“I’m FTM trans, but I have only recently started to transition and haven’t yet had to dress up for a formal event. Prom is coming up soon and I have no idea how even to wear a suit or a tux. Help!”
- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Anita Dolce Vita as part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions
Congratulations on embarking on this challenging but exciting personal journey of self-empowerment and self-love. For many of us, clothing is an extremely powerful tool in affirming our identities, and not having the resources and support to assist in finding a style that matches who we are on the inside can be anxiety producing. But, we’re here to help!
Society puts less emphasis on masculine attire, leading most people to think that masculine clothing, especially suits, is fairly ordinary and easy to pull off. For example, most conversations about prom and wedding formalwear focus primarily on feminine attire. However, masculine formalwear is actually quite complicated and layered. So much so, in fact, that leading “menswear” magazines have published manuals with entire chapters dedicated to the art of wearing suits and tuxedos. There’s lots to learn about this art, but style experts agree that proper fit is the most important element to execute flawlessly.
But, here’s the issue with fit: Of all the elements, it’s the most difficult to achieve. The Handbook of Style: A Man’s Guide to Looking Good by Esquire Magazine writes, “Are you a ‘drop six’? If you are, you’re a suit maker’s dream: Your chest is six inches larger than your waist. You can wear anything. Sadly, most of us don’t live inside those ideal tailoring measurements.” This means that tailoring formalwear is a necessary (and sometimes expensive) evil for many. Starting out with the best fit possible will minimize the amount of tailoring, if any, you’ll require for off-the-rack suits. (You can also get a suit custom made to your exact needs.) But, you must first know the language of suits (e.g., vents, breaks, single-breasted, etc.) so that you can communicate your fit needs. dapperQ published a very helpful three-part suit manual on Autostraddle to help queer folx negotiate the world of suits. You can find the chapters here, here, and here.
Once you have a good understanding of what it is you’re looking for in terms of fit and price, the next step is to actually go out and find it. Here are some queer and queer-friendly owned formalwear retailers that dapperQ readers swear by:
- Bindle & Keep
- Butch Clothing Company
- Duchess Clothier
- Kipper Clothiers
- Men’s Wearhouse
- Saint Harridan
- Sharpe Suiting
- Town and Country Tuxedo
Of course, if you are not a fashion head and just want to dress in “appropriate” formalwear attire, you can opt for a black suit or tuxedo and dress shoes. Boom, you’re done! But, if you are a style geek and want to stand out from the pack, add some personal touches. Now is the time to take style risks, break the rules, and get creative. Here are some ways to get your suit/tuxedo game on fleek:
- Pair your suit/tuxedo with sneakers, high tops, or studded slippers
- Ditch the flower boutonniere and instead rock a handmade pin, perhaps one made of metal, knit, paper or cloth
- Add colorful, patterned socks
- Since your jacket and pants do not necessarily have to be the same color, wear an evening jacket with non-matching pants
- Wear a suit/tuxedo with patterns and/or bold colors, rather than just reaching for standard black, blue, white, and gray
I have created a Pinterest board to inspire some prom creativity, which you can find here. The most important accessory is confidence. Wear your suit with pride and have a great time. And, don’t forget to share your prom pictures with dapperQ at dapperQ@gmail.com
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