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.


  1. Hi Rhiannon,
    Saw your comment about shopping in Evans (on Lynn's blog). Likewise I visit the Cambridge store, but so far always in bloke mode. It's my local store and so far I have not had the nerve to go there en femme.
    I can't recall if I ever bought any clothes there; if I did I took them home to try. With me it's the shoes - I really struggle to get shoes that fit and most of mine are from Evans. (One pair is from Hotter - they have recently started doing bigger sizes in some styles.)
    I recall several occasions surrounded by shoe boxes, commanding more from the stockroom. The staff are always nice, particularly if they can see that you have taken the trouble to wear tights so that they don't have to worry about your feet in their shoes.
    Re your posting - getting stuff that fits is an issue no matter what size you are. You look just fine in the pics and I am sure in person as well.

  2. HI Penny, great to hear from you :o) I'm careful in my local stores too - just know too many people! But I suspect they would walk past me and not even notice that I was there. Evans 10EEE have been a godsend - before that I bought from eBay in size 11 or 12 and they were very often far too tarty - I like nice shoes and heels, but also love flats and ballet pumps etc. My issue with Evans is that they don't take risks - mostly very safe. When they do bring out some more 'unusual' shoes, I'm quick to buy though!!

    The staff do make a huge difference - and the lady in Cambridge was fantastic - letting me try on all sorts in and out of the changing rooms! :o) My impression was that they liked helping me because it was a little out of the ordinary - they seemed to get more satisfaction from it!

    I can imagine it is tough at any size, I just remember being a size 14-16 when I'd lost a lot of weight and it just seemed that anything and everything fitted and I had a much wider range to chose from.

    Oh well...on with the diet!! :o)

    Take care,
    Rhi xxx

  3. May I say, what a great post? A lot of, IMHO, excellent advice in here. The bit about picking your accessories really helps and I'm so with you, on dressing for your age. That's not to say dressing old, but wearing what suits you and looking stylish, rather than fashionable.

    1. Thank you so much Lynn, I really appreciate it. I agree, you don't have to look dowdy by dressing your age and its really possible to look stylish. You always look fantastic, I suspect you get the same comment about being well put together, your outfits always coordinate well with accessories, shoes etc.

    2. If there's one thing that gets chins wagging, well, at Chams anyway, it's about looking good, but never tarty. I think we may well be the M&S of the trans population ;-)

      As to 'looking fantastic'. Firstly, thanks! THat's very kind. Umm... I do get that comment and in all honesty, I'm a little embarrassed by it. Probably 'cos I'm British, and we don't seem to do compliments do we? Teasing wit and manners are no problem, but a genuine compliment sends us (me?) into a tailspin. Perhaps it's the thought that being big headed is bad and modesty should win out. A few people have said as much about how I dress - well, at least in Lynn mode - so perhaps reading up on the subject has helped! Clearly, there's a chance for us all. :-D

    3. We're not just trans, we are M&S trans... :o) I'm less bothered about looking good because I don't think I do - and honestly not fishing - but I strive for having made a lot of effort and that I've done my best. To quote your blog from a couple of weeks ago - my favourite line - "that'll do pig."

      Compliments are difficult and I think you are right about being British. I've learned to smile and say thank you because I know they are meant positively. Even if I'm not feeling it to the core, it was kind of someone to say it and I want to not feel like they are going to get a bad reaction for putting themselves out to be lovely to me. Inside, I'm not believing it, but I'd rather get that than the negative comments and self talk.

      Just a point too - and I hope you pick this up. Your blog this week was so awesome: your eloquence on depression is just so insightful. I found it very moving. Thank you. x

    4. Best not to fish, in case your line comes up empty.... or so I've found ;-)

      Thanks for the kind words re: the blog post. On some rare days the words come readily and easily. I guess that was one of them. Glad to found it useful.

    5. Hell yes. Too many fishing fails for it to be funny any more! Try to avoid that now!

  4. Colour me jealous! You look fantastic in all of your shots here and your secrets explain exactly why. You are clearly well-versed in selecting style that works for you and, boy, does it work for you!

    Ace stuff,

    Joanna xx

    1. Thank you Joanna - you are just lovely and far too kind! I've worked hard at making the best of an enormous male shaped body! :o) xxx

  5. Me again,
    Yes, sorry, I did not really address the content of your post - your explanations really make sense. Getting the 'look' right takes planning, but it can be done.
    Yesterday I went into the Evans store as Penny and... nothing happened. I think maybe you are right that people wouldn't recognise us 'En Femme' though so far I have never had to test this.
    Didn't buy anything in Evans, though I live in hope of them bringing back 'nice' boots. (At the moment boots are either floppy with no heel or tarty with too much heel.)
    Never mind, there's always M&S Food a bit further down. (Averts gaze from the Maplin shop.)

    1. Well done! That's fantastic news - I love shopping in Rhiannon mode, so much easier. Evans do go through phases where I just want to buy everything and then others when they have nothing! I want to blog about this next time, but I have been finding Yours Clothing to be fantastic of late and also I've used Curvissa and SimplyBe before and loved their clothes. One of my good friends also recommended Box 2 and I was very impressed with their clothes. The good thing about Yours is that they have been building a really good high street presence over the last few years, so you can physically go into a shop now. xxx