Friday, February 26, 2021

Dressing up like a girl

By Paula Gaikowski

Recently relocated and retired with a pandemic thrown in to boot, my wife has been struggling to make new friends. Lucky her lifelong friend Mary lives close by and it was the bubbly and vivacious Mary who suggested that they join a group of breakfast club women who met every other Saturday.

They meet for brunch at an upscale venue. It was my wife’s first time out in over a year. She pulled her work clothes out of storage, found her makeup in a box and did her nails.

She looked great when she came out of the bedroom, stylish, pretty and feminine. Mary arrived boiling over with enthusiasm and off they went to their lady’s brunch. Myself, a bit envious for reasons you all know.

Arriving home later that afternoon, her spirits were buoyed, she told all about the food, the restaurant and the women she met. Then she said it. 

“It was so good to get out and dress up like a girl for a change. We all agreed that we need to do it for ourselves every so often.”

The way it came out resonated with me and I’ll assume with you, too. She could have said “dolled-up,” “dressed-up,” “put on some pretty clothes,” however, after almost a year of sweatpants and shorts, she was finally able to express her femininity with her peers.

It’s been a year since the pandemic put a kibosh on my business travel and my outings and life as Paula. And I’ll tell you. It would be good to dress up like a girl for a change –  you know we need to do it for ourselves every so often. (smile)

Wearing ModCloth
Wearing ModCloth

Kris Andersson femulating in Dixie's Happy Hour.
Kris Andersson femulating in Dixie's Happy Hour.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Major Events

I love going out en femme among the civilians. Shopping and dining are my typical en femme activities, but I also enjoy going to major events en femme

Attending ham radio and philatelic conventions are major events I attend en femme. (Nothing like femulating 24/7 for three or four days to affirm your femininity.) And I am always looking for other major events to attend.

The photo above of femulators attending Royal Escot* in the U.K. inspires me to attend a major horse race at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York next summer (pandemic permitting).

* A couple of Femulate readers have actually attended Royal Ascot en femme and have recounted their day at the races here and here.

Wearing Venus
Wearing Venus

Jake Warden
Jake Warden, not to be confused with Jack Warden

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Gyp and Dale

Trans Scam Dept.

I watched most of the HBO documentary The Lady and the Dale, which tells the story of transwoman con-artist Liz Carmichael, whose biggest con was her three-wheeled automobile, the Dale. 

The documentary is very interesting and it fills in a lot of details that I forgot or missed when the con actually occurred. On the negative side, I thought that some of the interviewed people tried to give Carmichael a pass for her illegal activities. 

Watch it and you be the judge.

What Works Dept.

Continuing with things that work for me, I want to mention two products that I use every day and can recommend without reservation.

Gold Bond Ultimate Neck & Chest Firming Cream – Very old sun damage on my neck moved me to try this product when I saw it advertised on television back in late 2019. I have been using it daily ever since. The sun damage is now less apparent because the redness of my damaged skin is gone – the color of the damaged parts of my neck matches the color of the rest of my neck. Now one has to get up close and personal to notice the damage. 

Avon Anew Clinical Eye Lift Pro Dual Eye System – I have been using this product for almost five years. It is a two-part system. The tub includes a gel for your eyelids and brow bone and a cream for under your eyes. I apply it every morning after I cleanse my face. It keeps my eyelids tight/firm and reduces the appearance of wrinkles, especially crow's feet around my eyes. I don’t look my age (69.9) and this product has a lot to do with it. 

Get a Job Dept.

This is from Kristy at Zippia, the career expert site.

We created a new resource to help Trans job seekers in the job market. Not only do Trans workers often face discrimination while job hunting, they also face a variety of complex situations not traditionally covered by college career centers or other resources. Topics such as finding Trans friendly workplaces, pronouns on your resume, and legal rights are sadly neglected. We believe our resource will help job seekers find a positive work environment and decrease job hunting anxiety:

In addition, we dedicated a section to guide employers in creating an inclusive workplace for Trans workers. It isn’t right or fair to expect Trans individuals to have to educate the world around them-- our hope is this guide can relieve some of that burden and help create more inclusive workplaces.

Wearing Madeleine
Wearing Madeleine

Clinton Leupp femulating on an episode of television's Will & Grace.
Clinton Leupp femulating on an episode of television's Will & Grace.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Comfortable in Heels

I usually wear high heels when I go out, but I have not gone out in a very long time. During these pandemic days, I only wear high heels when I am trying on a new outfit. The rest of the time, I wear flats. As a result, my feet are out of shape for wearing heels. I noticed this in December after walking around the house in heels that used to be painless, but were no longer painless!

What to do?

Every morning, I do stretching exercises. Some of the exercises involve laying on my back while moving my legs this way and that. My feet are just spectators during these exercises. 

It occurred to me that I could stretch my feet while I did these exercises and maybe that would get my feet back in shape for wearing high heels. So I tried it — while my legs were moving this way and that, I kept my feet pointed like a ballerina. This stretches my toes, arches, ankles and lower calf — areas that can get painful wearing high heels. 

I had been doing my foot stretches for over a month before I walked around in high heels again and I was a surprised that it was a painless experience – my foot stretches worked!

Note well that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on television (I’d prefer to play the nurse), so I am not advising anyone to try my foot stretching exercise. I'm just describing what worked for me – your mileage may and probably will vary.

Wearing Unique Vintage
Wearing Unique Vintage

Adam Strycharczuk femulates Katie Melua on Polish television's  Twoja Twarz Brzmi Znajomo.
Adam Strycharczuk femulates Katie Melua on Polish television's Twoja Twarz Brzmi Znajomo. Despite an excellent femulation, Adam was very nervous and you can see his body shaking throughout this performance. 
You can view this femulation on YouTube.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Fall of High Heels

On that fateful day that I tried on women’s clothing for the very first time, the second item I tried on were a pair of high heel pumps (preceded by a pair of nylon stockings). Ever since then, high heels have been an integral part of my wardrobe.

Slipping on a pair of heels is usually the last step in my femulation – they complete me as a woman and I seldom wear anything else. So it saddens me to read the InStyle article Diana sent me documenting the decline of high heels.

Sales of dress shoes, including heels, went down 71% in the second quarter of 2020, according to fashion site Glossy. As the world approaches the one-year anniversary of working from home, will women really go back to teetering around an office in stilettos? And, perhaps more importantly, will they be required to in order to be taken seriously and get ahead in their careers?”

The author of the article is happy about the decline of heels, however, her article quotes observers who believe that heels will make a comeback post-pandemic.

Who knows?

I do know that I have lots of heels in my wardrobe and even if they stopped selling heels everywhere tomorrow, I would be set for life.

Wearing Nine West
Wearing Nine West

Alison Laing
Alison Laing, transgender pioneer

Monday, February 15, 2021

Ancient History

The following post originally appeared in my old blog, A Passing Interest, on November 3, 2006. I believe Femulate readers will find it interesting because it documents my first solo trip out among the civilians.

What a day!

Yesterday, I spent the day en femme. I shaved, showered, did my makeup, dressed and was at West Farms Mall at 9:50 AM. Then, I sat in my car trying to get up the courage to go inside the mall. After 20 minutes, I made up my mind that “it was now or never” and I got out of my car and went into the mall.

I dressed appropriately to fit in with the other women shopping at the mall. I wore a long black tunic sweater and “heather-gray” leggings (both from Newport-News) and pant boots I bought from Payless. By the way, the boots were a pleasure to wear. Although, the boots had a 2-inch stacked heel, my feet were free of pain all day and wearing comfortable heels helped me get “the walk” down pat. By the end of the day, I was strutting my stuff like a full-time woman! It felt wonderful.

On the other hand, wearing heels did not help me with my height issue. I’m just under six-feet-two in my bare feet and just under six-feet-four with those boots on. I like to wear heels, so my philosophy is that at six-feet-two, high heels are not going to make or break my ability to pass. If I can pass at six-feet-two, then I can pass at six-feet-four. As the day turned out, I did well.

The legend among crossdressers is that when you are out en femme, avoid packs of teenaged girls because they closely check out the female competition and are more likely to spot a crossdresser than other people you will encounter. Being a school day, I did not encounter many teenagers until late afternoon. And when I did, they were very cool if they noticed me. None acted in a disrespectful manner.

On the other hand, watch out for packs of old ladies (I kid you not). They travel in pairs during the day at the mall and if they read you, some of them are the rudest humans I have ever encountered. They stop dead in their tracks and stare, nudge their fellow pack members. I have even had them point at me!

I had lunch at Ruby Tuesday with my friend Sylvia, who graciously dined with me in boy mode. Two elderly women were seated in the booth directly behind me. When we got up to leave, I glanced back at that booth because something caught my eye. The woman who was seated facing my back was alerting her fellow diner to check me out. Meanwhile, the other woman was straining to turn around to get a better look.

I did not react, ignored them (“ignore the ignorant” is my motto) and left the restaurant. But such rude behavior should not be ignored. Next time, I will respond by asking them, “Can I help you?” or some such. (If anyone has a more effective comeback that is not rude, please let me know. I’d like to keep it handy.)

The rest of the people I encountered yesterday were fine. Most people paid no attention to me. Some males checked me out, but did not react in a negative way. Some women were outright friendly, smiled, and some said, “Hello.”

My first mall goal was to go to Sephora or M·A·C for makeup advice. Sephora moved, so they were not where I thought they would be, but as I window-shopped, I encountered Sephora before M·A·C, so I went into Sephora. Immediately, a saleswoman asked me if I needed assistance and I asked her if she could provide makeup advice. She was happy to do so and sat me at a makeup table for consultation. I talked her out of performing a complete makeover. Instead, I asked her just to do a touch-up to improve what I had done.

I am always concerned with my eyebrows, but she said I had done a good job with them and that they did not need any work. But she did suggest some other improvements. She said I needed to draw my eyeliner out further towards the outside of each eye to give them more of an almond shape. She also said I needed lip-gloss and a little more mascara and blush. She implemented the suggestions and I was so happy with the results that I asked her to take my photo. Here it is.

I bought the mascara, blush, and lip-gloss the saleswomen used on me and went on my way to meet Sylvia for lunch at 11:30.

Except for the encounter with the rude elderly women, lunch was fine. The food was good, the restaurant staff was very accommodating, and my lunch date was fun; I had not seen Sylvia since my support group’s banquet in March and we had a lot of catching up to do.

After lunch, I went back to my car to deposit my purchases and touch up my makeup. I guess my encounter with the rude elderly women had shaken my confidence because I sat in my car for awhile to regroup.

During my makeup consultation at Sephora, I mentioned that I had beard cover under my foundation and that I was wearing beard cover because I was a crossdresser. The saleswoman probably knew that already. She sensed my uneasiness and tried to settle me down by saying “You only have one life to live and you should live it like you want. If someone has a problem, then it is their problem, not yours.”

Those words came back to me while I sat in my car and motivated me to go back in the mall and do some shopping. I visited lots of stores looking at skirts, dresses, and tops, but did not find anything interesting until I hit the clearance rack at Talbots.

There I found three skirts and tried them on, but they were all too short. I have nothing against short skirts; I wear them all the time, but these three were mid-length style skirts that became short skirts because of my height.

When I exited the dressing room, the saleswoman asked if  found anything and I said I liked the skirts, but they were too short. She said I was shopping in the wrong department. I was in the Women’s Department and that somebody of my height should shop in the Misses’ Department. 

Sure enough, I found the same skirts on the clearance rack in the Misses’ Department, tried them on and their hemlines were just right. I bought two of the skirts. Both were over $100 list, but on clearance, they were under $30 each.

Before I paid for the skirts, I had one more look and fell in love with a pencil skirt that cost $108. I tried it on and it fit perfectly, but in my mind, it had to be worn with a blouse or top tucked into the skirt, which is a look that I have never had success with. Two saleswoman suggested different things to try on with that skirt and I tried them all, but I was not satisfied with the look, so I did not buy the skirt.

I really got into trying on clothes at Talbots. It sure beats buying online or from a catalog, waiting for the order to show up, trying it on, being disappointed and having to ship it back on my dime. Instead, I had instant feedback. So, after Talbots, I left the mall and headed to a strip mall to try on clothes at my favorite store, Fashion Bug.

I have done a lot of shopping at Fashion Bug, but always in boy mode, so this would be something completely different. My goal was to find tops to go with the skirts I bought at Talbots. I went through rack after rack of tops and found a sweater that would go with one of the skirts... as long as it fit.

As I headed toward the fitting room, I encountered the clearance dress rack and I could not resist looking. There were a lot of dresses that did not interest me, but when I got to the “special occasion” section of the rack, my eyes lit up and I fell in love with a $90 cocktail dress marked down to almost half price.

It is a real girly party dress. According to the Fashion Bug website, it is a two-tone lace dress with camisole straps and tulle peek-out hemline. The back of dress features satin ribbon lacing, like the lacing on a corset. Problem is that I did not know the back from the front when I tried it on in the fitting room. I thought the lacing belonged at the front.

When I tried it on, it seemed to be the right size, but it did not fit right. Then it occurred to me that I had the dress on backwards, so I turned it around and it fit liked a glove. The sweater also fit. I bought both items and got 15% off by signing up for a Fashion Bug credit card.

That was the end of my day. I was very tired at its end. Some of my exhaustion was probably due to my nervousness. But I think I have finally conquered that problem and next time, I will have even a better timeout. All in all, it was an excellent experience and I can't wait to go shopping en femme again.

Wearing JustFab
Wearing JustFab

David Strajmayster and Guillaume Carcaud femulating on French television's Samantha oups!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Get Off My Back

I have hair everywhere! Hair removal is my biggest hurdle when I prepare to femulate. For my legs, arms and chest, I use Nair. It works fast and usually one application does the trick.

Your mileage may vary, but Nair does not irritate my skin or cause a rash as long as I steer clear of the genital area when I do my legs and my armpits when I do my arms.

My chest is another story. Surprisingly, my breasts are OK with Nair, but occasionally my upper chest turns red after using Nair. For that reason, I keep a bottle of witch hazel handy. If my chest begins to flare up, I use a washcloth to apply witch hazel to the troubled area and that usually cools things down.

Normally, I don’t wear clothing that exposes my back, so I don’t bother removing the hair there. It is impossible to reach all my back hair with a razor or with Nair. I could get it waxed, but that is a little expensive for this frugal gal. So, to avoid back hair removal, I avoid clothing that reveals my back.

However, the dress I planned to wear to the Avon Christmas party (see previous post) exposed the upper half of my back and chest, so I had to deal with my hairy problem.

The first time I was faced with this problem, I thought, why not try Nair. If it works on my legs, arms and chest, it should work on my back, too.

To test my idea, one morning I dabbed a little bit of Nair on a corner of my natural mohair sweater, waited the requisite four minutes, then took a shower. After exiting the shower, I saw something I had not seen in nearly 40 years: a spot of bare skin on my back! And it was not turning red.

Evidently, Nair would do the trick for my back hair, but how could I apply it to the far-reaches of my back. I doubted that I could do a thorough job applying it manually and I could not find a volunteer to apply the Nair for me, so I put on my thinking wig cap to find a solution.

A day or two later, I thought that a small paintbrush might do the trick. Nair had the same consistency as paint and a paintbrush’s handle would give me a little extra reach to get to those out of the way places on my back. Then, I thought a paint pad (also known as a “poly foam brush”) would work, too.

I headed to the hardware department of my favorite boutique (Walmart) to look for a paint pad. Walmart had a good selection. For my application, I chose a 2-inch wide pad with a wooden handle that cost under $1.

I was ready and when the big day finally arrived, I poured some Nair into a small disposable Styrofoam bowl. In order to get a feeling for how the foam pad would work, I did my legs first. I immediately discovered that the Nair went on faster and with better coverage with the paint pad than when I applied it by hand. In fact, it went on so fast that I did my arms and chest before tackling my back.

Since I would be working in the blind, I decided to attack my back from different directions to try and achieve full coverage. So I applied it over my left and right shoulders and around my left and right sides.

After four minutes were up, I entered the shower and used a washcloth to remove the Naired hair (the force of the shower is not adequate enough to remove the hair). To remove the Naired back hair, I wrapped the washcloth around the head of a long-handled shower brush (I learned the hard way not to use a shower brush solo to remove Naired hair. The bristles of the brush can irritate the skin that has been sensitized by the Nair).

I exited the shower and looked in the mirror to discover that I had missed a spot on my lower back. That was no surprise as that was the hardest spot to reach. So, I applied some more Nair to that area and completed the job.

In conclusion, I discovered that the paint pad not only allowed me to remove the hair on my back, but it was also a more efficient way of applying Nair in general. Using the paint pad was a lot faster and neater than doing it manually and I also used a lot less Nair. Typically, I use one and one-half bottles of Nair to do my legs and arms (I don't always do my chest). Using the paint pad, I did my legs, arms, chest, and back and only used slightly more than one bottle of Nair. As a result, a paint pad is now a permanent part of my beauty tool collection.

Wearing Venus
Wearing Venus

A blushing bride femulation by Arthur Grayson in 1909
A blushing bride femulation by Arthur Grayson in 1909