Shaz Riley the BCC Director
Shaz Riley the BCC Director

Tips and tricks to tailoring your wardrobe by a well-suited butch.

Two weeks ago I turned 45. With this coming of age, I had to stop and ask myself how did this possibly happen? Upon reflection, I guess I knew exactly how it happened and I am pleased to say my life, for the most part, has taken a pretty joyful path.

My reminiscing led me to where I am today and why I now do what I do.

I own and run The Butch Clothing Company (BCC) but previously, I worked in a corporate environment, as a high-end Project Manager organizing live events for multinational companies. I was, on a daily basis, required to meet clients formally dressed—a situation I feel many lesbians find themselves in on a daily basis.

My issue wasn’t the work—it was the attire. As a woman with a strong butch identity, that clearly defines who I am, there was no way I could ever wear a ‘ladies’ tailored suit. For me, trying to function in a skirt or darted jacket would have somehow rendered me inept at completing any tasks—and as for heels, well, they would never have worked!

In my experience, the majority of butches purchase men’s suits for that all-important interview, the boardroom meetings or even day to day office wear, where, at the very least, pants (or as we Brits say, trousers) and a smart shirt are required.

The issue for most of us, apart from the usual appalling service when these stores realize we are, in fact, women, is that the suits themselves are cut for men’s bodies, not women’s. This leads to oversized shoulders and arm and leg lengths that are way too long. If we buy jackets big enough to successfully cover our chests, the jacket length is too long. Often when the pant waist fits, the length is 2-4 inches longer than we need. Not to mention all that excess room in the crotch area. If you have these issues, trust me you are not alone: Butches around the world suffer the same fate, daily.

So, sick of struggling with bad alterations, horrible purchasing experiences and with a longing to own one or two affordable suits, I set out on a challenge to open a company that would make suits that looked identical to all those suits in the men’s departments but that would be internally constructed for butch women. I also saw the importance of measuring correctly to create individual bespoke suits—in other words, a suit that would only fit you!

suits on cloth rag Here are some pointers when looking at the perfect suit for you.

1. Think about the fact that if you buy one or two bespoke suits it will, in the short term, hit your pocket. So design wisely, think about all the garments you already own and how your new suit will mix and match with them.

2. Consider a waistcoat. If well made, a waistcoat can enhance the look of any suit. Think about how the waistcoat could work with a suit or with jeans or casual pants for less formal occasions. Versatility is the key when investing in suits.

3. When considering sleeve length, always make sure the sleeve of the jacket sits on the break of the wrist. This allows room for half an inch of the shirt to then be seen below the sleeve

4. Providing you are comfortable, traditionally the bottom button of any suit is left open. I often recommend to my clients to order a three-button suit for this very reason

5. For that funky look consider a one-button jacket

6. Remember: Having one or two key suits in your wardrobe in contrasting fabric and lining colours, and that fits you perfectly, is probably the most solid investment you will make in your workwear life and will allow you to feel comfortable and confident in any situation

The Butch Clothing Company offers face to face consultations in the UK and video Skype consultations to all clients worldwide. For more information see or email [email protected]