Claire is Northern Irish by birth, Australian by choice, and started cross dressing at the age of three or four. Her career has mainly been in the health industry as a general nurse with stints as an educator and a counsellor. There have been a couple of side trips into retail and photography as well. Claire is
the owner of the Yahoo group, Clairestafford2000. She has been published in various journalistic magazines and T.G. fiction, under the name, ‘Lady Claire Stafford’. “Having had an active time as a very out and involved cross-dresser, these days I am more retiring but like to keep track with what is happening in Australia and around the world in the Trans scene”.
Clare is 5ft 11 in and claims she doesn’t concern herself about her weight.
Interview with Claire
What is the secret to great style?
I really don’t know. I see people in amazing dresses who are obviously out to be noticed, like at the Oscars red carpet parade. The older women dress with class and style. Stick to the KISS principle. ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’. Simplicity is so easy but so many ignore it. Adding to much to a basic outfit detracts and irritates. For example, the little black dress that every woman should have at least one of. All you need is a simple necklace, a bracelet or maybe a simple brooch.
What is the one thing you would spend a lot of money on?
A new body. Oh sorry, this is serious? Apart from a series of electrolysis and permanent hair removal treatments, I would spend a lot of money on properly fitted foundation garments. The sort that push out as well as haul in. It’s no good having a great outfit if it doesn’t hang right. A skinny bum and no hips just scream out for help.
What is the one thing you wouldn’t spend a lot of money on?
Gimmicky items, short term fashions, it’s too easy to get cheap versions these days. Save the money for the classics.
How do you balance new trends with a more timeless look?
It depends on the wearer and the new trend. I can still recall the when the mini came ‘in’. Great look if you had the figure but some should never have worn in. Sorry, but if you had huge thighs you definitely shouldn’t have. Thank heavens for the maxi and midi.
The classic should dominate, always. Now and then add a touch of the new for fun, but only now and then.
What is your current obsession?
Same as always, shoes and bags! I found a supplier that has such a great range in my size, patents to crocodile skin, flats to heels, sandals to courts.
Cate McGregor. The highest ranking (Lt Col) transgendered person in the Australian armed services. Very intelligent woman who is always attractively turned out.
Do you have a signature piece or style?
I like the ‘shift’ style in dresses and straight or ‘pencil’ skirts, with the hem at or just under the knee. Having said that I do own some clothes that are shorter but not by much, as well as some full skirts.
What’s your secret to making yourself stand out?
I would have to return that by saying I don’t make a point of trying to stand out. I do get compliments occasionally and I am most grateful for them, but I just work on trying to look as normally feminine.
The one piece of advice most crossdressers need but don’t get?
Get a cheval mirror and use it! Not just crossdressers mind you, most women in general. The times I have seen a woman walking down the street, looking great from the front and then the back has been so untidy, skirts caught up, hair a mess etc. If you use a small mirror you can check out the back view.
What’s the best piece of style wisdom you’ve ever received?
I didn’t actually receive it but a great piece is attributed to Coco Chanel, ‘Once you’ve dressed, and before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.
One evening in particular, I was going out to a support group meeting, I took this a stage further and took everything off! No, I didn’t go out in the nude!!!
I had on a suit and blouse with matching shoes and bag. But as I started the car I had a thought about where I was going and how I was attired, the meetings were held in a public library meeting rooms. Local councils rent them out to community groups for a nominal sum. It felt a bit over dressed although, to be honest, everyone did. It was a chance to get out and about looking and feeling special.
Anyway, I returned to my apartment and changed everything. A short sleeved knitted top with a scooped neckline, a pair of wide Crimplene slacks. Flat sandals and a shoulder bag with a shoulder bag, tote style. I also carried a large knitted cardigan in case it got cooler later. I received a lot of nice comments about how ‘natural’ I looked.
What is your favorite trend?
Although I haven’t got the figure to wear it I have seen the return of an old favourite. The full skirted dress and petticoats. It’s a fashion that just pops up every now and again for a season then quietly goes away only to return a few years later.
What would you not be caught dead in?
Onsies!!! I was actually given one as a present a few years ago. I managed to lose it.
What are your favorite websites?
Apart from my Yahoo group site and Flickr photo page, and of course my obsession with Face Book, I probably visit fashion sites more often. Ezibuy and OSAS have a great selection of clothes, I also visit ‘Diana Ferrari’ and ‘Rosenbergs’ for shoes. (Oh! and Sister House, of course)
How would you describe your personal style?
I have never thought of having a personal style to be honest. I usually wear what I like taking into account the appropriateness of the time of day and place. We used to have a saying about not going to a supermarket in a ball gown! If I am about the city during a week day I strive to blend in as much as possible. Years ago I noticed so many women in corporate attire, skirt suits or pant suits in navy or black, even a simple skirt, again in black or navy, with a blouse or shirt. I started to emulate this and gained a lot of confidence going out and about dressed like this. Even when out with friends, work colleagues, who knew about me, we’d go out together I’d wear a suit, sometimes they did too, which was nice. I suppose if you held a gun to my heads I would suggest I wear ‘quietly classic’.
Who are your style icons?
Everyone. I admire so many different women for so many different reasons. I adore Queen Latifah, she is a wonderfully buxom woman who has no concerns about her figure not being what would be considered an ideal shape. Ditto actors Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids among others, and Rebel Wilson an Australian actor, screenplay writer and comedienne. Al three are large and it doesn’t matter. Rebel made the great observation about the average female in a sit-com.
”What they do in America in all those sitcoms is hire glamorous girls and they’re never that funny,” she says. ”And that’s because they’ve never had to develop a personality because they’re hot. I think girls like me have to develop a personality to get any sort of attention.”
Such a great role model to anyone.
(Tasi’s Note: And on occasion, Claire goes from morning wear to evening wear)