November 30, 2013

"Rachel Tutera... runs a blog called The Handsome Butch."

"Daniel Friedman... makes custom men’s suits, mostly for corporate clients in his end of Park Slope, Brooklyn."
When she wrote to him last year, seeking a sales job, she had a proposition: Why couldn’t Mr. Friedman, with his expertise in men’s suits, make them for women like her — not women’s suits, but the same gear he was making for guys, with the same masculine profile, but fitted to women’s bodies? It was a question he had never considered.
That's an excerpt from an article in the NYT, and here's the blog, The Handsome Butch, which is very aesthetically pleasing and makes an immediate visual argument that females can look quite naturally attractive in man-tailored clothes.

From the NYT article:
What is the meaning of a man’s suit? Every day men disappear into them, as into uniforms. In wool and creased flannel, the suits tell a story of power and belonging. When Ms. Tutera approached Mr. Friedman, she offered a new twist on that story.

“We started looking at these weddings from Maine, because it had legalized gay marriage,” he said. “And these women who were getting married in these tuxedos looked ridiculous. They looked awful. The suits were giant. And I can only imagine these people going into a Brooks Brothers in Maine and saying, ‘I want a men’s suit that’s going to fit me,’ and I can imagine how uncomfortable it was for both sides.”
Note the statement that "men disappear" into suits, so it's not just those women in tuxedos who look "ridiculous." Everyone looks better in clothes that fit properly. No one...

... almost no one... wants his body lost inside a giant suit. But there is the meaning of "disappear" that means — as the NYT acknowledged — I am powerful and I belong here amongst the powerful. Not all men in a suit "disappear" that way. Some disappear into: I'm forced to wear this thing because of the occasion and I don't really belong here. They're like the lesbian in the wedding tuxedo that bothered Mr. Friedman.

Do your clothes fit? Do you fit your clothes? If not, why not? Is it is the clothes, is it you, or is it what you are doing?


Tom said...

Never lie to your lawyer or trailer.

madAsHell said...

The included picture looks cartoon-ish.

I tried to follow the link for a larger picture, but the link is broken.

Illuninati said...

Sorry. I like the suits but I don't see power. The models look more like adolescent boys dressed in their Sunday finery than powerful executives.

MadisonMan said...

If your goal is to confuse people who meet you ("I wonder if this person named Chris is male or female") then by all means wear a suit.

I notice the collar stays at the link say "Never" and "Conventional". How brave to wear these counter-sexual clothes! What a great statement, you tedious old biddies.

Anyway, being unconventional is so passe. The new thing is to Care Passionately and be Right-Wing. I'm so sure Susan would agree.

betamax3000 said...

Makes Me Think of David Byrne's Big Suit Back in the Talking Heads Era.

SGT Ted said...

Men's suits in the USA are mostly dull and boring, except for true Formal wear. They have been since they got rid of hats for men.

Ooh skinny ties! Oh now wide ties! Wide lapels, skinny lapels! Skinny pants, baggy pants! Same look, different cut.

How. Fucking. Boring.

Same shit, different fashion day.

Zoot Suits at least try to add some flair.

Ann Althouse said...

"I tried to follow the link for a larger picture, but the link is broken."

Try it now.

St. George said...

Re: the article's reference to buttons.

Invented by 9th century Hungarian tribes, they came into widespread use in the 13-14th centuries.

No one knows why men's and women's buttons are on different sides of shirts. Some say it's because wealthy women (the early button adopters) were dressed by servants or because it make breastfeeding easier for right-handed women. As for men, male button placement supposedly enabled men to tuck their right hands into coat pockets, keeping them warm and thereby readier to stab, hack, and slash villains.

One thing is certain—the buttonless world of antiquity made life a simpler place for those with gender issues.

RecChief said...

if it's a woman marrying another woman, why does one feel the need to dress like a man?

Also, any bespoke suit should look great. but personally, I think the giantic shoulders in the picture make the wearer look ridiculous.

Ann Althouse said...

"Sorry. I like the suits but I don't see power. The models look more like adolescent boys dressed in their Sunday finery than powerful executives."

That may be true of the pics at the NYT. The models at the blog are selling the look better, as models do.

What do these clothes really look like when a regular person is living in them? That's always a question you need to ask when you're looking at fashion photography. Unless you're just enjoying the fantasy. If you're actually considering wearing something, you need to look critically. The models are almost surely much thinner than you are, and they pose and arrange everything so that it only looks good. And they don't reveal whether anything feels good or bad.

Ann Althouse said...

@betamax3000 Click on the picture I included (now that I've fixed the broken link).

betamax3000 said...

From the article:

For most of her life, Ms. Tutera said, this meant choosing between clothes that did not fit her physique and those that did not fit her sense of self.

Then in 2010, she went to a tailor in Midtown to have a men’s suit made for her. It cost $1,500, a towering sum.

“I was trembling to be there,” she said. Where women’s clothing tends to accentuate the hips and breasts, she said, she wanted a silhouette like a man’s. She bound her breasts to make them less prominent (she has since had surgery to remove them).

The most interesting information here is consigned to parentheses.

betamax3000 said...

@betamax3000 Click on the picture I included (now that I've fixed the broken link).


MadisonMan said...

Tedious young biddies might be more accurate. I forget my age sometimes.

Anyway, that the woman in the NYTimes got her breasts lopped off so her clothes drape in a more pleasing way to her? Waste of resources, IMO, but hey, it's her money, and I'm sure the doctor was happy to take it. I'm chuckling that the Times mentions the cost of the suit: $1500 ("a towering sum") but doesn't mention the cost of the breast removal.

That one of the people in this article has the moniker Chase Strangio : imagine his unfortunate time in middle school. Yikes.

These people should all learn to make their own clothes. Find a good pattern and go with it. Aren't women really good at sewing, after all?

I am so unsympathetic this morning to the travails of these poor, poor (but precious) New Yorkers. It must have happened because their parents left DC just as they were about to graduate from Sidwell School.

Maybe I can find empathy on the menu of the Coffee Shop I'm in right now.

lemondog said...

Dog in the first photo has a nicely fitted tux.

Fritz said...

Presumably, the cosmetic breast removal will be mandated in the next version of Obamacare.

Jim said...

They are ready for Hilary!

cubanbob said...

One of the great things about this country is that there is a market for everything one could desire, even zoot suits for butch dykes. $1,500 is a pretty good price especially for NY for a custom made suit.

Wayworn Wanderer said...

To answer the question: My clothes don't fit. I've gained weight, and I'm too cheep to buy more that do fit. After all, I'm going to lose weight after the holidays, right?

On the other hand, no one who looks at me has any doubt that I "identify as a male."

betamax3000 said...

Cheetah Speedo Man says:

My Cheetah Speedo Fits Perfectly, and is Functional in Any Occasion.

Biff said...

I'm convinced that most of the men I know who hate wearing suits hate them because they have one suit that they bought years ago, never had it properly tailored, and it fits less well with each successive wedding or funeral they attend. It feels like a uniform, and a bad one, at that. On the other hand, a good quality, well tailored suit feels like comfortable clothes, not a uniform, and it starts to get worn much more often (though frequently just one piece at a time, i.e. jacket or trousers), even at relatively casual events.

jr565 said...

Why do female clients want to feel "handsome"? Are they missing having a penis that much?
Having women dress up like men (and vice versa) doesn't really denote power so much as theater (of the absurd).
It might work in certain cases, (and the suits themselves seem well fitting)but it just seems odd to my eyes.
Like when Michael Jackson comes to court in pajamas. Why? What's the message?

jr565 said...

I guess if you're going to go for that Butch look you should dress well when doing so.
I just don't get why that look is attractive, nor why women would want to appropriate the male look if they are lesbians.
Then again, i get when guys look like women to a certain extent. But the thing is, guys do a better job of it.
And this is because guys do beautiful better than girls do handsome. In general.
A handsome guy can pull off a pretty girl look. But a pretty girl doesn't pull off handsome. She still looks pretty. So, there is a discrepency when they try to look "hard". They just aren't.
And butch lesbians just look odd.
I'll grant that that could be my hetero bias at work, but seeing women try to look butch usually just looks like really ugly women dressed in ways that make them deliberately unappealing.

But, different strokes for different folks I guess. If there weren't a market for butch lesbians I guess there wouldn't be any.

sartorial bay said...

The reality is that wedding suits look great on you only when they fit you consummately. If the sleeves are somewhat more or shorter, then it will be an instance of epic fizzle. You cannot overlay them once again (as you do with your long pants) or you cannot tug at the short sleeves. On the off chance that, you are a tad thin, then the suit might hang a touch towards the shoulder, which won't give you an exceptionally satisfactory look. Wedding suits for men, when tailored by professionals, are intended to make you look completely respectable. In this way, only a specially designed one might give you your perfect look by slipping into your physique as easily and as adequately like spread.

Ann Althouse said...

As for "she has since had surgery to remove" her breasts. I saw that and was going to call attention to it, but we're living in a world where women do breast augmentation, using surgery to get a big rounded shape if that's what they want. It seems to me that if you don't get censorious about that, you shouldn't bother about women who use surgery to choose a flat shape that they want. It has a big effect on how your clothes look. It's the individual's private business, and it's the clothes that are out there to be admired as worn by the individual.

Alex said...

Mandatory penis removal coming in 2015.

Zach said...

The issue of "disappearing" into a suit is an interesting one. A lot of men's fashion is built around restraint rather than display. You have a seat at the table, but you haven't played all of your cards yet. Showing off the goods makes you look less powerful, like you're trying to suck up to people. By the same token, wearing a suit when it's not appropriate makes you look weak.

A lot of the people who are uncomfortable wearing suits know darn well that when they have to put one on, it's not an expression of power. They're at a formal event (with undercurrents of "an event they don't want to be at), or they're reporting to a boss (with undercurrents of "a boss who doesn't respect the daily uniform/daily business"). They should look uncomfortable -- that's an accurate reading of the situation!