Oct 9, 2010

My pals, M.A.C. and Macy

Long time readers will know of my smoldering love affair with the nice people at M.A.C. Skilled staff working with terrific cosmetics, in settings that are 100% free of the possibility of a hassle about gender/wardrobe incongruity. Lovely people with an abundance of passion and personality. Really, they had had me at "yoo-hoo!"

My inaugural M.A.C. trip was chronicled
here. I have been back on a few occasions, slowly padding out the color palette and generally adding to my arsenal of tools and skills in matters of maquillage. I have also been discovering how beguiling a business the beauty biz is. The array of shades, textures, purposes, tools and etc. is practically infinite. And as is the case with shoes, you can never have all the stuff you want, or feel that you need. Again, as is the case with shoes, there is the possibility of a more attractive, more noticeable, more unique you, right there that you can try on and take away with you.

Unlike shoes though, the price points are low to the extent that it is easier to say yes, easier to open the purse and treat yourself.

Yes, this whole beauty business courts the client well, and pushes the buttons of borderline addictive personality types (moi? Pas de tout!) quite expertly. That and my seemingly inevitably destitute non-retirement aside, things are slowly picking up for me on the beauty front. I have been motivated in this effort in part by words of, well, perhaps words of encouragement is not the perfect word, from Mrs. Bellejambes.

“You look like you are wearing makeup. Too much of it. Way. Too. Much.”

Hmmm. In fairness I had to agree. I had been for some time using a Dermablend concealer/foundation cream and finishing powder, and really I have no complaint with the quality of the products. In hindsight though the advice I got at the ULTA shop where I picked them up was inexpert. They got my skin tone wrong.

I have switched over now to a couple of M.A.C. products that I highly endorse. Concealer
here and finishing powder here. Terrific finishes, not invisible, but closer to it, close as I might get, or can expect to get given flaws of complexion.

If hitting a makeup counter en femme is beyond your reach or the limits of your nerve, really do not hesitate to engage with a technician in drab. Explain your requirements. Offer your hand up as a test area. Getting a quality product on your skin is easy. Getting the tone right is not. So give a technician a chance to get it right, and it will pay dividends in the form of beauty. If you feel as though you are invading a territory you are standing out like a sore thumb in, get over it. Chaps buy gifts all the time. And unless it is 9:30 A.M. you are likely not the first Cross Dresser they have met on the day of your visit.

Earlier this week I popped into the M.A.C. Pro Shop in Atlanta Perimeter for an inexpensive treat. My false lashes were not going to stand another wear, and so I dressed fully, did the make-up entirely minus my eyes, put a big pair of starlet sunglasses on and waded into the mall. I worked with a lovely technician for about 45 minutes getting a beautiful new pair of eyes painted on for the price of new lashes and a couple of shadow colors. I wanted these colors in any event (this is my year of purples and lilacs), and watching a pro work for basically no extra charge is great value. With a happy new look on, and the little extra confidence in the stride that goes along with it, it was time to say so long to Mac, and to drop in on dear friend Macy.

I really took my sweet time getting from A to B, and for a couple of reasons. Firstly, men rush through malls. A lady does not. I do still consciously need to moderate my pace of movement en femme. Next, and of equally vital import, you cannot really see what other people are looking at when moving at man-pace. So, in between longing looks at window displays and mental notes on the wardrobes of younger, hipper, prettier things than your correspondent, I was meeting eyes to see what was in them.

Lots, as it happens.

For the most part, males of the species who do notice you scan you pretty quickly. Top to toe with a slight pause somewhere between necklace and belt. Hmmm. I am glad that I am not too busty a lass. I think it might get tiresome. Legs, yes, they get a look too. How many of them perceived a difference about me beneath the surface? Surely some. Not one of them though betrayed shock, alarm, delight, bemusement or any strong sentiment by their facial reactions. And their eyes, when met go elsewhere. Just, kind of look away and move on.

And the women? Much better watchers. Again, they are moving more slowly, and are more receptive. There is a longer look, it takes in more details, but goes right back to the face. And then a Mona Lisa smile. The smile mostly seems to impart a message that goes like so:

“Wow, look at you. You are a guy, dressed as a woman, getting away with it, kind of, maybe mostly, but I got you, didn’t I?”.

And then the eyes lock on yours. This is a real invitation to engagement. I felt as though I was losing a game when I looked away. It is tough to not look away though, in a feigned act of indifference to the scrutiny, or simply because I am so easily befuddled and confused by women.

In the jungle of the mall though, there is no doubt that the women are the Alpha predators, the Lions, and the chaps are either feral packs of teenage hyenas or easily herded stray lone herbivores.

Several herbivores had been corralled in fact into a nice pen just outside of a massive warren of fitting rooms in Macy’s. Rather a sad looking bunch, docile and sleepy, sunken into a too low peach-shade sectional couch. Penalty box, purgatory and not pleasant for the lads. Their lasses were obscured from view, doors slamming, hangers flying, winners and losers determined inside the fitting room, and in my 15 minutes or so within earshot of the place not once did I hear a woman say, “honey, what do you think of this?”

What I did hear was one of the Macy’s shop assistants engage in a lengthy and clearly expert discussion with the 4 or 5 guys in the antechamber to the fitting room about football. While I bided my time removing chunky jewelry, peeling off my cardigan, stepping slowly out of my skirt, unbuttoning and hanging up my blouse, on and on they went. The Macy's staffer really knew her stuff. Back and forth they talked and trash-talked sounding like something off ESPN, expert analysis, analysis that was way over my head, and moreover, of no particular interest.

What was of interest was just how perfectly my dress fit (mine is blue, her sister is pictured here). This feeling, is visceral. Everybody on the planet deserves to know just how fine the moment is when you try a dress on and can believe, if only for an instant, that this is as good as this dress can look. It is a wonderful feeling. I could have kept the feeling to myself. But I am more generous than that. Perhaps generous is not the right word for this moment though.

On the way in, I had noticed the tailors platform and panoramic mirror complex just next to where the chaps were seated. I wanted a better look at my soon-to-be-mine dress. I knew that this would come at the expense of giving everyone in the bleachers a look too. And I did not mind. I admit it. I sought the moment out. I felt, I believe, for the first time as though I was the Alpha predator.

Conversation slowed and then stopped while I exhaustively, critically 360’d myself in the 3-way mirror.

Great dress” says the nice Macy’s lady, slowly, after some moments of silence.

The lads were wordless.

They both were right.


Monica said...

Another nicely engaging post, and your M.A.C. experiences echo my own. I'm only know just beginning to field test my local Macy's, but I suspect similar results. And, oh yes, your Ulta experience also echoed my own. DYOC.

M _/!

Anonymous said...

Love your description of the fem shopping experience! Love Macy's .. maybe you'll get up my courage to try MAC!! :)

Couture Carrie said...

I love MAC too!
And that dress is stunning, darling Petra!


Petra Bellejambes said...

Monica - your experience with Macy's may vary, but I have always found them very accomodating, and certainly stylish enough for me.

Weave - I think you would have a blast at M.A.C. Delighted you enjoyed your visit here.

Carrie - The model has a better complexion than me, no doubt, but the dress I swear fits me every bit as well. Nice to see you as always...

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