The Great Suit Caper of 2017

My friend Zack got married last Saturday in Greenville, South Carolina. He’s the life of the party wherever he goes, so he has a deep pool of friends. I was one of his 10 groomsmen.

We all ordered matching suits from Jos A Bank (believe it or not they had a special going on). We were told that the suits would be shipped to our house and then we’d just need to go get them tailored.

As of February 25 (two weeks before the wedding), I still hadn’t gotten a suit. So I stopped by Jos A Bank to see what was up. After they called around to a couple of different stores and eventually got in touch with FedEx to track the shipping, we determined that the suit had actually been shipped to my old house in Hillsborough. I haven’t lived there in three years, but Zack apparently didn’t have my current address so that’s what he gave them. So I had to drive up to Hillsborough and knock on their door. Sure enough, my suit had been sitting in their living room for three weeks while they tried to figure out what they were supposed to do with it.

So now I was in a rush to get it tailored so that I could get it back in time. Picked it up just a few days before the wedding and stuck it in my closet with a full three days to spare. Crisis averted.

Fast forward to Saturday. The wedding party was supposed to be at the venue two hours before the ceremony. So there’s all 10 of the groomsmen hanging out in the parking lot. We’d been there about an hour when Sam grabbed my jacket sleeve and held it up next to his.

“Why do our suits look different?” he wanted to know.

They were similar, but slightly different colors, and definitely different texture. I looked around. His suit looked like everybody else’s, mine didn’t. So I peeked inside at my tag.

Van Heusen. Not Jos A Bank.

After all the rushing around and driving to Hillsborough and paying extra to expedite the tailoring, I’d grabbed the wrong suit out of my closet when I was packing. And now I was almost four hours from home with a wedding starting in an hour, and I’m in the wrong suit.

Suffice it to say that the rest of the wedding party got a good laugh out of it. We decided that we wouldn’t be mentioning this to the bride just yet. It’s something that will be funny in a few weeks, but not at that moment.

It turned out to not be a big deal. It was one of those situations where you wouldn’t really know that something was amiss unless you were specifically looking for it. I was the tallest of the ten groomsmen, so I was at the far end of the line during the ceremony, seemingly a football field away from Zack.

And let’s be honest. Nobody at a wedding is paying any attention to Groomsman #10.

So other than the people that I couldn’t resist telling (which actually was quite a few), nobody knew the difference. We’ll see how the pictures look in a few weeks.

But in a lot of ways, that whole situation reminds me of a retirement plan.

In any given year (assuming your portfolio is invested intelligently), you’re going to have some investments that perform incredibly well. And you’re going to have some that aren’t looking so great—investments that are wearing the wrong suit, if you will.

But that’s ok. Because the next year, that investment that performed incredibly well this year might be in the toilet. And this year’s stinker might be the winner next year. That’s why you don’t go all-in on any one particular strategy,.

To quote my friend Bob Payne at Payne Capital Management, “I don’t know what asset class is going to be up in value next year, but I know that our portfolios are going to have some of it.”

If you’re having a wedding, it’s inevitable that something is going to go wrong along the way. (Hopefully I won’t be the one responsible for it every time). But if the sound system is working and the bride doesn’t trip and fall and the food is good, nobody is going to notice the goober in the Van Heusen suit who’s supposed to be wearing Jos A Bank.

In your portfolio, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have something that goes wrong. But as long as you planned well, you’re going to have a lot more things that turn out just fine.

Anyway, sorry about that, Zack and Nicole. I’m sure you’ll still make beautiful children anyway.