Rite of Passage: My First Suit

My best friend is getting married in June, and I am giving a speech on his behalf at the reception.  So, in addition to preparing for surgery, I am also preparing to attend a very important ceremony.  Note my surgery is scheduled for May 25th.  The wedding is June 16th.  This will be my new chest’s first big event.  This will be the first time my family, and many of my old friends, will see my new body. So I want to look awesome.  So I need a suit.

I have never bought a suit, never had my measurements taken.  I needed a trusted friend to go with me to purchase said suit.  Enter G.  G is a grad school buddy who has a kind manner and a playful approach to life.  He is a great writer–I admire his work and work ethic.  I admire his manner.  I admire his height.  I knew he would be the right man for this job: he had no problem with my name change (he knew me first by my birth name), and has always been very supportive of my evolving gender identity process.

So I felt good about asking him to accompany me to The Men’s Warehouse to buy my first suit.  I recognize this to be an important rite of passage in every young boy’s/trans boy’s life, and so I went with him alone.  Originally I had wanted K’s sage fashion input, but she and I agreed it was important for me and G to do this together.

There is something in G’s voice when he calls me Eli, something in his tone when he refers to me as buddy, that I recognize as respect–not like gangster respect, more like camaraderie.  It’s recognition: he treats me like one of the guys, or one of the people, but knows I don’t want to be treated like a lady.  It is his willingness to look past cultural norms for my birth gender and see the identity I prefer, and to acknowledge me in that way.  And this is what landed him the Men’s Warehouse gig.

A co-worker of mine has a friend who works at the Warehouse, and he was going to be there, which put me a bit at ease.  Since I am not on T, I feel a bit uneasy, say undeserving, in male-specific spaces, and so the fact that I had a “friend of a friend” there made me less nervous about potential embarrassing situations.  But when G and I walked in we found out that this person was late, and may be out for the day sick.  I got a little concerned at this prospect, but it was the store manager who ended up helping us, and that put me back on track.  He was friendly, knowledgable, and professional.  My femaleness only came up once, in the form of me pointing out hips, and the manager was quick to point out one of his male employees who had a “ba-donka-donk” and said many men have hips and weight in the rear to deal with when it comes to suit purchasing, so my body shape was not a problem.

I suggest Men’s Warehouse as a first look for trans guys when purchasing suits: they will measure you (and keep your measurements in their system for easy access should you go to another of their locations), they have a tailor on staff (very important for those of us who are shorter, or have more hips than cis-men), and their suits are mid-ranged in price.  This is a great place for a first suit or a starter suit.  They offer free steaming and pressing for the suit for life, and while there is the downside of buying a suit from what I would consider a “less trendy” retailer, this is a great place to start, with a fair selection of styles and colors and good price points.

I was very satisfied with my experience there, and how I was treated–that is, no differently than a male customer, as far as I could tell.  And it was great to have a cis-male friend with me: not only did it put me a bit more at ease, but also he asked questions that I either was too nervous to remember to ask or didn’t even know to ask: he had me sit down while wearing the pants, to check for comfort in the waist, he asked the manager about the return policy, and took me aside at times to check what I was thinking about certain styles or colors of the suits the manager was suggesting.  He was a great friend to have that day.  In fact, I am very thankful to have G in my life, and want to publicly (if not semi-anomously for him) thank him here.  G, this trip together meant a lot to me.  Thank you.

In the end, I left with this suit, in grey.  I look nothing like the model, but when do we ever?  Yeah, it was the manager’s idea, but it was brilliant: the boy’s section offers shorter pants that need very little tailoring, and a better fit for jackets as well.  In fact, in my case the jacket didn’t need to be altered at all, and the pants only need some letting out in the hips, no adjustments for the length was necessary.  Also the price came way down: I could buy two boy’s suits for less than the price of one men’s suit and needed far less tailoring.

We will be returning to pick up my suit on May 11th–and I might post a picture or two on here of the complete ensemble, once my shirt and shoes arrive in the mail…

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

18 thoughts on “Rite of Passage: My First Suit

  1. I always look better than the model 😀 LOL
    Grey is good, hopefully single breasted! Not sure I should be using that word before you have an operation… make sure they get both of them!
    Anyway, just to reassure you, I don’t have a badonk-a-donk, but I do have a waistline that’s smaller than my hips. Big, gorgeous shoulders, though 😀 Men come in all different shapes and sizes… including yours.

  2. Congrats Eli. I took the plunge myself a few weeks ago and bought 3 suits (for the price of 1) at Joseph A. Bank. I had to fly solo and was pretty nervous but once I got into picking out the fabrics etc. it all went without a hitch. I am heading to a conference next month and I’m looking forward to not having to worry about “what to wear”!

    • Thanks Tam, I feel pretty good now about all future suit endeavors. I, however, endure a line of work that never calls for suits, so it’s not something I will use even semi-regularly. But who knows, if I look good, I might start inventing occasions. 😉

  3. Fnatastic Eli! Cheers to a great day. the man makes the suit…so rock on with your bad self. (I have a couple of expensive tailored suits that I can’t wait to see with out the twin D’s)

  4. Wearing a handsome suit is one of the best feelings in the world 🙂 Congrats on the great shopping experience (I too buy “youth” suits as they’re way cheaper and fit better). I can’t wait to hear how you feel about it after the wedding, “rocking it with your bad self,” to paraphrase Brysen 🙂

  5. Oh man this reminds me of purchasing my first suit. It is indeed a rite of passage. Like you, it was for a friend’s wedding.

    I went to Mexico City’s downtown area with my dad to purchase a suit (this is already shady), and me having height limitations, had to look for something quite rare: a children’s suit. There were like, 2 options. Furthermore, they always always sell them in a set: pants and jacket, together. Same size for top and bottom, which, having hips and a wide badonkadonk, I am not. So the salesguy had the brilliant idea of getting three sizes up – basically until the pants fit waistwise – and tailor the shit out of the suit and vest.

    Needless to say, there is only so much tucking and nipping you can do until you need a whole re-do, so it came out pretty horrible. The suit was too wide in the shoulders, the vest was too tight. Moreover, the pants were so bad, and I lost weight 6 months later by the time the wedding came, that I ended up buying new pants anyway! And if I had done that from the start, I could’ve just purchased the suit jacket three sizes down that fit me fine in the first place!

    Not to mention that the salespeople did not know whether I was a boy or a girl, and thus the snide but overhearable remarks were aplenty.

    Round 2 is coming up for me. Again, because I am vertically challenged, I can’t usually go into Men’s Warehouse and expect to find something. So I ordered a completely custom suit online. There are various sites to choose from, you measure yourself, and prices range from $100 (yep for the full suit!) to, well, as much as you want.

    Anyway, sorry for the novel. It is just funny to hear someone going through the exact same thing.

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