Dyke seeks suit.
May 27, 2009 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Lesbian seeks men's (or men's-like) suit in Montréal ASAP. Other non-location-specific genderqueer shopping advice appreciated.

I need a suit by the weekend and am a terrible shopper. Where can I get something that will fit nicely and not make me look like a kid playing dressup in her father's closet? Can I get something tailored that fast? What (preferably) Canadian retailers are good for androgynous but sexy women?

(Anon because I'm pretty out, but not entirely out.)
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I would suggest H&M (two locations in downtown Montreal, more in the outlying regions). Their men's suits are not too expensive and pretty stylish. Many of them are cut in a slim, European style, so they'll work if you have a smaller body type.
posted by mhum at 3:24 PM on May 27, 2009

Much depends on how "feminine" your physique actually is, versus the prototypical male form to which standard men's suits are made. Typically, this means a "drop" (chest size to waist size) of 6" for the standard men's suit; i.e. a chest size of 42 will have trousers that are a 36 waist, on the American sizing system. Most women are not that "V-shaped," for want of a more descriptive term. Generally, their bust measurements are nearly equal to their hip measurements, and their maximum bust measurement is nearly 4 to 5 inches below where a man's chest measurement is taken; moreover, a woman's hip measurements are generally greater than her waist measurement, meaning the trousers of a traditional man's suit are cut completely wrong from waistband to hip to crotch. "Tailoring" an actual man's off the rack suit to try to fit a classic female body is nearly impossible.

However, if your frame is more nearly androgynous, and you are short, you might get some help from using boys or youth suits, where the drop is nowhere near as great, and the shaping darts in the coat and trousers not nearly as severe. For many women however, the trick to getting a "man's suit" costume, is to have suits made which copy prototypical man's suit features, like rolled lapels, padded shoulders, fitted long waists, flap pockets, and straight legged trousers, on a female form. You obviously don't have time for that.

Peerless Clothing/Vêtements Peerless Clothing Inc. is the largest Montreal maker of men's suits. For many years, I was a supplier of production machinery to them, and have visited their Montreal factory many times; they make a quality mass market garment, for the price. I believe that they still have showroom at the factory in Montreal, and sell to Canadian customers directly. If you visit them, you may be able to try on some sample suits and seperates (sport coats, trousers, etc.) and then be able to order "splits" (i.e. separate coat and trousers, of different sizes, made from the same fabric, which will look like a matched suit, but allow you to get beyond the standard "drop" sizing problem of a classic men's fit). They don't typically do made-to-measure at Peerless, but the showroom personnel may be able to point you to a local tailor who can help finish the project, from the stock pieces they can sell you. Taking in a waistband, adding a second pocket dart over the back pockets to shape the waistband, and hemming to length, may be all you need to get trousers to fit, if you go this route, and your physique is really "androgynous."

The good news is that Montreal still has a fairly good tailoring & clothing manufacture scene. If you are going to appear publicly in, for want of a better term, "masculine roles," and can take the time to explore Montreal's tailoring establishments, they can make you exactly what you're looking for, and you'll find it comfortable and fluid, in ways a re-tailored men's suit will never be. Such garments can give you the classic men's suit experience of being long lived staples in your wardrobe, suitable for many occasions, and worth their cost and time to obtain and maintain.
posted by paulsc at 3:25 PM on May 27, 2009 [9 favorites]

Aha! I found it! The genderqueer writer S. Bear Bergman wrote a great reply to somebody's livejournal comment about how to shop for a suit and get it tailored right.


It took me a while to find the comment because it's in a totally unrelated thread (well, sort of related, to hir wedding and such, but not really about suits). There are more comments all the way at the bottom of the page from somebody else that are also helpful.
posted by Tesseractive at 9:00 PM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

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