May 28, 2010

Shopping for the Special Woman – Part I

In this last year of so I have found that my sense of what will look and feel good on me has become better tuned. This is a matter of pride and satisfaction. Any achievement that comes at the expense of practice and thought, trial and error always is.

There is another big, big dividend that getting wardrobe right pays though: Confidence. When you like what you see in the mirror, others will share your conviction. This feeling confers courage and kindles curiosity. This feeling is a passport to places tomorrow that you might not consider today. Worthy outcomes to my thinking.

Like it or not, knowingly or not, what we buy and what we wear is pretty much all that the rest of the world (however big it is) has at hand to form their first opinion about us with. What we wear is an extension of self image. Yes, clothes make the …. (fill in your own blank, I am still working on mine…). Shopping, therefore, especially for the CD/TG set, is much more than blind consumerism, more than a nice way to pass the time. It is a quality of life issue. It can, and should be done well.

I made many wardrobe missteps in earlier, more tentative forays into Cross Dressing. Today still I get it wrong from time to time and always will. This I have in common with absolutely every woman on the planet. But I am doing well enough of late to believe that some of my thinking might be helpful to you. Here are some learnings. Take what you like. Adapt accordingly.

Do not dress your age. Dress her age.

In December ’09, I
polled readers about their age relative to their feminine personae. On average we believe ourselves to be 10 years younger en Femme. Embrace this - we are making up for lost time, and there is no shame in that. Moreover, if you are over 40, the ideas you have carried from your youth about what 40, 50 and beyond are supposed to look like are outmoded. Women today are pressured to perpetuate youth in ways not possible or acceptable 20 years ago. That same pressure is on you. If you want to step out as a woman, you will have to get in step with them. Set back your mental odometer, and give yourself permission to shop in venues that cater to younger models.

Size Matters. Sometimes

2, 4, 6, 8, I’ve some of each, they all look great. There is a very loose relationship between labeled size and actual fit. There are many reasons for this, too many to enumerate here. You will do better by knowing your own dimensions, and knowing how to qualify a garment that is still on the hanger. Your key metrics will be shoulder width (point to point), chest, waist, and waist-to-hem. If you have a garment that is a perfect fit in any of these key areas, measure it, and commit those numbers to memory. Carry a tape measure with you. Learn how to eyeball a garment for likelihood of a good fit. If you want to get more scientific about things, I recommend that you register with
My Shape. Set 30 minutes aside, grab a tape measure (and a willing partner if one is available), and follow the online exercise.

Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.

I will direct you again back to
MyShape. Complete the sizing questionnaire and MyShape will personalize a "look book" for you with the right shapes and silhouettes for your figure. If nature did not provide you with a waist, you can dress around that. If your torso is long, you can shorten it without surgery. There is no figure that cannot be improved in the couple of minutes it takes to get dressed. Everything on the rack is designed to flatter someone and a some of those things will flatter you. Just figure out where your personal lines are, and color within them.

Camouflage never goes out of fashion

If you were ever able to bench press your own weight, you might want to stay away from the cap sleeve blouse. If your cleavage is not convincing, the plunging peasant top is out. If you are a little, bulgy shall we say, through the midriff then you might want more fullness, drape or pleats on that skirt. Forgetting the aesthetics for the moment, if you do not like some element of your body, that feeling will surface mid-voyage and have a negative impact on that whole confidence thing. Therefore, harden thy heart, and be not beguiled by things that expose geographies better left unexplored.

Keep Cool

Women glow. Men sweat. This truth is heightened by a couple of things. If you do not get out often, your nerves will be closer to the surface, and nervousness is a an enabler of perspiration. Then there is your wig. There are breast forms too, hip padding, smoothing layers around the midriff, and likely a layer (or more) of synthetic fabric on the legs. Oh, and the extra work inherent in walking in heels. All of this adds to your latent heat. When you crack a sweat, you lose your confidence. Heat is, to a degree (no pun, really), inescapable, but should not be amplified by your outer layers and other choices. Get a lightweight coat that you can carry on your arm once indoors. Stay away from wooly tops. That black faux-wrap synthetic jersey dress cannot breath or effectively vent. Cotton can be sexy. Look hot, but do not be warm.

These five findings will be followed by another six shortly, adding up to eleven. Not a Baker’s Dozen, more like a Banker’s Dozen. Bankers always get their own cut it seems.

What works for you?


Wendy said...

Great tips. Can't wait to hear the rest. I found out early about the cap sleeves and now always look for half or 3/4 sleeves. And striped tops call attention to my wider than I wish shoulders, so I go with plain or non-geometric patterns now. Keep up the helpful tips.


Couture Carrie said...

Beautifully written post, darling Petra. Great advice all around. So true about confidence being key!

Hope your weekend is fabulous!


Leah said...

Love this my dear... I believe in dressing the age that I feel, not the age I am in. Hahaha! And yes, don't believe in the labeled size, I need to try on the clothes to find the perfect fit. That's why, I don't trust online shopping so much except for shoes.

Have a lovely Sunday! xoxo

Anonymous said...

What amazing tips, and all so true! I love it Petra!

Subscribe in a reader