From 2012 to 2016, a phenomenon called Saint Harridan suddenly gave us butches some love. The brainchild of Mary Going and friends, the company worked with Brooks Brothers to design customizable masculine-styled suits and shirts (with the same quality fabrics found in “men’s suits”) to fit afab bodies. Starting out with a Kickstarter in 2012 to fund the creation of the Lyon jacket and Martin trousers (named respectively for Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, some of the best-known white lesbian activists of the 1950s onward) as well as shirts and vests. They moved from production to pop-up shops around the country, and when they hit Boston, my wife talked me into going. The visit not only netted me 3 custom shirts I still love, but also was convinced (by my wife and friends) to participate in the Saint Harridan runway show (I am not in the photos in that story) — it was quite a rush to have a nightclub full of people screaming for us. During our evening of training in how to walk the runway and before and after walking, Mary told every one of us how handsome we were, a memory that still makes me tear up, because it was really the first time I’d heard that word applied to me by someone who wasn’t my wife.
Saint Harridan went on to establish a brick-and-mortar store in the Bay Area, and produced a video that was somehow more than just a commercial for the company.
It was more like a “Ring of Keys” moment for me in terms of facing my butchness and gender-nonconforming-ness as something that wasn’t weird or unusual.
This dream ended abruptly in 2016, when some investors backed out on them and they had to shut down. But Saint Harridan had proved in a big way that there was a market for masculine-styled clothing for afab-bodied people, and now it seems like every month, a new company starts advertising on Facebook, so we thought we’d try to pull together a list in one place.
We welcome suggestions of other companies that we might have missed!
Founded by some self-described tomboys, TomboyX makes it possible to find cute underwear for those of us who wear boxer briefs (I mean, come on, I’m dying here). Also, long underwear, pajamas, and even less gendered swimwear. Sizes go up to 4X, which makes me so frickin’ happy.
Off the Rack Formal and Casual
Starting with a Kickstarter in 2015, Dapper Boi crowdfunded itself to produce gender-neutral clothing for androgynous people of every size. They started with a decent size range and have worked their way up to a wider range of casualwear, getting up to 4X in some styles. I like both that their clothes are more affordable than a lot of the shops (I mean, $60 shirts! that’s good!) and that they change things up as they go, with crowdfunded limited runs. The quality of what I’ve seen in person has been fabulous too. Do me a solid and shop with my referral link!
GFW, a UK company, has a fascinating sizing scheme for their shirts: four different shapes that come in 1 to 7 or 8 different sizes. The cuts accommodate people with larger hips, people with larger chests, people who can be mostly straight up and down, and people with larger shoulders than hips. Their other clothes are mostly loose-fitting casualwear, though they also have underwear: boxer briefs from an Australian company called Tom-Boi (as distinct from Tomboi, who make comfortable strap-on harnesses) and lacy undies from a company called WickedMmm for “people with packages,” which is kind of delightful.
Just swimwear! Vintage 1920s styling! Goes up to 5X in several cute designs! I mean, in my eyes the only drawback is that they’re one-piece suits, but then again, I haven’t gone swimming in a suit in, uh, at least twenty years, so I’m not going to opine whether this is an advantage or disadvantage.
This company produces swimwear and sportswear. The tops have compression built in, and some of the shorts have admirable Pride designs. Their sizes don’t quite reach my range, alas, but I’m also not into quite such short-shorts.
Founded in 2013, Wildfang has an aesthetic that mostly doesn’t really grab me, but I appreciate that they’re serving a population that doesn’t necessarily share that with me! They have suiting and more casual wear, and I like the concept of how they present the suit fitting guide (with models of appropriate sizes). It doesn’t look like their XXL would manage my measurements, but I’m glad they’ve gone up into bigger sizes — I remember looking at them early on and being disappointed by the small sizes.
Founded in 2015, these folks have some very nice shirt patterns (my bete noire is the stultifying IBM Blue Dress Shirt) and some snazzy tweed blazers. They don’t quite make it to my size, and also have kind of strange and arbitrary sizing — when I’m looking at blazers, I’m looking at shoulder size, not chest and waist, because there are jackets that make it around me but don’t cope with my 52″ shoulders.
Everything and Bespoke Too
This place has everything: bespoke suits, underwear, and off-the-rack formal and casual. Their pages hit all the words: butch, stud, trans, tomboy, andro, etc. They’ve got some super-snappy shirts — I really like the contrasting colors on the dress shirts in particular — and a real eye for creative design in their bespoke gallery. Some of their styles go up to 6X, which is amaaazing.
Just Bespoke Suiting
I’ve been hearing fabulous things about Bindle & Keep for years, and at one point started to plan a trip to New York City to get fitted by them. I probably would have done it if I hadn’t tripped over a recommendation from a fellow butch on the Boston-area Yelp for…
My wife got me to make the appointment and went with me to hold my hand. I’ve had, like many fat people, negative experiences getting fitted for things, and I’m still kind of weird and weepy about the idea of having a thing, a butch thing, made especially for me. Sam, who at the time was taking on all the afab-bodied customers, was fun and fabulous to work with, incredibly non-judgey and matter-of-fact. And I now have a beautiful suit that feels fantastic when I’m wearing it. They also did a rush-order blazer for me a few months later, which is also amazing. If you’re in Boston and want custom suiting or shirts, I highly recommend 9Tailors.
For folks on the left coast, particularly in Portland, Oregon, there’s Duchess Clothier, who have trimmed their designs down from what they had originally and are now more essentially focused on modern-style suits. I miss their somewhat older styles from when I fantasy-shopped through their collection.
Here’s one for those of you in the UK, though they say they work globally as well. Founded in 2009, it looks like they do more than standard suiting — I’m seeing some very customized/personalized garments, which is awesome!