Saturday, September 6, 2014

Starting Out

By Paula Gaikowski

Paula_Starting_Out We all started out “borrowing” our sisters’ and mothers’ clothes as we grew up struggling with duality of ourselves. We depart from the designation of youthful curiosity and exploration when a spark inside of us calls out to us louder and louder. I’m speaking of that moment of self-identity when you realize that you want your own clothes.

I was 22 and had just started my new job with a high-tech company in Clifton, New Jersey. There was a dress shop in town that I walked by each day during my lunch time walks. It was an old fashioned kind of place that you don’t see any more, locally owned and operated.

It was the 80’s, so think Designing Women style dresses (sigh). Well, there were all kinds in the window, but one caught my eye --- a blue print dress with a belted waist and lace collar.

After several days, I decided that I had to have it. As it was early October, the Halloween excuse was perfect.

It took several days of trying to even go into the store. I have to laugh now --- like a secret agent I made sure none of my colleagues were out in the area and I doubled back a couple of times in front of the store.

Finally I opened the door and a loud bell deliberately announced my arrival. Sheepishly, I made my way toward the back of the store and a middle-aged lady looked over the rim of her glasses appraisingly. My heart was pounding; my face was red as I stammered out a request for the dress in the window.

She was very pleasant and settled me down. She took my measurements, determined I was a size 16, and pulled a similar dress in my size from the rack. She then proceeded to sell me an expensive bra and then a girdle along with a pair of my first Hanes Silk Reflections, the brand I still wear today. Looking back, I think she saw right through me and was an expert saleswoman.

I walked back to my car and hid my purchase watchfully as if I had just bought something illegal.

I never wore the dress outside my bedroom. The dress and foundations would be lost in one of the Great Purges of the 80’s. However, an important step had been taken in my journey: I bought my first dress!





Source: MyHabit

Wearing MyHabit.





Source: flickr

The always lovely Britney Smith.


  1. Purging?? Never heard of such a thing!....LOL!

    1. Oh yes Joanna, One of the many attempts to "cure" myself!!!

      Funny how in our community we all use that sane word "purge" and most have had one or to, another thing that ties us together a sisters!

  2. I don't clearly remember my first clothing purchase, but I recall it was from a thrift store. A dress - long sleeve and some kind of polyester blend (it WAS the 70's after all) VERY short dress (again - the 70's) but form fitting and lovely because it was mine and mine alone. It also went in one of MANY purges, along with my first wig purchased brand new from Sears.

  3. I grew up in Clifton. I probably admired many dresses at that same shop :)

  4. Re: purging. I did it once, with the birth of my daughter (you can probably guess the motivation). It lasted 5 years, and I thought I was "over it." But, one experiment later and I dove back in -- much stronger the second time. That's why I only did it once. No sense beating my head against the wall to stop doing something that makes me feel so good and doesn't do anyone else or me any harm. Thank you, Paula, for saying what we have all said to ourselves. That first item (in my case a miniskirt with matching top) is magical.

  5. I had been buying various cloths for years and hiding them in several places about the house. My wife knew that I had stashes of clothing and lived in fear that the kids would find them. One day she found a stash in a place that she thought the kids would grow and she grabbed a bunch of other stashes and tossed them in a fit of pique. That was the only major purge. Sadly, my favorite blue dress, the dress I wore the first time I went out to a non-TG event, was part of the disposal.