Three-Button Suit

In Attire
Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Three-button suit from Italy
Three-button suit from Italy

My father immigrated to the US from the Basilicata region of Southern Italy in 1963. He was a tailor by trade, and got his first job doing alterations at Sax Fifth Avenue in New York City, before becoming a men's clothing salesmen in Jersey City. He never stopped plying his trade, though, for customers at the shop, or his children. He made my and my siblings' clothes when we were young, and occasionally even our Halloween costumes. Even into our adulthood, he would often make alterations for us as needed. When he died in New Jersey in 2007, I knew there was only one thing I'd want of his: an article of his clothing. I choose this wool, Italian-made, three-button, brown pinstripe suit, which he had altered himself. It was out of fashion at the time, with its wide lapel and pleated pants, but classic. When I returned home to Nashville, I took it to my favorite tailor in town, Al Bermudez, himself an immigrant like my father. I asked him to alter the suit to fit me, whatever the cost. He did an incredible job, including mending a cigarette burn -- my dad was a smoker -- on the right sleeve. I still wear the suit on occasion, most notably to an Italian fashion exhibition opening at the then-Frist Center for the Visual Arts in 2015. My father never taught me his trade, but I did purchase a sewing machine a few years ago, enrolled in a class, and have since become mildly proficient at hemming pants and taking in shirts. I hope to one day make an outfit or two for my daughters.

Place(s): New York, Jersey City, Nashville
Year: 1963

– Joe Pagetta

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant