Dec 31, 2008
Now …. shoes on? Hair just so? Lips glossed? Lets go! This will be a short trip. I’ll get you home before dark I promise…
This weeks theme is awfully important to the cross dresser. For me, the bra comes right after the hosiery when I think of things that put me in the pink fog. So here I present … classic Bra Brand sites. Not Boy Band sites (although I am sure that might appeal to some of you). So, what’s a classic Bra Brand? Well to me it’s a Bra that our moms or big sisters might have worn. Now, say Bra Brand five times fast, and get re-introduced (in alphabetical order) to Maidenform, Playtex and Wonderbra.
Maidenform – this venerable brand emerged from a West 57th Street dress shop in the 1920’s. I must say, she is maintaining nicely and looking good for a woman of a certain age. With age I suppose comes a little uncertainty about things that ought to be natural. The Maidenform site is not absolutely clear whether she wants to promote the brand, or whether she should be selling product directly to consumers online. So she winds up doing both just a little less well thenI am sure she wants to. As an example, the individual product listings do not allow for zoom, provide alternative views, or enable product reviews. Curious gals like me love a chance to see what the other girls think before we buy after all.
And it would be fine to be without all of those nice things if the site achieved other important things like reminding us just what is special about Maidenform, and the Maidenform Woman. Marketing types call this branding and branding does not really happen. “This feels right” does not have the oomph of the classic “ I dreamed I .. …. in my Maidenform bra”. Then, Maidenform.com does only a so-so job of helping the shopper figure out where to go shopping. You know, in a store. Where we can paw the merchandise and chat with a nice girl.
It’s a shame because I have loved the couple of Maidenform pieces I have bought over the years. I think the Flexees are the very best shapers on the market. And from a price perspective, Maidenform goes easy on a frugal girl on a budget. I just wish the site was a little sexier and showed just a bit more flirt, a bit more lift and some more of the sophistication that the Maidenform Woman has always been known for.
Playtex. Wow. What a site. Now, I don’t wear Playtex. I’m not saying I won’t (I do like a nice 3 row 3 column back closure), I just have not strapped myself into this brand before. So many bras, so little time.
But Playtex knows what she wants to say online, and says it with authority and with a lot of laughs on the way. I am confident I will be a customer soon. And the site has a lot to do with that.
This site is intended to support the brand just the way the 18 Hour Bra is meant to support the girls. Fully. Lots of fun, loads of video, and the bra is not the hero. The boobs are the heros! Hooray Boobs! Women talk about their “girls” in a fun way here. All the TV spots are featured. Out-takes too! I mean it’s a total hoot (and again, absolutely no pun intended).
There’s loads of interaction too. You can crop a picture of yourself onto a dancing, shirtless, happy Playtex-wearing real girl. Enter contests, find out where a fitting clinic is happening. Nothing but fun. Now, Playtex as a brand says comfort. And that’s what the experience is on site. This is not typical lingerie soft-porn. Its Playtex, so don’t expect a visual delight. Just an experience with real fidelity to the brand. And once you are reminded of what the brand is all about, and are ready to shop, the site will steer you to the nearest store or to 15-20 sites that sell the line on-line. This is a superb site, and hats off to Playtex for reinventing themselves for an online generation.
Lastly, Wonderbra. Now admittedly this is a younger brand. No really big makeover required here. And Wonderbra, like Playtex is out to support the brand and drive shoppers either to approved online merchants or to a nearby store. Well, hello boys, you just don’t do it as nicely as the Playtex girls.
Nice photography. The models look younger and fresher and closer to the targeted consumer. The models in fact look very much like I would like to look. Alas. The models however, coupled with the slightly funky navigation make it tough to figure out exactly what the product looks like.
Have some fun on the site with Ivana, the stern faced Fit Mistress. She is your fitting room nightmare. A complete cold shower. There is some nice interactivity too – you can put yourself in a nice online scandal that involves a Wonderbra. Altogether, the Wonderbra site is stylish and a maybe just a little impractical. So, I guess we can say that the site reflects the brand nicely.
In any event, it would do you well to visit all of these sites, and to get on the email list. Coupons and other goodies will come your way. Now, go shopping ladies! I suspect its up to the Cross Dressing community to pull the economy out of the gutter.
Know a site you love? Want to share? Let me know! Happy dressing and happy surfing - Petra
Dec 30, 2008
Don’t get me wrong, I am happier being a cross dresser in this relatively accepting era than I might have been in the 50’s. And you have to admit that today, cross dressers and genetic girls alike have relatively easy access to genuine vintage fashion (under and outer layers) as well as newly made knock-offs online. And the more I look around the more it occurs to me that I am far, far from alone in my love for these garments.
Go ahead and see for yourself. Google up “vintage lingerie”, or browse around eBay. You might think that half the world is wriggling into a nice open bottom girdle and straightening out the seams of their full fashioned stockings.
As far as more everyday media references go, the television show Mad Men has been the runaway critical and popular hit of the last couple of seasons. Yes, I am persuaded that really good story lines, expert set decoration and a sensitive, subtle examination of the moral ambiguity of Madison Avenue all have something to do with all that. But I swear on my patent Mary Janes that the success of the show more to do with the bullet bras on breathtaking Joan Holloway and the basques on pretty Betty Draper than any of all that.
I spent a little time last night reviewing a discussion thread on Crossdresserclub.com about favorite times in history to be dressed. Hands down, 50's (and early 60's) is the favorite. And for me, all of this is all true and delightful. But the question remains, why? What is the hold that these looks have on us?
Timing is everything they say. I am not old enough to have been at Woodstock. Nor am I young enough to have been conceived there. By the time I was unbuttoning blouses, fondling flesh and (when no one was looking), fastening a bra on myself for my own private fun, bras were at their worst. Formless triangles built to contain rather than enhance and display the beautiful fruit within. Panties were not much better. Cottony hipsters stripped of lace and conducting none of the warm human electricity that silks and satins do. The Maidenform Woman was nowhere to be seen. 18 Hour Support gave way to 24/7 bounce. Garter belts to pantyhose. Romance gave away to free love.
Liberation was the paramount cultural ideal of the time. And the liberation of the dresser drawers of the nation followed. All progress comes at a price I suppose. But my, what a price.
When did the dark night start ending for you? To me, the late 70’s and early 80’s post-punk fashion sensibility helped things along. Pioneers like Siouxsie Sioux and Debby Harry paved the way for Madonna’s inner-wear as outer-wear displays of the early 90’s. Fishnet stockings, stiletto heels and corsets hit the nightclubs, and sometimes came home with me. Delicious and confounding stuff. I was always stuck between leaving my new friend dressed to be admired, ripping things off in an animal fit, or peeling things gently away hoping to find a way for me to wind up dressed and caressed. I sometimes missed all 3.
In 1994 Eva Herzigova said “hello boys” and re-inflated the long limp Wonderbra brand. The battle for the bust was fully engaged. And way, way out in the open. Not long after Intimate Brands did a public offering and Victoria’s Secret went from a specialty catalog to a retail juggernaut (absolutely no pun intended). And whatever was in the milk or the tap water caused average adolescent cup sizes to swell to epic proportions. Surely I would not have graduated high school had I been there at the turn of our new millennium.
Today, there is more lace. There is more lift. There are more clasps and ribbons and bows. There is more silk and sizzle. And there is a lot more romance. I think all of us are a little better off. Even when we are just admiring ourselves.
How about you? Do you have a favorite vintage piece? Does another era stand out in your fantasies? Where do you go to shop back in time? Do you have a theroy about how we lost our way, and a suggestion about how to ensure that future generations enjoy what we nearly lost? Please leave a comment here, or drop Petra a line anytime.
Happy Dressing, whatever decade you are in…
Dec 27, 2008
I scored the tights on durability. I take it back. Durability is something that we can sacrifice for good looks every now and then. And the way tights run is so awfully random that its simply not fair to introduce this note so early in the relationship with a nice new pair. Additionally, you simply cannot estimate how well pantyhose will hold up to washing, repeated wearing, and getting pulled off too quickly when someone comes home just a little earlier then you figured. So, durability gone.
I also scored just how well the pantyhose obscure unsightly leg hair. But so many of you are brave, clever and fortunate enough to not have this problem. So, I won’t trouble you with my little issues. So, that’s another category gone. On this topic I will create a little post or 2 in the future with layering, hair coloring and other tricks and tips that some of you kind girls have shared. And as always, please keep the tips coming! Together, we look so much smarter than me. Don’t be shy, share what you know!
So lets run last weeks Danskins Shimmery Opaques back through the scoring machine …. These lovely tights go from a 70.4 to a 58.4. I am throwing in an additional 10 Petra Bonus Pantyhose Points though because they really are the perfect foundation layer for sheers. So, 68.4 points on a scale that runs from zero, all the way up to who knows where! Sort of a Richter Scale for legs.
L’eggs! Now I must admit to being a hosiery snob. I had never worn L’eggs before. Last week though, a friend over at the Crossdresserclub encouraged me to try. That nice snapshot of your legs didn't hurt either Kay. Thanks!
I dropped into a Target in drab, and really cannot tell you much about the shopping experience. Just me in a busy holiday check out line with an odd handful of hose. I am sure all the purchases look pretty much the same after a while. No dent in the purse at a whopping $7.31 for a pair of nude Sheer Energy Sheer Panty and a black control top Silken Mist Waistband Free. What value.
Quick notes on both.
Sheer energy. This is a nice tight weave. Very high elastic content in the leg and through the panty. I did need to fix them to my legs with the rubber glove treatment but once pulled fully into place, they were locked and loaded. Super comfortable. You just know as well that there will be no sag in these performers. They are built for comfort but do not skimp on looks. These sheers have just a little sheen to them, they catch light nicely and truly do look like a much bigger fashion statement then the price tag indicates.
Silken Mist. A slightly lower lycra content (down to 14% from ~ 30%) than their everyday Sheer Energy sister. This has the effect of losing just a little of the lovely snugness that makes the Sheer Energy a delight to wear. I found that they gathered a touch at thigh top. Normally this is cured by simply pulling the panty a scooch higher, but that is not an option with this control top model. It is firm. Yum. The panty is beautifully reinforced and simply cannot range above the waistline. So do be gentle when pulling these up. As to the look and feel The Silken Mist line is tops. Beautifully sheer, a gorgeous finish by any standards let alone for a sub $4.00 entry. Gorgeous and good enough for a very nice night out.
L'eggs product is of course available at all the right discount shops, drug stores, gas stations and yes, online. As far as the online experience, please go and sign up for emails, enter the wardrobe contest, and enjoy the pretty pictures. The nice L’egg people will even send you coupons. And the range and variety of the product line is breathtaking. Who knew? So much more to wear. I am a complete convert.
And now for the scores…. Yes, the tested group is small, but our 2 entries from L'eggs are top of the charts at # 1 and 2. Remember, that low price really influences scores positively, and in these economic tough times I hope you agree with me. Petra is a girl on a budget after all. These outscore the Danskin by a factor of 3 largely because of the price and the really nice finish. I still love the Danskin, but think I have found a new everyday pantyhose partner in L'eggs. Its true, you simply cannot beat a great pair of L'eggs. You know I am going to keep trying though!
Dec 24, 2008
Thanks to you who have visited, sent nice notes, and helped me feel like 1 of a million, rather than 1 in a million.
I hope you are visited by the Elf, or are able to look like one for the people you love in your life, including yourself.
I'll be taking tomorrow off, but expect to see you all soon.
Dec 23, 2008
All of the end of year activity eats into the blogging time too. So here is an abbreviated traipse through some cross dressed corners of the internet that have stood out for attention this week. Again, my list will always be a little random, like any online session. This is not a business venture for me. If I like a place I visit, I will be happy to share it with you. Some will be commercial sites, some nicely written and well connected blogs, and some will merely contain the sort of (non-pornographic) imagery that makes my heart flutter. All of them have the effect of helping me, and hopefully you, feel a little less alone.
If you have a favorite I would love to hear from you. Even if you are promoting your own beautiful site.
For sensitivity of thought and a wonderful seasonal message, please visit Vanessa at Crossdresserheaven. Her blog post from earlier this week really hit home for me…. Its called Crossdressing Christmas Wish List. Now, go read it!
After visiting with Vanessa, toddle over to L’eggs.com for a quick look around. They are running a nice little contest for a years worth of lovely leggings, and who would not want to win that? Just go here, give the nice people an email address and hope for the best. I am reviewing L’eggs product in this weeks Petra’s Pantyhose Parade. Mine feel terrific and look good (given what they have to work with...). If you want to be the first to read the review, be sure to register here for email updates!
And lastly, for a little eye candy for everyone who, like me, is deeply envious of (and full of admiration for) the way that genetic girls look in delicate, feminine foundation garments. The Seduction Lingerie Blog is a very tasteful, constantly updated online peek beneath the blouse and up the skirt. You will want to buy o so much of what you see. The great news is that because they are based in the UK, ( and the odds are that you are not …) then you can more easily avoid going broke on your very refined impulses.
So again, I implore you to surf well, dress happily, and tell me where to go (online I mean). Thanks and Happy Holidays!
Dec 20, 2008
I suppose that Lingerie is like music to me. I am a big fan of The Clash, but a part of me feels like I really missed out not digging on the New York jazz scene of the early – mid 50’s. So it goes with foundation garments. When I see the vintage stuff, I just turn into a doe in the headlights….
And so it was today when my friends over at “A Slip of Girl” posted a new contest for a big fluffy pile of gorgeous, custom tailored Cameo Intimates retro lingerie. I overcame my urge to keep the contest to myself because, well it’s the holidays, and I really do like all of you nice people who visit here. Just visit Slip, enter the contest, and go ahead, fine, win what is rightfully mine. I won’t be bitter. Unless you machine wash them you brute. Here’s my Cameo wishlist….
So, first things first. Comfort and allure is what is required from the panties… the sheer retros have the look and feel. They come with detachable garters, but that won’t be required for this ensemble.
Ready to decorate the front porch with the Sheer Retro Bra. Simple, and feminine. Gives away just enough of a hint of what’s beneath.
I sometimes need a little help with my walk. Heels help of course, but you simply cannot beat a nice long line open bottom girdle for a gentle reminder of what your hips are for.
Stockings of course (nude) with a nice reinforced heel and toe. Everything else in always correct white.
With this foundation layer on, my time machine is whirring me back, and then making time stand still. So, what about you my friends? Take a minute to vote in Petra’s poll here (see over to the right...?) , and then go see A Slip of Girl (if you are as refined as I think you are….) The contest is open till midnight Dec 22. Good luck!
Dec 17, 2008
We love them as well because they can be worn discreetly in drab. When on, pantyhose remind us that they are there with the forgiving, but always felt, pull in the toes, the caress around the thigh and that smartening of the shape at the waist, hips (and everywhere else important).
For me, they are at the heart of my feminine side and a borderline fetish. And I am ok with that. I hope you are too. Because I propose as a regular feature of Voyages en Rose to review pantyhose and to share my findings with you my friends. I will take a scientific approach to pantyhose scrutiny. I will consider the quality of the the tested product keeping these all important characteristics in mind:
Fit: Are they true to package size chart. Are they comfortably snug all over? Do they sag with wear?
Finish: Do they look like a quality product? Do they flatter the leg?
Durability: Will they last more then a wear or 2? Did they ladder on first wear?
Feel: Just like it says. Is this smooth and luxurious or scratchy and dying to be peeled (or ripped) off?
Style: Are you Red Carpet ready? Are they au-courant? Are they timeless? Are you fabulous?
Obscures Hair Score: This is a big consideration for many of us. Petra in particular. Yes, I don't shave. I have never felt my legs smooth inside a quality sheer legging. I have much to live for.
I will apply a 1-10 score for tested hose, average these scores out, divide the average by the price of the pantyhose and multiple the result by 100. This way, inexpensive hosiery that performs well will have a great chance of grabbing a really high rank. I expect that $50.00 Wolfords will score high, but we may get surprised by some house brand offerings in the well under $10.00 range this way. Kind of like wine I suppose.
I will include anecdotes about shopping for my hose. Was the store CD friendly? Helpful with sizing information or product suggestions? All of that good stuff.
And I promise, I will write my reviews while I am wearing the product. The legs can’t lie girls.
This column needs your input too. Please add your comments. Share your experiences. Name your favorites. And name the lame please. If there is a pair that Petra should test drive, I don’t need much encouragement to hit the shops. And if you are a rep for a nice brand of pantyhose and want to comp me a pair or a container load full, I must warn you that I cannot be corrupted. But your generosity will be noted to my many leggy friends!
So file those toe nails – its time to get started!
Pantyhose Parade – Issue # 1.
Earlier today I asked a panel of experts (a chat thread over at The Cross Dresser Club) for advice about finding a nice glamorous pair of hose that does a nice job of covering my leg hair. The lovely and helpful LisaElizabeth immediately suggested Danskin. This is not the first time I have heard that the Danskin tight does the trick. And I am a lover of their leotards (second skin, lovely stuff). So the Shimmery Opaque tight (Danskin Model # 1331) is under the microscope (and around my nether regions) this evening.…
This afternoon I dropped into Atlanta's Dance Fashion Warehouse to test drive a pair or 2. I had called ahead and the nice woman with the vaguely eastern European accent was able to put my size and color selections on hold. I was not explicit that they were for me but I did not actively dodge the issue. I said hello when I arrived at the shop, but not relaxed enough to completely out myself and get to know the store, the people and the merchandise better. I will confess, my day job was getting in the way again. I promise to do better next time….
In any event, I asked about return and exchange policy in the event that they did not fit me, and she indicated that as long as they were in unopened packages, a full refund or exchange was available to me. So, yes I am out to the DFW (and I will be back).
At suggested retail of $12.50, these are a reasonably priced offering when you consider that Danskin makes gear for dancers who really put their tights through paces. These are clearly made to last and to endure hard wearing. You know when you handle them that they are simply not going to develop runs unless you get snagged fleeing a mob and needing to leap a chain link fence.
This durability and sureness in the fabric lends itself to a good (not great, but good) fit and feel scores. There is a good amount of elastic (9% spandex) and a high denier opaque finish so a good tight fit is to be expected. And fit is key to comfort. After 2 hours of wear, I have not felt the urge (ok I have not felt the need, I have given in to the urge) to hike them up at all.
These are all good things. It goes downhill though. From a style perspective, well there is nothing beyond the most generic look about them. And that is ok. It’s a pair of plain tights after all. It’s the finish that gets me though. Perhaps the “Light Toast” shade is just a little too close to the old fashioned bologna skin pantyhose look that the older Italian widows used to wear in my neighborhood. Perhaps the light bounces off them in a way that reminds me of the tights that girls in elementary school wore before they figured out how to flaunt their abundant assets. I just don’t think they bring the glamour. And that is a shame.
Now don’t get me wrong. The black tights will work terrifically. And I can work the fleshy shade into an outfit with a low boot, stirruped leg warmers, a big long sweater and a shawl over it all, but I don’t think these are tights that can stand a nicely heeled shoe, a pretty skirt and a night out.
So how do these babies score? Well they get 70.4 Petra Pantyhose Points. Today though, we have nothing to compare that to, so who knows how good they are. Stay tuned here for more updates. I swear to God girls, we can know everything there is to know about tights, and then who will dare stand in our way?
Dec 16, 2008
It’s a big old crossdressed and transgendered world out there. A girls feet could swell up and nails might chip trying to cover it all. Exploration is of course part of the fun for me, and for most of us, but I always find it helpful to have a little hand guiding me, waving here and there and giving me a reassuring pat on the thigh. In the real world and here in the virtual world too.
I plan, on Tuesdays, here in this hopefully regular column to mention a few sites, societies and services that have helped me enjoy this feminine side of myself, helped me reveal it more comfortably, and have helped Petra mature.
I have only very recently created this online persona. And this has been a really good thing for all of me. My online experiences have been similar to my real world experiences. People are really ok, and for the most part, interested, curious, non-judgmental and supportive of this admittedly slightly off-center habit.
I have struck up so many friendships and have been welcomed so warmly into so many gorgeous virtual salons recently that I simply had to stop and think for a moment. So, for your consideration, a theory follows:
I believe that all of us who dress or who transition have said “yes” to a very difficult decision. Yes is not easy. Yes implies acceptance and responsibility. When we say yes, the Genie is out of the bottle, and not going back in. And this is a big big moment. One you don’t forget, and one you respect in others.
Out of that mastered challenge emerges a feeling of community, generosity, sharing and support amongst we gender-gifted that has entirely exceeded even my own crazily optimistic expectations. And so, in that spirit, I want to share with you some of the places that have helped me know that I am far from alone, am in terrific company and have so much to learn from so many really beautiful, complete people.
Anytime you want to point out a site, a service or a heroine to the Girls here, just drop a comment here on site, or look me up on Facebook and friend me there. I am sure I won't be able to keep up, but will be happy to try! Here are 3 for this week .....
I have been really warmly welcomed into 2 very exclusive clubs this week. I so recommend that you take a look at … Crossdresserclub.com – members only site with a big membership, active chat threads and so many accomplished and welcoming new friends there that I have practically been knocked off my heels.
Yahoo! Groups “Trannies in Trouble” – I have been a long time fan of the gorgeous, supple and accomplished Sandra Gibbons. Superb and tasteful web site, honest and open blog and deftly moderated group. Ms. Gibbons is a real leader. Please follow her.
And for splendid, tasteful eye-candy I have fallen in love with the art direction and lingerie pictured on Frou Frou Fashionista. If you are all about what is under it all …. this is a yummy site to linger over and imagine yourself in.
There are so many to mention, and I will try to keep up weekly. Again, happy to hear your suggestions. My feet are killing me and I cannot walk the whole web alone!
Thanks and happy dressing – Petra
Dec 14, 2008
Time to time, back in the day, I shot pool well and was able to play and drink free for an hour or so on a lucky night. But I always lost whenever a nice looking woman who knew her way around the table challenged me. My brain would just start misfiring. And my cue would follow. Ah well.
So, back to the present…
I had earlier in the evening spent a couple of hours nursing a glass of wine with a lovely young lesbian couple and a fully transitioned, and fully beautiful star of the Atlanta TG scene (more thoughts on that another time). We all kind of realized it was time to say so long and head out on out separate ways. Hugs (O, do I love the feeling of the melting, merging real breasts with my fake boobs) and off into the chilly night.
It was late yes, and yes a sensible girl would go home, slap on the cold cream and go to bed. However, I am not acquainted with that girl. I still had that rush that goes along with dressing, looking well (for me), meeting some terrific people, and even just driving (O, do I love the feeling of my knees and thighs touching through tights as I work the pedals). I knew as well that Petra was going to be inside for some time, so maybe a quick little nightcap on the way home can’t hurt. Sold (Petra is persuasive).
So a little a curtain call at The Stagedoor. I had just missed the drag show which was a shame. A handful of the evenings performers were milling about and soaking up the available light. One voluptuous Queen flashed me one of those lightening quick, hair to heels and back again glares. That was a first for me. I don’t think I had ever warranted one of those “just who is this” look en femme. Or in drab for that matter.
So, back to the pool tables. I grabbed a glass of wine and a handful of quarters, strolled up to a friendly looking group of what I guessed to be lesbians, introduced myself and asked if anyone was up for a rack or 2. Well it was a more mixed gaggle then I thought at first glance, as the tallest of the group in a voice even deeper then mine said,
“Sure, I am lousy at pool but what the hell. Hi! I am Amanda"
In any event, we shared thoughts on our habits while making a complete and utter mess of the relatively straightforward game of angles that 8 ball is. But as I said earlier, there were new distractions in my stroke. We did a little shop talk too. The Limited for her skirt. American Apparel for my dress. Kiss press-on nails for me, polish on natural nails for Amanda. Natural shape around the hips and butt for her, layers of padding and shaping for me. She called me a bitch for being a size 4.
But after all the pro-forma CD chit chat we did have a very sincere and close talk about just life in general. Strange and electric moments of real. Odd how a false front to the world often gives us permission to expose truer and more sincere selves.
Amanda was travelling from Memphis to Miami with her wife Mary. Amanda and Mary started on their trip of cross dressed discovery and forgiveness and now, increasingly, sharing after 10 years together in drab. Not easy for either of them and for different reasons. Such an attractive couple too and so much the object of my envy. Totally inspiring. And not only of because of their legs (Mary’s are terrific too). They have managed to get to the place they are without tearing apart the other real things that brought them together in the first place. This is to be celebrated.
Back to the bar for last call. I was able to give Amanda some local tips on shops and they decided to take an extra day in Atlanta for a little wardrobe building. More warm hugs, and then home safely home for me.
Amanda is a pretty lucky girl. And so is Mary too I think. I somehow lost Amanda’s email. It’s a shame. Amanda if you are reading this, please give my best to Mary, and do drop me a line. It was just such a nice time meeting you both and I hope the rest of the trip was everything you both were hoping for. I hope the trip continues. I hope to enjoy and write about my own such trip some happy day too.
Dec 12, 2008
It was a fun time. Punk music sensibilities had outed S&M, leather/latex, Dom/Sub and other hitherto sub-rosa kinks to a degree that had not been the case before, and Bettie’s image and imagery was kind of in the air. I had girlfriends who worked hard at getting her pale look and blunt bangs going for them.
For me though, beyond the curious mix of innocence and experience, of liberated and captive, of threatened and threatening, of strength and frailty and of all the other contradictions she balanced so delicately on her impossibly high heels, I was all about her lingerie. Real support. Ballistic bullet bras. Seamed stockings. Boned cinchers. I felt looking at pictures of Ms. Page that I had been born into the wrong era.
I think in hindsight that the she was a part of a renaissance in sexuality and fashion and even liberalism (small "l", no politics here ... please) that all of us today benefit from. And I understand that not too many dividends from our pleasures went her way.
Her biography is one of trouble, and I am sure that many of her days were confusing. But I do want to say that she will be missed, and I hope that when we see her images, we think nice things, and smile. It can’t hurt, and can only help.
Dec 10, 2008
First, the sad sad news of the lingerie spill on Highway H-1 just outside of Honolulu. A truckload of intimate garments, wind-tossed, tire-spoiled and ditch-begrimed, never to feel the warm touch of flesh. Again, nothing but sad. For full article and video, click here. I imagine myself on the scene dodging traffic in a desperate bid to save the bras.
Next, the happy stuff. In this mornings research I found a neat site. (And I must credit the lovely and talented Lynn Jones whose fabulous "Yet Another T-Girl Blog) can be found here). The Gender Analyzer is a simple online tool that scans websites and offers up an expert opinion on the gender of the author. If you have a blog or want to play with your favorite web sites a little, just press on a new set of nails and click over here.
I did, (minus the nails girls, it’s a busy drab day) and had the analyzer look in on Voyages en Rose. And what do the experts say? (Click on image to enlarge)
I passed. I encourage you all to hum along to your favorite triumphant music and imagine yourself waving to an adoring imaginary audience with your wrist pointed just so and an open hand. That would be Petra just about now.
For real, this is interesting to me. I have not edited myself too heavily here. I do a lot of writing professionally and have never considered my gender as an influencer of my style. I have, however, attempted to occupy Petra’s mind while writing here, because it’s a nice way to spend 30 minutes “dressed” without all the effort. Petra needs at least 2 hours to appear and disappear in the real world. Here in the virtual world, she can log in and live it up in snap.
And evidently, she can pass.
And now, I encourage you to imagine my quick pirouette and slightly sassy walk into the sunset on this happy occasion. A last flip of the hair and a wink over my shoulder right your way.
Happy dressing and happy everything else to you.
Dec 8, 2008
What is a little easier though is getting the shape around the hips and butt that evolution did not provide the M2F enthusiast naturally. I have had some great success lately, and want to share my product notes and usage tips. I am not suggesting that I got my shape quite up to Beyonces' breathtaking standards, but ladies, try we must.
By the way, I want your tips too. Please! You can never know too much about building that perfect derriere. Leave a comment here, or drop a line to Petra. Thanks!
Now, before you begin, a few little tricks…
- Stage before you dress. Pack your purse. Have your wig combed out. Pick your accessories. Have your keys by the door. And think about whether the dogs will need to go out. You can dress later and leave relaxed if you have really planned ahead.
- Keep your fluid intake low for a few hours before dressing. If you plan on going out, you will want to stay out. And taking a dainty pee out there, well that is for the very few, the very proud and the very brave. Once you are inside your foundation garments, you are in for the duration.
- File and buff your (natural) nails. You will be handling delicate garments that you want to last forever. Save yourself a run or two.
- Do your makeup before dressing – makeup is time consuming. Dressing is easy
- Shop for neutral shades. Yes, black is hot, but go for close-to-nude shades for the undergear.
- And then, before dressing, seriously, have a pee (sorry about the obsessing here gurls).
Now, I like to keep a little glass of wine handy. A little mood music goes on around this time too. I like Carol King or Eve Cassidy or KT Tunstall or Patty Griffin. Sweet and sometimes hurting voices with heartfelt stories of life from the woman’s perspective. Whatever brings you to the right place is cool (if music is important to you, drop me a line .. who gets you there?)
And lastly, keep pair of standard issue rubber gloves handy. Nothing makes the shapewear fit as cleanly. I am serious. Take a minute to read an informative tutorial while visiting Shapings. Really nice pictures there too.
Now, seeing as we are building here, I am going to employ construction metaphor. Hope thats not too butch for us all. Take a deep breath, you will be pulling on layers here.
The foundation: All important. You need something with real strength. Not only are you adding shape with your foundation, you are suppressing some shape. The waist-high, thigh-slimming 4 pad panty girdle is the key garment. If you have only one thing left in your closet, let it be this. Mine was purchased at Fredericks of Hollywood. Lots of great shapewear. The Fredericks product is superb for a couple of reasons. First, the front panel is nuclear strength. This will flatten you out and really force you to think about your belly. Second, good leg length and silicon trim at the thigh band. Stays in place.
You may also want to look to JC Penny online. Surprisingly, they have the full line of Crown Shapewear on line. Nice prices, great service.
The framing: If a little derriere shape is good, a lot is better, right? Damn right. Get ready to pull up The Squeem Magical Padded Panty. Wow. This complements and fills out the 4 pad girdle. There are no removable pads here. Solid state construction. Like a glove. Online at Sense Lingerie and other fine retailers. If you are here in Atlanta, go visit Anna or Becky at Lingerie Mart. Product is in stock – plus you can try them on there to be sure of the fit.
Petra dies for this layer because it removes the slight lumpiness that the foundation leaves under clingy clothes, and it smooths out and holds in your front just that little bit more.
The Finish Carpentry: At this point you are structurally sound, but its time to work on the aesthetics. Blending the new stuff with the old you is key. Particularly if you will be wearing clingy, body conscious outer layers. Now, for quite some time I have been a Spanx fan. And my love is still there. But my Spanx have tended to roll down and gather at the waist. Not a great look. Additionally, Spanx fabric generates just a little too much warmth for long term comfort.
Petra’s solution --- The Flexees Weightless Power Thigh Slimmer. Weightless, yes, but with the power of 10 women. All the give and flex is around the hips and butt. There is no up and down give at all. Super comfortable, smooth as silk, and exactly what the girl on the go needs nearly on top of it all. Online at Bare Necessities or grab a pair off-line at (you guessed it …) good old JC Penny.
A nice coat of paint: Even with slacks on, I expect you will want to slide gently into your favorite hose or stockings on top of it all. You deserve it. I may not, but I do anyhow. Sometime soon, Petra will weigh in on Pantyhose. Be sure to send me notes on what works for you, because the search for perfection never ends. In the meantime ….
Dec 4, 2008
Now, I do have some advantages. I can pick up a size 6 skirt or a 34C bra and the cashier or the girl on the shop floor could easily reason that, yes, that is likely the size of his wife. And a quick glance at my left hand would add evidence. There is a gold band on the 3rd finger.
And yes, I can fit my skinny butt into a size 6 skirt and hook a 34C bra around my, well, bust if you must. If I weighed another 60 lbs, things would be a little different. I suppose when you are shopping in a Lane Bryant for a size 24 dress, you are kind of giving yourself away. And that's OK. I am not either editorializing or gloating here. Its just the way it is.....
Nonetheless (even when I am legitimately buying something nice for my wife), there is a part of me that wonders …. “Does this nice stranger think this is for me? Did she clock me? And is she just humoring me? Does she deal with crossdressers everyday?”
Well, I did some nice shopping en femme recently, and it gave me encouragement to change the way I shop in drab. Here goes:
Visit # 1
After a superb make up treatment (Thanks R!), I had a little time to kill before the cocktail hour. I popped into Macys, and it was a little bit of a ghost town. Staff said hello. I stopped in intimates, looked at shoes, thought about a couple of dresses, not seriously shopping, but rehearsing shopping. Nothing really stood out, including it seems, Petra. Just another girl in a store.
I strolled out into the mall and was drawn inevitably into Victoria’s Secret. Now the fun begins. The entirely cute and petite Asian girl was envious of my ability to walk in heels. I swear to goodness, I was giving a Ggirl tiny lessons in letting the hips do the work. And there was a terrific promotion in the shop. Spend a minimum of $10.00, and get a gift card with random value --- likely $10.00 but possibly a thousand. How could a girl say no?
The abundance of mirrors and the O so nicely merchandized collections of pretty things were just music to me. Nothing furtive about my browsing. I know I was clocked within seconds by the staff, (and, if I am a realist, by some of the quicker clientele), but no worries at all. In fact, my new friend who can’t walk in heels said that if I wanted to try anything on, I was most welcomed.
Somebody shoot me while I am happy.
The fitting rooms were a little crowded, and really I had the wrong outfit on ( turtleneck dress, a real wig-popper) so a little try before you buy was out of the question. But do you know, the point was, I was fooling nobody (fully) and it just did not matter. Just a guy in a dress.
Just a guy in a dress on a budget too. I really did not want to splash out too much that night, but had to pick something up. Hosiery of course is something you can never have either enough or too much of. So after all the touch and feel, just picked up a pair of superb semi-boarded control tops with a very pretty lace effect at high thigh. Cashed out, got a little spritz of perfume, a nice catalog, a yet to be redeemed gift card and pretty pink bag to walk back out to the car with.
And this really got me thinking. I cannot get out as much as I like to en femme (too many reasons, more on that later). But I do like to prepare for nights (and days) en femme. I do like as well to keep in touch with Petra, and do things for her. Sometimes it is just a visualization exercise. You see a nice look on a real woman, and say to yourself, yeah Petra ought to have that look. And then, maybe you go shopping for that look. In drab.
Visit # 2
So I was in drab yesterday, and my Victoria’s Secret Secret Value gift card was burning a hole in my pocket. Those control tops I mentioned earlier on – fabulous. Really snug around the hips and butt. Nice glossy finish. Yum. So I dropped in.
“Can I help you find something today?”
“Sure, I am looking for hosiery”
“Is this a gift?”
“No, its for me. I wear a size C here”
“OK, just over here…”
And do you know something, there were no flashing red lights, no PA announcements of the presence of a deviant in the store, no women and children shrieking and running away. Just me and the nice girl talking 'bout tights.
“You don’t need the control tops do you? I mean look how skinny you are…”
“Well, I have different parts I need to ... ummm.... well, contain you know… and the padded panties, well they need to be smoothed out a bit too.”
“Really? Well, yeah, I guess that makes sense … oops, hey, I think we are out of the black in C. I like the almost black. Would that work for you?"
"Sure, that will do"
"Do you need anything else today?”
“No, I really just wanted to find out whether my surprise value card is worth $10.00 or whether I like struck gold and got one of the high value ones…”
“Well, I hope you get lucky – check out is just over here...
Nice for the environment too. She did not bother asking me whether I wanted a gift box.
“Do you have a Victoria’s Secret Angel Card?”
“Um, not yet.”
“You really ought to get it. You'll never ever pay full price”
“OK, well I will figure that one out later….”
And so it went.
And so it will go in the future. When I shop for me, I will shop openly. I suspect that some people will just be too unnerved to do their job well. And that is ok. I pretty much expect that I will get terrific service, and will probably meet some nice people just by being a little more honest about it. Perhaps this will help drive down the stigma factor that many of us still fear to one degree or another. And it might just make life a little more interesting for the nice, nice women working in a small handful of shops.
I will keep you posted on how it goes.
Dec 2, 2008
Settling on the right venue was key. A dear and helpful friend suggested Paris Decatur. And this was interesting. I had previously confined my en femme nights out to gay bars. There is a long and obvious tradition of drag friendliness at most of these establishments. Lesbian bar though. I really had to think twice. A part of me worried that a genetic male type (even with all the nice feathers) might not be so welcomed. Straight boy playing hot-chick in a room of women who prefer women …. you know, I just wanted to be sure I would not be offending the aesthetic of the place or pissing off the regular clientele.
I called beforehand. “Hell yes, everything goes, no problem, see you later”. As per usual, overthinking gets you nowhere. And really that reaction is pretty consistent with all the reactions … “guy in girls clothes? Yeah, and so what?”
So, off to Paris. Perfect curbside parking spot had just opened up. Managed to execute a superb parallel park even hobbled by the 4” stiletto boots. And the rest of the (visible parts of the) ensemble (I will do a little essay on foundation garments some other happy day):
▪ Fishnets over sheer black hose
▪ Short, tight black cotton/lycra skirt
▪ Back-zip, crotch-snap Danskin turtleneck (second skin, yumm)
▪ Lots of silver accessories
▪ Nice shawl.
“R” had fixed my makeup and hair. I really felt good. A quick smoke for the nerves out front. The benefits of the smoke was cancelled out by the freakish cold though and I entered shaking like a leaf. The joint was pretty full. There was a stool still open at the end of the bar. “Is this seat open? Thanks”. Brain freeze around the whole issue of where the hell do I put my purse? By my feet? On the bar? Gawd how do real girls get any damn thing done? Its all so complex.
Drink, sure, a glass of …. (what works for my look? …) Pinot Grigio thanks.
I am not too outgoing in most social settings. I prefer to observe people. I do not really throw myself out there. Other people are way more interesting. I did though ask the lovely barmaid what was on the program for tonight.
“Drag Kings, starting up well, sometime soon.”
O this is good. Lets see if I can capture it here. Lesbian bar. Karaoke/Lip synch entertainment by woman dolled down as men. And undoubtedly emphasizing the more lamentable stereotypes and laughable characteristics of male behavior. For an audience of women. And at least one genetic male dressed, well, provocatively to say the least. And her/me standing at the end of the bar right next to the performers platform. I may as well as had a little pink spotlight on me. Well this is all on the verge of wierd.
The nice looking and quiet woman beside me was working on a beer out of the bottle. She was much more civil then me, or at least possessed of finer social graces.
“Hi, my name is Stefanie”
“Hi Stefanie, I'm Petra”
I indicated that I would usually be more inclined to drinking a beer out of the bottle just like her, but it just didn’t seem to go with my look. Smile. So what are we both doing here? Well Stefanie had just finished dinner with a friend, and was within site of her apartment and said to herself, what the hell its Friday and I am not going home just yet. Good for Stefanie. And it gets better. She lives within walking distance of Paris, fits right in and and yet had never once been to Paris (Decatur that is). A pair of rookies. I could only shake my head. Never been here? No, I guess I don’t get out much anymore.
Well, I had to admit is was my first trip here too. And no I guess I don’t get out much (at least not like this) anymore either. Stefanie is very attractive. A little younger then me. A complexion that does not need makeup. And a native of Atlanta. I found it funny that I pursued the same lines of conversation en femme with her as I pursue with strangers in other social settings.
Asking someone in Atlanta if they grew up here is the surest way to find out that, no they were born in Racine or Cincinnati or Schenectady or Ocala or Huntsville or any damn where but Atlanta. But no, Stefanie is a native. Of Atlanta. Take that.
The entertainment started. I won’t dwell on it all too long. It was a very young crowd. When I was that age I worked hard at ensuring that anyone over 30 would be deeply offended by my musical tastes. If grey hairs were digging on what I dug, I felt I was digging the wrong stuff. So, full credit to these youngsters. But the tunes were just not my cup of tea. With the possible exception of the cover version of Phil Collins "In the air tonight".
That said, so much of it made me happy. The energy, the dancing, (some of) the F to M transformations and the general wonderful freedom and license that drenched the room. This generation was out there and really holding nothing back. Cool.
The star of the evening, or at least the focus of a lot of the attention was a totally cute barely 20 something who was shipping out to Iraq the next morning. She was holding nothing back. I wished her well and thought about the sacrifices being made by beautiful young people to preserve my freedom to wear a padded panty girdle. Its all kind of asymmetrical. I really do hope she does well in this tour and beyond. Her friends were out in pretty big numbers and really hootin’ / hollerin’ for her.
Other parts of it made me happy too, or at least forced out the performer in me. You see, Drag Kings it seems to me need to do the whole "leering guy" act at attractive girls in come-hither outfits like the outfit I was poured in to. And I’m like standing there like I cannot be missed. The attention was nice though, and not at all gropey. Yes, I was to a certain degree objectified, but not badly. I did a couple of classic hair and scarf flicks to indicate disinterest in the Kings’ advances and it was all good theatre.
In between sets Stefanie and I got a chance to share 40-something observations. Our views were not too far apart. I think Stephanie was a little envious, not jealous, just nicely envious, of the youngsters and their full throttle out-ness. And happy for the youngsters too. I did not however want to totally take her attention all night in so far as Paris was a pretty target rich environment for a nice looking real woman and there was a total hottie who reminded me of Kim Novak (think of Vertigo) right beside her at the bar. I chatted with Melodie for a bit, and stole some fashion tips, but was kind of hoping that she would make nice with Stefanie and maybe exchange numbers.
Now ultimately I don’t think that happened --- there were some other dramas in the air that evening. Situation normal I understand from friends. But I do know this: Melodie and I emptied the bar of the Pinot Grigio over the course of the evening.
Melodie, if you are reading this, I still want your sweater with the furry collar trim. And please drop me a line anytime.
In any event a small handful of nice people said nice things about my look. Everybody that approached me was kind, a little curious, and sweet. I was made to feel very much at home.
And just as I was getting ready to call it a night, my new friend Stephanie asked if I wanted maybe to grab a coffee the next day. It was the sweetest thing. I was totally flattered and entirely surprised. And happy to say yes and exchange numbers.