Thursday, April 9, 2015

It seems there's a new adventure almost every day...

Now that we're home... it became time to go shopping for my new suit for the wedding next month.

So, across the bridge we went, shopping - with me wearing a women's polo, women's polyester dress slacks (no stirrup pants or leggings today), black tights, flats, and carrying my purse.  No makeup, no lipstick, no jewelry. It's about as masculine as I can be...

First stop over on "the other side" was a branch of a major men's clothing chain.  It was the place I'd seen ads for suits costing $149.  We walked in and were greeted as "ladies."  I inquired (in my male voice) about men's suits.  "We can help you, Ma'am."  (I glanced over at my wife, but she had turned to look at the suits on the nearby rack...intentionally, I suspect.)  I said, "Let's start with the ones advertised for $149. "  "Oh, sorry, Ma'am.  That sale has ended, and we have nothing in the store for $149.  Our suits now start at $200 and go up from there.  The $300 ones are very nice for that price."  I said "We're not looking to spend that much, sorry."  And we left the store.

We had another stop to make (for wedding stuff) in that shopping center.  I went in with her, and while I was not "miss-identified," there were no strange looks from any of the women (or young girls) there.  When we finished, it was off to another shopping center, this one enclosed, where there was a Macy's.

Enroute down the shopping center's main aisle, vendors were pouncing on us two "ladies," to try to con us into buying things.  We both repeatedly said "no thanks" and kept walking, in a couple cases leaving them babbling their spiel to our backs. 

Before we knew it, we had reached Macy's.  Since I bought a wonderful heavy winter coat there a few years ago, at a fabulous price, we stopped in, hoping to find similar sales on winter suits.  There were sales, all right, but sale prices were even higher than those of the first store.  (Like upwards of $400, all designer brands.  Who needs a (insert designer name here) suit for $400-$500?  Not lil' ol' me!)  So we started back into the mall.  Walking through the makeup section got us a lot of greetings and "miss-identifications" by the sales ladies...from behind their customer-free counters.

Across the mall we trudged, to a major chain retailer (the one in the news for the past couple years for price shenanigans.)  There was one clerk in the men's suit area.  After waiting for him to check out some other customers' small purchases, he finally greeted us as "Hi Ladies."    I asked about suits in my male voice, which changed his form of address for me to "sir."  Which was OK, since I wasn't trying to femulate.  Good news is:  He measured me and we determined my current men's size.  Bad news is, he wandered off in the middle of helping me, "to check out a customer."

Turned out that 4 more customers got in line behind the original one.  So, after about 10 minutes of waiting, and three more customers getting in his line, I took off the coat he had me try on.  I couldn't find pants to go with it anyway - nowadays they sell suits as separates, so they can milk people for more in total - and we left.  They're seriously understaffed...not sure why the chain is in financial trouble, with all the money they save by not having enough employees.  Could it have something to do with customers not getting service, and just leaving for other stores?  In my own case, they lost a nearly $200 sale.

Next we went to the other end of the mall, for a visit to another big chain...also with a staffing problem.  There were no clerks at all in the men's department - it was completely "self-service."  But thanks to the guy who lost the sale at the other store, I already knew my size, found the appropriate coat, and a pair of pants that fit - except for "needing hemmed." I tried both on to be sure, picked out a belt and tie, and took everything to the centralized check-out clerk.  Total with tax came to about $180.  Not much more than renting a Tux...or considerably less, if I'd have had to purchase new tux-quality dress shoes.  (Incidentally, my wife is OK with my wearing a pair of my flats, as long as I wear a pair of dark trouser socks.)  And I get to keep the outfit if I ever need to wear a suit again.  Yes, I realize that it's not the finest quality clothing  (Macy's had lots of that -  at massively-high prices).  But for one wedding and as a "closet stuffer," it'll do.

On the way home (no traffic at the bridge at 2 PM) my wife mentioned:  "I hope you see why I insist that your hair be pinned into a ponytail for the wedding."  "Go on..."  "Because wedding pictures will last forever.  When the kids write our names on the back, or label the ones on the computer, yours is a girl's name now.  I don't want people to always wonder 'who's that big woman standing there with (our son's) mother?'"

To keep the peace, I'm not going to quibble with my wife's logic...particularly since presenting as unambiguously male is a tad difficult.  At least she tolerates my long hair and feminine attire the rest of the time...for that I'm eternally grateful.

During our shopping spree, we couldn't find a short sleeve shirt to wear with the suit.  The wedding is outside, it's going to be May in the south (probably hot), and I refuse to wear a long sleeve shirt under a dark suit outside, even if short sleeve shirts "aren't proper with suits."  Once I find a new short sleeve men's white shirt, I'll try everything on and see how I look with long hair...masculine or feminine.   And maybe even, with the ponytail.

But for now, the die is cast, so, "it will be what it will be..."

Till next time...



  1. Mandy -

    Wear the long sleeve shirt to go with the suit, and take off the suit jacket at first chance. Of course, you can change the shirt as well afterward, but it looks terrible to have a suit work with a short sleeve shirt.


    1. Marian,

      It looks like I'll have to take your suggestion about the sleeve length.

      No stores that I visited today on "this" side of the bridge, sells short sleeve dress shirts. Six different venues. We don't have a big and tall place here, but I've found out from trying on shirts today that even if we did, sizing isn't consistent. Unfortunately, 1+1 is not necessarily 2.

      Before leaving this morning, I measured my neck size as 17". I went into a Joseph A Bank store, and they had me try on a 17-1/2 neck shirt. The neck fit fine. But the $70 shirt didn't. They said can provide the proper sleeve size, and for a small charge ($15) take in the oversize body. But they can't take in the "balloony" sleeves without an even larger alteration charge - if the tailor would even attempt it. So I could easily be the proud owner of a shirt costing well over 2/3 the cost of the $150 suit! That's not economical.

      So, I tried 5 other stores today. And found a 17-1/2" neck was 1/2" small in some shirts, or 1" small in others. I'd have to try 18" or 18"1/2" necks, but then the body would most likely be too big (again.) I found ONE particular shirt with a 17-1/2" neck that may work if my wife moves the neck button about a half inch looser. The sleeves are 35" but she thinks she can put an overlap in them to shorten them.

      The only problem with that approach: the overlap will be visible if I take the jacket off. So I'll be stuck in the jacket, even if it's 90 degrees out. I'll see if she can put the overlap where I can at least roll up the sleeves to disguise it...

      We're having a tailor hem the pants...they'll be done next Friday!

      And the beat goes on....


  2. Mandy -

    You'll note that in my blog, that every so often I state that I never blend the genders in my mode of dress. I started out with androgynous dressing (as you do now), and quickly went to presenting in either male or female modes. This gives me a big advantage when presenting as a male (and when presenting as a female), as it is much harder to miss-identify me in male mode AND I can use male privilege (as appropriate) to command service when I need it.

    That store that you noted was understaffed is likely one of the chains that is having financial trouble. Many of these chains have pulled cash registers and check out help thinking that customers will find the remaining people and check out locations on their own. This is often not the case anymore, as they have cut back way too far AND that needed help is now impossible to find.

    In male mode, I know that (because of my size) if I want service and help, that I have to go to the "Big and Tall" stores - where the help and check out area is easy to find. The same goes for being in female mode, and I have made "friends" (I use that word loosely here) with many of the sales help, and that they give me good advice when I need it.

    Because of these experiences, I'm betting that stores like Sears will soon fall by the wayside, as they try to do too many things, and not do any of them well. Gone will be many of the old line department stores, and in their place will be specialty retailers. (Note, that I'm not factoring in the internet sales channel here, as you'll see fewer brick and mortar stores over time....)


    1. Marian,

      As you know, I dress androgynously all the time, which my wife tolerates, but I don't have the freedom (or her concurrence) to go fully femme, and probably never will. The fact that I wear my own long hair and don't have any way to use or hide a wig, means that I look vaguely similar in either mode.

      Living out here on the Delmarva, I don't have many occasions to "exert my male privilege." So I don't really "miss it." Even when traveling, I manage to enjoy my trips without having to move into male mode. (My wife and I don't often have to hold doors for ourselves when there are men around, and other similar favors occur...which are fine with us.)

      And thus, since retirement, my "male privilege" has slipped away.

      But if, like you, I had immediately assumed responsibilities in the HOA or other such organization, that surely would be a completely different story. Male privilege would have been needed...and my appearance/life couldn't be as they are right now. But in the current scheme of things, "Game On!"

      Sears is where I bought my suit. Best selection, decent appearance for a decent price. But they had zip-zilch-zero service to offer. They may be first to head "down the rabbit hole." But the others - you know who they are - probably won't be far behind. As you suggest, internet sales (without storefronts) will probably surpass them all...


  3. Mandy,
    I cannot dispute Marian's advice. Go with a long sleeve shirt. Take off the jacket and you will be fine and if need by just roll up the sleeves. I still have to wear a suit for business from time to time and it is just one thing that we have to deal with. If the weather is hot just wear a light weight pantyhose under your slacks.
    From the start of my career back when Carter was in the White House through the 1990s I had to wear a suit every day. I also had a lot of walking to do at times first to the subway, then subway to office then LIRR to office and finally Metro North. As a big guy I found that my inner upper thighs would chafe on the wool material. Pantyhose were the solution and my salvation. Before wearing pantyhose daily my suit slacks would wear out quickly...long before the jacket or vest had any wear. Pantyhose let the wool slide without chafing and extended the life of the slacks saving me lots of money.

    1. Pat,

      Check my response to Marian...looks like it will be long sleeves! The suit is not wool (I'm allergic to it...) so maybe I won't need the pantyhose that day (since I'll have to wear trouser socks!)

      Needless to say, I hate wearing suits...and have no problem telling folks to take a picture of me in it, because short of another wedding or a funeral...there won't be many other occasions to find me wearing one!



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.