Dec 02

Are You Suffering From ABD (Abundant Black Disorder)

There’s nothing more classic than the little black dress, but you may be suffering from ABD (Abundant Black Disorder). Yes, I ‘ve heard women say that their wardrobe is mostly black. Why, because it’s easy to style, hides those unwanted bulges. is readily available in a number of styles, and of course, it’s the most classic piece of clothing ever since introduced by Coco Chanel in the 20s and made famous by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

I’m guilty too. My very first dress was a LBD that my wife threw out and I rescued. I had it shortened to knee length and I still have it after 20 years. It’s a staple in my wardrobe. I added a cover up for it and  lace to its hem but it’s a dress that I can just throw on and know that I’ll look good no matter the occasion. But I probably have another five LBDs and a whole slew of black skirts in various styles and lengths.

Tasi in black dresses

L-R My original black dress, a custom-made black cocktail dress, a bodycon black dress

The ladies in Ottawa love black too and take the time to style their (very) basic LBDs in many different ways here

So hopefully I have demonstrated that black is more than abundant in our wardrobes and perhaps it shouldn’t be. I’m told that black is harsh for older ladies, emphasizes wrinkles and calls attention to dark shadows under the chin and around the eyes. Navy would be a better option and achieves the same effect.

If you are a fan of the Advanced Style blog, you’ll soon learn that their raison d’etre is color in all its full glory. So this article that I did several years back should be of interest to you as you read Are you Suffering from ABD (Abundant Black Disorder)



Nov 29

The Sexy History of Fishnets and How To Wear Them

Like lacquered red fingernails and stilettos, fishnet stockings are wrapped up in the performance of being sexy and being female.

Stars in fishnets

Think of fishnets, and you think of Bettie Page, Marilyn Monroe, maybe Sophia Loren. There are iconic images of each actress posed in pinup-girl mode wearing fishnet tights that ascend, uninterrupted by skirts, from toe to butt. In each photo, the actress’s legs are angled to emphasize the expanses of her curves. The unique power of fishnet tights is that their stretchy grid-like weave visibly distorts over rounded forms, highlighting curves magnificently.

Flapper in fishnets

The tights’ popularity exploded with the advent of flappers in the 1920s. Fishnets were the perfect leg covering for the age of higher hemlines because they didn’t cover too much. Their flexible construction could also withstand energetic dancing. The newly liberated woman, who hung out in nightclubs unchaperoned, soon became a cause of public concern. And fishnets, too, have never lost their associations with after-dark entertainment and sex.

In his 1957 essay “Striptease,” Roland Barthes describes fishnets among “the classic props of the music hall,” and in The Pleasure of the Text (1973), he explains their suggestive appeal. “It is intermittence,” he suggests, “which is erotic: the intermittence of skin flashing between two articles of clothing.” Fishnets are by nature a tease: a revelation of flesh masquerading as a covering.

The textbook sexuality of fishnets can easily be subverted. The alien transvestite scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter (played by Tim Curry) appeared in the 1975 movie poster for The Rocky Horror Picture Show wearing full glittering drag and fishnets. Nearly every character in the original Rocky Horror movie appears on the screen in fishnets. When virginal honeymooners Brad and Janet reemerge in corsets and fishnet stockings, it is a true sign of their sexual awakening. But the context is far from the heteronormative world of pinup girls: Brad and Janet throw themselves into an anarchic orgy in which fishnets feel more like hilarious props of a bygone picture-book era of sexuality than truly risqué.

In 2017, fishnets are in vogue again, which feels appropriate in our gender-questioning time. Fishnet tights have been symbolic of womanliness and female sexuality since their emergence at the turn of the 19th century. Fashion historian Valerie Steele hypothesizes that fishnet tights arrived when a late-Victorian fad for all things lace commingled with the era’s fetishization of stockings — itself the result of floor-skimming Victorian dresses and the teasingly limited glimpses of women’s legs they afforded

fishnets under pants

I see fishnets daily now on the subway, the streets, and Instagram. But almost always worn beneath pants, so that just a short flash of ankle shows through. Perhaps we understand better now that there’s no boundary between tomboy and sexually intriguing young woman

Be sure to read Tasi’s article on Fishnets-Naughty or Nice.

Source of introduction::  June issue of VICE magazine




Nov 20

Age Has Nothing To Do With How It Feels To Transition Later In Life

Age has nothing to do with how it feels to transition later in life as we learn from these aging trans men and women

Ruth transitioned at 81, Ramses in his late 40s, and Bethan, at 57, is about to have surgery. Meet the trans baby boomers


Ruth Rose

Ruth Rose: ‘I was living a life of pretense.’ Photograph: Fabio De Paola for the Guardian

Early in October, Ruth Rose went on holiday to Corfu with a group of female friends she had known for years. They swam in the sea every day, making the most of the late summer sunshine. On the last morning before flying home to England, the women took one last swim and skinny-dipped so as not to have to pack their costumes away wet.

Such adventures would once have been unthinkable for Rose. But the surgery she underwent at the age of 81 has opened doors she would never have thought possible. “In some ways it’s like having new hips after being told you would be condemned to arthritis for the rest of your life,” she says. “You do it, and life begins again. And that’s what happened to me. Age has nothing to do with it.”

When we read about people transitioning gender, the focus is often on teenagers; in an emotive debate about access to school changing rooms and Guides camping trips, older trans people are rendered almost invisible. Yet there are more than five times as many adult as child gender identity patients in the UK. Some are now having gender reassignment surgery not just in late middle age, but well into retirement.

The numbers remain tiny, but they are rising; according to the NHS, 75 people aged between 61 and 71 had gender reassignment operations in the seven years to 2015-16, and that’s not counting people who quietly transition without surgery. These trans baby boomers are now beginning to challenge received ideas not just about gender but age, and the capacity of older people to live bold, adventurous lives. “I think people need to learn quite fast that older people no longer all fit the white-haired granny stereotype,” says Jane Vass, the head of public policy at Age UK. The charity recently published advice to older people who are transitioning, covering everything from the impact on state pension ages to what to write on death certificates.

“If it was ever true that older people were all the same, it’s certainly not now. And yet we still seem to respond as a society to a very narrow view of what ageing is,” adds Vass. Later life is full of changes, she points out, from the end of a career to the death of a spouse. Why wouldn’t it also be a time in which people embrace opportunities denied them in the past, before it’s too late?

I just look upon it as a bit of history in my life, like having owned a certain car for a while and decided to change it

It’s perhaps only now that many older people feel comfortable coming out, having grown up in a time when being trans was so steeped in shame and silence that many couldn’t even put a name to what they felt. “I remember as a child thinking, am I unique? Am I strangely perverted?” says Christine Burns, the 64-year-old trans activist and author of the social history Trans Britain: Our Journey From The Shadows. It was only in the 1960s, when the Sunday People newspaper began salaciously to out trans people – most famously the Vogue model April Ashley – that she understood she was not alone. “To see those stories, egregious as they were, helped in a sense. I always say that, on that Sunday morning, I learned there was a name for people like me, but also that it was worse than I feared.”

Half a century on, trans people undoubtedly still experience stigma and discrimination. Fierce debate about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which could enable people to identify themselves as trans rather than going through a drawn-out process of medical and psychiatric assessment, has turned trans acceptance into a political football. But for those raised in an era when men could be arrested just for wearing women’s clothes in public, the thaw in public attitudes is still striking. “When I first came out [in the 1970s], I got reported to the police and my employer, for being in charge of a company vehicle dressed as a woman,” recalls Jenny-Anne Bishop, the chair of the support group Trans Forum, who had gender reassignment surgery at the age of 59. “Now I’m as likely to have lunch with the chief constable to discuss hate crime reporting. It’s changed that much.”

Ruth Rose transition story

Ruth Rose: ‘I thought, it must cost thousands of pounds and I can’t do it.’ Photograph: Fabio De Paola for the Guardian

Ruth Rose was around nine when she realised she had what she thought must be “some sort of sexual aberration”. Hoping it would go away, she went through an all-boys public school, did national service in the Royal Air Force, began a career in mechanical engineering, married and had three children. It was only in her 30s that she began to hear about sex-change operations, as they were known, but even then the idea seemed fantastical.

She eventually met others in the same situation via the Beaumont Society, a support group set up in 1966 for cross-dressers, which also attracted trans people. Once a month, they would meet for dinner in a restaurant in Fulham, London. “There was one young man whose sister dressed him and made him up, who went out with no fear at all, travelling on the tube and things. There were others who crept from their cars in the next side street,” she recalls. “There were two little old ladies who brought their knitting and had the most amazing adventures.”

By this time, Rose’s wife had discovered her secret, and was “just about tolerant” of her dressing as a woman occasionally and discreetly. But permanent transition did not feel like an option. “I thought, it must cost thousands of pounds and I can’t do it – I’ve got responsibilities to my family.”

It was only after the children were grown up and the couple amicably divorced that Rose, now in her 60s, moved to a new town and began, increasingly, to live as a woman. At first, she still wore a suit for the voluntary work she did, although gradually that, too, began to change. For a while she kept male clothes for hospital appointments for her arthritis. She last dressed as a man when her former wife was ill; Rose went to make dinner for her every night in male clothes because, even though they were on reasonably friendly terms, her ex-wife didn’t like seeing her dressed as a woman.

Rose was in her 70s when her doctor finally suggested surgery. “At my age I wouldn’t have considered it, but when I went to the clinic at Charing Cross, you have to see two psychiatrists and the first one, after 10 minutes, said: ‘As far as I’m concerned, you are absolutely right for it.’”

Having lived comfortably as a woman for so long without it, Rose was surprised by how much the surgery meant to her. “It stopped the feeling that I was living a life of pretense, and that really made a difference. Also I had a lot of lady friends in their 50s and 60s, most of whom I swim with, and their attitude to me, without them realizing it, changed that little bit – but that little bit was important, it was the last little bit of acceptance.”

Her children found out she had begun to transition only when a short article about her, in a women’s magazine that she hadn’t expected anyone to notice, was picked up by the News of the World; but she says the shock was short-lived. “Within a week, all the recriminations, the ‘why didn’t you tell us earlier’s were over and they’re marvelous now.”

She babysits regularly for her grandsons, goes to all the family weddings and christenings, and happily attended a school reunion a couple of years ago. “People were so, so nice; they accepted it absolutely. If you go along with fear and trepidation and don’t look people in the eye, you can expect to get a feeling of non-acceptance. Whereas it’s different if you meet the challenge and smile at everybody, and don’t even consider that they might look askance at you.”

It’s wrong when people say, oh, you’ve always wanted to be female. I’ve spent my life wanting and trying to be male

If anything, Rose finds it faintly absurd that people are still interested in her previous life. “It’s my past and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s over. I have changed emotionally in many ways – I can’t even recall the sort of emotions I had as a male. So I just look upon it as a bit of history in my life, like having owned a certain car for a while and decided to change it.”

It’s impossible to know how Rose’s life would have turned out had she transitioned earlier. But when she was collecting stories of trans pioneers for her book, Burns was struck by how many were wealthy or well-connected, often with independent incomes that meant they didn’t have to fear losing their jobs. (Until a 1996 test case, the law gave trans people little protection against employment discrimination.) Those seeking surgery in Britain were commonly told they had first to get divorced – which is why the travel writer Jan Morris travelled to Casablanca for the surgery she describes in her 1974 autobiography, Conundrum – or to renounce contact with children.

It was only when the BBC screened a primetime documentary, A Change Of Sex, in 1979, featuring the Charing Cross gender identity clinic run by the pioneering surgeon John Randall, that a route to treatment in this country became clear for many Britons; even then, four out of five people who approached him were turned down. Patients won the universal right to free gender reassignment surgery on the NHS only in 1999.

Yet for some, the greater openness about transitioning may have come too late. “There’s a group of people who were perhaps in their 20s and 30s in the 1960s – by the time there was a lot of public knowledge about trans, they would be in their 50s and locked in,” says Burns. “They would have tried to make their peace with life and everybody would have said, ‘What you need is to get married, have kids – that’ll cure you.’ Then you have got the children and it becomes a matter of duty. Some recent cases of people transitioning in their 80s have been people who waited until their partners died and they finally felt like free agents; they wanted to die being true to themselves.”

Transitioning in later years is not, however, always medically straightforward. Dr Paul Willis leads the Centre for Trans Ageing research project at the University of Swansea, examining older trans people’s experience of health and social care in Wales, and says some report having to jump hurdles to get treatment. “One trans woman’s GP grudgingly allowed the patient to have a prescription for hormones but insisted that she had to pay for it, even though prescriptions are free in Wales. The pharmacist would say, ‘Why are you paying for this?’ but they just accepted it as what they had to put up with,” he says. There are, he adds, still “a lot of unknowns” about the long-term effects of hormone treatment in old age, as doctors are only now seeing the first cohort to have taken them for decades.

Perhaps more surprising are the challenges facing older people who want to transition without having gender reassignment surgery. Any major operation can be risky for older people with serious conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, and Age UK’s advice is for individuals to consider whether it’s right for them. But that can be a difficult choice, given the common misconception that a “real” transition must involve surgery. “The barrier most people faced until quite recently was that people weren’t validated if they weren’t – as my GP put it when I asked for a referral – ‘going all the way’,” says Jenny-Anne Bishop, who worked with Willis on the research. “If you weren’t aiming to have hormones and/or surgery, then there was a sense you could get on with it without medical support.” (Surgery isn’t compulsory in order to get a gender recognition certificate or legal confirmation of an acquired gender, but medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria is.)

Bishop, now 72, chose to have only what she calls cosmetic surgery when she transitioned 13 years ago, because at that age she felt “the creation of a new vagina was just too invasive. There’s more risk as you get older.”

No matter when or how they transitioned, however, a common fear identified in Willis’s research among older trans people was of losing mental capacity in old age. “If you’re reliant on other people to make decisions over what you are going to wear, or what your hair looks like, and whether you have access to routines that are important to you, such as shaving – that can really impact on people’s sense of identity,” he says. The prospect of becoming vulnerable and dependent on strangers in a nursing home may be unusually alarming for people who have been stigmatised or threatened with violence for being trans. “If you are living in a world you feel to be hostile, you live your entire life defensively and expend a lot of energy making sure you are safe,” says Burns. “But what if you start getting confused?”


Ramses Underhill-Smith transition story

Ramses Underhill-Smith: ‘People refuse to accept it when you’re older.’ Photograph: Fabio De Paola for the Guardian

Ramses Underhill-Smith is the founder of Alternative Care Services, an agency providing home helps and social care for older LGBT people. He set up the agency after seeing an HIV-positive friend risk his health by rejecting care in his own home, over concern that the care workers might be homophobic. Some of the Alternative Care Services’ workers are trans themselves, some aren’t, but all get training in treating patients with dignity.

Underhill-Smith, who is trans himself, recently handled a case in which someone with dementia had begun to forget they had transitioned, leaving nursing home staff unsure about whether to treat them as male or female. The right answer, he says, is both. “If today they want to be this, that’s how you treat them. If tomorrow it’s something else, you treat them as something else.” What matters, he says, is that people who may have been made to feel shame all their lives are not treated judgmentally while at their most vulnerable.

A friend said, you idiot, doing it at this time in your life, and I was shocked, but that’s what people secretly think

“If you’ve had surgery and you’ve got scars, you don’t want people looking at them in a certain way. We’re so used to it in the LGBT community – it’s not even the words people say, but the fact that everybody stares. You don’t want to have to explain when you get undressed for personal care. It’s about knowing that whoever comes to your door is going to understand who you are, that in conversation you’re going to be able to say things openly.” Some frail older people, he points out, barely see anyone but health professionals; if they can’t talk to them honestly, they are completely isolated.

For some, transitioning later in life can be a lonely business. “People refuse to accept it when you’re older,” says Underhill-Smith, who was in his late 40s when he transitioned. “They’ll say, ‘But I’ve known you like this all my life.’ A friend said to me, ‘You fucking idiot, doing it at this time in your life’ and I was completely shocked, but that’s what people secretly think. They’re thinking, ‘Why are you putting us all through this change?’” He tends to avoid social events in his old circle. “I don’t go back into my community, I don’t go to functions, I don’t go to funerals. I used to go because I wanted youngsters to see me, but it gets so tiring because it’s isolating. People will say hello but they walk on.”


Bethan Henshaw transition story

Bethan Henshaw: ‘I thought I’d lose my whole life.’ Photograph: Fabio De Paola for the Guardian

While fear of rejection by family can be a significant obstacle to coming out, it isn’t always well-founded. One recent study found around half of newly trans men maintained their previous relationships. “I thought I’d lose my whole life,” says Bethan Henshaw, a warehouse worker from Coventry, who at the age of 57 is shortly to have gender reassignment surgery. Like Ruth Rose, Henshaw has known she was trans since childhood, but for almost half a century forced herself to live a man’s life. “I think it’s wrong, sometimes, when people say, ‘Oh, you’ve always wanted to be female.’ I’ve spent most of my life wanting to be male, and trying to be male, and not being very good at it. A lot of trans people overcompensate – there’s a higher percentage of us in the armed forces before we come out. People try to do hyper-masculine things, just to force themselves into a role.”

Henshaw fell in love, settled down with her partner and kept up a male front, but as time went on she began to feel suicidal. Eventually her partner confronted her, asking what was wrong, and Henshaw blurted out her secret. “I did say to my partner, ‘If you want me to go, I’ll give you the house, the savings, everything’ because I felt like I was to blame, even though it’s the way I was born. But she just said, ‘Don’t be stupid’ and we carried on with our lives.” They are still together and, while Henshaw says she lost some friends during the process, most have rallied round; her family was supportive and her employers at Asda were “absolutely faultless” when she first came out. “They explained the situation to other people and, obviously, a lot of people were shocked. Some of them didn’t like it, some were very supportive, some people weren’t sure how to react because they hadn’t come across it before. But with time it has just faded into the background.”

Reprinted from The Guardian

Nov 05

A Primer on Understanding the Different Fashion Styles

What are fashion styles…well it’s hard to define. Diane van Furstenberg said “It is an effortless confidence in being yourself, it is a way of putting yourself together according to your mood and what you want to project. Personal style appears to come naturally for some, but for others it can take a while to find it!” or, in some cases, not at all.

If it’s tough for natal women, then it’s even tougher for us who were not born as females. So with a little help from Sylvia of 40 Plus Style, we are going to look at some current names women use to describe their fashion styles. Perhaps one will speak to you or perhaps you are a combination of more than one of them. At the end of this article, you can download tips on how you find your own style .from Sylvia or go to her site for more information. She offers some interesting programs.

Classic Style

Classic is, as the name suggests, one of the more classic and enduring styles. It’s timeless and popular with women over 40 and most of us will have at least a few classic pieces in our wardrobe. These are the pieces that will usually last the longest in your cupboard, so you may want to invest in a few high-quality garments that will always make you look good.

fashion styles - classic style

Classic trench – Felicity pencil dress – Boden silk shirt – Halogen beige turtleneck

classic style

Brixton beret – Vince Camuto pencil skirt – Majorica pearls – Vaneli ballet flats – Cole Haan navy pumps

Some great examples of classic garments include:

  • The trench coat
  • A white button down shirt
  • A pencil skirt
  • A tailored jacket or blazer
  • A cashmere sweater
  • The turtleneck sweater
  • Tailored trousers
  • A shift dress
  • The twinset
  • Jeans
  • Ballet flats
  • The classic pump
  • A beret
  • Animal print shoes and accessories
  • Leather gloves
  • Diamond or pearl studs
  • Cartier Tank Francaise Watch
  • The hermes Kelly or Birkin Bag
  • The LL Bean Canvas tote

These are often the best bet when it comes to investing in high quality and long lasting pieces that you will wear again and again.

fashion styles - classic style

Examples of people with this style are: Jackie O, Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall, Jodie Foster.

Here are some further classic looks from our Pinterest pages.

Bohemian Style

You can’t be a bohemian in tight clothes. It just doesn’t work. you have to be able to move and dance and climb.” Diane von Furstenberg

fashion styles - Bohemian style

Free People maxi dress – Chaus faux fur vest – Treasure and Bond peasant top – Halogen floppy hat

Bohemian style

Ten9LA fringe crossbody – Stella Ruby tassel necklace – Nakamol bead cuff – Splendid brown slouchy boot

Women with bohemian style like movement, color and sparkle. It is an nonconforming style that tends to be associated with the hippie era and with Latin cultures

Some examples of bohemian garments include:

  • A peasant blouse
  • The hippie skirt
  • A (fake) fur vest
  • A tunic
  • A caftan
  • Bohemian handbags
  • Long necklaces
  • A poncho

Examples of people with this style include: Ali MacGraw, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen, Diane von Furstenberg.

A more detailed look at the Bohemian style is here. along with our Pinterest page on Boho Style.

Minimal Style

fashion styles - Minimal style

Minimalism is not about abandoning pattern or print. I see minimalism to be a philosophy that involves an overall sense of balance, knowing when to to take away, subtract. It’s an indulgence in superbly executed cut, quiet plays of color tones and clean strong shapes.“ .Calvin Klein

Minimal style

Vince white button down shirt – Mural white blazer – ECI jumpsuit – Daniel Wellington silver watch

Minimal style

Frame tuxedo pants – Eliza J dress – Ganni wool coat – Coach 1941 colorblock bag

If you like the minimalism philosophy. it’s about having less and enjoying the things you have more. So it’s even more important to buy the right things; clothes that are of high quality and fit you extremely well.

Some examples of minimal garments include:

  • A simple tailored jacket
  • A winter coat
  • A designer little black dress
  • A minimal tuxedo
  • One single handbag
  • A minimal watch

Minimal style

Examples of people with this style include: Sofia Coppola, Angelina Jolie, Audrey Hepburn.

Minimalist style is all about exuding a less is more attitude.  Clothes are extremely well tailored and high quality, and the simplest pieces make the biggest impact. Calvin Klein, Sofia Coppola, Angelina Jolie, and Audrey Hepburn are designers and/or celebrities that fall into this style category.

Trendy/Fashionable Style

The trendy and fashionable style is an embrace of seasonal trends. These fresh of the runway looks are about taking risks and gladly standing out. While the looks can be a lot of fun, they are often outdated pretty soon and are often not as timeless as classic or minimalist styles.

fashion styles - trendy and fashionable

You tend to be fashionable and trendy if you embrace the new trends each year and incorporate them into your style. You are willing to take risks and are happy to stand out. This style can be a lot of fun and very arty, but will look outdated pretty soon.

trendy and fashionable

BP plaid blazer – Topshop sweater – Kate Kasin leather pleated skirt

trendy and fashionable

AFRM snakeprint pants – Mali and Lili round bag – Matisse white boots – Rebecca minkoff leather backpack – Cult Gaia hoop earrings

Clothes for this style are hard to define as the trends change every season. Fashionistas will need to follow the trends through magazines and the latest fashion shows to know what to look for in the shops.

Things that go in and out of fashion include:

  • Shoulder pads
  • Platform heels
  • Colors
  • Sequins
  • Outrageous hats
  • Skirt volume

Have a look at some of my favorite trends this season from fall 2018.

Examples of people with this style include: Isabella Blow, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Diana Ross.

Eclectic Style

This style is hard to describe, which is not surprising, as this style is really a mixture of all kinds of styles. The eclectic woman knows how to mix and match all the different styles and truly make it her own. To make this style really work, it is important to have a good eye for what you like, to know what suits you and to have the innate style instinct or (learned) knowledge to mix it all together. This is a very creative and fun way of dressing.

Examples include: Kate Moss, Laura Bailey, Gwynyth Paltrow and the ladies of the Advanced Style blog.

fashion styles - Eclectic Style

Eclectic Style

NYDJ sequin top – Lucky Brand floral top — Diane Von Furstenberg skirt – Scotch and Soda print jogger pants

Eclectic Style 3

Sequin Casbah bangle – Floral earrings – BP catseye glasses – Black Suede floral mules

Modern Romantic Style

Not included in the original resource article, but definitely out there is this super feminine style. We’re talking  girlie-girl which includes styles with lots of ruffles and lace that you often see in the Latin cultures. Then here are some really awesome outfits. and the video below to explain the style in more depth.

Check out our “Fun and Flirty” Pinterest board

Street / Urban Style or Casual Chic

This is the constantly evolving style that develops on the streets of the big cities. It is constantly changing and quite undefinable, but it tends to be a mix of casual and hip and what’s happening in the world at any particular time. This style is more prominent among youngsters as opposed to 40 plusers, although, of course, there are always the exceptions to this rule. Some previous street style trends include: new wave, punk, goth, grunge, mod and hip hop.

Examples of people with this style include: young Madonna, Debbie Harry.

Here are some great examples of smart street style and street styles through the ages

Creating your own style profile

Now, if you are like most (trans)women, you will have elements of a few of these styles in your own personal wardrobe. I tend to like classical garments and the boho look equally.

And while I follow fashion and the trends closely I only adopt that which I feel could stay in my wardrobe and be part of my personal style year in and year out.

And as promised here is your pdf on How To Find Your Style In 10 Steps reprinted from Sylvia’s blog on 40 Plus Style. Please visit Sylvia’s blog here

Nov 04

Older, Wiser, and more Stylish

More Stylish-older-women-

L -R Diane Von Furstenberg , Iris Apfel, Linda Rodin

Being more stylish is a constant theme among older women. The girls on the Facebook group, Trans Beauty Network, were recently discussing  fashion and, in particular, fashion faux pas’of trans women seen by the group. High on the list of mistakes was the perennial favorite of “not dressing your age” meaning you shouldn’t be a 50-60 year old woman and dress like your granddaughter.. And this does not extend to just the trans community  but it is still a common observation about women in general. When TLC’s How Not To dress was still on he air, this was a common theme.

So, to those girls, you are missing the boat because as we see in the article, Older Wiser and More Stylish than that ragtag group of millennials that they try to imitate.

You might also want to visit these two Pinterest boards on Sister House

Age Appropriate is a Myth

Over 60 and Still Fashionable

Nov 04

Battle of the Royals Fashion

For my British and even American readers, there is little doubt that for many years, Kate Middleton, The Duchess of Cambridge, was the best among fashion icons. Since her marriage to Prince William, she has set the world on fire while becoming the driving force in the sale of women’s clothing worldwide. What she wears is mostly sold out in a matter of hours in the stores. The “Kate Effect” as it has become known has a global impact on women’s fashion and she has turned the image of British royals, which had been declining since the death of Princess DI, into a positive one

But now she has some serious competition from the royal families on the Continent. Hello Magazine asked it’s readers to vote on ten royal women and you may be surprised at the results

royals fashion of the Royal Women of Europe

The Royal Women of Europe

You can read the Battle of the Royals

The Royal Fashion Channel on You Tube is here



Oct 24

Actually Helpful Makeup Tricks for Trans Women

Surprisedly there are few actually helpful makeup tricks for trans women among the 1000s of makeup videos on You Tube and 1000s of makeup articles in beauty and fashion magazines . So we went searching for makeup and beauty tips that would be truly useful for you and cached together a composite of some of the best tips and tricks for your use.

TG makeup tricks and tips

Needless to say applying makeup may be the most important part of being a crossdresser or trans woman. Certainly a flawless face goes a long way in convincing others of your femininity and while you may have masculine features to hide, makeup does wonders in creating the perfect image for all women. And if you don’t believe me, check out these celebrities before and after makeup bearing in mind that many women have masculine features too

Every girl needs to develop her own style and variation to fit her personality, but our experts below will put you ahead of the game.with their abundance of makeup tricks and tips for transwomen.

Makeup tricks by Beauty Consultants

L-R Carollyn Olson, Monica Prata, Transformations by Gina

Carollyn Olson was our first Stylish Crossdresser because she is extraordinary in her presentation, both in makeup and dress. I asked Carollyn to share her step-by-step instructions for makeup application with us which you should keep handy so you don’t forget the steps. To make it easier for you, I created a pdf of Step by Step Makeup Application for Trans Women that you can download and keep with your makeup bag.

Monica Prata is a makeup artist and transgender coach in New York. In this article from Buzzfeed she shares some of the most helpful and amazing makeup tips she’s learned over the years. Monica asked four trans women — Kacey, Diana, Kara, and Lea — to tell us a little bit about the makeup styles they each preferred. Then she created each of their ideal looks, teaching us everything along the way so we could share with our readers. Here is a 19 Helpful Makeup Tips for Transwomen-pdf version that you can also download.

Transformations By Gina, is an L.A.-based makeup/photography service for crossdressers and T-Girls. This is a 9 part series of tutorials for makeup application beginning to end. These tutorials are also available on a special 3-DVD set of makeup instruction videos designed specially for crossdressers, transsexuals and transgender women. Unfortunately Gina’s website is no longer active but her videos are still available on YouTube.

 Crossdresser Makeup Tutorial Pt. 1-Taping.avi 

Crossdresser Makeup Tutorial Pt. 2-Beard Cover.avi 

Crossdresser Makeup Tutorial Pt. 3-Foundation.avi

Crossdresser Makeup Tutorial Pt 4 Eyebrow Shaping 

Crossdresser Makeup Tutorial Pt. 5A-Smokey Eye.avi 

Crossdresser Makeup Tutorial Pt. 5B-Smokey Eye.avi 

Crossdresser Makeup Tutorial Pt. 6-Lashes.avi 

Crossdresser Makeup Tutorial Pt. 7-False Lip.avi 

Crossdresser Makeup Tutorial Pt. 8-Eyeliner.avi 

Crossdresser Makeup Tutorial Pt. 9-Finishing Touch.avi 

Finally some fairly detailed videos by transwomen, Casey Blake, Stef Sanjati  and Cetine Dale



Sep 16

The Invisible Older Woman


The average older woman is still struggling with feelings of being invisible so says Jennifer Connolly of the 40 plus blog. A Well Styled Life.  For some, that may be desirable. Some women feel relief and love flying under the radar of society’s pressure to look a certain way. They revel in the freedom to march to their own drummer…even/especially if it’s got a funky beat.

invisible older woman

But for most, not so much. Being made to feel invisible is not a good thing. And I suspect it’s somewhat true for the trans woman too, at least for this one.

It’s no secret that America is a youth-obsessed country. When I was young, my friends and I couldn’t wait to grow up. Today, nobody wants to grow up. But there comes a time in every woman’s life when we can no longer chase youth and we can’t run away from age – nobody can run that fast, especially in high heels.

Marie Therese Norris of The French TouchMarie Therese Norris of the blog, The French Touch, (an over 60 woman) sends the message that she’s interested in the people and things around her is the way she presents herself. If she dresses as if she no longer cares, the world will return the sentiment. If she dresses as if she’s trying too hard to look young, the world will not take her seriously. Is it any wonder that, living in a Peter Pan society, mature women in their fifties and sixties start to feel as if they are invisible and slowly fading into the background? Sometimes we just feel like shouting, “Hey, we’re still here, and we have a lot to offer!”

I know this sounds incredibly superficial, but we need to face facts. We live in a superficial, increasingly visual world; and for men in particular, when it comes to women, the visual will always trump the verbal — at least, in the beginning. It doesn’t matter what’s inside; if they don’t like the wrapping, they won’t open the package. So, how we present ourselves matters a great deal. In fact, the older we get the more it matters, and not JUST to the opposite sex.

Being of advanced age, I worry less about meeting some arbitrary standard of beauty and certainly it’s almost easier to blend in as less is expected of me. But wanting to be invisible, no. I want to be seen for the woman I am. I want to be seen as being stylish and desirable, at least to know and not in a sexual way, that I have self worth as a woman

Jennifer gives this example of invisibility

“The last time a gentleman walked through a door ahead of me, and let it close in my face, I had a “word” with him. It was along the lines of, “I’m sure you’d love it if someone slammed a door in your mothers face!”  He gave me a blank stare which led me to conclude:

  • he was raised by wolves
  • his mother taught him no manners
  • he was a Neanderthal clod

As we age, we’re less likely to be noticed for our appearance which can sting and it’s all so unnecessary, but I’ll come to that in a moment.

Invisibility Impaired

Jennifer tells the story about being out and about in London with her beautiful daughter. When the heads turned to look at them, she realized they were looking at her daughter and not here. A small jolt went through her. Nothing earth shaking, but a page had turned for her, a shift had happened. A loss of something. A loss of power.  Her power of visibility

And I’m sure we may have experienced similar feelings when out with a beautiful younger person. God, I hate those photos of young 20 something crossdressers who look good in anything

Does losing visibility as you grow older matter?

  1. It matters because it affects our self-confidence.
  2. It matters because we have much wisdom to share that may not be heard.
  3. It matters because self-confidence affects our happiness.
  4. It matters because our happiness is crucial.
  5. It matters because it seriously pisses me off.

But what about the woman who is not happy being passed over and overlooked, merely because she’s gotten older?

Sister House is about fashion and our wardrobe can be a powerful tool in our struggle to remain visible. Author and stylist Sherrie Mathieson has this to say on the subject of wardrobe:

The fact that as women get older, the less likely they are to be noticed for their looks (certainly less by men, but also less by other women) is true. Too often the exceptions that get double takes and compliments fall into three groups,

  • the ones who dress very sexually
  • the ones who wear something like a bright color or “cute” (“Oh love that color on you! Oh isn’t that darling!?)
  • and the ladies who indulge in non apologetic eccentricity–wearing all sorts of clothing, especially odd hats, lots of jewelry,  glasses, scarves and tons of layers, textures and volume in clothing to an almost theatrical effect.” (The ladies of the Advanced Style blog would probably disagree)

Jennifer doesn’t quite agree. Here’s her take on the three groups.

The Sexual Look

Jane Pesch at 73 not invisible

Jane Pesch at 73

“Older women are and can look sexy. (Check out Helen Mirren) What we reveal needs to be strategically chosen. It’s often more important which skin shows than how much. For some older women, the  shoulders, for example, seem to be the last place to age. I don’t know about you, but my shoulder skin hasn’t sagged yet. and an off-the-shoulder dress or blouse is figure enhancing.” For many crossdressers and t-girls, our best feature is our legs hence 1-2 inches of skin above the knee creates an alluring look. More than that, you may be branded as something else.

Color is Personal.

Maye Musk not invisible

Maye Musk

Like many women, my wardrobe has many neutrals meaning too much black but I love patterns and royal colors, turquoise, dark blue and red  being my favorites. Some women love bright colors because it makes them happy. They don’t call it the Red Hat Society for nothing. These women are making a statement about their visibility. They will not be ignored and it’s their privilege to do so. There is a fine line between colorful and clownish. If we cross that line intentionally and are confident enough to wear it, that’s our choice too

Women who dress with true eccentricity and always have, are fabulous. There’s nothing wrong with trying on new looks and playing with theatricality, so long as you can own the look. If it feels like a costume…beware. Your confidence doesn’t get a boost by feeling pink outfitlike a fraud.

Betty Halbreich in her book Secrets of a Fashion Therapist says you don’t need a “color consultant” to tell you what looks good on you. Go to a mirror where there is good natural light and hold various shades up to your face. Do certain colors light up your face where other colors seem to f drain the light out of it. That’s a start.

Betty also said that she’s never known a woman who didn’t look good in pink. It looks clean and sensuous on everyone, not to mention incredibly feminine.

Eccentric Dress

I have dramatic, head-turning garments in my wardrobe, that I wear when I want to make a statement. I love capes, scarves, and drama. I adore hats. They’re attention-getting simply because most women don’t have the confidence to wear them. I don’t think I wear goofy ones…but goofy is in the eye of the beholder:)

We are all a combination of style components that make up our personal style recipe. No one woman has the right or wrong formula for personal style. However, some formulas can be more effective if visibility is your goal.

older eccentric but not invisible ladies

So how can older woman really combat invisibility?

  • Attention to personal grooming is very important.
  • Appearance and polishing your personal style is crucial… because frumpiness is the fast track to invisibility.
  • Being informed about current events and able to intelligently join conversations increases your visibility
  • Staying physically active and fit as possible will boost confidence which helps us feel and look more vibrant.

I’m just going to talk about the first two points.

Personal Grooming

I’m persnickety about how I look when I leave the house. I will not go out with unstyled or unclean hair. I always wear makeup…lipstick, mascara and eyebrow pencil (mandatory).  My clothes are clean, unwrinkled and presentable.

Paying attention to personal grooming is a matter of personal respect. How can a woman feel good about herself if she hasn’t taken basic care of her grooming? I just don’t get it? Simple things like arm hair and un-flossed teeth get noticed!

Personal style

We all have a unique combination of styles, that make up our personal style.

My personal style is a mix of classic,elegant, boho and a bit dramatic with a little feminine thrown into the mix. Each outfit I put together highlights different aspects of my personality and how I feel that day. How I want to be perceived also plays a role in what I choose.and I give some thought to where I’m going and who I will be with

And here’s where my point on our wardrobe choices comes in…you knew I had to have one:)

There is an alternative way to dress, which increases a woman’s visibility, and that’s with drama.

dramatic dresser at Royal AscotThe dramatic dresser projects a sophisticated and confident image. It’s strong and conveys assurance. Bold, often exaggerated in line and/or color it stands out in a crowd. It’s not for the faint of heart… because it makes people notice you. Because of its striking appearance, it empowers women. It can be edgy or severe, but it’s seldom overlooked. I love it!!

So what does dramatic dressing look like?

You will find many examples of dramatic clothes and looks  on my Pinterest boards.

  • The clothes are geometric, often with sharp angles.
  • Black and white are popular neutrals, worn alone or mixed with a bold color.
  • Fabrics are usually firm and hold their shape.
  • Patterns are seldom worn.
  • Jackets and coats are structured with sharp edges and straight lines.
  • Clothes have minimal details and are sleek
  • The silhouette is semi-fitted with a slightly defined waist.
  • Hats are a favorite accessory because they add instant drama.
  • There is usually 1 striking accessory and it is over-sized.
  • Hair is sleek, sculpted and worn in a precision cut.

The dramatic dresser is seldom just one of these characteristics. She can add touches of feminine, creative, sporty or classic to the mix, but there is always a striking element to her look.

I pull this look out when I need a boost of confidence and it never fails me. I mix it with other styles to produce my personal style recipe.

I’m reminded of this song…

My my, hey hey

Rock and roll is here to stay

It’s better to burn out than fade away

My my, hey hey

~Neil Young

aging is a privilege

I’m choosing to remain visible, are you?

We’re More Visible Than Ever

We’ve come into our own as a demographic of strong, stylish women who command attention. Our buying power is making corporations stand up and take notice of us. We’re all part of this new movement and I’m proud of each of us.

And our strength is not just our style, but our femininity too. Marie Therese Norris said it most succinctly,

“By the end of the 60s, the pursuit of Femininity had been moved from the Virtue to the Vice side of the Feminist orthodoxy. It was deemed not only to be frivolous, but downright subversive. The French woman sailed through the last four decades relatively unscathed by American-style Feminism. As a result, she continues not only to age gracefully, but to live her whole life as gracefully as she can to the delight of the French man. Femininity underpins everything she is and does. Her individual version of Femininity may be classic or quirky, but she owns it, she works it, and she will go to the grave with it.

A healthy dash of Femininity might just be the missing ingredient we are looking for.

femininity collage

Crossdressers and trans women should not want to be invisible. Kandi Robbins column on Visibility With Style in the Dressing Room gives us many ways to be accepted into our local communities for the feminine person we are

Thanks for reading and have a great day!


Aug 23

A Visual Record of the Joys, Fears and Hopes of Older Transgender People

This reprinted article from the NY Times deals with a largely unseen part of being transgender, that being the joys. fears and hopes of older transgender people. In “To Survive on This Shore,” the photographer Jess T. Dugan and the professor Vanessa Fabbre have created a road map, archive and remarkably moving body of work about a group almost entirely left out of many narratives: older transgender and gender variant people.

It is easy to forget that only recently have transgender issues become part of the public consciousness, with transgender characters on major television shows and even transgender celebrities. But transgender people — like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, key figures in the Stonewall uprising in 1969 — have contributed to the queer movement since the beginning, even if they have often been overlooked.

No more.

“We wanted to create representations of older transgender people, and gender nonconforming people, to both capture their stories, preserve their history, record some of the activism that they had been a part of,” Ms. Dugan said. “But we also wanted to create representations for younger transgender people to see a road map for what their life could look like, to see people aging and living these complicated and exciting and robust lives in many cases.

transgender woman Caprice

Credit: Jess T. Dugan/Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicag by Jake Naughton

Caprice, 55, Chicago. “I’m a 55-year-old woman of trans experience and I’m a woman of color. And my life is amazing. I have been working in the field of social service for 17 years. I have been an activist and advocate for trans women of color and trans-identified individuals for the majority of my life. My life relies upon me being able to give to my community.”

transgender people Gloria

Credit: Jess T. Dugan/Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Gloria, 70, Chicago. “I’m a senior citizen. I made it to 70, and a lot of them won’t make it, they won’t make it at all. Because most of them die from drugs, from sexual disease or they’re murdered. They ask me questions like, ‘Well, Momma Gloria, how did you get through?’ I say, ‘I got through with love from my family and the grace of God.’ That’s how I got through. You have to have some stability and you have to have some kind of class, some charm about yourself. I never was in the closet. The only time I was in the closet was to go in there and pick out a dress and come out of the closet and put it on

transgender people SueZie, 51, and Cheryle, 55

Credit: Jess T. Dugan/Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

SueZie, 51, and Cheryle, 55, Valrico, Fla. “When we got married, I never imagined that someday my husband would become my wife,” Cheryle said. “Right from the start, SueZie confided that she identified as female on the inside, but transition never appeared to be an option. But, I never had a problem with her wearing lingerie. You know, it’s just clothes. I fell in love with the person inside, and what’s on the outside is more about what they feel comfortable with.”Credit:  Jess T. Dugan/Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Ms. Dugan and Ms. Fabbre, a social worker and assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis, wanted to show the fullness of experiences of the older transgender community. The result is a book, to be released on Aug. 28 by Kehrer Verlag, that combines portraits and interviews with transgender people from various walks of life. The combination of intimate and arresting portraits, a signature of Ms. Dugan’s, with frank and deeply affecting quotes — they are often humorous, sad or both at once — is a startlingly deep dive into the individual and collective experiences of this generation of the transgender community.

Common themes include uncertainty of the future because of looming medical care and financial insecurity, which have long been sources of unease for the community. There also are a wide range of feelings about the transition process itself, and Ms. Dugan and Ms. Fabbre wanted to preserve that complexity.

For Ms. Dugan, the most difficult recurring themes addressed how much people struggled or missed out on because they were unable to be their authentic selves until later in life. “I was just struck by the extent to which pressure from society can be so damaging to people, and so limiting and cause so much pain,” she said. “In some ways it’s a big deal to transition and in other ways it’s such a small thing. Your gender identity and expression really shouldn’t have this profound of an effect on your relationship, your kids, your job, your housing, your access to health care. It simultaneously feels like a major issue and like it should also be a nonissue.”

transgender people Dee Dee Ngozi

Credit: Jess T. Dugan/Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Dee Dee Ngozi, 55, Atlanta. “This coming into my real, real fullness of knowing why I was different is because I was expressing my spirit to this world. And I didn’t know how God felt about it, but I believe in God and I have a deep spiritual background and I talk with the Holy Spirit constantly who’s taken me from the Lower West Side doing sex work to being at the White House.”

transgender people Bobbi

Credit: Jess T. Dugan/Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Bobbi, 83, Detroit. “I think people talk in either/or terms, right? Before transition and after. But to me, it’s really development. I’m proud of both lives. I’m proud of both mes, if you see what I’m saying. And I feel it has been a remarkable thing to have happened to a person. I’m grateful. You can’t just become a woman with a knife or a pill or anything like that. It takes a whole combination in a sequence, in a formation. You’ve got this time span, it’s a learning experience, it’s a little bit of everything.”

Conducting deeply personal interviews with her subjects also changed her image making. “Sitting down with someone and asking them to share their life story is really vulnerable but also empowering and very significant,” she said. “I was continually struck by how personal people were willing to be with us.” In other projects, like “Every Breath We Drew,” she took out all extraneous information. But in “To Survive on This Shore,” she let details of her subjects’ lives creep in, even including photos of objects.

Ms. Dugan and Ms. Fabbre envisioned their project as equal parts activism and art. The images and quotes will form an exhibition and book, and the work has also been acquired by the Kinsey Institute, the Sexual Minorities Archive and the Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria. Ms. Fabbre plans to use the interviews in her scholarly research, and they have begun sharing their work with nonprofits for training and activism. They hope that the broader theme of aging can resonate with people beyond the transgender community.

Just as crucially, they want the work to serve as a visual record of the joys, traumas, fears and hopes of older transgender people that the younger transgender community — which often has no role models — can use to learn what the future might hold.

“Many of the people in the project have been out and have been working on progress for the trans community since as early as the 1970s,” Ms. Dugan said. “We were looking back at 45 years of advocacy and education and life experience, and I really wanted to capture that because I think sometimes our collective history is lost. We wanted to create a more broad and complex portrait of what it looks like to be an older transgender person.”




Aug 14

Bathing Suit Shopping- Decisions, Decisions!

It was time to face the challenge of buying a bathing suit after thinking ahead to a possible Tri-Ess cruise next February and realizing there would be snorkeling and pool time,  Becoming ship-shape is a more complex a task than I had presumed so I’m sharing some of my dilemmas, adventures, and conclusions.

What to buy

First, the male anatomy presents many challenges:

  • how to deal with hair normally not visible and often hard to reach, such as on the back.. from Phoebe’s account of waxing, this is an option I personally will avoid! Some suits have higher backs than others, but employing a shaver that can bend over the shoulder or a hair removal product seems essential for most of us;
  • how to fit a 38 x >38 x 38 form into something other than a cardboard box or giant bowling pin;
  • how to hide the family jewels.

gaffe and skirt for bathing suitAs to the last item, I know of only two obvious solutions:

1) a gaffe;

2) a skirt.

A “gaff”, by definition, is “a blunder”. Imagining the discomfort, inconvenience, and, to me, the seeming impossibility of this solution, for reasons which I will leave to the imagination of the reader, I dismissed this option, foreclosing many suit options available to women. This left me with the question as to whether a one-piece or two-piece would work best.

Key advantage of one piece bathing suit:

The indignity of an involuntary separation of top and bottom is minimized. This could lead to a disastrous snorkeling trip. I am notorious for losing skirts at embarrassing times due to my above-mentioned block-like form.. i.e., lack of a waist to impede the law of gravity. Imagine what I could do in the water! However, that DOES lend to more adventure, colorful stories for future Belle articles, and comic relief.

Key advantage of two piece bathing suit:

1) Easier to deal with the call of nature;

2) More options to mix and match. My top is a 16W, while my bottom is closer to a 12. It is hard to find a one-piece in these proportions.

Either way, the beer belly is tough to hide. Looking fit as a fiddle when you look like a cello is a losing proposition. With no clear winner, I looked at both options.

Through experimentation I soon realized that either situation would, in my case, require disguise. Something had to be done to avoid displaying a gut that has little resistance to the charms of sweets, potatoes, and beer. I found that layers of frills can cover some sins, while adding a touch of femininity. Apparently enough women face this issue that it is easy to find options that, while not creating an hourglass look, at least don’t stop a clock. Some garments have tummy control… helpful but far from a cure for the seriously afflicted.

What to do about the bust?

This is a more complex matter, but something with which we already have at least SOME familiarity. A few options:

  • BBWSeek a suit with built-in cups… most don’t have enough natural shape or support, forcing one to consider other alternatives;
  • Sew in padding;
  • Find a mastectomy suit;
  • Use forms that adhere to the flesh (OUCH!!);
  • Find a suit capable of holding forms. Not many I have seen would give me comfort that I would not be a disaster ready to happen… I can easily visualize silicone floating to the surface after a dive, assuming it is not so buoyant as to prevent a dive!… a useful spare life preserver in the ocean perhaps, but maybe not ideal for the pool.)

In my case, option 2) seemed feasible. Time will tell.

I perused catalogues and ordered a one-piece from Venus that has remote possibilities (i.e., great if I lose 10 pounds- not going to happen on a cruise!.. deckmates stay clear of IEDs!). So off to the malls I went.

The shopping adventure

A trip to Florida provided a perfect opportunity to shop incognito. I spent about 5 hours trying on suits at Sears and Penney’s, while Barbara shuttled back and forth to seek out and return supplies, appraising my looks whenever returning. A female appraiser is an invaluable asset! In the end, I purchased two one-piece swim skirts and one two-piece.

bathing suit

Of course a woman’s decision is seldom final, and two stores barely scratches the surface. So we went to Dillards’ the next day to browse some more for a bathing suit. This time Barbara determined that an attentive sales-lady should be told the truth of our situation. She asked the clerk if she were open-minded. When told “yes”, that led to two female appraisers. I learned that four female eyes is better than two and a lot more fun! The suits bought the previous day were quickly dismissed as being inferior to a two-piece outfit, the result of many more changes and appraisals. This of course meant that the other outfits had to be returned. But the quest was at least closer to a conclusion.

After being outed I took the opportunity to ask if the clerk regularly deals with crossdressers. She has done so before, although I gathered it is not too common. As part of their training the clerks learn how to treat TGs and to make others feel comfortable, whatever their gender or shape. To this end, all trainees are required to remove all of their clothes and fit other clerks a la fresco! I presume this is done after hours but will likely be more vigilant as I wander through Dillards in the future! I always thought Dillards was TG-friendly. Now I am beginning to understand why!

Upon returning home we made one more round through the local mall. As I walked by a clerk while carrying a dozen swim skirts she remarked that I’d look cute in them. This started a round of “Is she or isn’t he?” At one point she was chided by her manager for embarrassing a client. Barbara thinks the clerk was onto us even if her manager was not. It may have not gone unnoticed that I used the men’s fitting room while Barbara shuttled in and out to bring in new garments and return the discards. I was tempted to model the final picks but thought that might be pushing the envelope. My identity would be abundantly clear when finalizing the purchase and it is, after all, a small town.

The next stop, Macy’s offered the excitement of dressing room doors that would not close and giddy teens flitting from room to room. I found a great cover-up before calling it a day.

This experience was almost too much fun not to repeat. I am beginning to understand the women’s creed: Vini, vidi, visa (I came, I saw, I shopped), a mantra which requires frequent repetition.

Rhonda Lee in swimsuit

Rhonda’s final choice

Rhonda Lee in black coverup

Rhonda Lee in black coverup

Other adventures await, such as:

-dealing with swim cap issues: does one wear a cap over the wig? how does one hide and store the wig when required and reverse the process when necessary?;

– is it possible to swim without removing so much make-up as to emerge as a man in a woman’s bathing suit?

– is it feasible to devote the time necessary to apply and later re-apply make-up?

Inquiring minds want to know!

No doubt there is plenty of literature already on such issues, but for me this opens up new vistas, adventures, and possibilities for more colorful tales.

This could be chapter 1 of a new adventure novel. Stay tuned!

Rhonda (aka Ms. Nemo)

Rhonda LeeRhonda Lee

Rhonda is the Outreach Director for Sigma Epsilon, the Atlanta chapter of Tri-Ess. She has been active with churches, universities and support groups in promoting the understanding of crossdressing. She’s an active author and participant in research studies and regularly hosts dinners and other events to encourage closer relationships and inter-actions between members of the broader TG community and the general public. She’s a late bloomer so can relate to the mature crossdresser as well as helping those new to the experience. She can be contacted at

Aug 01

Thin Lips No More!!!

Raise your hand if you have thin lips (…slowly raises hand….).  Raise your hand if you’ve tried to correct  thin lips but ended up looking like Ronald McDonald (it’s okay…we’ve all been there!). Don’t panic – Corrie of Femme Makeovers has a few tips that will help give you fuller-looking lips without looking like a clown. BUT!!! Like I say with everything It’ll take a little practice – so dig out your lip pencils. Class is in session.

So – most of us weren’t born with a perfect pout…but that’s okay. We can totally cheat it and make it LOOK like we have lips that would make Ms. Monroe envious.


Before we begin – you’re going to need a few tools. Don’t even attempt to try this without the following items:

1. Lip liner pencil
2. Pencil sharpener
3. Lipstick
4. Lip brush

Why do I need all these things you ask? Because it will be next to impossible to get a nice, clean overdrawn lip without using a pencil. The second half of that is you don’t want to ruin your perfectly drawn on lip by applying lipstick from the tube. There’s not enough of an edge to create a clean line – so…applying with a brush allows for keeping that edge crisp and clean. Plus – it provides you with a more even application.

Alright – first we need to determine what it is we want or need to correct. Our upper lip? Our lower lip? Or perhaps both our upper and lower lip is a little on the thin side. Once you’ve figured out what it is you want to correct – grab your pencil. I like using a sharp, but slightly dull pencil (if that makes any sense). I like to sharpen the pencil to get a nice tip, then swipe it across my hand or a towel once or twice to take off the super sharp point. I find it’s easier to draw with a semi-dull point. Crazy, I know.

Next – start by finding your natural lip line. I find it’s easier if we lightly line our natural lip line first so we have a visual guide to go on. Once I’ve done that, I continue to go line by line, on the outside of my previous line, until I get the shape (here’s where you get to play and experiment with different shapes) and fullness I’m after. Be sure to play with a few different shapes to determine what you like and looks best. Example: do you want a rounded cupids bow, or something a little more pointed and sharper.

Also – going line by line allows you to correct any mistakes if you make them before things get too out of hand. It’s easier to add than to take away. So if you just start drawing and mess up – it’ll be much harder to fix.

**IMPORTANT NOTES: We are looking for symmetry. We want to make sure our lips look even. The best way to do this is to step back from your mirror after you think you have it done and look to make sure things are balanced. It’s really hard to tell when you’re looking at them inches from the mirror.

Second thing to keep in mind – ideally you want your lip liner to meet in the corner of your mouth. If you start drawing your lip line outside of where it meets in the corner, you’re tip-toeing into Ronald McDonald land. Not saying that you can’t do that – but it will overly exaggerate your lips and you could end up looking like a drag queen (which isn’t bad – it just might not look as natural).

Last thing I’d like to note is I typically prefer to over draw the upper lip more than the lower. I feel like an over drawn upper lip can still look relatively natural up close, where an over drawn lower lip can look a little strange if we go too far past our natural lip line. But hey! It’s your call! It’s makeup and you’re supposed to have fun with it.

Here’s an example of where you would over draw (or correct) based on your lip shape. Hey!! No making fun of my drawing! 😀
thin lips

Ultimately – you need to determine how far outside your natural lip you want and are willing to go. One thing to be mindful of is when you DO overdraw your lip, you have to be careful when eating, drinking, etc. because you’ll be more likely to smudge it. You’re essentially drawing on your face so just keep that in mind.

Once you get your new lip shape drawn on, you now can apply your lipstick. Any of you who have had lessons with me know how adamant I am about using a brush to apply lipstick. You can use the brush to easily (and cleanly) paint right up to your lip line, get much more even coverage and have so much more precision when applying the lipstick.

Over drawn lips can look great if done correctly. I encourage you to give it a try! It can really enhance your look.

A few more tips and tricks to fix thin lips:

  • Even if you’re not overdrawing your lips it’s important to use a lip liner. It helps keep your lipstick in place and from bleeding.
  • I try to match my liner to my lipstick if I can and think this is especially important when using reds. If I don’t have something that matches, I try to get as close as possible…..
  • …However, if I want to create a little more dimension with my lips, I’ll use something slightly darker than my lipstick and blend my lipstick into the liner (more so in the corners).
  • Using a slightly lighter color (to highlight) on the center of your lips will create a fuller looking lip as well. Just make sure you smoosh/blend together well (we want a nice gradient) – not a hard edge.
  • To aid in longevity of the lipstick, fill your natural and newly drawn lip in with your liner before applying the lipstick. If the lipstick wears off, you’ll have that liner underneath to color your lips.
  • Line your lips, apply lipstick, blot on a tissue, reapply lipstick and dust very lightly with a loose setting powder for a longer-wearing matte finish.
  • Anything that says “Long-wear” is going to be very drying on your lips. So after wearing a long-wear product – throw some lip balm on to help keep your lips from getting super dry!
  • If you like a shiny lip – know that gloss over lipstick will oftentimes shorten the wear of the lipstick underneath (also – worth a mention – cause your hair to stick to your mouth! Eeek! Drives me nuts!!). So if you do like to wear a gloss, bring something to touch up with.

That’s all I have for you this time around. If you have any questions (about this or other makeup-related things) – send them my way at

Lisa Eldridge also has some great tips to correct thin lips in this 8 minute video. Aging seems to effect the fullness of your lips (I’m old) and I certainly suffer from that too thin upper lip. Fuller lips definitely enhances your beauty, especially when red.





Dressing Styles
We all have our favorite style from ultra feminine to the casual jeans outfit, or perhaps the business look or Bohemian or the look of pure elegance. We explore them all here. This section talks about the various dressing styles and how to achieve them. And you only find this on Sister House
  • A Primer on Understanding the Different Fashion Styles posted on November 5, 2018.
    What are fashion styles...well it's hard to define. We are going to look at some current names women use to describe their fashion styles then help you find your style More
  • Bohemian Style Defined posted on July 24, 2017.
    The Boho or Bohemian style came from the hippy movement of the 60s/70s and then again in the early 2000s and is characterized by a long flowing look. We explore all those looks here and the ladies that made it famous More
  • What Fashion Style Are You? posted on July 22, 2017.
    Fashion is forever as is fashion style. Fashion is completely transparent. It’s fun, it’s confusing, and it never dies off. Fashions from the past are still being worn by women across the country and new fashions are being designed every day. There’s SO many different fashion styles, and we’ve come up with a list of the top 20 looks, from elegant to gothic, exotic to casual, and everything in between. More
Jul 20

Visibility With Style – an Introduction

Visibility with style is Kandi’s new monthly column for Sister House. Our purpose is to provide readers with real world advice on getting out in the mainstream public and doing so with style!  I’ll cite actual experiences and provide pictures.  The column will run here at Sister House as well as on my blog, Kandi’s Land, a daily diary of sorts, with uplifting and positive posts on being who I am.  Hopefully you will see how I have had my meal purchased for me by a mother with her family; been asked for hugs from total strangers; had drinks purchased for me on many occasions; and been complemented time after time.  Is this because I “pass”?  Because I am beautiful?  Absolutely not (although I will admit to photographing well, from a distance).  It is exactly the opposite, because I am who I am, do so proudly and with style, always with a broad smile on my face.

Through my blog and interaction with others on one of the leading CD forums, I do all that I can to offer support and advice to others like myself.  As a result, I think I get enough feedback to understand what many of us go through in dealing with our female alter egos.  Long story short, for me it was almost 50 years of struggle, followed by four years (and counting) of joy, happiness, complete acceptance by the world in general.  I am blessed to be able to go out usually three times a week, attending my church and volunteering for quite a few organizations including three of the most prominent museums in Cleveland (and we have quite a few world-class museums).  My outings are almost always in a mainstream setting, being who I am proudly and confidently.  I strive to place myself in front of as many people as possible on any given outing.  As I’ve explained to many, I don’t go to CD friendly restaurants, I go to restaurants.  I don’t go to CD friendly stores, I go to stores.  When dressed, I am a woman just like any other woman.  I hold myself that way and in turn, am treated as such.

The reality of me is that I do not pass, never have and never will.  I know this because of all the positive attention I receive, attention I would never receive if I did pass.  Strangers frequently complement me, many often hug me (I do like that) and I gather smile after smile.  Sure, there are those that probably roll their eyes or laugh behind my back, but now being out in public well over 400 times (just in the past four years), no one has ever vocalized that to me.  Zero negative experiences.  Please understand, I attempt to pass, I just accept my reality and have now road tested it so often, I know what works for me.

I have a male voice, male biceps, veiny forearms, male fingers, male facial features, I turn into a pumpkin after about eight hours, I am tall for a woman (especially in heels) and while thin, I have a male body frame.  None of this stops me from enjoying life as a woman when I want to.

So, what’s my secret?  First off, after all those years of struggle, I absolutely know that people are accepting, very accepting.  Times have changed, things are different.  I am talking about actual people, not the media, not organizations or religions, but people.  Working at three different museums, I face a constant stream of people, all kinds, from Cleveland, other towns and other countries.  I greet them with a smile and generally engage them in friendly conversation.  Most conversations flow with no acknowledgement of my attire.  I am frequently referred to as “she”.  I am also often referred to as “he” (I speak always in my male voice), but it is never done derisively, it is done as an acceptance that I am indeed a man, I simply choose to present myself as a woman.  I have studied human nature, how people in general move about, how women present themselves, what it takes to enjoy my Kandi time.

I have three basic rules that I preach.

Be smart.  I principally go anywhere I wish, without thought about how I will be perceived.  However, I am smart about it.  I don’t go anywhere that I would not feel safe in any attire.  I generally seek places where I would expect to find more accepting people.  So I spend quite a bit of time at art museums, where creative people gather as well as the theater.  I park my car where it is well lit.  Basically I practice safety in this day and age, just as I would if I were out (male) with my wife and/or children.

Be appropriate.  Dress for the venue.  Dress for your age.  Dress for your body type.  Be stylish but don’t overdo it.  Don’t wear a ball gown to a bowling alley.  While you can certainly wear a short skirt or dress dependent on where you are going, don’t dress like you are 19.  Don’t dress like a hooker (we’ve all seen that).  If you need to lose a few pounds, don’t wear a tight dress.  Exercise common sense.  Look at other woman.  Dress like them.  Act like them. Be one of them.

Be confident.  Smile!  Own it!  Be proud!  Love yourself!  A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear.  Regardless of your attire, if you are looking nervous, you will draw negative attention.  I once met a sister who was very well dressed, but she had a five o’clock shadow and her hair pulled up over her face (no, really), looking like Cousin It.  Really!  It’s all common sense.

I’ve been the principal greeter at an art museum party with over 4,000 guests, almost all seeing me in my pretty pink sundress.  I walk into the Rock Hall and am immediately acknowledged by those that work there.  I am the main hostess for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland for special events and private parties.  My presence at The Cleveland Museum of Art is welcomed and noticed.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been elsewhere and told they knew me from the art museum.  I could go on and on.  I am not bragging, I am trying to clear that path for my sisters and those to come.

We’ll talk more about the benefits of volunteering in another column, but allow me to talk about a weekend I recently had this past summer.  I work for the North Coast Men’s Chorus, a gay men’s chorus and we perform in Cleveland’s historic Playhouse Square district (the largest in the country outside of Broadway).  This weekend we were at The Hanna Theater, where Tom Hanks got his start.

Here I am on Saturday:

Giving visibility by Kandi Robbins in cold-shouldered dress

I picked up the cute cold shoulder dress at Goodwill!  Money well spent.  The dress speaks for itself; I wanted to wear a prominent necklace and bright makeup.  I received two specific complements on my lipstick color, both from employees at the theater.  The one that stuck with me the most, a doll of a young lady told me how she liked the color and how it tied in with my dress and accessories. Well……that was what I was going for!  Both women got big hugs from me.  After dishing up that wonderful complement, she told me to keep being wonderful!  This world could use more wonderful people like that!

Kandi Robbins selfies

These selfies were taken as I walked about downtown before the show, in crowded public areas.  I was no different than any other adorable young lady!  Then before heading over to a favorite restaurant for dinner, I stopped in a bridal boutique, made friends with the proprietor and she took the picture you see above.  I sat at the bar, had dinner and some wine, chatted with those seated next to me, again  treated like the woman I am.  The show was a great fun as I renewed many friendships and doled out hug after hug.

Now here I am on Sunday:

Giving visibility by Kandi Robbins in peplum dress

As you’ve read, Saturday was a blast.  Sunday, a blast of heat!  Ninety degree temperatures dictating my activities for the day.  Short walks, stay inside.  We had a matinee performance.  I got this great peplum dress a while back and was looking for the opportunity to take her for a spin!  It’s funny, there is always one thing I tend to get complements on.  The day before it was my lipstick color, on this day it was the necklace.  I always seem to get complements on it every time I wear it.

As usual, I needed something to do to stretch my day a bit.  I am an active member of a church (Methodist).  Well our services were too early for me to have enough to keep me occupied until the performance.  So I decided to attend (Catholic) Mass at the Cathedral.  I got there early, as I really find it relaxing and cathartic to sit quietly in a dress in a quiet church.

So after Mass, I headed over to the theater and continued my hug-a-thon!  I am supposed to sell tickets for a wine raffle.  I sold very few tickets as many, many friends sought me out, pumped my ego with undeserved complements and chatted with me.  I am becoming more of a goodwill ambassador than a ticket salesperson.

All in all, it was a weekend that exceeded my high expectations.  I, as always, went wherever I wanted and was welcomed.  I did things and saw people I love.  And I had a great Father’s Day on top of everything.  Lucky, lucky, lucky…..

Ladies, things are better.  We do have work to do, but being visible, being out there, makes all the difference.  Be smart, be appropriate, be confident, get out there and be visible!

Kandi Robbins

Sister House Fashion and Style Columnist

Visit Kandi’s Land here

You can read about my back story in the “About” section of my blog and contact me through the “Contact” section.

If you are interested:

The Cleveland Museum of Art

Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland

Great Lakes Science Center

North Coast Men’s Chorus

Playhouse Square

Jul 03

A Primer in Accessorizing to Flatter Your Look

You may be surprised to learn that accessorizing is a learned skill that genetic women need to master too. It too intimidates them depending on their degree of socialization within their peer groups when growing up. Girls need to learn how accessories can add personality, flavor, and interest to outfits as they are the absolutely invaluable tools to becoming a stylish woman

But don’t go thinking that you need a blackbelt in necklace selection to accessorize well! All you need is the curiosity to experiment, a few items that fit your tastes, and some trust in your personal judgment. Accessorization, like any skill, is all about practice. So … practice!

Accessorizing is generally considered to be the finishing touch of an outfit. You’ve got your shoes, bottom, and top covered, but what is lacking to make the ensemble complete? Here are a few questions you can ask as you’re standing before your mirror, clothed but accessory-free:

  • Look for the areas of an outfit that are not-quite-perfect. Can an accessory cinch in a waist? Cover up a hole?
  • Look for the vast stretches of empty space in an outfit. Does an accessory belong there? In a wide or deep neckline, in an unbroken swath of cloth from neck to knee, on a bare arm?
  • Look for ways in which color or pattern seem to clash. Can an accessory bridge that gap?

Now let’s dig into the major categories of accessories one by one, and explore how accessorizing can improve your presentation by finding types and styles that suit your body shape.


 Accessorizing with earrings

When selecting earrings, consider the following criteria:

Haircut and style: How do you want your earrings to interact with your hair? Is it important that they be big and bright enough to show through? If you have a super short cut, will you feel odd wearing giant hoops?

Face shape: If you want to create balance, choose earring shapes that are opposite from your face shape. If you have a round face, go for long, linear, dangly earrings. If you have a square face, go for soft, rounded shapes. If you have a long face, pick earrings that hit about mid-cheek to avoid elongating it any further.

Neck length: There are certain styles of earring that are meant to dance across your shoulders and collarbones, but generally speaking, you want a pair that is at least three inches above shoulder height. So if your neck is shorter, you might want to balance earring length accordingly. In addition, exposed earrings can either balance or emphasize neck length, so bear that in mind. Wearing bulky, chunky earrings may make short necks look shorter. Wearing long, linear, sticklike earrings will make long necks look longer.

Neckline and scarf considerations: If you’re wearing a cowl neck sweater, long earrings will get tangled in the fibers and look sloppy. If you’re wearing a thick, bulky scarf, same. Be aware of how your earrings will interact with your neckline and neckwear.


 Accessorizing with necklaces

How a necklace interacts with your neckline can impact how flattering that necklace is on your body, so be sure to start there. But here are a few more tips on picking a necklace that works with your figure:

Neck length and shape: As you might have guessed, thick chokers will make a short thick neck look shorter and thicker. On the other hand, extremely delicate necklaces can make a short thick neck look shorter and thicker, too. That same extremely delicate necklace might make a long neck look even longer. You ladies can totally eyeball this. Put it on, see how it interacts with your neck shape, and decide if it works.

Bone structure: Some say that women with small, delicate bones should wear small, delicate jewelry no matter what their body shape, and women with larger bones can carry larger jewelry. But that rule is too confining, if you ask me. Nevertheless, bone structure can influence your decisions about how you select your necklace. If you want to create a look that is feminine and romantic, play up delicate bones with light, airy necklaces. If you want to go edgy, pick a chunky chain and think about letting the rest of your outfit de-emphasizes your bone structure.

Bust and decolletage: If you’re exposing some cleavage, necklace choice can either draw attention to or away from the girls. A pendant that nestles will draw the eye to, but a giant bib or statement necklace may cover up and draw attention from your bust. This holds true for all bust sizes, I belive. If you’re small of boob and self-conscious about it, don’t wear an open neckline and a pendant. Go for something bigger and showier to fill that naked space.

Also be aware of length issues, especially if you’re busty. A long necklace that bounces off your bust when you walk may just irritate you. Long necklaces should end about three inches above your navel, regardless of bust size. Shorter necklaces should generally hit an inch above the cleavage line, unless you’re going for an intentionally sexy look.

Face shape: As with earrings, try to choose necklace shapes that will balance or counteract the aspects of your face shape that are the most pronounced. Round faces will look rounder wearing decidedly round necklaces made from round beads, etc.


 Accessorizing with bracelets

Can a bracelet really be unflattering? Actually, it can. Keep these things in mind:

Wrist and forearm shape: Unless you are extremely slender, a giant cuff that masks your entire wrist will make you appear to have forearms that are the same circumference from wrist to elbow. Just as a pair of boots that shows off your ankle is more flattering than a tubelike boot that masks them, a bracelet that shows the curve of your wrist is more flattering than a massive cuff that masks it. It’s an aesthetic choice, and sometimes you just don’t care. And since giant cuffs are seldom worn on both wrists, the masking isn’t complete. But if you’re hypersensitive about your arms, as so many women are, choose bracelets that show your wrist off instead of hiding it.

Tightness: This may seem obvious to the extreme, but I want to cover all my bases. Elasticized bracelets can sit snugly against your wrist, but NO bracelet should squeeze your tender flesh.


 Accessorizing with brooches

I’m pretty sure there are zero unflattering ways to wear a brooch. Do what feels right!


 Accessorizing with hats

Audi’s guest post on flattering hats for every head should get the ball rolling, but here are a few highlights:

Body shape: Consider hat shapes that will balance your figure shape. Petites might want to avoid enormous, wide-brimmed hats or anything truly oversized. They’ll do better with a small brim and low crown. Tall ladies, consider avoiding anything overly narrow, pointy, or high as it will just add to your natural height. You can sport the wide brim that our petites may avoid, and try a shorter crown.

Face shape: Again with the balance thing. If you have a longish face shape, choose wide hats with curled or floppy brims. If your face is round, you’ll want to go for hats with high brims, angular shapes, and that are, overall, wider than your face is. This means that most caps are right out. Square-faced women should consider asymmetric hats, which can help balance strong jawlines. And if you’re an oval, a wide variety of hat styles will work for you. Play around and see what you like!

Hat position: There’s no right or wrong way to wear a hat, of course, but many people choose to push hats to the back of their heads. It might feel natural, but it’s not always the most flattering look. Experiment a bit in front of a mirror before you settle on a position. You never know what’ll work best until you tinker.


 Accessorizing with scarves

Scarves can be worn a trillion different ways, and if you’re looking for new ways to tie yours, I’ve got a few tucked away on this Pinterest board.

Neck length: If you’ve got an average or long neck, an outsized scarf or bulky cowl may work … but those styles will only make a short neck appear shorter. If you’ve got a very long neck, skinny scarves worn long and loose down the body will emphasize that length. As always, consider seeking balance with your natural features.

Face shape: My face is rectangular, so I can have a giant wad of scarfy material up by my face and still look relatively angular. If you have a round face and are concerned about emphasizing it, winding a giant pashmina around your neck is not the way to go. Try a long rectangular scarf that hangs down on either side of your neck, drawing the eye up and down. Experiment with various ties – paying special heed to how loosely or tightly you tie the scarf around your neck and near your face – and see what looks best.

Bust size: Consider how a scarf will interact with your bust, and how that interaction affects your overall silhouette. A giant pile of scarf atop a large bust may just make you look like an ice cream cone. A long, limp scarf dangling across a small chest may just emphasize small breasts. Consider the girls when you slap on a scarf.

 Accessorizing with belts

Waist, or lack thereof: Figures lacking a somewhat defined waistline can have a really tough time belting. Depending on belly size, hip-slung belts may work on the waistless as may belting with elastic or tie belts instead of stiff leather belts … but it’s still tricky. On the flip side, women with pronounced hourglass figures can generally do small and medium-sized belts, but extremely wide belts may conspire with boobs and butt to create a boxy silhouette. Experiment with belt styles and widths until you find a few that work for your waistline.

Shoulders and hips: If you’ve got broad shoulders or a big bust AND pronounced hips, huge belts can be unflattering. However, if you’ve only got one of the three, they can totally work. Play around a bit.

Placement: Just as there’s no right way to wear a hat, there’s no right way to place a belt. Depending on how you’re built, the cut of your clothes, and the style of belt, you may look fantastic buckled right under your bustline, high waist, natural waist, wearing waist, or hip-slung. Eyeball multiple placements in front of a mirror.

Accessorization is affected by your clothing color choices, too, of course. Bright, vibrant colors may work better with small matte accessories, muted tones can allow sparkly, eye-catching accessories to shine. But that call must be made on an outfit-to-outfit basis. If you’re going for a sleek, minimalist look then soft or dark colors and quiet accessories will work. If you’re feeling bold, go bright and loud with both colors and accessories. I couldn’t say there are any figure flattery guidelines specific to pairing color and accessories, at least none that I know of. Focus on how the colors and accessories interact, and then step back and make sure the overall silhouette is one that pleases your eye.

Pay some heed to overall accessory balance. Any body that is absolutely dripping with accessories is going to look a bit off. Your personal rules for amount and size of accessories may vary from mine, but just be sure you know what your parameters for balance are before you head out the door weighed down by belts and jewelry.

And finally, HAVE FUN. This is a lot to digest and may seem awfully confining, but you should definitely experiment and play and make your own accessorization rules. As always, none of my figure flattery advice posts should be considered gospel, including this one, and I fully expect you to read them with a grain of salt. Style “rules” are merely guidelines, no matter who is dispensing them. I trust you to use your judgment. And I trust you to take what applies to you, discard the rest, and assume positive intent.

Want more detail. Check out our All About section in the Library

Originally posted on by Sally McGraw

Jun 15

Plus-Size Vintage on Instagram

Over the past year, Instagram has become flooded with small shops devoted to selling vintage and gently-used clothing. But this new wave of online shopping has had one glaring problem: the sizing is limited. While Instagram is now a destination for finding unique pieces without having to actually go to a thrift store, most items offered run under a size 10. But Belen’s Linens wants to change that. Selling clothing specifically dedicated to plus-size women, the store is, as it refers to itself, “vintage for thiccies.”


Belens Linens vintage fashion

The Phoenix-based vintage shop, which opened less than a year ago, styles and photographs its pieces on curvy ladies and indicates sizing in each caption (at the moment, its items run from size 12 to 18). With just 500 followers, Belen’s Linens may not have the reach some of the most popular Insta-shops do (@courtyard_la and @the_corner_store have 117k and 41k followers, respectively), but it is disrupting a space that for so long has been dominated by straight-size women. Because in the same way the fashion industry is not yet properly catering to the 67% of women who are plus-sized, the vintage market still has a lot of work to do. Let’s hope this is the start of a bigger movement on Instagram — and beyond.

Click on to shop some of Belen’s offerings, and throw them a follow for their affordable, on-trend pieces.

Learn more about vintage fashion in the Playroom By-Gone eras and check out Christina Napoli, our Stylish Crossdresser who loves 1950s fashions

Jun 04

Older. Wiser and More Stylish

tasi's fashion feature

You would think that being older, wiser and more stylish would be a given, but not so. The girls on the Facebook group, Trans Beauty Network, were recently discussing fashion and, in particular, the fashion faux pas’ of trans women seen by the group. High on the list was the perennial favorite of not dressing your age meaning you shouldn’t be a 50-60 year old woman and dress like your granddaughter. And this does not extend to just the trans community but is still a common observation by women in general. When TLC’s How Not To Dress TV show was still on the air, this was a common theme.

So, to those girls, you are missing the boat because as we see below, the older, wiser, and more mature woman can be far more stylish than the ragtag group of millennials that they try to imitate.

Ari Seth Cohen just released a new book, Advanced Style…Older and Wiser which features more senior street style and inspiration from all over the globe, including Los Angeles, London, Cape Town, Rome, Florence, Tokyo, San Diego, Palm Springs, Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Stockholm, and Geneva. The book also features 22 short essays by the subjects of the book distilling the wisdom and lifestyle secrets of some of Cohen’s favorite Advanced Style ladies. But this is NOT a book review because this article is about how older ladies really are more stylish than the millennials and their super comfortable but sloppy lifestyle. This book is but an example of what you can be too.

Diane Pemberton-Sikes in her blog, Fashion for Real Women, wrote a travel article in which she said, “I’ve been on chicken buses in Central America that had better dressed occupants than most domestic flights. It’s amazing how much Americans stick out due to the clothes and overall shabby appearance.”

And since most readers here are probably in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond, we still remember how style was. Not because we necessarily want to return to those eras, but because we want the feeling that those eras had in helping us explore our inborn femininity. How we dress is a large part of that as our dress defines how we are perceived by others. I’m older than 60 so my favorite quote is “…I must tell you that I am not really an old lady; just cleverly disguised as one”.

La Contessa from The Vintage Contessa joined several other ladies at a book signing for this book. Here are several views of the ladies and please note the variety and color of their dress. No uniforms here.

more stylish older ladies 1

That’s Contessa on the right

more stylish older ladies and Ari seth cohen

Ari Seth Cohen on the far left

more stylish older ladies

What this book does is help us learn how to celebrate our femininity as we grow older, a message we all need to learn. It celebrates the poise and vivacity of women who have spent decades refining their personal style! This is one of the better `book of the blog’ types that I’ve read. You certainly don’t need to be familiar with the Advanced Style blog to enjoy the book but it adds some spice to your life. I list other blogs by over 50 women at the end of this article and all of them feature women that will inspire you and give you food for thought on how to dress stylishly regardless of your age.

The women in this book look amazing, and I don’t mean `for their age’, I mean just totally amazing in general. I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be the freshest and most inspiring fashion book of this year. The book is 98% photos, page after page of lovely women wearing the most beautifully put together outfits. There’s a range of looks from quintessential elegance to total bohemian. What’s striking is how much of the wearer’s personality shines through. Usually when I look at street snaps, I’m focused on the clothes and haven’t got much interest in the wearer. But the women in this book seem like they’d be good for conversation over a cup of tea. I wish I knew more about them, what their homes look like or what paths their lives took that made them get through the years and looking more vibrant and beautiful than woman half their age. And my point is that you can be and should be amazing too.

One female commenter on the article by La Contessa said it far better than I ever could, “I also want to look like a woman, and wear flattering clothes as they did in the forties. You can’t find a decent skirt, dress, only ugly tight fitting pants. Skirts so short they are embarrassing, and if the women wearing them do not feel embarrassed, I feel it for them. Men do not like unfeminine women. The more indecent you dress the more they use you and disrespect you, they cast you aside and try to find what they are truly are looking for. They like women with soft voices, genteel, have a brain so they can carry on an intelligent conversation, with tenderness and loving in the most pure and innocent way.

Can you find that today? No, not very many exist.

They have lost a great deal in banishing truly flattering clothes. Women trying to be men. Also they have lost the dignity and the nobleness that God gave women.

These styles are sickening and make me sick. Everybody wants to be a man these days, unshaven, sloppy and crude. You can have it. Wild hair cuts, some not even caring to tend to their hair, and they do not care how they look at all. Quite unbelievable that the so called modern generation can no longer think for themselves. The word for today is Slobs!

Women modeling these clothes always look like they do not know how to stand, walk or sit in a dignified manner. They hold their legs in awkward positions as if they have some unidentifiable defect. Too bad, Class for women is gone. Thrift stores offer more opportunities than any of the fashions we see in today’s store. Today’s fashions are against women. They have been this way since the sixties. The sad part of all of this is that they believe everything the designers tell them. Ridiculous!”

One of the advantages of being women over 60 is that “we’ve seen it all” – we’ve been through every kind of fashion fad and short-lived trend imaginable during our lives. Now that we’re in our 60s (and beyond), we have the simple elegance and freedom that comes from being able to choose the styles that reflect who we are while having fun with fashion.

Just take a look at these two fashion boards on Sister House Pinterest pages. Over 60 and Still Fashionable and Age Appropriate is a Myth.

fashionable ladies over 60

That’s Sophie Lauren on the left in her 80s

more stylish older ladies 2

more stylish older ladies 3

One of the great things about being women over 60 today is that we have more fashion role models than ever before. Women over 60 are still too often marginalized and made invisible by the media and by our culture, but there are some prominent women over 60 who are fashion icons and there are many fashion lessons to be learned from them which you can see here in this article on Ageless Fabulous Women in Femme d’Certain Age on Sister House.

You might also enjoy this fabulous video series on Sixty and Me.

“Be bold, be adventurous. Do profound things, dazzle yourself and the world. Don’t wear beige: it might kill you. Contribute to society, and live large. Life is short, make every moment count. It is never too late to find your passion.” — Sue Kreitzman.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy Lessons Learned from Ageless Fabulous Women.

If you are interested in the books, Advanced Style or Advanced Style, Older and Wiser, just click the link.

Here are some of my favorite over 50 fashion bloggers. They are well worth your time to visit.

Advanced Style
Style At A Certain Age
Lady of Style (DE)
Une Femme d’un Certain âge
The Vintage Contessa
Style Crone
Accidental Icon
Not Dead Yet Style
Susan After 60

May 16

14 Surprising Women’s Clothing Stores That Carry Plus Size

Plus size fashion has always been a shopping challenge, but now it’s a bit easier  for women who wear above a size 14.

plus size dressOver the past several months, many of your favorite mall retailers added inclusive sizing to their clothing racks. Loft now carries bright prints and bold patterns in sizes 16 to 26. The work-wardrobe experts at White House Black Market expanded their sizes up to 24W. Reese Whitherspoon’s clothing brand Draper James partnered with Eloquii to launch a full range of sizes. Even sustainable clothing brand Reformation low-key added a plus-size collection, saying, “Sorry it took us so long.”

It’s been a good year for inclusive fashion. While we still have a ways to go before all of our favorite retailers are curve-friendly (looking at you Everlane), it’s thrilling to see so many clothing options for curvy gals. That’s why we’ve pulled together a list of some of the most surprising clothing retailers that now carry plus-size styles.

Below, 14 surprising clothing stores that carry above a size 14:

Source: Huffington Post

Jan 22

One Piece – Many Looks

Nadine Feil is a very stylish German crossdresser and in this blog post, One Piece – Many Looks, she aptly demonstrates just how to transform a few essential pieces, like a cardigan and a blazer, into many really great street style looks. We have much to learn from her

I quote:  Here it comes, “one part”, ie a piece of clothing or, for example, a sofa, a living room wall ,,with the simplest  “turn” means to. The whole should not generate any new acquisitions possible. When going,  I would them each  like to see three design examples – “Looks 3” .

Since I naturally thought it ridiculous if I do not find some examples. And voila, here are my amounts for your great action, love Traude:

Cardigan looks

My first part is all about a black cardigan. On the left, I combined it with a white top and a silver, short skirt, in the middle with a yellow dress and on the right with the same top as on the left and a blue patterned mini skirt. You have to click the photos to see them bigger.

Blazer outfit looks

My second collage shows a gray blazer. Left classic as a “business outfit” with a gray pencil skirt, a white blouse and black tights, in the middle casual with white top, a short mini skirt (the same as in the example above) and a matt, nude tights, right all ” Lady-like “with a white blouse body and paisley pin skirt. In addition, a slightly shiny pantyhose to enhance the elegant character.

Rosa_Rock looks

Now a simple pink pencil skirt is the focus. Three times very casual combined – for shopping and for a museum visit. Right with a trench coat, which comes down in honor again.

Bleistiftrock looks

We stick to a pencil skirt, this time a bit more elegant in gray. Left in an elegant setting with a purple top, in the middle with a white blouse, a black sweater and high heels boots and on the right again the business outfit from above. Forgive me for showing the photo twice, but it just fits in here as well.

Bolero outfit looks

Now comes a green bolero jacket in the limelight. It was purchased as a supplement to the blue dress, which you can see on the left. But it goes well with the black lace dress or a gray flared skirt and a red top.

gray cardigan outfit looks

Relatively recently, a gray cardigan was allowed to move into my wardrobe, which can be combined with many pieces. The gray dress, the gray skirt or the light blue pleated rocker will not be the last outfits with this all-purpose cardigan 😉

red sheath dress outfit looks

One of my oldest pieces is this red sheath dress. It’s actually part of a costume and comes – I think – still from the 80s … I know, I look younger :-))) But no matter if only with purple scarf, with belt and Cardigen (again the black of above) or combined with beige blazer, in this dress woman has to sit down while sitting down to hell that it does not slide up too high and provokes unwanted glances 😉

trench coat outfit looks

Last but not least, of course, comes my beloved trench coat to honor, I could show you in even more variants. Whether with beige skirt and pumps, with the gray pencil skirt from above or at the Vienna Central Cemetery with a green miniskirt (not visible), black high boots (both not suitable for the place – I apologize) and black tights (rather fitting), I always feel very well in this coat.

Of course, I have not bought any of the parts shown separately, but in the spirit of sustainability and Traude’s specifications only “carried”. Hard-working tribal readers will already know most of the outfits and pictures, some of which are already very old, but maybe I was able to encourage you a bit to participate in this beautiful action of Traude.

Translated from the original German

Jan 08

Eloquii Expands Its Plus-Size Offering


Eloquii is one of the most fashion forward and contemporary retailers in the plus-size market. I love all their designs and especially their dresses. Now I just need to win the lottery to buy them all.

Eloquii dresses

Eloquii announced today via email and social media that starting in Fall 2018, they will offering all their styles in sizes 26 and 28. But they did not stop there… Eloquii also announced that they will be extending their sizes to 30-32 in the fall as well.

With this said, let’s support Eloquii in its efforts. If they are willing to offer a broader size range, we have to be willing to back them up with our voices and wallet. Spread the word on social media and shop the brand.

So let’s celebrate this, share it on social media and talk about it! Let’s buy some stuff, wear it, slay it and post images to social media with the hashtag #XOQ. Let Eloquii know how they can serve YOU, the customer, better. It’s obvious they are listening.

Nov 25

Hannah McKnight

Meet Hannah McKnight, a happily married t-girl from Minnesota  She writes a blog, Hannah McKnight, focusing on fashion, advice and activism and occasionally models for Glamour Boutique or writes for Frock, an online transgender-focused magazine.  Hannah runs a social and support group for transwomen in Minnesota (and beyond) called the MN T-Girls.

MN T-Girls

Hannah says, “MN T-Girls is here to create awareness of crossdressers and transgender people in Minnesota.  Some of us are husbands, fathers, brothers and sons.  We are also beautiful girls when we want to be, whether that is a few weekends a month or every day.  We are all at different stages in our lives…some of us have transitioned, some are out for the first time, some of us just love dressing up a few times a month.  All are welcome.  Each month we get together and shop, have dinner, have private makeup lessons and have fun.”

Hannah is 42 years old,  6 feet tall, 163 lbs and wears a size 12 dress.

Hannah McKnight

Interview with Hannah

What is the secret to great style?  Confidence.  You can have flawless makeup, a beautiful dress and amazing heels but without confidence and self-assurance, none of that matters.

What is the one thing you would spend a lot of money on?  Makeup, particularly foundation.

What is the one thing you wouldn’t spend a lot of money on?  As much as I love heels, I wouldn’t spend a lot on a shoe simply because it’s trendy or by a famous designer.  I have about forty pairs of heels, something for every occasion and I can’t bring myself to spending a lot on something simply because of who designed it.

How do you balance new trends with a more timeless look?  I think looking your best never goes out of style, so regardless of where I go and what I’m doing, I strive to look my best, which is always timeless.  If there is a new trend that I am drawn to, I’ll follow it but not for long.

hannah mcknight with timeless look

What is your current obsession?  As we are in the Christmas season and stores are displaying fun sparkly dresses, I am obsessed with finding my perfect holiday dress.

hannah mcknight in evening wear

Who inspires you?  I really am inspired by women who are stylish and you can tell they are making an effort to look their absolute best.  When a women has a stylish dress, has clearly thought out their accessories and has amazing makeup, I am inspired to look my best.  I love seeing women in the office, the mall and out in the real world.  When you can tell her confidence and appearance are linked to each other, I am reminded how an outfit and really bolster one’s esteem.

Do you have a signature piece or style?  I am not sure if this counts, but I am usually the girl who is overdressed wherever I go.  I aim to look my best and it’s not unusual for me to run errands in heels, a stylish dress and matching accessories.

hannah mcknight with signature look

What’s your secret to making yourself stand out?  I tend to wear a lot of bright colors and a lot of floral prints. I am also tall, so that helps, and of course my four inch heels adds to that.  I also dress appropriately for my age and where I am.  I love my leather dress and five inch stilletos, but I am not wearing them to the mall.  I don’t want to stand out for the wrong reason.

hannah mcknight in bright colors, florals and leather dress

What’s the one piece of advice most crossdressers need but don’t get?  That there is no such thing as “passing”.  I also want to state that I do not believe in “passing”.  I don’t think I pass, and you likely won’t either.  What is passing?  Who decides if you pass or not?  Who has the right to decide if you look feminine enough?  What does that even mean?  Women, whether trans or cis, all look different.  Some cis-women are tall, have broad shoulders, hands of all sizes and have different facial features.  Holding ourselves to a certain standard means that we have expectations as to what a cis-woman “should” look like.  Here’s the reality:  Some cis-women have large hands.  Some are taller than men.  Some have deep voices.  Some have facial hair.  Does this mean they don’t “pass”?  Of course not.  All cis-women are women (if they choose to identify that way, of course), all transwomen are women, no matter how anyone looks.

“Passing” and loving how you look and feel are two completely different things.  When I walk through a mall wearing my favorite dress and heels I feel *amazing*.  I don’t care what anyone else thinks.  What do I care if someone thinks that I am not beautiful?  What do I care if someone knows that I am transgender?  It doesn’t affect me in the slightest.  You are the only one that gets to decide if you are beautiful.  And you are.

What’s the best piece of style wisdom you’ve ever received?  “You can never be overdressed or over-educated”  -Oscar Wilde

What is your favorite trend?  They are not really en vogue anymore, but I was obsessed with peplum dresses.  I also love bodycon dresses.

hannah mcknight in bodycon and peplum dresses

What would you not be caught dead in?  Open toe heels with black stockings.  Or a maxi-dress.  Or flats.

What are your favorite websites?  I love looking at outfit ideas on Pinterest and Instagram.

How would you describe your personal style?  I don’t know if I have one, but I love anything that is feminine, fun and shows off my legs.

Who are your style icons?  I love Dita Von Teese.  She is just…alluring in everything she wears.  She is famous for her fetish and lingerie wear, but it’s her dresses that are simply to die for.  I love her retros outfits and evening wear. 
dita von teese in fetrish and e vening wear

dita von teese in retro and evening wear

Hannah can be reached through her blog, Hannah McKnight, or at