Weddings are Killing Us!

I’ve gotten two heartbreaking e-mails in the last 12 hours from dapperQ’s reaching out for help when it comes to weddings. Both authors have agreed to let me share them with you. Here’s the first:

My fiancee and I have been together for 7 years and are about to get married in Fall, 2011. I live in in one of the many states where our union will not be recognized. As if it isn’t hard enough just to live, I find myself brave enough to admit to myself that I have not allowed myself to enjoy fashion because I feel like I’m literally wearing a costume. I found while trying to find a tasteful suit for my wedding. My sweetheart has a million dresses to pick from but I am stuck with only options that leave me looking like a woman in a guy’s suit. I don’t want that. I want to wear my clothes, I don’t want them to wear me. In small steps I have started to change the clothing I buy but it’s soo hard. Not only am I “petite”, I am also short (5ft). I don’t even know where to begin. I have no close family and nobody that I feel I can talk to about this. This is why I love your website. I just wish it had more basic direction because someone like me, doesn’t even know where to start….Id love to make myself over before my wedding. Any help you can provide?

Here’s the second:

Hi there! My name is Emilee but everyone calls me Scotty. So, my father’s wedding is coming up, and his fiance is extremely excited about it. I’m bisexual, and I wear male clothing almost everyday. My father has mostly grown used to it and even buys me male clothing instead of female clothing, and everyone in my household it pretty open to the idea. But when it comes to this wedding, Dominique (my father’s fiance) wants everything to be perfect. Including me. I mentioned to my father a while ago that I didn’t feel comfortable knowing that I’ll be forced to wear a frilly dress in light summery colors. It just isn’t me. He didn’t really listen at first but after telling him just how uncomfortable I was about it, he told me that he would consider letting me wear a tux. I was ecstatic. Once Dominique found out though, the idea and the consideration died. She gave me a guilt trip and told me that she wants me to wear a dress. My brother and his fiance also agree with her and went so far as to tell me ” you’re wearing a dress. That’s final” I feel a little trapped and lost right now because I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to wear a dress because it makes me feel uncomfortable and just not good about myself. It’s not me. And then there are people who I care deeply about telling me that I have no choice in the matter. My father, I love him and I know that if he had full choice, he’s allow me to wear whatever made me feel happy, but he doesn’t because Dominique is basically taking care of the entire thing.

Some of the reasons they gave me are:

– You’re in the bridal party
– You’re paired with your brother to walk down the aisle
– You’re a bridesmaid and all of the groomsmen spots are taken, although we wouldn’t let you be a groomsmen anyways
– You’re a girl.

I don’t think that wearing a tux to a wedding makes me any less of a girl. And if my brother doesn’t want to be paired with me because of an outfit, that kind of hurts you know? It shouldn’t make me any less of a person or any less his little sister.

They even went so far as to tell me that if I want to wear a tux that badly, I’m not allowed in the bridal party. I’m 15. That hurt. It still does…and I only have like…less than a year to convince them otherwise…

Dominique wants a peach colored theme for the dresses, I’d even go so far as to pay for a custom made peach colored tux just so that I could fit in on the bridesmaid side. I mean…if they really don’t want to accept me into the bridal party just because of what I’m wearing…I’m not so sure that I’d want to BE in that bridal party. I love my father to death and I’m not trying to get attention or be ‘different’. I just want to be me.

I really need help and advice on what to do…perhaps you could help me?

What I can say is that I feel your pain, your urgency, your willingness to honor yourself and those you love. Those of you who have been reading this blog know my belief that what we need a full-on style guide, that it needs to be multimedia, fun, and jammed with input from those of us who are making all this up as we go along.  Fashion “experts” are great, but I remain confident that far more than fashion advice is needed to respond to letters like these. Swear to the fashion gods, I’m working on a plan including a call this morning with Kathryn Hamm who founded and heads

But in the best world, compiling a robust set of resources will take time.  What advice or comfort can you offer these two and the many they represent in the meantime?

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  • I am heartsick about the 15 year old’s dilemma. I am 40 and have only recently felt able to accept that the way I have always wanted to dress is okay. In fact, it is not just okay, it is right for me. It allows me to move with more confidence and self-assurance and people respond favourably to it. Not my mother, but we can’t have everything.

    I live in Toronto and work near the queer village so, for the most part, people around here are used to the diversity of cultures and lifestyles around them. This is a definite advantage that our young comrade may not enjoy.

    I suggest she start finding photos of women who dress like she does, public figures if possible, and show them to her family to let them know that she is not the only one like this, that other women dress as she does, that the world acknowledges, accepts and can celebrate us.

  • Hi there Titus Androgynous,

    I’m the 15 year old that wrote that e-mail. I’m glad that you have some advice for me. I’ll take your advice and start searching…and hopefully it will have a positive outcome. Thank you a lot.

  • For the lucky queer getting married next fall… You are small, and therefore even luckier… Get thee to the Boys section of Daffy’s or TJ Maxx or Marshall’s, and start trying on some formal wear. It’s definitely a lot cheaper than adult clothing, and even if you bought men’s clothing you’d have to hit up a tailor, so go for the little boys’ section. The biggest difference between you wearing the clothes and vice-versa is fit, so DO NOT skip the tailoring. Congrats!

  • for the 15-year-old: look up what Ellen wore to her wedding and show your family. Even conservative people like Ellen, and she’s even in a sort of peach-esque color. Try to see if you could wear something in the same color scheme, but maybe women’s clothing rather than a tux.

  • Scotty – would you consider wearing more masculine clothing (button-down, slacks, maybe a tie) that coordinates more with the other bridesmaids, maybe in the same color? I get that summer colors aren’t your thing, but maybe your family would be willing to find some sort of compromise between a dress and a tux.

  • I’d like to offer some advice about both of these quandaries.

    For the first girl, who’s having trouble dressing for her wedding, I feel you. It takes a lot more thought to dress dapper for us girls who prefer that. We have to be imaginative. The men’s clothes don’t always fit properly. I live in NY, so if I were to need a tux, I could find a place who would be more than happy to fit me in one. But i know not everyone lives in such an area. But you do have some options, you just need to be creative and think outside the box. (ha-ha!) You can shop in a second hand clothing store for a tux, or tuxedo pieces and accessories. You can also find tuxedo shirts cut for women, at a store that specializes in uniforms. They usually make these for the food service industry. You could mix and match androgynous women’s business power suits, with men’s accessories. Get the women’s pants and jacket, add the tuxedo shirt, the tie and the cufflinks. And it is essential to find a tailor or seamstress who would work with you to alter the pieces so they fit you properly. Search within your own LGBT community to find someone. Check with your local community theaters. In general, theatre folks are a lot more open and less judgmental. I firmly believe that having everything fit properly is what will make the difference, between feeling like you are wearing your own clothes, vs. a woman in men’s clothing.

    For Emilee, who is caught in this dreadful place between her family and her own personal comfort, I would say your father needs to step up to the plate and broker a compromise. You are his daughter first and foremost, and how he handles this situation is going to set the tone for your relationship with him, as well as with your new stepmother, for year’s to come. If he truly understands and supports you, he needs to step in and quit letting you get steamrolled. There is a compromise. Why can’t you wear a pants suit that matches the other bridesmaids dresses? Familial relationships are about compromise. Your father’s fiancee needs to understand that. She is not just marrying your father, she is becoming a part of his family, which includes you. If you compromise and wear a pantsuit that makes you feel comfortable and you blend in with the wedding party, I don’t see the problem.

    On the other hand, you are 15, and I know this is a tough spot to be in. You are not trying to make the wedding about you, but you want to be able to be there for your father and be yourself, and be true to who you are. This is not an easy place to be for anyone. Your father needs to step in and help you figure this out. If his fiancee isn’t going to budge, which its sounds like she won’t, then what are your options? Remember, you are not making an issue out of this. They are. It sounds like you have been dressing like this for a while, and they have been supportive. This isn’t something new. Think long and hard and make a decision for yourself that you can live with in the future.

  • I organized a little talk between my dad and Dominique and I…so hopefully that will go well. I’d love to compromise, I would hate to make her feel like I don’t care about her opinion. A nice pants suit sounds amazing, I don’t mind if it’s not a tux…as long as I feel like I’m free to be myself.

  • Thank you to all that have provided information about how to dress myself for my wedding. Oh yes, the first letter is an email I sent to asking for help. I have been searching for months and have only found 2 suits. One is in LONDON and the other is not even a suit, it is a pattern for a suit I would love. Of course, I cant make this myself 🙁

    Tomgirl, I do not live all that far away from NYC. In fact, thats where I was born and raised. I would not mind at all traveling to NYC to get the right thing for this important day. Perhaps you can direct me to your tailor?

    Boys section is a good idea but what does a girl do about her…boobs? Im 5 foot, skinny, with decently sized boobs. If I dont wear a shirt that is too big for me so I conceal some boobage, then the shirt actualy fits strange. Boys section lacks a certain maturity in some styles, especially formal wear. I recently tried on a suit that was meant for a young teenage boy because of my size. It was altered and still leaves me looking like Im trying to be something that I am not. Not only do I feel rediculous in a suit period, Im wearing a little boys suit and Im 25. What a mess 🙁

  • To the woman looking for formal wear for her wedding: depending on how close to NYC you live and what your clothing budget is like for the wedding, Duchess ( might be perfect for you. Although they’re located in Portland, OR, they travel to NYC occasionally to take measurements and orders from East Coast customers. They make beautiful suits, and they’re happy to accommodate women who prefer a more masculine look. A friend of mine who lives in NYC has some gorgeous clothing by them, including a tuxedo. Check them out and see if they can help you.

    To Scotty: I’m sorry your family is forcing gender-normative expectations on you over your father’s wedding. I hope you can work things out with your family members to allow you to attend the wedding and dress as you wish.

    Good luck to you both!

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