Dec 30, 2015

Epic. Iconic. Mine.

I find time and inspiration today, dear Friends, to finish the year with a scribble and a thought or two. Won’t trouble you with any ponderings on the import of the waning old year or the opportunities presented by the waxing new year. Today is all about fashion.

If there were a Maslow’s Hierarchy of feminine presentation, battling for the peak of the pyramid would be a handful of epic designs, pieces so desirable, timeless and celebratory of womanhood that generations of women lust for them. Me too.

The Chanel Clutch. The Louboutin Pump. The Cartier Watch. Things that effortlessly broadcast “because I’m worth it” in a way that L’Oreal needs to spell out. Pieces that, if one ever really found herself stranded in a war zone, you could pawn for an exit visa (but deep down you know you simply wouldn’t part with them). 
It is a select list, and I propose to add to it. 

The Diane von Furstenberg Wrap Dress.

The DVF Wrap was perhaps the most perfectly timed design since Noah’s Arc. Ms. Von Furstenberg had just recently pitched up on American shores from a design apprenticeship in Italy with a bag of her own early samples and an appetite for a new life.

“You know, I made easy little dresses. That's what I did. I didn't think I was actually designing them and I didn't think I was making a fashion statement.”

Over 40 years later, The Dress is still a valid fashion statement. It was in the early 1970’s a part of genuine revolution, a turbo-charger to the Feminist movement. The 20th Century woman had been chiseling away at the constrictions of fashion with tiny but important hammer thwocks for years … Greta Garbo in tuxedo. Kate Hepburn in slacks. Small platoons of bra-burners finally fed up with girdling, garters and exaggerated silhouettes largely dictated by men who displayed a nearly uniform lack of regard for comfort or appreciation of the natural and distinct beauty of women.

This turbulent era saw American women entering the workforce in greater numbers and with higher expectations than had been the case since WWII. “Libbers” carrying on the great work of the Suffragette movement confronted male power structures in the corporate world at distinct disadvantages, lacking role models, networks, legal protection from workplace harassment or broad access to child care facilities.

And on top of all that, just what the hell were we to wear to the office? The skirt/blouse combo just screamed secretarial pool, catalyzed countless coffee runs and reinforced glass ceilings. Initial fumbling fashion responses focused on aping masculine fashions. Big shoulders, straight lines, bland palettes, cuffed trouser cuts, boxy shoes and perhaps the tiniest concession to femininity, a bowed collar rather than a necktie. Nobody was having any kind of fun with this look.

Then came The Dress. I am wearing mine just now. Let me describe it. The Dress just flows. A stretchy silk / lycra blend, it goes on like a shirt and wraps up like a dream. It falls to the knee and cinches high on the waist. Gentle, gossamer fabric obscures imperfections of figure, a discrete flash of thigh delights when seated. Plunging ruching at neckline beg for jewelry and feature the natural blessings of bust without giving the store away for free. It just moves so freely, it feels like nothing and like nothing else at the same time. I could not walk like a man in this garment with a gun to my head. I, like Leisl, feel pretty. O so pretty.

They flew off the racks and invaded an unsuspecting world. A garment that celebrated female form and dressed it for comfort all at once. Suitable for the office and aching for the evening transition to dinner and dancefloor. I can’t say that Disco was ever my cup of tea (more of a Clash girl if you must know), but that thankfully fleeting cultural moment would have been entirely, unredeemably, god-awful-er without The Dress.

And talk about quick pee-breaks! Gather it up, drop the knickers, do the business and get right back to the revolution.

Patterns proliferated. Colors exploded. Lines and lengths, sleeve and collar treatments were tweaked and freshened up season to season, but the essence remains. I am Woman, hear me roar, in fashion too good to ignore.

Sparks flew and designers followed with a hall pass to create looks that vived La Difference, that did not simply ape male ape shapes, that celebrated all that you and I have within us and, on good days, on our surfaces too.

Found mine at Neiman Marcus Last Call yesterday. Had not visited the NM Value / Clearance venue before and honestly expected to kiss a few frogs and go home without anything slung shoulder-wise. Given the generally ritzy price-point zip code of good old Needless Markup, I was fortifying myself with reminders about just how expensive the holiday season has already been and how uncertain tomorrow can be.

Said defenses melted when I saw the DVF section and was reminded that somewhere deep in my subconscious I had for decades lusted after this dress (as both spectator and participant as it happens). There were a small handful left on the rack, mostly skinny 2’s or curvy12’s, but one perfectly sexy six, riotous in black, blue and white tropical garden motif.

Arms going like a veggie dicer peeling off my things and into the embrace of what I knew instantly started a journey decades ago with the sole mission of wrapping around me with the kindest, purest embrace I have ever felt from a supposedly inanimate object. Out to the three-way for a twirl and a look see. Chatted with a fellow shopper who practically teared up remembering her first DVF and said the universe would rightly be upset with me if I did not go home with The Dress.

I could not, did not argue. Aided by a substantial year end mark-down on a markdown my new beauty came home at about 35% of original retail too, score for Petra. Be assured that she looks better than the snap indicates, and even if not, the feeling compensates, insulates and celebrates everything I love about my own Voyages en Rose.

I do not suspect to ever be in the position to justify the purchase of Icons mentioned earlier in this post. Let me take that back. I have a perfectly functioning second kidney. With a tissue match I would probably sign up for the Clutch and the Cartier. And with a little frugality the Louboutins are actually in reach. I do after all have a birthday coming sometime in the new year, yes?

If I get them, you will be amongst the first to know.

Happy New Year.

xoxo - Petra

Dec 13, 2015

On recent encounters

Earlier this week, after Business Class filed in, the not-so-elite rest of us swarmed the gate. The line zippers neatly into single file, and toes do not get crushed for the most part. I said “after you” to a woman and took my place next in line to get my boarding pass scanned. As we idled in the jetway she threw a conversational volley over my shoulder to the woman behind me. I realized they were colleagues and that I had slud (that’s the Georgia past tense for slid y’all) betwixt them.

“ooops. You two are together, I’ll get out of your way”

I cleared a little space for 2nd woman, dressed smartly for business to occupy, and join her companion. We made a small triangle.

“No, it’s all right, we get about enough of each other”, smilingly she said.

Their conversation resumed. 1st woman to 2nd:

“See? Happy? Glad you took my advice?”

She gestured down, and I, being me, took note of the casual loafers quietly padding the carpet beneath tights and skirts. Clearly, the heeled pumps were in their upright and locked position in the carry on bags.

“Oh god yes, my feet were killing me…”

I smiled.

“Oh, but now I am being judged” says woman #2 looking my way.

“No, no, no, I am not the judging kind”

“Men judge, come on admit it”

“Sure, but I am not like most men”

3 quick swipes and a couple of clicks later, there in my palm, a smart picture of Petra perched atop her typical 4” closed toe stilettoes.

“I am good for 6 hours, tops, in these. And no way could I drag a bag through an airport in heels”

She gave me the quick head-to-toe, took my iPhone, panned and zoomed.

“Whoah! OK, I believe you, you are not judging. But you are kind of judging aren’t you?”

“Well, yeah. I still think you have nice legs, even without the heels”.

Smiles and second looks. She handed the phone to woman #1. Same routine, evaluating the delta between the pretty picture and the present evidently masculine me. She handed the phone back with a smile. The line resumed forward motion towards the door for the desperate dash for overhead bins and the dubious comforts of our various seat assignments. We 3 lost each other in the mosh pit. 

I hoped vainly that they might chat about the encounter during our flight home. Perhaps yes, perhaps no. We live in times where surely there are more pressing or confusing or interesting things to talk about than a chap who happily shares pictures of himself in a dress with complete strangers. So I also hoped they got back to whatever they were focused on and did not take much note of our encounter.

And that, dear Friends, is a little microcosm of my own quandary vis writing, blogging and etc. What, pray tell, does one have to say that hasn’t been said? What is remarkable enough to remark upon? Not sure of the answer, but vainly I suppose I might take a swipe and a click or two at chatting with you for a while. Quite certain you are not the judging kind either.

Firstly, I believe that I have never been more happily in the grip of my need to express femininity. My work situation is home officed. What I save in commute time gets spent, in part, on dressing. There is nothing in the work day that necessitates a male presentation layer. I have the voice I have. It sounds the same whether I am in PJ’s or LBD. I remember to not click-clack around in heels without the mute key during con calls.

Being winter time, my surfaces are sleek. I so love the feeling of smooth skin, I so love pampering my legs, and I still marvel at their appearance even though I have known them pretty well for close to 54 years.

The wardrobe continues to grow. The growth is more refined, more old-vine than it was in the mad compulsive early days. Good god but I went through the shops like a combine through a wheat field then. Kissed a lot of frogs figuring out size, silhouette, suitability, sexiness, the whole shebang. The apprenticeship worked.

I have everything (in terms of wardrobe) that I need. When I add a piece, it is correct. And if the piece is not drastically discounted, patience, that supremely womanly virtue is exercised.

So, opportunity to express is abundant. The wardrobe is correct. The season is welcoming. Life is good. But it is all a bit solitary. For reasons I will not go into in detail here, the girl doesn’t get out as often as one might hope. But I do get to rub elbows here and there, time to time, and that does the body and soul good, yes?

Let’s take yesterday as a fine and still well remembered example. My addled mind has at least that much recall. 


I had a rough outline of the day in place, and a part of it came into sharp focus on coffee #3. Redhead. Gorgeous. Red. Hair. My primary wig is getting a little tired and who am I fooling with bangs at this stage of my life? So, dressed (khaki mid-calf side-zip, knot-waist, cheetah-print top and a light cardi), made up and tottered off.

Tragedy and triumph all in the same motion. The tragedy is that my complexion just dies under red hair. Or auburn. Or strawberry blond. The whole damn spectrum fails me and I must tell you that realization stings more than just a little. Red hair has always snapped my head around for a second look. I want a little of that magic. Alas, thwarted.

That said, all the colors under the sun are on display. The store is a veritable arena, filled to capacity with unmoving alabaster faces beneath the blond, brown and black, the monochrome and highlighted, the kinky, the curly, the wavy and the straight. Take a Petra tip, when trying on more than one wig, take a selfie for reference purposes. It took about an hour to wade through the candidates and adopt my new hair. The picture will save me a thousand words and you a leap of imagination and a few minutes to boot.

I love the new me. Still can’t shoot a selfie for beans, but hopefully the shape of the smile confers my delight.

So, with new tresses in place and a dire need to show them off, uptown to Anna Bella we go. I found this gorgeous lingerie shop last year while I was looking for something else, and a parking spot opened up just as first I pulled by. I had a good chat with Proprietor Pam that day about likes and dislikes, but being in drab mode did not want to avail myself of a fitting. Have had quite a few fittings since then. Honestly, no need for more knickers in my life, but there is simply no place on the planet more completely, exclusively and exhilaratingly feminine than a fitting room with a brace of bras on the hook.

I am willing to indulge for that feeling. God help me I even pay full retail. Retail is to me as daylight is to a Vampire, but here I make an exception. The merchandise assortment is terrific. The lighting is great. The fitting rooms are spacious. And the staff, god love ‘em all, are just a delight to be with. Having a girl-friend help you on and off with pretty things, wrapping yourself up in a little kimono to pad around the shop, striding out into the day with a be-ribboned bag, festooned with tissue paper and stuffed with pretty things that are perfect, it just does not get any better.

The shop was just newly opened when I first stumbled in. I suspect I was Pam’s first openly special-needs shopper. I know I am not the last. But dammit Pam, if I am not your favorite, I just don’t know what to say. Love you! As for the rest of today’s readers, if you are in Atlanta, go visit.

With a new pair of pretty sets in hand, back home to feed the mutts and turn up the style dial a notch or 2 for a trip to Lips. Now I know that Drag Reviews are not everyone’s cup o’ tea, and when done poorly, a little offensive to me too. Staff and Performers at Lips however are first rate. The joint is sold right out, 3 shows a night Friday, Saturday and for Sunday brunch and for good reasons. The food is good, the show is wild, the audience participation is full throated.

It’s the Bachelorette and Birthday party set that really light up the place though. The guests are 90-95% female and sweet merciful do they Dress. Tall heels, short hems, smokey eyes, big hair and completely free (more or less) from judgy guys, they have a totally liberated blast. I love the place. Perhaps, as a result of my appearance, I am waved in minus the cover charge, and warmly welcomed. With a little luck there is a free stool at the corner of the bar while the early show buzzes out and the ecstatic hilarity of the 9:00 seating gather and glow.

I dress to compete, and if victory is measured in how many times one is asked “where did you get that dress?” or told “I hate you for your legs”, well then, I win

Complements are to me as plankton is to whale. I’ll drink anything to get my share. I am that shallow. So there. But truly, the half dozen chit-chats one engages in prior to the show starting are pure gold. I feel welcomed. Unjudged. Natural and normal.

Periodically, a meaningful discussion will erupt. Discussion about race, or economic fairness, about where we grew up and what we miss, the places we have been or can’t wait to see. Last night I chatted wine with a pretty Sommelier. We were both squealing about our mutual love of Gruner Veltliners and Dornfelders and had a little hug about the sorry state of Chards in this part of the world and why can’t we find a crisp Chablis anywhere?

On another recent visit, I volunteered to take a group snap for the 4 women who were only getting 3 in the frame at once. I wound up in a massively engaging and sincere private chat with the smart, confident and abundantly beautiful daughter of famed Olympic medalist John Carlos. Mr. Carlos was and remains a real hero to me on 2 axes. In youth, I ran track, competitively. Olympians were gods. Of greater consequence was Mr. Carlos’, (along with Tommie C. Smith) startling, epic and vital contribution to the American Civil Rights movement.

I can’t recall what trip-wire we hit to get to that point in the conversation. My right arm went up reflexively in closed fist salute to my new friends Father. The hair on my arms stood straight up too, tingling, electric. The presence of greatness. She was floored that I knew the lore, felt the meaning of what happened in Mexico City in 1968. We spoke for some time about how far, in some ways, things have come in this part of the world for people of color since. And how things, in many ways have stood still or bounced backwards. She is clearly successful, and outwardly undaunted by the barriers, prejudices and ignorant attitudes that make her success a tougher job than my success is.

I am conscious always of the unearned benefits and advantages in my life. I am healthy. I was born in a loving, literate and supportive home. I grew up in a rich country. My mother tongue is English. My complexion is pale.

I am playing with house money, having won a ridiculously longshot lottery. Anyone with the same lotto ticket and the feeling that they have an axe to grind is just missing something fundamental.

I have a bonus number on the lotto ticket, by the way. My evident gender is male. For all my delight with the deep personal pool of femininity I paddle about in here and there, my masculinity suits me well.


Mrs. Bellejambes asked just the other day. “Do you want to have a sex change?

The question was unexpected. I did not have a ready answer. With a couple of days to stew on the ask, I have an answer I did not have before.

I would prefer a world change to a sex change.

We get a little closer, by the day sometimes don’t we? Closer to a time when openness about our full spectrum is more possible.

I can scarce believe that is was over 8 years ago that I started ordering thoughts into words here on my Voyages en Rose. While much has changed for me, much has changed in the world too. 8 years ago I could not picture a world where the sort of gender fluidity that is characteristic of my privileged life could exist. I feel today as though it is possible, and perhaps inevitable. At least for people with a few other crap shoot advantages of time and circumstance.

I hope your time and circumstances are favorable, improving and enlivening every damn fiber of being that you possess.

xoxo - Petra

Oct 13, 2013

Petra and Mrs. Bellejambes

Google Analytics tells me that as many as 5 or 6 visitors pitch up daily here. Surely the vast majority are relentless bots, preying and prying on lonely hearts with blandishments of links and love. For those of you with a heart, fondness for this dusty old book, and hopes for seeing it tidied up a bit, welcome back.

Petra shoulders her bag and does her thing from time to time, just not so much here in the Digital Commons. When Petra does do her groove thang, it’s all still gorgeously electric. Then, after a change, a wash up and maybe a good night’s sleep, poised at keyboard, I am able to summon up only the chronicles of a chronically dull teenage girl.

Dear Diary. Did eyes a little smokier 2day. Went shopping. Had cocktail. Not sure I like the smokier eyes. Still hate my arms. Aaaarghhhhh!!! Laters!!!! xoxo

There is no lack of banality around us, and I am loath to add to it. So there. This is not to say I do not love smoky eye looks, shopping and cocktails. I most avowedly do. I simply cannot find the great and illuminating themes within those happy moments that convince me I have something of value to share.With you.

But what would we be if we did not try?


Mrs. Bellejambes and myself were readying to attend a milestone birthday party a couple of months ago. A surprise party. We knew the guest of honor was too smart altogether to be surprised, but her husband put so much work into it, we felt obliged to play along. Theme of the party was all mod / hippie 60’s, the carefree short hemlined era in which they had met.

I had not put much thought to what I might wear, but Mrs. B. was entirely swept up in the spirit and was planning and modeling her ensemble weeks out in advance. Never shy of a shoe shop, she found a perfect pair of white go-go boots with a danceable stacked heel. Up top a very contemporary abstract print in wild hues of chartreuse and violet, hitting a couple of inches north of her knees, very clingy and gorgeous on. I helped her get the head scarf right and offered up a perfectly good pair of my own vintage, 100% nylon sheers in pink. She rather hates tights, but condescended for the occasion, and had to admit that quality makes a difference. I counseled on make up too, doing a Sephora run for some outlandish lashes. Big lavish falsies, another first for the dear thing.

She was giddy and girlish with all the prep in a way she typically is not about dressing. In fact, she reminded me of me. I was so happy for her, envious of her, and oddly proud of myself for being able to help out a little. Then, mere hours before the event she asked:

“What are you going to wear?”

“O god, I haven’t a clue. Thinking of running over to Pyscho Sisters and renting something. I am sure they have a good Carnaby Street look or two …”

“Why not go as Petra? You could totally do 60’s …)

Well, darlings, I was not expecting that. I pretty quickly put the idea on ice. Most people are awkward enough in these settings without adjusting to the presence of exotic wildlife like Petra. Just too much to explain to too many in too little time. The party would have been too much about me, and god knows what the after-party chatter would have gone to.

“Maybe next time honey. Thanks for asking though”

I did mentally run through a dozen outfits I could have pulled together in a heartbeat that would have celebrated the era of peace, love and legs as I drove across town to get a more conventional 60’s guy look together. And we did look terrific, danced like idiots and had a blast. 

She meant it when she asked. And that means much to me.


Some weeks later I was halfway across the country missing out on Southern Comfort Conference. Long damn week in nicely appointed cabins in the woods with other leaders of my business unit. Think-a-thon by day, drink-a-thon by night. Me grinding my teeth in idle moments knowing I was missing out on National Prom Week in my hometown. Late home Friday night, tired and happy to be again with wife and peerless dog, I woke up Saturday with a burning need.

“Darling, tonight Southern Comfort wraps up. Would you mind if I dressed and took in a night out?”

“There will be drinking. No way you are driving”

“I can park overnight and cab it home. Or you can come too. How about it?”

“OK. Will Cindy be there? How about Gabrielle?”

“I honestly don’t know, but hey, you are sure to see some people you know”

Snacks and drinks with some old friends met at the lounge. Tall Bobbie, stately Barbara, and the whole floating, fragrant parade of girls all strapless and cinched, big-haired, small purse party night looks, such fun. Loads of chit chat about friends not seen this week, and where the hell have you been air kisses and hugs. Mrs. Bellejambes is to be admired really. It can’t be easy on her, she did not seek out this wild company. Bless her she shared a table with us all and give my knee a nice tap time to time.

She seems to be more willing to indulge Petra, or at least has gotten past all the reflexive and entirely understandable Waco Tango Foxtrot impulses that must possess a woman married to man with some of the differences that I, and perhaps you, have.

In point of fact, perhaps Petra has some catching up to do in this regard. Petra needs a little more work on indulging Mrs. B. You see, I have always been more concerned with how my wife copes with, reacts to and lives with Petra, “the other woman”. There is another level I have been oddly blind to:

How does Petra cope with, react to and live with Mrs. Bellejambes?

I must self-assess a failing grade. I tend to dress for times when the house is empty. I adopted this behavior out of a desire to spare my gentle wife moments of confusion and despair. Perhaps I even found a little nobility in it all …. “see, I am willing to sacrifice, and keep Petra more or less out of site, that’s how much you mean to me …”.

Seen from the other end of the telescope of course there is a whole ‘nother picture. Selfishness, lack of openness, furtiveness. Perhaps from that perspective, even dishonesty.

Mrs. B has shown the resiliency and adaptability that woman, in my experience, typically bring in better measure to life than the lads do.

If I claim to be a better person as a result of having tapped into my famous feminine side, where, precisely, did I mislay my own resiliency and adaptability?

I still fumble trying to find things in my purse pockets you know. Keys to the car, and maybe keys to the future, Going to find a flat surface, empty the bag and have a little sort through things.

Might need to bide some time with a cheezie diary entry here in meantime….

Dec 31, 2012

Complements of the Season. The other kind.

Having disposed, darlings, of the Compliments yesterday, it is high damn time I turned to the Complements. Return with me to the definition, provided by my go-to, slightly-better-than-sketchy online resource,

com·ple·ment [kom-pluh-muh nt; kom-pluh-ment] noun

1.     something that completes or makes perfect: A good wine is a complement to a good meal.
2.     the quantity or amount that completes anything: We now have a full complement of packers.
3.     either of two parts or things needed to complete the whole; counterpart.

Today then, I am taking my focus off of the nice things said here and there (i.e. compliments) and turning scattered thoughts to the things that completed 2012 for me, complementary things.

Complete is a relative thing, a vanishing horizon. I stretch for it always, hoping to not snare it fully. Petra much prefers restless to rested, hungry to full, tantalized to satisfied. In review, 2012 did deal up a good measure of complementary stuff, moments, habits, and things that did for moments or do, in the Dr. Evil sense, complete me.


Writing remains a source of delight for me, and a genuine venue for discovery and expression. I sometimes feel as though I am not creating as spontaneously or creatively as I did when this blog was a toddler back in the day. Many, really most of my gender frontiers and boundaries have been pushed out to their natural and full extent. There are fewer shockingly new things or novel ideas available to me. Less to ponder and fewer words to set to print. This resulted in an all time low of 10 posts for the 2012.

It seems that I am following a common pattern here. Those of us who newly embrace our gender plurality (or whatever variance of special we possess), and have a penchant for blathering on about things in general tend to strip the ground clear down to stubble pretty quickly. Year 3 or 4 in the life of the T-Blogger is typically pretty moribund. Those of you who find a way to post regularly have my admiration and a tiny measure of low grade petty jealousy. Meg and Stana, Lynn and Janie, a tip of the pillbox cap to you.

I do believe though that the written word here on Voyages en Rose for the year is good and complete. Longer form essays taken at a walk with a slower pulse, more mature and settled, less adolescent and breathless. I have written for honesty, and for plain expression as much as I am capable of. In doing so, I am writing in a more convincingly female voice than ever before. Gender Analyzer believes with 81% certainty that the 2012 edition of these Voyages is written by a woman while the 2010 version of me was a relative butch at 71%. Yesterday’s post came in at 84%. This pleases me.

Writing, completes me.

I write elsewhere too of course. 2012 was a great year for me at Guilty Pleasures. I am the principal editorialist there, responsible for product reviews and the overall style and tone of our surprisingly busy and influential little Lingerie blog. I penned about 20 essays there, mostly reviews of products sent my way by vendors looking for a little publicity. I have become, really quite unexpectedly, a bit of an authority on knickers. I have guest posted on bigger, more influential blogs, and been cross linked, hash tagged, re-tweeted and otherwise digitally cast to the four winds. I am a girl that gets around.

I am assumed to be female by those vendors who seek out my voice and the attention of Guilty Pleasures readers. I do not challenge anyone on the issue. We communicate (for the most part) via email, and it is a correspondence of courtship and intimacy between women. I have found the PR agents, marketing execs and brand leaders who I work with to be super kind, fun and generous women. It is a source of joy for me to share a proposed creative theme, suggestions for product assortments and early drafts with my clients. I get large parcels with handwritten notes of gratitude, smiley faces and fingers crossed in hope that all the pretty things inside fit and feel good. It is business, yes, but it is also girl talk about some of the most completely feminine stuff on the planet, lingerie.

Girl-talk, my dears, very much completes me.


Getting to know what my tastes run to, what suits me, the criteria that go into evaluating a garment for goodness, greatness or notness has been a real labor of love. It all started by modestly here on Voyages en Rose some years ago with weekly hosiery themed dalliances. Long time readers will recall Petra’s Pantyhose Parade. I fumbled there in the dark to develop a critical eye, an engaging voice and a useful measure of expertise in the hosiery arena. I have since developed what I must immodestly call connoisseurship in a bigger broader field. It has not come easily. It has come in sustained frothy rivers of silk and satin, clasps and cusps. Some of which is pictured above as I take on the annual Re-org of the Drawers Project (yes, we all have our silly year end rituals).

Knowing knickers as I do makes a very real difference in my life. Out en Femme earlier this week, I was able to find a perfect bra / panty set from legendary French brand, Chantelle within minutes of walking into the roughly 4,000 sq ft. of retail space set aside for intimates in Bloomingdale's, needle in a haystack stuff m’dears – go ahead ask your wife if you don’t believe me.

In such settings, I am very much the predator, the accomplished huntress. There were a half dozen brands I knew would be of no interest to me. There were certain boutiques not yet marked down. There were chaotic clearance bins and racks here and there. I ran the calculus, excluded what would not work from view, and isolated something desirable in mere minutes, Terminator like efficiency I thought. I had not worn Chantelle, before, but knew from reputation that their ranges run a little small in the bra band. I did go up size, walked my pretty 70% off retail handful to the service counter and asked the woman there if I had made the right decision in up-sizing.

“Yes, Chantelle does run a little snug, the 36 should be perfect for you. Please try it on to be sure, won’t you?

“Thanks, but not tonight. Too many buttons, too little time you know. I’ll take my chances my dear”

“Just keep the tags on. I’ll staple my card to the receipt, please look me up if things are not perfect."

Things are perfect. 

Perfect Lingerie completes me.


The same could be said for all aspects of wardrobe. I stopped making fashion mistakes this year. I know which things I own that I will never wear, and have them boxed up for delivery to shelters and services that can use them. I can resist temptation when the item is not ideal. There are no more repeats. Honestly, there are no gaping holes in my wardrobe, and no overarching urges to add. I spy the odd thing here and there, but am not a slave to impulses any more.

Having a great wardrobe, a complete wardrobe, completes me.


Having a friend to share this with, the ups and downs, the good and bad complements my life too. My partner and the founder of Guilty Pleasures, Ally is a woman. She lives in Europe, and has escaped from a corporate setting to try her hand at a number of entrepreneurial ventures online and otherwise. She communicates with me in one of her many second languages, English with great precision and craft. I cannot remember quite how we connected, but Ally offered me a guest post spot way back in 2010. This lead to a correspondence and in time, a generous and more lasting partnership in the enterprise, my name on the masthead if you will, administrative access to the back end of the WordPress machinery, contact with prospective vendors and etc.

We share notes back and forth about our work, yes, but have learned slowly over time to be friends with one another, to share more generously of our thoughts, and our advice for each other. We speak to each other as sisters. She is my best Girl friend.

Having a Girl friend, being a Girl friend, dear friends, completes me, really completes me.


I have insights and feelings of connectedness with the 51% of the world that the other 49% cannot hope to have. Perhaps you too, Dear Reader, being who you are, understand that. Having a girl friend, and being a girl friend, well it all comes with fierce responsibilities, loyalties, sensitivities. These things endow the relationship with a wonderful warm patina, a soft finish and feeling absent from our masculine relationships.

I cannot have that relationship with Mrs. Bellejambes. My wife is a marvel of adaptability, she must be, yes? Seventeen years later and us still an item, bless her warm, stout heart. But she signed on for a husband, a friend, a lover, for many things. She did not sign on for a girl friend. I could not ask that of her.

Having a wife who does not understand all of this (any more than I do I suppose) but tries to not stand in the way of the things that make me happy completes me.

Mrs. Bellejambes complements my life like nothing else in the world.


Having readers to here at Voyages en Rose, knowing that someone will show up here, take the time to read, and even now and then leave a word or two, well that completes me too.

Thank you for helping complement a great year.

I hope your 2013 is rich with complementary moments.
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