Ok, so a very awesome young butch, K, emailed me the following this week:

Dear Sartorial Butch,

I find myself with quite the fashion dilemma, and am writing to see if you might be able to help me. I’m a seventeen year old butch, and am out to my friends, but closeted to my extended family at the request of my parents. Most of the time, my folks don’t care how I dress. Which is nice.

Unfortunately, one of my cousins is getting married in a few months, and I’ve just learned that it’s going to be a black tie wedding. It seems that it’s not even the nicer meaning of “black tie” where there’s a bit of flexibility. It’s firm; all the men must wear tuxes, etc.

I haven’t worn a dress since I was fourteen, and cringe at the very thought of having to wear not only a dress, but a dress formal enough for a black tie event. Is there anything other than a tux or a formal gown that’s formal enough for me to wear to the wedding? I guess I could punt and wear a dress if I really have to, but I wanted to exhaust all my other options first.



Ok. So I talked with a friend – and together, our advice was that K should probably talk to her parents, because the sight of K in a dress is probably going to be worse than K in a tux – cuz there isn’t anything more awkward than a butch in a dress.  But I wanted to throw this out there to you guys to see what you think K’s best bet is.

So – what do you think K should do???


8 Responses to “Help!!”

  1. Depending on family dynamics, is it possible for our young butch or her parents to privately speak to the cousin and say yb wants to be respectful but does not wear dresses, should she choose a tux or a dressy black pants and dressy white top/ or pantsuit type thing (more womens wear)?

    If it can’t be flexible and yb really wants to go anyways, I suggest she think of herself as a lovely young fag doing drag and be fabulous and queer in a gown for one night.

  2. Apparently tuxedos for women are fashionable at the moment:

    Maybe a compromise could be a slightly more “femininely” tailored tux?

  3. I’m having flashbacks. I think it depends on the parents. If I told my parents, “I want to be butch!” they would be upset. If I told them, “I want to dress like Ellen!”, they would get it.

    I’ve only been to friend’s weddings. I usually talk to the bride beforehand to make sure that my outfit won’t detract attention from her. So I am with Robin – talk to the bride. You do not need to explain that not wearing dresses might have something to do with your sexual identity; I’ve seen married (to men), older women wearing pantsuits at weddings. If, as one young bride did to me, she refuses, yes, you are a drag queen for the night, and you. look. fabulous.

  4. My advice would be similar to yours. I read this article on formal wear/formal occasions & identity a little while ago & thought it might be a relevant read:

  5. Thanks for the advice, everyone. I will talk to my parents. The thing is, they have no problem with my butchness, mostly. But my extended family would have a problem with it- mostly they’d just be super weirded out – and my parents know it. So I expect my parents to be like, “We’re really sorry, and we understand and wish we could help, but what do you want us to do?”

    The other downside is that my cousin is the groom, and I barely even see him, so I don’t really know the bride at *all*. So I doubt I’ll even have a chance to talk to her about it.

    Thinking of it as drag might be one way to get through it if I do end up in a dress. I dunno. I have a few more ideas to take to my parents when I talk with them now, which is awesome. Thanks, guys!

  6. You could do tuxedo pants with black shirt, and black vest with a sheen or some sort of understated monochrome pattern. I would rock a colored skinny tie or bow tie with that, but I live on the edge. Basically a tux without the jacket. You won’t look like a man or penguin and you’ll still look posh.

    Besides, it’s a given that no matter what type of event it is, someone’s going to show up in jeans.

    The most important item in your wardrobe is your attitude!

  7. “You could do tuxedo pants with black shirt, and black vest with a sheen or some sort of understated monochrome pattern. I would rock a colored skinny tie or bow tie with that, but I live on the edge. Basically a tux without the jacket. You won’t look like a man or penguin and you’ll still look posh.”

    Now *this* I think I might be able to pull off. This will probably be the idea I go to my parents with. I don’t think it’d stand out in pictures, and if the shirt was fitted right, I don’t think I’d have to deal with too much misgendering either.

    Besides being practical, it sounds like it’s right up my alley, fashion-wise. (Formal vests make me indescribably happy.) And I’d get to buy new clothes.


  8. If you are ‘butch’ and are out to your family and friends already know. Is someone suggusting you wear a dress, or is the attaire just ‘Black Tie’?

    What is the weather going to be? If it is warmer weather, it would be proper for you to wear a white jacket paired with black pants. If it is colder weather a black jacket is the way to go.

    Purchase a nice Black suit. One that fits YOUR body. Maybe a worsted wool or gabardine material. Pair it with a beautiful white shirt, with french cuffs(I am a big fan of cuff links!)maybe with some pleates or a subtle design on it. Maybe a textured vest as well. The jacket could be a peaked lapel or a shawl collar . Socks must be nylon or sheer black. Slip on black dress shoes. No doc martins or boots or loafers. The most important thing is the fit. All of these pieces must fit properly, or the total look is wasted.

    Stand up straight and and wear it with confidence! You will look fabulous.

    Joey Claytor
    Personal Stylist for the Handsome-Beautiful Woman

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