I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and talk about a favorite topic.
I’m bee listy, a good friend of the Sartorial Butch. It seems that some major life changes are coming to the Sartorial Butch and the Sartorial Love–they have a baby due this summer! I’m naturally thrilled to become a butch uncle yet again to the child of good friends, and was even more excited when SB asked me to help fill in some gaps on this blog. I’ve been behind the scenes of The Sartorial Butch since inception–I’m proud to say that i encouraged SB to start this party.
Some things about me: I identify as a queer fat butch. I am a caucasian, female assigned at birth person who uses female or gender neutral pronouns. I live in the midwest. I have two college degrees, and due to my career I am likely identifiable as middle class, although I grew up working class. This brings up a great deal of issues of transclassness (is that a word?) I live alone, more or less. I am in my early 30s. This is my perspective, and I do not purport to represent anyone but myself. Just to be clear.
How I ended up here… I wanted a butch clothing blog to read & engage with, but at the time I didn’t feel like I was a dapper enough dresser to be the one to write it. I’m proud to say that in a lot of ways, that has changed. Since it’s beginnings, I’ve been closely following the ideas, suggestions, and discussions on The Sartorial Butch. I can honestly say that in the time I’ve been friends with The Sartorial Butch, I’ve grown an incredible amount with regard to my own sartorial butch expression.
The most game-changing day of my sartorial life was the day that she suggested that I try out wearing a bow tie. I first thought of David Sedaris’ essay “Buddy, Can You Spare a Tie?” which appears in When You Are Engulfed In Flames. Sedaris’ friend Frank declares that “A bow tie announces to the world that you can no longer get an erection.” When I first read this, I thought something akin to oh dear, I don’t need to be making any public declarations about my erections. I also thought that due to my double chin, it would be a terrible idea. But the idea kept rolling around in my mind, and finally I decided to pull the trigger on that idea. Instantly, a bow tie lover was born.
One of the things I love about bow ties is that it pulls the eye up to the face, away from my chest. I had a breast reduction in the 1990s, but I am not flat chested. I love wearing traditional neckties, but I hate the way the curve of my chest makes a bump in the line of my outfit, so when I started wearing bow ties, I noticed how that changed my perspective.
My first bow tie was a pre-tied grey (with skulls)* little sweetie that I was petrified to wear out in public. The first time I wore it, I put it on with a striped pinpoint oxford shirt and a favorite black pullover sweater from Banana. That sweater has great details (toggles, but just at the neck) and I thought I could sneak the bow tie inconspicuously. I walked into the office and my administrative assistant exclaimed that she loved my bow tie. Over the course of the afternoon, I got a great number of compliments both in person and online. Immediately, I was sold. I wanted more.
In the subsequent months, I have amassed quite a reasonable collection of bow ties. All of my new ties are self-tie. I have met and talked with other bow tie wearers, I have added two vintage clip-ons that belonged to my beloved grandpa to my collection, and thanks to Brooks Brothers’ friends & family sale, I have now added a reversible bow tie to the mix. I get an incredible amount of positive attention from a wide array of people–and reactions are varied, honestly. Sometimes I get pretty confused and/or dirty looks, but I get tons of positive attention from queers of all varieties, and some straight folks love it too.
I have progressed in my commitment to the bow tie where I wear one every single day to work (I am in administration at a large, midwestern, public university where I am one of only a handful of visible butch folks on campus–including students). I realize that the bow tie isn’t for everyone, but it’s perfect for me. I’m a little bit southern, a lot dandy, and generally my style is preppy/professorial.
*honest disclosure: that first bow tie I purchased was pre-tied, but it quickly fell apart. I replaced it with a self-tie in the same pattern.