Are You Playing Dress-Up

| Dec 11, 2017
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To the cis-person, crossdressing often seems all about the clothes . . . so are we playing dress up? Well, it’s a bit more complicated then that.

study this year from Northwestern University examined a concept called “enclothed cognition.” Researchers define it in their report as “the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes,” meaning what your clothes are saying to you, not about you. And how they make you feel.

Michaela Finley in her Ted-X talk Dress Like You Mean It brings this point solidly home

Similarly, Professor Karen J. Pine, of the University of Hertfordshire (U.K.) writes in her very short book Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion “When we put on a piece of clothing we cannot help but adopt some of the characteristics associated with it, even if we are unaware of it.” In the studies Pine conducted, as related in her book, one participant admitted, “If I’m in casual clothes I relax and am tomboyish, but if I dress up for a meeting or a special occasion, it can alter the way I walk and hold myself.” BTW, I’ve read the book and it’s highly recommended.

Karen combines new insights from scientific psychology with years of research into nonverbal communication, as well as impressions gained from her passion for clothes and behavior change. She shows how clothes can boost your confidence, bolster your self-esteem or lift your mood. And the impact a color change can have on your sex appeal. But beyond that, by donning one atypical, unusual, out of character item (crossdressing), you can, paradoxically, release your real inner identity. Think about that. Your mind  can let you be want you want to be

The Huffpost talks about “ What Your Favorite Go-To Clothing Color Says About You Personality

This short video by Jessica Quirk in a Ted-X talk helps to further explain our feelings about clothing

With all this in mind, I set out to discover what clothing styles were preferred by trans girls. In May I posted a poll on Sister House showing the six dressing styles below.

Dressing Styles

Top L-R: Elegant, Feminine, Everyday Chic Bottom L-R: Casual, Little Girl, Classy

From upper top left to right they are elegant (ballroom style), ultra feminine with a little boho, and everyday chic, (lower left to right) casual chic, little girl, and classical LBD. The everyday look came from my Pintererst page while the classical look came from Suddenly Fem and is not unlike the timeless Audrey Hepburn look of the ’50s except the peplum top adds some waist definition and it’s a bodycon dress. The Little Girl look was a spoiler just to add interest as I know there is a segment of our population favoring this style. You could throw in the Lolita look here too.

275 readers responded and the results are below:

Favorite fashion styles by % of total

favotite most pinned look on Sister House41% of the respondents favored this everyday chic look. That’s not surprising as it is the most repinned look from Sister House to other boards by genetic women. It consists of a midi-length pink tulle skirt, a white sleeveless lace top, statement necklace, a white clutch bag and heels that elongate the look. It is both chic and feminine.

What is interesting is that tulle is not normally a favored material as it portrays an image of little girls or ballet dancers, but here we see it used to great effect in an outfit that can easily be taken from day to night

In another poll, 51 % of our readers stick to trends or classical looks and 21%  need to see it worn on other people first. This also accounts for the second most favored look which is the timeless and classical little black dress.

I have to admit, although I don’t dress that way, there’s a certain lure of the little girl dress because you can revert to a silly, frivilious personality among friends and just enjoy being a girl. 4% of our readers loved this look and our sections “On Being Girly” and “Growing Up As a Sissy” in the Sister House Lounge are widely read.

I felt the casual chic look was short-shrifted given the proclivity of American women to dress casually which too often means sloppy. This casual one shoulder lace top with white pants look is very, very chic and easy to put together.

I decided to take it a step further and expand the look options in my October/November poll. Too much to digest as my number of respondents went down. I presented 20 looks and you can read the detailed style descriptions here. Although the choices were three times greater, the overall results were totally consistent with the first poll except for the last category (Little Girl) where the numbers were 1% or less for the generally others category

Poll comparison

I continually emphasize that what you wear affects the way you think, the way you feel, the way you act or behave, and only then the way others react or respond to you. But do you know yourself and do you practice what you preach. Let’s take a look at some crossdresser groups and you tell me.


Karen's Long Island Femme Fever group

Karen’s Long Island Femme Fever group


La Femme finishing school

La Femme Finishing School. Note Cowboy style on left and Little Girl style on right


River City Gems Sparkle Event

River City Gems Sparkle Event, Sacramento CA


NewCastle (UK) support group

NewCastle (UK) support group


If you’re not sure about your personal style, then here are some quizzes to help you.

The 6 Style Personalities: What Does Your Wardrobe Say About You?

What Does Your Clothing Style Say About You?

Finally here are 10 Fashion Styles and the ladies that best portray them. Click the link for a fuller explanation and some great photos of these styles at their best

Vintage – Dita Von Teese, Taylor Swift, January Jones

Bohemian – Nicole Richie, Vanessa, Karlie Kloss

Chic – Jessica Alba, Miranda Kerr

Artsy – Miroslava Duma, Anna Dello Russo

Sexy – Jennifer Lopez, Amber Heard

Casual – Kristen Stewart, Emma Stone, Olivia Palmero

Sophisticated – Amal Clooney, Ivanka Trump, Kate Middleton

Tomboy – Rihanna, Kristen Stewart

Rocker – Taylor Momsen, Gigi Hadid

Preppy – Taylor Swift, Blair Waldorf

Fashion is filled with different styles and trends to choose from. You should make use of them and help yourself stand out in the crowd, not blend in. Be a style icon as are these ladies who are Stylish Crossdressers on Sister House. Explore your style and bring it out for people to see.

stylish-crossdressers on Sister House

L-R: DonnaKelli, Cheri Amor, Carollyn Faith Olson, Diane Baker, Lady Claire Stafford, Vikki LaFontaine

Stylish Crossdressers from Sister House

L-R: Candy Kowal, Nadine Spirit, Rita Doyle, Hannah McKnight, Steffie Michaels, Nora Simone

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Category: Style, Transgender Fashion


About the Author ()

Tasi was a transgender, married, lifelong crossdresser. She passed away in late 2018. She’s the founder of the Ladies of the Blue Ridge transgender group in Roanoke VA, a prolific writer, commentator and blogger including fashion articles for Tri-Ess, TG Reporter, Repartee, and Pretty T-Girls magazine. Tasi currently resides in Merida, (Yucatan) Mexico. Her new website, Sister House and her blog, the Fashionable TG Woman are dedicated to fashion and style for the transgendered woman. Tasi’s book, "Top Ten Fashion Mistakes By Crossdressers and How To Fix Them" is available on Amazon or on her site free to subscribers.

Comments (3)

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  1. tasidevil tasidevil says:

    Thank you Ellen. You can blend in and still look chic as any of my Stylish Crossdressers on Sister House prove. The difference between being “put together” and just “dressed”. Check out Donnakelli and Nadine

  2. Ellen1 Ellen1 says:

    I love your articles they are very informative.
    As for my preferences I try to blend and dress as any other woman for any given situation. Bathing suit for cutting the grass in the summer, jeans and a top for grocery shopping, dress for church, etc. It’s important to remember I do still have to work as a man since most engineers would not understand, at least in public.


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