Roundup: Butch Wedding Style


It’s June. It’s Pride. It’s spring/summer, and all of a sudden, I’m noticing handsome people of butch, masculine of center, and/or other queer persuasions walking around in bowties, vests, and other dapper accessories, and making Brooklyn so much brighter in spite of all the dreary rain.

It’s difficult to describe butch identity succinctly, because it’s broadly self-determined, and because I’m not butch. But I’ve long appreciated those who are, those who lean more towards the masculine side of gender and gender expression. So when Meg asked if Aly and I would be interested in putting together style suggestions for a butch/femme wedding, the virtual ink wasn’t even dry on the email before I started swooning over tie tacks.

I think the best part of wedding planning for my partner K has been getting fitted for a custom-made suit and dress shirts. We’ve spent maybe five times as much on her outfit as we have on mine, and certainly way more than either of us has spent on clothing to this date. And it’s been entirely worth it, because fashion historically hasn’t been kind to those who are female-bodied and interested in expressing a more masculine gender identity. Men’s clothes rarely accommodate for breasts and hips, and women’s clothes are generally too feminine.

I have it relatively easy: even though I’m not particularly fashion forward, and even though most stores don’t carry my size, I can still find dresses, and I like women’s shoes, and my gender expression fits decently into larger societal expectations (as long as those include clogs). So, what do you wear to get married if you’re butch, masculine of center, transmasculine, not-quite-butch, butch-on-the-inside, genderqueer, or none of the above, but just not the dress type? Over the past few years, clothiers have cropped up that feature more masculine clothing specifically tailored for different bodies. Seeing how pleased K looks with herself when she wears well-fitting clothes, when she looks the way she feels, makes me hope the trend continues. Because everyone should be able to wear clothes that celebrate their gender expression, whether they’re getting married or waiting for the L train.

1. At Bindle & Keep, LGBTQ clothier specialist works with a client (Prices Vary) 2. Penguin Men’s Clifton Gingham Tie  ($37.12) 3. K totally perked up when she saw Jay Gatsby’s collar bar ($15) 4. Something blue! (No longer available, but these Cole Haan Wingtips are a close second. $198) 5. Hidden message collar stays. A sweet morning-of gift, and this might actually work for K, who refuses to wear jewelry (price not available) Not Pictured 6. Mack Weldon Sock/Shirt/Brief Combo. I asked K what she will wear to get married, and she said she’s starting with unders and socks from these guys. They’re amazing, she says. ($80) 7. Engravable belt buckle from Tuckernuck ($95) 8. I would like K to open a whole boatload of oysters at our wedding with this German anchor knife. ($29.95) 9. Seersucker suit with matching vest! From J.Crew ($298)

And for custom-fitted suits, consider:

Bindle & Keep

Saint Harridan


Roundup: Ties That Don’t Suck, Vol. 1

Roundup: Wedding Bowties

For more Butch Wedding Style, check out our Queer Wedding Style Pinterest Board

Elisabeth Snell works in public health in New York City, and writes about her upcoming legally binding wedding clambake as one of APW’s 2013 Writing Interns.

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  • Laurel

    For anyone in the Bay Area or Portland, I can’t recommend Duchess Clothier enough. Tomboy Tailors is also supposed to be awesome, but I haven’t been yet.

    • Emmy

      Yep, we got my fiancé’s suit from Duchess and they were wonderful. I love that they make menswear tailored for the female-shaped body.

    • My fiancé’s suit is also from Duchess. We had a great experience and the suit is super-dapper.

  • Maple

    LOVE this. When my butch partner and I got married she really struggled to find clothes that fit her well and fit the occasion. Just a tip to any others in the same boat- my partner ended up buying dress pants and a vest on sale at a department store and took them to a local tailor. He only charged us $40 to take the clothes apart and re-sewed them for her body. She looked HOT on our wedding day :)

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Where are you? We read over and over again about how important tailoring is, yet any time I’ve taken something to a tailor, it’s cost more than the new clothes themselves.

  • [is just now discovering that there is such a thing as a collar bar]

  • Ann

    Wow, this is great! We’re having an opposite-sex wedding, but one of our groomswomen is butch, and she’s been trying to find something to wear (she’s rarely if ever in formal wear, and doesn’t want to wear a tux). Of course, she’ll probably layer with huge chunky jewelry to femme it up ever so slightly, but all of this is totally her style.

  • ruth

    While waiting in line for our duplicate marriage license at city hall today, the butch member of the adorable LGBT couple up ahead of us was wearing this crisp white collered shirt and crisp white tailored slacks – it was such a rocking butch take on the traditional wedded in white theme, and she was radiating such joy in it, it just made me happy to see

  • Lauren

    I just got married to my wonderful partner of 5 years on June 1 (!!). We are a butch-femme couple. I wore a white lacy wedding dress and she wore a beautiful suit from Express for Men – they have really wonderful, hip suits that seemed to work with her figure, even though she has slight hips and curves.
    She also went suit shopping with her Dad <3 which is really wonderful.

    • Aly Windsor

      Yes, my partner also loves Express for Men’s dress pants!

  • oakland femme

    Love this!

    My (butch) partner and I are in the “pre-engaged” state, but are talking about a beach wedding. As a result, I think we won’t be wearing super formal clothes – probably a sundress for me and some sort of casual shirt/pant combo for her.

    However, we do have occasion to attend more formal weddings. Her biggest problem is finding things in the right size, as she’s only 5’2″. Currently she wears a suit from the boys’ department at Macy’s. Someday she’ll probably get it tailored, but it looks okay right now. Tomboy Tailors is local to us but probably out of our price range, sadly…

  • Amber

    My partner also found a suit at Express, and after searching high and low (and all over the city) we found a vest to match the suit at a tux shop. We went in on a whim because she really wanted a classy vest but the few that we could find in black at any department stores were either huge (men’s, and even the boys), or super girly (highly undesirable for her!). And we couldn’t find a three-piece suit in our price range that didn’t look awkward on her. So we tentatively checked out a tux shop. They were really friendly and brought out several options and cuts, and even a few that were made for women–they sold vests that catering companies and nice restaurants dress their (male and female) servers in, which isn’t even something I would have thought about before. Anyways, I just thought I’d throw that out there in case anyone else has ever tried to find a vest and had problems!

    • Elisabeth

      Oh such a good tip, Amber!

  • I am so honored to that my little brass collar stays are featured here, and yes, they make great personalized gifts. I am sorry you could not see the price in my store on etsy, it’s because I am going away for a few weeks and could not take any special orders, but they are $26 in hammered brass and $62 in sterling silver.
    Great blog, and thanks again!

    • PS. You would be able to order them after July 20th 2013.

  • Jen

    This may not interest everyone, but probably some! Lisa Eldridge has a make-up tutorial on how to do a more androgynous/masculine look. It seems like it would be great if you’re not particularly girly, but still want to look polished on the big day and in the photographs. It’s here:

  • manuscriptgeek

    So what do you all suggest for my genderqueer partner who has learned to hate all formal dress due to ridiculous familial expectations, and therefore is almost as uncomfortable with the idea of a nice suit as with the idea of a dress?

    • Julia Canuck

      You could explore clothing styles worn by people from other cultures. For example, there are endless styles and colors of Indian or Pakistani cotton “suits,” which are more of a tunic style, less structured than traditional suits, and can be worn either as a dress or with pants.

      • manuscriptgeek

        Huh. I don’t think adopting from other cultures would suit us, but we’re talking about using the Jewish kittel, a traditional white robe worn over clothing by Jewish men on their weddings and on important holidays. (And in their coffins, but that’s beside the point.) Partner could wear the kittel over tailored trousers, a button-down suit, and something like those magnificent Cole Haan wingtips above. I would love that. (I wonder if we could find a cheaper, but similar, pair. Partner is morally opposed to spending more than $60 on an article of clothing…)

    • Assuming that going really casual isn’t an option, is there a gender-fuck or androgymous direction that could work? As in, perhaps the blending of two formals in a transgressive way would make the formality easier to deal with (but that, of course, could open up its own bucket of worms.)

      Or in a less confrontational style, something vaguely theatrical/avant-garde, for example, like Tilda Swinton wearing almost by Haider Ackermann that involves pants. (I keep looking at the tildaswintonwearsasuit tumblr lately) A wedding is a performance of a sort, after all, why not pick your own costume?

  • I have nothing constructive to add except, this is very hot. Thank you.

  • Kat

    I do not work for this company, just really happy with their stuff. Another great online tailor that is a bit more affordable than Indochino is Tailor4less. We bought G’s plaid grey suit for my sister’s wedding from that site last year, and he’s using it for our wedding this year, and it was easy, fast, REALLY affordable for a custom suit and he looks hot in it! Also, it was the only option for a guy who is 6’4″ and as skinny as a rail with 8% body fat (it’s ridiculous). They also do really great tailoring for women if you’re more on the femme side and are desperate for good fitting dress shirts and pencil skirts.

  • I just want to say how delighted and thankful us Bindle & Keep folks are to be included in this post. For those of you who aren’t familiar with our company, it was founded by my (boss and friend!) Daniel Friedman in part because he knows first-hand the woes of having to shop in the boys’ department as an adult. As an LGBTQ clothier, I visit clients at their apartments, offices or favorite well-lit bars and bring along hundreds of fabrics and my pink measuring tape. I know how to measure women for men’s (or more androgynous) garments, and it’s straight-up my dream to help put queer people across the spectrum in clothes that make them feel good. Please e-mail me if you have any questions:! And thanks again, Elisabeth!

    • Elisabeth

      The pleasure was all mine, Rachel! Walking into our apartment and seeing you measuring K’s bicep was pretty much the highlight of my year. See you soon!

  • Alexandra

    I live in San Francisco and I just ordered my first custom suit from Kipper Clothiers. I couldn’t make it to them so they sent some cute butches to my house! They had a lot of really nice fabrics and lining options and they were really nice and helpful. I recommend them.