Coming out to ourselves is one of the most intimidating things we will ever do.
And yes, we need to come out to ourselves. We need to admit and accept, and ultimately embrace that we are who we are. This isn't a phase, it isn't a kink, it is not something that will fade over time. We will not grow out of who we are.
Once we have done that, there is a weight off our shoulders that feels like... well, it feels liberating. But this will likely leave us with another challenge: building a wardrobe. Although it is something we have been dreaming about for our entire lives- imagining a wardrobe full of cute dresses, stilettos, beautiful lingerie, and... well, I could go on... It's hard to know where to start. It's the t-girl equivalent to being a kid at a candy store.
As we start to build our wardrobes we start to learn what we like, what looks good on us, how a certain dress or style or color makes us feel, and what fits our body type best. It’s a learning process! When I started to fill my closet I first purchased clothes I had always wanted to wear. It was wonderful. It was liberating, empowering, and expensive. It was also humbling. I would purchase a dress I had always wanted to wear and then feel heartbroken and discouraged when it just didn't look right. It might fit, but it just didn't look right.
Most clothes are designed in a gender binary way. There is a huge difference in sizing and the cut of "boy clothes" and "girl clothes". A men’s dress shirt is designed differently than a women’s blouse. A large t-shirt for a boy is not the same as a large for a girl. When I started to try on clothes, and ultimately buy my own, I learned that this would require me to know my measurements.
Luckily most online retailers will have a sizing chart to go by, which saves me a lot of time, money, and heartache. I hate buying a new dress and having it not fit. I feel fat, I feel ugly, I feel frustrated. Taking an extra few minutes to take my measurements and checking the size chart is essential.
En Femme, for example, takes into account bodies who are AMAB (assigned male at birth) and designs in ways different from the typical binary approach making them one of the only retailers who integrates these fit features. This will save you the trouble of trying to figure out male to female size conversions- which can be challenging- and reduce the chances you’ll end up with a garment that doesn’t fit. In fact, En Femme looks to fit you correctly the first time with all of their clothing.
As a boy, I am "supposed" to wear a shirt and pants. My waist is around 30 inches but my shoulders are broad. This isn't an issue since my shirt and pants can be different sizes. Wearing a dress isn't as simple. I can find a cute dress that zips up fine... until it gets to my torso. It might fit my waist and hips, but my torso might be too wide. I may be able to zip it up, but there is a difference between wearing clothes that fit and wearing clothes that fit correctly.
Sometimes it comes down to attitude, sometimes it's because we may have a body type that doesn't match up with how the dress was designed.
So how do you start to find clothing that fits? A good first step is to determine your body type - to do this you’re going to need to measure your shoulders, bust, waist and hips.
Shoulders: Have someone help you - it's easier with help but you can do by yourself - measure from the tip of one shoulder all the way around you. The measuring tape should be high up around your shoulders so it almost slips off.
Bust: Pull the measuring tape taut across the fullest part of your bust and around your back (but don’t pull the tape so taut that you squish your breasts/forms).
Waist: Measure the smallest part of your natural waist, just above the belly button.
Hips: Start at one hip (below the hip bone) and wrap the tape measure around the largest part of your rear end.
You can then take these measurements and find approximately what your body type is and how to take this into account as you look for clothing that will accentuate and flatter your figure.
Let’s discuss body types and understand 5 types based on your shape:
An apple-shaped (or oval) body has a bust that is larger than the rest of the body, narrow hips and a fuller midsection
A triangle-shaped (also referred to as pear-shaped or spoon-shaped) body has hips that are broader than their shoulders/bust
Many cisgender men have a rectangle-shaped body, meaning straight body lines with shoulders, bust and hips that are roughly the same width and little waist definition
In boy mode, my body is more of an inverted triangle, meaning my shoulders are broader than my hips
...but when I am en femme, I have somewhat of an hourglass shape. An hourglass figure is when your shoulders and hips are balanced (approximately the same width) and you have a defined waist. This shape is achieved by my thigh pads giving my hips a little more... oomph, paired with a nicely cinched corset
I want to stress that you should wear whatever you want, even if it wasn't designed for your body. I mean, 90% of the clothes I own weren't even designed for the gender I was assigned at birth, so I don't let the designer's intention get in my way of wearing whatever I want.
My next post will discuss which clothes complement different body types - and how you can use clothing to accentuate and highlight your features to help you achieve your goals.