Aug 27, 2009

Petra’s Pantyhose Parade - Versione Italiana

Chianti and Maserati. Cappuccino and Piazzas. Chaotic intersections and hot tempers. Wonderful Italian things all. Petra is not a big fan of the Italian brand of football (big generalization, scuse, por favore, too conservative, winning goals scavenged on frustrated fields), but in matters of fashion it must be said that Forza Azzuri plays a wide open and spirited game. Such is the glory of Rome (or Milan I suppose).

Other glory emerges from Italy in the form of the all too scarce Glory line of hosiery, and gets a little blog-light here today. I made a glancing reference to clichéd “flashy and operatic” Italian characteristics in last weeks Pantyhose Parade as a look ahead to the then untested 30D’s under the thighcroscope this week. Flashy and operatic are the wrong terms. More below, but briefly here a quick recapitulation of the protocols of this parade ...

I like pantyhose (ed. you think?). They were at hand for my first cross dressing forays, and my living will stipulates Wolford Luxe 9’s (in black of course) when put to rest. And so hoping to further everyone’s appreciation of this delightful and womanly garment, I shop. I play the field far and wide, up-market and down. Gossamer Sheer, lustrous Matte and everything in between that I can get my greedy hands on. I then get as objective as I can and apply 1-10 scores across a handful of commonly desired traits (fit, finish, style and feel). Lastly added is a random and very subjective value. The subjective value is arrived at by posing this question of myself:

Would I wear these to my own funeral?”

These numbers get grinded through a formula that rewards lower prices, and lines up the legs from best to next. Color commentary on the hose and the place of purchase where it might be helpful is thrown in. All published on Thursdays apropos of my desire to present an online version of “Must See CD”. Ahem.

Continuing now…

Our Italian entry is a great day-to-night stalwart. I feared that the high 30 denier would make for a coarse and plain finish, but this single covered Elastine© reinforced yarn yields a suprisingly nice dressy and high quality appearance. This yarn method provides plenty of torque which is easily maintained through long hours of wear. They fix to the legs very surely, coolly and comfortably. The run-resistant tuck stitching guards against dreaded laddering, as do the reinforced toes (good bye sandals and peep toes). A very satiny feel to hands and legs and a confident, subtly shining overall look. Quality finishing at waistband, and pretty scalloping through the sheer to waist construction makes for comfort and freedom to wear outrageously slitted skirts. Again, day to night at the flick of a few revealing buttons for the brave.

Value priced too for an import at $7.99. All of these qualities add up to a pretty attractive score and a well earned stride into the middle of the pack with 156.5 Petra Points and a running rank of 8 from a current field of 17. Bravo Glory.

Now, the sad news for those of us not taking Autumn in Tuscany – Glory is harder to find on these shores than a truly great Lombardy Grana Padano cheese. I found my pair in the
Shapings boutique, and you might find the even sleeker 20D model online at the Femme Fatale Boutique. You will be happy if you do, but given the abundance of choice we all have, I do not expect to create a run on, or in, this very attractive fashion accessory any time soon.

Next week, I really can’t see from here. Which means of course it is time to shop. I hope to find some terrific new product and am praying for fresh descriptive language to describe my delights. If you have a favorite you have not seen reviewed here, just drop a line.

Happy dressing …

Aug 26, 2009

Cross Dressing, Contests and Curves

Faithful fellow wayfarers on these Voyages en Rose will note my recent entry in, and feeble attempt to win, a Victoria’s Secret giveaway, the Body by Victoria 3 Day NYC spa and shopping spree. I want to first of all thank those of you who did take a minute to leave no chad hanging and actually support this cross dressers campaign. As of this morning (Aug 26, with a little under a month left in the sweeps), I seem to be the best placed cross dresser. Hooray!

Now admittedly, my suspicion is based solely on a very cursory examination of the photo galleries of my fellow contestants. The girls look very real, but you know how good we are at cloaking when we really try. Nonetheless, I take some pride at currently being placed in the top 400 (#396) of some 6100 ++ entries.

With that said, I am a realist. I am just treading in these fragrant waters, slowly moving forward while being left in the wake of more seriously connected, determined and deserving competition. Which leads to curves part of the post. There are 3 types of curves that I have in mind are relevant to this post.

  • Standard Distribution Curves (think of a Bell Curve)
  • Power Distribution Curves (think of a curve high at one end, with a steep declining slope), and
  • Feminine Curves. Hips, butts and breast that the genetic woman is blessed with that I am not.

Well the Body by Victoria contest is a real power curve. At the top of the curve with nearly 7,000 votes is Casey. No argument, a heart-stirring story, and a women worthy of a weekend of luxury. I truly hope she wins. In 50th place is Jessica with 365 votes. A range of roughly 6,700 votes within one group of 50 entries. In 100th place is Sorayah (159, love the name). This sort of rapidly diminishing gap between fixed data points is called a “scale invariance” and this is what makes a power curve look like it does. Here are the BBV contest rankings plotted out. Not very expertly, but they illustrate the problem, and my newly adopted reality.

While I rank quite highly, I stand absolutely no chance of climbing the steep power curve up to Casey’s admirable heights, no matter how sensible a pair of shoes I chose for the effort. Even with your unfailing, daily and generous support.

But there I am, in the campaign, seemingly unable to bow out to leave the path more clear for more deserving and more curvy contestants. Many of whom, I must say have curves to be envied.

It has been fun though to see my entry on a very slick and graphically compelling web site, especially a site in the VS family. I am a fan of their product and am happy to have been treated respectfully while shopping there, both en femme and in drab. Beyond that little thrill, I will satisfy myself with the purchase of a new Body by Victoria bra sometime between now and the real onset of Autumn. That should help out with my own lamentable curves.

It has also been exciting to note that many of you did throw a little kindness my way. Very much appreciated. And while the delusional dream of winning still danced in my head, it was interesting to consider just exactly what Victoria would do with a cross dresser who won. Cameras and microphones tend to come out for these events. No doubt there would have been a PR headache or 2 along the way, but perhaps this might have been one of those moments that helps those of us still in the shadows to get a little positive daylight.

Perhaps for a younger generation of cross dressers. Here is hoping…

If you have, or if you do enter just for the fun of it, drop a comment here with your profile link, and I promise you a vote in return.

Thanks, happy dressing and everything else…

and PS - the link to vote for Petra remains here...

Aug 24, 2009

Politics and Cross Dressing. Red Dress States. Blue Skirt States.

Keep the topics of religion and politics away from the dinner table if you know what’s good for you, goes the ancient wisdom. Well, this isn’t the dinner table. More of a private lounge really. And here, lost amongst the mirrors and a little dazzled by spritzes of fragrance, I will confess to not really knowing our etiquette in these matters dear friends.

So bravely forward we go, and again at the risk of boring the pants back on to you.

I polled this past week hoping to find out what the political leanings of the average Voyages en Rose visitors are. I do want to know more about you all after all. Additionally, I am keen to better understand how different we as a group are from, well, people who are merely juggling work, family life and just one puny wardrobe.

And here is the news – we are not much different than the country at large. We self-identify (arguably) pretty much the same way that our votes count up in national elections – “left” and “right” in pretty equal measure. Within the margin of error of course. The margins are pretty big here because very few of you did participate in this snap, unscientific survey. With that said, I think I have learned enough from the exercise to come to a really happy conclusion that I want to share with you.

E Dressibus Unum. Out of many dresses, one. (ed. sorry, I really cannot help myself)

I would like to think that 2 great American philosophical traditions are represented in our small numbers and voiced views.

Conservative philosophical impulses were at the very heart of the revolutionary labor pains that just predated this country’s birth. Ascetic wild men like Thoreau later sang the virtues of solitary, self sufficient success. “Mind your own business” is more than a slogan here. It is a way of life. This libertarian strain lives well with us today and does help inoculate us all from undue meddling with our private lives.

At the same time, and with very close roots, our Liberal traditions may stem, in part, from the collective realizations of a small population facing daunting challenges. The work of taming and claiming a life from a vast land might be more easily achieved and enjoyed by people with common purpose. A realization that our lives might be enriched if we do love our neighbors. That while we have a responsibility to provide a leg up on the future to our children, we surely owe a debt of respect and care to those who gave us our advantages.

I was surprised as I was watching these very even results trickle (whisper? limp?) in last week. I was absolutely expecting a landslide of blue sentiments. So even were the results though, and to me, so entirely unexpected. With reflection, and my morning coffee, they now make perfect sense, and give me a lot of encouraging thoughts about America in general.

I can now better appreciate how cross dressers, and the transgendered can see their path, make progress, and find peace on a foundation of conservative self-reliance.

I have always appreciated how people with common experiences and issues can share resources to get along better, more easily and perhaps go further and more happily than they might have done alone. That thinking is at the heart of my liberal sense of community.

And I am proud to see both traditions represented so attractively here on Voyages en Rose.

Comments welcomed. More lightweight stuff next time I promise.

Aug 22, 2009

Cross Dressing Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

It seems, dear friends, that I spent yesterday smiling at the world with the online equivalent of spinach on my teeth. My morning correspondence today included a comment regarding yesterdays post on Cross Dressing in America from Leslie Ann:

I'm wondering where you got your population figures. I'm quite sure there are at least a million souls in Iowa. Might this be skewing your results?...

Hmmm. Fair question. And predictable answer. Answer being that your featherheaded friend Petra dropped a few statistical eggs on the way to market. I am not even going to bother with the forensics. Suffice to say that there are more than 32,555 people in Iowa. I would bet in fact that there are that many cross dressers in Iowa. At least on Halloween in any event. And yes, that sort of slip up would indeed skew the data.

So I quickly stitched up the split-seam, and having sucked in my gut a bit, present here the tidied up truth.

Iowa drops from the top of the podium all the way into the lower quintile with a ranking of 45th. Newly wearing the National Tiara are the Cherokee Roses of Georgia with a Petra’s Generalized State Propensity for Cross Dressing (PGSPCD) value of 39.51. To better understand the whole formula, please refer to the prior pose here.

Let me pre-empt a point here. I exclude my own IP address from Google Analytics results and so my narcissistic finger is not tipping the scales. I do have a good number of friends here in Georgia though. Being local does skew things a little bit.

That Georgia tops the list tough both makes me happy, and says something nice about Georgia. The nice thing being is that Georgia (OK, Atlanta) is a fine place to cross dress. Big enough for anonymity, shopping, and like minded company. A lovely climate (forgiving the too hot summers). Atlanta is a bit of a catchment area for people from all over who feel they grew up in a place too small to accommodate them in full. And as such, Atlanta benefits from the added color and spice that all sorts of curious people bring here. We are additionally home of one of the best connected airports on the planet which helps make Atlanta both a destination, and an easy place to leave. Drop a line if you are coming this way. I may have some good local advice for you.

Other Top 10 highlights:

The coastal North East region still dominates the top of the charts, with Vermont Clovers, and New York Roses filling out the podium. Sadly, no friendly Mid-Western states in the upper quintile. The Mid-Atlantic and South West too. Very happy to note a top ten appearance from one of the reddest of red states, the pretty Indian Paintbrushs' of Wyoming. I have always thought that it takes a real man to cross dress.

Moving through the national ranks. The second quintile (11 -20) is characterized by broad geographic distribution from east-most (White Pine Tassels of Maine) to west-most (Pua Aloalas of Hawaii). On balance, this is a group of physically large states with big open spaces, but where the bulk of the population is crowded into thriving urban centers. Conditions conducive to cross dressing perhaps.

The middle quintile draws a straight line between the Orange Blossoms of Florida northwest to the Forget-me-nots of Alaska, and burns in that most American direction, westward, through Sagebrush, Goldenrod and Jessamine. Like America itself, this is a mixed group of largely urban and largely rural states.

With our 4th quintile, from the Pasques of South Dakota to the Columbines of Colorado, the gently rolling prairies and thrusting mountain peaks of our cross dressing geography capture my eye and dominate the view. With the exception of Rhode Island and Tennessee, these are states settled in more recent times and more typical (as a group) of the American pioneering tradition.

Our lowest quintile does not furnish me with any easy insights. And somebody does have to bring up the rear I suppose. The corrected data does not change yesterdays claims. The dear Camellias’ of Alabama (0.29), Apple Blossoms of Arkansas (0.25), and Magnolias of Mississippi are still, relative to national averages, under-developed in many areas, including perhaps, underdressing and etc.

The full chart can be viewed by clicking on the smallish image on your right here friends.

Thanks for visiting. Any time you catch a flaw in my work or spinach on my teeth, do a friend a solid would you and let me know?

Happy dressing everywhere.

Aug 21, 2009

Cross Dressing in America. A whimsical quantitative analysis

Long time readers of Voyages en Rose may remember a post from January of this year in which I noodled out a statistical model of questionable integrity intended to help evaluate global cross dressing trends based on site visitor geographic information furnished by Google Analytics. I wrote this piece in part because I am a bit of a data geekette, but mostly because I was lacking a really compelling idea for a post that particular day.

The key spurious finding of my analysis was that The Seychelles seemed to present as some kind of minor earthly heaven for cross dressing. Who knew?

Similarly lacking a really compelling editorial platform (or even a nice wedge for that matter) today, I gathered a little more up-to-date data regarding American visitor distribution trends within my little world, and ran the numbers again to see what insights may be gleaned.

First great insight, we are evidently cross dressing from sea to shining sea. Yes, from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire to the curvaceous shores of California, all 50 states are fully and beautifully represented.

And where, pray tell, are the full length mirrors most frequently reflecting our images? A few surprises, again never to be taken too seriously, but perhaps briefly pondered upon. Not to be taken too seriously because our numbers are large ( we are somewhere between 5,000,000 and 15,000,000 going from conservative to aggressive estimates), and my numbers, like my shoe size, are small. Small data sample = lame conclusion.

But lets look in any event, and salute the stunning Wild Prairie Roses of Iowa. Yes the Hawkeye State tops, by long measures, the ranks with a Petra’s Generalized State Propensity for Cross Dressing (PGSPCD) index value of 40.51. Left in Iowa’s fertile dust are the Grapes of Oregon and the Peach Blossoms of Delaware, still glowing on the podium, and no doubt ready to assume the Iowa’s responsibilities should she somehow stain her sash. The North East region dominates the top 10, however all traditional marketing regions are represented here with at least single entries from the Mid-West, Mid-Atlantic, West, and yes, even the South.

How, just how, are these numbers gleaned. Lots of open source material put through an odd formula like so:

# of visitors from state / state population * Random Petra Value * 3.14 ... = PGSPCD

Why 3.14 ....? Because everyone likes pie. And if any of you can tell me how to represent the mathematical symbol for Pi in a post, please drop me a quick line would you dear?

Now a quick word or 2 and some hopeful encouragement tendered to less well developed states. Oh, dear Camellias’ of Alabama (0.29), you Apple Blossoms of Arkansas (0.25), and rare, too rare Magnolias of Mississippi, be strong. Courage my dears. And a suggestion too. Perhaps you ought to dress and get out of the house on Saturday afternoons this autumn while everyone else in the state is distracted by your laudable and popular college football heroes. Absolutely nobody will see you.

For those of you with an interest in your own States’ relative beauty, leave a comment and I will be sure to post the specifics. Any other observations on statistics or cross dressing welcomed here at anytime, from any place.

And wherever you may be, happy dressing and everything else - Petra

P.S. A very sincere thank you to those of you who voted for me in the Victorias Secrets "Body by Victoria New York Weekend Extravaganza contest". If you are so inclined, you can vote every day, one time only. Forgive my brazen appeal please, but it is an interesting opportunity. In a couple of days I will have enough data to make some accurate guesses as to my chances with your fond help. Link here: ,

and full original post here:


Aug 20, 2009

Petra’s Pantyhose Parade. English Tights edition

To many women, cross dressers and leg enthusiasts in general, the very American word, Pantyhose, is how shall we say, just a little gauche. Perhaps more so for the English, than any other group. And no national group is so off-handedly able to deploy very French words like, for example, “gauche” to suggest disappointment that many foreigners do not simply use a perfectly good English word, like for example “Tights”.

Well, I like tights and I like the English. England is after all a country bent in so many lovely ways that you wonder how cross dressers stand out for attention at all. And so, the focus of this weeks Trial of the Tights are an entry recently liberated from the very ancient city of Nottingham, the
Aristoc Ultra Shine 10D Sheers.

First, all the good news. This is a well made, sheer to waist dressy tight that imparts a sure feeling of durability. A very elastic and firm grip on the legs, and surprisingly so for a mere 11% Lycra content. Lots of snap back and certainty in the weave, and practically no propensity to sagging even after a long day under my withering, wondering glare.

And they are nice to glare at. They glare and glimmer back (cheeky things) just as the name Ultra Shine might lead you to believe. Sleek is a fine word, and polished is the word employed by Aristoc themselves to describe the visual effect. The tested shade is a nicely tanned and charmingly named "Illusion".
And who can compete with the cross dresser for harbouring illusions after all? To my eyes, the effect is unique, having a matte finish that bounces and reflects just enough light to get noticed. These tights don’t shout, and don’t need to.

The hand seamed waistband is broad, comfortable and stays in place. Great finish on the sandal foot too. And, for a ½ boarded leg, really a terrific fit, at least on my frame. I feel as though I have found a pair of tights that exhibits many of the very best qualities of the English themselves. Sturdy, reliable, nicely turned out and quietly proud. Sound as the Pound. Nothing operatic or flashy going on here. That’s for other folk surely. I, for one, hope always that there is room to cultivate and appreciate these enduring but threatened virtues in our increasingly faddish and throwaway world.

And now, to snap out of my reverie and report the bad news. A tad warm, dear dear friends. We pay for durability with a loss of ventilation and moisture wicking it seems. More bad news has, I suspect, something to do with just how sound the Pound is. Between the relative weakness of the US$, and shallow distribution channels available to the Aristoc brand in these United States, this everyday pair of tights flashes a mid range price ($9.95) that cripples them in my ranking machinery. Even with good-to-strong rankings for fit, finish, style and feel they muster up a respectable, but far from winning 131.9 Petra Pantyhose Points, and earn 12th place amongst all tested tights.

Now, where with the limited distribution do we find them? You might try, like I did, a little visit to Shapings carry a very broad line of hard to find imported hosiery. Hard to find, and in some cases I am sure, hard to willingly take off. On some recent business travel I was close enough to their Burlington, Ontario shop to drop in, in drab to say hello. I was greeted warmly, asked if I required help, and encouraged to take my time looking around. Jammed to the rafters, an intoxicating ocean of lace and silk, of cups and clasps. As it happens the shop specializes more in custom fitted and high-end bras, corsets and the like, and did not, after all, stock much of the vast hosiery selection beautifully featured on their web site. The store manager, Dawn, was considerate, and suggested that next time I call ahead so that they could dash things over from the cross town warehouse. Alas. Of the smallish selection in the shop, she asked what I might be looking for.

“I like what you are wearing” says Petra.

Aristoc Ultra Shines as it turned out. Dawn did look terrific. She has other great things to show you online including Fogal, Pierre Mantoux,
Cette, Pompea, and more in a breathtaking selection of over 400 brands. I encourage you to visit. Shapings does ship to American destinations, and I was assured, quite regularly and reliably too. If you, dear friend do order from Shapings or have in the past, please drop me a line so that I know how the online experience was for you. If my experience in their lovely shop was any indication, yours was or will be first rate.

Next week. Something operatic and flashy from Italy.

Happy dressing and everything else…

Aug 19, 2009

Shameless self-promotion. Cross Dressers edition

Friends have encouraged me to share some of my secrets. Let me recapitulate here a recent request:

“Petra dear …however did you make your modesty so excellent?”

But wait, there is more:

“Petra Bellejambes, I swear you are so demure that everyone notices. How do you draw attention to your shyness?”

One blushes of course, and labors on. Courage, dear friends, courage … sometimes it is all we have.

And now to the promised (ed. threatened?) self-promotion. It is entirely without shame. Most of us have shopped at
Victoria’s Secret. It might not be your very favorite shop, but I have always been treated well there (drab and en femme), and found the garments to be well made. I greatly appreciate too, their tireless, underwired contributions to the general abundance of cleavage visible to those of us who respectfully admire such works of natural feminine beauty.

They are pretty savvy marketers too, and I have fallen prey to one of their traps. I hope to lure you in with me. You see, in their efforts to boost bustlines, and sales, Victoria has created a nice contest around the launch of the new Body by Victoria line of brassieres. The winner will be whisked off to New York for a little weekend of shopping, preening and general luxury. In short, just my idea of fun.

Entry was easy. Provide a picture, and a few words about why one loves ones own body. And so I did. Linked here:

The winning will be enjoyed by the VS enthusiast whose entry garners the most votes in this very democratic scramble for the goods. Much more civilized, don’t you agree, than the purse-flailing, rib-bruising melee that is the annual Filenes Basement Running of the Brides event.

And so, having put my excellent modesty, and radiant demureness away for a brief moment, I place myself at the mercy of your kindness, dear friend. Please vote for me. It would mean a great deal. I fully expect to see my vote counter dribble up into the high teens, and to watch my hopes crumble again against the sheer, cold, vertical, facetless face of reality, as prettier, and better connected girls run away with what I oddly believe to be my rightful inheritance. But we should at least have this much fun, ne c’est pas?

And think for a moment … if there is some sort of weird cross dressing planetary alignment, and this lingerie enthusiast emerges holding the bouquet, would that not represent a tiny, confident, open and outward step for all of us?

In return, I can promise only a series of gushing blog posts detailing the entire weekend if you put me in the winners 3-way mirror. Brunch at the
Plaza. Cocktails at Bemelmans. Full-throated and profanity laced shouts hurled in utter futility at the disappearing taxi --- all the magic that is our Manhattan.

And I do encourage you to enter as well. Pass me a link in this posts comments section if you do. You too, will have my vote. Let us storm the pretty ramparts together, arm in arm, in a mighty clatter of heels, so daintily loud as to ring the very heavens themselves.

Again, that link:

Progress updates here in the fullness of time my dears.

Thanks in advance, happy dressing, and happy everything else.

Aug 18, 2009

Women, Darwin, Power, and Cross Dressing

I swear I just heard a clatter of heels and a clacking of back keys. For those of you variously brave, stupefied or morbidly curious enough to remain, I salute you. I sense however that you are thinking … “here she goes again, attempting to pour herself into an intellectual cup size she hasn’t a chance of filling out …”, and I can’t effectively disagree. This will be a bit of a reach, dear gorgeous friends. Lets see if my mind can stretch like so much intellectual lycra and somehow endow this awkward theme with a shapely surface, shall we?

One of the very first things I wrote for this blog was an ancient remembrance. I could not have been more than five at the time:

...I remember distinctly an attractive friend of my mothers visiting. First pair of fishnets I clapped eyes on, and the world came into very, very sharp focus. I wanted to have the beautiful woman in some inexpressible way, but I also wanted the things that made her womanly...

Truly, this siren, name lost to history had made an effort, and did have an impact. Of course she did not set out to hypnotize children - the hypnotized child was inconsequential collateral damage. She did though, consciously and pointedly dress and preen and present for a bigger game. That game I suspect is close to the heart of my cross dressing.

The game, as old as time, is to be noticed, attractive, and desired. The game has been key to the fumbling forward march of our species. We are attracted to the attractive. Not all women play the game. Many contend that it reinforces regimes of objectification and in so doing, limits a woman’s horizons. But the game is played, for fun and for keeps.

I have always been willing to be played, and have hopelessly weak defenses. It’s a miracle that I learned a thing in school with all the distractions of budding, shapely beauty all around. Most of this feminine magnetism was, and remains, innocent and unaware. Always though, there has been just enough highly enriched weapons of mass seduction nearby to confound this confounded boy then, and today still. Such power. Such effortless power.

I must confess to a little envy.

Envy is a famously deadly sin though, is it not dear friends? And power has consequences too, often unintended. My envy is satisfied in part by my cross dressing. Perhaps you feel the same way.

Privately, performing the little rituals of dressing allows us to share in some of the complex and common experiences of womanhood. The fixing of nylon on legs. Pulling on a pump by the heel. Carefully reaching for and fastening a back-clasp or a side zip. Applying a finishing coat to the face, and teasing the hair out just so.

Publicly, if we can, when we display the fruits of these labors, the senses explode. One blends in and gets noticed, both. This cannot be helped. We blend in because the people around us are busy, and nobody is on the lookout for cross dressers. We get noticed though, because invariably, women get noticed in ways that I do not believe men are. For me, this curious combination of invisibility and visibility translates directly into the odd cocktail of feelings I enjoy when dressed.

Tranquil and tingling. Normal and exceptional. Becalmed and alert. Altogether very highly attenuated to life, very much in the moment, and possessed of a tiny measure of that feminine power that has held me in its grip my entire life.

There are drugs out there that some take to find their own electric precincts of experience. I enjoyed, in younger days, many of them and am not judgmental. I always managed to steer clear of over-exposure to settings and circles where they were too freely available. I know pretty well what I am made of, and have a healthy fear of my own propensity for wanting that feeling. Chasing the Dragon I believe is the expression favored by Poppy enthusiasts. Dragons are dangerous, yes.

And so too is power. I felt it one evening en femme when a very attractive woman who is inclined to loving other women leaned into me at the bar, and breathlessly, moistly, privately and directly into my ear told me that she wanted me. I died there and then.

Fear not, I have sacred covenants and many blessings. No wandering from this true path. But O my dears, that feeling of attraction, of desirability, of power was overwhelming.

The couple of glasses of Chenin Blanc did not hurt either I suppose. And perhaps I was to some degree merely the canvas upon which her masterpiece of power was sketched and left tauntingly, teasingly unfinished. Truthfully, I don’t mind. I touched, briefly, that dragon. And what a hit it was. No earthly point in saying I don’t want it again in some measure, pure as possible.

I feel as though I can master it’s addictive qualities. I believe that the pleasure receptors of my brain that are lit so avidly and so brightly by these experiences can be contained within a big, full and necessarily productive life.

How about you?

More, and more lightweight ramblings later this week. As lightweight as 10 denier glossy sheers in fact.

Thanks for your patience. Happy dressing - Petra

Aug 14, 2009

The Feminine Voice Revisited

I live in a dazzling hall of slightly distorted mirrors. I find reflection interesting and necessary, and am willing to pay for the view with the odd token of self doubt. Periodically, I will receive some unexpected validation from a kind stranger or a near and dear friend, and that has the effect of helping me enjoy the bigger, fuller outward view. Sometimes, though, I very cravenly seek the validation myself which is a strategy fraught with downsides. Like so:
  • Positive feedback is cheapened because you asked for it, and
  • Negative feedback is amplified because, well, you really did ask for it.

Nonetheless, and knowing well the stakes, I did it again. Faithful followers of these Voyages en Rose may remember the little language exercise I conducted with late last year (here), and earlier this year (here). The Gender Analyzer prompts you to pop your URL into a query box, click something or other, and in about the time required for a single carefully executed nail polish stroke, presto, a quick, and in my case, flattering guess as to the gender of the author of the content on the site.

The last time I mentioned (ed. plugged perhaps?) the Gender Analyzer here, Jon, one of the authors of the sites code was good enough to drop a line about how his digital diviner tells the X’s from the Y’s from a literary perspective. Per Jon:

" Basically it looks on word usage, not sentences. The classifier core is a naive Bayesian classifier:"

I had been hoping to find out that there was something in sentence structure or grammatical conventions employed by the author that would act as reliable “tells”. Failing that, perhaps a lack of profanity or obviously macho swagger in the language in general might tip the scales. Alas, that algorithm does not yet exist, or is only in use at the National Security Agency where it can do no possible good.

I suppose therefore, that any blog that has 103 instances of “pantyhose” (out of a nail-chipping 56,024 blogged words to date) would likely be assumed by a Bayesian Classifier (naïve, jaded or in between for that matter) to be authored by a genetic girl. So big whoop for Petra. I have fooled the analyzer now 3 whole times.

Interesting to your author and editrix though is the news is that I am fooling it better and better each time out. In December, 2008, a very young Petra was felt to exhibit a 68% likelihood of being female. Fast forward to Feb 2009, and Gender Analyzer had ratcheted me up to a 74% certainty of femininity. Yesterday, Voyages en Rose strolled calmly and confidently past the gender cops baring a little thigh without getting clocked, and in fact eliciting an 82% salute which I have to tell you feels to me as though I have just been hit on, and very nicely.

Oprah gets a 72%. Oprah! Cosmopolitan scores 66%. Cosmo! Petra, 82%. 82%!! So hooray for me! Or not. You see the better parts of me really don’t care.

I Cross Dress to look and feel differently beautiful for myself. It is greatly rewarding that I am able to do it well enough to mix with the bigger brighter world outside of my dazzling hall of mirrors from time to time. There is positive affirmation in doing so.

I Write about the experience to help me feel and understand Cross Dressing
just a little better. And it helps, truly it does. Importantly though I have met so many nice people here, and learned a great deal from you in the bargain. I know from your visits and notes that we share something wonderful, and are far from alone. Again, more beautiful vistas beyond our private spaces.

So, I think I will leave the Gender Analyzer alone in the future. The real objective should not be to fool anyone or anything. The real objective is to express ourselves fully. Mirrors be damned.

But do allow me one last bit of fun. My politics were referred to in the recent Givenchy
post. Liberal is the easy word I suppose. So in a moment of idle devilment, I ran notorious right wing commentator Ann Coulter through the Analyzer. 64% male. I laughed out loud. So go ahead and check your own blog, or other sites of interest, and please leave comments as to your findings and views.

Politics again in this weeks poll (over on your right darlings…). The classifications are far too simplified, and far from standard, but please pick the one that best describes your leanings. I promise not to think of you as smoldering hot liberals, or ice cold conservatives. If you feel attractive to yourselves, you are attractive to me. Results and commentary next week.

Happy dressing, and happy everything else….. Petra

Aug 13, 2009

Petra’s Pantyhose Parade – Givenchy and Globalization

Happy Thursday my darlings. Earlier in the week I mentioned “electrically happy” legs. The tingle is with me still. For this, I would like to thank the House of Givenchy. More properly though, I suppose I should thank the licensing lawyers who organized a marriage between Audrey Hepburn’s favorite couturier and the anonymous maker of my superb new dressy sheers.

Before I rhapsodize on them though, indulge me just a moment would you? You see, one detail stood out on the packaging before I slid in to the product. Made in China. Now of course, we see the “Made in China” label on so many fine quality and necessary goods in our day to day lives, from electronics to stemware to frozen fish to who knows what’s next. We see it as well on a lot of shoddily crafted and entirely unnecessary crud, dreck and detritus. Made in China. It is ubiquitous, but I did not recall a Chinese entry in my selfless and hopefully endless journey through our expanding universe of feminine hosiery.

Now, Petra is a bit of a pack rat. So, on my hunch, I reviewed the fine print on the archived packaging (laundered pantyhose carefully folded back in, alphabetically sorted, light to dark sub-classification within the same brand. Believe it. If you are a Smithsonian curator, we should talk about my future bequest). Upon review of Country of Manufacture data, the hunch was proved correct. This weeks model is the first entry from the Middle Kingdom.

So, to review recent history, where do the rest of our leggings leg it out from? 9 of 15 are made in the good old US of A, including our top rated pair, the
Hanes Silk Reflections Silky Sheer Control Top. (Review linked here). Happily, we can say that this strategically vital industry still thrives here in the home of the shaved. El Salvador rates next as the home of 4 of my reviewed products including fine entries from Donna Karan and L’eggs. Canada and Austria round out the known tested field. So, how do our first Chinese entry, the Givenchy Essentials Body Gleamers fare against fierce global competition in the battle for our hearts and thighs?

China is a famously low cost labor marketplace. That this shows in the price really doesn’t, or shouldn’t, surprise.
Bare Necessities carries them competitively online at $9.50, but I practically stole a pair for less than half that at TJ Maxx. Clever Petra. And now, up and over with the hose.

They have an overall aura very true to the Givenchy name, glamorous and vaguely from another time. Very well constructed too. The 18% Spandex leg is fully boarded and wicks well. The 20 denier weave achieves a good balance between sheerness and durability. The sandal foot is solid and subtly finished. The control top panty is flat-seamed and absolutely, firmly adheres to the hips, exhibiting no waistband roll at all. If these hose were a figure skater, they would receive stellar technical merit points right across the judges panel.

And what about artistic merit? No disappointments. A very luxurious experience. As the name Body Gleamer might indicate, these dressy sheers really glimmer. The leg silhouette is practically back-lit. These are not pantyhose for the faint of heart or for blushing wallflowers. And if I know anything about my readers, that adds up to none of you. The tested shade, Walnut has been teleported directly from the 1950's into our present, and can, in my view, be worn with practically anything. In any shade though you can be sure that they will hold shape beautifully and feel terrific through a long day.

Breathlessly my dears, they just missed the podium by a tiny scoosh, earning a laudable 180.5 Petra Points, gliding into 4th place overall and serving notice to the world that China is in the game, for keeps. Our world may benefit. Think of all the alluring design brands that we might see licensed and stacked up on the shelves of shops up-market and down. The mind fairly reels: DVF, Balenciaga, Kamali, Chanel, and on and on. And what might these imagined entries displace from our drawers. What other longer lasting and more impactful displacements might follow naturally and rapidly on that pretty march?

And so, at the risk of boring the pants back on to you, I must reveal here a few of my own thoughts on globalization, and what is commonly called free trade. I imagine I am one of a very small sorority who lists both
Calvin Klein and Naomi Klein (pictured, left, yeah, I know, as if smart wasn't hot enough. Sheesh) as role models. For those of you who have not worn Calvin Klein pantyhose: Go. Do. That. Soon. For those of you who have not read Naiomi Klein, please do. My point and my passions here have nothing to do with China per se. But they do have much to do with where all of us live. Cross Dress globally yes, by all means do, but where you can, while you can, shop locally.

And please, for any of you who have strong views on these matters, or on tights in general, comments are most definitely desired and welcomed.

Happy dressing and everything else….

Aug 11, 2009

Veronica vs. Betty. Stockings vs. Panty Hose

Still a little warm for full facial magic, curve and shape aids, flowing locks and purse packed for adventures en femme here in the south, but air conditioning is a marvel and there is under-dressing to be done. Before going on my recent prolonged Drabbatical, I did shop a little and left a couple of items in the wrapper untouched and hibernating. A rare display of self control, and a wonderful bonus of delayed gratification.

Repeat visitors and friends will have witnessed some early stirrings of the old girly game, and for Petra of course, the game begins with the gams. Later this week, I promise a new Panty Hose Parade entry on behalf of my presently, very, electrically happy legs. Givenchy is the name, and glamour is the game.

Here today though, I will divert and discourse on an ageless, ceaseless civil war. Pantyhose vs. Stockings. Your cross dressing correspondent is presumed to be a partisan for the all-in-one, up-and-over pantyhose in this fierce fracas, and while my fondness for them is real and enduring, I am nothing if not versatile, and not in the least doctrinaire on the matter.

Recently I received a note from dear friend Christine over at
Chrissie’s Place. She described her own feelings of … well … let us agree to decorously say distaste for pantyhose. We agree on so many other matters of taste, temperament and times I felt as though a little thought and perhaps a well fashioned epistle on the topic might be in order.

The act of fastening a well made stocking top to a garter belt is validation from above that you are, at that moment, special. The very nearly perfectly private show of thigh hardware embossed under ones own tight skirt is a joy to behold. Adding the ever present risk of a slipped stocking to the universe of ladder-inducing threats to gossamer hosiery just amplifies your awareness that you are dressed, studiously and decadently dressed.

Yes, I love stockings. I opined about the sad 60’s revolution that seemed to shake and sadly simplified our foundation garment habits
here. I mean every word of it. I was born out of time. I wish that we had never abandoned all the clasps, seams, hooks and eyes that held the stockings, garters and girdles of bygone times. Sadly my views on the matter were not solicited and of course would not have mattered. And so stockings elude our easy day-to-day grasps.

Yes, the gentle and constant strap tugs, the heightened requirement for care in taking a chair, the knowledge that a peek of scallop lace may be available to the innocent and not so innocent bystander, these things are meaningful. From my perspective they are feelings of privilege reserved for the refined woman, genetic or otherwise. And privileges not exercised often enough for my own tastes.

My own tastes are compromised by practicality though. First, there is the shape of my leg. Just not enough flesh at thigh top to be clung to. Stay-ups don’t. And when a true stocking is fastened to the suspender belt, yet another slightly more awkward layer is added to my already complex under-layers. Calls of nature go from a manageable ordeal to an epic battle against the forces of foam, elastic, nylon and lycra. One might crack a sweat and do undue damage to the overall appearance.

Arguably, these are struggles that we privileged cross dressers should delight in. Or at least try more often. Nobody ever said that beauty and allure would come easily. Or if they did, they were not reckoning on my desire to feel beautiful.

And so, back to Betty and Veronica. No doubt, no earthly doubt,Veronica has a top drawer stuffed with stockings and belts and other accoutrements ably deployed in her relentless war against the composure of everyone flocking around her. Betty I suspect does not so dote on her finery. Practical and attractive that Betty is. And while practical I am not in most aspects of life, in the matter of hosiery, I suppose that I am. I will reserve my big romantic flourishes for my writing. And so with the Betty's of the world in mind, you can expect more Panty Hose Parade notes here regularly.

Photo credits go to
Secrets in Lace. For those of you inclined more to stockings than pantyhose, go visit, feast your eyes, and crack open the purse for a little treat.

Happy dressing, and everything else. … Petra

Aug 3, 2009

The Return of the Pantyhose Parade: Summerweight Edition

Ah, the summertime blues. To my many visitors from Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia and other fortunate antipodal cool spots, let me say that your northern sorority mates are mad jealous. Here on our side of the equator, many cross dressers go dormant, like your faithful correspondent Petra. One can barely raise the energy to swat the flies away, lazing in the shade of the front porch. Even the most committed and cleanly shaved amongst us can be forgiven for letting the leg weeds run rampant through the hot months. Admiring glances are one thing, tipping our hands indiscriminately to a world not ready for us though can be too high risk an approach to feeling and looking great.

Additionally, many of our favorite summertime looks just look better on the genetic girl. Our shoulders are perhaps a little broad. Low cut blouses bare too much less-than-fleshy décolletage. Flat sandals just don’t provide the required calf-oomph. Add in all the shaping foundation layers, heat-trapping wigs, and perspiration-magnifying cosmetics and well, Autumn cannot come too soon.

But for many brave cross dressers drawn moth-like to the nylon / spandex pantyhose flame, excuses simply will not suffice. Dress we must. And while bare legs are a time honored tradition fully deserving of display and admiration, fully dressed means something fine and feminine on our legs.

Happily, supply rises to meet demand and settle nicely around the flesh south of our personal equators. Lightweight, bare look and more breathable pantyhose call out from the shelves. One such pretty package caught my attention last week and was promptly adopted, donned and adored. And my admiration for value vendor
L’eggs continued to grow.

The Silken Mist line is augmented by the
Bare Collection which promises a “sheerer Silken Mist”, and delivers. These day sheers are comfortable, attractive and highly discreet. Full daylight shows only the faintest silhouetted glimmer, but still quite a convincing nude look. Under interior lights, the finish is flat and practically invisible.

The waistband on the not too strict control top does roll a little too much for my liking. But fit through the panty is secure, and is superb in the leg. With a relatively high Spandex content (19%) in the leg, they are not prone to sags at all, glide well on striding legs and rebound to motion fully through hours of wear, inside and out.

Their feel is, as always with the Silken Mist line, silken and misty. Really lovely handle, to both the hands and the gams. And as for standing up to the Dixie summertime climate, no noticeable build up of heat on a day of high humidity and temps well over 90F (34C). Lastly, our new lightweight friends are sandal foot and so perfectly suited to open toe sandals of all varieties. With all of those nice things true and said, all happiness comes at a price ladies. Do take care dressing. The Bare Collection is likely to not have all the durability that one is accustomed to.

When all of my thoughts and well considered 1-10 scores are put into the Fit, Finish, Feel, Fashion and Cost algorithm, these value-priced pantyhose hold up well to summertime heat and to withering glares from the competition. This weeks L’eggs totter proudly up to #4 on the Petra’s Pantyhose Parade catwalk of fame just behind great entries from
Hanes, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan (archived reviews linked) with a laudable 176 Panty Hose Points. 2 random Petra Points just for making a great summertime hose for a bare $4.99.

I have a backlog of product to test and opine on dear friends. I may not have been dressing much of late, but I have been doing my little and stylish bit for the economy. Fancy patterned leggings appear to be an even bigger part of the fall hosiery season this year. This will force some new thinking into my classification systems and some great new looks into our wardrobes. Be assured I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, happy dressing and stay out of the heat.
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