Building a Better Wardrobe Part 2

Hi Girls!

Sorry to keep you waiting.  It occurred to me that if you read the first part of this little series and had some fun adding new lingerie to your wardrobe that you might be sitting around in your cute bra and panty (and stockings, I hope) waiting for help in picking out actual clothes.

Of course, relaxing in beautiful lingerie is one of my favorite things to do, so maybe it wasn't all the bad??

This series is about creating a femme wardrobe.  I want to emphasize that all of this is based on my opinion and preferences and there are no rules as to what you should wear to present en femme.  Wear what you like, wear what you feel cute or confident or beautiful or sexy or powerful in, whether it's a pair of leggings or a tight leather dress.  I am not here to tell you what to wear or what should be in your closet.

However, if you want to know...

When I started to seriously create a femme wardrobe, I did so mostly by picking out what was cute (or sexy) and usually with the guidance of my patient and overwhelmed wife.  SO much of what I learned was a result of her advice and honesty.  I was an amateur in those days.  That's not to say I am a professional crossdresser or anything along those lines today, but I've learned a lot over my lifetime.  The biggest thing I learned was how to create a wardrobe for many different occasions, whether it's for a wedding reception or running errands.  It's a lot of work (and a lot of money, if I am being honest), but it's also a lot of fun.

The previous entry in this series was alllll about what we wear UNDER our clothes, so let's chat about the clothes themselves.


Before we go any further I want to emphasize the importance of knowing your measurements.  The biggest and most expensive mistake I made early on was being unaware of how drastically different sizing can be, not only sizing when it came to the differences between "boy" and "girl" clothes but also from designer to designer.  Some designers think I am a size 12, but some stores think I am a size 20.  That's a slight variation, to say the least.  Know your numbers when it comes to your hips, waist, and bust... with and without forms if you wear them.

Selecting the right top or blouse

Let's take it from the top.  This means, well, your top.  You are probably wearing a very cute and practical bra but you need to cover up a LITTLE (unless that's the look you're going for, of course).  Blouses and tops can be frustrating (at least for me) because they probably aren't designed for someone with the shoulders that I have, or for the length of my arms.  If the top has short or capped sleeves they likely will not fall or fit on me the way they are designed for,  If the sleeves are long, well, they probably aren't long enough.  Because of this I usually avoid a lot of blouses with sleeves.

Hannah McKnight in a blouse and leggings

Of course, this isn't the obvious solution one would think.  If I am wearing a top without sleeves I have to contend with feeling that my shoulders are tooooo masculine to be exposed.  

This is a little shallow but I have a feeling many of you can relate to this.  I have (mostly) gotten over this, however.  Not because my body changed or looks more femme than it used to, but I've accepted and embraced that this is my body and it's the only body I am going to have.  I am also reminded that there are many cis gender women with arms longer than mine and have shoulders just as broad as mine.  And do you know what?  They are beautiful.  And so are you.

Another thing to consider when it comes to a blouse is making sure it fits with your forms.  I have some blouses that fit fine... and then I put my forms in and those poor buttons are fighting for their life to protect my modesty.  Sometimes a larger size is needed.  Your blouse also needs to be long enough in the torso, as well.  

Tops, in my opinion, are more... hm, complicated than I thought they would be.  I don't always know if I should tuck in a top or not.  In male mode when I have to wear a dress shirt then yes, it PROBABLY needs to be tucked in, but about femme tops?  It depends on the top as well as what you pair it with.  Sometimes it looks good tucked in, other times... not so much.  When I tuck in a top I feel frumpy and just... ugh.  But!  I absolutely recommend having at least a plain white blouse.  


My go to solution?  Bodysuits.  They look cute and help me avoid wondering whether or not they should be tucked in.  Bodysuits can be cute or classy and pair really well with a skirt or jeans or slacks.  Again, like shopping for a blouse, make sure you find a bodysuit that fits.  Bodysuits tend to be form fitting and there isn't much room in most of them for girls with shoulders like I do.  The snaps at the bottom also need to be the correct length.


For a layered look make sure you have a few cardigans.  They are a cute way to dress up an outfit and look fantastic paired with a solid colored t-shirt or bodysuit.  I have many cardigans of different colors (I recommend black, merlot, and white for starters) as well as different lengths.  A long, "duster" style cardigan paired with a simple top and a short skirt and knee-high boots is one of my favorite autumn looks.  

The reality (at least for me) is that I can rarely find a blouse or a top (especially a bodysuit) off the rack that fits me.  It's probably not a surprise (given the fact that this article is being posted on En Femme's website) but all the tops, blouses, and bodysuits that I wear are from En Femme.  I wear them because they fit my body and I can find whatever I need on their website.  I was shopping at En Femme loooong before I started writing and modeling for them and will always do so.  


As we work our way down let's move onto slacks and leggings.

Finding pants and leggings that fit

THEEEE best kept secret in femme clothes are LEGGINGS.  I am not saying you need leggings but ya'll need leggings.  I am forever a dress and skirt girl and always will be but I have more leggings than I thought I ever would have.  I have leggings that I wear in boy mode (either for being lazy at home or for wearing for a run) but I also have leggings that I wear en femme, whether for a yoga class or for slaaaaying in a sexy pair of leather-like leggings.  

Leggings, whether leather or something less intense are comfortable and have options that go well with a dressy blouse for work or pair perfectly with a t-shirt or hoodie for running errands.  


If you have long legs like I do it may take a few tries to find leggings that fit.  The right size needs to be the right length but also fit around the waist.  Leggings are meant to be form fitting and when I first started buying them I would find pairs that might have been long enough but were either too baggy or a little TOO form fitting.  

Hannah McKnight in a blouse and leggings


Apropos of nothing, I absolutely want to emphasize the importance of having a very, very good gaff when wearing leggings.  

So, long story short, get some leggings

When it comes to non-leggings pants you may want to get a pair of jeans and slacks.  I have a few pairs of femme jeans that I don't wear en femme.  I wear femme jeans in male mode.  Why?  Well, they're softer for one.  Plus I just like wearing femme clothes simply because they ARE femme clothes.  Of course, I do miss pockets when I am wearing them...

Shopping for femme jeans is a baffling and bewildering and frustrating experience.  If I need boy jeans I can find a pair that fit when it comes to my waist and inseam.  I am a 32/32.  Easy peasy.  Femme jeans?  Stressy and depressy.  Femme jeans are mostly sized based on waist size.  I wear a size 12 dress (for most dresses) and I am (usually) a size 12 for jeans.  Buuuuut femme jeans are not usually designed for someone with legs as loooong as mine.  Sure, they may fit my waist but goodness they will probably be waaaay too short.  

Fortunately there are options if you are willing to look for them.  And yes, it can be overwhelming.  If you are used to buying boy jeans to present as a boy it can be jarring to see options for boyfriend jeans, low rise, straight leg, skinny, or cigarette jeans.  Again, know your measurements and be willing and ready to try on a few selections to find your size.  Personally I wear a size 12 in femme jeans but they need to be for tall girls... for obvious reasons.  

The ironic thing is that I wear femme jeans in boy mode but not en femme.  Dresses and skirts forever have a hold on my heart but goodness, a cute job, flattering jeans, and stilettos??  Oh my.  

If you want to dress it up a little, slacks and dress pants are an understated addition to any wardrobe.  Many femme slacks are designed to fall right at the calf, sometimes with a little flare and look sexy paired with heels.  But I suppose ANYTHING and EVERYTHING looks sexier paired with heels.

If you like to show off your legs (and God knows I do), then skirts and dresses will be your best friends.  I think most of us can relate to being drawn to this world by a dress.  Most boys are not raised where wearing a dress is an option.  They are alluring, mysterious items.  Even if you take one's gender identity out of it, I can't help but think any cis gender man wonders what it's like to wear a dress.  I was fascinated (and insanely jealous) of the girls I went to grade school with as they wore their cute, blue, plaid skirts.  


This is the fun stuff.  Let's talk about skirts, first.

The beauty of skirts

I have many skirts.  Some are leather (naturally), some are denim, some are a skater style, some are a pencil style, and so on.  Like femme jeans there are many options which can be overwhelming.  To be honest I don't wear skirts nearly as often as I wear dresses.  I tend to wear them during the autumn months of the year.  Boots are a fall staple for me and I tend to think that boots look better with a skirt than with a dress. 

My challenge with skirts is that I am often unsure of what top to pair a skirt with.  For example, my skirt and my top have to match, or at least compliment one another in terms of color.  If I am going to wear a skirt I always follow one of my (few) fashion rules.  If the skirt is a solid color (other than black), then I will usually pair it with a black top.  If it's a black skirt I find I have more options with a top.  If the skirt is a pattern, be it stripes, polka dots, or flowers, then a top with a solid, complimentary color is chosen.

Another struggle I have with skirts is a similar problem that tops create in the question of whether or not I should be tucking in a blouse with a skirt.  I see photos of girls wearing a tight, button up white blouse tucked into a form fitting black pencil skirt and it looks AMAZING but when I try the same style it just doesn't look right on me.  Again, it's the tucking (something you'd think I'd be good at, lol) that doesn't look quite right.  So, it's a bodysuit to the rescue.  

Hannah McKnight in a skirt and bodysuit


When it comes to sizing, again, knowing your measurements is key.  Every designer sizes clothes differently and the fabric can also make a difference.  I wear a size 12 in most dresses and femme jeans, but I usually wear a 10 in most skirts.  However,  I can wear a size 8 skirt if it's a little stretchy, but I will likely need a size up if I want to wear a skirt with my thigh pads or if the top I am wearing with it needs to be tucked in.  

Another thing to keep in mind is that girls like us tend to have looooong legs.  I love a short skirt but some are a LITTLE too short, even though I am very reluctant to admit that.  
And finally, dresses.  I have SO. MANY. DRESSES.

Dresses, dresses, dresses

I think dresses are my signature look, but that's not unique for a girl like us.  But I think my dress wardrobe is a reflection of what I feel is important to anyone's closet... having an option for any event and for any occasion.  Do I have a dress for a wedding reception?  Yes.  Do I have a dress for Sunday brunch?  Yes.  Do I have a dress for running errands?  Yes.  Do I have a dress for date night?  Yes.  Do I have a dress for "the club"?  Yes.  Disclaimer, I don't GO to the club but if I DID I have THE perfect dress(es) for it.  

Do I need all these dresses?  No.  I mean, we don't NEED any of this, but my dresses are a reflection of my gender identity and my embracing of it.  They are a celebration (if you will) of who I am and what it took and what I lived through to get to where I am.  


Sizing can be a bit of a problem for me.  The dress may fit around my waist but as it ziiiiiiiips up it might stop, well, zipping up.  I have typically male shoulders and the tightest corset in the world can't help that.  Dresses with sleeves tend to not flatter me.  There's usually not enough room in the shoulders and if there are sleeves they are probably not long enough.  These days I tend to wear dresses with straps but it took me a long time to be comfortable with thin, spaghetti type straps as I felt they showed off too much of my "manly" shoulders.  I got over this about two years ago.  My body didn't become more femme or less masc, this was a mental game.  I just stopped caring.  I didn't want my dysphoria to prevent me from wearing a cute dress anymore.  

Hannah McKnight in a wrap dress


If you aren't obsessed with the dress like I am, but feel you want to have a few just in case, I recommend at least a LBD (little black dress), something a little more summery like a maxi dress or a high/low dress, and perhaps a sundress as well.  Not every girl likes to wear dresses and there's certainly no uniform for any gender, so rock the dress or rock those sweats... again, wear what you want

This has been a peek into my closet and I will never claim to be a fashionista or a style expert.  Don't let me or anyone tell you what to wear, regardless of your body type.  Wear what you think is cute or beautiful or sexy or comfortable... but more importantly, wear what makes you FEEL cute, or beautiful or sexy or comfortable.  

Love, Hannah

4 comments


  • Gail Bingyi

    Hi Hannah
    Great reading all your articles love the sage advice they contain. I also have the same issue with tucking, shirts that is. I find that because I have a tummy shirts tucked in can really emphasise the weight problem. However if I spend a bit of time making sure the front is all straight and tucked in the sides can be hidden or masked with a nice cardigan. This helps take away the muffin top appearance.
    Love as always
    Gail


  • Chrissy

    I simply love reading your articles, and this is no exception. Thank you for all the insight. You’re an inspiration!


  • Susan Johnson

    Hi
    Good article, good ideas.
    For leggings is it best to wear just a thong gaff? I have several pair of legging where I have a tendancy to use support panty with a gaff. Any thoughts


  • Elaine Hamilton

    Lovely article, thank you. I would love you to have covered the complex area of shoes, and wearing cute and sexy heels when men are mostly taller than CIS Women ? Love Elaine


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