totally agree with the one suit decision. I have only one suit now. It’s the one I wore for my wedding and the one I’ll wear for other weddings as well as funerals including, assuming it still fits, my own.

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  2. It is the same for women as far as I can tell. I quit wearing them several years before I retired in the US as the term “business casual” seemed to mean something other than a suit. But somehow as most styles in women’s clothing go, we will see them cycle back in sometime in the future!

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  3. I have hopped to your blog via France Taste. Yes I think men suits are kind of passé. I did see many on Nashville and Atlanta kids going to their high school prom night, but that was last year before the virus. In the first company I worked for in San Francisco all the men wore suits, my manager even wore a hat – that seems ages ago (well it was in the 60s, it’s ages ago.) I still would like to be able to wear a hat sometimes but women don’t either. I did wear one at my daughter’s graduation from med school (I was the only one though…) My daughter married a man whose family is from South India. When I go to family gatherings I see many Indian men with suits – I guess they are more formal. I remember buying a suit for my late husband on Carnaby Street in London in the early 70s – the jacket had a Nehru collar – do you remember those?

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    1. Welcome aboard! Oh yes, I do indeed remember the jackets with the Nehru collars but that was not one of the suits we had to clear out of our closet, ha-ha!


  4. You said you went for an interview at the consulate in Miami, but I thought you were in Atlanta, where there is a consulate?? As someone who may one day, good lord willin’ and an end to this plague, follow in your footsteps, I am accumulating bits of usual information.

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