Crossdressing can mean a LOT of things. When someone asks me how to crossdress I am often at a loss. I mean, I don't know how to answer that even though I have been wearing femme clothes since I was old enough to sneak into my mom's closet and try on as many dresses as possible. In my opinion crossdressing can be as simple and as basic as slipping on pink, lacy panties under your boy clothes. The moment you wear something "for girls" you are, in a sense, crossdressing.
Crossdressing is, in a way, all about GOALS. If you ask me HOW to crossdress I'll ask what you mean. Do you need to know how to confidently buy a pair of stockings? Do you need to know how bra sizes work? Are you asking me how to paint your nails or how to apply false eyelashes?
If you want to know "all of it", well... fasten your garter belt, make sure you have money in your purse, and try to keep up.
This little series is all about building your wardrobe and what I think is essential when it comes to "all of it". Before we get started I would like to clarify a few things. These articles will discuss our bodies and clothes that I wear when I am presenting en femme. I'll chat about corsets and padding which gives me a more shapely figure. Much of what we'll be covering is about the... ah, traditional perspective of femininity. I would like to be very clear that none of this is necessary. A person does not need to have an hourglass figure to be femme. A person does not need to spend three hundred dollars on thigh pads or get used to wearing a tightly cinched corset to present en femme. There are no standards, no requirements to be a girl, to be a woman. Whether someone is wearing pink flip-flops or six inch black patent stilettos you can, and you are, absolutely femme if you say so, if you feel you are. I feel feminine in a tight leather dress and I feel feminine in pink yoga leggings.
That being said, these writings will be about what I feel are the practical aspects of how I look and what I wear and what I do to feel femme.
The first step in all of THIS is to accept that you want to wear a dress, lingerie, high heels, mascara, mini skirts, nail polish or the zillion other things that this world offers. The second step is embracing it. Acceptance of oneself is not the same as embracing something. I embraced this side of myself when I accepted that all of this makes me deliriously happy and I am not going to change who I am. It was only then that I went from baby steps to full on strutting.
The third step? SHOPPING. Grab your purse, let's hit the mall or get online, and let's get started.
When I am en femme and I look in the mirror, I see ME. And MOST of the time I think I look pretty cute (and it's absolutely okay to think you look cute). My reflection shows a girl wearing a cute outfit, amazing makeup, perfect shoes, and the right accessories for my outfit. But this is what my reflection SHOWS. This is what the salesclerk at the department store SEES. What is not visible to the world is what is under my dress.
Not like THAT, you guys.
What I mean is that before I zip up my dress I put in a LOT of work in my underdressing and body shaping. So, let's talk about what I feel are the essential items that are in my (overflowing) lingerie drawer(s).
When you create or build ANYTHING, when you do your makeup, you start with the foundation. Presenting en femme, at least for me, starts with what I consider a foundation and then I "build" on top of that.. I would also like to qualify that what I feel is essential is what I feel is essential for ME and for MY body type.
Let's start with padding and breast forms. Remember when I said to grab your purse? This side of us can get EXPENSIVE. BUT! it's not mandatory. A girl can have an hourglass figure, she can be rubenesque, she can be a size 0, she can be a size 20. Girls can, and are, so many different shapes and body types. Personally, I like forms. My body type is pretty... well, rectangular. I am decently proportioned but when I am en femme I like thigh pads and breast forms because they give me a curvier figure. Dresses, skirts, and blouses just...fit better when I have my padding and forms.
If you feel the same way, then be prepared for this financially. I really believe that crossdressing and presenting en femme is an investment of time and money. Quality clothes, makeup, and yes, forms require a financial investment. Fifty dollar foundation is a bigger investment than the six dollar bottle but the pricier option does a much better job with color correcting and covering my beard line. My forms and pads cost almost $700.
On a side note, finding the right clothes comes down to knowing your measurements. If you're not sure how bra sizes work you will likely be bewildered by the differences in cup and band sizes. You'll also likely be frustrated when you realize that every designer has a different idea what a size 14 skirt actually means. Before I wore forms and padding I took my measurements and used that information to purchase skirts and blouses and dresses that were the right fit for my body. I quickly learned that I needed to retake my measurements when wearing my breast forms and my thigh pads. I have dresses that zip up easily without my forms but when I am wearing them that same dress simply won't cooperate.
Stockings and tights are different with hip/butt pads too. I wear different size stockings depending on whether or not I am wearing thigh pads or not. Indeed, if I am not wearing pads I usually wear pantyhose. If I am wearing pads, I'll go with stockings.
Moving onto the clothes themselves, I recommend having quite a few bras (with matching panties obviously). When you start shopping for bras you'll probably be overwhelmed by the options and, well, the cost but again, this side of us takes time, patience, and money. As much as I love wearing elaborate lingerie and rose-gold platform heels, I have to admit that what I wear under my dress tends to be more... practical than what you would think. The lingerie I wear en femme is different than the lingerie I wear to sleep.
So, here's what I recommend having when it comes to lingerie:
Bras that fit
This sounds painfully obvious but we need to wear clothes that FIT, not clothes that we WANT to fit. I would love to wear a size 8 dress buuut that's not happening. Bra sizes are based on band and cup measurement and honestly the best way to find a bra that fits is to get a bra fitting. And yes, I know this is very much out of one's comfort zone but that's KIND OF what all of this is about. I've had bra fittings before and they have gone extremely well and I was able to find my size. If it helps, lingerie stores (yes, even Victoria's Secret) are used to, and are trained in, doing bra fittings for trans women. If you do this, and I totally recommend it, make sure you are getting fitted with your forms (if you wear forms). If you're not ready for this, a tape measure and Google will do in a pinch. The folks at En Femme can also help you - send them an email with your measurements.
Bras for any outfit
I have my go-to bras for when I am en femme. They are cute, they are perfect for my breast forms, and yes, they have a matching panty. But I also have strapless bras which are a must for certain dresses and tops. I have bras of different colors because my black bra will probably show through white fabric. I also have bras that I wear in boy mode when I underdress. These bras don't have molded cups for my breast forms and are perfect for "stealth mode".
A tucking panty or gaffI need a gaff for many, many outfits. If I am wearing a tight or a short dress (and I am almost ALWAYS wearing a tight or a short dress) then a gaff helps create a smooth front. I tend to prefer thong-style gaffs as they help avoid a visible panty line. If I am doing a photo shoot and I am wearing lingerie I will wear a gaff under the panties I am modeling. Gaffs do take a little time to get used to and can require some... practice when it comes to tucking things where they belong. But like stilettos, if your gaff is causing physical pain then you are wearing it wrong and should take it off.
StockingsLike bras and panties, I have hosiery for different reasons. I have tights for colder days, black stockings for a more alluring look, nude stockings when I want to even out my skin tone, and pantyhose for certain outfits. If I am wearing my corset I will choose stay-up thigh highs. It's much easier to use the ladies room if I don't have to untie my corset and then, well, pull down my pantyhose or tights and then redo everything again. I also choose stockings over pantyhose if I am wearing my thigh pads as my pads add more, well, surface area, to my body. A pair of pantyhose might be a perfect fit buuuut might not be so perfect with my forms and padding. Hosiery, like a dress or a bra, is something you need to choose based on your measurements.
Thigh highs, whether they are stay-ups or require a garter belt to be more, hm, cost-effective. If I am wearing tights or pantyhose and I get a run in them, there goes $12 or more. If I get a run in a stocking I can toss out that one and replace it. Plus! Stockings are sexier (especially with a slit skirt and the little flash of a stocking top peeks out).
Shapewear/CorsetDepending on your body type or your goals, a corset MIGHT be something you may consider adding to your lingerie drawer(s). I have been wearing a corset when presenting en femme for two years and I can't imagine getting dressed without it. When I wear my corset it's because I want a curvier figure, not because I am looking to wear a smaller dress size. I have a rather cylinder body and some dresses don't fall quite right. However, when I add my corset, thigh pads, and breast forms I will obtain a curvier, and more, well, interesting figure.
I would like to advise a great deal of caution when it comes to corsetry. Like most things when it comes to presenting en femme, a corset requires practice and, well, discipline. It's also something to invest in. Yes, you can get a cheap corset that costume shops sell, but like foundation, you get what you pay for me. My corsets are steel-boned and girl, I FEEL it. Wearing the right corset comes down to accurate and realistic measurements, and like a gaff, if you feel PAIN when wearing one, take it OFF because you're wearing it wrong. I mean, you'll KNOW you're wearing it, but there's a difference between NOTICING you're wearing something and feeling pain from wearing it.
Is a corset or shapewear crucial? Absolutely not. I wear my corset because I want a curvier figure. My body is rectangular. You may not need one, you may not want one.
The fun stuffFinally, let's talk about the fun stuff. The SEXY stuff. Lingerie is inherently sexy as it is, but there's some pieces in my closet that I wear to bed or for relaxing in. My corset is Very Sexy, but if I want to wear something beautiful to wear to sleep or for lounging in, then I'll choose a basque with matching panties and seamed stockings or if I am not feeling quite as ambitious I'll wear a nightgown. There's something so peaceful about drifting off to sleep in beautiful lingerie... and it's also a wonderful way to begin a new day.