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Tailoring and Watches, or A Very Non-Productive and Slightly Pretentious Weekend

So besides actually getting a chance to do some writing this weekend--can you tell I was missing it?--I've been crossing things off my "to do" list while I'm here in Hong Kong. This weekend and the beginning of this week seem to be when the Stars of Tony's Pretentious Habits have come into alignment.

After almost a year , my pocketwatch is finally fixed. I was wandering around looking for a particular tailor (not only in the wrong building, but on the wrong side of the harbour) when I happened across a shop selling fantastically expensive wristwatches and, almost as a sideline, the exact brand of pocketwatch I happen to own. It seems they've made a bit of a name for themselves I was gifted mine in 1997. Anyway, I dropped in and asked them if they could repair my watch. This Sunday I came back to pick it up, and found out that it was a "minor repair" that the watchmaker would do "on the brand." I have no idea if "on the brand" is even a term, but hey, at least I didn't get charged for it, once again I can tell time, and I'm convinced of my accidental good fortune.

Today I actually found the tailor I'd been searching for. As I said a few months ago, I've always wanted a bespoke suit, and even if I can't afford Saville Row luxury, Hong Kong is a good place to get a suit made. I did some searching in various shops, but in the end I decided I'd let a bit of nostalgia be my guide.

Fifteen or twenty years ago, my father came to Hong Kong and returned with two or three outfits that looked fantastic on him. Back in those days, I think I had one suit that you had to bribe or threaten me into, but even I could tell that these two fit him, looked him in a way that his others didn't. I remember particularly a pin-stripe remarkable for actually hanging the way a pin-stripe should on an relatively athletic frame, the parallels curving attractively down and around him. (Oddly enough, at one point he handed one of the suits down to my brother, and it looked good on that younger frame as well.)

Anyway, I didn't have much to go on in judging a Hong Kong tailor, so instead I sought out the same man my father used. He's still there, although the photo on his business card looks more like he probably did when my father met him. (Less grey hair. Ain't that true of us all?)

He was a charming fellow who was willing to talk goals, make suggestions, push forward fabrics, and roundly criticize the slacks I was wearing, purchased at Banana Republic. (They were the "safe" option when I was buying trousers in New York. And safe they are, but so dull and shapeless that if the phrase "Banana Republican" actually has something to do with the political affiliation of the shoppers there, then here's my vote for George Bush make whatever policy sacrifices necessary to woo the Queer Eye guys into the G.O.P.'s trouser aisles. [1]) And nicely, he was willing to talk me through the shape of a suit, frequently saying, "It's a good style, but I don't think you want that. Doesn't work with you."

In the end, it's going to be a grey suit, which wasn't what I started out looking for, but after looking at the pinstripes, I feel in love with the steely charcoal wool. I was hoping for a bit exciting, but this is plain, a bit more classic. I'd budgeted for a suit and a shirt, however, and here I wasn't disappointed. He suggested a very slightly-patterened white-on-white herringbone that in combination with a flat color would look--or at least, right now I imagine it looking--pretty much like what I wanted. Though I wouldn't have told you that four hours ago.

Man, look at me. I'm writing like a thirteen-year-old girl staring at a Justin Timberlake poster. Sorry: I'll be back to composed tomorrow: don't know why this is quite so fascinating to someone like me, whose friends have suggested he sign up for What Not To Wear.

Anyway, we'll see how it goes at the second fitting. If things go well, I'll give you all the address in case you're ever in Hong Kong.

[1]: Actually, I can't believe that Banana Republic survives on sales to Banana Republicans. If that's true, then red state America is heavily subsidizing the New York branch from which I bought these trousers.

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Comments

No price quote for your faithful readers to envy? What happened to you, man? You've gone all soft. You used to be about the mortal. Or at least the venial. Thought you'd reference Napolean Dynamite with the suit. "Pedro... this suit... 's's'awesome."
Randomly found your site a while ago when I did a 'law student blog' search on google. My brother has been living in Shenzhen since last summer [teaching English] when he grad. from Vandy U -so stumbling upon you again was cool -would love for you to def. do that follow-up you offered so I could then fwd. it to him! Thanks
TtP: The price isn't high enough for anyone to envy. For that, you'd have to go to Versace, who has a big store in Kowloon that I passed by on the way to the tailor...
I'm a cheapskate; low prices are what I had in mind. I'm still in Manhattan, mind.

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