I hadn’t heard of Fourteen until I ran into long-time Boston Dyke March organizer, Christine Hurley and got to talking about my Passion for Fashion (happens within 3 to 5 seconds.) She introduced me to this new queer wedding attire company, founded by lesbian/queer wedding planner Bernadette Smith. And now after getting the chance to talk with Bernadette and Fourteen fashion designer Marialexandra myself, I’ve become wildly impressed with their efforts to combine creativity and craftwomanship to fill the gaping holes in the world of lesbian and FAAB gender non-conforming formal wear.
There are several queer clothing companies out there now making their mark (Marimacho, The Butch Clothing Company, Saint Harridan, and Androgyny; among others) and each one has their unique offerings. But unlike many of these companies, Fourteen also designs for mid-spectrum folks looking for non-dress options that still embrace their curves. By offering 2 fits options: Standard fit and Boy fit, Fourteen serves a wide range of gender presentations. And each separate is very versatile in terms of how you choose to wear it. Wouldn’t this velvet jacket look also amazing with a billowy blouse?
The team got a head start on research through Bernadette’s years of work as a wedding planner. When they started Fourteen, they conducted many focus groups to ensure satisfying everyone’s needs when it came to fit, style, and varying body types. Marialexandra observed people putting on the clothes to get a sense of how their previous clothing had fallen short of their needs. Most of us, when putting on ill-fitted shirts, tug things here and there to get them to fit right. When the participants tried on Fourteen’s clothes, all their fit problems went away for the first time. (woah, imagine if you didn’t have to tug your shirt down to get it to fit over your hips properly!) Fourteen aims to create well-fitted garments for the whole range of bodies, including those who bind and pack or are post-op.
Available now on their website are a velvet jacket and a Sateen jacket with pockets, each in several classic colors; six vests (one of them has sequins inside!), 2 dress shirts in 2 lengths for untucked and tucked wearing; 3 pants; and 9 pieces of neckwear made to match the garments, available in several sizes to accommodate those with smaller necks and shorter torsos. The designs are edgy, creative, and vintage inspired. It’s clear that designer Marialexandra has a talent for understanding what queers need and want in their formal garments.
One specialty Marialexandra told me about was hidden chest darts. For the boy fit, Fourteen is keeping the sides straight up and down, and using hidden chest darts to leave room in the chest area. This technique is very uncommon, and something none of us have seen on off-the-rack clothing. (Chances are The Butch Clothing Company uses them too, but Shaz won’t give away her secrets!)
As Fourteen continues to get off the ground, they will release more clothing outside of formal wear! Marialexandra is already working on several designs for underwear, binders, and swimwear! All available in about 6 months. And further down the line; maternity clothes! Can’t wait to get my hands on some of these.
(Photo cred: Patty Nash Photography)
As Qwear's Founding Editor, Sonny’s work centers around envisioning a future in which the clothing people wear does not dictate their chances of survival. Sonny was awarded 2015 dapperQ of the Year and was the first trans blogger to be sponsored by Topman. In March 2016, Sonny spoke at South by South West's first official queer fashion panel.