Dapper in Vermont: Jodi Clark’s Quest for a Perfect Suit

Finding the perfect suit has become easier for some dapperQs, provided you live near one of the new brands that are designing suits for all genders and you have the financial means to afford said suits. But, let’s face it: If you do not live in one of the large cities where these brands are planting their roots, finding a suit, even if you have all of the money in the world to spend, remains a challenge. So, photographer Liz LaVorgna, one of our field photographers in Vermont, connected with Jodi Clark, to get the scoop on how Clark found the perfect suit…even outside of Cali and NYC! Clark is a 41 year old Higher Education Program Director whose passions/hobbies are race walking; singing in choirs (Classical, Tenor); teaching stage combat, with a specialty in Renaissance style rapier; gardening; working in service of Collective Awesome; and creating learning/teaching environments where folks can be and do their best together.

Jodi1Jodi Clark. Photo by Liz LaVorgna

Jodi: Since I started very consciously forming my butch wardrobe, I have yearned for an Italian suit fitted to me. Money was an obstacle at first,  as well as the “where could I go where this would be a positive, even empowering experience?” When both of these questions were answered, the result was: My New Italian Suit.

I have been shopping at Miller Bros. Newton in both Brattleboro, VT and Keene, NH for the last 5 years. Every time I have gone in, I have been treated with respect and have received the best customer service I could hope for, even when shopping for masculine attire for myself. They do alterations on any item they sell for free (but charge a fee for items you bring to them). They are highly encouraging of the fitting process being a give and take with the customer to ensure the fit is the right one the customer is looking for. I was no exception in this instance.

Jodi2Photo by Liz LaVorgna

Jodi3Photo by Liz LaVorgna

The suit is a fine Italian brand, Mantoni, they sell off-the-rack (as opposed to custom made) with the intention of altering the pieces for anyone who would be purchasing it, so the cuffs are never finished on the pants, and they are constantly fine-tuning jacket fit to ensure sleeve length and shoulders compliments the body wearing it as much as possible. Since they have worked with me before on other items, they knew the type of pant fit I was looking for, so recommended I go a size up from what I would typically wear in order to allow for more material to work with in creating the look I desired in the waist. I worked with a total of two of the staff (the father and one of the sons, the same family who has been running the store for many years). The two fellows actually had different opinions on the best approach for the jacket. The son was suggesting a more fitted alteration to form to my curves, while the father suggested a much less fitted look that went with a more “masculine”, straight line while also ensuring it looked like it fit me well. I could see where they were both coming from. I opted for the father’s suggestion, as I truly wanted a more straight fit without calling attention to my curves for that particular outfit. In both instances I felt I was being given solid, well informed options for my body with no judgement or assumptions. They were simply options.

Jodi4Photo by Liz LaVorgna

Jodi5Photo by Liz LaVorgna

The vest was something I already owned and had them alter as well in a much more form fitting way. The French cuff shirt, Damron brand, I had purchased from them as well. The tie was my father’s: Italian silk and one of several he owned and that I inherited upon his passing. I was so proud to wear that. He and I had very similar tastes in fine clothing, which was something we celebrated and shared.

The total was $375 on the suit itself (Jacket & pants). Alterations on the suit were free. The cost of the vest alteration was something like $25, as I had that one and another one altered at the same time. Both of vests came to $50 total. The shirt, Damon brand, was $50. Shoes, $45 at Bass Outlet. Cufflinks $15 at Twice Upon A Time (local thrift/antique store). Tie, inherited from my father.
Grand Total: $510

 

About the photographer:

Jodi Liz LaVorgna studied photography and digital media arts at Keene State in beautiful New Hampshire and has had several solo and group photo exhibits. Her photographs have been used to promote artists for high end gallery exhibits and for use with fortune 500 companies. LaVorgna’s likes to give back to the local community and has volunteered her services to several local organizations such as the Womens Freedom Center, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition, and dapperQ. She also mentors students in photography at local high schools. Website: www.lizlavorgna.com

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