New Overcoat: Herringbone

The heat of the summers has caused me to pretty much go all in on heavier cloths and cold weather suits. There just isn’t a summer suit that will work here. Not outside of air-conditioned quarters. And most of my time in suits is outside of air conditioning.

In the summers, I’m just going to resign myself to devolving back into some sort of punk nonsense and just learn to live with that. We are Borg. We will adapt.

As far as adapting to the current ongoing lung-grinding airborne crisis, with its various phases, stages, steps, and guidelines, I’ve made some important progress: My tailor made me a mask. Two actually. Both out of the same material as my coat. So they match!

As my photographic skills are, pretty much, total trash, here’s some pictures she took of the situation. These will probably also give you a better idea of how the coat and mask actually look. For some fucking reason, I can never get the color of things right. So here:

Mask worn over the real mask in accordance with KDCA guidelines.

Having those masks made was interesting. My tailor was very hesitant about making these –as well as the length of the coat– but she eventually agreed to both and was very happy with the results when they were done. But before we got started?

She very much wanted me to understand that she was not in the habit of entertaining such insane requests. She would only make these masks for me. Why? Because I’m a regular and, well, because I’m me. And, while I’m not entirely sure of what it means means to be me, I suppose it might mean that I’m, er, a little outside of The Norms of polite society.

The tailoring culture is a little different here.

Now, I want to preface this with — I do think people can read too much into things and misunderstand a lot. I could be totally wrong about all of this. It’s just an impression I get.

The impression I get is that the tailoring culture is different here. For starters, there’s a lot of tailor shops. I haven’t even been able to count how many are in my immediate vicinity and this isn’t even a tailoring or fashion district. There’s just tailors all over the place.

I think the standard way that you get a suit is you have a suit made. The typical suit is not off the rack but made in one of these numerous little shops. And the suits are usually for business or formal events. (I don’t think Casual Fridays exist in Korea — thank you, Satan!) A big driver of suit sales is, I believe, The Interview Suit. When you’re getting interviewed for a jobs, you have a suit made for your interviews. There’s guidelines.

Whatever impression one may have gotten from k-pop or k-dramas, the style suit? Not really a thing. Bright colors? They’re a rarity. From what I can tell, the highly developed street style here is generally very introverted. There’s a lot of black and some beige. Rather than express a personality, much of the street style seems meant to create a sense of mystery. It’s more of a pull you in than loudly assert yourself. Conformist, I guess, in a sense but . . .

It was much the same in Toronto. In a way.

If you’ve ever walked around Toronto in a pink suit at any time or in any color during the winter, you will have probably noticed the total dearth of color. The odd flash of a red scarf in that monochromic landscape attracts attention. Only advertisements are allowed to be bright. Everything else is shades of gray and black and beige and brown and navy blue.

That’s what passes for taste, I guess.

But the few bespoke tailors there are in Toronto do seem comfortable with flash, flamboyance, and flair. Now, I was always a bit of an odd duck and often pushed things, but I never got the sense of restraint about tailored suits in Toronto that I’ve gotten here. There was much less a sense of the suit as uniform. That sense existed but as atavism.

Not so here.

When we traveled to Seoul years ago and had a few suits made in Itaewon, it was basically impossible to communicate that the suits were not for business. (The tailor was fluent in English so it wasn’t a language barrier.) When I saw a fairly wild pattern that I liked, I was told that was “a mafia stripe” and not allowed to buy it. The suits were basically divided like that — business and other business. I suspect things have changed, but you get my drift.

I do think the concept of “gentleman” and “dandy” and some confusion between the two have washed ashore here, but, in a way, these have also become uniforms. And me? Well, I’m no gentleman and I was a lot more comfortable being called a dandy when it was just something my friends said to make fun of me, and meant nothing except I was some sort of overdressed drug addict. A weird glowing stain on a bathroom wall, perhaps.

저는 우주 쓰레기다.

It’s probably a peculiarity of my character that I like a value this sense of restraint and of the suit of uniform. I need rules so I can break rules. There’s few things I find more suffocating and oppressive than freedom. I don’t know how to use freedom. I hate a free-for-all where everyone gets to be themselves. It’s like some awful participatory community theater project.

I know this is probably an unpopular idea but I’m not even anti-bully. Now, don’t get me wrong — I fucking hate bullies. I have fought bullies and will fight bullies. Won some, lost a lot more. I fucking detest a bully. But give me a choice between a freak who has fought for their right to be them and some quirky weirdo who has been encouraged by parents, peers, and staff? I know who I prefer. I want the one who has been hit in the face. Been knocked down, got up, knocked down again, and has that “fuck you” in their very bones.

But, I will say this — my ideas on this subject are probably no way to run a society, a family, or anything else. More just a sort of matter of personal temperament. Not a thing I take all that seriously and certainly not a prescription for anything. More a mood. A vibe.

Like, I’m probably just fucked up. Hit in the face too many times. I know that.

Did I have a point? I like my new coat.

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