You Just Never Know

August 28, 2020 – This Friday I was supposed to drive my Dad for a treatment, which was rescheduled therefore opening my day up unexpectedly. The weather was rainy with storms all day. But it didn’t start raining until about 10:00. I hightailed it to the pickleball courts to try to get some play in. Just so you know (yeah, I know, who gives a sh….), on my pantheon of favorite things to do (separate from family), there is now a three way tie for number one. I will always get my exercise in every day or there will be no having any fun that day. So tied for my three most favorite things are playing pickleball (I’m pathetic, but just wait until you get old), distance running and/or racing and of course, the subject of this blog, getting my Kandi on.

So I was able to play a few hours before the skies opened up. I played well early on, but wasn’t happy with my performance near the end of the morning. On my way home, I did our grocery shopping and took care of a few chores once I got home. With Mother Nature now screaming, I figured I would get dressed and run a few errands. So I simply threw together a little running around outfit, cut a few corners since I would be masked and off I went.

First stop, ULTA as I needed cover cream. That is the single most important thing to turn this frog into a princess! As always, a wonderful feeling, being a girl shopping for makeup. The kindness of the ladies that work there always makes me feel special.

Next stop, the grocery store for a birthday card for the angel known as my wife and a loaf of bread for my Mom.

Then I hightailed it over to Piece Unique. Not a better place to be! I didn’t find anything, but just to be there made me and I honestly believe this, made the owner, very happy!

The storms were on and off. I figured I would make one last stop at yet another store liquidation sale (this is getting depressing) at Stein Mart. I really was only looking for something unbelievable. And guess what? I found it! A Vince Camuto dress with the original tags on, retailing for $120, mine for just under $5! My oh, my! The dress is a Hunter Green, not a color in my massive collection. I do believe she will be my dress for the September Supper Club!! [She was indeed!]

So it ended up that I fell head over heels in love with my look for the day and came home and had a little photo shoot, which we will share with you…….tomorrow!

Come on back and enjoy!

“We Love You”

By the Lovable Dee

Following my mid-week trip to the Nordstrom at the St. Louis Galleria, I had a new dress to wear, money left on my self-gifted Nordstrom gift card, and a free Saturday afternoon. I decided another day out was in order.

My first stop was the local Macy’s. Currently their dressing rooms are closed, so after a quick look at their “last chance” dresses, I went to the shoe department. Recently they have seemed to have more shoes on discount, and they have a fair number of shoes in size 11, and they are priced at a pretty good discount. I found one pair I thought about buying, but they were a bit small, and I don’t really like the look of my bare feet (although I do like showing off my painted toes on the rare occasions they are painted).

My next destination was the other Nordstrom at West County Center. I find the two stores often have different items, so I thought I would visit there.

I have been looking for more summertime tops and dresses, as I have gotten over my fear of showing my bare shoulders. I also find the spaghetti straps on dresses or tops is cooler, which helps compensate for the St. Louis summer heat (especially wearing a wig). 

I selected a handful of dresses and the SA (Paige) opened a change room for me. I tried on dresses I had selected, and as I was the only one in the rooms, walked out of my room to another area to look at a different mirror with different lighting. I then returned to my dressing room and closed the door.

Then something happened that had never happened before. I hear a voice–presumably a SA, but not the SA who opened the room for me–asked me if I walked into a room with clothes in it. I answered that it was my room, and I was just looking in the other mirror. The SA then excitedly asked “are you a man?” and I said yes and “I’m a crossdresser”. The SA then walked away.

I was surprised. I’ve been in lots of Nordstrom dressing rooms in the last four years at seven different stores and I’ve always been treated well (which is why I keep coming back). For a minute I was offended, but then I realized there is a lot of turnover and I wasn’t going to be put off by one SA who didn’t quite meet the normal Nordstrom standard. 

So I returned to deciding which of my two favorite choices to buy, the black spaghetti strap dress or the blue floral dress with the shoulders. I asked Paige for her opinion and she thought the blue floral looked better, so the decision was made, and I bought it, and thanked her for the help.

It was now late afternoon and I was a bit peckish (Aussie slang for hungry) and the Nordstrom Cafe was nearby, so I went in for a cookie and a glass of water. While I was sitting at my table having my snack I noticed a woman at a nearby table wearing a Nordstrom Anniversary sale t-shirt. I knew I recognized her but I couldn’t place her.

After she finished, she walked over to where I was sitting and said hi, and then said, “it’s Dee, right?” I said yes, and asked her name, and she answered Samantha, and I remembered. I previously met her when she was the store manager at the Galleria store, and was now the store manager at the West County store.

I told her about the incident with the SA, not to get the SA in trouble, but because I thought she would want to know. She appreciated me telling her.

I then said something to the effect that I was surprised she knew my name, and I hoped that wasn’t for the wrong reasons. 

She said, “No, we love you.”

Wow.

From the store manager. 

For a customer she probably met three years ago.

Any question why I like shopping at Nordstrom? (If you have a Nordstrom near you, and haven’t been, I suggest you pay them a visit. I can almost guarantee you will be treated well).

On that high, I left and headed for my final destination. 

I needed some things from Costco and I figured today was the day that Dee should shop at Costco. I had thought about it before, but I had chickened out. It was pretty crowded, but I didn’t have any issues–masks probably make it a bit easier–and it will likely not be the last time Dee does Costco.

We love you too!!

Improvements in a Changing World

By Stephanie Julianna

 I would like to address Emily’s thoughts about Society’s acceptance of our desire to experience life as a female, if only on a part-time basis.  Since I have been closely watching and then participating in this activity for over 65 years I have probably experienced most examples along the entire spectrum.     

I have been very fortunate as a crossdresser to be of the size of the average woman.  At 5’5″ I have been able to literally stay below the radar when out and about, even in heels. LOL 

I have experienced complete acceptance without raising an eyebrow in my early days.  However, I also had some of my worst experiences during that same time back in the ’80’s.       

One of these events sticks out in my mind.  I was on a date with a friend and  crossdresser admirer.  We decided to go to The Top Of the World restaurant at the World Trade Center.  I was dressed in a pretty satin dress and thought I had nailed my look that night.  We got on the elevator and were joined by a group of teen couples, also dressed to the nines.  It turned out that some posh school was having their prom that night as well.  The teens spotted me and read me as quickly as if I had forgotten to put my wig on.  They started laughing and pointing and it became the longest elevator ride of my life.  By the time we reached the top I was in tears and we quickly took the next elevator down.     

The good thing about this story is that the same age kids today would never do that.  They are so sensitive to the transgendered community that I can not imagine a repeat of that experience.  However, I have mostly had very positive experiences that sometimes even surprised me. 

Another time, out with that same friend, Sam, we decided to go to a new club for “Queens” as we were called back then.  It was close to the Holidays and I bought a pretty outfit that included a chiffon white blouse, black velvet straight skirt with a wide red satin belt with spike heels (see above).  As we approached the door, we were stopped by the guy holding the rope and politely told us that the club was not for mixed couples.  When we realized the issue, I used my deepest voice to thank him for the compliment and his smile grew as he welcomed us in.     

Sales associates and restaurant staff have also been wonderful over the years, and like Emily has related to me, even seem to like chatting us up making us feel like just one of the girls.  It actually took me a while to get used to this when I stopped doing the drag scene 20 years ago and went out in “straight” public only.       

I remember a time during those early public days shopping at Nordstrom’s Closet in the winter.  I was wearing over the calf leather 4″ heel boots with a skirt and short Winter coat.  As I passed a SA she smiled at me and said, “I love your boots.”.  I shyly thanked her and continued shopping.  This happened over and over at different times in those first few years before I stopped questioning their motives and started to confidently thank them and even answer questions like, “Where did you buy that?” or some other question.  I now will even ask a SA in a changing room what she thinks of a dress I am trying on.        

Sadly, I will never be able to ask my wife of 49 years these questions since we are in a “I don’t want to see it.” relationship even though she has known about it since ’68.  It has been like this for so long that I would now feel uncomfortable if she did see me dressed.  Yet I have no issue with strangers seeing me.  It all comes back to that magical word, ACCEPTANCE. 

What I do know more than ever is that I am now happy for the most important reason of all, I accept who I am and love how I turned out.     

Pictures show times when acceptance was the experience savored.  One was taken the night we hit that club I spoke of above.  The other was just before a dinner out with a friend last July.

Feeling Natural

By Sherry Greer

Kandi has already posted about the August supper club and this is my take on that day! My wife continues to work from home and she again was okay with me getting ready while she was working in our office. She has been amazing! The night before I picked out my daytime and evening outfits and hung them in my closet. I also shaved everything but my face. After showering and shaving my face the next day I started to get ready. This is a two hour process and even longer when I do my own hair. I wanted to wear my hair in a ponytail for daytime so it took a little longer. I really love the process of going from male to female.

I wore a casual black dress with sandals and my hair up with swooping bangs. I tried to go a little lighter on the make-up for daytime.

I arrived at my friend Lori’s house about noon and after bringing my clothes in for later we went to lunch. She lives walking distance from a quaint suburban downtown area that has wonderful shoppes and restaurants. The feeling of walking a couple of blocks on the warm summer day with the gentle breeze blowing was such a natural feeling. It is one that will not get old. As we sat down on the patio of the restaurant we were greeted by “hello ladies, what can I get you”. Wow, always wonderful to hear that!

We had a fabulous lunch, a drink and a great conversation. Upon leaving we went next door to a little fashion boutique that was having a sidewalk sale. My friend found a cute dress for $20! The dressing room was open and she needed some help zipping the dress up to check for proper fit. She came out and asked me to do it, it was quick but an example of how women help each other. She bought the dress and wore it to dinner!

Walking back to her house I again felt free and natural. My hair blowing, the hem of my dress hitting my knees, my earrings dangling, and my feminine gait all felt “right”. We got in the car and did some shopping at a couple of stores where I had some quick conversation with other shoppers. We went back to Lori’s to get ready for dinner. I freshened up my makeup, changed my outfit and put my blonde wig on. Off to dinner to meet Kandi and the other ladies! Dinner was amazing and the conversation was better. I had multiple comments on my hair and outfit. Can’t wait for the next supper club!

A couple of weeks later Lori, her boyfriend and I went out. My wife had to work from 5-10pm so I asked Lori to go out. I wore a top that my wife picked out! We went to a restaurant with an outdoor patio. Dinner was great. I again felt natural. My body language, my hair, my dangling earrings all felt amazing. It’s hard to describe but I knew all these things were happening but I didn’t try to make them happen! We even went to the bathroom at the same time. The bathroom experience as a woman is so much different than as a man. There is a sense of community in a woman’s bathroom and no sense in the guys! We talked the entire time and even hugged each other before walking out! We went to two more places before I had to leave. I wanted to get home before my wife finished working.

Next outing is the September dinner club. Can’t wait!! Hope you like the pictures.

Stay beautiful-Sherry

Working and Working It!

August 27, 2020 – I had another shift at the art museum and as we discussed yesterday, I properly put together my little skirt outfit.

Before we get to the photo shoot taken before I headed to the museum, let me tell you about my day. It was a very slow day at the museum. I did spend probably 20 minutes having a conversation with a patron, a wonderful woman just spending the day at the museum after having spent the previous day at the Rock Hall. That, of course, is what we talked about!

I got so many wonderful complements! A few on my skirt, one on my earrings and one on my ring.

After my shift, I hit the mall and purchased an adorable little dress at Forever 21 ($5, which you will see out in a post at the end of the month) and a few cute necklaces at the continuation of the NY&Co. liquidation sale. A splendid day, all in all! Now the photo shoot……

($)2 Much?

The skirt here is a 7th Avenue (NY&Co.) gem and the top a simple Time and Tru t-shirt, both picked up this day. I love the skirt, but it’s not perfect. The hem up top is a bit loose, so next time I will wear it with a sweater over it. It does highlight my best ass(et).

Now here is the Express skirt that started all of this madness! I love a red skirt. I love a stretch skirt like this and I love the length. I pulled the black blouse (NY&Co.) from my inventory and put together my very favorite color combination. Much like the post yesterday, the picture directly below to the right is another one of those “real me” photos.

Finally this skirt still had the tags on it from Nordstrom Rack! And I loved this outfit so much, we got her out in public the very next day, which you will read about tomorrow. This is what made me so happy…….

Do you think I know how to shop? How about my ability to put an outfit together? Who knew?

So come on back and see this one again!

Check out the updated Supper Club page!!

What’s $2 Gonna Get You These Days?

Our next featured outfit from my $2 photo shoot features two items in this haul. The skirt is an Ann Taylor classic. Simple, elegant, beautiful. The top was also purchased on the same day and guess what? It goes with the skirt perfectly!

Cute, right?

This skirt is from Merona, sold principally at Target. This was the impetus to buy things at the Volunteers of America sale. I have had wonderful experiences with Merona skirts. The ones I own are so pretty, fit as if they were tailored for me and have a nice stretch in my walk. The top I paired with it was from my recent clothing swap with my GG friend. I am way beyond fond of my work here! The picture directly below on the right is one of those pictures that nail “me”.

In this outfit, the skirt came from my inventory (way too many black skirts, every length possible), the top was the purchase. I quite like this look!

Come on back tomorrow for more $2 fun!

Okay readers, your turn to earn your keep! I am seeking a topic that the ladies here can all write about, giving you different perspectives. A while back Sherry and I wrote a piece where we both talked about the same topic and I quite liked that! So, send me your ideas, you can leave them here in a comment or reach out through the “Contact” page.

If It Makes You Happy, It Can’t Be That Bad

Thank you Sheryl Crow!

August 25, 2020 – This was a work day. It was also a work day with a lot of down time. So among other things I do to kill time, I went to one of the Goodwills on my route. I try now to only look for things that are special or unusual or way too cheap to not buy. I spent quite a bit of time working the racks, focused only on red tag items, 50% off. I found a few things, but always want that “one thing” to get me to make a purchase. I get to the skirt rack and it was like they knew I was coming. Long story short, many items were purchased (which you will see soon). The red skirt you will see soon was the impetus.

Then I went across the street to the Volunteers of America and it happened to be their 50% off the entire store day (the last Tuesday of every month). That spells trouble. Same rules and again and again the skirt rack got me going (the pink and brown skirt you will see soon was my motivation this time). Many more items were purchased (which you will see soon).

August 26, 2020 – A rainy day, effectively making anything I wanted to do difficult. Before we proceed, a little backstory. I won’t bore you with the details, but my father is playing out his final days or so it seems. It is days and weeks now, no longer months and years. He had been in the hospital with pneumonia for almost a week. I live the closest to my parents, my mother does not drive (never has). So I am effectively the UBER driver. I was told in the morning Dad would not be released until the next day. So I go about doing the thing that makes me happiest and also keeps me away from the bottle on a rainy day with nothing to do.

I had purchased seven items the previous day and decided to build a photo shoot around them. Over the course of about half an hour, I assembled seven different outfits. All from scratch, all basically knowing exactly which of my hundreds and hundreds of items would go perfectly with my newly purchased focal pieces. Next it was time for a full body shave, makeup and body prep. Finally, time to have some fun!

The phone rings (thank God my Mom could not see me at the time). Dad is now coming home this afternoon. I thought I still had a few hours. I was fully made up, so it was time to plow forward.

I shot seven different outfits, taking no more than 10 minutes between putting on the outfit and taking the photos and then removing everything for the next outfit. I knew I could get the shoot in, but wanted to get back to “normal” as soon as I could in case things changed again.

I took some shortcuts, no nail polish, same necklace, minimal jewelry. I wasn’t sure when I would have to take off to pick my father up. But every time I changed into a completely different outfit, I selected different earrings and did my hair a bit differently each time. It is now intuitive, I know exactly what in my inventory goes with what, what jewelry works perfectly and which shoes I need. It is like breathing, I just know.

Tomorrow you will now see the results of all of this joyfulness during difficult times. So here is the topper…..every item you will see me modeling from my purchases the day before cost less that $2 per item. Three tops and six skirts (actually seven, but one ended up being too tight as I could not sit in it….$2 wasted but I may be able to turn a consignment profit as it is a name label). Here we go……tomorrow!!

Supper Club #3 tonight!!

__________________________________________________________

Okay, I lied. Let’s take a look at the first outfit.

I will absolutely admit this skirt is way too short for this old gal, but I had to buy it! It is from Express and is an XS! The top was sitting in my dresser and I am thinking about getting this outfit out in public very soon.

An Unusual Introduction

By my co-conspirator, Dee

For Christmas, I received a $100 Nordstrom gift card (ok, I gave it to myself, because it only cost $90). Because of Covid-19 and a full house (two sons and a girlfriend spent the summer at our house), I hadn’t had a chance to use it. With Nordstrom having its annual Anniversary Sale, and a now empty house which made getting dressed easier,  I decided it was time to visit Nordstrom and get myself some belated Christmas presents. 

I wanted something “fun”. Over the past year I have become bolder in my clothing choices; more willing to show more of me, such as bare shoulders. I fell in love when I first saw the yellow and black dress I wore today, even though it exposes my shoulders and back.

I started looking in the dress department, as dresses are my favorites. I gathered up my choices, and a friendly Nordstrom SA found me a dressing room.

While I was trying on the first dress–the red dress with the spaghetti straps–suddenly there was a commotion outside my dressing room. A different SA is talking to a customer–and then a woman is crawling under the door to my dressing room to unlock the door, not realizing the room is occupied. 

The SA–I am soon to find out her name is Hannah–pops up quickly and is so embarrassed she is almost hyperventilating. She is apologizing profusely and I’m telling her it’s no big deal. She didn’t know I was in the room, she didn’t have her key, and she was just trying to help a customer. After all the kindnesses many Nordstrom SAs have shown to me, the last thing I was going to do was get upset. 

Hannah apologizes again and leaves the room. I’m not sure the customer is more shocked there was someone in the room–or that the woman in the room has a pretty deep voice for a woman.

I tried on the dresses I had pulled but none of them were really what I wanted. I walked over to another area of the floor, which trends a bit bolder and younger. I found a few things to try on, but I had my eye on one dress, which definitely met my definition of fun.

It was blue with spaghetti straps and was reasonably priced. I gathered a few others and another SA brought me a few others to try on (my rule is if a SA brings something, I will always try it on). It was the right length (I prefer shorter to longer), and the floral pattern was cute. It was a fun summer dress (and I find the spaghetti straps make it cooler, which helps offset heat issues caused by wearing a wig).

As I usually don’t have a girlfriend along to ask an opinion, I will often ask the Nordstrom SAs. I wanted to reassure Hannah there were no hard feelings, so wearing the blue dress, I left the change rooms and went looking for her. 

Hannah was with the SA who had originally helped me (unfortunately, I’ve forgotten her name), along with another SA named Paris (who later said I always dressed nicely). Hannah liked the look, and the first SA said “I like the look. Scratch that; I love the look”.
I was sold. I returned about a week later (stay tuned; you will read about that visit in a couple of weeks), and Hannah enthusiastically agreed to the selfie with me.

In the end, an Unusual Introduction, but a good outcome.

I’m Not Alone!

By Stephanie Julianna

Welcome my dear! This is our newest contributor, Stephanie and I could not be more pleased!!

I have loved girls’ clothes, then women’s, from my earliest memories, around 3-4 years old.  Yes, some people can remember that far back.  I am the youngest, a surprise baby, of a family of three older sisters and a brother.  I was born in early 1949 and spent my younger days admiring my sisters, mother, girl classmates, and the girls in my neighborhood on Long Island, NY with their amazing full dresses and skirts.  I attended a Catholic Grade School that did not require uniforms.  Boys had to wear dress slacks, white shirts and either a long tie or bow tie.  Oxford shoes only, no sneakers.  The girls had to wear dresses or skirts and blouses.  There was no rule about skirts being too short because they were all knee length or longer anyway.  Mini skirts had not become the fashion yet. 

In 1956 my family moved from a cramped 1 and 1/2 bedroom apartment (remember there were seven in the family) to a three bedroom Cape Cod style house with a full basement.  I was seven and that was when I was left alone without a babysitter for the first time and immediately took advantage of my sisters’ and even my Mom’s closet and dresser drawers.  My life started on the path of a crossdresser that, after 64 years, I am still happily traveling.  But I was alone, as a boy, and I knew it.  Society frowned on any male, young or old who would want to dress feminine unless it was a parody of one, like what Milton Berle or other comics of the 50’s did.

Fast forward to the fall of 1962.  I am now in another Catholic school, but now it is a boys High School.  It was a college Prep School in Brooklyn, N.Y.  We were required, from freshman year on, to use the famed 5th Avenue New York City Public Library to do research for any papers we were assigned to do.  I was now thirteen and still feeling like I was the only boy in the world who wanted to dress like a girl.  The weight of carrying this secret was truly heavy on my soul.  Things were very different back then compared to now.  Imagine letting a thirteen year old commute 2 hours each way to school and back home, via bus and subway today?  Then add to that, commuting into Manhattan to that phenomenal World Class NYC Library on the corner of 5th Avenue and 42nd Street on Saturdays to do more studies.  No parental monitoring.  At thirteen a boy was on the threshold of being a man in those days.  Amazing times to grow up in.

It was on one of those Saturdays that I finally found out that I was not alone.  You could leave your books and papers where you were sitting in the amazing Reading Room at the Library and return an hour later without a page being disturbed.  I would eat my brown bagged lunch in Bryant Park behind the library.  But one day, I wandered down 42nd Street toward Broadway and Times Square.  Everything seemed new and amazing to me.  But when I got to Broadway and looked down the street toward the Hudson River, it was like I was looking into the gates of Hell.  After all, I was a thirteen year old Catholic boy.  I could see movie marques hanging over the sidewalk for what seemed like forever.  And they all had XXX next to the titles of the movies.  Coupled with the signs that announced ADULT BOOKS all over the place, I thought I had just committed enough sins, just looking down the street, to go straight to hell. 

It took a few more Saturdays before my curiosity took over and I ventured past Broadway.  I remember it as clearly as if it was yesterday.  As I passed the Times Building and stepped onto the curb on the “sin” side it was only a few store fronts before I looked into a window and saw the Premier Issue of Female Mimics on display.  I was riveted to the spot.  On the cover was a guy on the left and a girl on the right.  In seconds I realized that they were one and the same person.  I was not alone.

I went in and grabbed a copy.  My face was burning red but I was not leaving without that magazine.  “How old are you, Kid?”, the clerk asked.  “Eighteen, Sir.”  No ID was asked for.  He slid it in a brown paper bag and I rummaged my pocket for the money to pay him.  I did not take it out of the bag until I got home hours later and in the privacy of my room I entered a whole new world where there were people just like me.  Well, I was not in their league yet but little did I know that I would be a part of that world years later, rubbing shoulders with some of the Royalty of the NYC Drag Scene. 

I am presenting pictures of the first issues of that awesome publication.  It was one of the first magazines devoted to professional female impersonators. I am also presenting an early picture a few years after I became very active in the Drag scene from the early’80’s and one a few years ago.  The last 20+ years I have simply moved my dressing into the public domain mixing comfortably with the general public.   It has been a wonderful journey with many adventures in female mode that I hope to share with Kandi’s readers in the future.  I am so thrilled that Kandi has invited me to share my stories here and would also love your thoughts and comments.  

Love,

Stephanie Julianna

[Editorial comments: I also have memories from the age of 5 in a dress. I am also a Catholic school boy. I am also jealous of how beautiful Stephanie is, was and will always be!! My experiences began in 2014, I wish I were able to have explored this side of me much sooner. We cannot wait for the next tale!!]