In last weeks Part I, I kicked off this mini-series with Five Findings on the topic of shopping, getting better at it, and getting more out of it. The series concludes here today with six more tips that may range from The Bleeding Obvious to the Mind Blowing depending on just how much your purse is bleeding and how much cash you have blown shopping for your prettier half.
If the points that follow are Bleeding Obvious forgive me. I may be witty, but witty is different from clever. Everything I have of lasting value comes from hard work and good notekeeping with the possible exception of my legs. I still don’t know what I did to deserve them.
Here then, to conclude, are six more rules I apply before, during and after the shopping sorties that help Petra feel very well loved indeed.
You have eyes. Plagiarize
Why Google when you can ogle? You are surrounded in your day to day life with real world fashion examples to emulate and to avoid. Take mental notes. Strike up the odd conversation with an innocent question or harmless complement. Drink in what you see on the tube and draped around mannequins. Spend time browsing around style oriented blogs that have absolutely nothing to do with CD/TG issues (some of my favorites are in the right column of this blog in the Fashion, Foundations and Femininity section). You will benefit greatly by cultivating your own criteria for what is beautiful and for what will flatter you. If you think that this comes naturally to women, you are wrong. Connoisseurs are made, not born. Go make yourself one.
Shop. Don’t buy.
It takes time for any learned activity to become natural and reflexive, and this is absolutely true of developing a signature look. Find the time. For those of us who are not 24/7, this means getting very comfortable with browsing shops in drab mode. You must do this. In your apprenticeship you will find (or already have found) that something curious will happen. You will start gradually to lose self-consciousness about being the only guy in the joint. This is good, because that self-consciousness compromises both your sense of fun, and your critical faculties. If you are thinking about whether you are standing out like a stop sign on a ski hill, you cannot handle the complex matrix of determining a garments suitability or value. You will therefore make mistakes. It takes time to get to a place of comfort, then adventure and finally delight with shopping. So get out there and practice. Do it without any expectation or need to buy something. Every hour will make you smarter.
Shop and Buy. Two of them in fact.
Now, Grasshopper, you are learning, and you have snatched the very thing from the rack. Good for you! It is perfect. If you can afford it, you deserve two of them. Get the other color now or somebody else will have bought it by tomorrow. Explore this label further, you will find coordinates and complements, likeness in fit and silhouette. This is your opportunity to score the fashion equivalent of a 7 tile, triple-word score with a Q and a Z in it and win the Shopping Scrabble game conclusively. When you act, act decisively. Responsibly yes, within your means by all means, but admit it, you are going to spend the money, and perhaps less perfectly later. You may as well buy more perfect things and the longer future that you may enjoy together.
Don’t stress the Dress
The Dress is inarguably the tasty cherry at the top of the fashion food pyramid. It is emblematic of feminine fashion in a way that no other garment is. Wanting a great dress is a fine and natural desire. The sad truth though is that dimensionally there is much about dress construction that fails masculine body types. We are fuller through the chest cavity and broader across the shoulders. There is a smaller delta between our waist and hips. We are longer shoulder to waist, and shorter proportionally from waist to sea level. All of this considerably narrows the field of dresses that work well. If you focus on building out a wardrobe of separates, tops and skirts you will have more options and no less an exclusively feminine fashion experience. Never stop looking for the perfect dress, it is out there somewhere, but ratchet your expectations down in this regard and you will save yourself some grief.
The Seamstress is your best friend
Following on the last point, if you find a dress (or anything really) that you must have, make sure it is comfortable at armholes, sleeves and chest, and get the rest taken in. I have dropped off garments pinned and ready for tailoring in guy mode, and I have been fitted en Femme too. A fitting is actually quite a kick, and a highly recommended field trip, documented in part here. Waists that are too big, skirts that are too full or long can be easily and economically remedied. You are deserving of individual attention in this off-the-rack world. And the seamstress deserves a little variety in their day too.
Blend in. Then stand out.
You know what your range is and the kinds places and settings that you can comfortably appear en Femme in. Figure that into your wardrobe building. A perfect and flattering outfit in a setting where it is simply inappropriate will draw attention, but attention of the wrong kind. You will feel this, and confidence will take an avoidable body check. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look better than everyone in the room, but even if you can, it is a pyrrhic victory if you win a game that nobody else is playing. What you have learned from plagiarizing comes in handy here. When in Rome, dress as the Roman “it girl” does.
By doing these things you may find it easier to find the clothes that reflect back from the mirror and out to the world the person you want to see.