If you’ll take some time just to look at old photographs in antique shops or on the web, you’ll see women who spent their lives wearing a dress. Check our women’s fashions from the 20’s to the 50s. No one ridiculed them. Everyone wore dresses or skirts, and they were able to do a wide variety of work, even farming, in them. The few who dared to dress like men were considered unfeminine. Today we have strayed so far from feminine dressing that women who have grown up in pants and sports shoes feel awkward in dresses. In this confused modern society, women feel uncomfortable wearing dresses in public and even at home. Who would have thought that a woman in a dress would be such an unusual sight that people would stop and stare? How far we haven’t come!!
A dress is an ideal garment, in my opinion, because it requires so little preparation to wear. All you have to do is take one off the hanger in your closet and put it on. Skirts and tops are more complicated. You can end up with a dozen tops and skirts and then you have the problem of matching them up. You may also end up with a very messy closet. I like a dress because the top is already coordinated with the skirt..
One of our problems is that we have been convinced that our first priority is to be comfortable. We hear that said over and over in the name of slovenly, immodest and unattractive dressing. One thing we can learn from our Victorian forebears is the attitude of putting others first and avoiding embarrassing or shocking behavior. Our forebears were more concerned about appearing rude than almost anything. They were concerned about how people would remember them.
How much longer are we going to allow talentless fashion designers and mindless movie stars to give us our standard of dress? There are now many alternatives to the dresses you see in stores. You don’t have to wear those dull, uninteresting jeans and tee-shirts anymore. I’ve heard many young women sigh wistfully that they were born in the wrong era, and that they wished they could wear lovely dresses in public the way people used to in the 18th and 19th centuries. Life is too short to wait for good fashions to come into style. You can make them come in to style by wearing them. Do you want to go through life just wishing things were different? To quote an old book, “Life is a banquet, but most people are starving to death.”
There are people today who have had the gumption to change the way they dress, and they say they feel like they have come alive. So why do you wait? No matter what age you are, you can start dressing femininely. There are a lot of things that ail the modern woman that could be solved just by changing the way she dresses. After you’ve worn beautiful, feminine clothes for a while, you will no longer feel self-conscious in them, and you won’t be bothered by the stares of others. (This might seem utterly superficial to some, but so much of our mental is affected by how we conduct ourselves on the outside — and this includes how we dress our bodies.
These days we are supposed to be so politically correct that when older people like myself see something totally shocking and inappropriate, we are forced, in the name of politeness, to act like we didn’t notice. Girls can come to church in their pajamas–or less–and no one has the nerve to say anything for fear of being accused of something untoward. If our great-grandparents saw what we are seeing today, they would certainly speak up about it, and it wouldn’t always be pleasant. We need to think of how our way of dressing is affecting others, and work to dress in a non-offensive, yet pleasing, manner.
Modernists mock the old Victorian stays and corsets, while wearing spandex and jeans that are just as form-fitting and even tighter than the undergarments of the past. One reason women feel uncomfortable in a dress is that they are used to wearing these tight clothes and feel rather unprotected and cold when they wear a dress. Their tight jeans make their figures feel pulled together, well-shaped, and firm. If you have difficulty feeling trim and neat in a dress, invest in foundations that will make you feel well-dressed and comfortable.
I get amused when accused by other t-girls that we (crossdressers) have our heads in the past and only want the ultra-feminine look. The sloppy dress in malls and other public places is appalling at times (and we won’t talk about Walmart). This appears to be mostly an American phenomenon as here in Merida, wearing dresses is commonplace among all classes of women.
Still, you won’t enjoy dresses if they are uninteresting, uninspiring and dull to you, so don’t wear fabrics and styles that make you feel depressed. It wasn’t too many years (or decades) ago that a new dress helped lift women from a bad day, sadness, or depression. New clothes, if they are the right color, pattern, print, or style for you, can make you feel energetic, optimistic, and creative. And you don’t have to spend a fortune!
Here in the Latin world, women are more feminine and lace and ruffles are everywhere. They are able to combine the traditional with the modern and more trendy styles. I see it in the malls and in the streets. From a-line, mid-thigh shift dresses to colorful printed maxis, dresses with embroidery from the Indian culture to the latest cold-shoulder dresses with asymmetrical hems, it’s all here. Women are proud of their femininity.
One helpful thing you can do to find out what is best for you is to take a trip to a fabric store. Get a shopping cart and put some bolts of fabric in it. Choose prints and colors from the collection on the walls that interest you. If you like roses or pinks, put the bolts that remind you of them in the cart. If you just love yellows and reds, find some prints with both in them and put the bolts in the cart. Then wheel your shopping cart to the full-length mirror in the fabric store. (By the way, someone needs to ask Wal-Mart to put up some full-length mirrors in their fabric department.)
Or do as I do, take a shopping trip to the fabric store with your dressmaker. She’s an expert on the fabrics and the best ones for your body shape and preferred style of dress.
Now push the cart aside and stand in front of the mirror with one bolt of fabric. Let a length of fabric unroll to your ankles and see what it looks like. Check to see if it makes your complexion bright or dull. Does the color or print delight you? Does it make you smile? Can you imagine it draped into a dress? What does it remind you of: a summer’s day, a cozy winter evening in front of the fireplace, or a walk on the beach? How do you think it would look made into a dress?
Another thing you can do that is not expensive is to go to the Goodwill or any used clothing store and put a lot of dresses in the shopping cart. Go to the changing room and try them on. If you don’t want to do this, go ahead and buy them. They don’t cost very much (sometimes as little as $2 each), even if you get half a dozen of them. If, after getting them home, washing them in a sweet scented laundry soap, drying them, and pressing them to perfection, some of them still don’t look right on you, you have lost very little money by donating them back to the stores.
Actually, you can often get nicer dresses in the used stores than in the department stores, because they tend to be more feminine. They have been discarded by people who want to go more with the modern designs, which are less feminine. The used dresses tend to have a little lace on the collars and be longer in length.
People who sew have the advantage over the fashion world. They aren’t at the mercy of elitist designers who think they know what is best for all women. Those who sew are free to take a sleeve from one pattern, apply it to a bodice from another pattern and a skirt from another. They can choose their own colors and trims. How many times have you seen a dress and said, “That would be nice if only the trim were a different color?” or “It would suit me, but I prefer the A-line shape?”
Now I know we aren’t seamstresses so this is where your dressmaker comes in. Any accomplished dressmaker can do what I have done. Take a picture of your desired dress, preferably front and back views, to the dressmaker and have her take your measurements with your foundation garments on. This is a recently made cocktail dress with some minor adjustments. My first fitting was near perfect and the only changes were the hem length, binding on the lace edges, a ½ inch take-in on the bodice and underlining on the bodice to give it more structure. I paid $45 for a custom-made plus-size cocktail dress which would retail in the U.S, from $150-$450.
Don’t know how to find a seamstress, here are links to help you or you can just Google on “seamstress in (your home town)”
Wearing dresses instead of skirts can be more slimming to your waistline. That is one reason a dress is so beautiful. It elongates your figure and is more comfortable to sit in, especially after a meal! Our Sister House Pinterest pages provide you hundreds of examples of beautiful dresses.
It is also important to wear a petticoat or slip under your dress (although few women do now) and to don appropriate shoes and accessories. After all, wearing beautiful lingerie and jewelry is always a pleasure for a crossdresser.
One of the worst sights you can see is a woman in a pretty dress with heavy sports shoes sporting thick soles and dirty shoe laces. There are many nice dress shoes or charming little boots with non-skid soles that you can wear with dresses.. Notice that you stand, sit, and move differently in a dress. There is something about a dress, especially if it is flowing and long, that will make you feel more graceful. By “feminine,” I simply mean delicate and special.
It isn’t just important to be “comfortable” in your clothes, but to be presentable. Other people have to look at you, so, please, have mercy on them! Don’t depress them or jolt their senses by looking like you just emerged from a mud-slide. Be conscious of your grooming and don’t wear dull, depressing, worn-out dresses. Wear something pretty that improves your mood, and others will compliment you. Consider the compliments your “report card.”
You want to send the right message to your loved ones and the public by your appearance? Americans are a disgrace when they travel to other countries, and they are the objects of ridicule among visitors to our nation. If you despair of the way things look today and the way women dress and act, you can actually change things quite a bit by altering your own mode of dress. We aren’t advocating going back to the Victorian era, but we are saying we can learn a lot from how these women lived. They wore their dresses with pride, they loved beautiful fabrics, and they were interested in pleasing themselves and others.