A fit is far better than fighting to fit because the latter is nothing better than a tight fit that isn’t a fit at all and is simply a miss. It is only in the fitness of things that I must tell you about my fits with fit and because fitting in is what dominates what I have to say, I’ll call this short rant on fits and misses, a fit monologue.
The unfit monologue
Life is an interesting and mesmerizing series of fit episodes and I don’t just mean the way we fit ourselves in a crowded train compartment or give a fitting repartee to someone who has the guts to tell us that we’re not fit enough to be there or do that or be with. I know I was thoroughly aware of the word ‘fit’ and more thoroughly sensitive of fitting into what I thought were what I wanted, when I had to buy clothes. But my travails with tailors and salesmen have generally left them wondering on what a fit is all about.
Yes, I was known to throw massive fits in the massive hallway of Rama Tailors even when I was barely fit to be fitted for a pair of trousers. I mean here I was on the verge of donating my awesome collection of knickers and shorts of all the types that were popular in the early sixties and this respectable man in his late forties was telling me, ‘Don’t worry, I will stitch you a pair that will last for the next five years!’
I was in a shock and believing this to be a scientific truth, asked, ‘Do you think I will not grow anymore?’ He laughed and replied, ‘You will grow but I will keep everything a bit loose and with a lot of scope to expand it anyway.’
Now I’m sure none of you remember that the early sixties, the world was just about waking up to trousers, shirts, and other things that you may wear to follow the dictum of ‘fit’. To the old guard, fit was tight and suffocating and they still went with the belief that the word fit simply meant the ability of a clothing to be open to alterations and re-fits. How the new and old generations fought… and they still do, I know. But back then, I was one totally disgruntled young boy (who thought he was a man already) who wanted to fight against the way people described fit.
This tussle to fit or not to fit has always had some or the other tailor featuring as the villain. And I know a whole lot of them from Jhansi to Jammu and even from Mumbai to Malerkotla if that makes you any happier… and they were all the sorts who were the happiest to hear me utter, ‘I am not so bothered about my shirt being a perfect fit. Let it be a bit loose and it’ll be nippier!’
My body monologue
Let me admit that I have a rather funny body with the width and the height just not making any tailor happy. They always found me either too broad on the shoulders or too bulging on the waist… and so one fine day I thought of going to the new phenomenon of ready-made shops. The experience here wasn’t as traumatic as with the tailors because there were no fit and re-fit sessions possible. The salesman sized me up and said, ‘I have the right shirt for you.’ Saying this he went on to pile one monstrosity over another until I stopped him and said, ‘I’ll ask you which ones to show me.’
It has been quite a few years now that I have been buying my shorts from these pre-tailored stores… the stuff they sell has gradually become more and more expensive but funnily, the size confusion has remained where it always was. If a 40 was too tight on the waist, a 42 just drooped on the shoulders… and the length of the sleeve was waved away with an inevitable, ‘You can always fold the sleeves and give a contemporary look!’
So now I have been sporting a ‘contemporary’ casual look even while wearing a formal shirt that has cost me a bomb. My body has indeed made me remain completely dissatisfied with the sort of shirts I have been wearing.
The fit monologue
Then one day Specky, my wife, surprised me by saying, ‘I have a riddle for you.’
‘Riddle?’ I asked, looking up from the book that I immersed in, ‘please don’t let it be a riddle where the answer is a morning walk.’ Morning walks, by the way, are our shut-all-conversation-and-go-to-sleep prompters these days.
Specky smiled and replied:
‘What goes around, then settles on one,
Then hops to another in a perpetual run!’
I thought for a while and then said, ‘Casanova!’ Well, the Pachauri case wasn’t out in the open then. Specky laughed and said, ‘Your shirt fit.’
Well, well, well… wives have this habit of coming out with the worst shockers and I finally said, ‘You are a genius!’ It was only after this that she told me about the Van Heusen MYFIT concept. She informed me that the statistics revealed on the site talked about 45% of their orders for the non-standard fits and 40% of the orders for the non-standard sizes – which are not available in the stores otherwise. And, most interestingly, almost 85% of the orders accompanied some level of customization like with a French Cuff, or a Chinese collar among others.
I smiled and said, ‘Let’s do it!’
The power dialogue
The details that Specky had were culled from the Trendin website which talked about the possibility of customisation features to a large extent. I was impressed to discover the ‘Plus’ size for those with a greater body length and longer sleeves and the and ‘Healthy’ size for those with a wider midriff. I happily said, ‘It seems my short woes are over.’
‘Not so fast,’ warned Specky displaying her womanly suspicion until everything was actually in order. She then told me that what she liked was that the sleeve length was customisable for all sizes and that I had a choice of chisel or double cuff and even between a half cut away and a mandarin collar.
Even this degree of customisation appeared to be akin to a power dialogue to me and we decided to visit the van Heusen Flagship store in Connaught Place. Yes, the store did have this very helpful sales executive who tolerated my wanting to try out even the ‘Slim’ and the ‘Athletic’ fits in their range of shirts. I know I must have looked funny walking out of the changing cubicle with my tummy bursting out of that slim fit… but the executive was discreet enough to say, ‘Sir, I think the healthy fit will have grace oozing out.’
Well, after what seemed like hours of going in and coming out, I finally decided on the sizes for both the pair of trousers and shirt and asked, ‘Now that we know which size I need to go for, can I just go home and place my order?’
‘Yes, you certainly can,’ he said, ‘and I can help you decide even on the sleeve length that you may go for. Even for the trousers, you have the option to go for a pleated or a flat front after you’ve finalised the body type.’
So yes, we did go back home and then took our own time deciding on the fabric and the colour… and placing the order after registering on the site was easy. What I liked best was the speed with which the order was couriered to us, packaged nicely. I was informed by the store that even after getting my order supplied, I had the option to get minor changes done, if needed.
Yes, I’m happy
You can see the smile on my face and the body language too, I’m sure, tells you that I have finally transcended the tailor trauma times and the readymade rejection refrains and am all set to have a power dialogue and a fitness dialogue with what I wear.
27 February 2015