Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Too Good for Your Own Good

By Cathy Peterson

I absolutely laughed out loud as I read your lead post in Monday’s Femulate. You are so spot-on in your question about:

“there are one or two ‘ladies’ participating who are outstanding – so outstanding that you wonder if it was really their first time”

That was me at a Jr. High church youth group Halloween party back in 1970 in western Pennsylvania. Seventh grade, 5’4” about 110 lbs, fair-skinned, shoulder-length blonde “shag” haircut. With 2 weeks to go, me and four other guys were all set to come as Batman, Robin, Joker, Penguin and me as Riddler. Getting stuff together for costumes was harder and slower than expected. Wednesday evening before Saturday party we are in bad shape at only 25% ready with clothing and props. 

We’re at Richie's house and his mother jumps right into our conversation at the kitchen table with, “Just dress up as girls, that’ll be easy, you’ll get lots of laughs, and it’ll be fun.” I, of course, am the only one who knows I’ve enjoyed years of dressing in my older sister’s packed away clothes. But we were all surprised to have Richie’s mother hang him out to dry with, “and Richie, you and your sister have swapped clothes many times before.” (He and Sharon were fraternal twins.)

Richie looked a bit embarrassed, but kind of reluctantly said “ok” and then I tried to appear like this was all new to me, but “sure, I'll do it for fun.” We'd ask our mother’s to help with our outfits and we’ll meet in the church parking lot outside the Fellowship Hall – then go in together.

Not only did I love dressing as a girl since age 3, my older sister and mother helped with this very public outing for me. Quick version: From the large zipped hanging garment bags in the basement that had all my older sister’s clothes she outgrew (she was 18-year-old Senior to my 13-year-old 7th grader). Satin panties, classic Playtex stretch bra (one Nerf ball in each cup), off-white pantyhose, white polyester long-sleeved bodysuit with three snaps in the crotch and ruffles down the front, off-white nylon half-slip with 3-inch lacy hemline, powder blue pleated rayon skirt to above my knees, off-white slip-on 2-inch heels. Blue eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, “doe eyes,” pink lipgloss, pink nail polish, several rings, bracelets, necklace and dangling clip-on earrings. My sister did a perfect Farah Fawcett curled-feathered sides hair-style and hairspray, white shoulder purse and finished with Love's Baby Soft perfume all over.

Chilly late October, so I used my sister’s classic faux rabbit fur quilted jacket. Out to the car and my sister dropped me off in the parking lot. Sitting on vinyl flight bench front-seat felt amazing with all my layers. 

I got out, walked toward Kenny and Curt and knew right away I had made a huge mistake. Kenny was in a housecoat, fuzzy slippers and had his own hair up in silly long pigtails. Curt was in a huge oversized dress that went to his ankles with a 1960’s gawdy “church lady” hat. Both had on gym shorts underneath. They look at me in complete disbelief!!!

While I’m trying to deflect their “Are you kidding me – how far did you take this costume?” Steve arrives in a stereotypical Pocahantas brown fringed American-Indian costume with $3 black braided wig (very fake).

Now the three of them are incredulous in asking me “what is up?” as they check me out front and back –- even overdoing their shock of “Are you wearing perfume?”

Then Richie arrives, thankfully! His sister helped him so he’s in an orange ribbed turtleneck, black skirt, black tights, black shoes, black nail polish (all very Halloween-themed) and a fairly nice blonde wig from his mother (his own hair was buzz cut). You can see his bra outline showing under his tight top and he’s pretty stuffed, so it helped take some of the attention off me. 

Other friends arrived, girls and guys, and it was more of the same focus on me and Richie being “way too into this” as we got lots of shocked comments from them, but a few gals smiled at me and said, “You look amazing, I mean exactly like a girl, you would never know. I loved hearing that, but had to appear insulted or embarrassed.

The most telling moment came as we walked into the decorated Fellowship Hall and I took off the rabbit jacket, not thinking/realizing the white polyester top showed my bra super clearly under my top across my back and over my shoulders. Had lots of cat-calls, whistles, some very derogatory gay slurs and dealt with several times someone coming from behind and snapping my bra band.

There were seven or eight mothers and two or three fathers as chaperones, plus two of the parish priests, who made their rounds and I got a lot of wide-eyed looks with reluctant comments about my “costume.” One of the mothers was noticeably upset with how completely authentic I dressed, while two of the mothers were really into smiling at me and telling me how “cute” or “pretty” I looked and “How much you look just like your older sister when she was in Jr. High.”  I enjoyed the next four-plus hours. Tough combination of loving being so fully dressed, but also realizing I had perhaps gone too far in showing myself to all my friends like this.

Lots of comments and questions ensued for the week after the party. I imagine everyone had to wonder about me and Richie being that into it. I know I was in at least a dozen photos that night, but whatever happened to this photos from 50+ years ago, I have no idea. Would love to have just one of them to cherish that memory.

Looking back, I know now I did not think it through at all once Richie and Sharon’s mother put the idea out there to the five of us in her kitchen. It never crossed my mind to consider doing a toned-down version of dressing as a girl in order to be more like a funny costume and not so conspicuous for all to see and wonder about.

I guess I just assumed the other four guys would also show up in 100% girly outfits that any 7th grade girl would wear. Seeing Kenny, Curt and Steve in just plain silly costumes did jar me at that moment, but it was way too late to do anything about how I showed up.

I did feel some cover (deflecting attention) when Richie showed up in similar attire to mine with a skirt, tights and a noticeable bra showing through his clingy turtleneck. But even his all black and orange theme looked more like an actual Halloween costume. Me? I later thought I could have gone as a witch or vampiress – getting to dress in girly clothes, but under the guise of a Halloween theme.

I remember all the details of those clothes because I had worn them before many times at home. I knew those panties and off-white hose very well. And that classic late-1960s bra that was my sister’s when she was 13, Playtex, stretchy wide back band and straps, soft cups. And the lovely satin lacy half-slip and being snapped into that bodysuit top with the pleated skirt. 

I can only begin to imagine what everyone thought seeing me not only in a non-costume very girly teenage outfit, but how my sister had styled my own long hair into curled back and feathered Farah Fawcett style that really looked great! Add the full makeup, nail polish, lots of jewelry with hairspray and Love's BabySoft – it was clearly not a “costume” at all.

Final Thought

Oh, how I wish I had followed-up with people to get some copies of those photos. No digital cameras or cell phones. just the Kodak instamatic cameras where the roll of film gets developed weeks later.  I saw a few of those pics later on, but never got my own copies. I often wonder if they’re in a box somewhere in someone’s garage or in a desk drawer.

Source: WhoWhatWear
Wearing J. Crew

Hugh Williams
Hugh Williams (left) femulating in the 1942 British film One of Our Aircraft is Missing.


  1. Cathy, that sounds great! Especially to have your own hair You didn't try explaining it all off as "Mary (or whatever older sister's name is) got carried away. It's all her old stuff. I didn't spend a dime."

    Richie apparently had the proclivities too - I wonder if he ever did it again? He must have been mortified Mom gave him away. Hey, maybe SHE is reading this now....

  2. AnonymousJune 28, 2023

    Ah, there was nothing like the Playtex cross your heart bra..
    The one that lifted and separated. How good was that?
    What a great story.

  3. AnonymousJune 28, 2023

    Cathy, what a lovely young lady you were! So pretty and feminine!

    I'm loving all these experiences that we're sharing. My first experience with dresses came in 1959 on April Fool's day when I was in first grade. It seems hard to imagine today, but my grade, perhaps it was even the entire grade school, but I don't specifically recall, brought home notes which said that for April Fool's all the boys should come to school wearing dresses and all the girls should come to school wearing pants.

    My mother chuckled when she read the note and said, "this will be fun. You can wear one of your sister's dresses." Today, in my old home state, a mom would probably call the police if her son brought home that note or if she get arrested for putting her son in a dress.

    Sure enough on April Fool's I found myself wearing one of my sister's party dresses and a petticoat. I couldn't admit it out loud, but I liked how it felt and I was fascinated by the rustling sounds my skirt and petticoat made as I moved about.

    I don't remember any of the boys wearing anything more than dresses and skirts. None of us had on wigs or other feminine items. Not all my classmates crossdressed, but enough did so that I didn't feel too awkward.

    That April Fool's tradition occurred one time. I remember feeling a little disappointed that I wasn't given a similar note to bring home in 2nd grade. Perhaps some parents complained. I don't know.

    However, either the next Halloween or perhaps it was third grade I simply asked mom if I could dress up as a girl for my costume.

    Mom laughed and said that I could. Dressing up as a girl for Halloween in my older sister's clothes became my routine costume until I realized I liked girls. My dressing up went underground until as an adult when I continued an October 31st tradition of dressing up as a woman, especially if there was a work costume event.

    I'm retired now and a grandpa. I haven't dressed up in several years, but still it pushes my buttons.

    Have any of you girls ever heard of a School April Fool's day like that? Aside from my own school I have not.

  4. Thank you for sharing this epic tale! I was reminded of the Halloween in my Jr year of high school when I decided to be "a hooker" and enlisted the VERY willing help of a female friend. It was mostly her wardrobe, and I have vague memories of exactly what I was wearing (thanks for your details here). Our town did a Halloween Parade during the day on Oct 31, and I had "marched" with 2 friends - we were The Marx Brothers handing out candy along the parade route. So I had transformed from Groucho to a Lady Of The Evening. (I heard quite a few comments along those lines that evening.)
    A few days later I was talking with another female friend about that evening - she told me she was sorry to have missed it. I boldly stepped out and suggested a joint birthday party (our birthdays were both upcoming and just a few days apart) and we'd make it a costume affair. She could be the host, and I'd be the hostess. Again, it was mostly her wardrobe I raided, and it was a fun evening. It was my first time being dressed up WITHOUT the cover of Halloween - we even all went out for ice cream at one point in the evening.
    Sadly, I also have no photos from either outing. ~~sigh~~

  5. What a great story - Thank you for sharing.

  6. AnonymousJune 28, 2023

    Cathy, thanks for sharing a great story. Halloweens have been the only times I have gone out en femme and interacted with fellow humans. Other than Halloween it has been solitary strolls in the early evening. I especially had to chuckle about stuffing a bra with a Nerf ball. Right now I am still in my nightgown with a bra and panty and the bra is stuffed with two halves of a Nerf ball.

  7. I love these stories. I enjoy a lot and I learn with the details.

  8. AnonymousJune 28, 2023

    A great story that we could all relate to, one of the best I’ve had in a while thank you Paula G

  9. AnonymousJune 28, 2023

    When I was 18 I casually suggested to my buddy and our dates that it might be fun to switch genders for Halloween.To show how old I am now-I wore my date's sack dress.Looked pretty good-we went to a nightclub (you could drink in NY state @ 18 then).After an hour someone I knew from work came in and the guilt was so great that I suggested we split.Still regret that chicken move but have certainly made up for it since!--emily

  10. Once I was asked to dress as a woman for a non-Halloween event. I was in my 20's. My mother and my girlfriend helped me with my costume. I LOVED it. This was a dream come true. I shaved my legs for the first time. I borrowed a dress from a co-worker. I had dreamed and wished for years that I could dress pretty with my mother's help. That dream came true.

    Now, I want to hear more of Cathy's story. I want to hear about your memories of getting dressed with your mom and sister, and the conversations you had. I want to hear about after the church event, and what you said when you got home.

    For me, I kept my pair of pantyhose in my sock drawer for several weeks. I admitted to my mom that I liked how pantyhose felt. I even admitted trying them on again. She didn't respond, but she looked uncomfortably at me. I decided to not mention it again. I also admitted to my girlfriend how much I enjoyed wearing the pantyhose. I asked at one point, when she was wearing some if I could put mine on and we rub feet. She declined.

    My blog post about the event:

  11. Hard believe that a boy looks just like a pretty girl