Photograph: Martha WilliamsJulie Freburg in her wedding suit

Civil-union style tips

Say I do in a suit tailored just for you.


“Men’s coats have shoulder pads that can be unflattering for women,” says Stephanie Garcia, assistant manager at Formally Modern Tuxedo. “Going in a smaller coat size and wearing the jacket open with a simple backless vest alleviates that.”

“A slimmer, long tie or a smaller bow tie work best for women,” Garcia says. Emily Hartl, queer style guru for afterellen.com adds, “If the rest of your wedding theme is dated, date yourself in your garments. Thrifting for ties is great—older ties tend to be a bit slimmer, especially the cool knit ones circa the ’80s, and are typically a good size for girls. Cumberbunds are cool for a vintage look.”

“A woman’s bust will often create wrinkles in a suit,” says Adrian Park, tailor at De Louice. “Consider bust darts or a princess seam. It’s also helpful for the tailor if you bring in photos of women in suits that you like.”

“Fit is the most important factor with suits and tuxes, especially for women,” says Bob Vanoni, formal-wear consultant at Black Tie Formalwear. “We tailor rentals for all body types. If the coat is too big in the shoulders or tummy, we take it in.”

“The suit jacket lapel and shirt collar are narrower to accommodate my smaller frame,” Freburg says.

“Be wary of women’s suits which often have feminine elements that don’t work for everyone,” says Trish Bendix, wife of model Freburg. “Women like Julie have to start with men’s suits, which take more tailoring, but it’s worth it when you have a perfectly fitted suit for your shape and size.”

“Try sneakers as opposed to a more formal shoe,” says Hartl. “They just need to be clean and new. A striped shirt paired with a checkered tie, or mixing any patterns with complimentary colors is a great idea to modernize and ‘loosen’ up the formal wear. Think Ellen.”

“A short jacket makes you look taller,” Park says. “Double-breasted suits are a more traditional look, but are form-fitted and trendy in the last year. Or to look nontraditional, try color stitching or, like one of my clients, fitted tops and baggy pants.”

“If an audience bothers you, perhaps setting up a private fitting appointment would be best suited for you,” says bride and model Julie Freburg. “Or ask your tailor what days are less busy.”

Visit these LGBT-friendly Chicago shops for a fitting: Black Tie Formalwear (3534 W Irving Park Rd, 773-649-3701); De Louice (1755 W North Ave, 773-384-8500); Formally Modern Tuxedo (2112 N Clybourn Ave, 773-975-7700); Monitor Formalwear (1422 W Wilson Ave, 773-561-0573)

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