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Today's Tango Thought #136 – The Tailored Suit

The Tailored Suit. (Just roll with the implied, and overt, sexism in this post, there’s a reason for it)

This post is a bit….umm…what’s a good word for it, myopic ? No. Shortsighted ? No. Singular! Yes. It’s also a little frivolous, vain, and seemingly not all that important because it’s all about what the MAN wears. Clothing that makes the man. That said….read on at your own inadequacies or inspiration!

Men!  Jeans and a t-shirt are great for the outdoors. They’re great for fixing the car. Or hanging out in the backyard with your buds with a few cold ones. However there is something that you have yet to learn about t-shirts, clothes, women, and their desires: There is nothing in the world quite like a well-tailored suit on a man! A man in a suit is like candy to a woman. It’s almost like an aphrodisiac! A man in a suit is a statement. It doesn’t matter if a man is out of shape, or in shape, tall, short, old or young. The visage of a man in a 3 piece tailored suit is quite striking. And not just any suit here, but a ‘tailored’ one. One that fits every nuance of the body.

Truthfully, putting on a suit does something to the psyche and the Male psyche at that. There is a sense of care for one’s detailed appearance. There is a sense of social presentation for one’s demeanor and physical person. There is also a sense of regalia and elegance. The suit embodies these ideals and so much more. Tango is an extension of these ideals, elegance, demeanor, social presentation, and decorum. As a result, a man is attentive of his personal grooming, hair, beard, mustache, etc in order to match the suit. This is played out so often that it’s not even funny anymore. So it is only fitting(no pun intended, really) that while the suit is the extension of the man, the grooming is the extension of respect for the space that one occupies, as a result, this same attention is paid to one’s dancing! Out goes the boleos, ganchos, volcadascolgadas, wraps, and whatnot that you unfortunately equate with ‘dancing’ Tango, and in goes walking, milonguero turns, milonguero ochos, argentine crosses (in cross-system). The 4 staples of Close Embrace, DIASS style of dancing! The embrace becomes nearly everything. The music….of course the music….the music becomes the extension of the embrace and dancing small, dancing in a confined, and refined space. This happens not because one’s range of motion has been limited but out of respect for the suit, and what it represents! You want to be elegant in your dancing, because you look elegant in the suit. All this is possible because of the perception of the suit. 

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The Implied or Overt Sexism. In today’s world, and men finally waking up the fact that women are people too. Men today are having their ‘Come to Mary’ moment (as opposed to coming to jesus). There is a sense that the man-in-a-suit world is becoming a dinosaur, an idea of a forgotten age. The dinosaur is that women have no mind of their own (not), the dinosaur is that women go absolutely apeshit for a man in a suit (sometimes, depends on the man, and the woman), the dinosaur is the outdated sexism that is implied or overt in the thought and historical that went into the idea in the first place. So it’s not entirely accurate to state that man in a suit is like candy to a woman. That’s not true. Some women don’t give a rats damn what a man is wearing. And some women do. It really depends on the woman and where and how they were raised and what they’re attuned to. If the man is well-coiffed, groomed nicely, and he happens to be wearing a suit, no matter what gender is looking at this man, that man will appear to be ‘together’, ‘sharp’. So gender aside….the suit, make the modern man. 

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Tango Topics Opinion. Do you have to wear a suit to dance ? No. Many men do not. Is there some written law somewhere that because the Lead is dancing Tango, that he must be in a suit and tie ? No. How about them thar Argentines though….if they’re dancing at a Milonga, how come they’re all dressed up in a 3 piece, and not just any 3 piece but one with the high shirt collars, tight tailored pans that fit precisely over their shoes without creasing them ???? That’s a choice. These men that dress up for their Milongas either to perform or just to social dance have elected to wear these ‘trappings’ for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is that they realize that it makes them look sharp. So let’s dispense with the fact that it’s a rule somewhere. It’s not. It’s a choice. Duh.

Secondly, let’s dispense with the notion that a man wearing a suit (and yes we’ve heard this line of gup, several times) has less embrace “connection” with their Followers than the Lead that isn’t wearing one. We need to unpack that one a bit. 1.) The word “connection” is a frakkin’ fallacy in tango, and it doesn’t mean what you think it does. Please go here and read the verbiage around it and why we say this.  2.) That line of gup is absolute and utter bullsh*t. The reality is that a man wearing a suit is no different from a tango perspective in their physiological contact with their Followers than a man that isn’t wearing one. The reality is that the suit doesn’t get in the way. It’s a perception and an erroneous one at that. If the suit is tailored or trimmed to fit the Man in question, then there should be no gaps or dead space in the suit, which might create physiological zones where the Follower MAY think or believe that they have to compress the embrace a bit more to find the physiological contact points that they’re used to. This assumes that the couple in question is in “Close Embrace” in sternum-to-sternum physiological contact with each other along the Lead’s Gig-Line (the buttons of their shirt create a vertical line which is known in military parlance as a “Gig-line”). The physiological contact points are still there no matter what the man is wearing. It’s not like they magically went away. They didn’t. Most men wear a shirt to dance, and that shirt has the same thickness as a dress shirt. So ummm, that’s a huge misconception.

Thirdly, let’s also dispense with the notion that the range of motion of the Lead is decreased in a suit. That’s again, horse-hockey! Not. The reality is that the range of motion in a tight-fitting suit, one that is well tailored should be like a glove to the body, and there should be no reason that one’s range of motion is impeded at all. Ever. So get that little thought right out of your head.

Next, there’s an old adage that applies to a man in a suit, “Dress to impress”. And that’s precisely what you’re doing. You’re dressing the part of the impressor. You want to create the impression that you respect the Milonga, the history, the embrace dynamic, and the codigos of the Milonga. While you don’t have to wear a suit to do all that, wearing a suit helps project that image. Tango is an arcane dance, and it comes with a few arcane customs. One of those arcane customs is a man in a suit. It’s entirely your choice to wear a suit while dancing.

The reality of wearing a suit while dancing is that you’re going to be hot. Insanely hot. The more you move around, the more you’re going to generate body heat! That’s a fact. There’s a reason why men in suits appear not to move a whole lot while dancing, and this is one of them. We’re not saying that it’s the whole reason, but let’s just say that having worn a suit or two while dancing or performing now and again, that we can safely attest to the fact that the suit, keeps all that body heat in. And all that heat has got to go somewhere! And boy does it ever go somewhere….sweat! And lots of it. Phew.

Still another thing you need to be aware of is the dry cleaning costs of a suit. To put it bluntly that shit adds up. The reality is that wearing it once, and only once because of the sweat, you’re going to get it all ‘dirty’ with all the sweat you’re building up. And for the man that sweats profusely, he’s going to want a change of shirt or shirts to go with the suit. That also gets expensive. At the same time, something else that gets that suit dirty, depending on your point of view: LIPSTICK, PERFUME, And sometimes…even, yes, Makeup with Glitter in it! Uuuuuuuuugh! Nothing says, “I’ve danced with every woman in the room like a man in a suit!….Just look at the trail of glitter, makeup, lipstick, and the waft of multiple perfumes.” That last part is true no matter if the man is wearing a suit or not. Just know that the suit is going to attract even more of that! So the dry cleaning thing is a reality. Therefore having a singular suit ? Not so much with that. Several suits. That’s the key.

Hmmmm…it should be noted that a Tailored suit, is fitted for the time that that body is what it is. Meaning that it is fitted to that particular body in space and time. Bodies change. Duh. So that suit does come with upkeep. Threads come loose. Buttons pop off. You do need to take it in now and again, assuming you’re not handy with a needle and thread. Keeping a suit tidy, sharp, crisp, does take a bit of effort. However, that effort is SOOO worth it when you see the effect that it has on your dancing, and your dancing partners, not to mention the potential dancing partners. Just sayin’….

One more thing, assuming you want to try out this novel idea. You’re going to run into a few variations on a theme as to what kind of suit to get, what happens with the shoes, and how does that work so that you don’t step on your own pant leg, and still another is what to do about the buttons of the suit jacket ? A good starting point for those that want to try out this idea of a suit, is to start with a nice sports jacket that goes well with Jeans and dress pants. That will give you an idea of what you’re getting into. If you like that and can manage that, then you can step up your game to a full rack bought suit. And once you’ve gone down that road, you’re going to want to get a tailored suit. In the states and most of europe, a tailored suit isn’t cheap. You’re going to pay a handsome price for one, but the results are worth the price tag. However in BsAs, and northern italy, that may not necessarily be true. The same goes for handmade shoes. If you stop and you think about it, assuming you’re going down this road a tailored suit is a perfect opportunity to up your shoe game. The sneakers or “Mr. Tango Suede Shoes need to go and be replaced by a nice pair of well…hand made shoes to go with the tailored suit. 🙂 As always YMMV but you may actually enjoy the visage and all the accolades that come with it.

We’ll pass along one more thing, something we learned early on: A suit hides a lot of sins! A LOT! You’ll see what that means when you put on the suit. 😉 Good luck.

  135: New York Tango | 137: The High Season 

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