If there’s one thing life has shown me, it’s that no one is normal, no matter how hard they try to seem like they are. Away from the gaze of the public and our most judgmental friends and family, we all have that one thing we love that no one understands. It’s the one thing we would defend to death if we had to.
Mine, as it turns out, is the douchey, impractical, and completely un-Singaporean white suit.
Up until recently, I never knew how weird I was for liking something that’s apparently only appropriate for Asian pop stars, husbands-to-be on their wedding day, or fancy dress parties.
But is it really so weird?
Both Brad Pitt and Michael Jackson have worn one. Morgan Freeman, who plays God in Bruce Almighty, also wore one.
Yet according to all my colleagues here at Rice, none of these reasons are good reasons. I, according to them, am just a humble intern at a modest digital publication. I should not name myself alongside cultural icons, Hollywood superstars, and viral sensations.
Amongst other compelling reasons, I’m told that I would never pull off a white suit. I would look like ridiculous. I wouldn’t even survive a few hours given the kind of weather we have.
The first thing you should know is that there is no trick to pulling off something as loud, awkward, and incongruous as a white suit. You simply do it like you do everything else: while wilfully, blissfully ignorant of how everyone else responds to how you look.
Even then, I don’t find myself getting that many stares. Most look up only temporarily from whatever it is they’re doing, only to go back to staring at their phones about two seconds later. At one point, a lady comes up to me, all bubbly and radiating positive energy, and asks me who the lucky woman is.
I play along, and tell her it’s a man, not a woman I’m marrying. She nods with enthusiasm, not realising that nothing I say is remotely true. More importantly, she doesn’t notice the streak of kopi across one of my pant legs (and thank god for that, because who knows how she might react to the possibility of this completely ruining my big day).
See, I might have all the confidence it takes to pull off wearing something this hysterical. But I am also a klutz.
All the same, I keep feeling like I have something to prove. And so I do. I take the bait. Amidst everyone’s smirking and taunting, I order curry just to prove myself.
Contrary to everyone’s expectations, I survive. There are no stains on my jacket or sleeves.
Upon finishing my food, I sit in silence, having decided that I will be the bigger person. I resist the temptation to rub this accomplishment in everyone’s faces, content in the knowledge there is now at least one gentleman in this company.
Or rather, someone says something that results in someone being pushed and then two or more people laughing and not really seeing where they’re going and then shouldering someone else who falls into the path of my editor who just so happens to have decided to take the lid off his latte.
At least this is what it looks like. With everyone laughing and no one apologising, it’s hard to believe that this wasn’t at least planned in some way.
Like I said, idiots.
It isn’t so much the fact that I stick out in public that makes me feel I need to behave a certain way, thereby limiting my movements. Instead, it’s the reality that suits really aren’t made for you to do that much in.
Who cares that I’ve dirtied a sleeve, a pant leg, a second sleeve, and that my blazer has sealed in a dense layer of sweat not unlike the juice of an expertly roasted chicken? I no longer want to be clean or cool. I just want to move.
Everything strains but nothing splits. I am literally trapped in a stretchy white skin.
Anyone can buy themselves a suit in grey, navy, or even black. But how many would have the audacity to wear something like this? Even then, would they actually look good in it?
The thing about white suits is that it’s not just about the aesthetic of your attire. It’s also about your attitude. It’s about you telling people that you’re willing to risk it all, that you don’t care if you get coffee on your crotch or sauce on your sleeves.
Sure, the suit gets dirty. But guess what? It’s not the end of the world.
You can always wash it.
After that, it’s like the stains never happened, and I can keep wearing my white suit whenever I want.
So for me at least, I learnt only one lesson through all of this: don’t take crap from anyone.
And don’t let small-minded people convince you that the thing you love is stupid, ridiculous, or impractical.
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