Feb 28, 2009

Petra's Cross Dressed Poll. How Many are We?

It was an odd poll created by an odd pollster this past week. I asked you, dear readers, to throw out your opinion as to what % of the population you felt cross dressed. I was interested to get your input, because of a viewpoint I hold that I will share with you now. It’s a 2 part thought:

Part the First: I must believe that 90% of the male population had some curiosity about women’s clothing (particularly the fascinating underthings) that resolved at some time with trying something, anything, on just to see how it felt. Teenagers are nothing if not curious, and practically all of us had the opportunity presented at some time.

Part the Second: Knowing from lasting personal experience just how good that first time felt, how is it that we are not all cross dressers? I realize I am simply wrongheaded here, but I just can’t shake it. How can people be full time drab? Are they entirely crazy?

Anyhow, back to earth Petra.

Maybe 80, 90, or 95% or more of the male population has better urge management capabilities or different aesthetic sensibilities than the rest of us. Poor lambs. There but for grace of <insert governing force here> go I.

So, a few brave sisters (7%) share my private suspicion that more than 20% of the male population cross dresses by this polls loose definition …. has worn female clothing in the last year. Perhaps all the Halloween hi-jinks figure into that thinking. I chickened out though and did not vote my own wild, private suspicion. I am amongst the 14% of the sample who believes (with more confidence in my case) that between 10 and 20% of men dally with lacy things.

Close to 80% of my friends here on site place us in the under 10% category, with absolutely certainty that at least 1% of the male population is in on the game. Pretty even distribution with a slim majority believing that the 5 – 10% range is where most of the preening and pirouetting is going on. And I think this is probably fair. But I just don’t know. I have not seen any real data on the topic, and it seems to me to be a hard topic to get really clear, honest and open answers on from the general population.

We all to some degree identify as male. Some as all male, others as a hybrid of elements. I suspect that many who dabble, or are curious are simply able to not address the curiosity full on, and live simpler lives without being engaged as the more dedicated cross dresser. Jolly good for them.

But when I think of how well hidden my cross dressing is from the people that I want it hidden from, I believe that I am not alone. Just on the basis of raw numbers, I am statistically certain that I know cross dressers who I do not know are cross dressers. And vice versa. And, O by the way, I realize that sentence may take another run through to make sense. Once more with feeling ….

I am statistically certain that I know cross dressers who I do not know are cross dressers. And vice versa.

I wonder who they are? I hope we all live long enough to get to know each other better. And if we do figure out that we are cross dressers or otherwise journeying on the same road that the other important things we figured out about each other do not change.

This weeks poll? So much focus on the economy these days. The retail sector is very badly hit. So, a shopping question … do you shop en femme?

Thanks for visiting!

Feb 27, 2009

Big, subtle victories

It has been a terrific Fall/Winter season for me. I have had more time, space and inclination to really explore and to make peace with my cross dressing. Prior embraces, decades in the coming and going have been more abrupt than lingering, more physical than cerebral, more furtive and hidden than confidently on display.

Signs of aging, or at best, maturity.

This past week I reveled in another wonderful day long session en femme, out and about. I will write a Big Thoughtful Crossdresser Blog Post © with some of the highlights illuminated early next week. 10 hours in 4” heels without requiring oxygen. The altitude training is paying off.

In any event, having been pretty well immersed in the femme space recently (real world and blogwise) I have become less self-conscious about my cross dressing. I am executing things with a little less thought and effort, and happily, without second guessing my choices. No dithering.

This morning I was dropping a short note to an online acquaintance I admire greatly who is documenting her transition online
here. Jillians’ most recent post discussed reasons why “trans folk do not always act our biological age”. Jillian is beautifully pictured in a dress that Demi Moore might wear when she is approaching 60, but that very few other “born” girls could pull off. And Jillian looks terrific.

I agreed with her premise and wanted to say so. Here is a bit of my commentary here:

I often go into age or setting inappropriate fashion territories. I am close to 50. I should not own a clingy, 4″ above the knee leopard print dress. Right? Well I didn’t when I was 25, so like you, I am owed the privilege….”

I had a tiny chuckle to myself after posting it. Not once while I was considering the age appropriateness of my dress, did I question for a moment the gender appropriateness of my dress.

No looking back over my figurative shoulder to see if someone else thinks I have it wrong. Its all becoming quite natural, and just a little more (loaded word alert) normal in my days. The electricity still courses through me when dressed and when anticipating dressing, and when remembering dressing. But the current is better managed, more efficiently harnessed in the service of a pretty big part of me. A part that I am getting to know and to like a little better each day.

Big, subtle victories to you and those you love too.

Happy weekend.

Feb 26, 2009

Petra's Pantyhose Parade – A Second Date with Donna Karan

Ask a figure skater or a gymnast how they feel about performing their routine very early in the competition, and they will tell you that the very thought makes them feel sick. Why O why is that Petra you ask, and I, without batting a heavily lacquered eyelash will tell you this:

Judges leave room for higher marks later in the contest, never being entirely sure of what will follow laudable, and even brilliant early performances.

Well friends, I am no different then those all too human judges, except that I am getting no kickbacks (dammit all) for my highly subjective rants and reveries on the topic of Pantyhose. And fearing (all the while praying desperately for) an endlessly surging tide of increasingly fine and loving leggings I kept a very tight set of reins on my scoring for some of the earlier efforts.

Donna Karan was a casualty of the poor fortune of an early draw. Early in January of this year the DK Maximum Control Satin Sheer felt and looked stunning and I said as much in my
review. But the high price of the tested product, the ($18.50) and my relative conservatism (ed. not a noted cross dresser trait) in scoring placed them in 4th in a field of 5. Ouch.

I pulled them back up last week for a little shopping excursion en femme. Wherever I went I felt perfectly assured that I was wearing the finest leggings within a mile. My wonderful day ended in a TJ Maxx that was showing drastic markdowns on a good range of hosiery, including DK. I picked up a pair of the Sheer Bronze Control Top and promised to give Donna another try by re-rating the first pair, and test driving a new one. Work, work, work. Toujours travail. Pauvre Petra ne c’est pas?

Ahem. First the new pair notes. The tested Sheer Bronze Control Top are from the Essentials Collection, and are a moderate control, sandal foot dress sheer. Far from nude, these hose insist on attention with a very high glimmer factor. Your leg outlines and contours are beautifully highlighted, as though back lit. They confidently demand attention. Some high glimmer tights have a slightly slutty aspect to them. They look like they want to be ravaged by dawn or they simply won’t be happy. Donna is decidedly not that kind of girl. These are visible, but reserved. They just look terrific and so earn well deserved 8.5 Finish and Style points.

The effect on the wearer is superb too. There is no slack in the leg at 20% spandex, but still they breath well, and they glide on the leg as you descend stairs, cross and uncross, and just move through the day. You will not forget that you have them on. 8 points for fit (comfortable panty, good smooth waistband) and a rare 9.0 for feel. They are liquid, light and ‘lectric. Lovely in a word. I would clearly wear these to my own funeral and so they earn 8 Random Petra Points.

All of this taken even with a pretty rich price point of $16.00 drives Donna up onto the podium where clearly, she belongs. The Essential Sheer is ranked 3rd with a robust 185.2 points.

And now the earlier pair. The re-ranked Satin Sheers leap into 4th place with a very respectable 158.8 points, and our reigning Queen of the vast realm of Pantyhose remains Hanes. God Save the Silky Sheers.

I must confess, that I do not have a model lined up for next weeks review. I will clearly be doing a little shopping between now and then (stimulus comes in many, many forms, economic and tactile) and hope to find a worthy pair to introduce to you, dear friend.

Happy to have your suggestions in the meantime too. Don’t be shy. Got a tip? Leave a comment.

Till next time, happy dressing!

Feb 24, 2009

Cross Dressing, the Feminine Voice and Passing - Part 2

Regular check ups and routine maintenance, they say, are important to the long life and satisfactory performance of the things we own and operate. Things like our bodies and our blogs.

There is a little check up I put Voyages en Rose through every month or so (the 10,000 word scheduled maintenance). The check up is an online diagnostic tool called
Gender Analyzer.

The Gender Analyzer scans a web site and looks for
”sugar and spice and everything nice”, or “snips and snails and puppy dog tails”. In fractions of a second it renders a judgment as to exactly what the author is made of and, therefore, what Gender the author occupies.

Well some days, my sleek and stylish friends, one just feels pretty. Today is such a day. Gender Analyzer indicates with a 74% degree of certainty that Voyages en Rose is written by a woman. Well my, O my. Petra passes.

This is a small victory, and not a comprehensive one. It is a small victory because I don’t know how Gender Analyzer actually works. Ideally, I would want to find out that there are true structural indicators of femininity in my writing. I may only find out though that the tool does a simple vocabulary scan and guesses that somebody who talks ceaselessly about pantyhose is likely female.

I dropped a note to customer service last week. I have not heard back yet. I am hoping they will peel open their pretty little kimono for me and whisper sweet everythings in my anxious ear.

If there is an something beyond simple vocabulary tests that predictably and systematically identifies an authors gender, I truly believe that would be something worthy of investigation. I think that most of us cross dressers and absolutely every transgendered person I have spoken with would agree that we were served up with something, a disposition towards our desires at birth. When we dress, or when we transition we are yielding to that very natural and very deeply embedded desire.

I believe that all of us examine our own behavior pretty closely for “tells”, for indicators of our tendencies. The F2M TG might look back at a childhood where dresses just felt wrong. The M2F CD might look at early adult years where he is the only guy in the room with his legs crossed at the knee.

Does writing have similar tells? It’s a question I look forward to investigating more.

For you, dear friends with a blog of your own, or visitors who simply want to play around with an interesting tool, go ahead, visit, and hopefully surprise yourself. Find out if your favorite blogger is floating on a frothy sea of literary estrogen, or bashing away at their keyboard with a surfeit of testosterone.

If you have any thoughts about how your gender journey is reflected in your writing, please comment here. Happy to plunder this line of thinking with thoughtful people from any point on the compass.

Feb 23, 2009

Cross Dressing, The Feminine Voice and Passing – Part 1

Physically, I am not a big man. When shopping for trousers I have been encouraged on more than one occasion to perhaps look in the boys section and see if the husky teen line would work out for me. Picture my smiling face. I believe that I have an eye for style and a sure sense of quality, whatever gender I am provisioning for and presenting in, so shopping for the drab self is not always a really happy occasion for me. Or for the Sales Assistant pointing towards the kiddie section either.

Physically, I am not a big woman either. Mediums in most things, and in fact a small here and there work well for me. An 8 ½ shoe fits, and only if the heel is higher than 3” do I really stand out as tall in a gaggle of genetic girls.

With that said, some other accidents of nature have conspired to provide me with one characteristic that simply does not set up well for deeply and happily engaging with the world en femme, and passing in the process. I have a deep and sonorous voice that projects well and effortlessly. Wags and wanna-be analysts might suggest that I overcompensated in the vocal area for the relatively meager real estate grab that my body represents. That in my own social micro-evolution I grew a great baritone flourish of feathers to obscure the boney frame concealed within. They might have something there. Who knows. Maybe they are overcompensating…

My voice has been however, for male self, a very useful adaptation. I am able to get heard, easily. This has been helpful in my life.

It’s a bit of an issue for Petra though. Yes, there are tricks. Yes, practice makes perfect, even when all we really need is passable. I simply have not made the investment, and where there is no investment, there is no dividend.

For the moment, when out en femme, I am perfectly happy to pass from a distance, to raise doubts at close range and to remove all doubt as to my working gender the very moment I open my mouth and ask if they have that perfect dress in a 6. In fact there is a part of me that relishes the moment when one has clearly outed oneself.

Yes, I am enthralled by the theatricality of public cross dressing. There is very little to match the odd combination of adrenalin and peace that comes from being out, en femme, and far from home. But after some consideration and a lifetimes worth of fantasizing about passing, a full pass is not exactly what I am after, after all. I am not entirely certain why.

As expert as I could ever become (and even with a perfectly softened and feminine voice) I will always be clockable to some degree. I am ok with that. And do you know, dear friend, that even if I could somehow pass a presentation threshold that could fool all of the people, all of the time, I am not convinced that I would want to. I believe that a full pass would that takes away part of the fun, the lure, and whole raison d’etre of cross dressing to this cross dresser. Isn’t this all supposed to feel a little seditious? Where there is no risk, where is the reward?

Additionally, do we not all hope that cross dressing was a little more accepted by society in general? If we all passed, it would be a difficult issue to give visibility to.

My voice, in short, will continue to give me away, and when it does, I hope that I am leaving behind a positive and (here is a loaded word) normal impression of cross dressers. I won’t be dogmatic though. If any of you can point me to terrific resources for feminizing the voice, it would probably save me a google or 2. Please leave your comments and suggestions here.

Part 2 – The Written Feminine Voice and Passing. Coming tomorrow.

Feb 21, 2009

Petra’s Cross Dress Poll – Panties crept up from behind.

Earlier this week, yesterday to be exact, the Bra seemed like a hands down (hands up?) winning answer for the question " what is your favorite feminine garment?". Anticipating no change in the trend line overnight, I spent a good 800 words prosing on about the many splendours of the brassiere. Premature postulation as it turns out. Ah well, I now have some good bra copy for a rainy day in the future, and very little of insight or wit I can bring to the blog today. Best laid plans, etc….

So, we like our panties do we? When I ran this poll in December, panties were nowhere to be seen. Not a single vote This week, they came out of nowhere (O imagine a world where that happens) in a Friday night shower of adulation to win the pageant, 33% to 29% over the mighty bra.

Panties won at the expense of my particular delights, pantyhose, stockings and etc. In a mad and fickle fit, this week I abandoned pantyhose with my own vote, and sided with the Dress. Not sure what I was thinking, but perhaps I upset the Cross Dressing Gods (gorgeous they are) to the extent that they threw their own hanging chads into my polls in order to force me through this gruesome, rushed and inelegant rewrite. Wife and self have a date tonight and I am on a deadline dammit!

So there we are. I hope you enjoy your panties. I will ponder on them (well, not yours as such, panties in general that is) and have some better considered thoughts about their place in our hearts, minds and nether regions another day.

This weeks poll you ask?

Entirely random, comprehensively unscientific and of no likely academic merit. Do I have your attention yet? Good. Goes like this:

Have you ever wondered what percentage of the male population cross dresses? How big a number would you guess? Here is our definition – a male cross dresser is anyone who tried on a woman’s garment sometime in the last year. Go it? Go vote!

Happy dressing, and happy everything else.

Feb 20, 2009

Stations of the Cross Dresser - Driving en Femme

ed. The Stations of the Cross Dresser is an occasional feature of Voyages en Rose where the odd essay on some of the seminal moments of the life of the Cross Dresser will be presented. Here you will find my list of the 14 Stations. Here, some background on what tickled my odd mind into wandering down this path. Thanks for walking it with me.

We take driving our cars too much for granted on routine drab days. It is second nature to put it in drive, and simply, efficiently arrive where we intend.

It is impossible for the Cross Dresser to take driving for granted en femme though. It starts with the ladylike way we lower ourselves to the seat and swing the legs in together. The controls and the keys feel different with nails on. Pedals feel different with heels on. Seatbelts feel different with breast forms. O, and that new face in the mirror, ah yes this is all different, and it captures your attention, fully.

Your car now becomes an enabler of a much bigger exploration of your femme self. It is a conveyance from the very private setting our homes provide to a vast, daunting and tempting public space. And for this reason, Driving en Femme* must be considered one of our Stations of the Crossdresser.

My own maiden drive was terrifying and intoxicating and is decades gone by. I was captured by an inner voice that would hear no argument. And on that beautiful spring day, I exposed my underdressing to an unsuspecting highway and gulped down 200 miles clad only in a nicely matched garter / panty set, beautiful sheer stockings and a more or less buttoned shirt. Every sight and sensation was in very sharp focus that day, and the memory has not dimmed.

My own circumstances today are optimal. My cars are garaged so there are no exposed spaces between them and the neighbors who might not understand Petra. A ¼ mile from my drive, I merge into an anonymous stream of cars, without concern for identity. Many are not so lucky. Staci Lana over at
Femulate shared a story with me that many of you might relate to…

" ... I always dress at home to go out. At our first home, I had to be careful making my getaway because our garage faced my neighbor's deck less than 25 feet away. I could not exit en femme if the deck was occupied.

One day as I got ready to leave the house, I checked outside and the coast was clear. But just as I pulled out of the garage, my neighbor came out of her house and onto the deck and she looked in my direction trying to figure out who was driving my car.

I panicked and tried to get out of Dodge as fast as I could driving out onto the street without considering the traffic. A car coming my way had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision and I was free.

Can you imagine if there was a collision? I would have been outed to the whole neighborhood and worse if the incident made it to the newspaper.... "

Worse indeed. In a heartbeat, terrible outcomes were avoided. Beyond the awkward neighborhood realities, the insurance claims and premium increases looms the possibility of personal injury to self and to strangers. A possibility that Petra very narrowly avoided just last week.

After merging onto I-85 northbound I needed to rapidly navigate 2 leftward lane changes to stay on my pretty path home. In the split second it took to double check my blind spot, the fast moving traffic in front of me slammed to a halt. I had no choice but to take the lane. I missed clipping the truck in front of me by feet, travelling fast and accelerating while at it. It’s a wonderful thing to feel very alive. Moments like this on the road will get you feeling that way at the speed of light.

Any of us who Dress and Drive have had those moments and more. Wrong turns in unfamiliar neighborhoods. Speed traps and roadside sobriety tests. Purse contents flung around from sharp turns and sudden stops. Unwelcome solicitations of romantic interest.

Given the risks, you might think us mad to leave the house at all. But we are not mad. Just driven.

And O how it feels. Legs closer together, nyloned thighs caressing. The air conditioning swirls around and through finer fabric. Adjustments to the different and sensitive fulcrum that our heels provide are tentatively made. Posture smartens up a little as both hands take the wheel. We notice other drivers, and note, perhaps for the first time, that the other drivers may take note of us.

Cars, particularly in the American context are practically mythical things. They represent liberty, choice, independence, freedom. Cross dressing represents these same things to many of us as well. Put the 2 together and the journey is on, bigger, faster and farther.

We catch our breath when the door slams, look quickly in the mirror and, practically aloud to ourselves we say, are you ready for this girl? When we are, and when we put it in drive, the world is never the same again. When did the world get bigger for you? Don’t hesitate to leave a story with us all.

* Urbanites who simply do not need a car can substitute the public hailing of a taxi, or getting from A to B on any form of Public Transportation. Crossdressing friends in Amsterdam can claim riding a bicycle in a nice A line skirt.

Feb 19, 2009

Petra's Pantyhose Parade - No Nonsense, and I mean it.

Pantyhose have, to me at least, much in common with wine. I go through a lot of both for starters. Beyond that, the quality, consistency and value for the dollar of both have improved in recent years, with great strides made at the lower end of the cost continuum. There are $3.00 bottles of wine out there that are not offenses to the palette. You might not want to drink them nightly, but in the unlikely event of a global financial crisis, you could find a way. Lets hope we never see the day.

Ahem. This week, we approach the $3.00 pantyhose threshold my dear, sheer-legged friends. This price bracket has historically been owned by off-brand, convenience store emergency pantyhose that would be better used in the commission of a robbery or at best, straining whey from churned milk. You know the ones. By reputation only of course, I am quite certain. Goodness knows, we are a standards based society here.

But we are not snobs and our labor continues, this epic exploration delivered in weekly installments, charting a map of the universe of pantyhose. Fearless and foolhardy, Quixotic and all-consuming, and far beyond the corrupting influence of those vendors who would tempt me into a control top trap in return for undeservedly favorable reviews. I think. Nobody has attempted a bribe yet. I remain hopeful that I will someday test my resolve.

In any event, regular readers (I would like to recognize my parole officer, Mr. Abernathy) know the drill. For you first time visitors, here is the routine: I buy them, wear them, rate them and save Crossdressers the trouble of buying something that won’t appeal. Don’t mention it, really, there are upsides for me. So for this week, we fly under the $3.00 radar dressed only in
No Nonsense Silk Indulgence Control Tops.

Before putting them on though, to better set the mood and to appeal to my own twisted sense of irony, I opened a bottle of
Norman Vineyards No Nonsense Meritage. I am not kidding you. This is a fine and well regarded Paso Robles vineyard. They do not have a $3.00 offering. Their elegant Bordeaux style blend does however get my muse singing. Here goes:

No Nonsense is what the package promises and exactly what the product provides. But who amongst us does not want a little nonsense? I contend that if what we wanted was no nonsense, we would likely not be wearing pantyhose. There is something inherently nonsensical about pantyhose. And that is a part of what draws me to them. They are capricious, whimsical, frail and eye catching. They hide imperfections, capture light and demand attention. They are as light as air, and yet they insist on your attention at your every move. They are romantic and beguiling. They exist in a universe that values not practicality. No Nonsense is attempting to create a parallel and practical universe, and this is a universe I am sure that I want a one-way ticket to.

When I liberated my new hose from their practical, plastic, purse friendly pouch, it was clear at first touch that I was getting great value. They feel fine and are well made. They applied themselves to my legs well and took shape comfortably around by hips and butt. Perfectly serviceable. If No Nonsense was a girl in your Junior year Algebra class, you would say that she has a nice personality, and would be happy to dance with her.

In fact, you really want to look closely to find things to quibble about. The panty is just plain. I can live with that. The 14% Spandex leg shows the horizontal strands too clearly. True, very few people will get close enough to notice, but if you spend any time looking at your own legs, you will. And then, just when you are considering that you are being too harsh on these hardworking, high value hose you begin to feel the heat building on your leg.

They breath poorly. I know that after a long day confined in a nice fitting pair of day sheers it is an airy pleasure peeling them off, but I was a mere 15 minutes in captivity and starting to get itchy. The prospects of the full day loomed as impossible. I thought perhaps I was experiencing vicarious hot flashes, remembered my commitment to you, and settled in for the day. It wasn’t a delight friends. And 2 hours into it, I threw in the towel. And then I toweled off.

I am not done with
No Nonsense. I have heard too many good things from too many smart girls. I will test a more sheer version. The lure of the < $3.00 pair is considerable. A perfect offering in this category is not likely, but I want a better offering than this weeks sacrificial pair.

And now to the rankings. The chart compares the No-Nonsense next to their closest price point competitors, L’eggs so that you can judge (and argue if you like) their relative merits. No Nonsense winds up in 9th place out of 11th tested competitors. Our sleek and cool L’eggs remain at respectable 4th and 6th.

Talk amongst yourselves. Or leave a comment here. Next week, I am going to go out on a second date with Donna Karan. She called me up and promised me that we would have even more fun than
last time out. I think the world of her, but am just not certain that I can afford such a glossy girl in the long run. I so enjoyed my bottle of No Nonsense wine though that I simply could not say no….

Wish me luck! Happy dressing and everything else...

Feb 17, 2009

Petra’s Tuesday Traipse: The Power of the Purse

You and I might think of the Power of the Purse as that invisible beam that slays you mid-mall and pulls you (at great peril to your credit rating) into the warm and dangerous confines of that shop you swore to not visit. More broadly (no broads here, only Ladies I presume), the Power of the Purse is that old twist of the Golden Rule. She with the gold, rules.

Well, Petra has a purse or 2, and a little gold sloshing around in them. I have been exercising my Purse Power not only by shopping, but by learning from and leaving behind Product Reviews wherever possible. Product reviews are terrific things. I learn from them. I learn what about what other real people (with real figures and without real armies of stylists, set decorators and lighting assistants) think about a garment I am considering buying. The wisdom of crowds it is called, and you can save yourself from buyers remorse by listening on this buzz.

On the other side of the coin, and to me, more importantly though, you can leave your own kind or sharp words behind as encouragement or caution to the next sister in line. Pay it forward. Save a girl from disappointment, or encourage them to be brave. Sorority solidarity.

There is more though. Senior management is paying attention to these reviews. These are tough times for retailers, online, around the corner and spanning the globe. The retailers who going to survive are those that listen to their customers and provide a welcoming shopping experience. The more retail management expects their income to come from crossdressers, the better our experience will be.

Here are a few samples of recently posted Petra online reviews. My suggested guidlines here:

  • Be fair. No garment is comprehensively bad. So if you have something negative to say about a purchase, do feature something positive, something that redeems the garment to a degree.
  • Be creative. Go ahead, put a little sizzle into your review. If you make the effort and have a stylish way of saying what you want to say, it will increase your odds of being published and engaging the next reader.
  • Be open. Say that you are CD or TG or whatever describes you best. I have been delighted to see self identified M2F crossdressers talking about the fit and feel of dresses, pantyhose, you name it online. If we are not furtive about our shopping, the market should organize around us slowly and surely.

I want to give a particularly warm (and hopefully not overly familiar) hug to our friends at Macy’s - the Grand Old Lady of department stores. Sales Assistants have been helpful and just nicely curious about my shopping, en femme and in drab. When I have been in a Macy’s wearing a Macy’s dress, it gets noticed by staff. On 2 separate occasions an SA has excitedly told me that I look terrific and that they appreciate that I am a Macys customer. Online, my reviews have been published quickly, and weirdly, other customers have found them helpful.

The really smart and helpful SA’s have encouraged me to take a moment as well writing about the shopping experience. Look at your receipts. There is a URL that you should visit and take 2 minutes to tell management how you enjoyed (or did not enjoy) your visit. These get read too. I have received 2 very personalized email responses from Macy’s Store Managers thanking me for my business, and promising to single out the SA for excellent performance in front of the whole team. That review may be the difference when it comes time to chopping hours or laying off staff.

I have had some great experiences with JC Penny too. I have reviewed a good handful of items and have risen to the status of Top 1000 Contributor. I am not sure what goes into their reviewer algorithm, but I suspect that people who have read my reviews have bought the reviewed product. Everyone wins.

Honorable mention to Target and American Apparel. These are all retailers who seem committed to giving control of the message to their consumers to a very large degree. It is control that is ours to seize and to benefit from. We are shoppers, hear us roar.

Its all easy, and to me fun. I encourage you to use your femme online persona and take the time to start a dialog with the vendors who hope you open your purse for them. The purse has power, and who knows that better than us? Lets wield it and not just yield to it.

And to retailers who don’t provide for online reviews, you are underestimating your most potent marketing vector, your most sincere critic and the people who pays your salary. And just look at us … clearly this is company you want to keep.

Today's post has a very America-centric message to it. Alas, here is where my femme shopping get done. I would be delighted to hear which retailers earn your business and your respect in your part of the world. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Happy dressing, shopping and everything else.

Feb 16, 2009

Proofreading, Crossdressing and Femme naming.

One takes pride dear friends in ones work. When one screws up pretty badly though, one does the following:
  1. Stop referring to ones self in the 3rd person
  2. Fix the problem.
New improved 14 Stations of the Crossdresser presented here. (click to enlarge)

You see, I managed somehow while tweaking the 14 Stations of the Crossdresser, to squeeze out only 13. Nice. You would suspect that that is the sort of thing I would get right. Alas, I am human.

So, notes on the remedy. It occurred to me that the process of naming something is important. When we give our femme selves a name we are accepting of its permanence in our lives. We are providing the world, or at least the parts of the world that meet us en femme a users manual of sorts, a means of addressing us, of saying hello.

For ourselves as well we get to engage in an important creative exercise. The name is important. It is something, unlike our names at birth, that we are the sole authors of. There is much in our lives that we may feel inclined to blame our parents for, but our femme name is not one of those things.

What thinking goes into our choice of a femme name? I think we often aim for pretty and sexy. Perhaps we look for something that is a close female approximation of our birth name. Perhaps the name of a girl from the dark recesses of time emerges, a girl you had a sad and sweet and complete crush on and it swims above the rest. Maybe a desire for something absolutely unique after having grown up with a generic, middle of the road male handle drives us into exotic naming territories.

For me, I never thought Petra was sexy. Unique yes, and a name that I knew nobody else in the room would answer to. Unique is important to me. I liked as well the slightly exotic sound of a French family name. Not that Bellejambes is a true family name. I just think I have nice legs. Bellejambes = Nice legs. Allow me my vanity.

I like my name. I hope that you like your name as well. I would love to hear how you chose yours, and whether you feel that the private ceremony of choosing a femme name is a fitting event for The Stations of the Crossdresser.

Happy Monday.

Feb 15, 2009

Petra's Poll - We like we. We really like we.

I waded into last weeks poll with no small amount of trepidation dear sisters and the rest of you kind visitors affectionate for or afflicted by a cross dresser.

The "if there was a pill, would you take it" question was posed aloud by a friend of mine one day years ago, except he was referring to his own sexual orientation. Gay, and open, successful and well adjusted. But, he confided, the gayness had come at a price all of these years that in hindsight he would rather not have paid. Yes, of course, if he could, he would make it go away.

That harpooned me. I could not imagine wanting an integral part of me to not be there. Looking back on the conversation, I think that at the time that my cross dressing habit was at a low ebb. Perhaps because of that, I did not have a close relevant experience, a barometer of empathy readily to hand. The conversation came back to me recently though as the pink tide has surged slowly and unstoppably to high water marks and overtopped my own defensive levees.

Cross dressing brings me happiness. I do absolutely enjoy exploring my more mature, more open and more confident femme self. Thinking back on the furtive and fetishistic femme of earlier years, this Petra is having a better time, a more rewarding time. Looking better too if I say so myself.

These rewards come at a price though. We all pay it day to day in countless ways, trivial, true and sometimes troubling. Distraction from important details. Too much focus on what the pretty GGs all around are wearing. And the truth (in my case at least) that you are not being fully truthful with others in your life. So I wondered if friends and visitors here felt like the price was too high.

I believed in asking the question that I knew my answer. I said no to the pill. I am too drawn to “different” to not want to care for and grow my own differences. I wonder in quiet moments whether I am alone in my thinking though, and so I would like to thank the 78% of you who indicated would pull up a chair, smooth out the skirt, join me for a smart cocktail, ignore the pill, and forsake the chance to make the dressing go away.

And so again I paraphrase Sally Field: We like we. We really, really like we.

And this is the precondition to all other things. If we are accepting of ourselves, then we can start to work on the rest of the world. Sounds like a job made for a woman. Lets have at it.

I would also like to say to the 22% who would (after careful consideration of the side effects ... ) take the pill this:

I get it. I think I understand. Younger Petra may not have, but Petra 2.0 does. There are many other important and perhaps simpler pleasures in life. And seeking them out is sound, and correct, and a sign of self love too.

But if you do find the pill, and you wear an 8 1/2 shoe, would you call please? I am there for the purge.

This weeks poll goes back to the more trivial. Its a repeat of a poll from December when readership of Voyages en Rose was considerably smaller (and less well just flat out fierce glamorous) than it is today. Would love your views on which feminine garment you would fight to the death to defend. One garment only girls, life is so unfair...

Happy dressing and happy everything else.

Feb 13, 2009

14 for the 14th

It’s a Friday the 13th which is always big stuff. Its especially big stuff when it happens in February, because that betokens Valentines Day. I am dropping a quick (very quick by Petra standards) note today to say the following:

Tomorrow, being Valentines Day is devoted to my feminine partner, known to you sleek and glossy girls as Mrs. Bellejambes, and not at all devoted to my feminine inner self. You will not see me here tomorrow.

The poll results for the week will likely be commented on Sunday. Encouraging results so far and I truly look forward to divining our collective thoughts on the curious blessing of crossdressing then.

For today I have created for your consideration, and in honor of Valentines Day, a First Draft of The 14 Stations of the Crossdresser. Regular readers (I’d like to thank my accountant and my seamstress) of Voyages en Rose will remember the idea. You gorgeous first time visitors ought to read the background material

The table below is a very quick trawling of many memories and a handful of hoped for moments in my cross dressing life. I am sure I am missing events and thresholds that far more accomplished crossdressers would want to include in the list. Where that is the case, please raise a delicately boned hand, and beckon my attention. Set me on the proper path, or at least help me stray less comprehensively. What milestone am I missing? Leave comments below. If you, in your infinite feminine wisdom feel it’s a good list, well you should say so too.

And so with a little virtual fanfare I am proud to present our first draft 14 Stations of the Crossdresser here just in time for the 14th of Feb. (click on image to enlarge).

They are presented in rough, loose chronological order. Or in some logical order that makes sense to me in any event. I had to leave a few I really liked out. I needed to condense a couple of unique firsts into a composite milestone. And I did not have the benefit of your experiences. And so again, before anything gets carved in marble, share, and share freely.

O, and about me, how am I doing? 10 down, 4 to go. 2 of them I have scheduled. 1 of them I can take care of along the way. And the last one? I have lots of nerve friends, but I need a little more than I possess today. You can guess which one. And even if I did have the nerve, I suspect that Valentines Day would be the wrong day to show that surfeit of courage and that deficit of consideration with my very special, and very exclusive Valentine. Some other happy day.

Do take care of yourself and be sure to let those that love you know how important their love is, and how much they are loved in return.

Happy dressing, happy Valentines Day, and happy everything else.

Feb 12, 2009

Petra's Pantyhose Parade - They got their Hanes on me

One hears a great deal on the news these days about the demise of American industry. We don’t make things anymore. We are a service economy. Once, we were a nation of producers. Now, we are a nation of consumers. And not so hot at that at present. Well lets not put a tear in our collective gusset here ladies. I am here today not only as the Editor of Petra’s Pantyhose Parade, but also as the Cheerleader in Chief for good old American ingenuity, industry and value.

And I am held aloft today on a downy cloud of silk, of light catching, glimmering and wonderfully comfortable Hanes Pantyhose Products. Let me share with you some observations and my delight.

But first the ground rules. On a weekly basis I buy, wear, evaluate, rate and rant about a brand of pantyhose. Why? Well for starters, it feels good. But beyond that, with a systematic approach to this groundbreaking and necessary research we may together build a map of the whole wonderful universe of Pantyhose. And what would we be if we did not try? No need to answer that.

Petra’s Pantyhose Parade is a public service. There is no commercial gain in it for me. But if you are a hosiery wholesaler in a terrible overstock pinch who is looking for a little temporary storage and keeps loose inventory records, well, hello there. Look me up

Ahem. Now back to
Hanes. At a quick glance, Hanes is the General Motors of Pantyhose. Except, that if Hanes were managing General Motors, I would be driving a Buick, not a Subaru. Hanes is a massive, multi-brand, hosiery conglomerate. The L’eggs and Hanes lines run in the family, and each of these prolific brands run 20+ unique models deep, not counting the wonderful color palettes within each style. There is additionally an unknowable number of designer and retailer labels stitched onto Hanes product built to those private label specifications. Hanes are everywhere. And believe me I am not complaining.

This week I have pulled a couple of Silk Reflections products from the racks for our test. Silky Sheer Control Top and Waist Smoother Control Top. Again, this is just the tip of the Hanes Iceberg. Lets review what they have in common:
  • Packaging – Attractive photo imagery on the package.
  • Comfort and Fit – Really first rate feel on the leg and at the panty portion. A light touch that breathes, but with a real feeling of fixedness on the body.
  • Appearance – Really gorgeous, even, and beautifully colored legs. These are very dressy day sheers that can hit red carpets at night without blushing.
Where do they diverge? Here is some detail:

The $7.50 Silky Sheer focus is all on the leg. The control top is all function, and low on aesthetics. Good choice. Very snug panty portion that won’t peek over waist bands. Completely luxurious leg with a cool and liquid feel. Looks and feels like a 15 Denier leg, but has a relatively high 15% Lycra component.

The $9.00 Waist Smoother focuses more on the panty. The control top is all fashion, all clean and smooth to eye and hand. The leg has an equally good appearance, but at a high 23% Lycra component, it lacks some of the slinkiness, some of the lovely glide that the Silky Sheer possesses.

To me though, unless you need to look great once your dress comes off, the Silky Sheer is your sure bet.

And now for the ranking exercise, which I am pleased to report, confirms my feelings about the Hanes products, and the calibration of the ranking formula.

Here is what we get. A new Champion. The Hanes Silk Reflections Silky Sheers knock
Calvin Klein off the high perch with our very first 200 point score (205 over 194 for the Calvin’s). The Silky Sheers score consistently lower, point by point measured against the CK’s but at ~ 60% of the retail price, they nose past on value. And they win fairly I believe.

The Waist Smoother is a great looking and very comfortable pair of pantyhose, but with the best thinking in the panty, the hose are not what they should be for the couple of dollars more. These come in at a respectable 7th place with 127.7 points.

Both products get a nice little merit point from me just because the perfect fit is size CD. Irony can be so ironic you know.

I feel much more confident about the future of American manufacturing after this weeks invigorating exercise. O who the hell am I fooling. I feel better about my legs. And with that, together we cannot help but survive.

Next week, I will take a no nonsense look at No Nonsense. More proletariat pantyhose for the times. What hose are getting you through the days? Drop me a line, make a suggestion, and do be careful pulling your stockings up friends. Till next time…..

Feb 10, 2009

Stations of the Crossdresser – Shrine # 2 – The Fitting Room

A very fine day to you my silken sisters, to all of us ensnared by curious and compelling habits of presenting female. Presentation is not all about outer appearances of course. Clearly, there is much that needs to project out from within. With that true thing said though, let us agree that there is more than a little truth to the old expression “you are what you wear”.

Well nothing says girl quite like a dress. Not only to the audience, but to the dressee too. There is a flow of fabric over the body that is different, entirely different from all the drab garments. There is a magic moment in dressing where the garment falls in place, takes shape and catches your breath. There are the moments in the wearing too. An outstretched arm forces a lift of hem. A turn on your heel causes a slight flare of fabric. The taking of a chair exposes a little thigh. Bless the dress, say I.

Ah, but finding the fit, the flattering line, the colour that compliments, that is another matter entirely. Up until very recently, I have relied on eyeballing the garment in the shop, typically in drab, breaking speed limits on the way home, praying that this dress is the dress of the dreams. And in truth, I have done more or less well.

But still, I have envied the girls who attack the racks with abandon, who disappear behind a swoosh of curtain, who peek out and confide in confederates that the 4 won’t do, and see if there is a 6 there for me would you? And I have wanted that certainty that the dress in the bag was made for me and me only before we travel home together, forever. The lure of the fitting room is strong. Stronger than I. I recently surrendered to its embrace. And I hope you agree that this is a worthy Station of the Crossdresser.

MissSixty is a designer line with a small networks of boutiques dotting the globe and catering to a definitely younger gal than I. Flattery is far too important to leave to chance though, so I am always ready to flatter (ed. delude?) myself and shop young. The dress in the window looked perfect: a rich geometric pattern, high necked, long sleeve with a nice subtle ruche at waist that lent a little bias to the lovely well above the knee hem (the sleeveless, empire waist version is pictured here). I wanted the dress, and was dressed to shop.

The short black skirt drops in a heartbeat, and the second skin leotard has a slick enough finish that I would just be able to pull anything over top of it. GG friend Ramona and I waded in to the shop, smiled and said hello to the young, freakishly fresh and beautiful SA. O, for the complexions of youth, but that is another story.

“Do you have the dress in the window in my size?”

“Hmm, I hope so, let me check”

Clocked certainly, but no hang ups as to my crossdressing. Alas there was only the S and the XL on the racks, but our friend vanished to a back room while I considered whether this very true looking small was even worth the effort of a try on. There are limits to the degree that I am will to flatter myself after all.

“Hey, I found a medium, I think this will do you nicely”.

And now the moment of truth…

“Sweet, may I try it on?”
“Of course! If your OK, we’re OK”.

OK? More like ecstatic. This is what I came out for today. The sound of metal rings on curtain rod as I pulled the blue drape closed behind, and saw myself reflected full length. Stepping out of my pooled skirt and bending from the knee in high heels to pick it up and lay it safely on the bench. The soft handle and elastic give of the fabric as I pulled down the back zip to free it from the lifeless hanger. Surely, this was my dress.

All of these things conspired to intoxicate. I should have seen it coming. Even opened at neck to the fullest extent, I managed to yank my wig fully off, unmoor my wig cap, and cause my own longish natural hair to flounder free at angles and aspects only achievable by random chance or crazy tides. And me without a brush

I give myself credit here friends for not weeping. And for thinking too. After all, I still had a dress to consider. And once smoothed out, holy runway, what a dress. Complete magic, but tragically flawed by what appeared to be an iron-burn in the fabric, a dark scar travelling the light contours of my left boob.

It makes for good fun dear friends, and as this tale displays, safe times to shop with a friend. I encourage it highly. I would have been lost, exposed and awkwardly dependant on the kindness of strangers for a pretty big fix, and if not for Ramona, well I am not sure how the story ends. A cordon of Federal Agents in a tense stand-off, the deranged man with melted makeup and very sore feet yelling for a private plane and a one way ticket to Venezuela. The mind does scatter at these moments.

The wig never fully regained its prior poise. My foundation and concealer had certainly taken on a sheen. And my breathing was slow to come entirely back down to earth. But dammit, I was alive, dressed, and privileged to have been welcomed behind the curtain. I can’t wait for the next time, and for those of you who have not had stopped at this Station of the Crossdresser, I implore you. Do. You deserve it. Minus all the bad stuff. Bring a friend, just in case...

Feb 9, 2009

The Stations of the Crossdresser and Monday Miscellany

Dear friend. So nice of you to visit. I must tell you that last weeks post on “The Stations of the Crossdresser” generated some fine suggestions, and even a couple of (mostly) complimentary private notes. I was happy to note that nobody thought there was any heresy in this little line of investigating our various Voyages en Rose. All good.

The lovely and talented
Staci Lana over at Femulate had a few terrific suggestions that I want to list here:

  • First time driving en femme wearing high heels. (Bonus points for manual transmission.)
  • First time shopping for a wig in a wig shop.
  • First time shopping in a corset/lingerie shop
  • First time being fitted for a bra.
  • First time using the ladies restroom.

I believe that these are superb suggestions. I beatify them unilaterally. They are included in The 14 Stations of the Crossdresser without any requirement for committee markup, public hearings or private crying jags.

Done, and done. Now, with last weeks post chronicling my full frontal assault on DSW we are up to 6 Stations. I will be adding a post of my own selection tomorrow detailing the First Fitting Room en Femme session, which brings us up to 7. There we are,

halfway to Cross Dressing salvation if you will.

if I may place a figurative hand on your pretty little knee and confide in you, I simply must tell you that I cannot do this alone. I need your help, you absolute lamb you, in these 2 ways …

Your suggestions. Yes, I know I could think up 7 more terrific landmark moments in the life of an accomplished crossdresser in a fluttery heartbeat, but goodness me, this is an interactive media we are working with here. I would feel so much more certain if I could hear
your thoughts. So please leave comments here. Remember, I am going to do all 14 (or die happily trying) in the ahem, fullness of time. So, you devil you, if you feel like setting the bar a little high and tempting or daring me into something just a little out there, well you let your imagination run wild. I am a fool for a challenge.

Your story. I want to ask for a specific story that has to do with driving en femme. Been there, done that, used my turn indicators correctly and the whole thing. Apart from a few moments of adjusting to the feel of heels on the pedals though (and the electric tingle of the nylon clad knees touching) my own driving experiences just don’t seem shrine worthy. I would love to hear from one of you who has had something special happen on the road. Please drop a
line or start off with a comment here. I will be happy to preserve your anonymity to whatever extent your preferences require. We understand each other, no? Splendid.

Now then, where were we? I will have a breath-catching, death-defying and zipper-impaired fitting room story up here for you by a respectable hour tomorrow. The regular Thursday Pantyhose Parade will feature the very tip of the Hanes Hosiery Iceberg. Beyond that,
who knows what else will tumble onto my keyboard this week.

And for those you who like pictures, I did manage to get a couple of recent snaps up on
Flickr and on Facebook (friend me if you like there…). Happy to have you visit me practically anywhere. See you back here soon though I do hope.

Happy dressing and happy everything else.

Feb 7, 2009

Petra’s Poll : Shoes, Cats and Tipping Points

I have a friend from a former life who confessed to having “18 or 20” cats in the house he shares with his wife. I asked just how in the hell you get to having that large and weirdly, an uncertain number of cats.

“Not sure, but somewhere we hit a number where the next one just did not seem to make a damn difference”.

So, it seems, it might be, dear friends, with shoes. There is an incremental cat, and there is an incremental shoe that puts the household on a practically unstoppable slope. I believe as well that they share a number. Hold your breath ladies, and beware the high heeled Tipping Point: Number 5.

I design polls (imperfectly yes, but adequately) with the expectation that a nice bell curved distribution will occur. Imperfect polls will typically show a warped bell, or a bell with a peak well to the left or right of the center, but still with a gradual incline up to and down from the peak data point.

Anytime you get a curve with 2 peaks though you have hit on what could be referred to as an anomaly, or a behavioral singularity. Our poll this week posing the question “How many pairs of shoes do you own” give us exactly that.

32% of survey respondents this week own between 3 and 5 pairs of women’s shoes. A smaller number (19%) have 6-10 and fewer again (16%) 11-20 pairs. And then the big spike at the end where 22% of respondents possess (or are possessed by) “more shoes than I can count”. In short, stumble into pair 6, and you will likey need off site storage for your out of season shoes.

I did a little secondary research to see if my too too small (but o so exclusive) survey sample was throwing me bad data. Over at
crossdressers.com this past week a thread on the same topic was going on. My word, what an eye popper it all is. 75% of the respondents who put an actual estimate up on the board have more than 20 pairs, even after multiple wardrobe purges. Almost half of them have a staggering 100+ pairs of shoes. Many admit they are either powerless to stop or disinterested in trying to.

I for one felt a little embarrassed to admit to my puny (but very tasteful) collection of 5 pairs in such accomplished (obsessed?) company. But the tipping point in this sample is either 5 or 6 too (insert eerie music here….)!

My own 5th pair was reported on last week
here, and it was a transformative experience for me. I feel like I am a more competent shoe shopper after a really successful and rewarding effort. I know there will be a 6th pair. I find myself looking at the footwear of GG’s with a more critical and envious eye these days. Even with all the data staring me in the face, I am lowering my guard, and will likely not repel borders. I will leave the drawbridge down and the castle gate open. God help me, my home is under siege.

Ah well, bring it on. My calves will look terrific.

But now for this weeks poll. It’s a simple one. Yes or No. No grey answers. Don’t think. Snap answers only. Very, very quickly now:

If there was a one-time, no side effect pill you could take that would get you past your cross dressing or transgendered desires, would you take it?

Do you have a question you would like an answered here? Let me know! And do enjoy your weekend.

Feb 6, 2009

Ladies who Lunch

For many cross dressers, the very best that can be hoped for are short and private moments of delight. It seems to me that a smaller number of us are able to enjoy much longer and much more public sessions en femme. I am deliriously happy to find myself in the latter set. And I have been on a bit of a tear of late. Some nice and surprising findings have come out of this flurry of activity. I wanted to take a few moments this beautiful Friday to share them with you. A couple of background thoughts first though:
I suspect that all of us at the start of our explorations of cross dressing were drawn to the exceptional things. The remarkable feeling of fabrics less coarse and more clingy. The danger and risk of being caught. The breath catching moment when you see your made-up face or filled-out figure in the mirror. These remarkable highs are intoxicating. Once tasted, you know you will be back for seconds. And god forbid those feelings should ever go away. I want to be surprised and delighted every time I dress.

I want to talk today about moments that are the polar opposite of exceptional. Lets call them moments of normal. And what, dear reader, could be more normal than lunch?

I am privileged in my work to have a great deal of schedule flexibility, and a home office to conduct business from. I am also privileged to have a GG friend who has, shall we say, a calling and a professional interest in the life of the cross dresser. Time to time she provides a setting for me to enjoy dressing more completely, and additionally lends an artistic competency to the application of makeup that I will never have for myself.

Last week we enjoyed an epic shopping day together. I chronicled some of it in
this post. After a solid 4 hours fully dressed and perched atop teetering stilettos it was time for the reward of a late lunch. The Virginia Highlands neighborhood of Atlanta was on our route, and furnished plenty of choice. We happily settled on Murphy’s which was busy as ever, and bright as it always is

When we seated for lunch, or waitress made a very nice point of finding us some black table linens for us … “you ladies don’t want your outfits ruined”. A glass of Pinot Grigio and a nice Waldorf salad on a croissant seemed like the right choice for the daytime shopping set. Ramona excused herself for a moment and I was able to catch up on a couple of emails while I waited, legs crossed and a buzz of diners all around. Naturally, food arrived while my friend was away freshening up. A sympathetic smile from our waitress and…

“ it never fails, when one of us has to go the food has to come…”

A diner at an adjacent table, a woman perhaps in her 60’s in the company of her husband offered up a conspiratorial endorsement of my selection….

“I love the Waldorf salad here, lucky you, I nearly ordered it again today….

Ramona was soon back, lunch was delicious and the world just continued to turn as ever.

I was in the neighborhood again this week. The Highland Tap is not so sunlit a room as Murphy’s and was not as busy a place on this chilly day. Lots of dark wood paneling, serious booths and subtle green shade lighting. A very clubby place, and so I was happy to have a nice suit on.

We were seated, handed menus, told of the specials of the day, none of which I heard because I was staring. You should have seen the lashes on our waitress. I had to complement her. She was bashfully thankful and then started into the news she heard about a pill that causes eyelashes to grow longer, fuller and better and can you believe it? she asked because something about that just seemed too wrong for words.

So there the 3 of us were pondering along these lines … would I take a pill for better lashes? and just how do they make them grow without giving me even more hairy arms or worse?

She was fairly new on staff we found out, having recently moved back to Atlanta from out west. Tremors in the economy had swallowed up her job in the banking sector in a mad gulp. Here she was working her way through an unexpected and undeserved set back in life. How tired that must make you feel on a bad day. I was imagining too how much I would miss big endless Scottsdale sunsets and the stark beauty of the desert if I had to leave them against my will. But how graceful and honest and cheerful she was.

Lunch was delivered and was delicious, and Ramona and myself spoke about many things, not all of them to do with cross dressing. As it happens we both have diverse interests and busy lives beyond the bras, breast forms and butt padding. The sorts of things that you find out while having a nice lunch. The sort of nice, normal human experience that makes you for moments forget the silky feelings on the leg, and the electric touch of your wig on the nape of your neck.

Yes, our dressing is, it seems to me, exceptional, and I love the exceptional feelings that come along with it. I never want them to dim. I want these days to be exceptional. It is a pleasant surprise to me though that dressing and presenting has a potential for normal that we all need as social animals. I am realist friends. I know for certain that I was “clocked” on both occasions. If nothing else, my voice gives it all away. But all of that does not need to get in the way of normal. And these are moments that I would wish on any of you reading this today, and on all the people you care for.

Happy Friday.

Feb 5, 2009

Petra's Pantyhose Parade - Worthington / JC Penney

Last week I walked out of JC Penney with full armloads of outstanding 75% ++ off terrifically made and absolutely timeless day-to-night appropriate professional woman’s wardrobe staples. Pencil skirts, silk blend blouses, shirt dresses by the pound. This is a department store that never ever meant a thing to my male shopper, but I must tell you this: Petra has a total store crush on JC Penney. And I never, ever would have guessed it could happen.

So, something is going on here. Maybe something like this:

  • My male parts are bitchier and more judgmental than my feminine side,
  • My feminine fashion sense is less well developed than my male fashion sense,
  • JCP merchandises for women much much better than they do for the guys, or
  • Some combination of all of the above.
The price I paid for what I got was practically criminal. My sense of guilt is never too far from the surface, and so I caught myself at the door, turned smartly on my heel and went in desperate search of something just a touch closer to full retail price. Thankfully I have a serious editorial responsibility for the Pantyhose Parade!

I did not have to walk too far to find myself in the hosiery section. Yes, the second pair came at 50% off but I didn’t feel like I was putting another vendor into Chapter 11. I will say this though – our hosiery check out lady was definitely offended by my having a penchant for things feminine. One blemish on an otherwise terrific visit. So for this weeks road test of tights is being visited on Penney’s house brand, Worthington.

I peeled up a dressy sheer pair of the
Worthington Lace Tanga Control Top and immediately loved the very nice finishing. The pretty, pretty, lacey, scalloped faux-panty detail helps you feel like you are making a fashion statement rather than simply trying to tame your figure. Yes it is a control top garment, but at 14% of Spandex in the panty, its not overly constricting. Just a nice firm fit.

The leg shines nicely for the mid-range priced day sheer. At 18% Spandex it has a nice lasting cling and does not give up too too much on finish and feel. To me they are a touch less silky than I really desire. But, to be fair, they look just a touch better than they feel. It’s a pretty good compromise really.

The waist, panty and toe seams are subtle. They are not prone to roll at the waist (at least on my own frame) and hold up well to a long day of walking about.

I give my value minded friends at JC Penney 6 Random Petra Points for the effort that goes into the entirely unnecessary pretty panty portion. I mean honestly, when you are pulling on a pair of pantyhose you just know that the lady is driving, but it is a nice little girlish pleasure to know you have a little lacey detail where very few will know for themselves.

At an $8.00 investment, the math is favorable, and this weeks test subject rates a respectable 111.2 Petra Pantyhose Points. This laudable rating drives the Lace Tanga Control Top Sheer Leg into the middle of the pack of 10 tested pantyhose. In short, I am happy to endorse this fine fine product, but I couldn’t encourage you to drive great lengths to find them.

And so today, my Calvin Kleins remains in the number 1 spot, gloating and glimmering. I live in the hope that we can, together, find a worthy challenger. And then wear the hell out of them.

Next week, just wait till I get my Hanes on me….

Feb 2, 2009

Stations of the Crossdresser – Shrine # 1 – Designer Shoe Warehouse

Ramona, my Fashion Consultant and Transformation Expert and I had a few stops planned for the day. And I felt the need to look smart and have some great advice along the way. Ramona is the proprietress of “Explore your Feminine Side” in Atlanta. Two things quickly here:

  1. Having a GG with you while shopping is a real plus. Girls have a shopping sonar that I for one do not possess. This is a real time saver. A little easier to navigate fitting rooms too. Additionally, shopping with a friend makes the effort more sociable, and so much less furtive than crossdressers sometimes make it.
  2. Looking your absolute best really helps free your mind for the tasks at hand. If you can, do seek professional help. It really makes a huge difference. Thanks Ramona!

Now, back to the shopping. The one chore I simply could not fall short on had to do with the shoes. When I mentioned this need, Ramona suggested that if we could not fill the order at the mall, that DSW would not fail us.

I had dressed for the occasion in a manner that no self-respecting, hyper-shopping, genetic girl would do. Stiletto boots, dressy sheers (Donna Karans thank you very much), the little black skirt at 5 inches above the knee and the leopard print trench coat. We had poor fortune at Lennox Mall. I am a girl on a budget, and the clearance racks had been pretty expertly gleaned. I made a couple of mercy purchases just to work on purse handling technique, but found nothing I could not live without. OK, the lace blouse is indispensible.

We were already 3 hours deep into a mall walk but the gams were still game, the purse not completely pilfered and my shoe closet still lamentably sparse. We decamped the covered parking comfort of Lennox for the more exposed and less upmarket confines of Buckhead Station, home of our nearest Designer Shoe Warehouse. The torrential rain stopped long enough for us to make the dash across the parking lot without my makeup melting away.

For those of you not familiar with this mega-church of stacked heels and pointy toes, imagine an enclosure larger than a football field filled with shoes. Upon entry I swear I perceived the curvature of the planet. I would not have been surprised to hear the alarming “beep beep beep” of airport people movers. Far in the distance, at the very horizon loomed the big clearance racks.

“Is that where we start Ramona?”
“Yes Petra, you learn well, your instincts are good”

Very nice smiles and a “welcome ladies” from 2 of the SA’s on the long walk back for the beginnings of my revenge. Revenge I say because I can barely find men’s shoes in my size, but 8 ½ represents a pretty rich seam in the realms of heels. 3 solid racks of all the odds and ends that made it through a season without finding a decent home. All the sad orphans. It simply breaks ones heart. I start now to understand the maternal feelings that most of my ex-girlfriends have about their shoes, and shoes they have yet to own.

It was relatively easy for me to harden my heart and not come home with armfuls for one reason, and a reason I will encourage all of you to borrow. I went shopping knowing exactly what I was after. In this case, the perfect black dress pump. True and shameful. Strappy sandals and boots I have. Wine shades and browns. Peep toes and patterns. But I have somehow missed on the one pair I would want to wear on the trip through the Pearly Gates. Never too late to atone though.

The clearance racks were not the sweet spot for the perfect pump. The classics never fall that far from grace. But the variety and value for the girl who has everything (except an entirely ruined credit rating) was spectacular. Anywhere from 30-70% off regular DSW prices which are ~ 40% of the department store prices on highly sought after designer labels. I timed myself – it took a full 25 minutes just to consider and walk away from everything in my size.

With resolve and a heavy heart we strolled back into the main pews of the cathedral. Our SA Stephanie was enlisted to do a little of the leg work, and set about it with charming determination. A quick note here on the staff. In broad daylight I think Helen Keller could clock me. Perhaps I am a little hard on myself, but you dear people know what I mean. In any event, my dressing and my gender are, it seems, on planet DSW a complete non-event. Just a gal looking for shoes. And a gal slowly disappearing behind the stacks of boxes served up by Stephanie in her desire to make me even happier.

Many contenders failed in the qualifying rounds owing to the wrong taper on the heel, or too round a toe. The "A Team" was assembled consisting of the BCBG, the Steve Madden and the Nine West and a death match ensued. “R” counseled patience.

“Walk them around the shop. Don’t just go home with the best looking one”.

This struck me as the “get to know them slowly before putting out” equivalent of shoe adoption. And sound advice too. A decent shoe store is one place you are certain to have floor height mirrors in abundance, and that is an opportunity not to be missed. Additionally, one can never get too much practice delicately lowering ones skirted butt onto a try-on stool. The society for the preservation of modesty would have been proud. I really don’t think I flashed anyone.

Ultimately, the Nine West won the pageant, and there is no saying why. Just an understanding between feet and shoe that words cannot adequately express. Either of the runners up will be able to fulfill the duties of my beautiful new matte finish 4” dress pumps should they be stolen.

These are perfect shoes. I am delighted. And I lament the years that we have not spent together. But I am born anew, possessed of the glowing zeal of the newly converted and ready to provide all the loving care that these darling shoes so richly deserve. I think I want them to have lots of siblings too. And I know where to find them.

I will end this minor pilgrimage by lighting a candle for this Shine of Shoes, our first of 14 Stations of the Crossdresser, the miraculous, the bountiful and all-forgiving Designer Shoe Warehouse. To find a shrine near you, just visit the store finder

And so to you dear friends … what Station should we genuflect at next time? I breathlessly await your suggestions…

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