The Handsome Butch

In case you ever forget I'm here to remind you that you have the right to be handsome.

The Commandments for Making Your Suit Last

There are measures you can take to lengthen the life of your suit when you’re wearing it as well as when you’re not. This is the abridged version, so please visit the original, unabridged post on Love Inc.

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When you’re wearing it:

  1. Avoid putting anything in your pockets—unless you have pockets that were designed and constructed to support your iPhone or wallet. Wool has a memory. Over time, your pockets on your jacket and your pants will sag from the weight of your odds and ends. Denim is forgiving and some folks like the look of worn jean pockets, but on wool suits, it just looks sad and it can’t be repaired.

When you’re not wearing it:

  1. Make sure you hang your jacket on a hanger that has the right width for it. Some hangers will be too large for the shoulders on your suit and you’ll see the edges of the hanger pressing against the arms of your jacket (as seen in the photograph above). If that happens, invest in a smaller hanger; otherwise, when you go to put on your suit, you’ll have marks on your sleeves from the hanger. One that’s too small won’t support the shoulders of your jacket, which will cause drooping. 

Visit Love Inc for the rest of my tips.

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Plain Gold Ring Has a Story to Tell

When I was a queer baby in the ’90s, every time I saw someone wearing a wedding ring, I placed them in the straight column of my brain (the other column was loosely titled like me?). It feels like it’s been a hundred years since then, both for me and our culture. I recently did something I never expected to do: I got engaged. 

I’ll preface this by saying that the future Mrs. Handsome Butch and I made this up as we went along and simply did what felt good to us. Neither of us had expectations of ever wearing an engagement ring, and now we both are. She has a tiny diamond ring from the 1940s, and I have a plain gold ring that makes me look like I’m already married. 

We went to over to the very tiny, very lovely Catbird on the north side of Bedford Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets, and found my ring within minutes. It’s a 4mm half round (vs. flat) band — on the slim side, but proportionate to my hand, and less delicate than their 3 or 2mm bands. In my brief search for a ring, I learned that men’s bands traditionally have widths between 4mm and 8mm. I would just recommend starting at 4 and working your way from there to see what feels and looks right. 

My ring’s white gold (I’m saving yellow gold for my wedding band), and it has a matte finish. Here’s what I’ve learned in the past few weeks while wearing this ring: 1. gold is a very soft metal and it scratches, and 2. eventually the matte finish will wear off and a patina will take its place (my aunt who’s a jeweler taught me that!). Perhaps the first of these two things will be the most important to keep in mind if you have plans to wear a gold band; 14k (what I got) is soft and scratches, while 18k is softer an scratches more, etc. If your ring scratches, you’re not doing anything wrong. I actually went back to Catbird to ask if I was doing something wrong and got confirmation that this is normal for gold when it’s exposed on the hand.

Here’s a picture I boldly took while on the street during the polar vortex:

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Here’s the link to Catbird’s Men’s/Unisex collection of bands. In God We Trust (in Greenpoint, Williamsburg and SoHo) also has a collection of Commitment rings here. If you’re looking for a ring, the best advice I have is to go into stores and try them on — especially if it’s your first ring and you don’t know your size or style just yet. It’s okay to window shop — it’s educational. And even though Etsy has so many beautiful things, it’s hard to know how a beautiful thing is going to actually feel and look, so definitely do your research before placing an order for something. My sweetheart and I both took turns ordering each other engagement rings on Etsy and we had to return both of them. Jewelry is really tactile. Go out there and try it on, folks. You got this.

[Note: while we only had to go into Catbird to find my perfect ring, we went to a variety of really nice shops here in New York to find the perfect vintage diamond. In case you happen to be looking for one yourself, I recommend: Erica Weiner (there’s a shop in Brooklyn and the LES), Doyle & Doyle (West Village), Pippin (Chelsea) and Dylan the jeweler (who’s in Jersey City).]

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Aesthetics x Activism

Happy new year, folks! At the very end of last year, I began working at All Out, an organization based here in New York City that’s committed to decriminalizing homosexuality globally and working toward a world in which we’re all free to be who we are and love whomever we choose. 

We recently collaborated with Athlete Ally (another amazing organization that’s committed to ending homophobia and transphobia in sports) on a clothing line produced by American Apparel (who needs no introduction).

The line is based on Principle 6 from the charter of the International Olympic Committee, which “declares any form of discrimination on the grounds of ‘race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise’ to be ‘incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement.’ There are widespread fears that a federal law that took effect in Russia in June, barring ‘propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships,’ is an attempt to suppress homosexuality among Russians and will also discriminate against gay athletes and visitors at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia” (New York Times). 

We celebrate the Olympic principle of non-discrimination and call for an end to Russia’s anti-gay laws before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi (starting February 7th!). Athletes like Belle Brockhoff (above), an Australian snowboarder who recently came out and who will be competing at Sochi, have joined the campaign. We want as many spectators as possible to join her (along with almost 50 other Olympians!), and us.

If you order a hoodie, a beanie, some tiny briefs (to each their own) etc, the proceeds will support the campaign and Russian LGBT groups. There’s also a petition which I hope you’ll sign to show your solidarity with our Russian brothers and sisters. 

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The Masculine Mystique

The New York Times published a story about Bindle & Keep, myself and our clients called The Masculine Mystique. I’m excited and thankful that the work Daniel Friedman and I have been doing for the past year and half is getting this kind of attention. I’m also excited about how statue-esque my dog looks in the photo below, as well as how clean my apartment looks. Mostly I’m excited about how handsome our clients look!

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I just want to take a moment to write a follow-up to the article, which has an unprecedented amount of personal information about myself in it. While I value my private life and consider my gender identity private, I have also learned the value in allowing my identity to become more public. I’ve never really used this platform to explicitly talk about my identity except for in the context of style, but I do feel like it’s important to do that now, for a moment.

I’m quoted as saying I navigate a tiny space between two identities. That’s the space I tend to be assigned to exist in based on my appearance. I am impressed that this space exists and that it’s so easy for me to inhabit. But I want to add that I don’t see myself the way other folks see me. My identity is a defined thing; it’s just too private and complicated to discuss with a reporter. There are other details about my life included in the article that I would not have chosen to divulge but I take comfort in the power of visibility and this unprecedented portrayal of gender diversity. 

This is the bottom-line for me, folks. Last night, as I was getting ready to have dinner with about 50 family members in the Bronx (God bless the Bronx), I was feeling over-exposed by this article and thus anxious about seeing my people. I took a moment to refresh my email (this is how people in the 21st century soothe themselves) and saw that a gentleman I do not know had taken the time to write to me and say that I am courageous, and that our visibility moved him to tears. I can’t say how thankful I am for his well-timed message.

P.S. Rachel Maddow, I want to make you a suit. 

P.P.S. Really I just want to measure everyone in the world for a perfect pair of pants.

P.P.P.S. I don’t actually wear a suit when I’m at home hanging out with my dog.

P.P.P.P.S. For those concerned about my pronouns, please don’t worry. As my high school Earth Science teacher used to say, “I don’t care what you call me as long as you don’t call me late for dinner!”

P.P.P.P.P.S. Here’s my version of our story as published by the Huffington Post’s Gay Voices in February: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/2638530

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Bindle & Keep Gilt City Sale for October

I’m happy to announce that Bindle & Keep’s having another Gilt City sale through October 8th. Please feel free to get in touch with me in the comment section or privately via rachel@bindleandkeep.com if you want to discuss how the process works! And just as a reminder, here are some of the handsome suits I’ve measured folks for:

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I hope to hear from some of you! Oh, and happy fall, aka wool season! My favorite.

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A Queer History of Fashion at FIT

As of today, there’s an exhibit at FIT called A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk. It’ll be at the museum through January, in case you want to see garments like this bomber jacket (c. 1978) which was donated in memory of a gentleman named Jack Fenstermacher:

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There are also activist t-shirts, a Jean Paul Gaultier cone bust dress and current wedding ensembles included in the exhibit, which was designed by the fellow who wrote Stud: The Architecture of Masculinity, nbd. The collection isn’t limited only to 20th and 21st century garments; you’ll see garments from the 18th century too.

Here’s a piece that was in the New York Times a couple of days ago if you’d like to read more about the exhibit and its curators.

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theparisreview:

To celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of The Paris Review, a shorts story.

I’ve never reblogged anything here before but these swim trunks are killing me. Happy anniversary to The Paris Review!

theparisreview:

To celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of The Paris Review, a shorts story.

I’ve never reblogged anything here before but these swim trunks are killing me. Happy anniversary to The Paris Review!

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larazontally asked: You recommends Murray's, and it's great hair stuff. But how on earth do I get it OUT of my hair?????

This question deserves a public answer. Murray’s is some powerful stuff! My barber told me that this pomade takes about 15 washes to remove, and to use a shampoo like Head & Shoulders (by the way, I happen to use H&S x Old Spice and I recommend it). If you don’t want to wait 15 washes, you can try using a little olive oil to break the pomade down. Good luck!

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Bindle & Keep | Gilt City New York

I’m happy to announce Bindle & Keep's latest Gilt City sale has just started! You can get a custom suit for $595, a custom tuxedo for $695 or a custom suit plus 2 custom shirts for $995. I can’t really emphasize enough how good a deal this is — it’s far more affordable than both off-the-rack and made-to-measure suits, and our suits are handmade for you. If you buy a voucher and want to make an appointment with me for your fitting, send me an email at rachel@bindleandkeep.com! I hope to hear from some of you folks!

Bindle & Keep

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Roundup: Butch Wedding Style

I’m really excited and thankful to be included in this A Practical Wedding blog post on butch wedding style! Elisabeth (who wrote the post) and I met recently when I had the pleasure of visiting her and her partner at their home for a custom shirt fitting. If you folks have any questions about the work I do with Bindle & Keep as an LGBTQ clothier, please feel free to email me at rachel@bindleandkeep.com!

While I’m here, I can’t help but also say GOOD RIDDANCE to DOMA and Prop 8! I know there’s still work to be done, but today is a damn good day.

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