They say that the clothes make the man. In the case of picking out what to wear for my wedding in a few weeks, let’s just say they make a BETTER man.
I’m a guy who knows what he likes. I may change my mind about what exactly “like” is, but I’m pretty good about setting my sights on something, obsessing for a short period and getting it done. Maybe I’m impulsive. Maybe I’m impatient. But, it’s how I operate.
My partner Preston, on the other hand, is the opposite. He’s flexible and often indecisive. He’s more inclined to pursue multiple options and make a decision at the last minute. And I don’t point these out as negatives. Quite the contrary. I find his thoughtful nature the perfect balance to my hasty inclinations.
Then there are times we mix roles… somewhat uncomfortably. Case in point: the suit. Preston picked his suit months ago. He walked in on a sale at Vivienne Westwood and became enchanted with a handsome grey number with a stylish British cut. It suited him perfectly. I even went down for a viewing to give my final approval. Sold!
On the other hand this time, I was being unusually wishy washy. In a matter of weeks I went from custom suit collaboration, to seersucker summer ensemble to a beautiful Brooks Brothers grey blazer I eventually paired with some slick Paul Smith pants. For once, I didn’t have it all figured out.
Then, a few weeks ago, I got a text. A text with an image. Preston in a chic orange blazer from a smaller boutique called Moods of Norway. The text with the images said, “I love this. What do you think for the wedding?” It was bold. It was beautiful. It clearly made him very happy. How could I resist?
So, out with Vivienne, in with Norway. I immediately ditched my original plan to pair my suit with something yellow and spontaneously found a gorgeous tie that incorporated the same shades of orange with a lovely pale blue. Perfect!
Then, doubt reared its ugly head. Preston was having a hard time finding a shirt to go with such a dramatic piece. White JUST wasn’t cutting it. With divine intervention, he picked up a light blue shirt and suddenly the jacket, the white pants, the smile, they all came together brilliantly.
So, last weekend, he and his brother set out to find a blue shirt with the French cuffs he needed for the matching cufflinks we each got for our birthdays. He returned home triumphantly, bag in hand. The missing piece! I couldn’t wait to see the blue … purple … wait, purple? Purple?
Yes, he came home with a lavender shirt.
I have nothing against lavender. In fact I love lavender. But, I had set my mind to a blue shirt, thinking we had finally achieved perfect unison with our ensembles after so much back and forth and here was this precocious purple shirt throwing a monkey wrench in my vision. Immediately images of a circus, Paul Lynde and sherbet began assaulting my head. I don’t remember the exact words I uttered when a beaming Preston held up his new purchase, anticipating my ecstatic reaction of applause and approval. I think it went something like, “I hate it.” Yikes.
Just as I often know exactly what I want, I also have a terrible habit of saying exactly what’s on my mind at the time. Usually minus a sensitivity filter. I wasn’t trying to be mean, just honest, but unfortunately I lacked the finesse to get my point across in a delicate way.
He wasn’t happy. With me. The shirt. I failed him and myself. I immediately took offense with his choice, and instead of acknowledging his effort and desire to create an outfit he felt good in, I chose to nip it in the bud and set it on fire with a resounding “no.” Did I think the lavender shirt was the wrong choice? Yes. Did I wish he had stayed with the blue? Yes. Did I handle the situation correctly. Definitely not. Here, I learned that impulse does not always work in my favor. And even honesty can sting if delivered in a hurtful way.
Someone once told me that honesty should never be brutal … if we’re trying to communicate a truth, why on earth would we want to take someone’s spirit down in the process? Honesty should be helpful, hopeful, even transformative. I clearly forgot that message when I threw my little tantrum the other day. Instead, my tone made him question his style instincts and pretty much ruined his outfit. Thankfully, we talked it through and, in the end, salvaged the suit and my reputation.
He returned the lavender shirt and got a blue one with slightly purplish tones. It looks great, and I think he’s happy again about his outfit. And I learned a valuable lesson in communication. One I hope to continue to honor as our relationship progresses… for better, for worse.
Blog post by Always a Bridesmaid Contributor Darren Elms.
Photos courtesy of Brooks Brothers and Moods of Norway.
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