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Finding the perfect wedding outfit

Following suit

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Photo gallery

Colette, left, is fun and flirty in a white collared shirt and matching taffeta pencil skirt with corset-styled cummerbund and Donna, right, looks casual in this mint green brocade-embellished, contemporary smoking jacket and matching light wool pants.
Cindy lounges in a sleek, silk, cream-colored jumpsuit with oversized frog clasps made of twine.
Sarah looks classically cool in this tuxedo-inspired cutaway jacket and pants in white silk and satin.
Stun while making a statement in rich, plum-colored pants paired with a brocade jacket and matching vest by Dangerous Mathematicians. Add personal accessories, like a sparkling chain, to give subtle hints about your “golden” personality.

The traditional, white wedding dress is synonymous with weddings. Designer Vera Wang built an empire upon a woman’s desire to wear the classic gown on her big day.

But what if Wang ain’t your thang?

What if you’re more of a Stella McCartney, Neil Barrett, or Viktor & Rolf kind of gal? Or what if you have no idea who any of these people are — you just want to look stunning.

Try something different.

“I have girl clients that never wear dresses,” says Arthur Arbit, a master-tailor and founder of Williamsburg’s Chasing Tailor. “They will come in, try on a dress, and look gorgeous — but be just so awkward in it. What makes people look good in clothes is being comfortable in clothes. That’s not about women wearing suits, that’s for everyone.”

There’s a wide variety of options between a cream-puff hoop skirt and a traditional groom’s tux. If you’re having a hard time finding an ensemble that will allow you to glow at the altar and groove with grace on the dance floor, here are some pointers to help you stitch together the perfect ensemble.

The custom-made suit

Men’s suits usually don’t fit quite right, and some women’s designs can make you look boxy. For a chic look like Tilda Swinton or Ellen DeGeneres, try the Boerum Hill-based Dangerous Mathematicians (check out our above slideshow to check out some of Dangerous Mathematic­ians’s designs on past clients). They are part of an emerging niche market catering to lesbian brides, and their formalwear allows women to tweak their look to their specific style.

“You don’t have to stick to the masculine-styled suit,” says head designer Karen Patwa, citing a pantsuit with very long jacket to mimic a dressy silhouette or a feminine coat.

If you decide on a custom-made suit, personalize it. Pay attention to small details — they can make or break an outfit. For instance, if you choose a suit with a menswear-inspired silhouette, you can soften it by adding a silk lining or accent the look with a flowing scarf instead of a tie. The final product should reflect your personality.

Heading to a place like Dangerous Mathematicians or consulting a tailor is the best way to get exactly what you want, but keep in mind that the process takes time. Be sure to give your professional at least three to six months for consultation, design, fitting, and final touches.

The off-the-rack alteration

If couture isn’t for you, you can still look great in something store-bought but you must get it altered. Women who opt for gowns go for at least two fittings, and the same goes for suits.

“If something fits properly, it’s an automatic great look,” says Arbit. “The silhouette will look like it was made specifically for you.”

Most of the suit can be tailored when you buy an off-the-rack garment, but there’s one area you can’t fix.

“Make sure the shoulders fit,” advises Arbit. “Everything else can be tweaked, but you’re limited when the shoulders aren’t right.”

If you’re shopping at a menswear shop (like Men’s Wearhouse, which carries a great selection of suits at every price-point), ask a salesperson for help — especially if you’re an inexperienced suit-buyer. It’s easy to buy the wrong size even if you think it’s right.

Beyond fit, consider adding your own touch — particularly if your style is low-key and relaxed. Choose embellishments that reflect who you are, like favorite colors or distinctive accessories. Remember, you wear formal attire to distinguish a moment, but you distinguish yourself within that moment by making a personal statement.

“It’s important to push yourself a little outside of what you normally wear,” asserts Arbit. “You can use clothing to empower yourself.”

Nice day for a non-white wedding

Same-sex sweethearts are more and more going for color.

“Many lesbians get married in dresses, just not white ones,” offers Brynn Cole, a San Francisco-based wedding officiant. “I think it’s a conscious decision among a lot of gay women, because the white dress is very symbolic of a traditional heterosexual wedding.”

The non-white dress is also chic and modern. “One of the big bridal trends right now is color,” confirms Nathalie Kraynina, a Brooklyn designer who specializes in women’s apparel. In fact, recent celebrity brides like Anne Hathaway and Jessica Biel wore pink on their big days, while Amber Tamblyn chose bright yellow. Christine Quinn and her spouse Kim Catullo stuck closer to tradition last May, the City Council speaker wearing a cream Carolina Herrera gown and Catullo a cream silk evening suit from Ralph Lauren.

Fashion houses are taking note of the fuller spectrum of colors — 2013 bridal collections by Valentino (which was donned by Hathaway) and Oscar de la Renta offer crimson and pastel floral patterns. Dangerous Mathematicians and other local designers also have a wide array of color options for women’s suits.

“Wedding wear can be anything,” offers Kraynina. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what you wear as long as it ‘suits’ you.”

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Reader feedback

Bernadette from Forest Hills says:
Don't forget an online retailer of ready to wear suits, tuxes and accessories especially tailored for lesbian, queer and trans weddings!
March 22, 2013, 10:18 am

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