FILM

Suited
By Daniel Seifert With on February 14, 2016

The New York tailoring firm of Bindle and Keep asserts that a bespoke suit of clothes is a “self-portrait in fabric” (www.bindleandkeep.com). The documentary film, “Suited”, focuses on the work the firm has done with members of the transgendered community, and draws parallels between the idea of custom-tailored clothes and an individual’s gender identity. The film follows several clients who come in wanting a suit for a special occasion – one is getting married, another is turning 40, another wants to be taken seriously on job interviews. Almost all of them express the frustration at not being able to purchase clothes “off the rack”. The stories cover a variety of transgender experience from full transition, to “top surgery” only, to those who are just beginning the journey. Each is given the opportunity to share their story, focusing on their memories of growing up and feeling uncomfortable in their own skin. We are allowed to hear their concerns about what the suit should hide or minimize in terms of curves, and the general hope that they will finally be able to see their outward appearance match their internal vision. The tone of the film is very affirming and respectful. It presents the stories in a straightforward manner, focusing on the dignity of the clients rather than any negative reactions they have received. A few of the clients share pictures of themselves as children, and the family of the man getting married share openly about their experience of walking with him through the transition. The most poignant moments in the film come when the clients see themselves in their finished suits for the first time, and they experience the joy of liking their reflections, maybe for the first time ever. Though not overtly activist, the film nevertheless challenges those raised in a “gender binary” tradition. Can we begin to think of gender as a spectrum, instead of mutually exclusive male and female poles? If the God we profess is the perfect expression of both male and female, can we open our minds to accept that each individual is some combination of the two, and that these combinations are exactly as they should be? Whatever one’s particular feelings on the subject, the film is a beautiful depiction of the search for joy, and the deeper meaning of a well-made suit of clothes.

About the Author: Daniel Seifert
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