Starting to Dress Like a Man (for FTMs)

Long time no see, Strangers! Where have I been? Well, I ran out of girl stuff to write about so I decided to transition to male.

Just kidding, I’m transitioning for different reasons. Because I literally am male. Surprise! I know, I didn’t believe it either.

But that doesn’t mean I still don’t love fashion. And this new adventure in wardrobe has been a new challenge. More-so because information on creating a men’s wardrobe from the ground up as an adult with a feminine body shape is just not something normally covered by men’s fashion videos and blogs. I literally emailed Real Men Real Style for tips and received NO response at all. Guess I’m on my own then. But that doesn’t mean you have to be. Just call me your fairy godfather.

Let me get this first bit out of the way. Don’t dress in nothing but oversized hoodies and jerseys because you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re trying to hide your shape. It’s not attractive and you’re more likely to look like a lesbian, which you are not, if you’re reading this. Probably. Or you can ignore me. But it’s doing you no favors. You just look sloppy. As intimidating as it can be as a first timer, immerse yourself in men’s fashion information in general. I know how overwhelming it can be because as you may know, I grew up reading Esquire instead of Cosmo and it’s still a lot to take in. But don’t worry yourself too much about fussy details. Just look around. See what you like. See what kind of man you want to look like. Experiment.

This brings me to my first big Do. Start cheap. Because you’re still experimenting, there’s likely to be a lot of stuff you try and decide isn’t for you. You don’t want to spend a lot of money in this stage. My first big round of shopping happened at Value Village. Now, this meant it was not only cheap, but for casual-wear I still actually really love pretty much everything I got. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be out a lot of money. And if I change my mind about any of it I can just donate it right back.

Speaking of cheap, another amazing place to go is online, mainly Aliexpress and Wish. Because not only are these places affordable but they’re Asian. Why does this matter? Because you’re probably relatively small for a dude, and Asian clothes run smaller. This means you don’t have to shop in the boys section. I mean you can, but it’s probably going to be a lot of dinosaur tshirts and we’re trying to dress like men here, right? Right.

Now it’s generally assumed that clothing from sites like this are crap. That’s not necessarily wrong – they definitely can be. The key here is to read reviews, especially ones with customer photos. Lots of reviews. Check size charts over and over. Check return policies. Besides, if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout all of this it’s that men’s clothes are of much better quality than women’s. A lot better. So you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised. And you know what? I’ve only very rarely bought something that didn’t work out. My new wardrobe is amazing.

Now, pants are the devil for us, aren’t they? Goddamn hips IjusthatethemsomuchI’mgoingtositinthisdressingroomandcryfortherestoftheday. Or nah. Because what works is going up one size and/or getting something with stretch. I’m not talking about leggings or sweats or other generally fugly things. I mean real nice dress pants and slim fit jeans. They can have stretch. And it’s wonderful. I fucking love my new $12 pants.

Another thing that’s going to show off your hips is tucking in your shirt. But I mean, don’t you have to? If you’re wearing business or formal-wear that is. If you don’t it looks sloppy. True. BUT the best hack for this is a vest/waistcoat. It covers your middle, makes you look nice and trim, disguises your hips, disguises your chest/binder, and looks dapper AF. It can also be worn as a cheaper alternative to a jacket, because getting a really nice one that fits well is hard. And you’ll end up looking better than your boss. Hell yes my dudes. Get a few of them to go with any shirt/pants combo. Get a few ties too. Ties are nice. If your tie is too long, you can tuck the excess into your shirt, and the vest will cover that up too!

Hell yes

 

If you wear lifts, consider ordering your shoes a size up to make room for them. That’s all I got to say about shoes at the moment.

Mini tip #2, accessorize higher up on your body to draw the eye up and help you look taller. Think hats, ties, and pocket squares. Suspenders for their vertical-ness over belts with their horizontal-ness. Definitely not belts in contrasting colors, that visually cut you in half and therefor make you look shorter. And monochromatic color schemes are good. Epaulets are very good. Shoulder pads… still pretty 80s.

Aaaand last thing I got for now, and I know this is repetition, is to make sure your clothes FIT. You’ve been going baggy to hide your curves but honey no. Just no. A well dressed man wears clothes that fit. It looks put-together, confident, and shows off your new muscles. niiiiiice. Those tips I gave above will help with the curves. If you take nothing else away from this article it’s that your clothes should fit.

That’s all I got for now. Maybe I’ll be back later with shaving tips or something 😛

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Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty

Ever wonder why babies are cute, why gentlemen prefer blondes, or why the human ballsack is the size that it is? Hmmm, ok maybe not that last one, but the answers are pretty interesting.

The subject of beauty is far from only skin deep, and it strikes me how very perfect the book’s title is. Beauty isn’t just incidental, and the source of frivolous fun or petty envy. It’s deeply tied into our instincts as living things, something we share with even the flowers, and goes back virtually as far as we do. This book leaves no stone unturned, and encompasses science, sociology, and of course biology in a way that’s truly fun to read. Not only that, but Nancy Etcoff’s own personal touch is extremely compelling, and this alone makes the book worth a read. This combined with the huge amount of learning inside is likely to leave you with a whole new perspective on a subject you once held strong and long-lived opinions about.

What’s interesting here is the particular way that this information offers up new meaning to the subject of beauty. To understand how beauty has transformed us biologically and culturally into the creatures that we are, it becomes both more important and yet less important all at once. Without beauty, we simple would not be, but who we have become also gives us the power to appreciate it in the most enlightening way possible. This isn’t a book so much about sitting in front of the mirror, putting on makeup and poking at your belly as it is about humanity itself. It strikes me as extremely valuable, and it can and should be read by people of all genders and ages. This book is awesome, and as it meets both my demands of educational and entertaining, I can’t recommend it enough.

Rather just see the movie? Well, there isn’t one exactly, but you might want to check out The Human Face.

Other recommended reads:  The History of Beauty, Sex in History.

Androgynous Style

Whether you’re agender, third gender, both genders, or just looking to explore new style territory, androgynous style can be a challenge. But for women, this can be easier to pull off for than for men. Not that men should ever be concerned about what others think either! And while this post is primarily geared towards bio-women, bio-men may find something useful in this as well. Androgyny is for everyone after all. Now, I’ve come to understand that those who really aren’t looking for a feminine style tend to dress a little… lazy. I don’t mean this as a judgement. But when you’re unsure or just a little apathetic, jeans and tshirts can get you into a bit of a rut. Here are some fresh ideas, along with some basics for those looking to try this out for the first time.

First of all, the most important thing I think to ask yourself is – What elements of my current style would I keep if I suddenly woke up in a man’s (or woman’s) body? Even if your answer includes dresses and skirts, these things are part of your style that really fit you and represent who you are. Keep them, no matter how girly (or masculine) they may be. Your answer to this may change day to day and that’s ok too. I know for a fact that if I was a dude I would totally still rock long pointed nails, though I may be more bothered by it when a fresh dye-job stains them pink. Also not such a great idea for job interviews.

Clothes. While I still recommend clothing made for women as they’re tailored to the shape of your body, we’re lucky that unlike it was in the past, it’s easy to find women’s clothes that are inspired by menswear. There are also varying degrees of this and in various styles. We can easily find traditional and edgy suits, boyfriend jeans, and unisex items like tshirts and sweaters, and button downs in any store. Trench coats and pea coats are universally flattering. For underneath, minimizing bras and shapewear for the hips will help streamline those curves, should you so desire.

Accessories. You might not want to wear a tie in the traditional way, but have you thought about wearing one as a belt? Sweater vests look awesome on anyone, and while you may want to skip jewelry altogether, keeping things basic or edgy is a way to make it work with this style. Unisex perfume is available at various shops such as Goth Rosary. Newsboy hats are adorable and dapper. And call me a hipster, but I love pocket watches. I’ve also been known to wear a black underbust corset (of course) in the style of a waistcoat. For many of us, ditching a bag isn’t an option, but you don’t have to carry a traditional purse. Book bags and laptop bags can be carried by anyone. My own favorites are messenger bags because I can wear them instead of carrying them and they’re big enough for my books and all the garbage that eventually piles up inside. These bags also tend to appear much more simple and casual than girly. My new one has a ouija board design.

Hair. You don’t have to get a pixie cut, though I have to say this is gorgeous. Women don’t have a monopoly on long hair, so keep that in mind. For style, simple and natural does the trick. If you like curling your hair, go for tousled waves over perfect ringlets. Bed-head, slicked back, a classic low ponytail or just regular ol’ down are easy. Some other fun options are a pompadour with a ponytail or french twist, or hidden under a hat. If you have long hair and want to fake a cut, sweep your hair back and over your head so that the ends fall down your forehead like bangs. Use a firm headband to hold this in place. Then hide the the majority of it with a hat, and style the front however you like, such as side-swept, bed-head, or spikey. For color consider going all natural, super natural-looking, or try bright and fun colors like blue and green. I’d stay away from natural colors in unnatural shades, like the type of thing you get with brands like Feria.

Makeup. Of course, skipping makeup altogether is the most obvious option, but some of us just aren’t that brave or laid back. To bring out your best without obviously having anything on, try BB cream or a light foundation, translucent powder, and some light bronzer on your temples and under your cheek bones for dimension and contouring. If a more obvious look is more your style, try a bold eye in a neutral color like black or grey, and keep lips looking more natural with a clear or neutral lip balm.

While there’s plenty other info out there on feminine looks inspired by men, there’s an unfortunate lack for those who just want to appear truly androgynous. So if you have any ideas or tips to share please comment or share some pics! Let’s brainstorm this up.

All You Need to be Impossibly French

Short post today as I’m going through some writer’s block. I haven’t posted a book review in a while. I hope it’s not too boring…
This wasn’t a book on how to be French so much as a light-hearted social study of what makes French women the way they are. It goes in depth about many different aspects of their culture and environment. It was contradictory at times, and the author did acknowledge that, but all in all it was really interesting. I loved the whole “why” aspect of the book. Why are French women so fashionable, so sexy, so lazy, and so uptight? And are they really, or is it a stereotype? Most of the book does in fact prove the stereotype of the super glamorous seducer with fantastic explorations into the cultural reasons for this, but it also showed another side of things. Not only do French women try to be as sexy as possible at all times, but intelligence is also of huge importance, and they have many insecurities, probably more than we do. It was also great to read about how you can take away positive things from French culture and easily leave behind the less desirable parts to help you in forging your own identity and become closer to who you really want to be. It was a really enjoyable read, full of insight and more solid and deep than I thought it would be. I absolutely loved it.

It’s Winter, It’s Cold…What the hell am I going to wear?

Ever since it snowed for the first time this year my style has been on a downward slope. Part of the problem being that I’m not getting rides to work right now, and the bus drops me off two blocks away. First I had to give up my awesome tattoo heels, because I would kill myself in them on the ice, and the new American boots from Walmart only barely resemble the really nice Canadian ones they used to sell. Those were the shit. I can’t find anything else very practical at the moment. Now I also have to make the hard decision every morning between freezing my legs and an extremely unflattering dress pants/sweater combo. I might as well show up in sweat pants and a hoodie the way THAT makes me feel. It really makes me miss working at home, on my cozy couch under a cozy blanket. What’s a girl to do?

Really, it all comes down to layering. What can you add to warm up a dress, especially a vintage style one? Well, what did they wear in the vintage era? Winter didn’t just get invented. They wore girdles, sweaters, and stockings. Full skirts of course are great with a crinoline for looks AND warmth. Spanx are super cozy, while in the summer they just make my butt itch. Then you can always add a tank top/undershirt under whatever shirt/dress you’re wearing. And 50s sweaters are so adorable I don’t know why I don’t own one yet.

On the subject of stockings, they’re actually warmer than you would expect. They’re actually comparable to pants, believe it or not. But they’re a pain to replace every wearing or two because they run all the time. The answer? Fully Fashioned stockings, the kind with the back seam that require garters. They’re made the old fashioned way, and I hear they last for YEARS. I have to get me some of those. Soon.

Speaking of pants, don’t shun them. I avoid them because I feel dumpy in them (yeah, there’s something wrong with me), I don’t find them comfortable, and dresses are just too easy. But I have been looking into 40s and 50s style pants, high-waisted with a wide leg. The wide leg reminds me of some kickass comfy emo pants I had years ago, giant black things with chains. Clearly I am now too old for these. But I really miss how they felt. I’m hoping vintage style pants would feel similar, but the high waist is throwing me off. I’m probably going to check out the mall to see if I can find something I like, but if not, I think I’ll give the pants from Freddies of Pinewood and Heyday a try. Then of course I need some tops and sweaters to go with these pants.

Topping this all off, long coats are handy. It’s a luxury if you can find a long vintage fur coat that doesn’t reek of the early 90s. Vintage coats of all kinds on Etsy are extremely affordable, easily 35-60$. Tall boots are best for pencil skirts, and short fur-lined boots are adorable with fuller skirts. Check out this picture of my meme and her sisters in the 50s. Aren’t they cute? Keep in mind this is one of the coldest cities in the world, so if it’s warm enough for them, they’re warm enough for you, unless maybe you live at the north pole.

Finally, one of my favorite little accessories is the muff. They’re so pretty and so warm. You can get them very affordably on Etsy, and they’re even easy to make. You essentially just sew a pillow, one side the width of the muff, the other side the measurement you need around your hands and arms. Then sew the ends together to form a tube. You can make these in so many ways. Remember the old Clueless episode where Cher started a muff business? You can put pockets on them, cover them in faux fur, and add a rope to hang around your neck. I got a gorgeous one on Etsy a couple years ago that looks like real wolf fur. I’ll have to remember to pull that out tomorrow!

Clearly I have yet to put a dent in my winter shopping list.

My Love of the Swing Dress

I noticed that despite this being a blog mainly about style, it’s been a while since I actually wrote about CLOTHING. Maybe it’s because I’ve only just recently become somewhat adept at hair and makeup, and new things are exciting. So anyway, I decided to write about something I’ve felt quite strongly about for some time now, my love of the swing dress.
This is not a love I’ve had all my life. When I was a kid, no dress was big or poofy enough for my taste. If I dressed the way I wanted to in my fantasies, I would have needed to block off whole streets to get around. But then, I grew up. An appreciation grew in me for all things sexy, sleek, adult.


When I saw swing dresses, I thought they were horribly frou frou. They were too juvenile and too girly. I wondered how a girl could be taken seriously in them. However once I started to really explore my love of vintage style, I knew I couldn’t avoid them forever. I didn’t have to like them, but I did have to give them a chance.
And this is a perfect example of why stepping out of your comfort zone can be a great thing. I purchased two simple halter swing dresses  in blue from Trashy Diva on clearance for 35$ each, and they immediately revolutionized my wardrobe.


First of all, these particular dresses were about as simple as a plain white tshirt. They begged for some artistic expression. There’s something incredibly appealing about something you can make you own, but that already has the hard work done for you. On one of the dresses I spent days sewing a white ribbon trim an inch or so above the hem. This is now my “sailor dress”, inspired by a dress from Pinup Girl Clothing that I neither could afford nor ever saw available in my size. The second I dyed black, or at least I tried to, since it ended up coming out a dark navy. It’s just as well, because now I plan on sewing a black ribbon to the hem of that one and the two can be good and evil twins.


What I didn’t expect, but should have if I had thought about it any length of time, was how unbelievably comfortable they are. They’re hands down the least restricting thing you can wear below the waist. I feel like I have nothing on at all, and have been tempted many times to fall asleep in them. This is why I find it incredibly amusing when people are so stunned by just how “dressed up” I am to do every day normal activities. One pizza guy nearly lost his damn mind. I’d hate to see how his girlfriend dresses.


But above all else, I would have to say that the most appealing thing about the swing dress is how flattering it is on every body type. Like I’ve said about other vintage style clothes, they don’t hide your curves, they celebrate them. If you don’t have any to begin with, these dresses will create them. Either way, they’re incredibly easy to get in your size, since your hip measurement doesn’t factor in at all, perfect if you’re a different size on top than on the bottom. This is the most universally flattering and easy to wear clothing item I have ever encountered. My mom once had to poke me in the ribs to prove I wasn’t wearing a corset, while I had decided on that dress because I was planning on stuffing my face that day and knew no one would be the wiser. I scoff at people who say their hips are too big, or they’re just generally too fat. I PROMISE you, a swing dress will make you look amazing.


Then finally there’s something to be said about the fantasy factor. If you’ve ever had that familiar weirdo dream of prancing around in Victorian gear, the swing dress can give you the same feeling as being a proper civil war lady without actually looking anywhere near so odd. The way they move when you walk, the beautiful upside-down flower shape you see when you catch yourself in the mirror – all these things are the subtle little somethings that make swing dresses make me feel good. Even when I’m not in the mood for one on a particular day, if it’s all I have to wear and I put it on anyway, it still makes me feel pretty, still puts me in a better mood, so I wonder how I ever could have considered putting on anything else.
So now the formerly anti-frou-frou me is slowly building up a collection. I just got my first true vintage swing dress a couple weeks ago, a gorgeous copper number probably from the early 1960s.


Even if you have any doubts, try one, just once. Get it cheap, because it’s easy, or make one, because that’s easy too. You’ll see. I’ve seen this change of heart happen in others besides myself, and you’ll probably see it in yourself too.

Drawn and Plastered: Victorian Asylum

The following was written by my business partner Holly Halftone for http://drawnandplastered.com/

“I had so much fun, and the atmosphere was fantastic!”
-Samantha Rech

“Cool event, nice of you to let the photographers have a go! Gotta keep an eye out for the next one”
-Brandon Greer (The Tune Podcast)

Yes – it really did happen! The first Drawn and Plastered ever took place last night (July 23rd) and was welcomed with open arms by our amazing patrons.

From 10pm-midnight we were serenaded by eerie and sometime electric violin music, ramping up to even include a few Alice Cooper songs from his asylum album, “From the Inside”.
Emilie Autumn was also heard frequently.
25 attendees took home our beautiful mix of choice music from the night, with CD cover art by Holly Halftone herself.

Sarah Putnam and Pamela McMillan, as Ophelia Opiate and Patricia Pillbocks were crowd favourites, nagging at each other on the floor and even running up on stage a couple times to rip clothing off of each other – the final time resulting in Patricia being carried off stage by our Doctor in residence, played by Lovern Kindzierski.

When Alicia and Meg (as Lily Longbottom and Penny Dreadful) finished their last pose on the stage, we did a draw for the $30 door prize from Cre8ive Supplies, which was won by Jennifer Swan – congrats! 🙂

It was so great to see so many happy and creative people enjoying the show we put on. It was exactly how we imagined it, thanks to everyone involved! So that being said, here are a nice big batch of photos from the night!

These lovely cupcakes were a gift sent to us by a future Drawn and Plastered model, Victoria Karras

 

The hat display on Rockband drums in the makeshift dressing room. I made the one in the middle, which was worn by Sarah Putnam as Ophilia Opiate.

The hair and makeup table, though the lighting was too dark to actually do the hair and makeup there.

Holly's dad Lovern, who was an amazing help to us along the way.

I was raving all night about how delicious these were. You really must try them!

The fabulous Holly

Pam getting the crazy started!

 

The ballots for our door prize from Cr8ive Supplies

 

My very good friend Jesi, of Jesi's Full Moon Gifts

Holly's mom helps Sarah with her makeup "back stage."

The always gorgeous Alicia May

Pam greets our very first guest.

Wut?

 

Sarah entertains our guests.

This guy's work actually reminded me of DaVinci.

Photographers welcome!

 

And now WordPress is REALLY starting to act up on me because of all the photos, so this is to be continued in part 2…