Part-time dressing – make it easier for yourself

I have tried to write the following with a view to making it accessible, both to those just beginning their journey into crossdressing as well as the ‘seasoned veteran’. I should point out that it’s quite lengthy – probably too long for a blog post and I could have dragged it out over 2 or 3 posts. I decided it would be better as one post because then everything’s all in one post if you need to refer back to it. Plus, if you’re only looking tips in a particular area you don’t have to wait – aren’t I nice to you all?!!

So … if you’re still here, and you have your tea and biscuits ready for the long haul I will assume that you are serious about your crossdressing; probably you do so for only short periods of time, maybe because you’re still ‘in the closet’ or you only have a short time outside of work to enjoy your femme side. Even those who dress part-time can achieve a fairly decent (and in some cases a frankly stunning) look. In fact many of my own forays into the feminine world last less than 3 hours – I’d guess about 2 hours is average – but I still like to try to achieve some semblance of femininity in my looks. I have covered some of these subjects in previous posts and have added links to those posts where necessary for your further reading pleasure.

Body Hair

One of our biggest challenges as crossdressers is how to tackle facial and / or body hair, and it quite often needs to be dealt with over time and outside of the times you’ll be dressing. So it’s something that should only be considered if you are really serious about your dressing because it will take some patience on your part. It’s also why this section is quite long.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, as I am, that have light coloured body hair it can still undermine your femme appearance if it isn’t dealt with properly. But how to deal with in such a way that it isn’t obvious to your S.O. or your friends and workmates? Quite simply there is only one way – take it slowly.

Beard:

Far-and-away the simplest element to deal with is facial hair. We all shave anyway so this should be second-nature to you all.

The trick when shaving before you get dolled up is to make sure you concentrate on making it close shave. I’ve found the best way is to do what I term the ‘double-shave’ shave. For my male life I’m happy with a quick once-over using an electric shaver, but for my girly times I give myself a wet shave, going with the grain (like sanding for those DIY-ers out there!), and always use a fresh blade.

Rinse off and follow up with a second shave, this time paying careful attention to those ‘raspy’ areas – if run your hand over your face you will feel them quite easily. Try to get into the corners of your mouth – if you’re going to cut yourself this will be the time, so be extra vigilant when doing this!

Extra tip: Shave the whole of your cheek area, not just the area of beard. This will get rid of any of that fine ‘bumfluff’ that can ruin your makeup efforts.

Extra, extra tip: If you can, take the shave all the way down your neck to your collarbones or as low as you’re comfortable with. I realise it may not be possible for everyone but, if you know you’re going to wear a low-cut blouse try take the shave below the neckline for the best appearance.

Finish the shave using a moisturiser – you can now get some good ‘after shave’ balms in the men’s toiletries that will do a similar job.

There’s more on my post Keeping Your Face Smooth.

Arms and Hands:

Obviously for the best femme look it would be ideal if you were to completely remove the hair from arms and hands. Unfortunately, for many of us this isn’t going to be an option – at least not immediately. It may be possible if you work at it over a period of time, but chopping it all off at once will not go un-noticed!!

My recommendation here would be the use of a beard trimmer. You don’t need anything expensive – in fact many electric shavers come with a trimming attachment that will work just as well.

Hands are another give-away. There isn’t much you can do if you have large hands, but they can be improved by dealing with hairy fingers and backs of hands. The answer again is to shave them – I have been shaving my hands up to about 2-3 inches above the wrist-line for years so no-one knows any different and when I have my watch on and the charity bracelets etc, it’s really not that noticeable. The reason I chose 3 inches is that it gives a clean, hairless, appearance under the sleeves of my long-sleeved tops – it also prevents any links etc. from my girly bracelets and watches from catching in the hairs.

If you’re a really hairy person you may have to reduce the hair slowly over a period of weeks so it’s less noticeable. But if you feel you really can’t shave it off but you want to show your arms, you can at least run the beard trimmer over them to reduce the hair down as much as possible.

Chest:

This is a difficult one if you have a significant other that is unaware of the female side. This is one of those “all or nothing” situations, so unless you can shave your chest all over, there is really no alternative. As I said above, shaving your face to below your neckline and wearing round-neck or collared blouses that come to the bottom of your neck are probably your only option. Unless, of course, you can come up with a sensible-sounding reason that they might accept.

Legs:

If you’re like me, you’ll want to be showing off your sexy long legs. These can be easy to achieve without shaving the hair off and most of you will probably know the trick. But for those that don’t you can reduce the effect of hairy legs by using sheer beige tights (or pantyhose if you’re in north America!) under your chosen hosiery. The tights will help to shape your legs whilst giving a nice ‘sheen’ to the thigh areas. If you use support tights they will help hold in your tummy. You can wear whatever colour nylon stockings or fishnet stockings you desire over the top, or even another pair of tights. For those with particularly hairy legs try wearing the beige tights under another, darker coloured, pair.

As with my hands, I’ve been shaving my legs for years so my lack of leg hair isn’t a problem for any friends or family because they don’t know any different. But if you’re going to start shaving, you can do so using the beard trimmer on them. If you have one with adjustable levels, start at the highest setting and, over a period of weeks, bring it down to whatever level you’re comfortable with.

As for painting toenails – well, if you follow the ‘2-pairs of hose’ advice above then your toes won’t be very visible anyway, so unless you want to do it for that sense of ‘completion’ then by all means do so.

Private areas:

If you are lucky enough to have a wife or girlfriend that likes you fully shaven down there, you’re sorted. The first time I did my own I did it all in one go and ‘sprung’ it on my girlfriend with the argument that it felt a lot cleaner and nicer. I was lucky because she loved the look of it and insisted I keep it like that. You could try this but I wouldn’t advise it – it could so easily backfire. I’d advise talking about it with your S.O. – ask if they think it would be a good idea for you to shave that area. Maybe suggest you both try it together.

Eye Brows:

I don’t know many guys that could get away with going around with overtly feminine eyebrows without it being noticed.

Use the beard trimmer, set for as close a crop as you dare. Pluck any rogue long hairs – this might take a bit of practice if you’re not used to it but persevere and you’ll soon be plucking like a pro. Try to also remove any hairs that you may have in between the brows. Just practice and make a judgment as to what you think you can get away with, just try not to overdo it – you can’t replace the hairs if you take off too much!

I have a little comb in my makeup bag that is good for combing the brows up from eyes. If you have bushy eyebrows that you can’t cut down too much you can always choose a wig with a fringe that just comes to the top of the eyebrows. This will be effective in ensuring that they are not very noticeable.

Extra tip: Don’t forget about nose and ear hair. It might seem an obvious thing but you’d be surprised how often it’s missed.

Check out my post on Eyebrows for more info, including shaping your brows and the post on Hair Removal for more on that.

Now. Having said all of the above I have one addendum regarding the shaving. You may have seen television adverts for things like the No! No! that remove hair by laser. This could be an alternative for those with deep pockets and I will be trying to get hold of one to see if it’s worth the money. I do know that some people claim it doesn’t work, but from the sounds of it they aren’t using it properly. If I do get one I will update with progress in a future post.

Fingernails

Any crossdresser worth their salt has done their fair share of women-watching, so you will no doubt have noticed that most women don’t have ridiculously long, painted nails.

I’m not here to tell you what to do, so if you like this look by all means buy false nails. Chances are, if you like long nails, you’ll have found this out, but they are a right royal pain in the wassname to put on and take off.  See my post on False Nails.

If you want to grow your own, you don’t need particularly long nails. Mine are only 3 to 4mm (which is plenty long enough) and they aren’t particularly shaped either. Even short nails will be much-improved with the application of some nail varnish.

For removal you only need to buy the cheapest remover. You don’t need anything fancy – it’s only acetone after all!

I have a beer-belly

Beer-belly or ‘middle-age spread’ can creep up on the best of us if we’re not paying attention! It certainly did a job on me! It isn’t the end of the world, unless you have a favourite skirt that you can no longer get into! All you can do is change your exercise regime and diet to try to get rid of it. For immediate results you will just have do your best with you have and try to hide the rest.

If you can afford a tight, lace-up corset, all well-and-good but I know that some of you are on a tight budget and will be looking for a cheaper option. I’d recommend trying to find a full-length body that will flatten the tummy, as well as deal with some of the other bulges that can appear around the waist area. They do a the job they’re designed for and are very comfortable – the only thing is they may be a bit of a romance-killer, if that’s on your agenda. For those occasions you could try control top tights, or dance tights also go some way to holding in ‘belly bulge’.

For best results, though diet and exercise should be the goal!

Wigs

As far as I’m concerned you can scrimp on everything else, but when it comes to your wig I would recommend you spend as much as you can. It really will be better in the long-run. Anything upwards of £120 should be expected – if you shop around you may find some bargains, but makes sure of the quality before parting with your cash. This is why you should buy the wig from a store rather than online – it’s the only way you can be absolutely positive you aren’t being ripped off. Make sure the style suits you.

I have seen advice elsewhere that says to go shorter as you get older. I think I would clarify it a bit more and say that it’s more how young your face is rather than your actual age. I mean, I’m coming up to the big five-o and still (thankfully) have a young-looking face so I’m still wearing shoulder-length wigs without any problems. I think it’s a personal thing – go with whatever length and style you like, so long as you’re sure you can pull it off.

See my Wigs post for more on selecting and looking after your wig.

Lingerie

I don’t think it would be too far from the truth to say that most of you probably started by wearing your wife’s, mother’s or sister’s panties.

And we’ve probably all used some variation of the “I’m looking to get the girlfriend / wife some knickers / stockings / suspender belt / lingerie etc for her birthday / anniversary”.

Personally, I haven’t bothered with that for years. I just go straight to the lingerie section and buy whatever I need – no need to explain to anyone. If the assistant asks the question I tell the truth – most of the stores I go to are used to guys buying stuff for themselves and a lot of them train staff in this area.

Bras can be an issue for larger men. You may require an extender for the back (to extend the strap across the back). If you do have trouble determining your size, just get the assistant at the lingerie counter to assist you select ‘something for your wife’. Make sure you can return it if it doesn’t fit and then go home and try it on!

Shoes

Something else that can be difficult for those with larger feet is finding a shoe in the right size. I’m lucky I have a UK size 7 in men’s shoes and can wear the same size in women’s so I don’t have to remember to get a different size.

I can’t give you any tricks to finding your size in ladies shoes – the sizes can be different depending, not only on your size but the width of your foot. It may take some trial and error trying different size shoes until you find your size, so I’d recommend using the charity shops for your first shoe purchases until you find a size your happy with. Some people may tell you that you need to go up a size if you’re going to wear higher heels. I’ve bought size 7 ladies shoes with 5 inch heel and they’ve fitted with no problems. I’ve not gone higher and have no desire to, so I can’t offer any experience as to whether the ‘going up a size’ thing is true – it kind of makes sense, though, given that the foot will be bent downwards. If anyone can shed light on this, let me know.

Clothes

Let’s face it – this is what most us are love the most about being a girl, but as a closet crossdresser how many clothes do you really need?

It’s another personal thing and will all depend on your budget and how much storage space you’re limited to.  I have tried to keep my femme wardrobe down to a manageable size. I say ‘tried’. I’ve failed completely!!  I’m not exaggerating when I say I have more femme clothes than men’s! If you favour a particular look this may be make it easier. I like various different looks, so I tend to buy whatever takes my fancy and what I think will look good on me. I do try to make sure that I get skirts and tops that I can interchange with each other to create different outfits. Dresses are something to be carefully considered because many of us will have different sizes between tops and skirts, so finding dresses that fit without look odd is a task in itself!

Only once in my life have I found a shop assistant that asked if I wanted to try something on. If you can find somewhere like this, keep going back because they’re as rare as unicorn sh*t! If you’re brave you can take an item off the rack and try it against your body to estimate if it will fit. If it’s quiet you might be lucky enough to get it to a changing room to try it on, but normally it’s best to take it home. You can always return it and get a different size. If it’s from a charity shop and doesn’t fit, the most you’ve wasted is a few quid.

One thing to be aware of is that women’s tops are narrow in the shoulder.

If you want more help, check out these posts:

Creating Your Look   Creating your look – addendum  Making Sense of Sizes   Make the most of your wardrobe

Breastforms

These aren’t totally necessary but can add a nice look, not to mention feel(!) in the breast region.

You can find realistic breastforms in specialty tv/cd shops – check my resources page for suggestions. Be aware, though, that best ones will be obviously more expensive. I have some but don’t bother going through the rigmarole of attaching them – not advisable anyway unless you shave your chest! You can try making your own – I know people who have used a stocking filled with something like birdseed or rice and they look quite good. It really doesn’t matter what you use as long as you get a realistic look.

Makeup

If you’re a part-time crossdresser there is really not much point in buying expensive makeup. You won’t wear it often enough to justify the cost and the cheaper options available do the job just as well.

It makes buying it much easier too because you can go any number of shops that sell the stuff – you’ll soon get to know which ones are always busy and which are less so. Another option is to buy one of those makeup kits that contain most things you’ll need with the perfect excuse that you’re buying for your daughter or niece.

My makeup bag by comparison to most women is surprisingly light – foundation, blusher, black eye liner, eye shadow (various shades), 1 pink lip liner, 1 red lip liner, 2 lipsticks (1 red and 1 plum) and, for special occasions: mascara (black), lip gloss and nail polish (red). You will need to buy things like brushes, small makeup applicators for eye shadow, and small makeup sponges. They are all available on the rack and don’t attract much attention.

Once you have these essentials it’s easy enough to add and top up as you need to whenever you’re shopping for other items.

Application:

As with most things, the best thing you can do is practice as much as you can. If you are married or living with a girlfriend, take the time to observe how your S.O. applies her makeup. Sit and talk to her while she is getting ready for an evening out. Pay special attention to how she applies eye makeup, which can be difficult to master. Alternatively, you could try to visit a Transformation store or similar and ask for some lessons – there really is no better way to learn the art of makeup than by doing it yourself.  There are also a lot of “help” videos on various video sites.  Check out YouTube to start with.

Lips:

I don’t agree with ‘the experts’ here, try and make your lips fuller by going outside the lip line. I have a lop-sided mouth – my lips are thinner on one side so I use lip-liner first to get the shape, filling in the ‘thin’ side to match the fuller side. Then fill it in with the lipstick. It works a treat and isn’t noticeable unless you get really close.

I wouldn’t advise the use of ‘glitter’ makeup – most of us are way over our teens!!

Removing Makeup

Any crossdresser’s biggest fear is whether any makeup will be visible when you get come home or if you’ve had a day dressing at home while she’s been out.

You don’t need to go overboard – get yourself the cheapest, largest, bottle of moisturiser you can and, using a facecloth, remove everything from your face first, lippy, blush and foundation. Make sure you cover everything.

If you’ve used a long-lasting lipstick you will have to work at getting it off. It’s a real scary thing (I speak from experience here!) when you first try to remove it in the normal way and (seemingly) nothing happens. I had visions of having to go home with the stuff still on my lips, but after a little persistance it came off. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!! Sounds obvious, but check your teeth. Lippy is notorious for finding it’s way onto them – hopefully you haven’t ruined any pics you may have taken!

Eye makeup can also take a couple of go’s to get rid of completely. This is because they have a lot of makeup on them – mascara, eye shadow and eye liner.

Mascara can be difficult to remove, which is why I only use it on special occasions. You could find you need to work on the lashes a bit to remove it all.

Once you’re happy you’ve removed all traces of your makeup, one final rinse off with soap and water should be enough to complete your transition back to your male self.

For more on the application and removal of makeup check out the Thinking About Makeup post.

What’s the last thing you need to do? Get yourself down the pub to get yourself fully back into male mode!

Go on … you know you want to!

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