Dressing Appropriately


Carollyn Olson

When many of my friends dress, they are so afraid they will be “read.”

I want to be “read” and so should you. Why? Because I want other people to read me as the woman I am, not a “man in a dress.” And to accomplish my goal, it is so important to dress appropriately.

When you dress, it is important to remember:  you are not a drag queen, you are not transgendered (although you may be ambi-gendered), and you are not a crossdresser. You want to be a woman so you should look and act like a woman. You want to be “read” – as female.

You want everyone who observes you, whether from near or from afar, to perceive you as an attractive, well-dressed, well-groomed woman, who is a credit to womanhood.  You don’t have to be perfect, just presentable.

There will always be significant local or regional differences in dress, as the styles in Sacramento could be quite different than in other cities. One might get away with wearing a bouffant hairdo, heavy makeup, a low cut cocktail dress and 4-inch heels during the afternoon in West Hollywood or Las Vegas, but not in Sacramento, Seattle, Phoenix, Dallas or most any other town. The object is to dress for the location and the occasion.

A 2005 survey of mothers and their daughters on the topic of dressing appropriately by Georgetown University Professor Deborah Tannen, author of You’re Wearing That? revealed that their three most important concerns were hair, clothes and weight.

So, let’s begin at the top.

Hair – Your hairstyle literally sets the tone for everything you do. . . . it defines you. Get the best professional advice you can find and afford. Your goal is to be attractive and well-groomed. Try to find a local wig salon that will cater to T-Girls. All you have to do is make a phone call and ask. It’s not that hard to do. There are many salons that will welcome your business. Remember, your money is just as good as any other customer’s.

For those of you uncomfortable going to a wig salon, search the internet for sites such as Noriko and Paula Young. My first wig was from Paula Young and was a dud. However, I have a friend who studies their site and catalog, and swears by their wigs. Once she buys the wig, she takes it to a trusted GG friend, who does the final styling. The results are fabulous. (Check our Wig Corner)

daytimeAbove all, choose a style that is appropriate for your age, your natural personality, and the occasion or activity. Don’t try to be someone you are not.

A natural, daytime look is best for the mall

Makeup –  Here again, professional advice is the best, but it can be expensive. If you go to a makeup pro, ALWAYS tell him or her you want to look like a “regular” woman. You want to look natural, not overly made up. Except for the rare special occasion, you are not going to your debutante ball.

Start by understanding that there is no correlation between price, quality and effectiveness.  Some of the best-looking women I know don’t go to the MAC or Clinique counters, or the high-priced beauty shops. They buy everything off the shelf at the drug store and take advantage of the 2-for-1 offers and coupon specials.

However, don’t be afraid to go to the department store counters for free makeovers. Yes, the beauty consultants are there to make a living, but you are not obligated to buy anything.

My first makeover occurred when I was walking through a local store and the consultant asked, “Would you like to try our latest eye shadow?” An hour later, I had had a complete makeover and I loved the results. There was no financial obligation, although I bought a tube of lipstick for $9. The chance to watch the consultant do her thing on my face was priceless.

Also, there are many internet sites to assist you. Grae Phillips has a wonderful site. And the numerous glamour magazines are always full of the latest advice.

The key is experiment, experiment, practice, practice, practice.

Breast Forms and Undergarments – How your outer garments are to drape or hang, how they are going to fit, how they are going to feel and how they will look will depend in a very large measure on what you wear underneath. The right bra and breast forms that are proportionate to your height, weight and figure are essential. Same with hip pads.

proportionA proportionate figure comes from wearing the right breast forms and undergarments. Very few dresses, skirts or blouses hang correctly on a male body without a layer underneath. “Pull in” or “pad out,” whichever you need to do. You don’t need to create the “hourglass” curves of a Cinderella, but you want to look balanced on top and on the bottom. If you’re 5-foot-3 and are wearing size D forms, cutting back to a C may give you a more proportionate figure. On the other hand, if you are 6 feet tall and wearing B’s, you might want to try going larger. This will depend on your build as well. Think “proportion” at all times.

Lingerie can be important depending on what you are wearing. Your panties will affect your pants silhouette. A soft full or half slip will even out your dress or skirt. Here again, it is not necessary to coordinate between price and value. Hone your shopping skills, but always remember lingerie can be the key. A full slip, in either black, white or cream, is one of the most feminine garments any woman can wear.

Your Body – It is also important for you to study your body and your body lines. Using a camera on a tripod, photograph yourself from every angle. You should be your own worst critic. Compare your pictures and determine what improvements, if any, can be made. Identify your body type and decide what works for you and what doesn’t. Also, experiment with fabrics and cuts. Not every style will work with every body type. It won’t take long to determine what is best for you. If you work at this in an easy, yet systematic way, you will be more knowledgeable and better dressed than most women.

Legs and Feet – Unless nature has blessed you with very attractive legs, you are going to need and want to wear hosiery. Pantyhose is a great choice for everyday, but stockings are much more flattering, feminine and sexy for special occasions. Wearing a corset or a garter belt can maximize the female experience. I love Sheer Elegance stockings, but they maybe out of the affordable price range for many girls. For regular use, Leggs or any other standard brands work very well.  Again, there is no correlation between quality and price. Experiment with the brand, the color, the shade and the texture that works best for you. Coordinate your hosiery color with your outfit.

jeans_and_heelsKeep your toenails and fingernails trimmed and in good shape. Use a pair of hosiery gloves, available online and at specialty hosiery stores, to put on or take off hose. Nails are the worst enemies for your hose. A small investment will save dollars in the long run.

Jeans and heels: a perfect combination

Shoes – Shoes can make or break an outfit. The biggest question is: “How do my shoes really, truly and objectively look ON ME?” Once again, pictures of your shoes with different outfits will help you decide what looks best for you.

Remember, stiletto heels are not always a necessity with a skirt or a dress. Often, lower heels or even flats will look and work just as well. On the opposite side, heels with jeans can add that little extra to an outfit. It’s up to you and how you feel. At times, I can feel just as good in a pair of flats as in 4-inch heels.

I had a friend, an attractive young lady at a private woman’s college, who was always on the go to other schools for weekend football games and dances. She told me that before she left her dorm room, she always made sure she packed ALL the shoes she “might” need. “If I have the right shoes, I can make anything work.”

Shopping – Nothing is more important and will have a greater impact on your womanhood. Identify the major department stores, specialty stores or consignment shops that  you will feel comfortable frequenting. Always keep an eye out for “clearance” sales or big discounts. Penney’s and Macy’s often have sales with 50-60% discounts, and even more on clearance items. A friend of mine recently bought a beautiful dress and shrug outfit at Macy’s for $9. The original price was over $100. (Check the Sister House Boutique)

Develop an “eye” for items that “have your name on them.” Train yourself to spot a garment or shoes “at 50 feet” that shouts “You!!!”

Shop with a friend or a spouse whenever possible. Not only does it result in more fun, but it allows you to “bounce” the item off your companion before purchasing. Just because an item is the latest fad, doesn’t mean that fad is you.

E.N.D. – Remember these letters and words. Explore, Nurture and Develop. There is not another woman on earth exactly like you. Buy things that work for you and not someone else. All this might take time, but it is sure worth it. And, above all, enjoy yourself.

If you have any questions or a topic you would like me to consider, please let me know.

5 thoughts on “Dressing Appropriately

  1. Thank You Carollyn
    Your Wonderful
    Great to have found you on Sister House.
    You answer the questions and un lock secerts to be coming Lady’s
    Best For You

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.