About Tasi (housemistress)

Tasi DevilTasi is a married cross dresser, a father, a grandfather, a Vietnam vet and a businessman, now retired. She is the founder of Lambda Beta Rho, formerly Tri-Ess, but now the Ladies of the Blue Ridge Transgender Association.

She’s an author and a fashion columnist for several national and international magazines and forums in the transgender community and a speaker at various universities.

Tasi, like many of you, experimented with cross dressing over the years, but it wasn’t until about 7 years ago that she came out to her wife after more than 30 years of marriage. This was a difficult time that led to compromises needed to maintain a balanced relationship. Tasi and Janet are willing to share those experiences through this website so that you, the reader, can have an understanding source for the many questions that arise in your own lives as a transgender person or spouse.

Tasi has a love of fashion which you will see throughout Sister House and in her blog, the Fashionable TG Woman

You can also read a more comprehensive profile on Tasi through a two part series in Shades of Gender in Chicago Now

Part 1: http://www.chicagonow.com/shades-gender/2015/04/interview-with-cross-dressing-corporate-executive/
Part 2: http://www.chicagonow.com/shades-gender/2015/04/cross-dresser-tasi-wife-children-and-the-future/
Aug 05

Love Those Prints

I love those prints. Take a moment to peer into your closet. What do you see, lots of prints or more solid colored garments?

tasi in print outfits

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a lover of prints, to me, they’re more interesting than solid colors and my preference for them stems from my coloring and personal style.

Like most things, too much of something is rarely a good idea; too many prints and your outfit can appear noisy and/or haphazard, too many solid colored outfits and you risk looking a little boring.

Prints and patterns are design elements which I believe deserve at least twenty percent of your wardrobe. They add interest, can display your personality, elevate or lower the formality of an outfit and even change it’s overall mood. Understanding about prints and patterns and what makes them work is important in working out which ones will work best for you.

First off, let’s start with the difference between prints and patterns. A print is a motif or design printed onto a fabric. While a pattern is a motif or design that can either be woven or printed into a fabric. Therefore, all patterns are prints but prints are not patterns.

prints and patterns

Now that we understand prints and patterns a bit better, here some of the major categories of prints :

  • Geometric: shapes made from geometry
  • Linear/Lineal: Straight lines
  • Florals: Flowers
  • Abstract: Images of objects distorted from how they look in reality
  • Animal
  • Ethnic/Tribal: Art that originates from specific regions, ethnic or tribal groups
  • Motif: clearly repeated designs, think shoes, leaves, elephants, butterflies etc
  • Graphic: Images generated on a computer

 

categories of printsThese categories can further be grouped into classics and fads. It’s important to make this distinction because classics prints and patterns are worth investing in if the garment is also classic in style, while fads are trends that are unlikely to last beyond a season.

Classic Prints and Patterns

The following prints and patterns have withstood the test of time. These kinds of prints and patterns have proven to be, time and time again, wardrobe staples that remain elegant, chic, and sophisticated.

STRIPES

There are three kinds of stripes: vertical, horizontal, and diagonal.

Vertical stripes are more flattering when the stripes are closer to each other and thinner. The wider the stripe, the distance between the stripes and/or the higher the color contrast between the stripes, the wider you will seem to appear to be. An especially noteworthy stripe when it comes to work wear style is the menswear-inspired pinstripe. Horizontal stripes, on the other hand, are perceived as more relaxed and casual. While diagonal stripes are seen as creative and individual. The same styling rule applies to diagonal and horizontal stripes as they do to vertical stripes.

stripes

FLORAL

Floral prints are no longer limited to spring/summer. They can be worn year round. The feel of a floral print or pattern is dictated by its color palette, the closeness of of the images to reality and the type of flowers.

Light or pastel florals convey romance, innocence, and femininity. Dark florals express more strength and are therefore more suited to business wear. Those with a background in a similar depth to your hair will look most at home on you. Bright florals are seen as youthful and fun and are especially appropriate in the summer. Abstract floral prints are creative on trend at the moment. Liberty florals have a retro feel and are typically smaller in scale. Lastly, folk floral prints are bohemian-inspired and have more of a BoHo influence.

florals

PLAIDS

The major categories of plaid are glen plaid, tartan, windowpane check, madras check and gingham. Both glen plaid and tartan are menswear inspired and are great for office dressing. Meanwhile, madras checks are for more casual occasions. The same can be said for gingham, no matter what the silhouette gingham is a casual and playful print that is best reserved for social occasions.

Windowpane checks are great for your work wear wardrobe. We would advise you to wear only one piece in windowpane check as it can get overwhelming. However, a head-to-toe windowpane check suit can work for those who work in more creative industries.ion, print location,

plaids

ANIMAL

A major group within the animal print family is that of the wildcats. Leopard, tiger, and cheetah prints are classics that will never go out of style. Every year and every season, we spot these wildcat prints on major runways. Leopard is practically a neutral! All jokes aside, these wildcat prints and patterns exude an undeniable drama, sex appeal, and strength. Zebra and giraffe prints are unexpected incarnations of the animal print and express a more creative side. Python prints express that same drama and glamour as the wildcat prints. However, python prints can be too much so to be on the safe side opt for them as accessories. Lastly, cow/pony and dalmatian prints are quirky, unusual and even comical. These two prints are definitely more on the casual spectrum. Cow/pony prints can also be enlarging, so proceed with caution.

animal prints

SPOTS/DOTS

People either love or hate the spot/dot print. A trend that can be traced back to the 40s-50s and still remains relevant today, the spot/dot is certainly here to stay. Even spaced spots are more retro, and smaller, uneven spots look more modern and more suited to wear in a corporate setting. Pop art spots and confetti spots in varying colors are whimsical prints that translate to daytime or party wear.

spots and dots prints

PAISLEY

Originating in India, paisley prints and patterns were made fashionable by the British. This print is very strong in bohemian fashion. When donned as an abstract print, paisley can be appropriate for business casual events.

paisley prints

CAMOUFLAGE

The army origins of the camouflage print give it a rugged, masculine and casual image. This print is enjoying a trend renaissance right now. Camouflage is becoming big in the street wear scene.

CAMOUFLAGE prints

FAD PRINTS & PATTERNS

Fads come and go. So while these patterns and prints are fun, it is unlikely that these will last more than a season or two. You’ll be much better off going for these prints and patterns as low investment pieces in your wardrobe. Though their longevity isn’t the best, it makes a great impact for the season.

PALM

Resort wear and summer-inspired, palm prints and patterns are great in fun silhouettes like rompers and cropped tops.

ILLUSION

This may be the only exception to the ‘fads’ rule. Part geometric and part linear, illusion prints can last you more than season especially when done in neutrals.

COMIC

Comic prints are pop art influenced and are typically loud and in-your-face. Proceed with caution, comic prints can make a major statement but can be enlarging.

MOTIF

Motifs occur every season. Repeats of either tropical motifs like birds of paradise for summer, leaves for fall, map prints for winter; all of these are unique motifs that can elevate your look.

fad prints

This week I continue my feature on prints by looking at the design elements of prints and how to select ones that are best ones for you. You’ll be surprized that once you know this information your unconscious brain will be ever on the look-out for them.

Design Elements that Impact Size

Size/Scale

The rule is simple here: the bigger the print, the bigger you’ll appear to be. The best prints are ones that are scaled to harmonize and flatter your scale. If you are a petite go for prints that are small to medium, if you are medium to tall and not overly overweight medium-small to medium-large prints are best for you. Tall gals with a likewise weight can wear medium-small to large prints and if you are plus size, go with prints that are medium to medium-large.

scaling printspolkadots

scaling plus size prints

Source

Color

The overall color of your print will also make a difference to both your size. Light and bright prints tend to be enlarging while darker prints minimize size. Medium depth prints, on the other hand, are neutral in their effect.

color in prints

Source

Color Contrast

Another impactor of apparent size is the contrast of prints. The greater the contrast between the colors the larger you will appear general rule applies to color contrast: the higher the contrast, the wider you will appear to be. If you love big prints but find them too enlarging try finding a large print in a low contrast. The subtleness of the low contrast will mitigate the enlarging effect of the print’s size.

color contrast in prints

Source

Print Location

Where you place a print is also important. Are you larger below your waist like Girl with Curves blogger Tanesha Awasthi? Then prints on your top half will flatter you most. Larger above the waist…yep, prints below your waist are the way to go.

print location

When selecting dresses keep scale, color and direction top of mind.

Print Direction

Being able to recognize the direction of a print allows to to chose the one that will best work for you. Send the eye vertically and you’ll make the area appear longer and/or narrower. horizontally and you’ll appear wider and possibly shorter. Multi directional prints are easiest to wear because they do not have a major direction.

Worth mentioning here too are complex prints. These are geometric/angular prints which have a complex design that does not allow the eye to rest in any one area. These are incredible at breaking up the body and can achieve minor miracles in the visual slimming stakes.

print direction

There’s more to learn about prints and the impact they have on your image but I’ll leave that topic for another day. But do listen to Lindsey Albanese give us a good summary on how to choose prints when actually in the dressing room

Do You Love Style and Fashion?

If the answer is yes, then be sure to visit Image Innovators and the PretaStyler Style Clinic

Jun 26

Hip Pads … for that Classically Womanly Look

womanly shapeThe hourglass shape is the classical silhouette that but 15% of women naturally have, but trans women have traditionally used hip pads…for that classically womanly look. In my recent article on choosing the right skirt for you, we talk about that classical hourglass shape that every woman tries to achieve and it goes without saying that our image of beautiful women is based on this perfect balance of a small waistline with larger breasts and hips creating those sensuous curves that we all so love. You might be surprised to learn that less than 10% of women actually have this shape naturally while another 40% have hips that are generally larger than their bust measurement (the pear shape).

Most crossdressers on the other hand generally have an inverted v-shape body (broad shoulders) or a rectangular body without a clearly defined waistline. Unless we are on estrogen which will cause the body to store excess fat in the buttocks, hips, and thighs, we simply do not possess the curves and contours of a female body. I have seen too many beautifully dressed crossdressers who belie the female image because of their flat butts. You can say what you like, but appearance is the first criteria by which we determine a person’s sex and those broader hips are an automatic giveaway that the person you see is female.

Lucille Sorella, in her series on feminization secrets, clearly says to enhance your hips. A small waist is only half of the equation. Your hips should appear approximately 10 inches larger than your waist for true hourglass proportions. The easy solution is to wear padded panties followed by hip and butt pads. I wear them so I can speak from experience. They do make a difference and they are no more uncomfortable than normal shapewear which as a more mature woman I need to be wearing anyway.

Least you think padded shapewear is just for crossdressers or transsexual women, take a look at Nana Anamoah and Beyonce, woman who routinely use padding to create a more alluring effect. You might be surprised how much padded shapewear is sold to genetic women, beginning with Victoria’s Secret.

Nana Anamoah and Beyonce wearing hip pads

Nana Anamoah and Beyonce

Now take a look at Sugar Love, one of our more beloved drag queens and at Michelle Norton, a crossdresser from the UK and Laurie Ann, an American crossdresser, and tell me there isn’t a difference. And from a purely fashionista point of view, women’s clothing is made for women with pronounced hips. Your clothes will fit and look better with a more womanly derriere. I remember an incident many years ago while watching a woman walk from her car to a building and thinking she didn’t quite look right. It was the butt and I found out later that the woman was a crossdresser.

Sugar Love with hip pads

Sugar Love

Michelle Norton with hip pads

Michelle Norton

Laura Ann with hip pads

Laura Ann

So where are we now. Well there are two approaches to obtaining hip or booty pads. Love my Bubbles has by far the widest selection of shapewear for your booty on the net and they are a Sister House affiliate, so be sure to click through our link above. And be sure to explore padded underwear, butt bras, butt lifters, and butt pads.., your options are almost limited less. And check out this video below and the many other videos on these great products.

If you want to be challenged a bit more, there are many You Tube videos on how to make butt and hip pads. But frankly most of them are amateurish. However, I think you will find this two part series by (once again) Sugar Love the best tutorial that I’ve seen. I’m going to give it a try too even though I also have the commercial pads and padded panties. These DIY pads are a bit more encompassing.

Finally, if you want some other options to help create that illusion of an hourglass figure, you can either wear a gathered dress or try a peplum top or skirt.

  • Skirts and dresses with gathered waistlines. Gathers are the easiest way add inches to your lower body and create the illusion of hips.
  • Look for peplum styles. A peplum is a ruffle or overskirt attached to the waistline of a top, dress, or skirt. Besides adding fullness to the hips, the peplum is a very fashion-forward look.
L-Padded panty C- Peplum R- Gathered waistline

L-Padded panty C- Peplum R- Gathered waistline

I hope you enjoyed this article on hip pads and will also visit my blog with its many fashion articles or my website, Sister House, and browse the Dressing Room or the Library with just about any subject on fashion that might appeal to you.

 

Jan 14

The Body Shape Compendium

The Body Shape Compendium addresses all those questions that you may have about body shape, and why it is worth knowing about body shape for a crossdresser or transgender woman. This section is being continually updated so check back occasionally for new information.

What does knowing your body shape really tell you?

Given the number of magazine articles written on the subject, it’s obviously something that is considered to be an important factor in the whole “finding flattering clothing” issue that many women face and conversely, us too, if your appearance is important to you. Sister House is all about style for the TG woman and this is an important component to creating that desirable feminine image. Clothes doth make the person for it’s how we are judged on first impressions. Many of our other faults as male bodies in female clothing can be overcome with the judicious use of the right garments worn in the right way.

Body shape is your outline, from the front (pretty much) it’s your silhouette. We determine your shape based on the differences between shoulders (not bust), waist and hips/upper thigh. It does not take into consideration your upper arms, your knees or calves, or your body proportions, whether you are petite or tall, the roundness or flatness of your bottom or all the other body variations.

Here are some important body shape facts as we learn why clothes may fit you, but they may not flatter you. Why? because they were designed for models with an hourglass shape and not yours. Only 15% of women claim to have that neat hourglass shape.

Body shape statisticsAnd yes, it is important, but no, it’s not everything. Personality can be more important than body shape when choosing outfits and garments. But now I’m going to share with you what knowing your body shape will tell you and how you can use some of my magicians toolbox of rules, to use these illusions to flatter your figure.

Our clothing choices reflect and affect us. We know this. When we gradually learn to use our clothing lines, shapes, colors, textures, and patterns to reflect or communicate our personality traits, our values, interests, roles, and goals, that’s image from the inside out. When we create an attractive image on the outside and experience a positive response from others, that’s a positive effect of image from the outside in.

Take a good look at the difference in the attention going to the body of this model wearing a form fitting dress with basic fitting ease, on the left, as compared to a looser-fitting dress with added fashion ease, on the right. With a little more fitting or fashion styling ease, the clothing silhouette becomes dominant and the body becomes subordinate. You not only look slimmer, but you feel slimmer, more confident, and able to forget about the shape of your body.

two models with same body shape c;othes fit differently

What you will find here

As noted above, you will learn about clothing lines, shapes, colors, textures, and patterns and how your choices effect the clothes you buy and wear. We’ll look closely at the body shapes (and they go by different names sometimes) and then we’ll show you what clothes look best on those body shapes and why.. Each of these choices is a broad subject until itself, so follow the links for a more comprehensive discussion of each subject.

Clothing lines, shapes, colors, textures, and patterns

Lines     Shapes     Colors     Textures     Patterns

Determining your body shape

So let’s have a look at 5 basic female body shapes.

There are several ways to define your body shape. The most basic way to do it is to determine if you are either a

 body shapes

You can  split these main categories in sub categories to further customize your body shape, but let’s keep it simple for now.

How do you find out which one you are?

Characteristics of the hourglass:

  • Well defined (narrow) waist
  • Hip and bust tend to be almost the same and quite big

Characteristics of the inverted rectangle are:

  • Shoulders are wider than the hip
  • Bust tends to be proportionally large
  • Hips are small

Characteristics of the rectangle are:

  • No defined waist
  • The hips tend to have a similar width as the shoulders
  • You do not have a lot of curves
  • Your bust tends to be small or average

Characteristics of the pear:

  • The hips are wider than the shoulder
  • Fat tends to accumulated on the hips and buttocks

Characteristics of the apple

  • No defined waist
  • Weight tends to form on the stomach
  • Average bust size

Still not sure, then check this body shape calculator.

Now  click on the links above the picture for a detailed explanation of how to dress for that body shape.

Determining and dressing your vertical body type

Understanding and dressing for your vertical body could be significant for crossdressers and all those with a male body structure as it deals with the proportions of the body and how being short-waisted or long-waisted effects your choice of clothes.

Have a look at the image below. The body is divided into four sections:

  1. The top of the head to the nipple line (with bra on).
  2. The nipple line to the hip line (fullest part of the bottom).
  3. The hipline to the center of the kneecap.
  4. The kneecap to the floor.

vertical body typesAlmost everyone has different proportions and women can be placed in one of three main categories: the balanced body, long leg-short torso, or short torso-long leg. A detailed explanation with drawings is here.

Practically speaking however, one of the easiest ways to dress your body is to find a celebrity with your body shape and follow her examples. Justine Leconte is my go-to fashion designer and in this video she gives us examples of celebrities with your body shape. Once you know that, you can Google on the celebrity, or better yet, go to  Pinterest (largest search engine next to Google) for the many examples of that celebrity’s style. Lastly, create a Lookbook of your celebrity’s styles and use it when shopping. Go to the original article where the pic is embedded and often you will find the source where you can buy the product.

Resources:  40 Plus Style blog and Shop Your Shape

Jun 13

Fashion Pieces That Changed What Women Wear

“What we wear is a statement of who we are. There is much more to the shoes on your feet and the coat on your back. What you call trendy today, may have been something more to your ancestors. Fashion Items That Changed The World is a video list created by TheRichest. It briefly details eight significant items from fashion history that made the fashion world what it is today.

We have updated the list to include a few more iconic items so what you see below are the most influential and revolutionary fashion trends and statements of all time…the history of clothing and accessories that we wear today

marilyn-monroe-in-bikiniThe Bikini

On the 5th of July, 1946, Louis Reard unveiled a daring 2 piece swimsuit, known as the bikini today at a popular swimming pool in Paris. Western countries banned the daring swim piece from public beaches and pools and the Vatican declared it sinful. The ever controversial Marilyn Monroe took the new fashion head on and posed in photos wearing it. By the end of the century the Bikini had become the most popular swim wear worldwide with many different styles, shapes and cuts. Go here for the complete story on the bikini.

high heelsHigh Heels

High Heeled shoes were originally created for wealthy men to show off their social status. They were the ideal shoe for horseback riding as they kept the foot locked in the stirrups. Catherine De Medci was the first woman to wear heels to make up for her short height. In 1950’s the stiletto was born by Roger-Henri Vivier and grew quickly in popularity and is still a firm favorite today. The complete story on high heels is here, but also check out All About Shoes here in the Library and How To Walk in High Heels.

leather jacketThe Leather Jacket

The leather jacket was worn by aviators and the military in the early 1900’s. The late half of 20th century saw the leather jacket appear in Hollywood movies. All characters who wore this piece of clothing was regarded as cool. In most popular culture examples, the jackets are worn by people cultivating a rebellious image.  The Punk culture  “rocks” the leather jacket with accessories such as chains, studs, and cuts. So celebrities from movie stars to punk rockers to the Queen of Jordan have helped make the leather jacket an iconic item. You can read the fascinating history here.

 audrey hepburn in little black dressThe LBD (Little Black Dress)

Fashion icon Coco Channel introduced the world to the LBD in a 1926 Vogue issue. Before this black dresses were reserved for only those who were mourning and it was considered to be indecent when worn otherwise. With the rise in color TV we saw a rise in popularity of the LBD because colored clothing looked distorted on black and white screens before Technicolor was invented. It was intended to be long-lasting, versatile, affordable, accessible to the widest market possible and in a neutral color. Its ubiquity is such that it is often simply referred to as the “LBD. The “little black dress” is considered essential to a complete wardrobe by many women and fashion observers, who believe it a “rule of fashion” that every woman should own a simple, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Check out all the ways to wear the “little black dress”

The black Givenchy dress of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, epitomized the standard for wearing little black dresses accessorized with pearls (together called “basic black”), as was frequently seen throughout the early 1960s. A complete history of this wonderful garment is here.

sunglasses Sunglasses

Centuries ago, the Inuit wore flattened walrus ivory “glasses” to block harmful UV rays from the sun. In early 1920s, sunglasses became widespread among movie stars to avoid recognition by fans and to hide redeye from powerful lights on sets. In 1938, LIFE Magazine claimed that sunglasses were simply a fad in America. During WWII Ray-Ban created anti-glare lenses for American fighter pilots which has become one of today’s most iconic styles, the Aviator. Fashion trends also draw on the “cool” image of sunglasses and association with a particular lifestyle, especially the close connection between sunglasses and beach life. In some cases, this connection serves as the core concept behind an entire brand. Read the extensive history of sunglasses here.

Wonderbra adThe Brassiere

The Brassiere derives from the French word “upper arm” and was first used in 1893. The Brassier was popularized by Vogue in 1907. However, garments designed to support a woman’s breasts date back to ancient Greece. By the 1920s most women had adopted a bandeau-style bra that flattened the breasts for the desired flapper dresses of the day. But it was the Hollywood starlets of the 1950s — think Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield — who embraced the increased support in bra design, inspiring a generation of women to adopt the “sweater girl” look.

The 1960s was a time of protest and fashions allowed women to go braless — some even burned their bras. But by the 1990s full support was back and the Wonderbra — thanks to supermodel Eva Herzigova — became a bestseller.

Today lingerie is big business. The bust supporter has come a long way .In 1955, a Canadian brand developed the “Wonderbra” which was the first push up bra on the market. Victoria’s Secret revolutionized the bra by showcasing intricate patterns and designs at fashion shows. It is estimated that $16 Billion per year is spent on bras worldwide.

Everything you could want to know about the bra is here, but don’t forget to look at our library section on All About Bras and check out out those 31 different types of bras and what is best for you.

fashion-paper-mini-dressThe Mini Skirt

Mary Quant created the mini skirt in 1965 and named her design after her favorite car the Mini Cooper. Quant wanted to create something practical and liberating allowing women to “run for the bus”. Owing to Quant’s position in the heart of fashionable “Swinging London“, the miniskirt was able to spread beyond a simple street fashion into a major international trend. The style came into prominence when Jean Shrimpton wore a short white shift dress,on 30 October 1965 at Derby Day, first day of the annual Melbourne Cup Carnival in Australia, where it caused a sensation. With the rise in hemlines, the wearing of tights or pantyhose, in place of stockings, became more common. Mary Quant cited this development in defence of the miniskirt:

Many European countries banned the Mini Skirt because they believed it was an invitation to rape. The Mini Skirt however became a symbol of woman’s freedom and expression in the late 60s. It is now a staple in woman’s fashion of all ages. You can read more about the miniskirt here or look at the video on 10 ways to wear the miniskirt.

Women-s-sexy-stockings-Transparent-Silk-StockingHosiery

THE world’s first knitting machine was invented in 1589. Queen Elizabeth I believed that the knitting machine was a national treasure and imposed the death penalty for anyone who attempted to take one out of England. In the 1930s the circular knitting machine was invented. It produced the first seamless stockings by knitting tubes of fabrics to which separate foot and toe pieces were later attached.

One of the most significant advancements in hosiery was the advent of nylon in 1938. The first nylon stockings appeared in New York stores on May 15, 1940. More than 72,000 pairs of nylons were sold on that first day. Before this, the majority of stockings were made of silk. As a consequence of the popularity of nylon stockings the Japanese silk market collapsed almost overnight. In the first year on the market, 64 million pairs of nylon stockings were sold and manufacturers could not keep up with demand.

But the shorter hemlines of the 1960s made stockings with their necessary suspenders, garters and garter belts difficult to conceal. As a result, fashion designers attached the stockings directly to panties and created the pantyhose. Nylon still remains the most widely used fibre in the production of hosiery. However, today, most hosiery is also made with Lycra, which gives the garment elasticity, durability and a better fit.

Want to know more, click here

vanessa-hudgens in blue jeansBlue Jeans

Blue jeans are, without a doubt, one of America’s biggest contributions to fashion, if not to the world in general. They’re a universally worn and loved garment that today are an important section of most people’s wardrobes—not to mention a $60 billion dollar global industry in their own right. It’s their versatility and staying power that led none other than Yves Saint Laurent to tell New York Magazine in 1983, “I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity—all I hope for in my clothes.”

Learn all about them here.

Jun 09

Fashion Changes Since the 1920s

We have seen more fashion changes since the 1920s then in any other time period. As you have seen in the “Fashion Timeline”, each era of history has its own influence on women’s fashions, but the greatest changes have taken place since the 1920s and for that reason we pay special attention to the changes in dresses and skirts, blouses and tops, accessories, shoes, and hairstyles. From the 1920s to the 1990s, popular fashions reflected the mood of each decade and showcased changes in society as the styles of clothing and accessories evolved with the times.

in the 2000s interestingly enough, styles have not changed greatly but have largely been updated from past eras. We hear the 60s or the 70s or the 80s styles are back in style. Let’s revisit some of the biggest trends of all time, from jazz age sass to Coco Chanel–inspired chic to the psychedelic 1970s. This is one history lesson you don’t want to miss!

It is amazing to see how the different events in history have influenced and changed the way people have dressed throughout time. Some of the most popular fashions are classic, they can stand the test of time and hardly ever “go out of style”, only experiencing minor changes to keep up with the trends.

Other clothing items could be considered “fads”, styles that are only popular for a short season and then never worn again. Often certain fashion trends are dependent on the tastes of particular groups of people or cliques and are usually associated with social status or cultural preferences like the type of music a person likes. Fashion can also be influenced by world events such as war or the economy. For example, during World War II, people were only allowed a certain amount of fabric so they were forced to create simple outfits that were practical enough for wartime duties.

Dresses and Skirts – From Mini to Maxi, Pleats to Pencil

skirts mini  maxi pencil pleated

Changes in skirts and dress fashion have changed and varied dramatically between the 1920s to the present, as well as within each decade. In 1920, only a few years after World War I, skirt and dress hemlines rose and waist lines lowered to the hip. These changes accompanied the boyish flapper fashions that marked the 1920s as a decade of decadence and fun. During 1926 to 1928, hemlines were reported to be at their highest but once the stock market crashed in 1929 and the Great Depression set in, hem lines returned to a more conservative length (below the knee or lower). 1930s boasted a return to femininity and Hollywood glamour was idolized. Evening gowns showed bias-cuts and diamante accents and were made of chiffon or velvet. For a more casual look in the thirties dresses were slim-cut and had wide shoulders and a belt around the waist. Real fur accents and floral prints were also popular during this era until World War II broke out and the glamorous look of the decade lost its luster.

During World War II, luxurious fabrics like wool, silk and nylon were highly regulated and women’s skirts and dresses were often made of viscose and rayon. Skirts and dresses would also be made out of anything that could be found within a home (like curtains, nightgowns or bed sheets) due to the illegality of using excess fabric when making an outfit from about 1942 to 1947. With the economic boom in the 1950s, glamour become fashionable once again and A-line and pencil skirts were very popular form-fitting fashions. Dresses in the decade would often feature stylish ruffles or lace accents and were usually knee-length or tea-length. Going into the late fifties and 1960s mini-dresses and maxi-length skirt outfits entered the scene. Mod styled dresses with short skirts and bold, colorful patterns became popular. Mary Quant, a Mod fashion designer is one of the people credited with creating the iconic mini-skirt of the mid-sixties. In the late sixties and seventies hippie fashion took over and loose-fitting, flowing maxi skirts and dresses became dominant. Disco music and dance also influenced dresses with slender lines, flowing skirts and the shimmering fabrics that would look best in a night club.

As we entered the 1980s, fashion evolved once more. Skirts and dresses were once again longer and featured straight lines and more serious design. As more and more women joined the professional work force business suits became a trend for women with straight conservative skirts and broad shouldered, boxy blazers topped the look. In the eighties, fashion became highly influenced by music stars and movies with eclectic looks shown off by Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and movie star Molly Ringwald. In the 1990s, skirts and dresses were not as prominent and more casual looks became acceptable with hip-hop and alternative music setting the scene for fashion early in the decade. Skirts and dresses were usually short and even provocative, especially in the latter part of the decade, however loose and flowing dresses as well as long denim skirts were also notable trends.

dresses 20s to 80sBlouses, Shirts and Tops

In the 1920s, the jumper blouse was introduced and became incredibly popular. Usually the jumper blouse was made of cotton or silk and had a sailor collar. Perfect for pairing with a skirt, it usually reached just below the hips and would be accompanied by a belt or sash. Another popular type of twenties blouse was a low-cut v-neck shirt with a chemisette attached to promote modesty. Knitted long-sleeve shirts with rounded collars and tank blouses were also popular in the decade. For men, polo shirts, dress shirts and sweaters were the tops of choice. Going into the thirties, feminine blouses that featured v-necks and long bow ties attached around the neck, sleeveless blouses and knit shirts of satin and linen were popular. During the war-torn forties nylon and silk were replaced with rayon and viscose for formal tops, while terry cloth, linen and even canvas were used for leisure shirts. Women who worked during World War II wore military style shirts that had button-up collars, and women who were a part of the American Woman’s Auxiliary Corps would wear a full war military outfit.

After World War II ended, up until the mid-1950s trends in women’s fashion changed again. Round-neck styles on sleeveless shirts or long sleeve shirts were popular, as well as polo-necks. Dolman sleeves dominated fashionable tops in the fifties and sixties, too. The 1960s brought ethnic print blouses, ribbed turtleneck sweaters and boat-neck tops into mainstream clothing. And, shirts for men and women often featured “wild” patterns. From the late sixties to the mid-seventies, brightly colored shirts and blouses with psychedelic patterns were trendy and hippie fashion made Indian cheesecloth shirts, peasant tops, tunics and Nehru jackets popular for both men and women of the era. Space-like and futuristic fashions also became popular and many tops were made out of suede, leather, vinyl and plastic.

In the 1980s, as styles became slightly more casual and T-Shirts and polo shirts became acceptable tops, and for formal or business-wear, boxy tops with shoulder pads, blazers, dress shirts and sweaters were popular for men and women in the decade. Over-sized tops were popular in the 80s and 90s as well. The 1990’s saw a lot more commercialization of fashion with designer labels appearing on the outside of clothing as a way to promote status and trendiness. That trend continues today as it is not uncommon to see people wearing stylish casual shirts that host a bold Guess or Ralph Lauren logo on the front. The nineties also saw an increase in the popularity of crop tops and halter tops as women’s styles became more provocative. In the late 80s, 90s, and in today’s fashion, T-shirts have become more of a way to express individuality and a person’s tastes and preference with sassy catch phrases, funny pictures, or pop culture references appearing more and more in the mainstream.

blouses and tops 20s to the 80sShoes

In the 1920s, women’s shoes would often feature high and wide heels whether on a pump or loafer style shoe. Many women would even wear heeled shoes with their swimming costumes as a mark of femininity. Oxfords of varying styles and colors were popular too with men and women, as well as lace up boots. During the 1930s strapped heels and pumps surged in popularity, while more traditional styles of heels were still worn. For men and women, laced leather leisure shoes were popular for outdoor activities and exercise during the decade. In the forties, as a result of the war, shoes became more conservative and practical. Women’s shoes were usually made with flatter heels and had either cork or wooden soles.

Flat shoes, sandals, heels and pumps with rounded toes and feminine lines were worn by women in the 1950s. Saddle shoes, white lace up shoes with brown or black leather accents, were also popular for both men and women. Canvas basketball shoes (high-tops) or black leather oxfords were worn by men. Suede shoes also enjoyed moments of popularity during this decade. In the 1960s, black slip-on boots (most likely of leather or faux leather material) were popular for men and women, and heels became thinner on pumps. Vinyl boots, moccasin-style loafers with wide heels, wedge heels, and slip-on heels with leather cut-out patterns were all popular in the 1970s. Sandals and western style cowboy boots were also popular with both men and women.

In the 1980s, pumps were designed with higher and thinner heels than in decades before and they became more of a hit. For casual wear, tennis shoes (both high-tops and standard ankle high shoes) and leather dress shoes were very popular. Flats became popular too, especially with working women. By the 1990s, styles had returned to Earth and the casual look was key. During this decade leather substitutes became more popular due to environmental concerns, and cork-soled sandals like Birkenstocks defined the alternative look early in the decade. Walking shoes had bulkier heels, and gym-type athletic shoes were most people’s every day choice. As with the late 1980s and 1990s, branding became a driving force behind shoe sales. People would show off their Reebok, Nike or Adidas shoes with pride and special editions would sell for hundreds of dollars.

Shoes 20s to 80sAccessories

From the 1920s to the 1990s, accessories have changed tremendously, but some items like jewelry have always remained popular. Fashionable hats were highly popular from the twenties to the fifties and were often an everyday item in a person’s ensemble. For women in the 1920s helmet style, draped hats, cloches, turbans and pokes were all popular and usually featured a variety of fabrics, cut-outs, lace accents, feathers or other details. In the 30s, 40s, and 50s other styles of women’s hats were popular as well with berets, homburgs, bumpers, bonnets, and wider brimmed hats all seeing time in the spotlight.

For men, bow ties and long ties have alternated their turns in the favor of fashion. From the twenties to the nineties the length, width, fabric, colors and patterns of neck ties have varied according to trends, but they have almost always been a necessity for men’s business dress and formal wear. Men would wear fedoras, golf caps, automobile caps, Panama hats and other nearly timeless styles of hats up until the seventies, after which hats became less popular as casual styles started to dominate the scene. Baseball caps, skull caps, beanies and other types of casual hats remain popular with men and offer a way to display their favorite sports teams to the world.

Handbags and purses have also always been popular with women, but the styles have changed throughout the decades. In the twenties and thirties, handbags would often be used as vanity bags that featured a built-in mirror and could be used to touch up one’s make-up and hair while out. In the fifties and sixties handbags became more of a fashion statement and would coordinate with the type of occasion one was attending, larger, more practical bags were used for shopping or a day out with family while smaller, fancier bags would be used for parties or fancy evenings out with friends. In the seventies, eighties, and even nineties, handbags and purses became more of a catch-all with women narrowing their collection down to just one or two, a more formal bag and an everyday work type bag. Presently, the type of handbags women own have become even more of a status symbol than in the past, with designer bags from Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Fendi, Prada, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, and others costing thousands of dollars being the only purses women use, and often the only luxury piece of clothing many women own.

accessories 20s to 80sHairstyles

Short boyish haircuts were popular throughout the 1920s to the late 1930s. In the 1940s, hair was often still hid under hats, but usually was longer and tied in a bun or other up-do. During the Second World War, scarves and turbans were also popular. Hats and turbans (sometimes even worn together) remained popular until the 1960s. After this time women began to perm and/or dye their hair. Wigs were more popular after this time as well, and the wearing of hats declined dramatically. Men’s hair (just like the short women’s cuts) of the 1920s and 1930s was usually neatly combed and groomed, and usually parted to the side. Hair for men was “greased” back. In the 1950s hair was still greased back, but hairstyles usually consisted of more hair on the top of the head (especially biker styles). For women in the 1950s, hair was waved and fit to frame the face, or to be pulled back. Some actresses had wore their hair extremely short-way above the ears, as if it had been cut with a hair trimmer.

In the 1960s, beehive and flip-style hairdos were more popular for women. For the men, bowl cuts, such as the ones that are similar to what the Beatles wore are very popular as well. These looks continued on to the late 1960s. From the 1970s on, long, straight hair was popular for women, as well as for some men. Hairstyles were usually parted down the middle. Large puffy hair worn by Motown singers were considered stylish from 1969 on to the 1970s, and short wavy hairstyles like Jodie Foster wore in 1976 were popular too. During the seventies layered haircuts were also popular and this trend continued into the 1980s. From the mid to late eighties big hairstyles that were teased and curly or wavy with bangs were very popular. In the early 1990s straight hair and long spiral perms became popular, while later in the decade angled bobs and shaggy, mid-length haircuts were made popular by celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox on the TV show Friends.

From the 1970s to the current time punk hairstyles such as shaved heads, Mohawks, and painted hair were worn. These were usually the hairdos of those who wanted to make a statement, or just simply to be different from mainstream society. Many mainstream and independent artists had punk hairdos. Heavy metal hairstyles for men were quite popular, especially after the 1980s. Male heavy metal rock groups would tease and/or color their hair, which usually was let to grow long. There are still standards for hairstyles in the present. For the workplace hairdos are very conservative, usually in a straight style, or sometimes waved or slightly permed.

Hairstyles 20s to 80s

Designer Fashion

Names of designers that were alive during the 1920s and the 1950s include Jeanne Lanvin, Pierre Cardin and “Coco” Chanel. Each of these designers have set his or her personal mark. For instance, Lanvin is remembered for her intricate trimmings, lavish embroideries, and beaded decorations. These were all implemented in clear, light fabrics. Chanel is remembered for designing fashions of clothing as if it would be what she would wear. She also is known for masculine-cuts and silk blouses. Pierre Cardin is known for items such as his draped pale blue mohair dresses or jacket with fur-trimmed head. Designers from the 1960s include Yves Saint Laurent and Mary Quant. These designers were thought of as revolutionary style artists. They introduced items such as mini and/or maxi-length dresses, bright-colored sweater and mini-dress outfits, and a variety of new accessories such as laced tights as well as new cosmetics.

Designers lavin cardin Chanel

With globalization and the massive changes to society over the last eighty years, fashion has changed to cope with the differences. Designer ranges from small independent designers to large fashion houses that have existed for several decades. And, while trends still dictate the fashion world, modern designers have often drawn inspiration from the past and have modified classic looks from the past eighty years to be the height of fashion today. Designers for mass retailers seem to be less focused on creating ground-breaking images in fashion and more focused on adapting popular styles to fit all purposes and body shapes. As we have become more sedentary, our waistlines have expanded and clothing has adapted to that as well with more retailers offering larger sizes and more figure-flattering options.

May 03

Why Do Men Wear Dresses? (And Why Do Some Women Get So Upset About It?)

Reprint from Culture Wars by Keith Preston, an article by Vernon Coleman.

Few activities seem to attract more venom and contempt than the idea of men wearing dresses. This  survey by a British writer and cross-dresser explores some the little known results of this harmless practice. Note: the terminology is British.

One newspaper writer who found out that her ex-husband was a cross-dresser described him as a `pervert’ and dumped a pile of her own old clothes on his mother’s doorstep to make her point.

What inspires this level of anger among so many women? Fear, I suppose. But fear of what? Fear of the competition for the underwear drawer? Fear that he might be gay? Fear that he’ll stretch everything and ruin her tights? Fear that the neighbours will find out?

Dressing up in the sort of clothes usually worn by women is one of the most harmless activities imaginable and yet it is also one of the most socially misunderstood.

Lots of men dress up – as freemasons, soldiers or special constables – and transvestism is just a fun variation on the dressing up theme but our society has developed in such a way that what we choose to wear does, to a very large extent, define what we are, who we are and what others think of us.

The judge wears a gown and a wig. The priest wears a gown. The bishop wears a particularly fine gown. Kings wear robes and crowns. Hotel porters, car park attendants, railway staff, airline stewardesses and people in a thousand other different types of employment wear clothes that help identify them. Plumbers wear overalls. Doctors wear white coats. Nurses wear uniforms.

As our society becomes more and more complex so the uniforms become increasingly important. We define people by whether they have `white collar’ or `blue collar’ jobs.

Men who cross-dress are throwing an enormous spanner into the works of this finely balanced piece of social machinery. It is, perhaps, hardly surprising that cross-dressing produces so much confusion, bewilderment and resentment and so many pejorative remarks.

Despite the popularity of transvestism hardly anything is known about this `hobby’ – other than the fact that a lot of men do it. (Lots of women cross-dress too but transvestism among women is socially accepted. Millions of women regularly wear trousers and suits.).

The idea of men in clothes usually worn by women may sound like a joke. But it isn’t. Putting on female clothes is, for thousands of men, the best way to deal with stress and escape from the responsibilities of being a man. `If I didn’t cross-dress,’ one man told me, `I’d be dead. I had high blood pressure which pills couldn’t control. Wearing feminine clothing brought my blood pressure under control.’

Precise figures are difficult to obtain but my research shows that in an average week 100,000 in every 1,000,000 men dress – for some of the time – in something soft, silky or frilly. Often they just wear a camisole and panties underneath their male clothes.

Most cross-dressers live in constant fear of being found out. Around a quarter of male transvestites have never dared share their secret with their wives. That means that around the world millions of women are married to transvestites – and don’t know it. In every million women there will be around 25,000 who are unknowingly married to (or living with) transvestites.

Transvestism crosses all social and professional barriers. Your best friend, your golf partner, your doctor, your boss or your husband could be a secret transvestite. The chances are high that someone you know well is a cross-dresser.

Here are some facts I uncovered in a survey of 1014 British transvestites: (It is, I think, the biggest ever survey of cross-dressers.)
* Well over three quarters of all transvestites regularly wear the sort of underwear worn by women under their male clothing. Many of the rest would do so if they weren’t frightened of being found out by wives.
* Less than half of all transvestites go out of their homes fully dressed as women and most of these are honest enough to admit that they don’t fool anyone. But for most this isn’t important. They want to dress in the sort of clothes worn by women – not become women.
* Transvestism must be one of the most harmless hobbies. And yet nearly three quarters of male transvestites admit that they live in constant fear of being found out by prejudiced relatives, neighbours or employers. One man who wrote to me to help with my survey drove to a nearby town to post his anonymous letter. Many say they don’t understand why women can wear male clothing – but men can’t wear female clothes.
* Some wives are scornful and dismissive. Others are patronising and refuse to try and understand. Time and time again I have read pitiful letters from transvestites whose wives `allow’ them to dress for one hour a week – as long as they do it in secret.
* Three quarters of all transvestites’ partners know that the man in their lives dress in women’s clothing. But a quarter of partners do not know.
* There is good reason for the secrecy since most wives or girlfriends who know about their partner’s cross dressing disapprove. They miss a lot of fun by being so selfish, narrow minded and disapproving.
* Happily, just over a third of wives and girlfriends actively help their men dress as women by helping with make up and clothes. Many women admit they get a sexual turn on from seeing their male partner in silky, feminine clothes. It is common for transvestites whose partners do approve to have sex while dressed as a woman.
* The vast majority of transvestites are heterosexual.
* The average transvestite spends 12 hours a week dressed as a woman – but would like to spend 70 hours a week (rather more than half the `waking’ week) dressed in feminine clothes.
* A growing number of men have discovered that putting on stockings and a frock is the quickest way to escape from the stressful responsibilities of being a man. I have little doubt that more men would live longer if transvestism was more widely accepted.

I believe that transvestism is one of the least harmful of all hobbies and one that no man should feel ashamed of. It is, I believe, a perfectly acceptable way for any man to escape from the day to day stresses of being a man in a stressful world. It’s fun and clearly gives a lot of men a great deal of pleasure and it is difficult to think of any activity which is less likely to do harm to anyone.

Men who dress in women’s clothes bring out a normal, healthy part of their own femininity, broaden their outlook on life and enjoy a temporary respite from the responsibilities and demands of being male.
I’m always sad to read of the number of women who do not accept their husband’s cross-dressing. Time after time I have opened letters from men whose wives have treated them horrendously badly.

I think it is appalling that any woman should have the nerve to say to her partner: `Oh, well if you must then I suppose you must – but you can only do it for an hour a week and you must make sure that the curtains are drawn and that I’m well out of the house and by the way I don’t want to see any sign of your silly women’s clothing and so on when I get back.’

No woman would, I hope, dare say anything like this to a man who took up golf or model making. I think it is sad that transvestism should be regarded as so much more horrendous than anything else – though I believe that deep seated and completely false prejudices are probably at the root of it all. Many women probably assume that most transvestites are either homosexual or else candidates for sex change surgery.

But, on the whole, there is a huge difference between transvestites and transsexuals. Transsexuals are like golfers – they lose their balls. Transvestites are keen to keep theirs.

My survey has made it absolutely clear that the vast majority of transvestites are heterosexual and happy to be men. (Curiously, cross-dressing is so misunderstood and commonly reviled that some women would doubtless prefer it if they found out that their husband was gay or wanted to change sex.)

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2004

Apr 14

Normal

normal by amy bloomWhat is normal? I first ran into Amy Bloom when she wrote a short essay in the Atlantic Monthly in 2002 on heterosexual crossdressers. She expanded that essay as the centerpiece of this book in the section, “Conservative Men in Conservative Dresses” or perhaps you could say Republican men in granny dresses. I think in many ways that Ms Bloom’s views of our crossdressing world are fairly accurate but the issue I have is that her experience with our community was more or less limited to Tri-Ess on a Dignity cruise to Catalina Island and to Fall Harvest 2000, a gender convention in St Louis. Still her observations of the crossdressing men and their wives is fairly astute. To some of these men, they see it as a hobby. Some are not blessed with the physical features to present convincedly as a woman while others have not learned well the techniques of makeup and presentation.

Of course, some make striking women. I was also amused by the comment that “age is a great help to crossdressers”, being of somewhat mature age myself. Ms Bloom said, “I have seen far more convincing crossdressers over 60 than under.”

Of great interest to me were her observations from the wives on their crossdressing husbands. In most cases Amy observes that, with some notable exceptions, their circumstances are not happy. She paraphrases their feelings when she says, “There is no innate grasp of female friendship, of the female insistence on relationships, of the female tradition of support and accommodation for one’s partner and of giving precedence to the relationship overall”. She goes on to say that “the wives don’t tell their husbands (their true feelings) ….because they don’t want to hurt him and they don’t want to lose him” I think perhaps these feelings change in later life and it becomes “enough is enough” (read Terri lee Ryan’s article on the 10 Reasons Crossdresser Wives’ Divorce them)

From my viewpoint, this part of the book is worth the price of the book by itself although it may be difficult for some to see the truth of statements from those of the opposite gender.

Ms Bloom deals with two other segments of our community too, that of the FTM transsexual and the intersexed person. Her exploration of the FTM transsexual has equal truths for those that are MTF and the one comment that stood out in my mine was her discussion of hormone treatments on mammals who behaved consistently like the hormone wash with which they were injected. Conclusion: we will find eventually a biological answer. Since this book was published, the evidence is now substantial that our brains, influenced by our hormones, do control our gender.

If you would like a more complete review of the book, then read the review by Anne Lawrence for the International Academy of Sex Research trade journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. The book is available from Amazon here in hardbook or pape back from $.01

Apr 02

Crossdressing Websites and Blogs

Here are links to sister sites that contain other valuable resources and information for the crossdressing and transgender community. Although there are many crossdressing sites in the blogosphere, many are not active or current so only active sites are listed here.

We sometimes overlap on resources, but I find that the nature of the material is often quite different from site to site.

If you have a website that is of interest to the transgender community and would like to exchange links please email me at tasidevil@yahoo.com

Crossdresser Heaven

Bluestocking Blue,  an extraordinary blog from a gal “down under”

Shades of Gender from ChicagoNow

En Gender by Helen Boyd (My Husband, Betty)

Stana’s Femulate

Crossdreamers, an extensive bibliography of sites

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 28

Toss the Gloss: Beauty Tips, Tricks & Truths for Women 50+

toss the glossAndrea Robinson is legendary in the fashion and beauty business.  In a career spanning over 40 years, she’s revolutionized the way women look and the way they feel about beauty.  From her early days as beauty editor of Vogue, and as fashion editor of Mademoiselle and creative director of Seventeen magazine – to more recently running the Ralph Lauren beauty brand and building the Tom Ford beauty business from scratch, Andrea has earned a reputation for always being the first.

And so it is with this book. The title got my attention, being a woman of a mature age, and being thoroughly confused by all the brand hype – how do you tell the difference from one manufacturer to another?  Andrea’s forthright analysis cut through the muck with absolute clarity and in a few sentences told me what I can buy that will work and not break the bank as cosmetics are not inexpensive. And what works for a girl of 20 or 30 will not work for a woman of 50-60 or older.

One reviewer said, “I absolutely loved this book! I am a budget-conscious beauty lover with a lot of allergies and a lot of other priorities other than spending a ton of money on the beauty industry’s ever-changing trends. Yes, I am under 40 but the tips, tricks, and explanations offered in the book are for the conscious spender who wants to look classic, timeless and do so with smart spending habits. The author is an industry insider who keeps things witty, fresh, and frank throughout the books pages.”

The book got 4 out of 5 stars from 160 reviews. A fun read that will have you redoing your cosmetic bag.

Available on Amazon in hard cover and Kindle editions

Mar 28

How To Determine Your Ideal Heel Height

high heelsCrossdressers love their high heels so what if there were a magic number you could measure that would tell you exactly what high heel height would be your most comfortable to wear? What if science could finally tell you why your coworker could wear her 4 inch Manolos all day at work like nothing, while you can barely muster a kitten heel? According to an article I rediscovered buried in my browser bookmarks, there is!

So maybe not that magical, but I have been meaning to try this test (written by a podiatrist) to measure your ideal heel height for some time now, and given a change in my recent shoe purchases, this seemed like a good time to do it. You see, spurred by a mix of moving to Mexico (more walking! less driving!) and that boring, nagging thing that can no longer be ignored after a certain age called “practicality”, my beloved 4 inch high heels are slowly getting replaced by easier-for-me to walk in 2 to 2.5 inchers. This got me thinking back to that magical measurement I had been meaning to try, and curious as to what it would say is my “ideal” heel height. Could it be in any way accurate? Would it correspond with the recent heel height trends taking place in my wardrobe?

Let’s try it, shall we?

Theory:

Depending on many factors including the shape of your foot, flexibility, arch height, etc., your foot has a natural incline while in a state of rest, that if measured, can indicate which shoe heel height would feel most natural and comfortable.

I’ll note here that I made one modification to the original instructions. Instead of using the tip of the big toe as a measuring point, I chose to use the point where the ball of foot bends. This just made an enormous amount of more sense to me because 1) isn’t that where your foot naturally starts to incline in high heels?, and 2) I would have an “ideal” heel height of around 5 inches using the original instructions, which is just crazy-talk.

Measurements will be taken with the following points of the foot in mind:

The heel (where the high heel of a shoe would sit)
The bend at the ball-of-foot (this is my modified step)

points to measure on your foot

Measure

Sit in a chair and extend your leg straight out in front you.
Let your ankle and foot relax so it rests at it’s natural incline.
Tip: I did a few rounds of exercising my ankle and foot (rolling my ankle, pointing my toes, etc.) and then letting it relax to get a feel for what my true “relaxed” state felt and looked like.

leg out and relaxed

With a measuring tape or ruler, measure the distance from the heel of your foot, straight out to the point where your ball of foot bends.

The measurement on the tape measure where your ball of foot bends indicates your foot’s natural incline and “ideal heel height”.

ideal heel height

Tip: this is easier with the help of a friend, roommate, or significant other, but it can be done by yourself with a little creativity.

How I measured without help:

Set up a camera to take photos against a wall with a camera remote, but a self-timer, selfie stick, or the buttons on an iPhone head phone cord could also be used to take photos from a distance.

Taped a measuring tape onto the wall at the same height as my extended leg while sitting in a chair.
Made sure the measuring tape, and my extended leg/foot were all within the picture frame by taking a few test shots.

Sat in a chair, extended my leg, and took a few photos with a camera remote. I stretched my foot and rolled my ankle in between to make sure I got a few “relaxed” shots.
Uploaded my photos and drew lines in Photoshop.

My Ideal Heel Height

ideal heel height

After a few rounds of taking measurements, my “ideal heel height” came in somewhere below 2.5 inches, which just so happens to correspond with my recent propensity toward heels in the 2 to 2.5 inch range. In my case, this formula seems right on the money!

Now you!

I’m super curious to hear if this test works for you! Let me know in the comments if take the test and if your measured “ideal” heel height really is one that is most comfortable for you.

Original post at Alterations Needed. A excellent resource on the subject of alterations