A friend was discussing travelling tailors when he mentioned one who’d recently scheduled his London visit over a weekend, rather than during the week. My friend shook his head in disbelief and said, “Who is going to see a tailor at the weekend, when they’ll have to admit to their wife where it is they’re going?” In that moment I discovered that there is a brotherhood of men who are less than entirely honest about their shopping habits.
Everyone knows that women frequently hide their clothing purchases from their husbands, but we men are guilty of the same. Last month I mentioned to the menswear writer G. Bruce Boyer how, that morning, a rather frosty atmosphere had settled over my breakfast table after my wife inadvertently discovered that, later in the day, I was to be fitted for a new Shetland jacket by my tailor. Mr Boyer wrote back to me, “I’m sorry to hear about your Shetland. Every time my wife asks me if I’m wearing a new jacket I brush it aside with, ‘You mean this old thing? God, I’ve had it forever. I’m surprised you never noticed it before.’” He then reassured me by saying, “It’s a relatively harmless obsession, as far as obsessions go, isn’t it?”
Following this I was in a haberdasher’s last week and mentioned to the manager that I didn’t need my new ties boxed, because if they were discreetly wrapped in tissue paper and placed in my bag it would be easier to smuggle them home without attracting the attention of my wife. The manager laughed, and said, “You all do it! I used to have a customer [the manager used to work for shirt maker Emma Willis] who’d buy bespoke shirts ten at a time, but then screw them up and stuff them into a laundry bag to take them home, so that his wife wouldn’t notice.”
No wonder Mr Tom Wolfe calls it ‘The secret vice’.