The search for dapper, well-fitting clothing is over!
For too long masculine-presenting women, genderqueer people and transmen had to search for clothes in men's and boys' departments, where all the clothes were cut to fashion industry norms of a male body: The shoulders drooped, the arms dangled, the chests and hips just didn't work.
Now, Saint Harridan, a fine clothier in Oakland City Center, offers a stylish, serene, shopping space that measures masculine clothes that fit your body and personal style. There are off-the-rack styles to try and prototypes to customize and order.
A smart Bay Area start-up, Saint Harridan, is the brainchild of Mary Going, 48, a former nonprofit consultant and her wife Martha Rynberg, a solo performance artist, and teacher. In 2008 as Mary, a wavy-haired, petite, powerhouse of an entrepreneur, struggled to find a suit for her upcoming wedding, she and Martha set about developing a clothing company that would fill the lesbian and trans* community's long-standing need for a safe, supportive environment to cultivate their own handsome looks.
In 2013, Mary and Martha launched an online store offering masculine professional and formalwear. Last year, they took Saint Harridan on a roadshow across the United States staging unique pop-up stores in 15 cities.
On Saturday, September 12, 2015, Saint Harridan opened its doors in the historic Lionel Wilson flatiron building at 14th and Broadway. A jubilant party was already in full-swing by noon as women and transmen of every age, background and body-type welcomed this special store. Stepping out in Saint Harridan's fresh looks were a bevy of professional women, teachers, entrepreneurs, activists and artists. Some especially handsome Saint Harridan customers included model vocal activist and internationally renown conductor, Melanie DeMore.
A gorgeous studio with vaulted lighting, hardwood floors and vintage furniture, the shop embodies the best of old and new Oakland. Dazzling accessories, ties, cufflinks, socks and clothing adorn the room. Delicious fabric samples are neatly arranged on the coffee table. One part old-style tailor's fitting salon, one part collegiate or library reading room, tweedy, dark oak and leather and many parts light, cool and comforting, Saint Harridan offers a unique space.
On the door is a quote from Caribbean-American writer, radical feminist, womanist, lesbian and civil rights activist, Audre Lorde:
Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference - those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are black, who are older - know that survival is not an academic skill...For the master's tools will not dismantle the master's house. They will never allow us to bring about genuine change.
This quote means a lot to Saint Harridan shoppers. Especially to Ty Wells, creator of Bios Quarterly who commented
Saint Harridan knows how historical and radical this flag ship store is. It's not just about men's clothes for women and transmasculine bodies; and putting that quote on the door, makes a huge ststement. They created a space for the excluded to be included. They didn't use the master's tools to do it. They went straight to the unacceptable and asked if such an endeavour would be accepted; and we said yes.
When you step through the doorway, Dom Brassey, greets you, looking divinely dapper in her brown forties tweed suit pants, button-down and tie. Brassey, a self-described "fashion anarchist," "neo-minimalist," who travels light and "hustles for queer visibility" is a vision of poise, decorum and sage style advice.
A sharp marketer with a sixth sense for a person's vibe and ideal self-image, Brassey gently guides you to try on clothes and combinations you'd not yet imagined would suit you so perfectly and express your still inchoate ideal style.
Brassey was just the person Stanford University gender theorist and instructor Dr. Karli Cerankowski wanted to meet this Saturday. Karli, petite, soft-spoken and thoughtful, hoped to find the right suit for meeting with investors for her new trans* healthcare start up. When Dom coupled a heather gray suit with a pinstripe shirt and thin navy tie, everyone had to stop and marvel at Karli. In a perfectly tailored suit and crisp shirt, Karli beamed, looking ready to bring the world into 21st-century inclusive healthcare.
Also along on this shopping adventure was Stanford queer person of color, activist, writer and filmmaker, Gi Moreau, whose busy schedule includes an increasing number of important public appearances. Even before Gi walked into Saint Harridan, they already had a style of their own and knew what they wanted: Gi imagined a sharp-looking Berlin-style black suit for entertainment awards ceremonies. Gi got that and more. Dom advised Gi on the correct length of jacket and waistline for the black cutting edge suit.
As Gi and Karli were leaving, a civil engineer and her partner walked in looking for one suit for meetings and another for a Christmas time family celebration. Dom quickly organized a sharp navy ensemble with a crisp white tuxedo shirt. Though the shirt was just a sample for fit, something magical happened. The tuxedo shirt elevated everyday professional wear to a new level of chic; the lightweight navy wool brought out a sparkle in this engineer's eyes and the room cheered.
With Saint Harridan's impressive selection and Dom Brassey's keen mentorship, you'll spend your time in the store leisurely being measured for the perfect fit, sampling suit designs, shirts, vests, trying on sharp tie and pocket silk combos, looking fabulous and dreaming about big things. As Gi put it on the way out the door:
"This was the best shopping experience ever!"
Come get your dapper. Saint Harridan is nothing short of sublime. A great clothing adventure awaits you.