What Suiting Means to Me
After nearly six weeks in quarantine, I began to wonder: do I dress for myself, or do I dress to meet expectations? Is fashion repression or self-expression?
As someone who works frequently with LGBTQ+ individuals and as a trans woman myself, I understand the transformative power of clothing better than most. Early in my transition, oversized sweaters and combat boots acted as a much-needed blanket of protection for my feelings of gender dysphoria pertaining to body image. Soon after, seven inch platform high heels of the type commonly seen on Lady Gaga, my teenage idol, allowed me to embrace the unapologetically, quasi-abrasive feminine image I had shied away from my entire life.
Now that I am close to four years into my transition, I’m beginning to feel more at home in my body than ever before. My relationship with fashion and personal style is giving way to something more genuine and personally fulfilling. To clarify: I no longer feel the need to wear traditionally feminine garments to prove my womanhood to those around me.
A large part of my newly acquired freedom can be attributed to passing privilege, which denotes the ability to exist in society without my womanhood being questioned. While I still experience dysphoria on a daily basis, these feelings are mostly rooted in projection versus social discrimination.
This has allowed me to explore my authentic style identity as it exists outside of gender presentation. I’ve discovered that, somewhat ironically, I feel most at home in a suit. Until a few years ago, I used to classify the suit as a men’s garment; however, working for The Tailory has led me to remove suiting from its traditionally gendered context. I now see suiting as a symbol of power and confidence that takes on a unique significance from one person to another.
I’ve even adopted the cheeky tradition of wearing a tailored suit on first dates. My intention? To challenge my partners’ expectations that a trans woman should dress in a hyper-feminine fashion to prove her femininity to those around her. Through personal rebellion, I am conveying that my gender identity is entirely intrinsic. The transgender experience cannot be boiled down to the clothes we wear or the toys we played with as children; it is so much more than that, a sense of self that is both all-encompassing and nebulous.
At the end of the day, what does it mean to be a woman? And is there a right and wrong way to be a woman? Much like custom suiting, there is no one-size-fits-all classification for how we experience gender. My identity is bespoke, and how I express my womanhood is nobody’s goddamn business but my own.