Shaz Riley, a butch Brit, recently launched The Butch Clothing Company, a custom-tailored label for butch dykes like herself. Apart from the tailoring, Riley says nothing differentiates her clothes from men’s formal clothes. “Us butch women — yes I accept I maybe generalizing — want to look as good in our butch suits as men do in theirs,” Shaz tells Queerty. “The detailing even the basic shape… our range of fabrics and colors is as good as any men’s… but perfectly tailored for any discerning butch women. Most importantly our suits are not feminised in any way.” Rad, thanks for clearing that up. Of course, between Madonna and Marlene Dietrich there’s a long list of iconic women sporting butch couture. So we asked Riley which ten lesbian ladies she’d like to see sporting her fashions. Here are her ideal endorsements.
WHO IS SHE?: Are you kidding? Accomplished lezzie tennis champ Billie Jean King called Navratilova “the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who’s ever lived.” She came out in 1981 and just finalized her divorce.
HOW BUTCH IS SHE?: Her left-handed backhand will split your skull.
RILEY SEZ: “Who wouldn’t want Martina wearing one of their suits?” Martina could wear a suit in a tennis match and still dominate with power and style.
WHO IS SHE?: A Scottish crime writer whose suspenseful Tony Hill series got adapted into the TV show Wire in the Blood. Two of McDermind’s most famous characters are a lesbian journalist and a psychologist who suffers from sexual dysfunction — rad.
HOW BUTCH IS SHE?: Her novels feature graphic depictions of torture. She’s also a mother. You need a stomach made of steel to withstand either one.
RILEY SEZ: Riley admires “the prolific Lesbian crime writer”, most likely because she’s an award-winning silver fox with over 25 novels under her belt.
WHO IS SHE?: A Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter who is also a noted animal rights, gay rights and Tibetan human rights activist. She came out in ’92.
HOW BUTCH IS SHE?: Her 1997 album Drag featured covers of songs dedicated to smoking. The album booklet featured lang wearing a man’s suit in another sort of “drag.”
RILEY SEZ: “[lang] could replicate the Vanity Fair Cover with Cindy Crawford wearing one of [our] suits.” Yes, but who would stand in for Crawford?
HOW BUTCH IS SHE?: Ellen wore a white suit to wed Portia De Rossi (De Rossi is definitely the femme). Ellen also used to work at a TGI Fridays. If that doesn’t take guts, what does?
RILEY SEZ: “Although Ellen may not describe herself as butch she would still look great in one of our suits.” Ellen definitely took on a more feminine look to host her talk show, but she’s still not one for dresses.
WHO IS SHE?: She was Shane McCutcheon on Showtime’s The L Word, playing a lesbian character who’s admittedly slept with somewhere between 950 and 1200 people. Dang, gurl! Even though Moennig has played a lot of lesbian and trans roles, she refuses to talk about her sexual orientation because “having a personal life is a sacred thing in Hollywood.”
HOW BUTCH IS SHE?: Moennig auditioned for the part of Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry and sports a tough look in her fashion shoots.
RILEY SEZ: “Is she even gay? But she looks cool and would look great in a suit.” Since Moennig once played a girl who dresses up as a guy to attend a boy’s school, she knows her way around men’s clothing.
WHO IS SHE?: Out since 1993, Etheridge is a Grammy and Academy Award-winning rock singer-songwriter and musician as well as an iconic gay rights activist.
HOW BUTCH IS SHE?: She’s fighting breast cancer and going through a divorce. Also, in 1985 OIlivia Records, a lesbian record label, rejected her demo. Etheridge saved the rejection letter and brought it out during the Lifetime Television documentary of her life, which is kinda badass.
RILEY SEZ: “She’s a cool dude with a rock guitar and jeans but she would look sharp as whistle in a suit.” Can I just say that I love the fact that Riley called Etheridge a “dude”?
WHO IS HE?: The only child Sonny and Chere ever had together. A tabloid outed him in the early 1990s but he, then known as Chastity, came out as a lesbian in 1995.
HOW BUTCH IS HE?: He’s a hell of a lot more butch now that his transition from female to male is complete, which makes him the only asterisk in our list of women.
RILEY SEZ: “A trans guy now but that’s cool.” That, dear Riley, is the understatement of the year.
WHO IS SHE?: A vocal British activist and head of The London Feminist Network.
HOW BUTCH IS SHE?: She lived in the woods for a year and a half “living in a caravan, cooking outside on the fire, spending Christmases and New Years at camp, getting arrested, organising demos, writing newsletters, chopping wood, swimming in the nearby reservoirs.” Like Thoreau with a bullhorn.
RILEY SEZ: Riley calls Mackay “my best mate.” A nice green tie would match those glasses something fierce.
WHO IS SHE?: A veteran female comedienne who plays the aggressive cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester in the Fox musical comedy series Glee.
HOW BUTCH IS SHE?: Go watch Glee now and find out. She can go from funny to withering in one second flat.
RILEY SEZ: “Very cool out lesbian… looked great in a suit in The L Word.” Did you see Lynch in The L Word? She played a blunt lawyer who puts two warring lesbians in their place… so sick! See it now.
WHO’S THAT?: It’s you, sillyhead. OK, not really. The picture above is Shaz Riley herself, founder of The Butch Clothing Company. Always the businesswoman, Riley said she’d like to see you wearing her clothes. Next time we’re in London, sir.
HOW BUTCH ARE YOU?: If you’re a man and you’re reading this, you’re probably as butch as the average drum majorette. But if you’re a woman and you’ve made it this far, pull down your skirt and hike up your trousers.
RILEY SEZ: “As every butch is a legend in her own life time I want the whole butch world wearing BCC suits!”