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Being short in stature and wider of waist than I’d like, I had lost count of the times a pair of trousers that fitted round the middle came with legs twice the length required. Then, Slater Menswear opened on George Street.
I was reminded of this when a ‘make-over’ shot, taken for a feature in the News many moons ago, popped up in my Facebook memories the other day.
Wearing a deliberately loud 'before' ensemble (more clashing primary colours than a Play School presenter) to get the full benefit of my contrasting 'after' look, I have to wonder how I got away with such a hideous ensemble in my wardrobe. Today, black is my colour of choice more often or not.
In turn, that FB post reminded me of my introduction to Slater Menswear, the Edinburgh branch comes of age this year, having opened 21 years ago.
Back in 2001, I was dispatched to discover what this new clothes outlet, the first of its kind in the Capital, had to offer - their Glasgow store had already achieved a fabled status.
It was on that first visit I met two legends of the menswear world, Peter Chesney and Sandy Bisset - easily the best double-act in the city at one time, they had dressed the rich and famous for years.
These guys made clothes shopping painless and for that I will forever be grateful. Over the years they have made it a bit of an adventure, I never know what I might come out with... usually something I'd never have imagined wearing.
For that feature, the company’s press office supplied images of John Inman and Frank Thornton recreating their Are You Being Served? roles in another Slater store and, if memory serves, it was one of those pictures that started the Edinburgh branch’s now famous 'Celebrity Corner', which boasts photos of actors, politicians, pop stars as well as the good and great of Edinburgh, usually with either Peter or Sandy by their side. In some, they're both present, posing with everyone from Ian Rankin to Grant Stott and Sean Connery.
These days, it's just Peter as Sandy has retired, but his legacy remains, especially when I look back at some of the combinations he managed to get me into - only one didn't work, golden elephant cords and a bottle green jacket that made me look like I'd come straight from the ‘Family Estate’. In his defence, the cords were my idea.
Others proved more popular. An embroidered, shiny blue jacket I’d never have given a second look is commented upon when ever I wear it. Likewise, a blue checked suit, another I'd never have taken off the hanger, is now a favourite, but then these guys know their stock - you can tell by the way they can guess your waist correctly before measuring it.
Best of all, however, is that as I begin to shrink with age, even if the legs of trousers that fit my waist can be rolled up and worn as leg-warmers, it doesn't matter, there’s an alterations department on site.
So happy birthday Slater Menswear, thanks for taking the pain out of sartorial elegance.