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