Thrift Stores & More!I have been crossdressing for most of my life. I can remember dressing fully from about 1975. I have shaved my legs and chest in the past and dabbled with makeup from time to time, but long ago settled into lingerie, clothing, shoes, belts, wigs, jewelry and sometimes perfume. I know that I would not truly pass even if I shaved and used makeup, so have given up on that delusion. I used to use Guerlain Shalimar most days, but stopped when my wife became concerned that too many might recognize the scent and ask embarrassing questions. I would likely have acknowledged that I just liked it, but I am totally happy to simply be a man in feminine attire.
One area where I have worked significantly is shape. Since the mid-eighties, I have run sometimes as often as six days per week, but usually at least three. Additionally, my wife and I walk about three miles every morning with our dog. These practices have allowed me to stay slimmer than most men my age. We also eat a very healthy low-fat diet that starts with a full plate of fruit each morning.
I generally wear a full body shaper under my outfits even when I'm doing the androgynous thing. Although I have a fairly slender male fr
Around the house I usually wear dresses, skirts, blouses, hose & heels as I go about my daily tasks. When I go out during the day, I often dress kind of in-between. Depending on the weather, I wear women's jeans, usually low rise, with a fashion belt. I top this with a form fit athletic shirt or sweater. I have an array of platform sandals and generic women's shoes like those from "Sofft" or "Soft-Spot." These shoes generally have about 3 to 4 inch heels that are not readily discernible because of the platforms especially when worn under boot-cut or flared jeans and slacks. I have occasionally worn them with shorts in the summer and they do not seemed to draw extraordinary attention.
Anyway, why is this a story about "Thrift Stores?" Well, because, excluding most of the jeans and shoes, many of the items I wear either feminine or quasi have been purchased at thrift or consignment stores. I started frequenting these stores in the early 90's, but got into full swing in 1998 while living in the Chicago suburbs.
Once you get the feel of a particular shop, you find that the clothing and accessories they offer are predictable. Like retail stores with suppliers, the thrift and consignment shops seem to follow a pattern defined by their contributors (suppliers). So classy stores seem to have an endless supply of classy clothing - mundane clothing seems to find its way to the shops that it does. Once you learn the patterns, you don't have to waste your time where you are not interested. Surprisingly, there is little variation - the shops tend to deliver what they deliver.
I have been amazed at the clothing that is available in my area. Although it is a retirement/resort community, affluent people/women seem to donate a lot of items. Again, while many items are "mature" stylish quality clothing, a fair number are youthful, trim and appealing. You would be surprised at the high-end labels of nearly new items I have found. Some still have original price tags, but those that don't are nearly new - apparently unworn.
Ann Taylor, Jones New York, Michael Simon, Michael Kors, Nordstrom's, Ralph Lauren, BCBG, White House Black Market and several European Labels are well represented among those available for a few dollars. A number of times, I have dress androgynously in foundation garments, jeans or slacks, a fashion top (or sweater) and platform sandals with combine retail values $400 or more - all for less than $35. Most of the cost was attributable to the lingerie and the shoes which I generally but new. I found some incredible shoe buys in my size 11. I think crossdressers who hold by the axiom that they need two sizes up in women's shoes have simple not been adventuresome. I have found 11's to be perfect - I wear men's 10. I have some open toes and sling-backs that are fine as a size 10 particularly after I've worn them a few times.
One of the comments made by a writer about thrift stores was that she was sure to wash clothing before wearing them. Frankly, most of the items I have found don't need any laundering. Some of the classier items have the smell of expensive perfume or cologne. I have enjoyed wearing them with this lingering aroma. Some that I have worn briefly have retained the ambiance for years. It helps me enjoy a more feminine experience.
I never buy shoes that are second hand. Shoes become used very quickly particularly by women who wear them out and about in inclement weather. I have also found that shoes are both readily available as new and that the used ones don't seem appropriate or appealing. Wearing them as I do, I have pumps, sandals, and boots that have held up quite well for years. Marshall's (again), Famous Brands and Carnival have been good resources as well as the many stores that carry "Nine West." If I spot a style I am drawn to that has a size 11, I can return and generally find them still there and marked down when their stock has run low.
This morning, I stopped at my favorite consignment shop to porous the clearance racks. After about twenty minutes, I found a green silk short sleeve sweater and a red sequined tricot skirt with an opening (modified slit) along the left thigh. Sequins surrounded the slit in a very attractive pattern. This skirt was clearly a design or specialty item, but was extremely well made. I would venture a $100+ original price. When you have been shopping for and wearing women's clothing for as long as I have, you learn to appreciate quality manufacturing and limited production items.
I just pulled this out of my "notes" app & realized that I have not shared it as yet. I believe that I wrote it mostly in April & May. Since then I have had several more adventures at Marshall's and the consignment shops. I found wonderful new royal blue jumpsuit with a draw-string waist at Marshall's for $20, originally $119. The draw string is thin and inobtrusive, but with silver end-tips. I also found an attractive heavy elastic deep pink fashion belt with a circular buckle that fits nicely over the strings. It draws the waist in effectively, delivering again that slender, shapely illusion. With platform sandals, I could be ready for a day out-and-about. But alas, as comfortable as I am in this outfit, our world is still not ready.