thrift store mysticism

I treat thrift store shopping as a mystical experience, as a spiritual discipline.

Being somewhat of a mystic, and a massive optimist (see my post “curvilinear optimism“), I tend to believe that the Universe (or the Divine if you prefer) provides what we need to accomplish our missions in life as we need it (or immediately before).

Today I went to Goodwill and found four perfectly-fitting ladies’ business suits. All match my design ethic of “obvious femininity”—i.e., they are not simply men’s styles adapted for women. All have skirts, because, as readers of this blog know, I refuse to wear pants. All were well-made and extremely inexpensive.

The occasion is timely: I’m preparing to meet regularly with potential investors in the startup I contract with, representing the technical side of the company (I currently serve indirectly as that company’s R&D leader). Therefore I need managerial-level business attire, and a lot of it.

My optimistic, mystical self interpreted this Goodwill shopping haul as a “sign” that I’m “ready” for the business responsibility coming my way.

Asserting the Feminine

I stressed above the “obvious femininity” of the outfits. Feminism in the 1970’s and 1980’s urged women in corporate America to “act more like men”. That ethic led to women’s suit designs that really just mimicked masculine designs. (Shoulder pads, anyone?).

But diminishing the feminine to advance in the business world only marginalizes femininity in general—and makes many women simply unhappy. The truth is, while gender definitely moves on a spectrum at individual resolution, as a whole we can argue that women differ from men. We can argue further that that difference can (and should) add just as much value to the corporate world as masculine traits do.

So I for one will only wear business attire that screams “feminine”. I will not mimic a man. And I’ve taken a hit in corporate America for doing so… but I don’t give a shit because I know women are the future of business (but that’s a whole different topic).

Part of this practice goes back to my early days of living as a woman, where I learned quickly that to be called “she” I had to wear extremely feminine attire. In other words, I had to donate all my t-shirts to Goodwill and stop wearing pants. Now that my face has been surgically modified, my voice is higher in pitch, and my hair is longer I no longer experience this issue. But my memory proves long…

Strange Effects

The corporation I hold majority shares in gives 10% of its income to secular charities. Goodwill Industries of San Diego receives most of it, and the cash donations are made through local stores. As a result, the staff of the North County Goodwill stores have come to know me, resulting in two unexpected effects:

First, recognizing that my personal style is almost entirely constructed from thrift store finds, they now seek my opinion on displays, which I am thrilled to give. It’s nice to be seen as a style authority!

Second, the women working in these stores have become familiar with the kinds of items I typically look for, so when I enter a store I can now find these women first-thing and ask for recommendations based on their knowledge of what has recently been placed on the racks. But they don’t just try to accommodate my style, they suggest their own ideas. This proves fun for everyone involved.

The money the business gives created this situation, but the fact that I’m simply nice to everybody nurtures it along.

See Also

curvilinear optimism

go to a damn tailor!

Let’s face it, transgender women often experience a difficult time finding clothes that fit perfectly. (But then, doesn’t every woman?!?). For example, my particular problems are:

  • I usually need plus-sized blouses to enable fit around my chest and shoulders, but then the blouses generally appear unflatteringly wide around my waist.
  • While I usually buy dresses that flair to diminish my lack of hips, I’ve at least one dress with too much “definition” in the fabric such that actual hips need to fill the space for it to look right.
  • At least one of my dresses expected a larger breast size than I possess.

 

To solve all three cases I’ll regularly hire a tailor rather than waste my time looking for perfection at the item’s point of initial sale.



This of course requires some experience (and common sense) to know what can be altered to suit your needs. I can’t tell you how to gain this experience except through taking risks and making mistakes (I generally buy at Goodwill so I’m only out a few bucks if the item can’t be altered to meet my requirements). Your tailor will describe to you why a request will or will not be achievable and you will learn from those discussions.

You may not even know what needs to be accomplished to improve a (mostly fitting) outfit. But your tailor will employ their experience to gain the best result for your body.

Here is the most important thing a transwoman must look for when seeking a tailor:

Are they trans-friendly? If you have a penile bulge under your panties it might show while they are working with you to specify the correct fit. They must be cool with that possibility!

But money talks—and therefore I’ve experienced no problems.

I also recommend tipping your tailor. Not sure if that’s customary, but I do it anyway.

The most important thing I want to impress upon you:  A good tailor will make a mediocre outfit stunning on you! Found this vital in my business life.

I interviewed my tailor, Karla Vega of Vista, California, for tips on how to find a good one. Here is what she told me:

Know the difference between a “seamstress” and “tailor”. Seamstresses make dresses from scratch, tailors alter and repair clothes.

Tailoring works successfully when you begin with clothes that are too big rather than too small, for obvious reasons. So buy one size up if you anticipate the need for tailoring of an item. I asked if certain parts of an item, such as a dress, proved more challenging then others to alter, and she said no. My experience confirms this as she has successfully altered the bust areas, hips, or the waist of the items I bring her as required.

Learn your body type, e.g. “pear”, so you increase your shopping prowess.

Understand that knowing how to sew does not make you a tailor. The warned of clothing swap meets where an amateur sets up an alteration table for the event and sells “tailoring” services. Her advice is too look for someone who makes tailoring their business. I asked about places like Nordstrom that offer tailoring services and she said they are just fine.

petticoats! (and where you can buy them)

I absolutely love frilly petticoats. Problem is, after two years of diligent Goodwill shopping I have only found one, pictured in my post “sissy fashion (part 2)”. And this petticoat doesn’t fill space, like the ones I would like to wear (see my post “sissy fashion” for examples of what I’d prefer).

I have no hips, and need all the help I can get!

Fortunately, I found the supplier wish.com. Not sure what I think of the site yet, but the petticoats I ordered are pictured at the end of this post. Cost a total of $17. Looking forward to rocking them with my polka dot heels and a rockabilly dress!

But later a friend told me about Amazon. These two petticoats go up to XL, important since transwomen tend to run larger than cisgender women, and the price is about the same. They come in multiple colors and sizes up to XL:

Here is me working these designs:

a derby hat and a sex offer

As per my interest in cultivating a look that screams “feminine”, I bought a derby hat from Goodwill today. At the same time I bought a pair of white high-heeled sandals. Wore both out of the store.

In the parking lot a man immediately pitched a sex offer.

Later that day two additional men expressed clear interest in me, though more subtly.

The look won attention!

I like attention.