Nov 28

Transgender Safety Updated

safety firstI thought that a review of Transgender Safety would fit right in with all the concerns recently about safety,

Almost daily I hear about new members joining our Group. For some, they have been in the transgender scene for some time, for others, it may be their first week.

Before we get to the basic safety precautions, consider this – Does your spouse and family know about your TG status? If not and someone discovers you on the Web, is your TG status something they could use to blackmail you, etc.? What if your employer saw your postings? If you have nothing to hide and don’t care who knows about your TG status, life is easier and you may not have to read on.

For many years, I was very secretive about my TG status. I only corresponded with Tri-Ess members, as that organization has very tight confidentiality. Suddenly, with the death of my Police Officer nephew, three years ago, my last name has become public knowledge. At this time in my life, that’s OK. My family knows about “Teri” and I’m permanently ‘unemployed’, so no issues there. No one can use my TG status against me to negatively affect me. However, many of you are still employed and your spouse and family may not know about your TG status and if it were made public, such information would cause you great discomfort.

Whether you are new to the transgender scene, or an old pro, here are a few things to consider when posting on the Internet:

1) Never use your real Last Name on the Web.

2) When joining a Group, never list your true City location.

3) When joining a Group, never list your true birth date.

4) If the Yahoo Group, etc., you are joining requires a phone number, remember it can be traced through the White Pages, etc. Consider getting a cell phone under a different name and address.

5) Never post a photo of yourself which contains background scenes (such as your car with license plate showing) which could reveal your true identity or where you live.

6) Regardless of how comfortable you feel about a person with whom you are corresponding, don’t share personal information, which you don’t want your spouse, family, or employer to know.

7) NEVER share/post photos of other family members – especially minors, or other TG friends. Only you should be visible in your pics.

8) NEVER share personal information with someone you just met at a bar, restaurant, etc. In fact, if out in public and others have not “read you”, don’t “out” yourself to them.

9) When leaving a public place like a bar or restaurant, if someone took an interest in you, but you are not particularly interested in them; or if some weirdo took a fancy to you, make sure you are not being followed when you leave that establishment. Look for other cars coming out of the parking lot and see how long they are behind you. If they follow you for more than 3 turns, pull into a gas station, etc., and sit for a while and observe whether that vehicle followed you and is waiting on you.

10) If you are out in public and approached by someone (or followed) who makes you feel uncomfortable, go to a 24-hr. store like WalMart or CVS Pharmacy, etc. Stay inside until you see that the person has left. In a large store, if they follow you inside, you can ditch them by zigzagging through the isles and leaving by a different exit. If all else fails and you still feel uncomfortable, call the police. You don’t have to tell them that you are TG. Just say someone is following you and you don’t know why.

Note from Tasi: If you are deeply closeted, then Teri’s advice on your internet presence is certainly sound, but many of us have a strong online presence and sharing pictures of family and friends, particularly on just TG sites, is not only common, but rewarding with minimum risk. I know of many girls that share details of their lives yet still maintain their male privacy. Your greatest risk is likely your wife looking at your computer.

Nov 15

Just a Crossdresser

Mikki Gilbert_optThis column originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry Journal, No. 91, Fall 2000.
By Miqqi Alicia Gilbert. Ph.D.

The community in which we all exist is an extremely diverse one. It includes FTMs, MTFs, transsexuals, crossdressers, drag queens and kings, butches, femmes, intersexes, gender benders, and a host of others, both pure and in combination. The politicization of the community has led in recent years to an increased awareness of our needs and existence in the eyes of the general public and various governmental and bureaucratic agencies. As we all know, the awareness that a community exists, that it has a place within the larger society, is a crucial step toward obtaining rights, privileges and respect

Many of the advances made have been a direct result of activism on the part of the community itself. Everything from urging the inclusion of “T” in LGB organizations to demonstrating at the trial of Brandon Teena’s murderers has been a step toward recognition and normalization. The existence of the internet and its vast resources for bringing together disparate and geographically far-flung groups and individuals, offering solidarity and anonymity at the same time, has had a major impact on our ability to organize and marshal our forces and energy. In no small part, the introduction of the concept that there is a transgender community that, though diverse in many ways, nonetheless has a commonality of interest, has enabled broad support base for many issues. Organizations that had not previously been in contact or seen themselves as part of a larger movement or context now share goals and interests.

The extent of the diversity within the TG community cannot be overestimated. At one extreme there is the lifelong child-identified transsexual who has identified from earliest memories with his/her chosen sex; to the butch lesbian questioning her gender identity; to the fetishistic crossdresser who never leaves his house. These individuals and all those in between have a vast range of interests and concerns. In fact, there are people who claim the extent of the diversity means there really isn’t a community at all. But invariably, there is one group singled out from the pantheon of categories that is demonstrably less connected and more derogated than any other. This group is, of course, the crossdresser, and, more specifically the male-to-female heterosexual crossdresser.

crossdressers in FL

The crossdresser is frequently not a highly respected person within the transgender world. His reputation (and I use the pronoun “his” advisedly) is of someone who has a sexual urge toward women’s clothing and whose experiences typically began early but were primarily masturbatory, i.e., a form of fetishistic paraphilia. In addition, he is generally deeply closeted, and if he does come out at all it is usually to attend restricted gatherings such as club functions or events. At these meetings he will most likely meet and interact primarily with other crossdressers.

Being closeted from an early age is an extremely formative fact for the crossdresser. The lack of interaction brings with it a minimal or non-existent socialization which often results in a caricature-like representation of the chosen gender. The transsexual, especially the child-identified transsexual, has the opportunity to inculcate feminine socialization through stealthy observation and selection. The crossdresser, on the other hand, is normally so conflicted about his gender confusion that the overwhelming shame, guilt and confusion leads to self-repression and a need to distance himself from feminine identification. Whereas the young female crossdresser can get away with a “tomboy” identification, the male crossdresser has no such youthful place to hide.

crossdresser large breastsIn later life the crossdresser may indeed begin to mature and learn to dress in ways appropriate to age, size and occasion, but even here there is no guarantee. The propensity for six-foot-plus 50-something male-to-female crossdressers to wear mini-skirts, big hair, and tight tops over large bosoms is definitely high (though it must never be forgotten that there are socially certified females who do so as well). The reasons for this include the initial genesis through sexual awakening and fetishism, the lack of peer socialization, and the infrequency of appearing at functions where informal or business clothes are the norm.

The average transsexual is much less likely to share this complex erotic and emotional relationship to clothing, especially if the transsexual is a so-called primary or child-identified transsexual. The difference is important: the crossdresser wears women’s clothing because they are women’s clothes, while the male-to-female transsexual wears women’s clothing because she is a woman. The reverse is true for the FTM situation, and results in a completely different relationship. Since the child-identified transsexual has often absorbed cross-gender socialization, the clothes are not exciting, but natural. This is not to suggest that a transsexual cannot get excited or aroused or feel erotic as a result of certain clothing — this is true of all men and women regardless of their birth nature or socially certified gender status. But the chances of seeing an MTF transsexual hanging about in loose sweat pants or leggings and an oversize shirt are far greater than for a crossdresser.

All of this sometimes results in the transsexual viewing the crossdresser in a derisory light, with the crossdresser considered at best a dilettante and at worst a sex-obsessed fetishist who smears the good name of transgenderism. But for most in the community, the crossdresser is, often unconsciously, sort of like an annoying little sister who wants to play with you and your friends but lacks the sophistication and maturity necessary. Yes, she needs to be around sometimes, you are, after all, related in some way or other, but her eagerness, lack of savior faire, and inability to measure up makes her an embarrassment rather than a friend. She uses too much makeup, wears dreadful clothes, the wrong shoes (usually high heels), always sports those absurd long fingernails, overacts, emphasizes breasts she does not really have, and expects to be taken seriously! For goodness sake, most of them don’t even know the first thing about feminism, let alone being a woman!

Unfortunately, this attitude permeates, often unconsciously, numerous organizations, projects, and undertakings. It is not unusual for crossdressers not to be invited or involved in political, artistic and scholarly events not primarily organized by and for crossdressers, and when they are, there is not infrequently a subtle form of marginalization. I’ll share one example that happened to me when I traveled from Toronto to Oxford, England for the 3rd International Congress on Gender and Sexuality in September of 1998.

The paper I was presenting at the Congress was a fairly technical discussion of the concept of selective socialization with the framework of social construction theory (I am a philosopher, remember?) This was new research I had been thinking about for some time, and to the best of my knowledge no one else was discussing this particular issue. I knew from the program listing that there were quite a few young academics presenting papers and holding discussion in the area of social construction, and I was very excited to share my work with them. That did not happen. I had forgotten to take into account the fact that I am “just a crossdresser” and could not, therefore, have anything really serious to say about transgender theory. When I arrived, I examined the program and found the session in which I was placed. It was not with the transsexual scholars talking about my subject. Instead, I was sandwiched between someone discussing crossdressing in Shakespearean theatre and someone else talking about the history of petticoating. Needless to say, while there was a goodly audience and the presentations were interesting, the people I most wanted to hear the talk were not present. Yes, it’s very difficult to construct a conference schedule, but the consistency with which this sort of categorization occurs is too frequent to be coincidental.

In fairness, the crossdresser has not always made things easier. There are organizations, for example, that exclude transsexuals from membership for reasons which range from the members’ discomfort about homosexuality to concern about significant others’ fears of slippage into transsexualism. In other words, rather than educate their members and their families about transsexuality, it’s easier to remain exclusive and discriminatory. This can result in transsexuals not having a strong organizing base, and often being isolated due to insufficient resources. This attitude on the part of some crossdressers underscores the idea that crossdressers are not serious about their gender theorizing, and are not reflective about their role as gender outlaws and their place in the wider transgender community.

Ultimately, it is the community as a whole that suffers from this divisiveness. With widely divergent groups that can but do not always help each other, we hamstring ourselves. Crossdressers need to realize they are transgendered, and that, hello, no one really does know if you will wake up one day and want to go full time or sign up for SRS. Adult-onset transsexualism does happen, and it happens to crossdressers who were certain all their lives they were just having fun with their “hobby.” Transsexuals also have to understand there is a large number of crossdressers who are changing their self-definition, for whom the terminology of “crossdresser” is becoming too narrow or restrictive. Many of us are making great efforts to grow toward a transgender ideology that goes well beyond any reasonable conception of mere fetishism. Many crossdressers are highly reflective about who and what they are and how that relates to femininity, womanness, and the concept of gender.

A well-dressed crossdresser

A well-dressed crossdresser

There needs to be a serious reaching out by all parties in the transgender world. This includes not only the MTF transsexuals and crossdressers, but FTMs and the intersexed as well. No one has a lock on righteousness, pain, suffering, or the right way to be gendered. By beginning to trust each other we can create a much stronger base from which we can make the world safe for gender freedom. It does not matter if you, a crossdresser, never want to go to work or the movies crossdressed, and it does not matter if you, a transsexual, blend in perfectly with total acceptance as your chosen gender. What matters is that if we respect and help each other we will be stronger and safer. This has to be done not with words, but demonstratively. Clubs need to embrace the whole spectrum of the community. Our Toronto club, Xpressions, has a wide range of transgendered people on its board of directors, and this has brought many new members to our club. We also have an annual fundraising dinner for a program that offers support to transsexual street youth. The first time we did that there was utter disbelief that a club based around heterosexual crossdressers would lift a finger, let alone raise several thousand dollars, for transsexual street kids.

Crossdressers fear being considered transsexuals or gay men. Transsexuals fear being considered fetishists who want only to get off. FTMs fear being lost among groups that have been long-organized around MTF issues. Intersexes fear being misunderstood and classed as gender dysphoric. Everyone has fears, far more than I can list here; but isn’t it interesting that we all have them? Being gender diverse with a rigidly gender bipolar culture is, after all, terrifying.

Maybe if we come together and learn to be less afraid of each other, we’ll also learn to be less afraid of the outside world.

Miqqi Alicia Gilbert is a Professor of Philosophy at York University, Director of the annual transgender event Fantasia Fair, and a board member of Xpressions in Toronto, Canada.

Comment by Tasi on this article:  I took umbrage once again at statements by “those in the know” that cross-dressing is all about satisfying sexual urges. It’s only recently that I came to a more fuller understanding of our community and unfortunately for many cross-dressers that’s what it is. Still, those of us that are somewhat past puberty and understand we have a feminine side, it’s about releasing that feminine side through clothing. I guess that I’m in the grey area group that’s somewhere between CD and TS, hence I relate to be transgender. Overall the article is balanced and I’m linking to it from my Yahoo group, The TG Woman. It will make for interesting discussion

Mikki’s Website     Mikki’s Email Address:  mikki@gilbert1.net

Nov 15

How To Create an Outfit

How to create an outfit is one of the most challenging of all tasks for a crossdressing/transgender woman. We don’t have the years of experience that most women take for granted nor often the innate sense of fashion that seems to come to many women

They get up, stare into the wardrobe and pick out the first thing that springs to hand. Some end up looking great and others…well, not so much. We tend to be in that latter category more often than not. yet it’s not a great secret. Ann Reintein of Pretastyler walks us through the process.

What you wear has a huge influence on how you feel and behave day to day. Socially and business savvy women know that getting dressed and choosing the right outfit is critical to the way the day will unfold.

You can’t deny that when you look put together, you feel more powerful, more confident and other people give you more notice and more respect. Knowing how to build an outfit is an essential skill to ensure you project the image you want and live the lifestyle you choose.

What you wear and how well you’re groomed speaks volumes about you and we are all unconsciously assessing others via their appearance every day. So it makes sense to look our best every day and that starts with the ability to create figure flattering and visually pleasing outfits.

Thoughtfully crafting outfits from the options in your wardrobe may seem like a daunting task but it’s really as easy as 1, 2, 3. In time, these steps will become second nature to you and building an amazing outfit will be a cinch.

Think aheadThink ahead

It’s always easier to plan what you’ll be wearing the night before. When you have your outfit laid out and ready, it will make your morning much less stressful. This is a great bedtime ritual to make sure that your mornings start on the right note. Laying out your outfit the night before also affords you the time to explore a lot more sartorial possibilities.
Ask yourself:
• What will I be doing?
• Where will I be going?
• What will the weather be?
• Who will I be seeing?
• What’s the level of dress that will be required?
• What impression do I want to make?

These questions are key to choosing the right outfit for your day. Don’t forget to lay out your accessories too. This ritual/habit will take the hassle out of your mornings and take the guesswork out of dressing up.

Decide on your base layer

It is easier to put together your look once you’ve decided on the basic elements of your outfit. Here are the simple possible combinations for your outfit:
• Skirt + top
• Pant + top
• Dress
The base layer’s look will of course be decided by the occasion or event you’re building the outfit for. The base layer will also decide factors like underwear, accessories etc. If your base layer is simple, that’s the time to get more creative or bold with other aspects of your look. If one or more base layer elements is a statement piece, that’s your cue to simplify the rest of your ensemble.

determine your base layer

Lay the right foundation

The right lingerie or shapewear will make an enormous difference. You may think that what you wear underneath doesn’t show or is irrelevant—that’s where you’re wrong. Your underwear affects how clothes sit or drape on your body. Shapewear is a worthy investment in this department since it provides an excellent foundation for your clothing. It will smooth any bulges and it will make sure your clothes fit perfectly. The right underwear has the same effect, so invest in your bras and panties, ladies. Trust me, it will pay off. The right shapewear and underwear will kill wobbles and perk up your chest area. It will make you look your best. If you want to know more, click this link for my in-depth feature on Shapewear.
Source

lay the right foundation

 Layer as desired

Layering is a great way to increase the chicness of your look. So whether it’s for fashion or function, layering is necessary to building an effective outfit.
• For formality
o In business settings adding an extra layer to cover bare upper arms will result in a more professional image.
o More formal settings are more about fashionable layering. For professional environments, adding a blazer to your look will result in a more polished and formidable appearance. For formal events like parties etc., layering with embellished jackets or colourful scarves is a great way to stand out and increase the stylishness of your cocktail dress or evening separates.
• For warmth
o i. If you feel you are on the larger side look for light layers of extra warm fabrics e.g., cashmere. Fabrics like cashmere or Merino wool provide the warmth and insulation you need without adding extra bulk to your frame.
ii. Layering for warmth may be functional, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be trendy about it. Cozy cardigans in trendy prints like polka dots, stripes, or plaid is a brilliant way to add an extra dimension of style to your look.

layer as needed

Shoe off

Any style conscious woman will tell you that a shoe can make or break an outfit and it’s true. Nothing can ruin a great outfit quite like a cheap or bad pair of shoes can. A stunning evening dress doesn’t look right with cork wedges, while a day of errands can get sabotaged with a pair of uncomfortable stilettos. Choose shoes that go with the overall images and vibe of your look. It is also important to know when to sacrifice comfort for style and vice versa. A day of walking should, of course, necessitate a comfy yet chic pair of sneakers while a fancy evening event is the right moment to put style above all else, and slip into a pair of amazing high-heeled pumps. For more footwear knowledge, go to my feature called, “Well Heeled.”

add shoes

Accessorize

Accessories are so much fun! This is the part where you can get playful with your look and experiment a little bit, all within the bounds of good taste of course. Accessories are also a great way to integrate current trends into your look, and it’s also the outfit element where you can insert more of your personality. Embellishments such as jewelry, scarves, and hand bags can add air of uniqueness to your look. Here are some things to consider when accessorizing your look.

To attract attention to your best area

Think about which areas of your body you want to highlight and consider accessorizing there. If you have an enviable waist, wear a statement belt. If you want to draw attention to your face consider wearing a statement necklace. You get the idea.

Complete the look

An outfit isn’t complete without accessories. Think about a basic white tee and jeans. Worn by itself, it seems so drab. But add a long gold necklace, a printed scarf, and/or some colorful bangles and your humble white tee and jeans combo is ready for a night on the town.

Add some fashion influence

Accessories are look-at-me pieces that instantly communicate your fashion sensibilities. Whether you’re a trendy or classic girl, your accessories will reflect what your style is to a T.

Pull all the items together into a cohesive outfit

Don’t just put together accessories randomly. You should also consider how the accessories relate to your base layer and the rest of your look. All items should look harmonious.
If you’d like more information on accessories, go to this link.

Accessorize

Count your points

At this stage your outfit is complete the only thing left is to check your focal points to ensure your out fit is visually pleasing and figure flattering. In the following image, all 3 outfits consist of a pant and top. The first two appear lacklustre because each has only 2 focal points (top and pants). The 3rd has a belt that adds a much-needed 3rd focal point (top, pants and belt).
• A focal point is anything that draws your eye to it.
Aim for 3 to 4 focal points in one look. Less can be boring and more focal points may start to look too busy. All the outfits in the photo below meet this number.

count your points

Check yourself out

While it may be tempting to step out of the house unchecked, don’t do it. Some of your outfits may look better on the hanger or in your head than they do in reality. Always check your appearance in a full-length mirror before leaving the house. You can even take a mirror selfie while you’re at it. If you have doubts about something, trust your gut and remove it.

check yourself out

Log your outfit

It’s so easy to forget all the different outfits you can make. It is super helpful for your style journey to log your outfit to see how your looks change and progress, and to help keep track of looks or pieces that you like and don’t like. You can note down the items that make up each outfit while keeping a photo diary. Keeping an outfit logo is now made easier than ever with social media hashtag and apps that keep track of your #OOTDs (that means “outfit of the day”).

Reprinted from Pretastyler by Ann Reintein. Pretastyler provides fashion advice for the modern woman and helps you select and buy those clothes that compliment your figure. Please consider them.

This article compliments Nadine Spirit’s blueprint for working to develop your own personal style in the Dressing Room

Nov 07

Shopping Secrets

shopping secretsThese shopping secrets will help you whether buying online at a big box store or a custom clothier. You can get great style at bargain prices. And while I’d prefer to shop in the brick and mortar stores, my opportunities are limited and frankly, so is the availability of clothes that I want.

One pointed example is a recent trip to Denver where I went to Lane Bryant. Now the LB online store has a plethora of beautiful dresses and skirts, but what did I find in the physical store, mostly pants and blouses, a rack of dresses with only one possibility, and of course, lingerie. Not altogether encouraging when time is limited, whereas the dresses I was wearing for this two day trip were all purchased online, fit well, and looked good.

Buying online does come with the worry that because you’re buying a clothing item sight-unseen, it just won’t fit and you’ve wasted your money. However, it’s easy to improve your personal style and dress better, and take the stress and shame out of clothes buying. It’s natural more and more people would want to do it. It does however come with the stress of possibly having to return whatever you buy because it doesn’t fit. It’s not like there’s a dressing room for Amazon. Well, we can’t eliminate you ever having to deal with returns or exchanges, but with a little planning and some smart shopping, we can make sure it’s rare.  Here’s how to make sure that never, ever happens.

How Can I Learn to Dress Better?

tape measureThe first, and perhaps most important thing you can do before you really spend money buying clothes online is to get proper measurements of yourself. Once you have an idea of your size, beyond “large,” “size 10,” or “42 waist,” you’ll be able shop without fear. Remember, one company’s size 10 is another company’s size 8. Labels and designers purposefully use “vanity sizes” to confuse customers, and even though the whole point of sizes and inches is to give consumers standards, one company’s 42 inch slacks will fit drastically differently than another’s. The best way to fight back is to make sure you have your own measurements. Here’s how.

Get a professional to take them for you. Obviously, the best way to get the most accurate measurements possible is to have someone else take them while you’re standing normally. If you can, head to a clothing store (I know, the whole point here is to shop online and avoid clothing stores, but just this once) and have your measurements properly taken by someone who does it all the time and knows what they’re doing. This is especially important for women and bra sizes—getting properly fitted for a bra is a difficult thing for everyone, and it’s even harder if you’re alone. Visit a lingerie or womens wear store and get a proper bra fitting so you have it in your back pocket. Alternatively, now would be a good time for you to find a tailor or seamstress in your community that can do adjustments and alterations for you. They’ll usually be happy to take your measurements too, and may even keep them on file so they don’t have to re-take them every time you bring them something that needs work. Once you have them, you’ll be ready to shop.

Here is the form that I use to record my measurements which I find useful for all my online shopping.

template for measurements_

For women, you have a few more things to be concerned about. You’ll also want to measure your “natural waist,” or the slimmest part of your torso, not necessarily your actual waist where your pants rest. Then go ahead and take your actual waist measurements. It’s not often used in women’s clothing, but it’s good to have. Women’s clothing usually use hip measurements more often—or the size around the fullest part of your body at the top of the leg, around and across your seat. This is not usually a critical measurement for crossdressers due to our usual masculine flat butts.

You’ll also want your inseam for slacks and pants. If you plan to wear collared shirts and blouses, take all of the same measurements mentioned above well, including neck size and sleeve length. Even if you don’t encounter see much clothing that makes note of them, you’ll be happy to have them—along with bust size, you’ll be in good shape to buy a button-down that looks good. This article from Lauren Conrad and this guide from Frida Fashions both give you guides and charts to help out. And this walkthrough video from Modcloth can walk you through taking your measurements and apply them to size charts before you buy anything. BTW Modcloth is one of our outstanding Sister House Stores.

Shopping for clothes in brick and mortar stories may give you instant gratification and the chance to try them on, but why bother when you can online, get bigger discounts, and have your clothes tailored to fit before they even get to your house? Sister House offers a customized clothing option from an expert Mexican tailor of women’s clothing and at affordable pricing which you can see here. Since custom clothiers either make your clothes to order, it’s important to give them as accurate measurements as possible.

Choose the Right Retailers and Always Check the Sizing Charts

sizing chartsSpeaking of size charts, once you have your measurements, size charts will be your best friend. You won’t ever need to trust that a “large” is indeed “large enough” to fit you—you can just look at the sizing chart, find yourself on it, and go from there. If you’ve been shopping for clothes online for a while, you may already know this, but it’s even more important when you’re shopping online, especially from retailers that carry different labels, designers, and clothing manufacturers. Check our article on Sizing of Women’s Clothing and our sizing charts by brand and by store.

If you’re shopping from a custom clothier where everything you buy is made or tailored to order, or from a clothing store that promises consistent measurements across all of their products, you’ll only need to review the sizing chart once to get a feel for what will fit you and what won’t.  If getting the right fit is paramount, you’ll want to make sure you patronize a shop that guarantees the fit of its items, and makes their sizing charts clear, plain, and public—and most importantly, applicable to everything they sell.

Similarly, online-only clothiers like Modcloth, all have size guarantees and promise to work with you to get a perfect fit on whatever you buy (with conditions, of course), but it’s important to read the sizing charts before you buy so you don’t have to go through the hassle in the first place. They all sell clothes from different designers and brands, so keep in mind that the size chart for one item may not apply to everything. Look for a site-wide chart, but even if you find one, check for sizing notes on the items you’re thinking about buying. Look at customer reviews, too, if they’re available. You don’t want to clean out the closet one day and find a blouse you meant to send back because it was too small but never did—and now it’s way too late to return it.

Major retailers like Amazon, and brick and mortar retailers that also have web sites, like Lane Bryant, Dress Barn, Avenue, Macys, and Nordstrom all sell clothing from a variety of labels, styles, and designers. That means it’s even more important for you to make sure you check sizing charts for everything you consider buying. You likely won’t find site-wide sizing charts here. It’s especially important with a site like Amazon that are online only. At least with the others, if you have to go to a store to exchange something, you can. You don’t want to be caught off guard when one pair of pants in your order fits perfectly and another is too loose because they’re actually different cuts or styles.

Make Notes On Brands, Retailers, and Designers You’ve Bought Before

Part of the reason we listed a number of retailers is so you have plenty of purchase options to explore. Most are general clothiers. If you dive deeper a bit, you can find sites that sell everything from custom shoes to hand-made belts and ties. Once you’ve looked over their respective sizing charts and found some retailers that sell clothes in your size and personal style, you’re in good shape to start shopping. Grab a notebook or use your favorite note-taking app to jot down the name of the retailer you shopped with, what you bought (especially if it’s from a specific designer or has a specific cut or style), its size, and how well it fits. See all our clothing stores here.

Keeping notes like this for clothes may sound silly, but it’s really important. When you hit on a brand, a cut, or a style that really works for you, you’ll be able to find it again easily. You’ll also always know that a specific brand is cut a certain way and fits you well. Label sizes won’t be as important anymore, and you’ll know that even though the size chart says you should be a size 14, this company’s size 12 fits you perfectly, while that company requires you to step up to a 16, for example. After a couple of purchases, you’ll have a stable of brands, designers, and cuts that you know always work for you. When you choose to branch out, it won’t be like taking a shot in the dark—you’ll have an informed opinion and be able to make an educated guess as to what you’ll get.

Get a Tailor or Seamstress and Buy (Slightly) Large

seamstressWhether you go completely custom or buy off the virtual “rack,” as it were, find a tailor or a seamstress in your community that’s willing to do alterations and adjustments to your clothes for you. The words “tailor” and “seamstress” usually conjure images of wealthy people getting minute tweaks to their clothes, but nothing could be further from the truth. There’s probably a tailor or seamstress in your neighborhood who’d be more than happy for your business. Get your dresses and dress shirts fitted so they accentuate your figure. Get your jeans and slacks properly hemmed. We mentioned this when we discussed how to get a versatile suit, but the advice goes for formalwear and casual clothing, for men and for women. The money you’ll spend is well worth it for the sharp, well-fitted look you’ll get out of it.

Adapted from the Life Hacker

shopping secrets

Nov 06

How to Find Your Ideal Skirt or Dress Hem Length

Reprinted from Inside Out Style blog by Imogene Lamport

How-to-find-your-ideal-hem-length-for-skirts

If you wonder just how long your skirt or dress (or even a pair of longer shorts) should be, then you can take some inspiration from the Golden Ratio – which is a magical number for mathematicians, is used by architects and designers and even cosmetic dentists to create the ideal proportions.

Because this ratio appears everywhere in nature, from snail shells to snowflakes and we find nature beautiful, when we dress in using this proportional measurement it creates a more balanced and harmonious appearance.

Recently an Australian mathematician Lily Serna came up with this formula relating to shorter hem lengths.

How to Find your Ideal Hem Length

You will need:

a tape measure with centimeters on it

the shoes you wear most regularly with skirts and dresses as you will get different results depending on the heel height.

Instructions:

1. Measure from floor to shoulder in centimeters (wearing shoes – repeat for each pair of shoes with a different heel height)

2. Divide this number by the golden ratio 1.618

3. This number is your golden number and when you measure from your shoulder down, this gives you the point for your ideal hem length for skirts/dresses/shorts

how-to-discover-the-perfect-hem-length_