A fashion dud finally fits in

At age 16 I purchased my first tuxedo. It has hung on me, or in my closet, for 45 years.

The year is 1953. I am a sophomore in high school. The day of my first formal dance is approaching.

I walk into a men's clothing store on East 86th Street in New York City. A sharp-eyed salesman swoops down on me. "A tuxedo? I have the perfect one for you."

Off the rack he takes a double-breasted tuxedo with wide satin lapels. I protest: "No one wears these things anymore." He responds: "The single-breasted tux is a passing phase," on and on he talks.

He has recognized me for what I am: a city bumpkin. At this stage in my knowledge of life and the world, he could sell me the Brooklyn Bridge. Instead, the silver-tongued one sells me the last double-breasted tux in the store, and perhaps the last one sold in the nation.

And so I go to the dance, after purchasing a gardenia corsage for my date. We waltz and waltz, becoming thoroughly dizzy, since I can waltz in one direction only. At other times we fox trot, whatever the music, since the fox trot is the only other dance I know. Throughout the evening I stand out in my double-breasted tuxedo like a remnant from a bygone era.

The years pass. I think about buying a new tuxedo to reflect the times I live in, but why spend hundreds of dollars on an outfit worn a few times a year?

Additional years pass. Then at black-tie events I experience unusual sightings.

First one, and then several men are seen wearing double-breasted tuxedos. The old style is returning. As the 20th century comes to a close, I no longer feel like a member of Tommy Dorsey's band.

Now, at formal events, I receive compliments on my tuxedo. "So elegant!" Miracle of miracles, the pants still fit. They are a little tight, but I can breathe, which is the important thing.

How prophetic you were, Mr. Salesman, wherever you are.

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