Stories Told

My $8 suit

I love a bargain.

My sons know that when we’re out shopping that if there’s a clearance sale, they need to steer me away or it’ll be hours before we get home.

But the biggest bargain I ever landed was my suit.

My employer took Halloween seriously. The executive team always dressed in matching costumes; I’ll never forget the year they all dressed as waiters, in black slacks with white shirts and bow ties, with white towels draped over their right forearms. They walked around the building serving donuts and coffee to every employee. In the afternoon, we had a big party with a costume contest. Almost everybody dressed for it.

Gomez Addams

I was one of the few holdouts. I don’t enjoy Halloween and I hate wearing costumes. But my department wanted to dress as The Addams Family, and with my head of black hair I was the obvious choice to be Gomez.

My co-workers asked. Then they pleaded. When they started begging, I could see that it would be less embarrassing for all concerned if I just went along.

But I knew that Gomez always wore a dark pin-striped suit, and I didn’t own one. The suit I did own was hip and stylish for the time: dark green and double breasted. I looked fierce in it, like a mafia don. But there was no way I was going to pass for Gomez Addams in it.

What does a suit cost? $200 for a cheap one? I didn’t see dropping that kind of cash just for a Halloween costume. Desperate, I visited a Goodwill store. I figured I’d have to visit every one in the city, and even if I did find a suit that would work, it’d probably be ratty and ill-fitting.

But there it hung, looking like new: a charcoal pin-striped suit. And except for the slacks being a bit tight and the sleeves being a tad short, it fit. And it cost just $8!


I was married to an accomplished seamstress, who let out the pants and lengthened the sleeves in no time flat. I slicked my hair back with Vaseline, painted on a mustache with my wife’s mascara, dug out a narrow black tie my dad wore back in the ’60s, and headed off to work for Halloween fun. Everybody said I really nailed my costume. It’s sad that I never got a photo.

I’m still using my $8 suit. It’s a classic that will never go out of style, like my mafioso suit did. I’ve worn it to every interview, wedding, and funeral for going on 15 years now. I figure I wear it about four times a year, which works out to about 13 cents per wearing!

It makes my miserly heart swell.

So tell me: what was your biggest bargain?


14 thoughts on “My $8 suit

  1. I’m a bargain hunter, too – I blame it on my half-Hollander genes. I routinely scour St. Vincents and Goodwill for books, but one day I expanded my search and scored an Armani skirt for $5. I was agog and dashed to the checkout with my find. Same thing for me – it’s perfect for job interviews, weddings and funerals.

  2. I have become addicted to consignment shops. While pricier than thrift stores, the organization of the clothing is better. I shopped once at Goodwill and nearly had a nervous breakdown – but the prices were awesome! I have a friend who’s a thrift shop pro – she saved my sanity.

    • I used to have more patience for thrift/consignment shopping but not so much anymore. I’ve gotten to the point where I want to buy the same things over and over because it’s faster. For example, I found that Lands’ End jeans fit me really well, so I just quit buying all other jeans and just order them straight from Lands’ End. No thrift prices there, unfortunately.

    • I’m surprised you saw this. It’s an old piece I fixed a bug in today; it was shared to my FB and Twitter for just a couple minutes before I deleted it! I’ve gotten a little heavier since I wrote this and now the slacks in this suit are mighty tight.

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