Friday, October 18, 2019

Tale of Two Dresses

It was a dark and stormy afternoon. I held my breath every time I heard a gust of wind outdoors anticipating a power outage. Thousands lost power in Connecticut, but I lucked out. Nothing was going to interrupt my evening out with my daughter, but I had a close call.

I was ready to leave the house and as I went to the closet to get my coat, I noticed a loose button on my dress. It was hanging by a thread and when I touched the button, it fell to the floor.

This was a new dress and you would think there would not be any problems But it was not the first time that something new had loose buttons, so I sighed and got out my sewing kit.

After threading the needle, I realized I was running late and sewing the button back on the dress was going to make me even later. So I decided to wear a different dress. I peeled off one dress and slipped on another, slipped on my coat, grabbed my purse and went on my way.

Source: Ann Taylor
Wearing Ann Taylor

Bryce Anderson
Bryce Anderson, male womenswear model

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Real RLE

Real-life experience (RLE) is a process where transsexual and transgender people live full-time in their preferred gender identity for a period of time, in order to demonstrate that they can function as a member of said gender. —Wikipedia

I was thinking about my RLE.

The longest I have lived full-time in my preferred gender was when I attended Fantasia Fair for 7 days in 2008, 2012 and 2014, but I discount those experiences because the people who live and work at the site of the Fair, that is, Provincetown, Massachusetts, are aware that the transgenders are in town for the week. Every tall female stranger is a suspected transwoman and nobody passes. How can you have a real life experience in your preferred gender if almost everyone you interact with knows your assigned at birth gender?

Discounting Fantasia Fair as an RLE for that reason also discounts the various three, four, and five-day transgender conferences and conventions I have attended in the past.

That leaves me with my four-day full-time experiences in New York City in 2009 and Hamvention in 2010 through 2019 (sans 2017) and my too numerous to count one-day outings. I consider those my real RLEs.

Admittedly, in some cases, some people knew what was going on because I came out to them, but the majority of people did not know. They may have suspected something was up, but I was just as clueless about what they thought as they were clueless about me.

I do think it is noteworthy that no one reacted negatively to me during my RLEs (a youth in New York City called me a "dyke," but I considered that a positive reaction).

So either (a) I passed as a woman in other peoples' eyes, (b) people suspected something, but were not confident enough in their suspicions to react to the tranny, (c) people suspected something, but respected my desires to present as a woman, (d) people suspected something, but did not care, or (e) people suspected something, but were afraid to react to a crazy transwoman.


In my opinion, my RLEs successfully demonstrated that I can “function" as a woman.

Source: Intermix
Wearing Acler blazer

Jeremi Sikorski femulates Izabela Trojanowska on Polish television’s Your Face Sounds Familiar.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Ghost of Payless

Christian Siriano for Payless Women's Habit Pointed Pump
Me and a lot of Femulate readers miss the recently departed Payless shoe store. Their prices were reasonable, their styles diverse and they had larger sizes that girls like us prefer.

Roscoe commented that Payless is alive and well selling their foot ware on Amazon. Their Amazon brand is called “dexflex” and includes the styles we were familiar with under the Amazon brand. The “Christian Siriano” brand is also available on Amazon. And all the sizes we got used to from Payless are available, too.

Initially, I thought that their presence on Amazon might be permanent, but after perusing what is available, I noticed that various sizes were sold out for various styles. So it looks like Payless may be just dumping their leftover stock there.

I searched the Internet trying to confirm what is going on, but could not find anything. If anyone knows better, let me know. Meanwhile, don’t hesitate; stock up now before the stock is depleted.

Source: Venus
Wearing Venus

Reed Birney
Reed Birney femulating on stage in Casa Valentina.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Femulating Times Three

Corey Rae as a “Hollywood Socialite,” Halloween, circa 1995
To Be Costumed or Not Be Costumed Dept.

“If you haven’t yet transitioned—or even come ‘out’ as transgender—Halloween is a great night to test the waters. A female-targeted costume can offer you the chance to express yourself freely, even if only for the night. Once you have a taste of that world, it might be hard to go back to presenting as the gender you don’t identify with. But perhaps it’ll give you the confidence to be your true self with those around you.”

The preceding is a snippet from a refreshing article by Corey Rae, titled As a Transgender Woman, Halloween Has Always Been My Favorite Holiday.

Believe It or Not, Ripley Dept.

According to The Hertford Reformer (1835), Lady B contacted the police as some of her jewels were missing. She asked that all of her domestic help be interviewed except for her lady’s maid of eight months who she trusted implicitly. The police eventually reported back that the jewels had been found and that the thief was her lady’s maid, who turned out to be an escaped convict and a man!

(From Emily as reported in Wardrobe Wisdom from a Royal Lady's Maid by Alicia Healey)

Another Blushing Bride Dept.

Holly wrote, “I wanted to tell you about my experiences of going to bridal shops.

“About three times a year, I arrange a photoshoot—try and go with a theme. I was having a photoshoot with a photographer who normally does weddings, who suggested I do a photoshoot in a wedding dress and I thought it sounded like fun.

“I initially looked round on eBay for a cheap wedding dress, but any dress I liked the look of was way too expensive. I then contacted a few local wedding dress shops ( I live in Newcastle, UK) to see if they had any sample/end of the line dresses at a reasonable price. I was up front and told them I was male and needed the dress for a photoshoot. All of them were very accommodating and I tried on many. Eventually I found a shop that specialized in retro wedding dresses. She had a really lovely one that fitted and said I could hire it, which I did for £50. She also kitted me out with accessories.

“I did the photoshoot, had an amazing day some photos on my flickr profile (”

(See Holly as a bride in the Femulator slot below.)

Wearing Ollalaa

Holly's bridal femulation

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Girls’ Night Out with a Twist

Real Art Ways "is an alternative multidisciplinary arts organization in Hartford, CT that presents and supports contemporary artists.” On the third Thursday of each month, Real Art Ways holds a "Creative Cocktail Hour," which they say, "represents the best of everything Real Art Ways has to offer: innovative art, invigorating music and hundreds of the most interesting and open-minded people to share the experience.”

I have attended Creative Cocktail Hour a number of times and typically found a dozen or so of my trans sisters also in attendance. I have not attended Creative Cocktail Hour since the summer of 2014. I had made plans to go since then, but life got in the way and I was unable to go.

My daughter recently moved to Hartford and Real Art Ways is her neighbor. While walking her dog, she has encountered Creative Cocktail Hour crowds milling about Real Art Ways, but she has never attended because she did not want to go solo (I can’t blame her).

I mentioned to her that some of my trans sisters attend and I would be happy to accompany her if she was comfortable going with her old aunt rather than her old man. She was enthusiastic about attending with me en femme, so we have a date to go to Creative Cocktail Hour together.

How cool is that!

Source: Venus
Wearing Venus

Singer Akihiro Miwa
Singer Akihiro Miwa

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Miss-Representing Ourselves

By Sally Stone, Contributing Editor

There was a time when concerns about what people were thinking of me made my forays into the outside world terrifying and often, debilitatingly stressful. My concerns were based primarily upon the fear that I couldn't pass. I’ve long since overcome that fear and I no longer care that my birth gender is usually obvious. Still I wonder sometimes what the people I meet are thinking.

Generally my interactions with others when I am presenting in my feminine persona are extremely positive. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had an ugly encounter. People appear to accept my presentation and quite often, they actually reinforce that acceptance with verbal approval.

Take a recent shopping trip as an example. I was in a downtown department store searching for a skirt when a sales associate approached to ask if she could assist me. I told her I was looking for a very specific style of denim skirt. She was only too happy to assist me in my search and then, while we were together, she told me I was beautiful and that she loved my hair. Who wouldn’t be flattered?

What was she thinking though, as she made small talk with me? Obviously, she recognized right away that I wasn't a genetic female, but did she think of me as a man dressed in woman’s clothing or did she consider me a transwoman? Was it actually possible that she recognized me the way I think of myself, a part-time woman?

I can’t know for certain, but I sense that most people who interact with me just assume I have transitioned or am in the process of transitioning. I believe that most cis people have been conditioned by current events to assume anyone who dresses like a woman wants to be a woman full-time. I suspect most don't realize there are girls like me, girls who are decidedly different.

Of course, in the grand scheme of life, it really doesn’t matter what people think about my feminine appearance, but somehow, I have always felt I’m being deceptive by not mentioning that I am different from the transwomen in the public spotlight and that my reason for presenting feminine is not the same as theirs.

Would they think of me differently if they knew I was only a part-time woman? Would their acceptance of me change? When it comes to a casual acquaintance like the sales associate I mentioned above, it would be awkward to broach the subject of my presentation motives. Still, I wonder if I’m misrepresenting myself and passing up an opportunity for additional trans outreach.

Perhaps the cis community should know that not all transwoman are like those in the public eye. Maybe I should make it known that there are many of us who consider our gender to be fluid, so we choose to express our feminine persona occasionally.

I dare say that introducing the gender fluid concept to many cis people would certainly complicate the trans narrative they have grown accustomed to understanding. Maybe I’m so well received because people assume I am a “typical” transwoman and they are comfortable with that familiar concept. I can’t help but wonder if people knew my true trans nature would it change their opinion of my feminine persona.

So, I have to ask myself, am I enjoying such broad acceptance because those I meet are assuming they understand my “trans-ness," which somehow makes them okay with it? Ultimately, I probably won’t know how much of this is true unless I ask someone, but that doesn’t seems like a very likely conversation for a casual encounter. Perhaps the opportunity to have this conversation will arise in the future, but for now I will continue to happily accept the fact that I’m accepted as a transwoman no matter the reason.

Source: JustFab
Wearing JustFab

Amanda Winters
Amanda Winters

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Pantyhose Ups and Downs

Pantyhose, from the miniskirt to the boardroom and now banished to the back of lady’s lingerie drawers.

By Paula Gaikowski, Contributing Editor

I have always been captivated with and loved pantyhose. I hesitated writing this article for fear it would pigeonhole me as being somewhat obsessed in a seedy way. I’ll emphasize that is not the case. It is more that I identify my femininity with this classic sense of style and formality.

Stockings and tights were the first clothes that I was drawn to. They hung from the shower curtain, the girls in my class wore them and television advertisements teased “sheer indulgence.” I remember a No-Nonsense radio ad with a background chorus that sang, “We make you feel more female.”

As I evolved over the years, pantyhose have always been a part of my wardrobe. A close shave and a pair of Hanes Silk Reflection hose will literally transform half my body into a more feminine form. Nowadays, at least once a week when getting dressed for work, I’ll put on my bra, panties and pantyhose sit there for a minute and reflect on the up coming day and take them off before putting on my male work clothes. Nothing sensual or erotic, just a moment of peace.

Pantyhose sales have been in steady decline since the mid 1990’s. What the heck happened? There appears to be a multitude of reasons. As baby boomers entered the workforce, the hippies and counter culture entities shed their blue jeans and peasant skirts for suits, wingtips, pumps and pantyhose. The dress code of business was defined by the current generation in power at the time. Remember the movie Working Girl with Melanie Griffith. (I wanted to be just like her!)

Then there was a changing of the guard in the mid-90’s Women became managers and gained control over dress codes and fashion choices in business. Female executives began to realize that there was no compelling reason why she or her colleagues had to spend $50 to $100 a month on pantyhose or wear them when it was hot and humid. Sales began a steady decline through the early 2000’s with the financial industry and white shoe law firms being the last holdouts. Today, the only place we see pantyhose daily is on flight attendants and the staff of southern Republican senators.

All is not lost mind you. I travel to the UK several times a year and can tell you unmistakably when women wear a dress, they will wear hose and most often it is black. Perhaps it’s the cool and rainy climate, but the selection of black tights in Marks and Spencer is huge. I can say the same is true in Poland, The Netherlands, Hungary, China and Australia. Argentina and Chile get an honorable mention.

Prior to the advent of pantyhose, stockings were held up by a garter belt or a girdle with built-in garter clips. An essential part of every woman’s wardrobe, stockings provided the perfect vehicle for DuPont, the company responsible for the invention of nylon. Nylon stockings made their grand debut in a splashy display at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. By the time stockings were released for sale to the public on May 15, 1940, demand was so high that women flocked to stores by the thousands. Four million pairs sold out in four days.

Pantyhose went on sale in 1959, the year I was born! A coincidence? I think not. Not surprisingly they were invented by a man, Allen Gant in 1953. At the time, Gant ran the Glen Raven Knitting Mill of North Carolina, which was founded by his father John Gant in 1902. Gant was inspired to invent the garment by his pregnant wife, Ethel, who complained about wearing garter belts especially while she was pregnant. It might be worthy to note that Ethel did construct a prototype panty with hose sewn in.

Pantyhose slowly became popular, however, older women were hesitant to give up their stockings and like many trends in the last century, the baby boomers latched onto pantyhose when the miniskirt became popular. Gartered stockings did not work well with miniskirts. Stockings quickly took a back seat and pantyhose became the standard for women. When it was time for them to go to work, the baby boomers brought them into the office and social events.

During their peak of popularity, the selection of pantyhose was overwhelming. They came in all types of colors, deniers of sheerness, textures, support, lite support, control top and sandal foot. There were television, radio, newspaper and magazines ads.

The sheerness of pantyhose is measured in denier. Denier translates to  “French coin of small value.” One very small thread of silk was worth one denier. This evolved into the standard for measuring the thickness of fiber and thread in the modern textile industry. Super sheer stockings might be 10 or 15 denier, while opaque tights might be 40-60 denier. I’ll note here that in the US, we refer to the more sheer denier as pantyhose and the heavier denier as tights. In the UK, tights are used to describe all pantyhose.

To quote Hosiery Association President Sally Kay, “Sales of the traditional waist high garment will not return to those which the industry experienced in the 1970’s through the late 1990’s.”

Oh, Sally, say it ain’t so!

Fear not my Femulate readers, pantyhose are far from gone. In fact, they are enjoying a small bit of a popularity among younger women. Sheer hosiery had $482 million in sales in the one-year period ending May 2018 and 27% of those sales were to millennials, which is an increase of 9%.

The other 91% were probably me and Stana!

Source: Nine West
Wearing Nine West heels

1983 Closet Ball
Femulating at the 1983 Closet Ball

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Thursday Out for a New Do

I have been getting deluged with emails from wig peddlers lately, which put me in the mood to get a new do. But instead of ordering a pig in a poke online, I decided to visit my local wig merchant, Tonkin’s Wigs.

When I was a dyed-in-the-wool brunette, Kathy Tonkin plopped a blond wig on my head and it has been my go-to wig color ever since. Yeah, I know you’ve seen me in other colors for extended periods of time, but I always go back to blond (for more fun). Kathy has an excellent eye for what wigs look good on which girls, so I felt confident that she would do me good again.

Shaved, showered, made-up and dressed-up, I was out the door at 11 AM and arrived at Tonkin’s 10 minutes later. I had not been in the store in five years, but when I walked in, Kathy recognized me immediately and we caught up on old and new times.

I told Kathy to have her way with me and she said she had three wigs that she thought would look good. She was correct — all three wigs looked good and I wished I could buy them all, but we both agreed that one looked better than the others, a Noriko wig called “Sandie." 
I wore my new do out the door and drove to Goddess, a consignment shop for plus-size women. I am looking for a new winter coat, but I have a problem: my sleeves aren't too short, my arms are too long. I have had some success with sleeve length with small-sized plus-size coats, so I drove to the strip mall on the east side of Waterbury where Goddess was located. 

On the way, I passed another strip mall and noticed that Goddess was now in that strip mall, so I made a U-turn and went to the new Goddess location. Turned out that Goddess’ location was not the only thing that had changed, it was no longer a plus-size consignment shop! It was now a “chic boutique” and they had no coats, plus-sized or otherwise.

I was only about 10 minutes away from the Westfield Mall where there were three plus-sized clothing stores I have shopped at before: Fashion to Figure, Lane Bryant and Torrid, so Meriden, here I come! What a mistake! The Westfield Mall was so depressing. Lots of empty storefronts including Fashion to Figure, not to mention the long-gone Payless Shoes. Torrid had no coats and Lane Bryant had a limited unattractive selection. Macy’s had loads of coats, but each one I tried on had too short for me sleeves.

A little frustrated, I left the mall. The weather was now so miserable (cold and raining) that I decided to go home and that’s what I did.

Source: JustFab
Wearing JustFab

Femulating in the early 20th Century
Femulating in the early 20th Century

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Avon Calling

I’ve mentioned this before, but for newer readers (and older readers who may have forgotten), I am an Avon Lady.

In between jobs in 1996-1997, I became an Avon Lady to fulfill my role as breadwinner. While unemployed for almost a year, I was able to build the business and had about 30 regular customers. But when I went back to work full-time, it was difficult to maintain the business and eventually I ended up selling only to a few friends and relatives.

Since retirement, I thought about getting active again, but I have no desire or the disposition to cold sell door-to-door and I am not sure how to sell Avon otherwise. Selling online is an option and maybe I can build a business if some of the girls reading my blog became customers. Well, it’s food for thought...

Anyway, two things caused me to think about selling Avon: a news story about a transwoman in the UK who sells Avon and a short film I came across on YouTube while looking for something else.

Here is the story about the trans Avon rep:
"Avon's first transgender rep says she found confidence and stability
"Daniella Schofield, 35, from Blackpool, became an Avon representative in February to help support her schizophrenic mother. She is earning £1,300-a-month and said the job changed her life."
Read all about it in Daily Mail: 
By the way, I disagree with the “Avon’s first transgender rep” claim. I’ve been an Avon Lady for 23 years and I would not be surprised if there were transwomen who have been at it even longer than I.

And here is the short 11-minute film titled Beauty Mark. It is a wonderful story and brought tears to my eyes.


Source: Metrostyle
Wearing Metrostyle

Young femulator, circa 1910
Young femulator, circa 1910