Girl seeks suit.

While we’re on the subject, a female-bodied friend of mine sent out this email this weekend:

Hello, Friends! I have been given the go ahead to wear a suit to my step-sister’s wedding instead of a bridal dress. Yay! Except I don’t know the first thing about finding a good suit for myself. You are recieving this email because I think: a) you have good taste in clothing in general b) might know a thing or two about buying “men’s” clothing, especially for a formal occasion, and making them look good on a female body c) you might know something about being vertically challenged, smaller than average, or petite, and have some recommendations on where to get certain things and how to try on clothing without getting completely flustered because you’re not “average” size.

Just to give some perspective on the formality level of this wedding, the groom will be wearing a simple, single-breasted black suit from Banana Republic with a white tie. The rest of the men and tux-wearers were told to wear black ties. My sister told me not to worry too much about matching the groom or anything, just to get a suit I liked and knew I would wear again, and go with that. But it’s not like I need a ruffly tuxedo shirt or anything like that. Still, I get intimidated by buying new jeans! I would love any advice you all might have to offer, places to start, name brands to be on the lookout for. I am not looking to spend a MILLION dollars on my suit, but I am excited at the thought of investing in it and wearing it or parts of it again and again. I’ve also already gotten used to the certainty that things will probably need to be tailored. Better than some odd-colored fluffy tafetta thing I had to buy and never use again anyway, right? I think so.

Thanks in advance for any help you’re throwing my way!

She gave me permission to pass this on to you. Her body is petite, thin, and curvy, and she’s in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Can you offer advice?

Posted by on April 20th, 2009 at 10:46 am

Category: your voice 8 comments »

8 Responses to “Girl seeks suit.”

  1. sqr

    If you want a man's suit, Jcrew might have what you want. I'm 5'4 and female, and their size XS has worked well for me. In general, if you're looking at men's clothes, knowing your measurements helps a ton, even if you're just looking to rule brands out, because the sizing seems a lot more standardized than women's clothing. In terms of getting intimidated by buying clothes, the way that I've gotten over some of my intimidation of clothes has been through shopping online, or at least looking online before I go to a store, which means that I know exactly what I want and can focus on that item and get out.


  2. marlene

    Tailoring tailoring tailoring! You can start with almost any suit that is reasonably close to the right size if you have it tailored well.

    The level of service at traditional menswear stores is a mile away from what you'll find at places like Banana Republic and J. Crew. You are the king and they have been trained to make you look good. It's not your job to figure out what will fit you well, it's theirs.

    Yes: The Short Shop on Kearny. They're used to fitting folks with curves.

    No (emphatically so): The Men's Warehouse


  3. Sarah Marae

    While I can't offer locale-specific advice, I've always had luck finding suiting at local tux shops. There should be scores of shops in the Bay area that cater to bridal and prom tuxes, and they will also carry quality men's suiting. The last time I wanted to purchase a suit, I went into my local tux shop, told the salesperson what I wanted, and he was extremely nice and helpful in fitting me in exactly what I was looking for.

    When you are fitted to a suit in a shop like that, the salesperson will find the closest-fitting pieces to your size, and then will take out some measuring tape and a chalk pencil and mark up just how the suit needs to be tailored, and in most cases, it will be ready for you to take home on the same day. I love buying menswear in places like that, because, just like Marlene said, the people are trained to be your personal assistants for the time that you spend in their shop, and they really know their way around a good suit.

    Good luck!


  4. sarahdopp

    You guys are fantastic — thank you! *filing these notes away for myself, too*


  5. Cricket

    Thanks guys! (Not to discourage anyone else who would like to respond) my first suit shopping day is nigh, and I'm SOOO relieved and happy to get such great advice!


  6. MissKeen

    any advice for curvy butches who might want a suit, but *aren't* short? my wife is always moaning that there is nothing available for her, and she also has the intimidation factor going on (not wanting to walk in and be like, HI I AM A DYKE can you please step out of your box and fit me for a suit.

    she's about 6 feet tall, thick (like a size 18) with DDD breasts. conundrum, no?


  7. Becky

    OK, so I'm short, muscularly broad shouldered and big-thighed, but still skinny in the waist. I'm also big chested. Definitely no boy-like proportions. I like Bennaton. It's not actually men's clothes, but it's "men's wear." You can get loose, low slung pants and jackets that aren't WAY darted but that are cut the way, frankly, we girls need them to be. I'm way careful about being "too girly" and I've always felt very comfortable in these clothes. I do second the JCrew bunch, though. Maybe Nordstrom boys? That works if you're small (short) enough, as I am.


  8. juliandarling

    Nordstrom boys.. *nods* Definitely an excellent place to look.


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