Suit Up: Strawberry-Lime Buttermilk Cake

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

-Who says you can't have your cake and then try on fourteen different jackets?- 

I'm on the verge of getting my Pink Card rejected for a number of infractions - last and probably most prominent of which is my total inability to dress myself like an actual adult.

Most days I just sort of throw myself at the closet and hope for the best. On some days I somehow cobble together an outfit that's actually passable, and if the light hits me just right rather dapper (to match my cunning, rather witty personality that I envision myself having). Other days it looks like I'm on the Fashion Police's Most Wanted List, needed for questioning on the brutal murder of good taste and matching socks.

Of course, this probably stems from my other - and far greater - gay crime: my total apathy for shopping. I hate shopping for furniture, a new broom, paper towels, frames, and so on. I despise dragging myself through throngs of people who invariably bump into you and who have no sense of decency or manners. I despise salespeople who don't get that I want them to leave me alone and who somehow vanish off the face of the earth in order to have a collective coffee break the moment I do. I despise comparing and trying on clothes and the fact that making out in a changing room is apparently a crime. (Fun Fact: I'm banned from the Gottschalks in Davis, California.)

-Getting to second base is the best way to break in new shoes, amiright?-

Most of my homos are abhorred by these admissions. I shrug. I explain it's just how it is. My gay genes were skimped a bit. I blame taking wood shop and golf as my electives in Middle School. My scarves are practical knits and none of them have fringe or patterns.

I'm just not that swishy.

Normally, this isn't much of a concern to me unless someone notices previously admitted mismatched socks. However, when I have to dress for special occasions it becomes a source of anxiety. This is a bad thing because that's another penny in the jar that I just can't afford. I have enough anxiety over EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD as it is. 

(Like yesterday when a preying mantis crawled on my leg. Oh god.)

So dressing for this wedding thing has been rather disconcerting. Most people say, "Oh, just wear a tux." One: No. I'm just not a tux person. Two: I have to match.

You see, this whole gay marriage thing is still a relatively new. Brides? You wear a white dress. Boom. Done. Still confused? You have any number of magazines, shops, websites, blogs, and books dedicated to the subject of how to dress for your wedding.

People, there is no guide for what to wear to match your husband-to-be's military dress uniform at your gay wedding. I have Googled the words in so many ways and it does not exist.

-First no instructions on how to take over Cuba with a cask of Molotov cocktails and a wig, then no Rule 34 on Martin Luther, and now this. WTF Internet?-

Which means I'm winging it. Forging new paths through matrimonial fashion jungle. And boy, is it haute out here. 

Normally when I go clothes shopping I call up my friend Kate (who is also my wedding planner) and I let her pick what clothes I should wear and I buy them and proceed to wear them as she instructs me. All and all, it's a pretty solid working gig. However, on this we were both a bit lost. Tie to match military green jacket? Or Should my jacket match his? He'll have bling. Army bling! Ribbons and medals and those little things that stack up across the breast pocket. He'll be wearing actual epaulets. 

How the fuck do you get matchy-matchy with epaulets?

-And more importantly I need to know how well this jacket shapes my ass.-

I dragged my friend Kate along to go shopping with me in order to find suit, shirt, shoes, tie, and socks for the wedding. It was all rather shockingly easy. We found the suit - the perfect suit, mind you - at the first store. Still, one should compare and check and after much fussing and trying on and plenty of measuring tape (I'm a 38-Normal jacket size, I've learned, with a preference for modern trimmed in the waist cuts). Yet after chasing hither and thither through the throngs at the mall we came back to our first choice. The same happened for the shoes and the tie and the belt. First choice. Spot on. Best option.

Even the sales people were easy, helpful and beyond pleasant bordering on adorably sweet as well as plain adorable (Daniel at J. Crew in the Sacramento Arden Mall, you are a saint). Admittedly, though, one woman at Nordstrom's was rather caught off guard. She first assumed that Kate was the bride. Next, when I mentioned that I was trying to match military dress, she assumed dress meant a woman's military dress. We showed her a picture of Fiance in uniform to which she replied an off-guard "Oh!" Still, she was quite helpful.

So yes, in the end we came up with a suit in Irish linen that works strikingly well and shoes that are smashingly sexy. We also came up for the rules that I hope the Internet and future gay military grooms may find useful:

How to Match Your Partner's Military Uniform for Your (Gay) Wedding:
  1. Jacket and pants should be a complimentary color. For example, if he is wearing Navy military dress (e.g., a black jacket) you should wear a black, navy, charcoal, grey suit. If he is wearing classic military (e.g., a green jacket) go khaki, chino, light grey, or light green.
  2. White shirt. Always.
  3. Tie should match your partner's jacket color. Feel free to go a few shades lighter or darker, but no more. 
  4. If you want a pocket square, by all means go ahead. See rules on picking a tie.
  5. Cufflinks or tie clip. Pick one, not both. Normally I frown on gold jewelry of any kind but in this case it's allowable as most military bling is in copper, brass, or gold so we can allow a pass so you both match.
  6. Your shoes should match your belt. This has not changed and nor will it ever.
-A Cognac color in the belt can never be wrong, either.-

After your shopping trip I encourage you to sit down and relax a bit. Treat yourself to cake. No need for matchy-matchy (though strawberry and lime are complimentary). A buttermilk cake is designed for simplicity. It's a lazy bum's cake. A cake for those who cannot dress themselves properly and who have no hand or desire to pipe a fancy frosting lace. Throw and go with a buttermilk cake. That's what it is. 

Simple as it is to put on, it goes with everything. The little black dress or suave chocolate oxfords of the cake world. Perfect for a fancy dinner when dressed with a bit of lemon curd or sorbet or for last minute guests and tossed with a bit of fruit. 

Feel free to use whatever fruit you have. Plums would be nice in summer as would persimmons in the fall. Add herbs, spices, or whathaveyou to make it seasonally appropriate. 

It goes with everything; matchy-matchy or not. It even goes with epaulets.

Strawberry Lime Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
zest of 1 lime
1 egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400F with a rack sitting in the middle position. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda & powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Beat the butter in a mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on high. Add the sugar, lime zest, and vanilla extract and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat for another minute being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom.

3. Add the flour mix and buttermilk in a dry-wet-dry pattern until both are used up, mixing only until the ingredients come together. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom to ensure even mixing.

4. Fold in the strawberries, then pour the mixture into the cake pan and level the batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with tea.


  1. I really loved this post Brother. I must have gotten all the shopping/ fashion genes. Your guide for gay armed forces wedding is pretty rad, the whole time I thought you should be writing to Oprah or something, they would have a field day with this. Or the Ellen Show. something. love you.

  2. Congratulations! I never thought how tough it must be for two men to look smashing together at their wedding. Most of my married gay friends had really casual affairs, so it wasn't an issue.

    Also, my best gay friend is not "swishy" either. Great term. He has trouble finding dates 'cause he's a nerdy Hispanic guy in to indie rock who doesn't have chizzled abs. Haha.

    Lastly, I need to stop reading this blog 'cause I have made the last few items and loved them, and now have nine pounds to lose. Or maybe I could just get some willpower and not eat half of every item I make, giving away only the other half. I need to remember these are 6-8 servings, not two. :)

  3. Must make this immediately!

    As far as what to wear- give it up. You are not going to be seen when your fiance is wearing all that bling. Everyone is going to be blinded. ;D OR, be sure you give everyone sunglasses so that their eyes are protected and they can see the whole ceremony.

  4. Okay, you and my partner in crime must be related. She hates to shop for anything, and then says things like "I used to have dress shirts, where did all my dress shirts go??" To which I reply Ma'am, that was 5 years ago, and they have been given to goodwill (thank the goddess above.)

    I usually make it a win, win situation by not involving her at all. I just buy things and put them in the closet, and then she thinks the closet fairy has left her another post.

    By the by, I love your writing, you make me smile daily. :)

  5. Well, it seems you found a smashing outfit (hard to go wrong with quality linen), but I was going to recommend the formal dress kilt. I was witness to one wedding in which one groom was in dress blues and the second groom was in a formal kilt and the combination worked incredibly well.

    The big question is: will the new pup be involved in the wedding?

  6. Kelly: We're working on working puppy in. Maybe get him a little tie. ;)

    Anon: Thanks! Glad you like the blog!

  7. Wow... I love your recipe. I love your blog... I'm in Canada and your blog puts some California sun in my day :) Thank you!

  8. Sometimes I wish I didn't love shopping so much, though I know my credit card companies would be disappointed.
    You should definitely work in the little new puppers for the ceremony. Puppies in weddings are always a win.

  9. What about those awesome shoes from Camper we saw last April? Can we find a way to work those into the wedding attire?

  10. Infamoushamburlger's idea is brilliant - take it to Ellen, not to Oprah. Ellen will appreciate your wit way more than Oprah. This is definitely a fresh frontier as far as uncharted style territory goes.

    The cake looks good.

    Also, I'm a girl and I hate shopping for clothes. It's not even that I don't like clothes - I can't stand all the same things you mentioned.

  11. I think fashion is one of the dumber ideas our species has come up with. My approach to dressing is seasonal uniforms, basically. Jeans with long sleeves/sweaters or jeans with short sleeves. Practical low heeled shoes. And the answer to hating shopping is the internet.
    But you did great!! Linen is wonderful. And as long as you and boyfriend are both smiling, who cares? Oh, and Jack will be smiling too.Cake looks awesome.

  12. As to your banishment from Gottschalk's in Davis, you have no need to worry further. It has been transformed into a Forever 21 and I believe that sort of behavior is encouraged there.

  13. I can't stand shopping either,I am totally a mismatched socks, order clothes online type of girl.I feel your pain.

    I generally avoid malls like the plague for all the reasons you mentioned (ugh! having my personal space violated!) and for how impossible it is for me to find clothes since I'm mixed race and have the ass /hip circumference of a black girl and the teeny waist/ flat chest of a white one.

    I'm glad the dress up elves had their eye on you though, having such good luck on your first time out seems like a good omen for the wedding.

  14. I've been making and eating the standard SK version of this cake for about as long as I've been totally in love with your blog.

    For reals, bro. Good stuff.

    Boy, I'm awkward.


    Congratulations on the impending wedding and shopping success!

  15. Fun post-- love it!
    Buttermilk cake is one of my faves- can't wait to try your version. Strawberry- lime...mmmm!

  16. Great tips - surprising there's barely anything out there already to be honest!

  17. This was hilarious, I really enjoyed reading this! I have a similar issue, I want to eat cake and have an array of different outfits, it's a hard life!


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