I was posting on a forum I’m on and it occurred to me that the advice was useful for any trans women just starting out. This is the advice I would have liked to have had in the Fall of 2013 and I started to seriously buy clothing and accessories.
Buy as much of your clothing second hand as humanly possible. You don’t know how to shop yet, you don’t know what size you’ll end up yet, don’t drop thousands of dollars on clothing that you’ll need to throw away.
Try to buy timeless pieces, not pieces “on trend”.
Try to buy as little as possible. Just enough to get though a work week.
Yes, most shirts are short sleeved and are meant to be worn with some completer piece. That piece changes with the weather. There are even summer weight sweaters. Women may even wear tanks in cold weather, there’s just a blazer over it (ok, not often, but sleeveless all the time).
Remember that a different outlet can be made everyday out of just a few tops and two or three bottom pieces like a pair of slacks and a black skirt.
For work you must have: Black pants that fit. The hem should touch your shoes. A black skirt, the hem should be about knee length. Change the colors to a charcoal if black doesn’t work for you. Have a blazer in the same color too.
At least for now, and maybe later too, buy makeup at the pharmacy. Read and/or watch reviews. It’s a tricky business that consists of 99% markup and hype. You can find $5 lipsticks that are great and $30 lipsticks that are rubbish. Reviews help you find out without buying them. Check return policies (bet you didn’t realize you could do that!)
One area where you might just have to spend money is getting the foundation matched to your face correctly. It really needs to blend it and ideally you want someone who knows what they’re doing. That said, you can get reasonably close with a mirror and holding it up to your face. As above, you can often return product and then go up or down a shade or change the tint.
If you do want to consider spending more on foundation, one of the beauty stores like Sephora, Ulta, Bare Essentials and such will be more than happy to help you pick the right product and shade. If you have to pick one place to spend extra, this is the item. Foundation is makeup. It is the one thing that determines what people see when they see you.
Used bags and such can be hand for a song on ebay. My very nice coach bag was $50, entirely real, not a knockoff.You can spend a fortune on new bags, do that when you have one. I still don’t have one. Good luck finding one!
Curb your enthusiasm and figure out what fits and what will not torture you. Here’s my can’t do list: High heels and flats. Especially the ballerina flats. The flats have n0 support, n0 cushion and you fall out of them constantly. They cut across your toes. Just awful. I’ve taken ballet. The real ballet shoes weren’t anywhere near as bad. Shoes run into serious money. Buy fewer well made shoes that are versatile rather than a shopping bag full of trash. Your feet will thank you.
High heels? Substitute blockier heels, at least at first. Stick with 2″ or smaller at first. Remember, you’re probably already really tall. If you want the look of a high heel consider kitten heels or wedges.
Even with “cosmetic” jewelry, resist the temptation to buy a dozen cheep pairs of earrings and such. I’m still having trouble with this myself. I find them irresistible like candy. Fewer pieces that you love to wear rather than volume.
Second hand clothing sources: thrift stores, consignment shops, ebay, yard sales, rummage sales, and more
Consider outlet stores carefully before you buy. There are several pitfalls. Some offer the same clothing at the same price as the brand’s regular retail stores. Some offer clothing made for the outlet specifically. Sometimes that’s ok, but sometimes that second line clothing or other products are notably inferior.
Only sometimes are outlet stores actually selling last years goods or seconds, which used to be the draw of such stores, that you could get great deals by buying stuff that was a little out of fashion.
Be careful with online retailers to check return policies, especially shipping and restocking fees.
One specific note – on Amazon you want to be really careful to check size charts. Some of the clothing is made specifically for the Asian market and XL there is about a size 10 here.
There’s no more important subject to a trans woman than this. Not having hair here and having too much there, sigh.
By all means get laser or electrolysis as appropriate. This is really important. I have never regretted doing this faster before going full time. There are even places where you go and they will numb you down with dental blocks and work on you for 8 hours with two electrologists. Expensive but it sure speeds it up.
For other areas there are choices. Remember that HRT will slowly reduce a lot of the hair. Using methods like waxing is perfectly reasonable as stop gaps while you’re waiting and honestly, does a small amount that you can’t see really matter in the cold weather? If it does just keep waxing, the hair follicles will die off eventually anyway.
If you ever decide to do SRS you’ll need genital hair removal. Definitely not a picnic, but tolerable. This is also not optional, but some surgeons apparently don’t require it. I would trust your surgeon. Mine did recommend it, and at a few weeks shy of a year I’m still hair free in that delicate area.