Monday, 22 February 2016

Problematic Wardrobe Gaps

The other day, I had the chance to go out for evening dinner with a male friend.  Given my current resolve to go out as often as possible as Rhiannon, I jumped at the chance.  As you do, I spent quite a lot of time considering what I should wear.  But what I discovered was - and apologies because it also could sound incredibly stereotypical - I really didn’t have anything to wear.

I realised that I have been presenting as Rhiannon in certain situations at certain times of the day and that my wardrobe has grown up around those requirements.  I go out a lot during the day for lunch to restaurants and for shopping trips, so I had lots of day clothes that I could wear, but they aren’t really evening-smart.  Also that there are some types of clothes that I particularly like, so have lots of those.  These are namely, nice evening dresses, but most of them are not appropriate for a night out with someone in jeans and I didn’t want to mismatch.

My friends A1 and S were very helpful in helping me to think it through.  Together, we decided on my purple chiffon-y dress with tights, some less smart heels and muted accessories.  One of my favourite pieces of advice from Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" (I know!) is that, "no plan stands contact with the enemy."  That night it proved to be true.  When my friend arrived, he was in jeans and a jacket and I felt incredibly overdressed and thought that we were wearing considerably different levels of formality.  I would have struggled to relax and enjoy myself.  Out came my nice day top, jeans and flats and I felt a little underdressed compared to the other girls who were out, but it worked a little better.

My realisation was that most women would probably not have this challenge because going out for early evening dinner is something that they would do regularly and  so would have appropriate clothes.  Often when, “I’ve got nothing to wear,” is heard, it is because it is a new and/or important situation rather than being something they regularly do.  I looked desperately on-line in the couple of days leading up to dinner because I suspected that this might be a problem, but to no avail.  So, I decided that I need to be ready for the future.  So since the meal, I have been hunting for dressy evening tops and a nice, but less formal dress for the next time that happens :o)  The results are here:

     

Last Friday, I got the chance to try out one of the tops when I spent the evening with B and K from my previous blog.  In fact I spent the whole day as Rhiannon (not in a dressy top!) and introduced myself as myself for the first time to my friend A2.  It was a great day, but needs another blog post to do it justice, so I’ll work on that one as soon as I have a moment.  My friends are being fantastic and really are helping my to get out more. :o)

Finally, I have also realised that v-neck tops are very flattering to me and work for my shape.  Rounded neck tops are lovely, but they do make me feel a little wider.  So (too much shopping), I bought two new ones of those too.  They look great on - in fact, this is one of them.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Shopping for 'Curves' (Part 1)

For a while now, I have wanted to write a blog on plus sized clothing for transgender ladies.  Clearly, there a lot of transwomen who are very slim and fit into the normal sized clothes range.  Over the last few years I have continuously grown and so that is not an option for now, so I had to learn how to buy and put together nice outfits despite only being able to buy larger items.  At the moment, I’m a size 26 on top, 22 on bottom and I have size 10EEE feet and am 5'11.

Whilst that may seem large - and I am dieting (she guiltily quickly says), I am learning to try to be proud of just being me.  I have to say that I’ve been absolutely inspired by the growth in the number of blogs by natal women on body confidence for larger ladies.  Women who are leading the way in saying that they are proud of their bodies and are no longer succumbing to societal peer pressure to conform.  It is about them loving who they are, irrespective of size and shape.  My two favourites are Callie’s From the Corner of the Curve and Georgina’s Fuller Figure Fuller Bust.  They are both amazing women and I have taken their advice on a number of occasions.

Though I am writing this post, I’m don't think of myself as an expert, more a curious student.  Despite my size, many of my female acquaintances compliment me on how I dress.  I know women do that anyway, often they pick out a particular item that another women is wearing and highlight how much they like it.   The two comments I most commonly get are focused on my jewellery and the overall co-ordination of what I am wearing and how well it is put together.   Given my low self-esteem, in my head, I always add, ‘for a man in dress’, but it really is kind of them all the same.

This subject will, out of necessity, run into a few posts, but I wanted to start with the principles that I apply when I am deciding what to buy in particular, but also what to wear.  I wanted to share these with you in the hope that they help.  My aim for my 'look' is to stand out with some individuality, but to blend into what 'normal' clothes most of the women I’m trying to mingle with are wearing.  I don’t pass (not to say I won’t at some point) but I want to try to look nice, smell nice and to not give any obvious reasons for incongruence.  So I:

Dress for my age 
I’m 41.  There I said it.  Dressing like a teenage is no longer an option!  When I first started properly dressing, clearly my denim miniskirt and low cut pink gypsy top were ideal, but I would have been spotted (putting it politely) a mile off.  Particularly with my first ever shoe purchase: patent leather baby pink platforms with a 7-inch heel!  What was I thinking!?  These days, I spend a lot of time looking for other women in the their early 40s to try to see what they are wearing and to wear similar.   One of my favourite outfits, you have seen before is my butterfly top - it is a see through chiffon gauzy material that I wear with a cream cami-top and often a blue cardigan.  I get really nice feedback on it.  The point is that when I go out for dinner, I see a lot of women wearing similar tops - especially a couple of years ago when it was all the rage!

Consider proportions
One of the things that most hit me when talking to one of my loveliest friends who knows a huge amount about personal image was proportions.  When you are larger, you need to adjust the proportions of your clothes and accessories accordingly.   If you think about it, handbags and accessories are designed for women who are often smaller and slimmer.  If you carry a little bag around, it is very noticeable.  When I buy bags for everyday use, I tend now to buy from the tote or shopper range because they are larger. When people see me with my bag, it doesn’t look out of place at all because it is proportionate to me.  For nights out, I bought an oversized clutch - fortunately there was a trend of them a couple of years ago.  The bag looks normal in proportion to me.  I do the same for my jewellery - if I can, I buy big necklaces and bracelets which lessen the effect of my chunky hands, arms and neck.

Co-ordinate colours and jewellery
One of the reasons, I think they say that I am ‘well put together’ is because I am very careful to co-ordinate the colours and styles in my outfits.  Given I’m colour-blind, I’m surprised that I get away with it. :o)   I can never tell if its something I do naturally, but I try to keep colours together - so blue and black, green and brown, pink and red etc.  I also live for my dark jeans as they help co-ordinate colours and lots of black shoes and boots.  I try not to have too many clashing colours although I noticed that this will be one of the Summer trends this year.   Early on, I decided not to buy expensive jewellery and instead to buy lots of it in many different colours so that I have a match for virtually every outfit.  Some would consider my dress sense very safe, but the jewellery is often my statement.  One of my friends bought me an amazing necklace that has become one of my go to items.   I also try to match as much as possible.  Typically I wear black shoes (loving my flat ballet pumps at the moment) but I try to match the colour of my shoes to my bag or top if I possibly can.  I know that is also standard advice given to women!

Find the colours that are my friend
They say blue for a boy and pink for a girl.  I do wear pink sometimes, but actually blue is much more friendly to my skin tone and my blue eyes.   So I try to wear some blue in a lot of my outfits.  It helps my face and make up to look nice and not too washed out.  My recent outfit purchase in blue is much better for me than the one in pink that I got.  Pink works for me if I can find exactly the right shade.  I’m no expert, but I really think it is worth getting someone to advise on what colours suit you, it makes a huge difference to your confidence. :o)


Play to your assets 
I’m definitely not one of the strikingly beautiful ladies who were born that way.  So I try to play to my three best assets.  1. I’m fortunate to have soft features on my face and my wig was chosen specifically to soften and frame my face even further.  2. My legs from just above the knee downwards are quite feminine. The photo to the side gets me lots of compliments accordingly. I choose dresses that fall to just the right place if possible.  3.  Due to my weight, I have a natural b-cup breast/moob which really helps me to pull off some great cleavage.  Recently, I’ve discovered the advantages of v-necked tops and how much they help me!  Its really helpful to work out what are your best bits and how can you co-ordinate your clothes around it.   Seems to help me anyway!

Sorry, that ended up being quite long, but I hope was helpful.  I’m much better at drivelling on about how sad or happy I am than writing useful blogs, but its a start I guess… next time, I'm planning to write a little about where I go to buy my clothes as there are definitely some great places out there.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Selfie February

Morning.  Please forgive the quality of my selfies - first two on computer and third on my phone. Clearly I need some work on both my selfie technique (the lighting in particular) - and on me!  (And that isn't fishing for compliments - its selfie self feedback!).  But just felt pretty in pink this morning, so thought I'd post.  Please be gentle!  :o) xxx




Thursday, 4 February 2016

Is it possible to be so happy?

In the midst of lots of difficulty, how is it that sometimes, you want to jump up and down with joy?  I have some really difficult things going on at the moment that are going to take all of my resilience, strength, determination and diplomacy to get through.  Even the best I can be might not get me through it.  Add into the mix that more Rhiannon time = potential marital breakdown.  Also consider that any transition will not happen in the immediately foreseeable future and I should be so sad and down.  But its amazing because I have never felt so alive and happy as I’m feeling right now.

You will recall that I said my New Year resolutions included a target to go out as Rhiannon at least once per month.  So far this year, I am smashing the target into the back of the net, and I think that it is this fact that has led to this unusual height of happiness.  Clearly the cynical Brit in me is waiting for it all to come crashing down around me, but for now I’ll enjoy.

This week I have managed to spend 2 full days as Rhiannon and been out on both occasions and have enjoyed them immensely.  The first was earlier in the week and involved travelling over to Manchester to enjoy lunch with a friend.  Admittedly, it was easy enough, it was at Velvet on Canal Street, so you’d expect a high degree of trans-friendliness, but it was still so awesome.  I know that this is sad and probably objectionable in some way, but every time I get called Madam, something inside me breaks and I just want to cry with happiness.  Throughout lunch, the staff made every effort to make me feel like I was another female customer and they looked after me accordingly.  After, I went back to my hotel and aside from dinner, had a lovely afternoon working and getting lots done.

Interestingly two things happened on my way to lunch that I’d never had before.  The first was that I came out of the nearby multi-storey car park and had the shock of my life.  I entered a wind trap.  Have you ever had the experience where everything slows down into slow motion and you worry that something terrible is about to happen?  I felt the wind tug at my (not real) hair and I froze ready to either catch it or to make an embarrassed dash after it!  But, thank goodness, my new wig has clips that held it firmly in place and I just looked instead like any other windswept lady!  Secondly my lunch friend was late and I’d agreed to wait just outside the restaurant for them.  Despite other people being around and there being CCTV, I was amazed at just how exposed I felt.  Just a taste, I suspect, of the insecurity that women feel when out and about.  Or I’m just paranoid. :o)

The second day was fantastic too.  Mainly the day was in the office, but I had a hair appointment in the morning.  As I have said before, I buy, wash and accessorise my wig at a fantastic place in Leeds: Andrea’s Hairoom - her website is http://www.andreashairoom.co.uk.  I know that I’ve recommended her before, but honestly, it can’t be possible that there is a lovelier, more trans-friendly person around.  Her shop is very private and comfortable and what she doesn’t know on the subject is not worth knowing.  Her supplies are drawn from some of the best suppliers around the world.  This visit was because my current wig got a kink in it because it is real hair and I wanted to know how to control it. Andrea offered to help me learn how to style my hair using hair straighteners.  She recommended straighteners from Cloud Nine and very quickly I started to get the idea.  Practice practice practice is going to be the order of the day, but it was so fantastic to be able to do other things with my wig or at the very least to be able to tidy it up.  Helping me in this way requires complete patience and Andrea was just great at teaching the dark art of wigdressing.  She also sells other accessories.  I have been looking for some nice scarves for a long time and she had two for sale that I completely fell in love with.  A fantastic visit all round.  I genuinely can’t wait for my next visit, every time I leave her shop, I feel 100 foot high and brim with confidence.  I love the energy and support she gives as well as being a great resource to the trans community.

I have a feeling that over the next week there are somethings that will dampen my spirit.  But as you can see from my latest photo, taken yesterday morning that I have more happy Rhiannon memories.  The one downside?  I want even more time as Rhiannon now.