It’s prom season, and the questions are starting to pour in. A reader asks:
“I’m 17 years old and senior prom is coming up shortly. After a lot of dress shopping, I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that a) I will probably never feel comfortable in a dress, regardless of what dress it is and b) I should follow my heart and embrace my more masculine fashion sense. I live in suburban NY with easy access to NYC, so I was wondering if your team has any recommendations for queer-friendly places to purchase (or rent) masculine prom attire in the area? To be honest, I know little to nothing about suits and tuxes and how they should properly fit, so I would greatly appreciate a shop / boutique where I can be educated about all of that and also come out looking dapper and feeling great.”
We’ve tackled prom fashion before, when a reader asked:
“Any chance there’s going to be a tux feature anytime soon — what with prom coming up for us little high schoolers?”
So, this year, we’ve decided to provide a thorough, comprehensive answer to all of your burning prom questions with a “dapperQ Ultimate Prom Guide” for this week’s edition of “Ask dapperQ.”
Sarah Lindstrom and her prom date Desiree Shelton won a fight to walk together as part of a royalty court at Champlin Park High School in Minneapolis. Image via Newser.
Ola Wolan (on the right) won Prom King at Lane Tech High School in Chicago. Image via BuzzFeed.
Want to know the difference between a suit and a tux? Not sure about how masculine formal wear should fit? Confused about terms like double breasted, single breasted, break, lapels, and vents? Need advice about which suit cuts work best with your body type? Well, we have you covered. Check out dapperQ’s three part suit guide on Autostraddle:
PROM: SUIT OR TUX?
Some fashion purists consider prom a formal event and will insist that the only acceptable menswear option for prom is a tux. However, GQ states, “Who says that prom has to be a black-tie affair? Well, if your invite does, then that’s that, but if you happen to have a more open-ended dress code, buck the formal trend and go for a suit that shows a bit more personality but is equally appropriate for the big night.”
Lesbian DJ Samantha Ronson letting loose in a Tux. Image via AfterEllen.
GQ recommends this suit (and similar looks) for both weddings and proms. Go tux-less! Image via GQ.
dapperQ contributor Rae Tutera wearing a suit from Zohreh in Manhattan. Image via dapperQ.
WHERE TO SHOP FOR SUITS AND TUXES?
- Bindle & Keep: This Brooklyn-based, queer friendly bespoke suit company has received noteworthy press (including nods in the New York Times) for their commitment to creating high quality masculine formal attire for all genders.
- Kipper Clothiers: Located in San Francisco, Kipper Clothiers is committed the production of high-quality, well-fitting custom suits and shirts with a masculine silhouette for the Bay Area LGBTQ community.
- Sharpe Suiting: Based out of LA, Sharpe Suiting creates high quality suits and dress attire for all identities and body types. Their clothing is “undefined by gender binaries.”
- Saint Harridan: Worn by celebrities like Lea DeLaria of Orange Is the New Black, Saint Harridan bespoke and off-the-rack suits feature a sleek masculine cut, re-engineered for women and transmen. While they are located in the Bay Area, Saint Harridan is currently on tour with their pop-up shops across the country. Click here to see if they will be in a city near you soon.
- JagandCo: With showrooms located in Brooklyn, JagandCo is a queer owned and operated clothier that offers impeccably made masculine attire for all genders.
- Duchess Clothier: Duchess provides high quality suits and other garments, both custom and off-the-rack, as well as excellent, impassioned, and insightful service. “
- Men’s Wearhouse: Our readers have rented and purchased tuxes here for proms and weddings. One reader said of her Men’s Warehouse prom tux, “They had a variety of name brands to choose from. I wore a Calvin Klein tuxedo and my package came complete with shoes, socks, suspenders, cuff links, and a pre-tied bow tie.”
- Her Tuxedo: Starting at $295, Her Tuxedo offers tuxedos for “women” in sizes 4-12.
- J-Crew: The J-Crew Ludlow tuxedo is $525 but well worth it! Many of our transmasculine identified readers have invested in Ludlow tuxes for weddings and other formal events.
- Town and Country Tuxedo: He Said/We Said model Lilly Alban wore this amazing white tailored tux by Christian Dior from Town and Country Tuxedo.
- Butch Clothing Company: I did not include the amazing Butch Clothing Company, a bespoke suit clothier, in our roundup because the individual who submitted the original “Ask dapperQ” question seemed to have some time restrictions. However, for future reference, our readers should know that the Butch Clothing Company is definitely an option for tuxes.
Rae Tutera, clothier for Bindle & Keep, helps suit up a client. Image via Bindle & Keep.
JagandCo’s designs are young and fresh with unique details. Image via dapperQ.
CLASSIC OR CONTEMPORARY
A huge debate roared on dapperQ a few years ago about classic vs. contemporary prom attire. One reader felt that classic (tux, dress shoes, cummerbund, etc.) was the only way to go, while another felt that more contemporary styles (high-top shoes, ditch the cummerbund) were completely acceptable for prom, especially considering that high-school dances would probably be one of the last opportunities for youth to rock a more modern look as seen on rock stars at the Grammys and on NBA players.
Meredith Gunning (second from left) modernizes the cummerbund by wearing a slim pant, high-top shoes, and suit pieces in different colors. Image via Flickr.
Kanye West makes a classic suit contemporary by wearing sneakers (instead of dress shoes) and an artistic boutonniere (instead of the traditional flower). Image via Style Frizz.
GQ suggests that, whether you go classic or contemporary, cummerbunds are dated and should always be ditched. They also recommend that you pass on the accessories if you get a package rental tuxedo deal and instead purchase your own unique accessories (bow-ties, etc.) to personalize your ensemble. Take a look at our list of best bow ties for ideas on where to purchase bow-ties with character and class, ones that go beyond the classic silk, monochrome look. If you decide to go with a more classic look, you’ll need great dress shoes. Check out our article on how and where to find the right masculine dress shoes in a wide range of sizes here. If you want to rock a more modern look, check out the following ensembles featured in GQ‘s article, “4 NBA Ballers Show You How to Bend the Black Tie Rules:”
A few months back, one reader asked where to find androgynous fragrances. Check out our roundup here for some ideas. You may want to spritz some on while you listen to our “Pre-Game Dapper Primpin’ Playlist” here on Autostraddle. Now, you’re all set for prom season! Knock em’ dead!