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?

May 26, 2010

Things I like. Perhaps you do too.

Today, I am very happy to welcome a stylish young clatter of visitors from Miss Neira’s wonderful blog, F.A.B. (Fashion, Art, Beauty), where I am guest posting today. First time visitors here have likely guessed by now that Voyages en Rose is not a typical fashion blog. There usually is some chatter here about matters of style, yes, but all of that chatter is informed by the perspective of an enthusiastic part-time Cross Dresser. .

I am a big fan of Neira. Back in March in fact I granted her my not-at-all sought after “
Heel of Approval” award for her general attitude about and experience with people like me. Neira has lots of enthusiasm about life and no hang ups about people who share her passions. Assuming that you have all of that in common with her, I thought I would put together some notes on some things we, you and I, might have in common.

Many of these things are as natural, instinctive and everyday as breathing is to you. For the Cross Dresser, not so much. These things are fresh experiences, learned habits and skills, or perhaps feelings drawn from a deep well within that is not fully understood.

These moments can become natural and instinctive with practice, but they remain special. These things, sensations and experiences are typically exclusive to women, and a real treat for those of us who emulate you now and then. It is fair to say that those of us not born to the fairer sex set are a little envious of you. Some of us ultimately find a way to live your lives fully, but most do not. I will not. I am happy in my life as a guy. But I am delighted to have another dimension to express within that life. Doing so makes me a better person.

There is much that I like about life en Femme. Here are some of those things.

I like:

- Having a door held open for me by a gentleman
- When a waitress brings black table linen to keep lint from my lap
- That my face can be a canvas for colors, and can be made more beautiful
- Swinging my legs out of the car,

- Knowing that they caught someone’s eye
- A zip closing up the back of a well tailored dress
- That a nearly weightless pair of shoes can change my height
- That their pencil thin heels radically alters the way I walk and the very shape of my legs
- Knowing that the time required to be beautiful is a luxury and treating myself to it
- The weight of big chunky bracelets
- The sweet and sharp scents of perfume around me
- When a beautiful stranger asks me where I found my skirt
- The incredible feel of my legs after a nice, relaxed warm shave
- That my eyes can pop and they can smolder
- Shaking out shoulder length hair
- Centering a skirt, and then smoothing it down
- Knowing that it won’t stay centered, smooth or down
- Trying to protect frail sheers from my dogs sharp nails when I come home
- Pulling the second shoe on, from behind my bent knee, by the heel
- Leaning across the table and quietly sharing a secret in a restaurant
- When the pedals on my piano and in the car feel slightly new and different
- That I can button a top with my other hand
- When the sales assistant brings something that works to the fitting room
- How my skirt shortens my stride, just a little, and slows me down, just enough
- How a cool necklace falls on my warm throat
- Finding a great deal and knowing that it will look terrific on me
- The trace of lipstick on my wine glass
- That nothing feels as silky as a great silk blouse
- Cinching the belt on a killer coat
- Throwing a bag from a really nice shop up onto my shoulder
- Purple. Lilac. Animal prints. And black. Lots of black

Above all, I like the way our world looks when I feel these things on those occasions it is my privilege to go out into the world en Femme.

And I like that I am able to share these nice things with you here today, whether these are things you do every day, only from time to time, or simply hope to enjoy some happy day in your future. Thanks for your visit.

What do you like?

P.S. If you don't know Neira, you will like her too. Please visit and say hi for me.

May 23, 2010

Fall Sewn Up

In a post last week I wrote about a couple of successful shopping excursions. I doubled down and stocked up again this week. I don’t want to be paying retail for new gear when emerging from Drabatical 2010 in September at the SCC Conference. I have been closing gaps in the wardrobe at a great clip lately, but do you know, completion in this matter remains much like the vanishing point of a desert horizon. Forward progress seems not to bring it very much closer in.

Yes, gaps remain in the wardrobe, and I suppose they always will, but I had spied some Fall/Winter 09 winners still on the rails, ready for adoption, and knocked down to near nothing. I promise you this is the last “look what I found”, gloat-a-thon post of the year. I have made this same solemn promise to my budget.

Back to Macy’s again. The previously mentioned ombre bandage skirt from I.N.C. has a big sister, a very sleek scuba-chic number similar to the sunnier summer one pictured here at left with two minor tweaks: Mine is black, all glorious black, and has long fitted sleeves with a nice zip detail from wrist cuff to mid-arm. After all the knock-downs, coupons and such a mere $23.76 down from $99.00.

The black crop jacket I picked up earlier still had a twin of a slightly different complexion left behind, and I think they deserve to be together come the rapture. The twin is a big, high, hot pink and represents a promise I have made to myself to shake up my color palette a tad. Outside of the odd splashy animal print I have picked up along the way, I have been stuck in a dark monochromatic rut too long. I don’t want to wind up looking like a real estate agent with a Goth heart. So, the ruffle collar flared short coat is in, lit up brightly at the same 76% off list, $23.76.

Drab mode, I took these two up the cash register and the very attractive young sales assistant, had a suggestion about a couple of other things she was sure I would like. We did not chat about particulars, but it was quite clear that we both knew that I was shopping for myself. Sometimes one needs a little encouragement to explore new territory, and bless her heart I am glad she provided it. Pictured at right is the faux-rubber mini. A bit young, yes, and a look that is a bit less reserved than I typically go to, but it feels and fits, well … wow in a word. If I ever do any Karaoke en femme, I have an outfit ready to go. $17.70.

I was hypnotized by the skirt well enough to not notice the other little black shawl collar toreador jacket she quietly insisted into my bag. 2 pieces, $40.00. Thanks Katisha!

There is a mathematical problem one is left to solve when working with separates like jackets and skirts. The solution was found in the clearance racks of JC Penney. I have said before that JCP is today a different and much more fashion forward store than the one I remember from youth. Target (love Target) has garnered a lot of publicity in style circles of late with the addition of Zac Posen and Rodarte lines amongst others to their apparel lines, but I swear to my now stuffed closet that JCP is a real competitor.

My problem has (had I suppose) to do with tops. I have not enough. The blouse is the great multiplier element, an inexpensive way to create new combinations and permutations of more expensive staple items. Theoretically, well selected tops reduce the need to acquire costly new staples. In theory I stress. Problem solved, five colorful tops, with a variety of alluring, lace and net camouflage elements, splashes of color, washer/dryer ready, comfy fits and crazy price points.

Total layout of ~ $40.00 for north of $200 worth of tops, tops that are really rich with all the elements that make dressing very special ... full sleeves, suggestive transparencies, sleek silky fabrics, cling here and there, delicate fasteners at neck and cuff. They all work with items in the wardrobe and confer much versatility. I am done. I must be.

All the math, the quantitative $ & cent stuff is in the spreadsheet here. I have been taking note of my purchases in the hopes of learning something, I do not know what, but something at some point. At the very least, being a conscious shopper should help keep things in check, yes? If you measure it, you can manage it, right?

So, yes, there have been some real quantitative wins. What I have learned of late though has more qualitative upside than quantitative. The qualitative stuff has to do with the tasty fruit of shopping well. I believe I have developed criteria for finding things. Those thoughts will appear here next week in the form of an essay (or two) that describes some of the general rules I now carry at an increasingly reflexive level when shopping. These are thoughts that I genuinely hope you will be able to take and remake in your own image, for your own image as you go about treating yourself to the odd pretty thing.

Happy dressing and everything else in the meantime.

May 20, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Nylon Stockings

In truth, I missed the anniversary by a few days, which is a sadly typical behavioral trait of one part of my whole self. I’ll make it up to you next year honey, I promise! In any event, May 15, 1940 marked the day that the late and lamented Gimbels department store introduced, for the first time in human history an affordable, attractive synthetic alternative to traditional silk stockings.

DuPont had debuted nylon fabric to the world at the New York 1939 Worlds Fair, but given that its prior merchandising had been for fishing line and toothbrushes, this was an invention still manifestly in search of the Killer App. Thankfully it was found for Killer Legs.

The sales numbers are to me shocking. This product introduction makes iPad sales volumes look more like the
Quick-Chop©. According to reliable sources over 64 million pairs were sold in Year 1 at $1.35 a throw ($19.85 adjusted for inflation).

Nylon stockings represented a democratization of sex appeal that I believe speaks to the very heart of American genius for commerce and innovation. A vast new market was created, and happy swarms of middle and less-than-middle class women had access to advantages of appearance that were before then, the exclusive province of the well-to-do. And O, how their happy partners, admirers and we, their descendants, have benefited from the general beautification of the world wrought from this giant and pretty stride for womankind.

All those tales about WW II G.I.’s wooing European women with nylons now make a little more sense. Gimbels (and Macy’s and etc..) had fortunate proximity to New York Harbor Naval docking facilities. This helped ensure a steady stream of shore-leave opportunists ready to stuff their duffle bags with sexy inducements to foreign hospitality. No doubt, more than a handful of nylons found their way up less shapely legs too.

For me, nylons were a very potent gateway drug, the very first thing that alerted me to the beautiful differences between men and women. My lifelong fascination with and admiration of the opposite sex was sparked in large part by what I saw on legs all around me. This fascination has over the years, resolved itself in my rewarding part time life en femme. What was a fetishy attraction to the object has ripened into something integral, found well beneath my sometimes shimmery surfaces, where former opposites now make a (mostly) happy whole together.

Further reading on hosiery in general can be found by clicking on “Petra’s Pantyhose Parade” on the Tag Cloud in the column to your right. Other ramblings on Stockings specifically can be found
here and in a guest post on The Lingerie Addict here.

I would like to thank the wonderful people at
Stockingirl, and Cervin whose blog posts alerted me to this landmark 70th anniversary, and whose products I can (from very satisfying personal experience) highly recommend to you, whoever the gift is intended for.

May 18, 2010

Travels on Interstate 8 ½

Shoes, dear friends, hold a quasi-sacred place in the minds of many women, women we know, admire and love. They have always held my attention too. The impact that a good pair of heels has on the stature of a woman, on the gait of her walk, on the shape of her calves, on the sounds in a room is considerable. All the world may indeed be a stage, but when I hear the click clack, I rather think of the world as a runway.

I have shoe obsessed friends. Friends who can talk shoes, and create from mere words perfect pictures of the jeweled and ribboned pumps of their dreams in tones that range from hushed and reverential to crystal shattering squeals. I have observed them flipping through fashion mag photo spreads, absorbing images obliquely and still paying polite attention to conversations whirling around them. And shop, sweet mercy, they shop, whole day-long marathons and lunch break sprints spent cradling, trying and now and then buying a new pair. A new pair somehow different from another pair or four already toppling out of boxes at home. Different in ways that a younger me could not perceive.

Long before my Petra-days, I had a girlfriend with superb fashion sense, an epic budget, terrific legs and chronic lateness. She would stand flummoxed in the foyer wanting, needing me to pick a winner from the two pairs she held dangling by the straps. Typically, I didn’t have the heart for the effort, being more concerned with whether our dinner reservation would be held.

- So, which ones do you think?
- You are gorgeous. We are late. One of each dammit, come on, can we get moving already?

I am happy to report she had a weak throwing arm.

From time to time, I might be in better spirits, and we might have a little time before being unfashionably late. Being a good sport, I might engage and offer an opinion.

- So which ones do you think?
- Both are nice, really, go with the ones on the left
- The spectator?
- Sure, if that’s what you call it
- I don’t think they are going to work
- The why did you take them out of the closet?
- They remind me of the ones I was thinking about wearing
- Then why the hell don’t you have them out?
- They kill my feet
- Why then for crying out loud did you buy them?
- Only because they are perfect! Here, I’ll show you, it won’t take a minute ...
- Please, god no, the ones on the right are fine, really
- Fine. Fine. Did you want me to look fine tonight? Fine is good enough for you?

Vive la difference, I was able to say to myself then. And here I am today with less difference to vive about.

Over the roughly two years that I have been “out” to myself as a Cross Dresser, I seem to have gradually acquired a better understanding of the passions that shoes can engender. I am slowly falling under the spell. The spell seems to me to be a two part compound: Having + Getting. Having consists of all the lovely things associated with choosing and wearing a perfect pair of shoes for the day or evening ahead. Getting is everything that happens before that. Shopping in short. I promise you an essay on the whole Having realm some time in the future. Today though, let us focus on the Getting, shall we?

To shop for shoes in the way that women do is one of those pampering luxuries exclusive to the fairer sex, and largely free of the lumbering, awkward, impatient presence of the less fair sex. Exclusively female experiences are a real draw to me. I truly enjoy knowing and feeling things that the next guy does not.

I enjoy as well the warm, sisterly welcome that has been extended my way on those days I have been out en femme, in the tall racks. On at least one
occasion I “passed” fully and was simply assumed to be another women on the perched prowl for a new pair. On a couple of other occasions, my eyes met with a fellow shopper, and my smile was returned. I interpreted the look as meaning … “you might not be all woman, but you get shoes, and I get that, so bless your heart…”.

The unspoken Rules of the Rails seemed to reveal themselves, wordlessly. Adequate personal space is maintained between shoppers. If a woman is eyeing a particular pair, she is allowed first refusal. No reaching through sight lines. Honest unsolicited comments are welcomed, provided they are limited to, “yes”, “nice”, “love them”, and other such economical endearments. Never, ever, go negative with the commentary. Mirror space is sacred. No jostling, sighing or toe tapping. Very civilized.

Staff have been super helpful too. “Have a seat or take a look around and I will be back in a jiffy with the other half of the pair. Oh, I have another I think you will like too. Here is a shoe horn, and the mirror is free over there”. Service at its finest typically.

The few purchases I have made while in drab mode have gone without incident. Twice, memorably, the sales assistant reminded me to hang on to the receipt. “If they don’t feel good or just don’t look nice on you, you can bring them back. OK?”. Delivered with a smile. This is a clear indication to me that anyone in the business of selling shoes is no stranger to fellows with a certain penchant. I really do not believe that one can surprise or alarm staff in a shoe shop provided one is not wearing a belted trench coat and is sweating copiously. Thankfully, that person is not you or I.

With that said though. shopping for shoes while in guy mode is less of a joy for me. A man, clearly on his own, looking for women’s shoes is very evidently shopping for himself. You can gift a dress or lingerie. Shoes? Not so much. My unease is not driven by embarrassment: my blush thresholds are far too high for that. It is more that I feel vaguely at odds with the vibe. I feel as though I have farted in a swimming pool and somebody spotted the bubbles.

Women’s shoe shops feel to me like a refuge of sorts, a private space, members only, reserved for women, and rightly repellant of men. Out of respect for the that, I think I will do my best to keep things this way and do my shoe shopping only when out in full Petra mode.

So, as it stands, here in my Drabbatical months, I have more shoes than I need, and less than I want. Yes, the hook is in. I have a monkey on my back, and a strap round my ankle. And I feel fine. How about you? Commentary and chatter most welcomed.

Photos from talented designers you can find on CC''s always fashionable Couture Carrie.

May 14, 2010

A Tale of Two Sorties

Historically dear friends, I have been good at saving for the future, but not spending for it. Buying things off-season for events far away on the horizon implies that one plans on being there at that time. Life is not so certain in my view, and so I try not tempt the fates. I do make some exceptions. I buy bananas while they are still green, and I do lay down a case or 2 of wine every year that I may not touch for five or 10, but that is it really. I am just (again, historically) not a strategic consumer.

Things change, yes, when we allow things to.

As I have allowed myself more free access to my feminine sensibilities I am finding an increasing capacity for planning ahead in matters of shopping. Perhaps, in part, my behavior is tilting from male hunter mode to female gatherer mode as a result of the long leash that Petra is operating on. There is more to it than that of course.

learly, when I shop, I am making up for lost time and real gaps in a wardrobe. I consider that I am still very much an apprentice in shopping for non-guy things, and so feel quite happy to put real time into the effort. With practice, I am finding this sort of consumerism to be really enjoyable. Economical too, which is a very real requirement. Spending wisely is a responsibility to the home and future that I share with Mrs. B after all.

So, yes, I have been shopping even though I have no expectation of dressing and enjoying life en femme until September. This post is a little dispatch on a couple of recent sorties.

Macy’s has been on a fairly serious clearance binge these last couple of weeks, and prices on remnants of Winter 09 and early Spring/Summer ’10 have been gutted to a delightful, even shocking degree.

Let us agree that the contemporary women needs a leather jacket. I have had a picture of this item in the back of my mind for some time. Nicely cropped to a high waist, and clean of line. Less biker-chick and more lounge-chic. The found item has just the impact I was looking for. One’s first leather jacket is a meaningful wardrobe commitment. The Cross Dresser is fortunate: we can get that moment twice in one life. $180.00 retail, picked up for $31.00, an 83% discount.

Tucked beneath it (picture above, click to enlarge) was a piece that I have been lusting after for some time. Like the jacket, this clingy stretchy bandage skirt is from I.N.C. International Concepts. Colors graduate from a pale grey, through blue and into black at the mid-thigh hem. Comfy and current, versatile and a huge value. This is a really nice knock-off a BCBG piece that was haunting my day dreams and threatening my wallet at more than double the Macy’s list price of $79.00 earlier this year. Patience paid off as I picked mine up for $22 and change, 72% off list.

Cozy beside the bandage skirt in the chaotic clearance rack was a sleek short number that caught my eye. I need another black skirt like I need a poke in the eye from a mascara wand, but I had to look twice. Always did love the look of a faux-wrap skirt. I believe that this one will go from day to evening without offending any style gods. Measured by % discount, at 85 points off this is my all-time greatest heist and a mere $11.85. At this price, so what if I already have two others that are more or less twins?

I have a hard time leaving casinos on a winning streak, and that foolhardy strain surfaced again later that same day. I had a meeting soon after Round 1 that brought me near to another Macy’s where 2 more items were added. One does get caught up in the fever after all and so I found myself at the finish of the work day back in the I.N.C. racks at Perimeter Mall. I felt that, at worst, by idling for an hour or so I would miss full crush of evening commute traffic home. I did better than worst.

I was able to add a lightweight, 3 season, cropped cutaway, fully lined flannel jacket with a pretty ruffled collar, smartly nipped at the waist, flaring nicely to hip height at side and back. Lots of interesting pleating details at the back of the jacket too. Again, I.N.C, again, super versatile and a wonderful fit. A mere $22.70 down from an even $100.00. Score. Here now, for your benefit, a couple of bonus shopping tips.

First, the clearance racks are typically organized by size, but organized is a relative term. You should always graze up and downstream. Nothing is where it belongs, and the further the garment is from its proper size bracket, the greater the likelihood that it has been missed by your competition. My charming little jacket was found lost amongst the X-Larges.

Advanced bargain hunter Tip #2 has to do with gravity and the savagery of busy shoppers: Really nice things actually fall off of hangers. I kid you not, friends, look and see what has dropped to the carpet. There are diamonds at your feet. Case in point, my last find of the day, a shimmering grey silk blouse with full yards of tuxedo-shirt pleating, a demure Mandarin collar and very full and feminine sleeves that finish at nicely tailored cuffs. Bits of it are pictured above. You are not gauche enough to ask the price, but I am evidently gauche enough to tell you: $20.00 down from $70.00.

A total outlay of ~ $ 110 for just over $500 worth of goods that fit well, are well made, and won’t look dated by the time a chill returns to the air, when the pink tides rolls back in, and I stroll out again in the Autumn.

Can’t wait. You should not wait either. Go plan ahead. Spend on your future. You will be happy you did.

May 10, 2010

Planets and Stars

On a mad whim last week I asked of you, dear readers, for your birth sign. In return, I promised the some analysis on the results. I felt driven to explore the Astrology of the Gender Diverse after coming across language describing Gemini characteristics that I thought rang true for me, and perhaps for many visitors here. Original post here if you missed it. The short version of the post was that I pictured the celestial twins running away from the pack on the strength of their dual nature. Furthermore, I practically disowned the sign of my birth, Taurus, and sued for the custodial care in The House of Gemini.

I was as wrong as fishnets at a funeral as it happens. Doubly so. Not so many raised hands from Gemini you see, and perhaps, in hindsight, I am more of a Taurus than I thought.

Yes, the Bulls ran, as hard as they do in Pamplona, trampling all other contenders in their path. 25 % of respondents claimed a Taurus birth which is an outsized contribution. With half as many ticks each, Gemini. Cancer, Virgo and Libra trickled in leaving the other 7 constellations practically invisible in the dark night sky.

To those of you who do believe matters of Astrology to be of spurious merit, I will here for a moment sympathize with you. For the most part, I like simple, provable things. With that said, I am not willing to fully dismiss things that I cannot scientifically dismiss. So there.

I can however fully dismiss this poll as a scientific measurement of anything at all for this one good reason: The data sample is too damned small. To all of you respondents, I say thanks. I can at least make some questionable observations on our cracked sample.

First off, it seems I have missed quite a few birthdays of late. I therefore wish a Happy near-Birthday to Melissa over at Cross Thread who is amongst the herd (do go say hello, won’t you?), and to others of you here today. Yes, we Taurean are gathered in awesome numbers, so let us take a closer look at this sign of this sensible, headstrong sorority.

The nice and gainfully employed people over at provide content to online media juggernaut AOL’s Zodiac Central feature
here. I have lifted some of their language, and cherry picked it to make me, and perhaps you feel good about your bullish birthright (emphasis mine).

... It may be that your attraction to material things is less about the objects themselves than it is about the pleasure they bring to your senses. Comfortable living and working space is important to Taurus, along with nice linens, clothing, food and music.

OK, I can make this work. Right on the money in fact. I revel in the senses, sights, sounds, tastes and touches. Aromas a little less so. I credit this to sharing a bedroom in my youth with a brother possessed of a rare gift for breaking wind. What else? Yes, the Stars influence the trajectory of our lives, but so do the planets. Venus has an outsized influence according to experts. Lets hear a little about her:

... Venus is the planet of love and desire. She is in charge of romance and beauty. But Venus isn't only about physical love; she's also symbolic of the ideal love. When we see a beautiful painting or other work or art, Venus is present. She is the beauty of a rose as much as she is the attraction we have to someone we love. As the key planet of Taurus, Venus is sensual and simple. We fulfill the senses with beauty and life is good.

Yes, I am an idealist. I get emotional, moved momentarily to complete distraction when seeing or hearing something that is heartbreakingly close to perfect. This capacity has influenced some major life decisions. I have found the risks of such availability to be high, but the rewards have been rich. I would not change this desire to share in moments of grace for anything.

These very general claims may hold true for many or most Taureans. They could also hold true for anyone, born any time of the year, of any year though. Therefore I don’t think that these things say anything about my Cross Dressing.

In fact, even without the benefit of a rigorous exploration of the stars and the planets I do not think we would turn up any strong Zodiacal indicators of a propensity to dress, or to desire to experience life in gender different from that assigned to us at birth.

It seems well enough to me that we all want to be, at least for moments, fully realized, and stars on our own planet.

I close today with a sad note about the passing of a star.

Lena Horne passed away yesterday after 92 rich years amongst us. She was a path clearing pioneer of civil rights and social justice, a multi-talented singer, dancer and actress, and a woman who to my thinking personified grace, beauty, determination and strength. These are some of the essentially feminine qualities that I want most to display in any moment of the day, regardless of what I am wearing.

This is sad yes, but I am glad to have seen her flicker, beam and glow.

May 7, 2010

The influence of TV on the young TV

Friday is a good day for welcoming an odd turn in the road of ones thoughts. And so the jalopy between my clip-on earrings is about to leap a curb and career through an odd ditch or two. Seatbelts remain optional. Hope you enjoy the trip.

First off, credit to the source of today’s excursion goes to the lovely and talented Leslie Ann. She privately blogs over
here at Out of My Mind on matters of gender, and also maintains a newish blog having to do with music. Don’t Be Like Me is an experiment in getting songs that are stuck in her head dislodged by writing about them. This seems to me a sensible approach to purging earworms. My only tried and true medicine when a musical squatter has taken over my higher mental functions is to chase it out by humming The Girl from Ipanema. Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

In any event, a comments debate has been raging on DBLM having to do with the question of what the greatest Beatles album is. Somehow or other Leslie's demented friends jumped all over the pop culture trampoline until somebody bounced out a reference to Josie and the Pussycats.

Weird yes, but it stopped me in my tracks.

I got to thinking about very young and still unknowing yearnings I felt at certain moments in front of the bulky walnut cabinet telly nestled deeply in 2 ½ “ of burgundy family room shag carpet. Long before the dawning of puberty I paid close attention to women on the small screen. A small number of them really animated my imagination. Some of them were animated too.

Amongst the animated ones, Josie and the Pussycats really stood out.

Not to take anything away from the breathtaking Rosario Dawson and friends who appeared in the lamentable 2001 big screen remake of the classic 1970 Hanna Barbera cartoon series, but really, they didn't stand a chance against the originals. Josie, Melody and Valerie in cheetah print leotards, with their long tails and ears for hats really had it all going for them. Each week, in a flourish of independence, ingenuity and generosity of spirit they would help their host town avoid some horrible calamity, and then suit up for a gig.

They looked hot, and they hit their marks dammit. With all due respect to Tracy from The Partridge Family, nobody, and I mean nobody worked a tambourine like the lovely Valerie. She was the first in a long line of total crushes I held for women with better, richer, deeper complexions than I was blessed with.

To this day, animal prints and women of color remain at the very center of my aesthetic sweet spot.

TV was not all about Saturday morning cartoons though. In my elementary school days, walking distance from class, lunch was taken at home with a 12:30 Batman performance. I knew kitsch when I saw it then, and got most of the jokes for what they were. The Villains, so many legendary performers amongst them must have had the time of their lives. The Villainesses too, especially the menacing come-hither parade of Catwomen (bless your hearts Julie, Eartha and Lee) were something to marvel at. For me though, the real treat came about when the Gotham City’s peril was too great even for the Dymanic Duo.

Enter Barbara Gordon a.k.a Batgirl, played by the delightful and effervescent Yvonne Craig. Of course there was the 23" waist that flared out into a gorgeous callipygian rump, the jaunty utility belt hung smartly low on the hips, the skintight synthetic bodysuit, the to-die-for heeled booties and the endearing mystery of the mask, but there was more, yes.

She was a Librarian. Again with the hotness. Smart and unassuming, wise to the ways of the world, desirable and unattainable behind the bullet proof acrylic shield of her crime-fighting-bike and lost deep in the dusty reference stacks of Gotham Municipal, I could not get enough of her.

I don’t have quite the Pavlovian reaction to tight leather clothing today as I did in earlier years (which was then complete with panting, and perhaps on occasion, salivating), but smart women, women who love books, well that love affair has not dimmed a watt.

And I must confess to a fondness for clingy, body-conscious looks in my own presentation today.

These pre-teen obsessions somehow did not retard my growth entirely. In the fullness of time I entered real teen years, and was granted television viewing rights in the 9:00 p.m. weekday time slot. Sgt. Pepper Anderson, played in the mid-70’s by proto-Cougar Angie Dickenson touched off in me another cascade of feeling that echoes in the present.

Angie’s flawless legs, impractical shoes, satiny blouses strained to bursting, and tousled hair provided much in the way of visual appeal of course, but naturallement there was more. Pepper labored heroically for the acceptance of men either not smart or confident enough to appreciate the obvious and considerable contributions she was aching to make.

I wanted to be there for her, with a bottle of Chianti and a small harvest of groovy LP’s, ready to respect and console her, and to help with the tidying up after an intimate fondue dinner in front of the roaring hearth. Which I suspected would happen just before whatever was supposed to happen after that.

The unfairness of the world was visible to me then. Strange how this somewhat exploitive drama would contribute positively to my appreciation of the fairer sex. Ginger Rogers famously did Fred Astaire’s work backwards in heels. Pepper Anderson did all that and caught the bad guy in heels without pay equity, a decent shot at promotion or positive role models either.

I believe that the inherent difficulty of figuring out that puzzle, of walking the impossible womanly path, of somehow maintaining feminine allure without a compromise of integrity is something that has always drawn me to wanting a better view of the female experience.

I do not think, looking back, that I wanted to “be” these heroic, admirable beauties. I did however wonder what their experiences felt like to them. I wondered about what the worlds obstacles and opportunities looked like through their hopeful but wary eyes. I wondered how women felt when being looked at, and whether they knew just how potent charms and assets were. I wanted, and want still, decades later, a better taste, a fuller understanding of all that.

Some much appeal on the surface. So much complexity just beneath it. This contributes, in some way I am sure, to the “why” I Cross Dress.

I am privileged to get to take small steps towards improving my understanding of all of this every time I give a proper airing to the Petra parts of me.

And I have a wardrobe styled in part by Josie, Barbara and Pepper too. Top that.

TV worth watching indeed. How about you?

May 3, 2010

Out of Time

I have often thought, dear friends, that my spark of life was ignited a few decades late. Statistically, I am either late Baby Boom or early Generation Jones. Stylistically, I feel like neither. If I had access to a reliable time machine and a good alibi for my absence in the present, I would set the birth dial to the mid-30’s of the last century.

There I would be hitting my adult stride having missed the rigors of the great depression and the horrors of the greater war, slap-dab in the middle of the fat and happy 50’s. Jazz had yet to go off the rails, and drinking at lunch was encouraged. A quick course of Penicillin would get you past the worst class of STD you might happen upon. Dacron polyester fibers were still locked up tight in the laboratories of DuPont in this peak time for Couturiers and their clientele. And hidden just beneath the full, flared cocktail dresses and harmlessly hobbling pencil skirts of the day glimmered the Golden Age of Foundation Garments.


Some of the very earliest posts here on Voyages en Rose were reveries to this not so distant past. The historically inclined of you might like to read them
here and over here. The hysterically inclined however are encouraged to hang around here for a question of time with less sweep to it for a few moments.

You see, earlier on today I was busy hammering and sawing a Gemini reference into a different bit of writing. I failed. But then I started thinking about Gemini on its own terms. As little as I know (and truthfully care) about Astrology, I wondered if the heavenly twins might have a special message for people who express and experience as male and female.

Research bore fruit quickly. Here are the opening words of the # 1 ranked Google return for “Gemini characteristics”:

Gemini go everywhere together, hand-in-hand, symbolizing your dual nature. Our world comes in pairs: good and evil, male and female, in and out, yin and yang -- and you Geminis are living proof. Some might say Gemini are an entanglement of paradoxes, but the truth is that Gemini have an easy acceptance of opposites. Gemini world is one of duality. Gemini can like this and that, one thing and its opposite.

Well, that all sounded lovely, and there is more that rings true. You might want to read up on just how ambi Gemini is here. In any event, this skeptic was now paying full attention. Clearly, I am Gemini.

Except that I am not.

I just celebrated my birthday which makes me Taurus. I must tell you that I have never felt comfortable or natural in the constellation of my birth. If there was such a thing as Zodiacal Reassignment Surgery I would take a part time job to pay for it. I suppose I will just continue to live the lie. Alas.

But there is something that will make living that lie easier for me, and this I what I request of you as a belated birthday gift: Take a second, please, to answer this weeks poll. What is your sign?

We should be evenly distributed across the calendar, but we might not be. The more of you that participate in the poll, the more evenly we should be distributed. But, again, we might not be. Would it not be an interesting thing to find a larger than expected number of us gathered in the Third House, under Mercury, dualities and all?

I would not ask except in the furtherance of science. Or sceance. If you happen to write a lovely and popular blog catering to the CD/TG set, would you mind posting a link there and helping me jack the numbers a little? The more the merrier and the more accurate. Results and observations this time next week.

Comments, as always, desired and greatly appreciated.
Subscribe in a reader