(2 of 2)
Agustina, like Alexander, sat me down at a special desk and insisted I take a bottle of branded water. Then she showed me hundreds of swatches that ran the gamut of self-consciously bizarre names, from Bitched From the Start (a Patti Smith lyric) to Adlai Stevenson. (J. Edgar Hoover is not the gayest pattern in the store; that would be Curaçao.) After considerable deliberation, I went with a pink-and-blue stripe called Equal Rights in a single-button cuff and a dark black-and-blue pattern called Levev in Napoleonic style.
Then Agustina measured me for 20 minutes—which was awesome. My right arm is one-quarter of an inch longer than my left, which she would note for the tailors in Italy. Such asymmetry can make a difference in a shirt's appearance if it's not factored in, but, Agustina assured me, it's physiologically normal. "Yesterday I had a customer with a three-quarters of an inch difference," she said. "He was a little bit of a freak."
She also checked out the slope of my neck, made sure I didn't wear a watch (lest she add a quarter of an inch to the cuff) and finally asked whether I felt uncomfortable about anything—you know, bodywise. Now, I'm not in the Burt Reynolds or Sean Connery league, but I did confess to a rogue tuft of chest hair in the spot between the top two buttons of a traditional dress shirt. If I wear a tie, no one knows. If I don't, I look like Teen Wolf. Agustina suggested this could be remedied with a shirt that sat slightly further back on my shoulders. I felt unburdened.
The shirts arrived after about four weeks, and I cracked them open knowing that when I put them on, no one else in the world would be dressed quite like me. I convinced myself I looked a little like James Bond in my Pink 170, and the colors in Levev and Equal Rights pop far more than on any of my off-the-rack shirts. Most of all, though, they actually fit. And it's amazing how style becomes almost irrelevant when clothes look like they were made for you and you alone.