She Who Wears The Pants
Rumor has it that, among heterosexuals, it’s common for a bride to pull together all the details of “her” day, enabling the groom to just (hopefully) show up. Sure there are exceptions. But you won’t find too many straight men browsing bridal magazines. Those so inclined must be prepared to endure razzing from their buddies.
What’s becoming clear to me as I conduct interviews with queer newlyweds across the country is the extent to which we are defying traditional norms even as we embrace them. Take the nuptials of Maggie Beattie and Kate Roberts who wed this summer at the Pamet Harbor Yacht and Tennis Club in Truro, Massachusetts. Maggie wore the dress but that didn’t translate in to more responsibility for planning the celebration. Kate “wore the pants” but that made her no less the bride.
According to Maggie, age 30, “The process leading up to our wedding was like a rehearsal for big life stuff we are going to do together. I’m not to say our way is the only way that works, but we want to co-plan our life.”
Fashion was one of the many elements they negotiated together. “I know grooms care about what they look like but I wanted to feel like my outfit was really special,” Kate told me. “I didn’t want to necessarily look like a groom on the top of the wedding cake. I wanted it to feel a little softer than that and yet not scoop neck kind of soft. I came to this as a bride. I wasn’t walking a line between masculine and feminine but between straight masculine and gay masculine.”
I didn’t know Kate very well, but I’d seen her sharp dressing enough around our Park Slope neighborhood that I had featured her “distinctly American style” in one of dapperQ’s Street Fashion Videos. When she invited me to help her do some brainstorming about her bridal outfit, I wasn’t surprised to hear that she already had some strong ideas of how to take her personal style to a formal level. I really liked her idea of going with light colors that she rightly knew would contribute to a celebratory feel.
I also heartily agreed with her decision to skip a suit jacket in favor of a formal vest. If I
could snap my fingers and change one thing about dapperQ’s who choose to wed in suits, it would be more options for jackets that fit our shoulders. For my own wedding day, I went with a streamlined women’s suit from Kenneth Cole and would encourage any female-bodied person who wants to wear a suit to consider women’s suits or separates. Once you get the fit right, you can trick it out with dapper accessories like bowties, cufflinks and socks that pop. Kate’s choice of vest elegantly sidestepped the problem.
Based on the great experience Robin Cloud and I had creating her custom suit at MySuitNY, Kate agreed to go there as well. Maggie joined us because Kate wanted her there for support (“I was a little afraid of messing that up”) and because she wanted to make sure that her ensemble complimented Maggie’s.
From the range of options at MySuitNY, Kate chose an ivory vest and ivory pants in a light wool blend. The backing was a paisley dark brown, augmented with burgundy stitching on one buttonhole (echoed on one button on the back of the pants).
Kate generally loved how the suit turned out but if she had “one dream revision,” it would be the pants. “Because they were men’s pants, the crotch was a little long and, in the photos, make me look hippy.” This despite the fact that they were slim fit with no pockets. If she had it to do over, she would have explored trouser options in the women’s department.
Maggie wore the “Mira” from Jenny Yoo Bridal that she bought ‘gently used’ from a newlywed she found on the site: Once Wed. According to Maggie, “A lot of brides would never do that. But I thought it was great to carry another wedding’s energy into my wedding day. I felt like it only made it better.”
Gotta admit, I love the idea behind Once Wed. When times are tight, this site offers an option for getting a great dress at a great price. And if you are like me and mine, your budgeted amount will probably double in the course of planning, so any savings are valuable.
Since Maggie participated in customizing Kate’s outfit, she was able to create strong synergies between their outfits. Her burgundy suede flats by Burberry echoed stitching in Kate’s suit and she chose grey pearl studs from Clay Pot because Kate’s pearl buttons were outlined in gold. During dinner and the reception, Maggie wore a gold necklace with a burgundy gemstone from Kris Nations.
Maggie told me, “I feel really lucky to have found love and marriage in this time where gay marriage options are so public and fought for. It felt really awesome to tap into that political and emotional energy.” Kate said, “Imagine, there are kids there whose first wedding was a gay wedding.”
To which I chimed, rejecting yet another stereotype, “a well-dressed lesbian wedding.”
Photo Credits: Leah LaRiccia
“Gays who wed today are pioneering traditions that will long inform those who follow in our footsteps.” That’s according to dapperQ, a.,k.a. Susan Herr, a Brooklyn-based writer and entrepreneur who produces dapperQ.com – for those “transgressing men’s fashion.” In this exclusive with GayWeddings.com, dapperQ is gleefully expanding her portrayal of transgressive fashion to include gay wedding wear.