More Than a Suit: A Review of  HBO Movie Suited

More Than a Suit: A Review of HBO Movie Suited

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More Than a Suit: A Review of Suited

by Nic de Luna

Be prepared to bring a big a box of Kleenex to Suited. This documentary is so much more than just a film about a suit shop. Bindle and Keep has become a place for the queer community to find themselves, embrace their bodies, and feel safe. Located in New York, Bindle and Keep has already garnered a positive reputation among queer folks, and Suited gives us a glimpse into the world of queer tailoring. It’s an intimate portrait of the people that make up the heart of the business, and in telling their stories, the message that comes through is the power of feeling confident in yourself through your clothes.

 

This can be an easily glossed over message because being concerned with appearance is often seen as narcissistic. But feeling good through what you’re wearing is vital in our community. There is a real struggle present that queer folks face with navigating their outward presentation in relation to their gender or sexuality. It’s difficult to find clothes that fit right or look right, let alone gaining the courage to actually dress the way one wants to. Suited brings the importance of that message to life by revealing the personal reasons why people come for a suit, their experience with the finished product, and a peak into what having a suit that fits means to their sense of self and self-love.

 

We see this clearly though the stories of a few customers. The first is that of a trans man shopping for a suit for his wedding. He wants to make sure that he isn’t read as different amongst a line of groomsmen on his big day. There’s also Everett, a trans man in the beginning stages of transitioning and looking for work after law school. We learn about the blatant discrimination he faces and how having a suit that fits his body is a step towards feeling confident in himself and his journey despite the hate and hardship he endures. And there’s the story of a trans kid whose grandmother brings him in for a suit for his bar mitzvah. He stands in front of the mirror for his first fitting, eyes under heavy bangs and downturned mouth, explaining he doesn’t know what he wants because he has never felt comfortable in his clothes. Talking about not having friends at school and his struggles from coming out as trans, many of us are reminded of our own awkward and shy childhoods. These stories resonate with all of us, and remind us of just how much it means to have a piece of clothing we feel good in.

 

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The film highlights genderqueer folks as well. Suited includes them to convey the message that suits aren’t necessarily just for men. Suits are for everyone, and can empower different people in a myriad of ways. A young genderqueer persxn in the documentary explains that wanting a suit that fits both the masculine and feminine parts of themselves is one of the few ways they can feel validated in their identity.

 

Finding a suit takes time, and sometimes it is possible to find something off a rack. However, for many trans, gender non-conforming, and queer folks, that’s not always the case, and finding a suit that fits means needing to have it altered, or custom tailored in order to have it express the way they see themselves. For the queer community, a systematically oppressed and disenfranchised group of folks, having the capital to have something custom-fitted isn’t often available or possible, so when it does happen, it means so much.

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Fit is where the message in Suited begins to expand. Fit is essential to a suit, but it also applies to any piece of clothing we wear. Rae, one of the team at Bindle and Keep and the one responsible for expanding the business into the queer community, spoke after the viewing. He talked about how he wears suits less now, but wearing well-fitted suits influenced how he wears everyday clothes, in terms of how they fit his body.

 

We have all had the experience of trying on clothes and feeling bad about ourselves; Not feeling enough – thin enough, fit enough, tall enough, short enough, etc. This is an experience we have as queer people. Expectations are set onto us from the beginning, and fitting into a world that isn’t “fitted” to us is a struggle we face every day. Suited highlights this journey, and gives us hope that it is possible for us to fit. And that we have businesses that cater to our needs, our bodies, and our community.

 

Currently, Suited can be seen on HBO GO.

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