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Retro Rerun: Shopping 101, Wigs and Coats

| Feb 15, 2016
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Shopping 101 from September 1998

Jessica Brandon was the TGForum in-house bargain shopper back in the 1990s. She had a BS degree—Bachelorette of Spending—from What’s A Matta U. Even though you have to add a few dollars to the prices of wigs and coats that she quotes, her advice on shopping for those items is still relevant today to the girl who is just starting to explore crossdressing.


JESSICABGreetings, girlfriends! Holy Time Warp, Batman! Is it September already? Jeez Louise, it seems like only yesterday when we were welcoming the arrival of spring and summer after a pleasantly mild winter. But hey, I’m not complaining! With September here, that means it’s time for FOOTBALL! Ahh, football, isn’t that just the most beautiful word in the English language? But I digress, the male in me never knows when to stay in his place.

Anyhoo, it’s time for the last installment in my beginner’s guide to the wide, wonderful world of shopping as, in this, the final chapter, I talk about wigs and coats. Starting with the former, I don’t know how it is for any of you out there, but for me, I could be decked out in my most stunning outfit, made up to the nines, but until I put the hair on, I’m just a guy in a dress—nothing more. Your wig completes the illusion, the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly.

About Wigs

When choosing a wig, you have to consider several things: how it looks in proportion to the shape of your face, it’s length, the style itself, and the color. Look for a style that will balance your features and add a natural look to your appearance.

Length is important, too. Don’t go for something either too long, or too short. Color? stick with one closest to your male color. Stay away from colors that are too vibrant, or too intense. Also, avoid colors that aren’t akin to your ethnic background. Quality is a must when it comes to buying a wig. The better the quality, the less chance of looking like you’re wearing a glorified mop head.

There are two types of wigs to choose from: synthetic and human hair. Synthetics are manufactured with man made fibers that, in some cases look and feel just like the real thing. Prices for these run anywhere from $40.00 to $200.00 for longer styles or top of the line brands like René of Paris, Paula Young or Henry Margu. Human hair wigs, while made of the real McCoy can be more of a hassle than they’re worth. For starters, they’re much more expensive than synthetics, the styles and colors might not be as plentiful and they have to be treated just like your real hair, meaning regular trips to salons to have them cared for. Plus, in damp or humid conditions, the set will fall like a bad stock on Wall Street—just like real hair. However, if you’re willing to put up with the trouble, the results are worth it.

As for buying a wig, it’s always best to purchase it in person, and to try before you buy. The reason being, it’s impossible to determine if a particular style, length or color will work for you just by looking at it in a catalog, or on a website. Go to wig shops that have large selections, that way, you will have plenty of choices. Don’t be afraid to tell the owner you want to try it on. Ten times out of ten, he or she will say yes, and it’s not at all that big a deal. Here’s a worthwhile tip: if you happen to fall madly in love with an intricately styled wig you see in a catalog, or on a website, and then buy it… may I make the following suggestion. Style your wig in a fashion you like, or as close to the illustration as you can get. Granted, none of us are professional stylists, but give it a try. Once you do, take a picture of yourself in the just finished style and keep it on hand so you can recreate it for future outings.

In addition to the wig itself, you’ll need supplies such as combs and brushes, both of which you can find an excellent selection of at beauty supply stores. Wig stands are a must. There are the classic Styrofoam heads, and X-form stands, two pieces that lock into an X-shape to support a wig. Don’t forget cleaning and conditioning supplies to keep your wig looking its very best. That way, YOU’LL look your very best when you’re out and about, and having fun.

Bundling Up

Next—coats. In no time flat, fall will be here, followed by winter, so, unless you live in California, Florida, Arizona or Hawaii, you’re going to need a coat. There are many styles of coats to choose from. My favorite is a full length leather coat which, depending on where you shop, can be affordable. Outlet stores are a good place to shop, I bought a leather coat at one for only $150.00. If that is prohibitive, wool is an excellent second choice. Wool coats run anywhere from $100.00 to $120.00. For rainy or less than frigid conditions, a trench coat is nice to have. At around $100.00, you can find some that come with removable liners for wear practically all year ’round. As for jackets, nothing beats a sharp looking leather jacket to make you look sleek, and black is sensational. For windy weather in spring and autumn, add a windbreaker to your closet. Finally, you’ll need gloves to go with your coats and jackets. Leather gloves are your best bet, aren’t expensive ($30.00), and will keep your hands warm.

Remember, shop not just with your heart, but with your head!


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  1. tasidevil tasidevil says:

    Unfortunately, Jessica just touched the surface on what you need to know about wigs. Everything you are must likely to ask and then some is on Sister House in the Wig Nook. Check it out here http://www.sisterhouse.net/boutique/2015/08/06/all-about-wigs/#post-6353

  2. victoria victoria says:

    I always wondered what happened to Jessica Brandon. I used to really enjoy her articles on TG Forum and in LadyLike.

    • angela_g angela_g says:

      I haven’t heard from her in years. Last I knew she (as her male self) had a job with the city. She retired from writing and her involvement in Renaissance long ago. I hope she is doing well.

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