I remember finishing the count… And being astonished that there were fourteen of them.
Suits… two and three piece suits. For younger readers, the three-piece ones were so called because they had matching waistcoats…whose bottom button was never fastened.
Fourteen is quite a number. They were all expensive, mainly double-breasted, and made of the lovely variety of silky textiles that so proliferated in the business world of the late 80s and early 90s. I was not alone. In the office of the Californian computer company for whom we were the most northern base in England, there were another six people for whom quality of dress was essential to success.
We were selling expensive, fault-tolerant computer systems to many of the most senior board members in the north of England.
Life was good…but I’m not here to brag about those illustrious days. They served their purpose and the world moved on… though many of those mainframes are still in place at the hub of major banking systems.
The reason the former platoon of suits is relevant to a post about blue denim is that I bought what must be my seventh pair of jeans the other day, and the number reminded me that I had double that number of suits. I was amused that my new and trimmed-down wardrobe depends almost entirely on these blue denim garments: simple, warm and un-sophisticated. And they last forever.
We buy my jeans – and just about every other domestic item – from a general purpose warehouse fifty miles away called CostCo – a far cry from the neon lights of Manchester’s Piccadilly district where many of the suits originated.
CostCo specialise in high-quality merchandise that they buy in bulk, receive in the store then scatter over frankly unimpressive pallets in the middle of acres of space containing everything from the best consumer electronics to salted nuts. Although the quality of everything is top-notch, the experience is functional, to say the least, and requires some getting used to.
But the merchandise is top quality, and offered at reasonable prices, providing you have the energy to leaf through piles to find your size.
Jeans-wise, they delight folks like me because they do winter versions as well as the more usual summer ‘fashions’. The last three pairs of blue jeans have been made from a thicker denim with a winter lining… They are sheer heaven to put on, and you know that your dog walking in the wet and freezing Lakeland countryside will at least be accompanied by toasty legs.
They aren’t waterproof, but I never found a pair of waterproofs that were remotely comfortable.
These days, I only have two suits. The first is black and only deployed for the not infrequent funerals that pervade this time of one’s life. The other is a Rohan travel suit that does everything else that involves a matched jacket and trousers.
The rest of my outfits are constructed from my jeans upwards; which just shows how well blue denim has stood the test of time… It’s more than can be said for my fourteen suits; now long departed.
I held onto a few of my smart blazers. To my – now simpler – eyes, they look great with a newly-washed pair of jeans and my small assortment of tan loafers.
And I’ve never felt more comfortable.
Neil Diamond sang about being ‘forever in blue jeans’. Here’s a snippet. I smile every time I hear it…even though it’s ancient. Something about his voice said he understood – even if it was going to take you a few years to get there.
©Stephen Tanham 2022
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.