Captain Caftan

I’m somewhat sympathetic with larger men in Taiwan. Several were among the students I taught over the years. Like them, I had trouble finding clothes that fit on the local market. I would use occasional trips to North America as buying runs in thrift stores and then wear clothes I basically hated for the next couple years until I could make another run. The shirts I wore were ugly and the pants rather worn out, but at least they fit. 

A recent humorous article in the New Yorker, about a guy trying on a Caftan and visiting different restaurants, banks and such places in Manhattan, came to mind when I donned a new shirt this morning.  The last time I purchased a new shirt (actually new, not at a thrift store) was a few years ago, and lately I’d found it to be a bit tight. A nearby store was having a sale on dress shirts so I got 3, and tried each of them on after getting home. They were all easy to put on, so we ran them through the wash and hung them in the closet. 

This morning I put one on. It felt rather large. I looked in the mirror and marveled at all of the fabric that was covering me. The cuffs are easy to fasten, as is the collar to button, but I think that’s because the thing is actually too big. Before heading off to church, I covered my new shirt with an old sweater.

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I was part of the bell choir today, which involved wearing a robe and a beautiful purple scapular. But it turned out to be warm. The robe looked like a real caftan, the sweater was a bit bulky, and I had my oversize shirt and a T-shirt under those. Following the postlude, when I finally “dis-robed”, it was with a great sigh of relief. It was almost pleasant to go out in the cold.

What I ought to do is go to a quality haberdasher’s shop and be properly measured and fitted for a shirt, then buy that size, and that size only. At least it should fit. Or, conversely and perhaps more easily, I should put on several kilos and grow into what I’ve recently purchased. 


David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.

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