Tag Archives: androgyny

Reinventing Menswear

Saint Harridan

Reinventing Menswear for Masculine Women and Trans Men

“We’re saying that masculinity is an equal opportunity aesthetic.”

Menswear-inspired fashion for women isn’t exactly new, but masculine-presenting women and trans men still have a hell of a time finding cool threads.

“It’s been part of my story my whole life,” says Mary Going, the owner of Saint Harridan, a clothing company that caters to butch women and trans men. “Standing in the closet when I’m supposed to be getting ready for my kid’s concert at school or somebody else’s wedding, and just hating what my options were.”

Saint Harridan founder and CEO Mary Going

Courtesy of Mary Going/Saint Harridan

“I’ve had a lot of experiences just feeling uncomfortable in my clothing,” she adds.

For Going, the tipping point came in 2008, when she had a suit custom-made for her wedding. It wasn’t just the experience of having garments tailored specifically for her, but the feeling of finally wearing a suit that not only fit her body, but looked the way she wanted it to.

So, in 2012, Going launched a crowdfunding campaign for her own label, one that would specialize in clothes for women like herself, as well as trans men looking for high-quality duds.

saint harridan

Saint Harridan

In a way, Saint Harridan is a reaction against how mainstream fashion has consciously feminized menswear pieces for cisgender women.

“What we’re doing is saying, ’I’m being masculine,’” Going explains. “We aren’t making a menswear-inspired suit for a woman; we’re making a suit for a woman’s body and it’s highly masculine. You could wear heels with it if you want to, but that’s not our intention. We’re very intentionally masculine. We’re saying that masculinity is an equal opportunity aesthetic.”

saint harridan

Saint Harridan

Conscious of the limits of gendered language, Going is quick to put air quotes around terms like “women” and “men,” “male” and “female.” The name Saint Harridan itself is a comment on those limits: “If we were to use words like ’stud’ or ’butch,’ we would inevitably represent some people, but leave others out,” Going explains on the company’s website.

“We looked for a word that could expand our options. A ’saint,’ among its many other definitions, is a founder, sponsor or patron of a movement.” As for “Harridan,” Going has reclaiming the word, which means a mannish old woman, and was used as a slur not long ago “to keep women from venturing too far from societal expectations.”

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But to re-envision classic men’s garments for female bodies, Going and her team’s task was more complicated than they expected.

“The suit was definitely the hardest thing, because it’s so highly constructed,” Going says. “But all the garments we put through the same process of looking at what works and what doesn’t work, ways to improve the fit.”

Some of the changes were obvious—reducing the length of the jacket, lowering the rise on the pants—while others were less apparent. Differences in men’s and women’s posture, how they walk, the way they hold their arms when standing—all affected construction.

Saint Harridan

The result is a line of masculine clothing cut for bodies that traditional menswear companies have never considered.

All Saint Harridan’s suits are custom-made, starting at $1,200, and require an in-person fitting at the brand’s Oakland flagship store. But customers can order a number of ready-to-wear dress and casual shirts online, as well as pocket squares, bowties, tie clips and other accessories.

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Going hopes to eventually offer more ready-to-wear pieces, including pants, jackets and full suits.

But Saint Harridan isn’t just the story of a particular niche company—it’s also the story of a way of doing business. “I actually kept hoping someone else would start this business!” Going admits with a laugh.

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She was no fashion expert going in, although a six-month sartorial boot camp overseen by fashion blogger Sheree L. Ross helped Going get her bearings. Her real strength was in recognizing a need the market wasn’t meeting.

“That’s what I bring to the table—thinking, ’What about this could change to make it more efficient, more cost effective?’”


Saint Harridan

To that end, Saint Harridan is completely crowd-funded: Garments are preordered before going into production (to reduce waste) and are usually made in small batches. Essentially, Going has done for Saint Harridan’s business model what she did for its garments: deconstructed and reinvented it to work for people like her.

There’s an Audre Lorde quote on the front door of Saint Harridan’s flagship store in Oakland: “The master’s tools will not dismantle the master’s house.” As the costume of those in power, men’s suits and ties are in a sense “the master’s tools,” but Going is quite literally dismantling and reassembling them to empower people like her.

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Saint Harridan

“Blurring the line between the binary sexes is incredibly important,” she says, and can have an impact beyond just fashion.

“We have to work within the context of where we are. When I’m in South Carolina and I’m walking through the airport [in a Saint Harridan suit] I am making a very big statement.”

And a mighty stylish one, too.

You can shop Saint Harridan online or at their flagship store in Oakland, California

Article From NewNowNext




So I got this catalog in the mail yesterday and it really caught my eye.  Not because of the clothes, per se, there is nothing at first glance that is particularly revolutionary between its pages, in fact you can find just about every style they offer in many catalogs and stores where you go to buy well-made casual menswear. What I liked about it was how it made me feel. It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a catalog that made me actually want to peruse it.


It is a subtle but definite step into the direction of making flannel, khaki’s, Chukka boots and leather jackets a little more modern, yet keeping it rugged.


There is a sense of whimsy about it and the clothes really fit the brand.  The whole of it evokes camping or being in the woods in the winter. Or even yet, being a well dressed-down hipster.

Brown Jacket


In looking on the website, because I honestly thought this was a spin-off company from a larger retailer trying to appeal to a hipper audience, I didn’t find much that made it personal to the founder Matt Cooper. But the designs are true to his design muse.



Like the name insinuates, he likes polished carbon and rough cobalt.  Matt’s intention is to “design unique details into the clothing that will enhance your individual style”.



The quality of their product looks good overall and they do a fine job of offering a nice variety of categories, though very curated.




All photos courtesy of Carbon2Cobalt website

Happy New Year 2013!

Wow! We made it.  And that is saying a lot, for in my experience many people in my sphere of love and friendship transitioned to planes far beyond this one where I know they are experiencing the fullness of what they learned on earth and what they plan to bring back on their next journey.

For those of us still buzzing around and creating and discovering I am thrilled to say that there is an incredible shift in the air as far as fashion, lesbians, queerness, masculine beauty, design and designers go.

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Saint Harridan

As you well know I am fashion advisor to the fabulous brand Saint Harridan, that not only surpassed their goal on Kickstarter but became the 7th ranked fashion fundraiser in the history of the crowdfunding site!  Congratualtions to Mary Going and his team of talented and amazing people that made this all possible.

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Saint Harridan

I am also happy to say that other lesbian owned and operated companies that were featured on Preppybaba last year are still growing and thriving and I look forward to seeing more and more entrepreneurs with fashion dreams take the plunge into the market.

(I do consult on such matters, so feel free to contact me at CONSULTING)

Here are some pic’s from the other fabulous queer fashion houses for 2013. (Shop queer!)


And new to the list:


In their own words – Tomboy Tailors is a fine clothier specializing in custom-made suits and shirts of the finest quality that are made-to-measure in the material, cut and fit that you want.

2013 is starting out to be a great year in the world of queer fashion.  I am truly excited!



ANTM’s British Invasion – Azmarie

Ooo – la-la!!  Azmarie is hot by anyone’s standards and she was last nights winner of America’s Next Top Model.    Every season Tyra tries to stir things up with a bi-sexual or lesbian but this season she definitely out did herself with Azmarie.  Even my sweetie has a little crush on her (and if she were my type I wouldn’t be able to resist either.)

You know I love androgyny so I absolutely love Azmarie’s look.  She was clearly born that way.  Her pouty lips and intrinsic personal style are almost too hot for television.

I was scared for her last week because she did not deliver on her photograph and I was afraid that despite her gorgwa-ness she wasn’t going to be able to make  it work on camera.

But she more than made up for it this week and brought not only delivered a not picture but also brought  it as a leader and creative director (though I also think she excelled because she loved being able to touch all the ladies!) 🙂

My household is rooting for you Azmarie.  I hope you get to be crowned America’s Next Top Model.  We all will be well represented.


Photos courtesy of:


Walter Van Beirendonck

Well this is my second draft of this.  In the one before I was clever and funny.  Then I hit the wrong key and the whole thing erased.

Sadly I do not have the time to be clever and funny again.  But I do want to tell all of my Dandi’s out there about this surreal designer Walter Van Beirendonck.

25 years in the business and he is still out-preforming his contemporaries in stretching the boundaries of fashion to the point of exploding them all together.

Originally a part of the Antwerp-6 (look it up) he has turned the essence of Grace Jones into a menswear collection unlike any other.

The collection is called Sexclown (you heard me).  Don’t be scared away by the name or the innovation.  As a Dandi you should always be looking for signature pieces. Choose wisely here and you will be the talk (in a good way) of your friends and admirers.

Photo’s courtesy of:




Kamondi Couture

Photo by Abiodun Olanrewaju

Kamondi Couture is a London based luxury brand designer label of women’s suits and shirts.  This new line is the creation of Ugandan born friends Emma Mohamed and Sonia Ygo.  Kamondi Couture is a wonderful spin on women’s suits with a very androgynous menswear inspired Bespoke twist.  Their Fall collection features pin-stripe, flowered and sheer fabrics and is an interesting and visionary approach to women’s clothing.  I had a chance to ask them some questions about their line and the future of Kamondi Couture.

The two of you have taken the beautiful color and pattern elements of African fabrics in your ready-to-wear and integrated them with the western ideals of fashion.  How does Uganda inspire you when you design?

Photo by Abiodun Olanrewaju

Our first collection was inspired by men’s tailoring so we did not have any influences from Uganda.  But in the future we are sure that we will look to Uganda for some inspiration.

Where did you two meet and how did you decide to design as a team?
We have been very good friends for many years and we are also related as in-laws.

Taking on the idea of creating a successful fashion line is a very big deal.  What gave you the inspiration, motivation and the belief in yourselves?

Photo by John Marxis

We believed that there was a gap in the market to offer tailoring infused with vibrant, unique prints whether African or Western.  We often wear our own shirts and always receive nice comments from people asking us where we got that shirt.  That alone was biggest motivation to start the line and still is.  We meet a lot of people interested in a few pieces from the current line.

Why an androgynous take on women‘s wear?

The frustration of not being able to find well tailored and fashionable suits or shirts for women as you do for gentlemen.  The idea was to take a gentleman’s look and altering it into a ‘gentlewoman’s’ look.  The idea behind Kamondi is allow any woman to achieve a softer androgynous look with any our pieces.

Name one designer, artist and musician that inspire your work.
We are both inspired by David Beckham.  In fact, we both watched him being interview on the Jonathan Ross show.  He was wearing this sharp grey suit with red socks.  We both thought imagine that look but on a woman.  Watching that show gave us the inspiration for this collection. To basically take the traditions of men’s tailoring and refine them for the feminine silhouette.

Photo by John Marxis

How many collections have you done?
We did a capsule Spring/Summer 2011 collection, which followed our Autumn/Winter Collection

Is the androgynous point of view a permanent vision for your brand and label for the foreseeable future or a trend until the next idea comes along?
Kamondi Couture is about suits and shirts so that is what we will always be about.  We plan to evolve our line every season with different concept, but still offering suits and shirts. We do also offer dresses and other pieces within our line too.

Photo by John Marxis

Where can people buy your fabulous collection and will it be available in the U.S. or by internet soon?
We are working on making our collection available to buy on our website so please do visit our website from time to time for updates.

What’s in store for you spring/summer collection?
It wouldn’t be a surprise if were to tell but we are working on the next collection and hope everyone will love it just as much as they have like the first one.



I think the essence of Dandyism in anyone’s style is the refinement of androgyny.  Be ye man, woman, boi/butch/andro/trans or gay, Dandyism is about more than just wearing masculine inspired clothing, it also carries with it the femininityand elegance of  presentation.

Salvatore Ferragamo, best known as one of the worlds premiere designer of shoes, is also a brand that includes elegant fashion lines for both men and women.

I can never say enough about suits because they are the cornerstone of masculine dressing and they  are also one of the bigger bug-a-bears for the gender bending Dandi.  To buy a suit cut for a man’s body is to do a dis-service to your own curves, yet that is the point for many of us.  Unfortunately in order to hide curves we wind up having armholes that are too long, shoulder widths that are too big and pants with waists too wide to accommodate hips and crouches to low.

This can be a real problem for shorter, slighter Dandi’s.  In fact there are many who buy their suits out of the boy’s departments but it can be challenging finding fashion forward trends.   For slighter Dandi’s it can be worth it to have your suit tailor made.

And it is not always necessary to wear a suit even if you are looking for the more formal look of a jacket and pants.  The looks above can give you ideas for how to mix it up and still come off looking great.

Now if you’re not afraid to wear women’s clothes then Ferragamo also has some beautiful suits for women.  I love this suit, particularly the coat, though for me I wouldn’t wear the pants.  They do not look good with flats and are designed to show off the ankle and be worn with heels.  I would, in fact, wear a masculine cut pant, maybe navy (I would not try to match the silver blue), or ones with a pattern. I would also wear both a men’s tie with this as well as the one shown.

I know some butches and bois do not like to wear women’s clothing but if you don’t care and are comfortable with any interpretation of the masculine aesthetic then don’t be afraid to mix and match designs for men and women in your wardrobe.  You will be surprised how this can solve some of the fitting challenges you face.

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