Learning to walk


Over the last few years of answering emails for Chameleons, there are a few questions, that pop up regularly. One of them is around dress. Perhaps, not unusual for a group of cross-dressing people. But flippancy aside, a question about being judged when dressed. What do others wear? What should I wear? I’m new to all of this, everyone seems so together with their outfits, etc.

I think it’s intimidating enough, visiting a new place, where you don’t know anyone. Chuck into the mix, that you’re worried that you’ll look like a mess, must just add to the stress. BTW, I should add that the Chams folk are very cool and laid back. We don’t judge. Well, provided you are not indecent, we don’t judge 🙂

Not me, BTW. I don’t tend to
photograph appliances, as a rule. 🙂

Going back a few years, I remember my first attempts. Learning to walk in heels took ages. Oddly, I didn’t seem to mind getting the hours in. I used to Hoover regularly before work, because it would help me keep my balance and the manoeuvring around the house, meant I wasn’t just walking up and down. Yes, the comedy value of a Queen video wasn’t lost on me, either 🙂

Make-up took longer and I’m still learning today. It’s not like we transfolk, get regular practice. An hour here, an afternoon, or evening there. How much does that add up to in a few months? We don’t have anyone to show us, as a rule, and YouTube can be a bit one-sided. I know I gave up on the Smokey Eye look, because no matter what I did, it just wouldn’t work. Skip on a year or two, and I now know I’ve hooded eyes and that technique is never going to work for me. Instead, I’ve had to learn what does (Ed: mostly, anyways).

When you start off, buying clothes seems like going into enemy territory. What is someone sees me? What if someone asks what I’m doing? All of those questions rattle around your head. Then, there’s the dreaded: Can I help you? Sure, you want help, but at the same time, you have the OMG, they’ll know! panic. It took me a while to get over this and looking back, I don’t know why I worried so much. I mean, what’s the difference between me shopping for clothes, and me shopping for the Ever Lovely Mrs J’s birthday? In practical terms, nothing. Yet, the latter was easier and the former had me in knots.

Eventually, the penny dropped and now, I’m fine with it. Fine with it, to the point that if it’s for me and I need some help, I’ll ask. Sure, I’ll try to be discreet and ensure I don’t weird out the sales assistant. But, hey, my money is as good as anyone else’s and maybe getting shops to test their attitude to Equal Ops, isn’t a bad thing.

With time and through the mistakes of buying the wrong thing, I started to work out what did suit me. I still get it wrong now, but that’s all part of the fun of experimenting. I’ve learned to keep receipts and avoid stores who are funny about returns. Truth be told, there aren’t many of the latter now.

So, if there’s a moral, or a conclusion to this post of mine, is that, if you’re new; it will take time. Enjoy the journey and don’t rush. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and practice really helps.

Take care,


  1. Since I still only shop in male mode, I've long got over the embarrassment of buying clothes and shoes, even in a small town where I frequent the same charity shops every week, though I'm still reticent about asking for help or returns. If something doesn't fit, I tend to put it down to experience.

    Having said that, I was standing in the queue in Primark yesterday with a pair of strappy size 9 heels and hoping that the next free assistant would be a girl rather than the sole bloke on the tills. And naturally he was the next one who became free. In the end all he asked was, "Do you need a bag for that?"
    A sale is a sale after all.

    1. Ah, charity shops. Sometimes a hidden gem will surface. I can never find much in Primark, although this year Prima (I know, so rock & roll) ran an article praising their Xmas party range.

    2. Would love to have the chance ( a very long way way from here) to go to a charity shop and buy. The thing is I have not idea if we have them here! All my stuff head to toe is bought online. Anything that doesn't fit goes back if it's a German shop and stashed away as experience when UK or further a field. I sent a pair of shoes back to Spain it cost me almost the price of the shoes!

    3. Ah, delivery. The Devil's not only in the detail, but in shipping too. 🙂

      So, no charity shops where you live? A difference in culture, perhaps? Talking of that, I prefer to shop on the high street, rather than on-line. I find it easier to see the garment's quality and guess its fit (assuming I'm not trying it on).

      That said, buying on-line saves on parking charges and the faff of wandering around, if you're short of time.

      Shopping, it's all good, except the cost 🙂

  2. The makeup thing really is a problem. What the heck are hooded eyes? Maybe that's my problem. I used to always envy the way Becky (blogger of the ancient past) did her eyes. I'd try to duplicate that and it would look like someone punched me in both eyes.

    I was hard up for a T-Central post so had to use this one 🙂

    Actually a brilliant post to feature.

    Cheers xxx

    1. Another featured post? Gosh! Thanks. That's very kind.

      How to learn make-up? Nothing less than practice, practice, YouTube, ask questions, practice, read beauty blogs, practice, search Pinterest, read women's magazines and, yes, you guessed it, more practice. 🙂 Oh, don't buy cheap stuff and less is more. 😀

      Hooded eyes? Hmm. "Hooded eyes feature an extra layer of skin that droops over the crease, causing the lid to appear smaller." ~ Beautylish. Or to put it as a friend (Maddy) once said: "fat eyelids". 🙂 Hooded eyes mean you don't have a very defined eye socket and regular eye make-up suggestions don't work. That may explain the 'face punch' issue you commented on.

      A quick poke through Google, or YouTube, should help you find your eye shape and what works for you. Drop me an email, if you're a fellow Hooded Eye victim. I've some videos I've collected that may help.

  3. Your right with the makeup only routine, experimentation and feedback creates the 'you' look. There is so many possibilities as with any form of artwork and basically that is what it is. And that's it, when do we get the opportunity to practice? Either rarely or in my case practically never. Finding someone ( privately) to do a makeover and give realistic tips is difficult for me (you may have your Chameleons that can help). I have actually found someone who would help me only problem she's in New Zealand..

    1. I hear New Zealand's lovely this time of year. Bit far, tho 🙂

      Yeah, experimentation is the key. Finding a make-up artist can be tricky. In the past, the good ones at Chameleons have been – shall we say? – trans aware. That being, they understand that a guy's face is a different shape and our skin is different. The unlucky ones have beard shadow, heavy brow or hooded eyes [/waves], which all need a different approach.

      We had one make-up lady turn up, who didn't amend her approach. Sadly, it didn't quite work and I think that put her off.

      The other side to trans make-overs, is that some dressing services have a very formulaic approach. The good ones vary the look, but some…. Hmm… Heavy base, lots of blush and eye/lip colours like they've been templated one in a factory.

      So, yeah, if you find someone good, hang on to them. Oh, talking of that, some department stores will offer make-up tutorials away from the shop floor. Worth a punt, maybe?

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