The world is filled with exciting and fascinating places, but is there anywhere more thrilling (and humbling) than a dressing room? Most of us know the fear and excitement that bringing a dress into a changing room can bring. Within a few minutes either your mood is ruined or you feel like a princess. And yes I know this is a little superficial and extreme but there you have it. Before I was ready to leave my home en femme, I did my shopping in boy mode. After a while, with an extreme amount of courage, I started to take a few dresses into a changing room. When I was ready to shop en femme, using a changing room was easier mainly because I didn’t look like a man in a necktie stepping into the changing room to try on a dress. This also got easier because I was brave enough to step out into the real world as Hannah, so using a changing room was a breeze.
Trying on clothes is a wonderful and super fun thing to do, but it can also be frustrating. I can try on two dresses that are the same size and one can fit like a dream and the other I can’t zip up. How one presents can also change how a dress fits. In male mode a dress might fit me but I don’t get the full effect until I have my curves, courtesy of my corset, breast forms, and thigh pads. But this can also work against me. Foundation garments can add a tiny bit to my waist and bust and all of a sudden a dress that fits perfectly in male mode can’t be zipped up.
As I mentioned, this can be a humbling experience. Some dresses look super cute on the rack but when we try them on we realize it’s not quite the dress for us. If we can’t zip up a dress we might feel fat. We might feel not-cute. Or feminine. We might feel foolish that we ever thought we could be pretty. As often as a dress makes me feel like a queen, there are just as many, if not more, outfits that make me feel ugly, fat, and MALE. None of these feelings are kind and I don’t like feeling these things. No one does. We need to remember that we can’t let a dress or a skirt or anything to have that much negative power over us. And yes, this is waaaaay easier said than done.
My birth certificate was checked MALE when I was born because of my anatomy. And I still have all the parts I was born with. As I grew my body developed the way bodies for most cis male do. I’m tall, I have broad shoulders, and no curves. I am a rectangle. When I present as male I don’t give my shape or body a second thought. But when I am en femme or trying on a dress then I put myself under a microscope. I do my best to not be tooooo critical in a changing room. I try to resist any thoughts about being too male, too fat, too anything for a dress. I try to be objective and not let a dress hurt my feelings, if you will. When I try on a dress I try to look at it as if it’s right for my style, right for my body, and just… right for me.
Recently I visited Blackbird, a cute boutique in Mankato and I found SO many cute things and since I overthink I had a lot of thoughts when I was in the dressing room and I thought I would share them here!
The first dress I tried on was this cute sparkly dress. It was stretchy and super cute. The zipper glided up and fit like it was made for me. Since I look at my body under a microscope when I try on a dress, I checked myself out from a few different angles and thankfully still liked how I looked. The only thing I didn’t care for was the shoulder pads (my shoulders don’t need the help) but thankfully they can be removed. I unzipped the dress, put it back on the hanger, and hung it on my “keep” peg.
Next up is this super sexy green party dress. I walked past this dress a few times and with a little encouragement from the salesclerk I let her put it into the changing room. As much as I adore plunging necklines and high slits, I had a feeling this dress wasn’t going to end up in my closet. It fit and had I tried it on in male mode I probably would have bought it. BUT! since I was wearing stockings and breast forms I quickly realized that this dress wasn’t for me. For starters, the neckline was waaaay too plungly. The bra I like to wear with my breast forms was showing too much and that’s sometimes not a problem because I can just tug the dress up a bit. BUT! the high slit just got higher when I did that. The top of my stockings were showing (as you can see in the photo) and between showing off waaaaaaaay too much leg and flashing everyone my bra, I decided that this dress was a better fit for someone else’s body. I know I could skip the stockings but I love how they smooth out my leg and even out my skin color. Nylons and pantyhose could do the trick, but they can make using the ladies room a little trickier especially when I was wearing a tightly cinched corset. AND! I prefer stockings for a very practical reason. If they get a run I can replace one stocking as opposed to tossing out a pair of nylons or tights. And! I prefer stockings for a very superficial reason. They are sexy.
As a t-girl, I have a love/hate relationship with dresses that have sleeves. Sometimes the sleeves are too tight, sometimes there is not enough accommodation for my broad shoulders (which can lead to split seams), and sometimes the sleeves simply aren’t long enough. I wasn’t expecting to love this dress as much as I did because of the sleeves, but I am happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised with it. The dress also has a nice cut which compliments my bust without it being toooooo plungy. The dress is short which, if I am being honest, I have no issues with. 🙂 This cute dress is hanging in my closet and I’ll probably wear it on my next time out.
Finally we have a vegan leather dress. I love love love leather, and I particularly love vegan leather. It has more of a stretch, it’s shinier, and it usually tends to be more affordable than real leather. This was the first dress I picked out when I started shopping and as long as it fit, it was a definite buy. Ironically enough, this dress also caused the most uncertainty of everything I tried on. Although vegan leather tends to be stretchier, I am never super confident how well it will fit. I picked the same dress in two different sizes to try on. I am happy that both fit (especially the smaller of the two, lol) but therein lies the dilemma. I liked the smaller size because it fit better. Leather is supposed to be somewhat form fitting and I like to show off my curves (again, thanks to my corset, thigh pads, and breast forms). BUT! the larger of the two was a LITTLE baggy. I looked, to be honest, a little frumpy. Can’t have that. The smaller size was sexier and hugged my body more… but it was shorter and hung on my body differently. I couldn’t decide if I wanted the tighter dress or the slightly more modest one. This might be a surprise but there are some dresses in the world that even I think are tooooo short. In the end I picked the smaller size. I actually picked two colors (one black and the other white) of this dress. I can never have enough black leather dresses but I didn’t have a white one. Although the dress is short, I reminded myself that some dresses are meant to be worn while I am sitting, and some, like this one, should only be worn when I am standing.
I am happy with what I picked out. I hope my thoughts, my insecurities, my circular decision process was insightful if not relatable. You are more than a dress size. Not every dress will fit you. Not every dress is designed for every single body. Don’t let an ill-fitting dress ruin your day or dull your sparkle.