Whether you’re a once-a-month crossdresser or a bona-fide transwoman, we all love dressing in a feminine manner. But the ravages of testosterone mean our bodies aren’t as curvy as those of our cisgender sisters – and that means women’s clothes don’t hang so well from male frames. Fortunately, help is at hand.
Regular readers will know I’ve updated my wardrobe, introducing loads more dresses and feminine tops, and sending most of my drab old male clothes to the charity shop.
In the past few years, most of the things I’ve worn have been from the women’s section – but androgynous T-shirts and boyfriend jeans don’t present that much of a problem to the male frame.
Now I have more fitted, feminine clothes and intend on buying more, so I need to pay more attention to how they will fit my frame. HRT in the future should help with curves, but I’ve not started that yet, so my body is still pretty male. If that’s not a contradiction in terms.
There are plenty of things that transwomen and cis-women need to pay attention to when buying clothes, such as colours, fabrics and patterns.
But this blog post is all about body shape. Here’s my head-to-toe list of 6 things to consider when buying women’s clothes – from a trans person’s point of view.
1. Broad shoulders
Compared with women the same height, male bodies tend to have broad shoulders. Even regular guys who don’t work out will have them because their testosterone builds muscle.
Over the years, I’ve always kept my shoulders covered when it comes to tops, dresses and nighties. Vest tops, spaghetti straps and even strapless numbers will accentuate your shoulders. Yep, the “bloke in a dress” look – it’s not good.
It’s also important to avoid details that draw the eye to your shoulders – whether that be decoration, big collars or shoulder pads.
I’ve always gone for tops and frocks that cover my shoulders completely – and that’s a good tip. But you can reveal some skin – just keep any shoulder straps on the thick side – the more fabric between your neck and outer shoulder the better.
Diagonal-cut sleeves are better than horizontal, small collars – or no collars – are better than big ones, and aim for plunging necklines, such as scoop and V-necks.
These will draw the eyes up and down rather than left to right – the way your shoulders go. Wearing a long necklace will create the same effect.
Finally, dark-coloured tops with light skirts or trousers create the illusion of a more narrow upper half.
2. Sexy back?
Spin yourself round and take a look at your back. Bloke’s backs aren’t pretty. As well as the broadness that comes with the shoulders, they are often spotty and can be covered in thick, gross hair.
If, like me, estrogen is some way off – or not an option at all – for you, then you’re probably going to be stuck with the muscle tone and at least some hair.
You could have your back waxed or shaved to lose the hair – but if you’re single and aren’t brave enough for a trip to the salon, that’s not going to happen. You won’t be able to remove it yourself – believe me, I’ve tried.
So we’re back to clothes – cover up. It may sound like a no-brainer but there are many pictures online of crossdressers with low-back tops and dresses and then a virtual rug beneath. Sexy back? It ain’t feminine, ladies.
You may be able to pull off a top/dress with a neckline which comes down a little at the back, such as some scoop necklines – but make sure you lose the hair from there – you can reach down a few inches with your Gillette Venus Breeze (other razors are available but they’re not as good).
3. Small boobs
Spin around again. Dizzy yet? Boobs – we all love them. Men lust after them and transwomen love them so much that they want to grow a pair of their very own.
But if you’re not at that stage yet, or don’t ever want to be, you’re either going to have to present as flat-chested or use breast forms – and then you can be whatever size you want. Just don’t go too large – you don’t want to look like a sad trans caricature.
Whichever option you choose, there’s one very important thing to consider – there’s not going to be any proper cleavage there. Even if you wear a padded push-up bra, you’re still only going to be pushing up male chest body fat – not actual breasts.
So even chubby guys are going to struggle to create any credible cleavage. And that means, if wearing a bra and breast forms, go easy on low-cut tops. Otherwise, you’ll see the roundness of the breast area beneath your top – and then a sea of flat-chestedness above it.
As discussed in the shoulders section, plunging necklines are good – but not too low. A brilliant compromise is to wear a top/dress with sheer fabric over the upper chest. Wearing layers or thick jumpers are other good tips for small busts.
On the other hand, if you’re a skinny thing and will be going braless, you might be able to get away with going with a plunging V-neckline that goes way past the bust and down to the navel. If you can get away with that, good luck to you – I haven’t been able to since my teens.
Finally, beware! There are plenty of websites out there offering tips for small-busted women to show off their assets to the full, such as wearing strapless tops or backless gowns and adding embellishments. But while these tips might be great for showing off your bust, they could be a disaster for your shoulders/back.
4. Waist of time?
One of the best feminising effects of taking estrogen is that you get a smaller waist – and one of the worst effects of testosterone is that any excess fat is stored there.
So what can we do? One option is the good old-fashioned corset. When I say old-fashioned, I’m not advocating going down the Victorian whalebone route. Those old corsets may look stunning, but they’re rather restrictive, so keep them for special occasions.
Even skinny guys are unlikely to get that beautiful hourglass silhouette without estrogen. You can do all the waist-training exercises in the world, and while you might get slimmer and more toned as a result, you’re unlikely to get that stunning waist curve. I’m speaking from experience here.
Instead, there are loads of corsets out there, from firm-control corselettes like your grandma used to wear to more modern bodyshapers and the whole Spanx type. You can also choose from versions which pull in everything between your bits and your shoulders – or the pantie girdle type, some of which have high waists and stretch up to just below your bra.
The advantage of a good corset is that it will pull in the sides of your waist, to give a gorgeous hourglass shape, as well as the front to tame a belly. Another smart tip is to wear two corsets at the same time – that will give you a killer figure.
As many of you know, there are different female body shapes. Most males will be either the apple (larger waist), the rectangle (shoulders, chest, waist and hips all about the same) or inverted triangle (broad shoulders, skinny hips).
Only you will know which shape you are. I’m currently an apple because I’ve put a few pounds back on. Last autumn, I was an inverted triangle. I just wanna be an hourglass!
In terms of your waist, apple types should avoid tight tops and keep lines straight. Ruched fabrics are great for camouflaging the tummy.
Rectangle types need to create the illusion of a waist, so keep the silhouette uncluttered and wear jackets that gently shape it. Hip and bottom details are good if they create gentle curves.
Inverted triangles will also benefit from straight lines – and the illusion of a waist can be crearted with details such as a wider belt.
Again, there are many, many tips on other websites for each of the body shapes when it comes to what to wear, but just be careful that following some of them for one part of your body won’t have adverse effects elsewhere.
5. Hips don’t lie…
Oh yes they bloody well do if you’re transgender! Creating a more feminine silhouette is all about creating curves – whether that’s from breast forms in a bra, a nipped-in waist courtesy of a corset or a curvy bottom from a little padding.
Padded knickers are a relatively new invention but a vital one, especially if you’re wearing a figure-hugging dress or skirt.
They come with pads in both cheeks – these are either made from silicone or a firm sponge material. Most come with just the two pads, but I have seen others with four – the other two being on the hips. I’m not sure what kind of silhouette they’d create, though, as there’s a gap between the hip pads and the bum pads.
Another advantage of padded knickers is that many of them double as a pantie girdle, so while the back is pushing your bum out, the front is sucking your tummy in.
These will give your derriere a nice curve – but still nothing compared to that of a cis-woman. Whether you wear them or not, you’re not going to be walking round with a JLo-style bubble butt.
So, as with everywhere else on your body, you need to be careful with what you wear over your rear end and hips.
I have some beautiful pencil skirts in my wardrobe and, while they might fit my waist well, there’s just so much space in the hip zone. Not even padded knicks will save them.
Sooooo, forget pencil skirts and go for A-line versions instead. To create the illusion of wider hips, get one with horizontal patterns. For dresses, an empire line can help to hide a boyish shape.
When wearing jeans, go for the boyfriend cut if you want something that’s not going to attraction when in bloke mode.
Or add curves to your bum and legs by wearing skinny jeans with embellishments on the back pockets. Jeans with slightly higher back pockets also make your bum look lifted.
Just make sure you try them on before buying because jeans and other trousers might fit well on the waist but not on the hips – or vice versa. There’s no easy way around that (apart from elasticated waistbands, maybe!) because they’re designed for more curvy bodies than we have.
6. Hot legs
Which brings us to legs. Unlike your back, there’s simply no excuse for not having smooth, sleek legs. You can wax, shave, epilate, have laser or IPL, or use a depilatory cream, such as Veet.
From my experience, most trans girls have great legs – and I’ve heard many tales of cis-women telling them their legs are better than theirs.If you look after your legs, you should be able to wear what the hell you like over them – whether you cover them with trousers or a long dress, or show them off in tights or stockings.
We don’t tend to have the worries about chunky thighs and hips that cis-women might have. One issue might be calves – mine are too big from cycling, but I’m hoping HRT and beginning pilates will eventually make them less muscular and more sleek.
So that’s it! I hope at least some of this has been useful. I’ve used a few tips from the web for this post, but most of the advice comes from my own experience over the years.
At the end of the day, all our bodies are different, so experiment with different styles and find out what looks good on you.