The purpose of this clothing guide is to provide some advice to transsexual people on what to wear (and what not to wear) in the early stages of transition. One of the most often-stated comments from transsexual people before they transition and during the first few months of transition is that it is so hard to put together a wardrobe that both suits the person and helps them to pass well. It is hoped that this guide will assist in this.
The guide is split into two main sections: one for transmen and one for transwomen, since their advice is so obviously different. However, there is one big tip that cannot be overlooked by anyone, be they man or woman:
Observe cisgendered people of your age and the gender to which you are transitioning. See what they are wearing and find a style from that which will work for you. Blending in is the ultimate ticket to passing and a successful transition.
One thing many newly out FTMs dont realise is that there is no substitute for mens clothing. It may seem obvious, but many FTMs think womens jeans/shirts look androgynous enough to pass – but the reality is ALL womens clothing is deliberately cut to emphasise a feminine figure. If you’re not already wearing mens clothes exclusively, then you should start now.
Some styles are fairly androgynous – particularly if you’re planning on sporting an ‘alternative’ or ‘goth’ look, you may find it difficult to pass. One of the easiest ways to increase you chances of passing pre-hormones is to dress fairly conservatively, as boring as it may seem.
If you need a wardrobe overhaul, try not to spend too much money on clothes. If you’re planning on going on hormones, your measurements may change significantly after you’ve started. Stick to cheaper or second hand shops to ensure you’re not wasting your money on clothes that might not last you as long as you hope.
Curves can be a big problem for transguys. Clothing can be a big help in hiding curves, but you have to know the right things to wear.
The first thing you should do when looking to hide your chest is invest in a good binder. This is combination with wearing items of clothing that are better at hiding your chest can work wonders. A few ideas:
These are great for hiding your chest. Plaid shirts, or shirts with stripes or patterns on are possibly the most effective item of clothing for making your chest unnoticable. Small-chested guys should even be able to get away with wearing button up shirts without a binder. It’s better to look for shirts made of woven fabrics such as cotton or cotton-blends, as they ‘bag’ out more than knit fabrics, which helps to draw attention away from your chest.
Stripes and patterns
If you’re not a big button up shirt fan, make sure you’re wearing a tshirt or polo shirt with stripes, a pattern or a print on the front. These distract the eye away from the shape of your chest and on to the print of the tshirt itself. Horizontal stripes are particularly effective for this.
Layering your clothes is important for hiding chest shape. It’s best to get a few vests or plain white tshirts to wear under your shirts to help with this. Layering is particularly effective if you are large chested and struggle to bind effectively, or if you do not bind or use a fairly light/ineffective method of binding.
Most natal males will have hips that are significantly smaller than their shoulders, so its important when hiding hips to try and make them look as small as possible in comparison. It’s easy to overlook the significance of this, but surprisingly hip shape can be one of the biggest factors in stopping someone from passing.
A good, flattering pair of trousers or jeans are a good start – try as many on as you can to find a good cut that doesn’t enhance your curves. As much as you don’t want to be thinking ‘does my bum look big in this?!’, you might have to!
Wearing your trousers low is really effective. Its a good idea to buy your trousers at the width of your hips, not your waist. (So if your waist is 28 but your hips are 32, dont buy 28″ jeans, buy 32″s instead). Wearing them low should reduce the appearance of width.
Try not to wear tops that are long enough to go over your hips – that will draw more attention to them. Try and ensure your tops are short enough to end around your belt area.
If you can, attempt to wear clothes are seem to broaden your shoulders. Suit-style jackets are particualrly good, and if you’re in to pinstripes they can really straighten your figure out.
Finding a good fit
It can be difficult for smaller guys to find clothes that fit. It’s right that baggy can help hide your curves, but there’s definitely a difference between ‘baggy’ and ‘swimming in fabric’. Try and shop around until you find somewhere that carries sizes that work for you.
If you’re small, try and find stores that carry extra small sizes in mens. Topman is one that comes to mind, as well as River Island and Gap, although they’re more on the expensive side. H&M don’t carry XS, but their S size is a lot smaller than most places, and is especially good for skinnier men.
If you still struggle with size, and if you’re strapped for cash, try the boys section. It may seem a bit embarassing to buy something with ‘age 12-13’ on it, but a lot of kids stores sell clothes that don’t look like they’re for kids, and you’ll save a lot of money in the process. Gap kids and H&M kids are particularly good as they often sell clothes from the mens range, but just in the smaller kids sizes. You can also get some fairly plain stuff like jumpers/sweaters and plain hoodies or tshirts that will fit well and most likely be half the price you’d pay in the mens section.
Daywear versus nightware
The first thing to remember here is that just because something looks damn good for an evening out doesn’t mean it will look damn good when wandering around the highstreet or going to the supermarket. There’s a clear line between daywear and nightware, as observing what cisgender women wear will show you (unless they don’t know the difference, of course!). ‘Overdressing’ gets you the wrong sort of attention. Here are some hints on dressing for the day and the night:
- If the name of the clothing suggests its function, follow its advice. Party frocks and ballgowns are not for the daytime (yes we know this is obvious but sometimes it needs to be said);
- A pair of nicely-cut jeans will work for both the day and night, with the right top and accessories;
- Avoid anything that looks fetishistic if you don’t want people to comment. Fetishwear and eveningwear in the daytime is what people associate with transvestites.
Until hormones fully kick in (a process that can take months for some and years for other), the average transwoman will have a ‘straight up and down’ shape and enhancing curves will go a long way to helping pass better. Here are some hints on enhancing shape:
- Avoid anything that is cut straight up and down, especially if it is designed to be worn with a belt. This will accentuate any lack of hip curves;
- Wearing cardigans, blouses, jackets and similar items that are cut to flare out from the hip will accentuate the hips.
There are certain skeletal aspects of transwomen that differ from those of cisgendered women and it’s usually impossible to change these. However, just because they can’t be changed doesn’t mean we can’t detract attention from them. Here are some hints on disguising shape:
- Strapless dresses and spaghetti tops enhance the shoulders, drawing the attention to an area that is often wider on transwomen than cisgendered women;
- Good posture (stand up straight, shoulders back, head high) helps to reduce the impact of wide shoulders and gives a look of confidence that enhances passability;
- A scooped neckline reduces the impact of wide shoulders;
- A poloneck top will help to hide an adams apple but then plays into the stereotype of “transsexuals wear polonecks and scarves”;
- Long, bootcut trousers that partially cover the tops of shoes help to reduce the impact of large feet.