I was looking at a T-Girl’s blog and it brought back to mind those early and scary days of trying to buy those first few items. What to buy and where to buy it. Will they laugh at me and can I even use the changing room? It really is a quandary.
The chicken and egg problem: You can’t pass, especially early on, without clothing and makeup, and you feel awfully exposed and awkward trying to get those things when you’re presenting male.
Some strategies. If you have a woman who’ll go shopping with you then wonderful. Definitely take advantage of her “cover” and pay her back by springing for gas, lunch, a movie.
If you don’t have someone, or you’re nervous, or even if you do have someone go online. You might have to ship things back but there’s no embarrassment factor. Plus you can get shoes that are long enough and wide enough. I can’t buy shoes in the stores most of the time and I’m an 11W (US), chances are you’ll have no better luck.
- Amazon (make sure to get Prime and make doubly sure whatever you’re buying is covered by Prime). Shoes and clothing. Amazon is a great way to get a bra for a big band size that you otherwise can’t find.
- Zappos is great for shoes, but has limited bargains
One thing that was super helpful for me was a makeover a girlfriend arranged. Many spas will do this and it will be more private than a department store. You’ll have to buy some expensive makeup (not legally required, but it’s like leaving a tip at the restaurant) but you’ll come away knowing what works.
Things you need early:
- Foundation: You need heavy cover, plus some cheap red lipstick to cover up your beard if it’s black (the red neutralizes the blue tint in the black). If you have blond hair thank your lucky stars. Get laser early if you can as facial hair is a big deal and will limit your time in public. A lot of cross dressers and drag queens swear by dermapro, but there are some others. It’s uncomfortable, like stage makeup. Check out one of the many web sites that talk about this. Read and follow their recommendations. I’m way out of practice, I often don’t wear foundation at all.
- Lightly tinted lipstick (in my opinion). You don’t want something that’s screaming, but you want a feminine face and some kind of lip color will help. If there’s a lot of red in your face stick with cool tones such as berries, pinks. Otherwise warm tones like corals. Try them if you can. You want something a little darker than your skin, not drama.
- Blush: Again, pick something subtle. The conventional wisdom is to use a cream blush if you’re older and powder blushes at younger ages. I have a peachy one from Revlon that works nicely to just darken my cheeks a little.
- I’d avoid mascara, but if you have to have it I suggest saving money and buying L’Oreal’s voluminous series. The $8 mascara is pretty darn good and much cheaper than anything at Sephora. If you do eye shadow you might want to stick with neutrals. If you want to buy something really nice I can only think of nice things to say about Urban Decay’s Naked palettes. I have the Naked 3 palette, it works for my skin and eyes.
- I’d avoid doing your nails yourself early, it’s really hard to do well. Leave them undone or use clear nail polish, which you can leave on
- A very simple wardrobe of one or two outfits for the current season. What do you want to go out and do? If you want to shop I’d get jeans and a top and either sandals (summer), or some closed shoe for the other three seasons.
- Women who aren’t going to special events are much less likely to be wearing dresses and skirts, and if they do they are more casual styles. Learning style cues takes time, so it may make more sense to wait. You’ll walk unnoticed much better.
- Breast forms and a pocket bra: there are many flat chested women out there. If breast forms make you feel better then by all means get them. You can also just get a camisole and call it a day. (however, if you’re heavy you probably need to do something with forms. Flat chested heavy girls are not common)
- Panties: Again, like a bra you might well want them, but they won’t help you pass better. If you feel better great, otherwise you can wait.
If you’re really a transsexual and don’t get any sexual charge out of dressing in female clothing save your money and avoid things like garter belts and old fashioned stockings. Save it for later on when you want to make your boyfriend happy.
Try to resist the temptation to run around looking either fancy or sloppy. Since your goal should be to blend in, anything that gets you a lot of attention is not a good thing. Always think, is this appropriate clothing for what I want to do? Don’t forget to check yourself in the mirror before leaving the house.