Has your experience shopping for clothing and accessories as a transgender woman been daunting, humbling or unsuccessful? Are you uncertain what styles or designs complement your personality, lifestyle, body shape or budget? Here are three strategies for making your next solo shopping trip both fun and fruitful:
1) Identify your style
As you already know, emerging into your authentic self as an mtf is a journey that doesn’t happen overnight. The same can be said about accruing flattering clothing and accessories to match the woman you are inside. Consider your personality and lifestyle and how you wish you to dress at work and in your free time. Are you outgoing or shy, refined or earthy? Do you have to dress more conservatively at work and like to be sexier when you go to social events? Do you prefer to be comfortable and casual at all times? Do you have a fixed budget or are you able to splurge any time you wish?
The next step in identifying your style is to simply look at what women (both mtfs and cisgender) are wearing—what you like, what you don’t like, and what you think may suit you. Make a mental note of an ensemble your favorite actress wore in a movie, a woman’s dress you noticed at the grocery store, or a pair of earrings your friend wears. Go through magazines and clip out clothing and accessories you like or download images you find online. Once you are clear on how you want to present yourself to the world, you can start making a wish list of basic wardrobe pieces, undergarments and accessories that you feel will reflect and enhance the woman you are inside.
2) Assess your body shape
Once you have identified your style and the basic pieces you wish to have in your wardrobe, assess your body shape and what cuts and fabrics would currently suit you. Height and shoe size pretty much remain the same throughout adulthood, but weight, muscle tone, and body fat can fluctuate. If you are in the process of losing weight and wish to go down a couple of dress sizes, choose core pieces that are more inexpensive that can be replaced easily without concern for your budget or invest in good clothing brands that can be altered when you reach your goal weight. As a transgender woman, without hormones or surgical options, you may still retain some of your masculine body features like broad shoulders, a thicker waist, a flat butt, and small breasts. An hour glass figure may be desirable, but you do need to manage your expectations of what clothing and undergarments can do to actually achieve this goal. It’s all about balancing your current body shape and creating the illusion of more womanly curves. If you have broad shoulders, consider balancing your lower body with wide or flared pants and an a-line skirt or dress. You can augment your bust line with padded bras or inserts to achieve your desired breast volume. You can create the illusion of a rounder butt or curvier hips with undergarments that contain padding or silicone shapers. Cinch your waist with a corset or smooth your tummy with a body shaper.
3) Plan your shopping trip
Once you have identified your style, assessed your body shape, and considered what clothing designs and undergarments can flatter or augment your current body shape, it’s time to plan your shopping trip! Think about the types of stores you would like to explore and believe will fit your budget--thrift stores, big box or department stores, or small boutiques. Once you have narrowed down your preferred stores, contact their management and ask if they will accommodate you with your preferred gender or a gender neutral dressing room, and if you wish, the best time a salesperson can assist you. Lastly, look at your weekly schedule, and determine when you are not stressed from work or life obligations and can plan to get a good night’s sleep—shopping can be tiring!
With these shopping strategies, your solo shopping trip to the mall can prove to be more pleasurable and successful! If shopping alone still feels daunting and you feel you could use some assistance, please schedule a personal shopping consultation at Trans-Image Consulting Group!