Buying Nothing New Challenge: Finding clothes for a wedding

Last Saturday my friends Kristie and Jeremy got married. Weddings are great. Good food. Lots of drink. Young whipper-snappers dancing to polka music. Old farts dancing to Kanye. Everybody doing the chicken dance. Inside jokes during speeches from the maid of honour that nobody gets. Cringe-inducing jokes from the best man about the couple’s sex life in front of the father of the bride. Good times.

It’s also a time to get dressed up in your Sunday best. However, for someone like me, whose Sunday best tends to be clothes most people wouldn’t wear to do gardening in, finding appropriate attire can be a challenge. And add to that the fact that I’m not allowed to buy anything new this year as part of my Buy Nothing New Challenge.

So when last Friday rolled around and I had to figure out what I could wear the next day so people wouldn’t mistake me for a hobo wedding crasher, I started to sweat.

But where there’s a will there’s a way. And with a little creativity, luck and the generousity of others I managed to assemble a satisfactory (if not stylish) set of formal wear.

Dress Shirt: A while back when I was still undergoing cancer treatment, I was on a high dose of prednisone (steroids). One of the side effects was that I couldn’t stop eating. And while I was never morbidly obese, “Fat Josh” was indeed a bigger man. And by the looks of my dress shirts, I think that was the last time I bought new clothes. After trying on many baggy shirts I finally found one that would work—a black, hand-me-down dress shirt I inherited from my friend, Rob. And while the thought of wearing a black shirt under the blazing 30+ sun wasn’t ideal, beggars can’t be choosers.

Socks: Since it was a special occasion I spent a lot of time looking for socks that matched. No dice. In the end I wore one sock that went up to my knee and another just above my ankle. But at least they were both black and seriously, who’s going to know the difference?

Tie: This was a lesson in taking care of your stuff. I own a really nice tie that I wanted to wear to the wedding. Unfortunately, I had worn it to another wedding last year and ruined it by tossing it in the washer and dryer when I wasn’t supposed to. Now it’s all mangled. Note to self: things last longer when you take care of them. I found a back-up tie however and am taking good care of it.

Pants and Jacket: Once again, Rob to the rescue. When Rob became a lawyer he had to upgrade his wardrobe with some better suits more fitting for the courtroom. Knowing that I was a fan of hand-me-downs, I got his old reject suits. The pants fit fine. But being of slightly different builds, the suit jacket sat funny on my shoulders and just looked plain weird. However, since they were a matching set I brought the jacket along anyway. Luckily, last Saturday was piping hot and most of the other guests shed their own well-fitting jackets. Thanks to the heat, I got away with not wearing my jacket at all.

Shoes: My dress shoes represented my greatest challenge. I mentioned in an earlier post how the laces on these shoes had snapped a couple times and were completely frayed. Add to that the fact that my shoes are over 5 years old and definitely look it. The giant scuff mark on the toe of one of the shoes doesn’t help either (the result of biking to work one day with them on and leaning too hard into a turn, causing my toe to scrape against the road).

My only other option was my running shoes, and I had recently worn them in the Spartan Race. Out of the question. So I left the house wearing the only awful pair of dress shoes I own and hoped the reception hall would be very dark.

On the way to the wedding I stopped by at my friends, Shaun and Tina, who would be dogsitting Stockie for the night. As I was putting on my scuffed, frayed and broken shoes to leave I shared with them my dilemma. It was Shaun to the rescue this time as he pulled out a dusty pair of dress shoes from the front closet. They were half a size too big but six billion times nicer than the ones I was going to wear. Things have a way of working out I guess.

Out with the old, in with the new.

I served as the MC that night and was grateful I didn’t feel the need to rush behind the podium to hide my shoes.

But really, in the end, I could have been wearing a burlap sack and I still would have had a blast. It didn’t take long before all the stress and pressure of looking good evaporated. The night was about celebrating Kristie and Jer, having a good time and catching up with old friends. The shoes don’t matter, so long as you can dance in them.

Have you had any wedding-related drama about what to wear?


Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is the author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.

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2 Responses to Buying Nothing New Challenge: Finding clothes for a wedding

  1. Rob says:

    You’ll always be Fat Josh to me.
    I recently wore a shirt to a wedding and one of the buttons popped off as I was reaching under my arm to apply deodorant. It was minutes before the ceremony and I decided I didn’t have enough time to fix it. I ended up dancing the night away with a big smile on my face while the stodgier looking dudes in sharp suits stood on the edge of the dance floor frowning. In the end, the cliché is true: it’s what’s inside that counts. I’ll take Josh in a burlap sack as an MC over a sharply dressed douchebag any day.
    Your pal,

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