Aug 31, 2010

The Invisible Plane

I wonder about Wonder Woman. Yeah, I know … take a number.

Natives of the U.S. of A are of course familiar with her. I am not certain how far beyond these fruited plains the jurisdiction of the Hall of Justice Superheroes extended, but I suspect that her image is familiar to most visitors here.

For my fashionable friends of the natal, full-time female variety, perhaps you regarded her rich black mane and impossibly voluptuous figure with a degree of teenage insecurity and wished for yourselves all that she had going for her. Look back and smile now. You have more variety in your wardrobe, great gal pals and rewarding romantic lives. In these key quality of life indicators, you have Wonder Woman beat by miles.

For my gender plural, Cross Dressing friends, perhaps you, like me spent more time thinking on her boots, bracelets and bustier. Fair enough. This fashion motif is evergreen, classic and wholesome.

And for the kinky minority of you with periodic imaginings of exactly what she might be able to do with her magic lasso, well I am not the judging kind. Just be sure though to have agreed on a safe word before engaging in a life of crime would you my dear?

Now, where was I? Ah yes, the Invisible Plane.

A great idea at first blush, but fraught with issues. Parking for example. Skateboarders and minivans would be dinging the heck out of it. Presumably, snow would accumulate on wings and fuselage. I suppose that having a hangar would solve those problems, but then neighbors would know that you had a plane and start pestering you for rides here and there.

Filling up the tank too would be a little unsettling. There you are, holding the pump handle aloft, gas disappearing into the ether. Passers-by would consider you mad, quite mad altogether. Let us therefore assume that you could perform routine maintenance in a private setting, yes? One hopes.

Now, for some unassailable logic:

If: Wonder Woman’s plane can make fuel invisible,
Therefore: Wonder Woman’s plane can make Wonder Woman invisible too.

And yet it did not. Why not?

Here my thoughts went this morning after catching up on a recent
post from my beguiling friend Janie titled “Past Passing”. Do go read it would you (and then rush right back). I got a little stumped leaving a comment on the post because as per usual, Janie brushed up against the far frontiers of figuring a lot of stuff out. She seems to be in pursuit of a Grand Unifying Theory of gender, beauty and etc. A fine use of time, say I, and I too aspire to achievement in this daunting and complex field.

In any event, what I could not fit into a cogent comment on that post I felt I might make a complete hash of on my own damn blog. Hence the whole invisible plane theme here.

To one degree or another, we Cross Dressers and everyone somehow affiliated with the TG Super Friends Hall of Justice are met with the same choice when we present to the world. We, at moments at least, long for complete invisibility. And perhaps through skill, practice and fortunes of physicality we can be invisible, fully cloaked and able to infiltrate, unseen, unnoticed by those around us as anything other than that which we (at least temporarily) aspire to be: a beautiful woman. To “disappear” thusly is exhilarating. I say this because I know from happy experience that I have.

And yet, something is missing, something is undone when the invisible plane confers invisibility on its pilot.

I believe that Wonder Woman chose to remain visible in her plane. And it must be said, if I had her figure I wouldn’t leave the house without a brass band and a lighting crew heralding my arrivals. But yes, Wonder Woman made a choice, and filled a need, a need we all have: a need to be noticed for who we are.

When the bad guys saw Wonder Woman hurtling towards them at super-sonic speeds, you know their behavior changed, and pronto too. Bolt cutters and switchblades were dropped in place and the cads ran for the shadows. If Wonder Woman had been cloaked perfectly within her plane, things would have changed, but perhaps too late. Crimes would be committed and the innocent would remain cowering behind locked doors.

I for one have managed to lose (most of) my hang ups about passing. I do my best with what I have and take care to do things thoroughly. Out of respect for the fairer sex, I will always emulate them as completely and perfectly as I can.

But if my plurality, my fuller dimensions are ever to have freer dominion in this happy world of ours, my plurality must at some level, on some occasions, in new settings be as visible as good old Wonder Woman was in her sleek jet.

Otherwise, the bad guys will keep up with the capers, and the innocent remain cooped up inside, hoping for trouble to pass.

I am not a firebrand, a revolutionary, or a martyr (I think the whole martyr look thing was just done to death in the Spring/Summer collections of ’06), but I do feel a little responsible for pushing out some boundaries, inches maybe, millimeters likely.

I do imagine a day, 10, 50, 200 years down the road, tomorrow even, where beauty definitions will be much broader (no pun) and less tied to what we think of as masculinity and femininity today. I do imagine a day where how we express our fuller dimensions will be viewed as less aberrant, less threatening, less … well less everything that confronted you and I on our way to where we are this day.

But that happy day will not come with Wonder Woman invisible in the plane.

A new Autumn approaches rapidly. I am looking forward to it immensely. I will be ever vigilant in looking out for fellow Hall of Gender Justice stalwarts on patrol, making the world a more beautiful place, and safer for us all. You will be pushing boundaries out and bad guys further into the shadows with each step you take. You do have Super Friends, whether you have met them or not.

I imagine that I will be meeting with many of you at SCC in just a little over a week. Please watch out for my plane when parking yours.

Photo Credits to Comic Vine here and here, and much love to the nice people at Marvel.

Aug 19, 2010

The return of Petra’s Pantyhose Parade. Tight spots.

I have much love for Wolford. Supreme sorcerers of sheer, titans of tights, these mad Austrian alchemists routinely, ceaselessly turn mere Lycra, Nylon and Elastine into the very stuff of leggy dreams and ask only for vast sums of my hard earned money in return for their valiant efforts. In truth, they don’t even ask, indeed, barely raising an eyebrow to somehow wordlessly compel the pennies from my purse.

Bless their Edelweiss garlanded hearts.

The Wolford Annual Summer sale is over and shelf space has been cleared for the beguiling Fall/Winter collection. The ready-to-wear line is out of reach to me so long as my negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a massive capital infusion remain stalled. My recent adoption of an all cereal diet however made it possible for me to justify the purchase one pair of tights from the new releases just in time for my own Fall/Winter chrysalis, the end of the
Summer Drabbatical and the fully feathered return of Petra (ta-Da).

Leo. Hot you say? Yes, indeed, and in more ways then one.

You see, the Leopard pattern effect (Jaguar? Cheetah? Ocelot?? ... somebody help me out here...) is quite substantial. It is not painted on or woven seamlessly in. It has the hand feel of a flocked velvet burn out and sits in slight, tangible relief from the sturdy, semi-opaque base fabric. I suspect that this 50% polyester construction is an engineering necessity. In order for the jungle beast pattern to keep shape and appear proportional on the leg, a base fibre that maintains structural integrity is required. And from an engineering perspective, dear friends, it works. The pattern lays perfectly on the leg. They look smashing. Truly.

But back to the whole hot thing. The nylon simply does not vent heat or wick moisture. They look “hot” yes, and they feel it too.

This represents a real departure from prior joyful and loving experiences with Wolford. Typically, Wolford feel like magic. Typically, how the Wolford look (as good as they look) seems to me a secondary consideration. Typically, when wearing Wolford, you really don’t give a damn what the rest of the world thinks. Wolfords are all about you.

Gliding in to a pair of Wolford’s is very much the hosiery equivalent of Alice and her fabled looking glass. One falls into a new world, a very immersive realm of the senses, particularly the sense of touch. A lovely spot to visit. Inside a pair of Leo’s however, one does not, and cannot pierce the looking glass. What is in the mirror looks great, but Alice does not get her boarding pass for the flight to Wonderland.

With that said, they are built to endure, this Queen of the Jungle will prowl all night, and no doubt hold form for years. All of the fabled care in manufacture one expects from Wolford is there. Well reinforced at the toe and cupped at the heel they are built to avoid pre-game blowouts. The boot portion is expertly graduated and adheres superbly to the leg. There is a strong bias in the weave against over-stretching. The wide, comfortable and perfectly finished waistband sits snugly and stays exactly where told.

They are available in a variety of color combinations, including black on black, black on fern (pictured top), and your correspondents pick, black on ecru (pictured with their soul mate skirt at right). If you prefer a thigh high to tights, Wolford has you covered. If your toes are simply too divine to not have on display, a footless legging is yours for the taking too.

If you do splash out on Leos ($65.00), I salute you. You are treating yourself well. Do me a small favor though and drop me a line when you are planning on wearing them out. Two of us in the same room would be a bit much. I want to avoid cat fights wherever possible.

Closing now on a personal note today, I am off to start a couple of weeks of vacation. I will be elsewhere (a very beautiful elsewhere) but I am mostly going to be off the digital grid. See you in September…

Aug 9, 2010

Look ma ... hands!

When en Femme, I feel as though my garments guide and govern my movement to a large and welcomed degree. For the most part, these movements are familiar and easy. High heels engage the hips and bring one foot in front of the other. The dress or skirt hem reminds me to slide in and out cars and booths with knees more or less gathered together. The line of the skirt, too, defines the length of my step, shorter always than the drab khaki stride. The dance of longer hair on my neck and shoulders pulls my head up, and eyes forward. O, and the bra and the breast forms, remind my shoulders back, and my belly in.

On balance, with practice, and delighting in doing these things well, my movement en Femme has become more reflexive to me, done thoughtlessly and evidence suggests, more convincingly to innocent passers-by of my too infrequent parades.

There remains however, one intersection of fashion and movement that vexes. It has to do with pockets. More specifically, the lack of them.

My guy pockets get plenty of work. iPhone in left hip, keys and coins in right, wallet on the right rump. Pockets always ready too, at any moment, for the thrust of a hand. Walking, talking, idling, considering my immediate future or visualizing the ball flight of the approach shot to the 16th green over the creek, the pocket is there to hold the hand and help still the world. Pockets are, it seems to me, the supreme fashion adaptation to the needs of my typical day. At the very least a close second to the mighty zip fly.

On those a-typical days when Petra takes flight however, her aerodynamics auger against this useful adaptation. Smooth at the equator, sleek from knee to belt buckle, clean of line and cut close to form. A rich landscape of detail but barren of pockets. I, like you, carry a bag, and so am provided with a lovely place for my things. What to do with my hands remains a bit of a struggle though.

Heavy drinking has been scientifically tested and found to fail. If you get to the place where you cannot tell whether the lipstick mark on the wine glass is smudged or blurred, you have likely already lost some measure of feminine grace. And yes, the whole pee-break thing may cut your day short.

The feminine wardrobe itself does provide some occupation for the hands. Centering and setting the skirt, tucking the blouse here and there, shooting a sleeve, sorting out bangles, clearing bangs left and right from the eyes, the odd discrete tug at the tights, all the constant background maintenance activities required to keep pretty standards. The wardrobe also provides some relief too, temporary rest stations: the strap of the shoulder bag being a fine place to hang a hand from when click-clacking from A to B. The very act of growing a wardrobe gives the hands something to do as well, carrying yet another bag from cash desk to car.

In cooler weather where pockets are provided by a smart jacket or belted trench, the pockets call out to me, but when I fold my nails palmwards, and slide my hands in, I feel as though I am ruining my own effect. The shoulders come forward, eyes go down, balance suffers marginally, and my beauty, such as it is, is diminished. This posture may work for super models, but I am neither super or a model. On with the gloves therefore, and back to the issue of where exactly do the hands go?

Like many people idling about, my phone is near to hand, email, web, Google Reader always ready with a nice new blog entry from a friend. The phone provides a good way to blend in and look natural, like all the other self absorbed, toy obsessed, deadline driven earthlings around us. Even here though, the phone changes in my hand. Or hands I should say. I am, in guy mode, a one hander. Select, pinch, scroll, browse, all easy one thumb stuff. The iPhone in Petra’s clutches is less responsive. Petra is a two hander. For starters, my lengthened nails cause me to recalibrate where my thumb and index finger pads are. And the keypad becomes a nightmare. Text message speed and accuracy goes from Eagle Scout quick to Girl Scout drop out.

There are upsides and compensations though (of course). Nails, big bracelets, petal sleeves, pocket book, all of these things demand a little attention en Femme. Movement becomes more measured, more conscious, (hopefully) more graceful. When I lose focus even for a moment, I run the risk of prying a nail loose in the depths of my purse, jamming a forkful of food, tines-up, into my pie-trap or unsettling my wig with an errant flip of the hand.

The use of the hands are, I suspect the last frontier of natural feminine motion for me. I have paid attention to my own hands, and feel as though they are not well enough deployed, a tell, a tip to the world that I am not as I appear to be, an imposter. I am going to make a point this next little while of paying greater attention to the hands of the many beautiful women I see day to day. I do hope to pick up a pointer or two along the way that will help my hands find more natural occupation on my next Voyages en Rose.

Pointers and observations on your own experiences in the form of comments from all readers welcomed with open hands of course.

Photos: Ann Taylor where I find too much stuff I want to put my hands on.

Aug 4, 2010

Those who can, Do. Those who cannot, Shop.

It may be the withering Georgia heat, or perhaps just a little seasonal funk. Alternatively, a spell of delirium engendered by my long summer Drabbatical. Symptoms of whatever the hell it is have shown up in recent blog posts here, here and here. I have been pondering ponderous things. Weighing weighty issues. Reaching for the stars and herniating. More Debbie Downer and less Chatty Cathy. Wrinkle lines are showing on my bedewed forehead.

It is all well and good to try to figure out things. Sometimes however, one simply cannot figure some things out.

Those are good times to go shopping. And so I did. It helped to snap me out of my funk. Or at the very least it goosed the economy a scootch and gave me something a little more lightweight to write about.

Here. Let me show you what is in the bag. Long time readers will know that I hold a flame high for
Ann Taylor. Quality fabrics, well finished garments, grown up silhouettes with classic lines and fresh contemporary flourishes. Confidently attractive stuff well in my style sweet spot. Very much in my budget too with the summer sales on.

Nestled away in the clearance racks were a couple of treats with my name on them. First up, the lustworthy Iconic Animal print skirt. Silk that stretches. We live in an age of miracles, yes? I picked up a Petite and so it rests a few more brazen inches about the knee than pictured at left, modestly slitted at the back and with an exposed chunky zip detail providing a little more visual interest. It feels like a million bucks. $30.00 down from $98.

I pressed my good luck a little further then, and lo, found this silk, shirred ribbon-front number. I need another black skirt like I need the proverbial hole in the head, but really friends, at $9.99 what precisely was I to do? Down from $90.00. One of them was left on the planet, and it was in my size. The defense rests.

My purse however does not rest.
Wolford is marking down here and there. If you live in a city with a Wolford boutique, and if you have a thing for hosiery, well you must go visit. If not, take a look at Bare Necessities for a fair online assortment. Wolford is without question the worlds leading leg weaponizer, a sheer super power without rival. My new Satin Touch 20’s in a rich and versatile pewterish shade were marked down by 40% to a mere $20.00. Spending time in a Wolford shop with knowledgeable, courteous and freakishly beautiful shop assistants is a nice treat. Spending time with ones legs clad in these most carefully made garments is more than a treat. Put those things together, add nice discounts and I am defenseless.

Having saved a few shekels I loosened up a little a picked up a cute tunic just out of pure love and at full retail. Rachel Roy does a nice line of stylish value priced gear for fit young things for Macy’s and a handful of other shops. I confess a fondness for garments with gathers, shirring and extravagant details at wrist, neck and hips, and these style elements are very much Rachel Roy signatures.
This little tunic has all of that, and as well is my first trip into the entirely feminine land of asymmetry. Guys clothing is always symmetrical, and so picking up a piece that is not is to me a nice moment. A first, a small first, but a first nonetheless.

It sits well on my hips on top of a skirt, but with a little tug, it slides nicely down over my amply padded rump for a different look. It will be paired with some leggings when the weather cools off very much in the way our hip-free model here is sporting it. Shameful behavior I know to buy something at full retail, but I remind you that I was working my way out of a funk.

Almost there too. I was left with one existential riddle. Am I the sort of person who purposely shows a bra strap on my one bare shoulder? This is just another one of those questions you do not know you will have to answer once you let the Cross Dressing genie out of the bottle. After some consideration, I came to the conclusion that I am not that kind of brazen careless woman. Again, age of miracles, you can actually buy clear bra straps and avoid the whole lingerie on the outside/tramp on the inside problem.
Fredericks of Hollywood has a shop near you and stocks for a mere $9.00 a set of 3 translucent straps that hook into standard issue modular bras and are practically invisible. The allure of the bare shoulder without the aggressive come-hither glare of the strap. The little things do please me.

I am within 5 weeks now of my first Autumn trips out and about en Femme. The wardrobe is more or less in place. I am busier than I like with work just now but happier with the high levels of engagement than with thumb twiddling. The busy-ness leaves me less time to get my knickers in a wad about practically insoluble problems like the essence of gender and how it reveals itself within me, let alone anyone else.

I feel now well enough fortified to remain funk-free until September. If you are looking for a jolt of lightweight, carefree ease, I encourage you to venture out into the air conditioned comfort of a nearby mall for a quick fix for your own existential funks.
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