By Dom Cioffi
I learned at a very young age that a sport coat is a highly necessary life item. After all, you never know when someone is going to die or get married or ask you to interview for a new job.
In each of these cases, a sport coat provides a level of dress that is widely appropriate – not as formal as a full suit or tux, and not as informal as a standard collared shirt.
I’ve always had a sport coat – although they’ve changed several times over the years as my body and tastes have morphed. The sport coat I wore in my 20s would be a little too tight these days, while the sport coat I wore in my 30s would be a little too flashy.
As I’ve aged, my tastes have settled into the more traditional realm, with my last two sport coats falling clearly into the standard blue blazer category.
So a couple weeks ago when our neighbors asked my wife and me to join them at a wine tasting at their posh country club, I immediately considered what I would wear. I hadn’t had a reason to dress up in quite a while, but
I was confident I could throw together something sharp.
In my mind, I had the entire outfit picked out: tan slacks, white dress shirt, a tie with blue highlights and my dark blue blazer. I was all set.
However, as the days passed, I kept questioning that blue blazer because I hadn’t seen it in some time. Did I give it to Goodwill? Did my brother borrow it for a wedding?
And yet, as much as I questioned the whereabouts of this prominent article of clothing, I neglected to look for it. Every time I meant to dig into my closet, something distracted me and I’d forget.
And then the day of the wine-tasting arrived.
As I drove home from work that afternoon, I told myself to stop worrying. The blazer was there; everything would be fine. But somehow I knew I was in trouble.
Sure enough, as soon as I arrived home I ripped through my closet to find absolutely nothing. I then tore apart the hallway closet, the upstairs closet and the attic. Still nothing.
Then the panic set in.
I sent a quick text to my neighbor and inquired about the dress code for the evening. He responded, “Pretty casual. You’ll be fine with just a blazer.”
I ran down the stairs and screamed to my wife that I was headed to the mall to buy a sport coat. “You’ve only got an hour and a half,” she responded with obvious concern.
What happened next can only be described as one of the most fortuitous span of events that I have ever experienced.
On my way to the shopping mall (during drive-time traffic), every stoplight was green. When I arrived, I pulled in and made my way through the parking lot toward the one retailer that I figured would give me the best chance at a finding a reasonably priced sport coat.
However, as I passed in front of a different store, I noticed an empty parking spot at a side entrance. I parked there.
I hurried out of my car and into the building and was immediately met with signs notifying me that I was in the men’s section. I turned to my right and there in front of me was a rack of sport coats. “Wow!” I thought. “That’s lucky.”
I walked up to the first rack I saw and pulled off what looked to be a classy blazer. As I threw it on, I heard a voice behind me exclaim, “Now that looks like a perfect fit!”
The salesman proceeded to take my measurements and confirmed that the first jacket I had grabbed was indeed my exact size.
I looked at myself in the mirror and acknowledged that the blazer worked, both in style and fit. But when I grabbed the price tag, I was immediately taken aback by the amount: $275.
“Ahhh, that’s a little too steep,” I stated, deflated.
“Hold on!” the salesman stated as he turned the tag over to reveal that it had been marked down by half. He then followed that with the announcement of a current two-day, 40 percent off sale that could also be applied.
And just to sweeten the deal, he handed me a coupon from behind the counter that knocked even a little more off the price. When he was finished, the total came to $79 and change.
I smiled widely as I reached into my wallet, thinking I was the luckiest guy in the world. And then quite unexpectedly, I stumbled upon a gift card leftover from Christmas to that exact store. I handed it to the salesman and asked him to apply whatever was on the card.
In the end, that $275 sport coat cost me a grand total of $4.27 (and I’ve got the sales receipt to prove it!)
Needless to say, the wine tasted a little sweeter that evening.
This week’s feature, “Paddington,” is the story of a young bear (who happens to have his own blue blazer), who travels to England in search of a new home.
Based on the widely popular children’s book series by Michael Bond, “Paddington” is a visual marvel with its integration of digital animation and live action characters.
The story is charming, the humor is copious and the integration of animation into the real world is mesmerizing.
Check this one out if you’ve got a trove of pre-teens who are tired of being cooped up.
A cuddly “B” for “Paddington.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.