Mar 13, 2009

A Cross Dresser's Hiatus, or A Lipstick Sunset

To describe my relationship with cross dressing I have employed oceanic metaphor. Terms like tides, currents, surges and waves are peppered throughout these Voyages en Rose. One of the first things I wrote back in Nov 08 was that I was going to yield to the current, anxious as I was to find out where I washed up.

Great and lasting metaphorical platform in hindsight. Tides and currents reverse. Surges recede and waves calm. And so it is now with me. I am washing ashore in a quiet place. I always suspected that there were cycles associated with my dressing, but never really examined the issue too closely.

First indicators of the receding Pink tide appeared about 1 month ago when I started finding writing more difficult. I did not have easy access to the sort of brio and wit I am usually able to bring to work I am enjoying. More recently I have felt my desires to dress start to drop in frequency and intensity, gradually and surely. This last week I have not dressed at all in fact. Additionally, my ponderings on the topic are a little demurred, a little less demanding of my attention.

Now that having been said, I have been working on losing a cold for the last couple of weeks. I have been a little busy with and perhaps stressed by work. I have felt increasingly unhappy as well about not having found the nerve or the occasion to share this all with my wife of 13+ years. I think these things are contributors too, but I suspect that at best they have only accelerated a natural rhythm.

As evidenced by my blog activity, I have been living through a high and rich tide in recent months. In October of last year, I retrieved my stash of pretty things from the attic where they had been 2 years alone in the dark. I took some bolder steps out, made my surfaces a little more pretty and polished, and became much more comfortable with the feminine voice within my whole self. I have, in doing all of this, experienced deeply satisfying feelings of connection with the Petra parts.

Additionally I have made some wonderful new friends in worlds real and virtual, en femme and in drab. CD’s, TG’s, GG’s and a small handful of hetero and gay men who simply wanted to talk, and didn’t mind sharing time with a guy in dress. Not once have I felt threatened or unwelcomed anywhere I have gone.

I have come around to understanding that Petra represents much that is good and likeable about me. I think that she amplifies attributes and attitudes that I naturally possess but that do not display well or have perfect pitch in guy mode. I am convinced that I can and should let more of Petra show up in my everyday connections with people, regardless of how I am dressed or how interested in dressing I am. I think that I will be, in aggregate, a nicer, smarter, more sensitive person if I do not suppress Petra’s perspectives and experiences.

My current malaise may vanish overnight, but I do not suspect so. I hope, actively hope, that if the tide is on the way out, that it will not go too far out, for too long. I want to be swept up in it again, more comfortable with its power, more curious about where it will take me, and more honest about what it means to me to people who should know.

To you, dear visitor, may I say thank you. I expect Voyages en Rose will be a little less interesting, or at least a less frequently updated site than you deserve. Go, find and favor bloggers who write about things that are important to you. Many of them are linked and updated in my blogroll on the right. Believe me, people who write really want their work to be read.

No drama or big findings here my friends. Just a natural course of things. I will be sure to post up here when something of quality comes to mind. In the meantime, happy dressing and happy everything else to you.

Mar 5, 2009

Petra’s Pantyhose Parade - Victoria's Secret

If it's Thursday, it must be Pantyhose. I have been busy these last few months scouring the racks of shops fine and less so to greedily purchase, carefully handle, brazenly wear and then haughtily pass judgement on the silky things we sometimes pull up our long legs.

This cross dresser has a thing for hosiery that goes back a long, long way. I distinctly remember a young temptress in my 7th grade class, expertly prowling, preying and feasting on the attention of the opposite and entirely unprepared sex. Advanced of intellect and of physique she weaponized her natural assets one day, donning grown-up sheers when the rest of the girls still sported little-girl leotards. She knew exactly the effect she had on everyone. The girls were mad jealous, the boys were transfixed, and the teacher himself was a little lost, distracted and weakened. Such power in the gossamer yarn.

And as to temptress, I can only imagine the emotional wreckage left in her feminine wake over the decades.

Now, back to my own legs which are presently moored within a pair of
Victoria’s Secret Flatter Me Control Tops. Vicky is ubiquitous. Like her or not, you cannot ignore her. Let me describe my relationship with this temptress:

She is flame. I am moth.

Her carefully nurtured brand image is analogous to really good makeup. It has the effect of making everything underneath or within it seem a little more beautiful and valuable than close inspection might reveal.

For this perception, we consumers happily part with a couple of dollars here and there that we might not if we were perfectly rational consumers. Rationality however is not a noted trait of our sorority. With that said, I know that I am far from perfect, but will try to be close to rational.

Taking it from top to toe here is what the legs are telling me. The panty portion is a very high Lycra content shaper whose very functional design still favors fashion and femininity. Fashion, by sitting very surely at or just below the waistline, thereby not running the risk of peeking above skirt top. Femininity, by fusing panty to leg with a fine floral flourish. Entirely unnecessary, and entirely appreciated. Bonus points too, from the very subtle built-in butt lifter. Truly a fine crossdresssers garment in so far as it really smooths out whatever padding you supply to compensate for what nature missed.

Proceeding in a southerly direction to the legs. Just nice. A very sure, tight and yet cool feel on the leg. A sophisticated and dressy matte finish that I find very flattering. I would want just a little lower a Lycra content in the leg (I am only guessing, but it feels like 15% --- sorry --- the packaging went out with the recycling yesterday). The feel therefore lacks a little of the electric X factor that I favor in my hose. Clearly, there are more sheer leggings in the price range. Surely, there are more silky feeling nylons in this price range. I suspect however that Victoria (O I do want to believe that there is a Victoria) made a very rational decision in putting these together and on the shelves. She wanted enough durability in the leg to keep up with and last as long as the sexy Kevlar fortified portion up top. I think she got it, and I don’t mind giving up a little feel for that.

Having now been flattered by the Flatter Me’s, I will return the favor. Without doubt, these are the best fitting pantyhose I have ever worn. A rare 9.5 in this category. Strong Random Merit Points for the panty detail and booty lifting engineering.

At a retail price of $12.50, they earn a laudable 162.1 Petra’s Pantyhose Points to just miss the winners podium. 4th place out of 13 tested models, and a vast prairie of nylon yet to cross. Hanes, Calvin Klein, and Donna Karan remain poised, glimmering and ready to fight off next weeks pretender.

I can’t wait to find out who she is….

Mar 3, 2009

Shouldering the burden. Cross Dressing and the Bra.

Here at Voyages en Rose, I periodically poll the proud, the few and the fabulous otherwise known as, well, you. On most occasions I find myself unsurprised by poll outcomes, and mostly in the majority view.

One recent poll surprised me more than a little, and found me in a distinct (if not elegant) minority. This poll had to do with favorite garments. To refresh your memories, or introduce you anew, here are numbers and my high barstool analysis.

Private, unseen and only barely at suggested garments ran away with it. Underthings, not visible to outsiders are the favorites. Panties barely eclipsed the brassiere, by a single breathtaking vote.

Gorgeous, finished exterior things, feminine in full, the dress, hosiery and heels were left in the dust. The garments we show the world if and when we present female in public hold a less precious place in our wardrobe and hearts.

This set me to thinking. I have of late been taking a bigger interest in the bra. I recently acquired a fine new pair of silicon breast forms. They behave differently then my own very inventive home-made full torso prosthesis. They have rendered my current bras just wrong in fit and feel and appearance. They have exactly the size and feel that I have wanted forever though, and so providing them with the perfect foundation garment has become increasingly important.

All of this helped me do a little pondering on the bra, its’ place in our psyche and its place around our chests. Tendered lovingly here.

The bra is a great garment. As a teenager, there were few feelings better than executing the thumb and forefinger flick expertly beneath the girlfriends sweater … the elastic snap, the sudden yielding of fabric and flesh and the frenzied explorations that followed. I was jealous of the girlfriends wardrobe and in love with the sight and the touch of everything that was poured into it.

As a cross dresser the feelings are less exciting but perhaps just as intoxicating. Just fastening a garment behind ones own back sharpens the senses. You know without doubt that you are crossing a line, unmistakably cross dressing. There are no drab garments that we fasten from behind. It is deliberate, it takes concentration. Hooks and eyes meet, mate and seal surely. And then, even the most comfortable bra reminds you with your every move that it is there. Breathing is a touch more constrained. The gentle tug of strap that never fully lets up on the shoulders. The underwire that settles in place and fixes your forms in place.

The bra is a private refuge of lace, or floral patterns, of fabrics smooth to the touch – all characteristics that drab wardrobes simply do not display. The bra creates an opportunity for pure self indulgence. Function is often sacrificed for purely hedonistic ends.

The bra demands attention and care from its possessor. It domesticates its owner in very subtle ways. When hand washed, when shaped and dried patiently, when carefully folded, it responds lovingly with longer life and better performance of its unrelenting work.

The bra merchandises a part of the anatomy that I believe has deeply held aesthetic appeal to all of humanity, straight and not, male and female and everyone in between. We all are mammals after all, and so its only natural that we get a little hung up on the mams that we conceal and emphasize and support and pay tribute to with the mighty bra.

And so back to my newish pair of breast forms. They need a better embrace. I am ready to put myself, quite literally, in the hands of a professional. There are a couple of local shops that are reputed to take the brassiere seriously. I have heard some chatter that I can expect to be treated well when I stroll in en femme. I plan on phoning in advance to find the warmest embrace, and visiting for a fitting sometime in March. You can expect a happy rhapsody on the experience here in the not too distant future.

If you do live or shop here in Atlanta, and can recommend a lingerie shop for the likes of we, please leave a comment here.

Mar 2, 2009

The Stations of the Cross Dresser - The Wig Salon

Cross dressing involves doing many everyday things in slightly changed ways. Pulling on a pair of heels seated and with leg flexed at the knee rather than jamming the foot into a pair of loafers while standing. Fumbling in a purse for keys rather than diving a hand into a trouser pocket. Backing into a car seat and turning legs in together rather than extending one leg and folding the rest of the male body in behind.

Cross dressing involves doing many things that are (largely) exclusively in the realm of the feminine. Adjusting bra straps and closing hook & eye clasps. Centering zips on the back of skirts. Touching up lipstick after a glass of wine.

And then, there are places for cross dressing. Places that are the exclusive domain of women. Places designed to repel male boarders. Places whose very color palettes, accoutrements, and conversational sound track compels most men either to flee or to uncomfortable occupy a chair and lapse into a comatose and catatonic state.

Such a place I visited last week, breathless with anticipation, that flouncy fulcrum of femininity, the Wig Salon.

Regular readers of Voyages en Rose will remember that I picked this milestone as Shrine # 10 of the 14 Stations of the Cross Dresser. For newish visitors, you might like to take a moment to read some background information here, here, or even all the way over here. Alternatively, simply search here on site for Stations of the Cross Dresser for the whole story.

A woman’s hair is indisputably and beautifully different than a mans hair. Short, long and in between, something in the way it is cared for, styled, worn and touched sets it apart, and sets me mad with desire to possess it. It has an X factor. I have a Y chromosome. Something must be done, and can be done with the help of the correct wig.

My wig shopping to date has been well intentioned but poorly executed. Cheap showgirl numbers pulled from chipped head forms in bargain basement beauty supply stores. Indifferent cashiers stuffing them into plastic bags and likely not to tender an opinion along the lines of “now that just won’t do for the shape of your face…”. I knew I could do better, and so my sorceress of transformation Ramona and I set out for
Sunny’s Hair & Wigs. (Atlanta shop, pictured above)

We were met warmly upon arrival by Dafina (pictured below with your correspondent), a second generation hair enthusiast. The families first salon in Minneapolis has thrown shoots out to warmer places including Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Mesa AZ. A vast range of product from custom designed natural hair masterpieces to mass produced synthetics and everything in between. The Sunny’s people very much operate at the fashion forward edge of hair style. The aesthetic is very young, very fresh and very creative. If you do not live in or near these cities, they do sell online, but would admit themselves that you cannot beat taking the time to audition a whole line up of wigs live, en femme and in your favorite local salon.

Dafina took the time to walk us through the shop, speak briefly about the virtues and price ranges of the lines, and then provided space for us to explore, talk and just generally get comfortable with the pretty pink space. She had great questions about how often I dress that helped her start to recommend qualities and price ranges that would make sense for me. We three ended up clattering armloads of contestants to the setting booths discretely tucked away in the back of the shop.

Something beautiful happens to a wig when it is lifted from the lifeless head form and fastened to a living, breathing, made-up and hopeful face. It grows light and takes wing. It wants to move and is dieing to be seen. And when you are in a salon chair, legs crossed just so, on full mirrored display, and syncopating the O so natural pas de deux that they stylist and the stylee assume, well, let me simply say that this is a happy time.

I found I have critical faculties I did not know were there. It was as though the Hair Matrix was revealed to me. Winners emerged clearly and quickly. I really felt as though I was working with a professional, someone who knows their product, who has passion about hair, and style and beauty. It made me very happy as well that this cross dresser was simply and openly welcomed. I felt like a valued customer, not a curiosity. I believe I will be remembered and welcomed again on my next visit. I think these are characteristics that you can determine with a phone call or 2 before choosing a salon for your next (or first) Wig splurge.

And so, what did I buy? A beautifully banged, brown bob with auburn highlights wig. It frames my face nicely. It feels light on my head. It falls back into place after being wind tossed. It did not break the bank. It is mine and I love it. So much so that I am sure I will provide her with company soon. I so want to do this again. And again.

I have read a good many stories from CD’s and TG’s on a variety of online forums. I could really feel the excitement of the authors in their posts, and anticipated feeling all of that myself, when the time came. The event did not disappoint. This is intimately feminine stuff. If you have dabbled around wigs, if you have borrowed, if you have not gone full force femme on a mission to get wigged up, I highly recommend it. This is a truly worthy Station of the Cross Dresser.
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