There are many reasons why men choose to wear clothing that is conventionally regarded as gender specific aka “women’s clothes”. For me it is three things: pushing my personal comfort zone by doing things that people are scared of, being a performer acting out a role to provoke a reaction and because I like it: women’s clothes are more interesting than men’s. I am secure in my own identity. I am a man and I like women. I’m not threatened by what other people choose to do.
I wear conventional male clothes for the majority of my time. Dressing up is something I do when I feel like it. It does give me a thrill and often leaves me feeling really calm due to overcoming the apprehension that you would expect when going out in public looking unusual.
Dressing in “women’s clothes” is seen as funny, bizarre, weird or “gay” by some people. Generally this is their own insecurity or lack of awareness. When I discovered that I liked trying on different clothes I decided that I wasn’t going to hide it as a guilty secret. Cross dressing is very common and the sexual orientation of those that do it exactly matches the population as a whole. But for many it’s still something that they feel ashamed of. They are worried about the reaction they will receive. I can understand that. There are those who struggle to understand it. I’m in the fortunate position of having friends who enjoy it and encourage me. I also believe that some people need provoking or confusing. if they think I’m gay and that’s a problem for them then that’s for them to worry about.
I’m not a proper cross dresser in that I’m not trying to pass myself off as a woman. I fit more into the category of alternative fashion if you can call it that. I’m not expressing an alternative sexuality. I’m just me wearing clothes that I like and making myself a stronger person and, hopefully, bringing more fun to the world.
Since I’ve been doing this I’ve discovered that some women love to see men wearing tights, skirts and tutus. It’s a mixture of admiring the confidence to do it, which I was told by one was very attractive. I was told by another that every since David Beckham wore a sarong she’d discovered a thing for seeing men in skirts “as long as they’re tight”. So I suppose women like skirts for the same reason men do. It’s great when a woman tells you that you have great legs. It’s a crime to hide them in trousers.
This all started when I went to Shambala Festival in 2015 and Friday had a theme of cross dressing. Festivals like Shambala really embrace alternative looks and just doing things without asking too many questions. I was pretty cool about the idea and someone lent me a dress, tights and painted me with some over the top make up. I discovered that I didn’t like it; I loved it. Liking this new adventure lead me to buying myself a lovely tutu from Fairylove. It’s still my best tutu and I’ve enlarged my collection since then.
I decided that I’d tool up with some proper shoes and clothes for Shambala 2016. That set me off on a path of looking for suitable shoes. For me that meant some tasteful block heels in size 10. I looked on Amazon, Ebay and a brilliant site: Aliexpress. This blog was very useful too: www.domesticsluttery.com/2012/04/ultimate-size-9-13-shoe-guide.html from there I found Long Tall Sally who have a website and a range of shops round the UK.
I’ve found that you can buy up to size 12 if you search around hard enough. Sometimes you have to search for “plus size shoes” and go through every result to see what sizes they offer. Shoe sizes are not properly standardised so you have to take your chances on fit.
My challenge of putting together my outfit meant that I spent hours looking at skirts, tights and shoes and got really excited when I found things that I liked. It provoked an artistic part that found some colours and shapes very attractive and appealing. I’ve gradually accumulated shoes, tights, leggings and skirts. It didn’t really have any agenda other than wanting an outfit for Shambala and then being drawn into the wonderful possibilities. Then when I had a large collection I thought “what am I going to do with this lot, I might as well wear some of it”.
I’ve worn a skirt and a dress to my workplace for fancy dress days. The reaction I received was a lot more muted then expected. After about 5 minutes the novelty was over for the majority. “My, you’ve got great legs” said one man, echoed by a woman later. I’m really pleased. A photographer got really excited and took photos.
Amongst my other adventures I’ve been shopping for skirts in a department store. I felt a bit nervous about that. After looking through racks of skirts for 20 minutes I became more calm about it as no one seemed at all interested in what I was doing. I asked the shop worked if they had something I wanted in my size. They were totally unphased by it. For them it’s another possible sale and I’m sure they see it regularly. When you walk out of an experience like that you feel more confident about everything in your life.
Recently I went shopping in the city centre in tights, a short skirt and some kitten heel shoes. The longer I was out then the more calm I became and after about an hour I started to feel an elevated state of mind. I’d say that almost a half didn’t notice, the majority looked but didn’t seem to bothered and a few said things or giggled. Really, if giggling is the strongest reaction then there’s nothing to worry about. I asked passers by to take photographs of me. This is a good thing to do – if you directly approach people then you help overcome the apprehension. It’s almost a matter of pointing at yourself making your more confident.
To go out in public you have to own the situation. You have to decide that you’re cool about it and then go out and be cool. It’s actually a lot of fun and you will feel stronger for it. You will find acceptance in unusual places and when someone genuinely compliments you it’s a buzz.
One day we’re all going to be dead. When we look back we’ll decide that things we were afraid of weren’t important. I want to get on with doing things in my life, whatever they are and however silly they seem. I’ve already had a lot of fun with this new journey and I’ve no idea where it’s taking me.
I’ve stared a Facebook page for my dressing up sessions.
- King Louis XIV – he wore heels and tights… the history of high heeled shoes
- Eddie Izzard (“why do you wear women’s clothes?”, “They’re not women’s clothes. They’re mine.”
- Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers.
- Axl Rose from Guns and Roses
- David Beckham wore a sarong…