Lessons Learned: Part III – Shopping


Last time I wrote about finding what works for you from a style point of view. That style may change based on what you’re up to, as your tastes change, or as your confidence grows. All that aside, knowing what works for you and actually getting hold of things leads to the heady world of shopping…

Real World Shopping

What about trying things on? Well, the old school Jeans on Top of the Stash hack works in most mixed gender stores. Supermarkets, out of town clothing barns, certain department stores, etc. Work you way through the clothing section of your choice, pick up a few items, and then drop a jumper or a pair of jeans from the section that matches your birth gender. Head for the changing room and in you go. If you’re asked how many items, give the number. In the highly unlikely event the assistance says shall I hang on to these?, smile politely, and state you’d prefer to hang on to all of them for now. When it comes to paying at the till, no need to make up an excuse: seriously, no one cares. ๐Ÿ™‚ Ask for a gift certificate if you really want, but it’ll be fine.

The number of times I’ve bought the Ever Lovely Mrs J something, the assistants and till staff just need me to pay and move on. It’s a method I stick to when I buy for myself. Be cool, be polite, and be on your merry way. ๐Ÿ‘

What about stores or shops where they only sell clothes for one gender? These single gender shops mean you are probably going to stand out a little. There’s a couple of choices here. A cheeky way would be to check out what you like in store and then order it online. You can now try on in the comfort of your own home and return as required. If you are okay going there dressed, most shops will accept you as the gender you present. Listening to friends at Chams; M&S, Debenhams, New Look, Next, and Outfit were all fine in letting them in to the changing room without issue. Mind you, each booth is completely private, so why not?

Talking of M&S and New Look (the latter can be very good for shoes), this brings us on to footwear. Ordering online is the easy option and you can do as above and cruise the shop before deciding. Now, if you’ve put your Brave Pants on, you could always try this: find the shoes you’re interested in, find a sales assistant, and ask politely if there’s anywhere off the shop floor where you could try them on. Again, listening to friends at the group and my own experience, staff are cool with this. If they are not, thank them for their time and decide if this shop should have your money based on how you are treated.

Don’t be afraid to get thrifty and look for something cool from a charity shop. I think there’s a lot to be said by wearing an older item in a way that works for you. If you’re posh or arty, pretend I said vintage ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yes, they can be pot luck and you might have to work your way through a lot to find a gem, but isn’t that part of the fun? ๐Ÿ™‚ Not only are you helping a charity, recycling, but inexpensive and well made clothes are a good way to find what works for you.

The Online Experience

I’ve mentioned online shopping a few times and this seems to be a go to for many of us nowadays. The difficulty of travel, parking, and time means actually getting to the shops has barrier after barrier. Not so with your smartphone or computer. The drawback with online is having to wait and/or the practicalities of deliveries. Now, if you’re out to your partner (or single), deliveries are pretty easy. Do use a name that you have proof of. What do I mean by that? Well, if there’s a dispute (unlikely) or the delivery needs to be collected (more likely), then having a bill or driving license makes it a lot easier to prove the package is yours. In all the years I’ve been ordering women’s clothes in my own name, I’ve never had an issue. Sometimes honesty is the best policy.

If home delivery isn’t safe for you, that’s fine, there’s options. Maybe the kids can’t leave your post alone, you’re not out yet, or having parcels left at the house is a non starter. Other than collecting in store, many UK vendors offer Collect+ where a corner shop or petrol station will hold the goods for you. There’s also Amazon Locker which are dotted about in supermarkets, shopping centres, or petrol stations. I’ve used those a few times for birthday presents (to avoid the ooo, what’s in here, Dad? by the would be recipient) and they’ve worked a treat. Same too for returns, but mostly I just use our local post office.

Is this for you?

What if someone asks is it for you? Okay, I’ve been asked this a few times and how you handle it is (naturally) completely up to you.

It does depend on how you’ve bumped into the assistant. If you’ve been approached and accepted help, you’re going to have to commit. ๐Ÿ™‚ If it’s at the tills, do you gain anything by then knowing or not? That’s your call.

If you are okay with them knowing – and you don’t need to explain if you don’t want to – then be polite, simle, and say yes. I’ve done this a few times and received both excellent service and advice/ideas that I hadn’t considered. Would recommend. ๐Ÿ™‚

Equally, there are times when the item – in truth – hasn’t been for me and I’ve nodded politely and said, no, I’m buying for my wife. Again, no issue and I’ve had help. Not quite as much as when I said it was for me, but that may just be coincidence.

When I’ve lied, the tip off was me stumbling around my words or coming up with a story. If a bloke is in the shop buying a skirt or a woman is buying bloke’s jeans, the natural assumption is that it is a gift. No need to tell anyone. I remember reading an article from a police officer who said that when someone tries to deceive you, they try to sell you the lie. Go with a simple, no, it’s for my wife / girlfriend / boyfriend / partner. If you need a little help, do ask, but you don’t need to.

Keeping it on the QT

So, other than bad lying, what draws attention? Shifty or nervous behaviour. Now, shop assistants reading this, do correct me as the latter is from one conversation only ๐Ÿ™‚

Back in the day I was after some opaque hold ups. I remember parking up, walking straight in to the small shop, and saying hello to the lady behind the till. I did that quick walk around the shop that blokes do and I couldn’t see what I wanted. Naturally, the assistant helped me and as I went to pay, she said something that made it clear she thought I was buying for my wife. It was either curiosity or stupidity, but I asked, can you tell when men are looking for tights and whatnot for themselves?

Cue a short conversation about blokes who pass the store three or four times while they get the courage to come in. See also men who keep their heads down and don’t engage socially. Lastly, being… shifty. That slight dodginess that marks you out. So, in short: act like you should be in there, be polite, be engaged, keep it simple, and if you can’t, shop a long way from home. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Well, that post took on a life of its own didn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Shopping and clothes may seem quite shallow to some, but I would politely challenge that statement.

When you are part of the transgender spectrum, how you look can help what’s going on outside, work with what’s going on inside.

Clothes can help us appear and feel as we are. We can express different aspects of ourselves and I think the right outfit can set someone free. That may suggest that the wrong clothes trap us, and perhaps that wasn’t far from the truth.

Do watch out for using the collection of stuff as filling a gap in your life. Try to avoid the Pink Fog if you can and keep an eye on what you have. If the new thing needs another new thing to make it work, is it worth it? Oh, and while recycling and regifting are awesome, be wary of purging. If you’re not sure, pack things away or ask a friend to keep them.

If anyone has anything they would like to share on the above, comments – particularly kind and helpful ones ๐Ÿ™‚ – are welcome.

L x


  1. And sometimes you get a great reaction to the truth ๐Ÿ˜€

    One year after Halloween I bought a reduced costume that was not designed for the gender I was currently presenting. The young woman at the till smiled and asked if it was for me. I nodded and said it was. Her smile changed to a huge grin and she said something like “Oh cool!”. I think that brightened both our days!

  2. A useful series of posts, and a lot of truth in them.

    Nowadays I have little embarassment buying lace bras or high heels if I’m not in femme mode, but it took a very great many years before I stopped preparing the reasoned justification (i.e. lie) behind my purchases. My first excuse, given aged 11, passed muster (“they’re a present for my mother”). Cost me 90p pocket money, too, which was A Lot of Money in Those Days. The arrival of the internet is a godsend for the shyer trans person.

    As for purchases that were a disaster or cluttered the place up, the less said about them the better!

    Sue x

    1. Thanks Sue. It’s funny in that hitting the anniversary point, it made me take the proverbial step back and think on my experiences and helpful suggestions from others*. I think that place back has given some form to trying to collate things a little. Stuff that would usually appear in drips and drabs. Not unlike the slow build up of Stuff within one’s house ๐Ÿ˜‰

      90p? Sounds like an expensive purchase! ๐Ÿ˜ Oh, and I’m with you on just buying things now, but it’s taken a while to get to that point.

      ( * like how to do my blusher properly ๐Ÿ˜ )

    2. Ahem, bravery award for 11 yo Sue!
      I remember distinctly obsessing over a white strappy dress in the window of a shop I passed daily aged 11/12 and dying to go in.
      I couldn’t get it out of my mind and started concocting stories I could use or which of the few cis females I knew I could let in. Never did it. Sigh… The one that got away.
      It’d never suit me now.

  3. I live in a rather conservative area of the United States. I used to shop in shame and not mention it was for me while the clerk asked me questions about “her”. I tried to never lie. Eventually, I would say that they were for me, or I would ask if I could try them on. Only a very few times over the years did I get a reaction that communicated that the clerk was disgusted by me being me. Many times when I have asked, I was the first man they had ever had who was shopping for himself. These days, I will go into a store presenting male, but wearing a dress/skirt and no one needs to ask any questions/make any confessions. The sales people act like it is just another normal day. I have asked if they get a lot of guys and have gotten three responses. 1) No. But, you are welcome. 2) There is this one (or two) guy(s) who come in and are very ashamed. 3) Yes. But they normally dress all the way (present female).

    In some stores, I have returned and become well known to the employee(s). (That only happened when I started shopping closer to home.) It is really nice when the salesperson gets to know you and understands what your style is. They stop offering things that you don’t like.

    I have shopped in even more rural/conservative places. I was accepted just the same. I have even attended church four times at four different churches in a skirt/dress. I was welcomed like normal. The most conservative church I visited was in a small town in the country. Almost no one acted like my fashion choices made them uncomfortable. People offered me a bulletin, shook my hand during fellowship time, and thanked me for coming after it was over. I was even invited to the meal they were having after the church service. I went to the meal and sat with the family who invited me. I was amazed at them and at myself.

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