Miles' Grey Suits

by Caroline Wong

This was originally posted to the lois-bujold mailing list in May 1999.

Miles stepped through the ornate wooden doors leading to the hallowed atelier of Jean Pierre Condini, Couturier to the High Vors - formerly his man in Hadassar. He was the only man Miles ordered suits from and no one else could clothe Miles so splendidly while hiding the imperfections of his all too short body. He was also Miles best kept secret until the-countess-his-mother let slip to Lady Alys who told Gregor and now monsieur is in Vorbarr Sultana courted by moneyed Vors who told him he is a genius while they poured marks and favours into his hands.

M. Condini rose to meet him and ushered him to the center of the crowded room. Minions milled around doing...what minions do. Miles explained that he was here to commission three suits in the brown and silver Vorkosigan colours.

"Brown!," M. Condini cried horrified. "No, not brown! You'll look like a half-thawed cryo-corpse in brown! It just isn't your colour."

"It's the Vorkosigan house colours," Miles explained.

"I know, " the glorified tailor sniffed. "They look like Hershey bars in their uniforms."

The minions murmured appreciative laughter. Miles suppressed a brief fantasy of having M. Condini lined up against a wall and shot. With his client list, the man was probably more fire proof than he was. He also couldn't just flounce out of here with a, "Fine! I'll take my business elsewhere" either. Miles fixed a sere smile onto his face instead.

"Ah, what would you suggest?"

"You're a winter," M. Condini decided firmly. He reached up to a shelf and brought down a stack of coloured cloths.

Winter?! But I don't even like cold, Miles thought.

M. Condini tossed a hot turquoise piece over his chest and directed his attention to the large mirror with a wave of his hand. "See how it brings out the colour of your eyes and clears your complexion..." he whips it off "..while the Vorkosigan brown makes them look muddy." He flipped a rich burgundy over Miles and the minions cooed their admiration. Miles ruthlessly divested M. Condini of the pile and started speed flipping through it, ignoring the man as he fluttered around making helpless cease-and-desist noises.

There were all sorts of bright colours - lemon yellow, true red, lavender, icy green and, ack!, fuschia, hot pink and magenta. The, um, less colourful colours were on the bottom of the pile. He paused a moment over the emerald green. It was almost like the forest green of the Imperial uniforms but not quite. Miles wasn't sure if it would match or clash with Imperial green and he wasn't about to ask M. Condini. He drew out the navy blue and grey swatches. After considering them a moment, he smiled ironically and handed the grey one to the haberdasher. It was labelled true grey with no overtones of blue or yellow.

"Three suits in that colour," Miles instructed.

"Very well," M. Condini whipped out his notebook. "And what complementary colours would you like?"

"Three suits in just grey," Miles said.


"Grey. Just grey."


"Just. Grey.", Miles gritted.

"Very well, m'lord." M. Condini wisely closed his mouth on further protests.

Two weeks later, Miles was trying on his new grey suits, freshly delivered to Vorkosigan House. Each was amazingly well constructed, rich with subtle details and different markedly from each other even though they hung perfectly on him, wore comfortably and did marvellous tricks to the eye. The label said the cloth was wrinkle, stain and odour resistant. Miles decided he could forgive the man anything.

The comconsole chimed.

"M'lord, I just received the bill from M. Jean Pierre Condini, Couturier," Tsipis said, "and I was wondering if there's a mistake. It is ten times what he usually charges you." Ten time more than when he was our man in Hadassar, you mean, Miles thought.

"It's okay. Please pay the bill," Miles managed to choke out and cut the com. Yes, he should have had the man shot - or better yet, Audited.

© 1999 by Caroline Wong (

Current version by Michael Bernardi,

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Last updated: November 15th 2002