I love 'alt rock’ but even so, this post isn’t about early 90’s Alternative Rock: It’s about clothes, fashion, style and my lifelong flirtation with it. When it comes to social networks you’re more likely to find me on Pinterest or Pose than on FB or Twitter. The reason is simple; I have an addiction…to clothes & fashion. 'Hello; my name is Jane (Hello Jane) and I’m a shopaholic!’
So how did it all start? Well, like all addictions it started innocently enough. Growing up transgendered you never have enough clothes, let alone the ones you really want. At first I was content to live a fantasy life, to be the girl I was inside but only in my head: Fantasy school, imaginary friends, make believe life, dream clothes. If you’re trans you’ll know that could never be enough. Teachers complained I ‘daydreamed’ at school. I was living my life in private but I desperately wanted the real thing. Repeated requests to Santa Claus for at least one pretty party dress: One like everyone else, seemed to fall on deaf ears. It was like the child equivalent of repeated job rejections. ‘Sorry Miss Ward but you failed to get the role of Party Princess as you appear to have mis-represented your gender!’ Shucks, I was never going to be like everyone else. Life pretty much sucked.
Things began to change though when I reached my early teens. I had an allowance and I also persuaded my mother to teach me to knit. I learned to stitch and sew too. It may have been a hand sewing machine but it was better than nothing. If I couldn’t have all the clothes I wanted I’d start to make my own. In learned how to slit the side seams of my jeans and super-flare them with triangles of floral fabric. I taught myself how to modify my shirts to make fitted tie waist blouses; how to fray my jeans into shorts and hot pants; to embroider sweet flowers and butterflies and to convert baggy jeans into skirts. Okay, so I didn’t have a party dress but then nobody invited me to parties or at least not THAT sort. Having girly clothes, long hair a sweet smile and ribbons to tie my hair led me to venture out into the city where I lived, pleased to pass and pleased to feel better about myself.
I was lucky not to be found out (I think). Ridiculously over-adventurous and changing in public loos I was lucky NOT to get found out and have my secret discovered. In a way I was disappointed. It felt lonely being out on my own. In a way I wanted it all out in the open. I didn’t want to have to hide but I feared being outed too. Gradually the ravages of puberty and the wrong hormones made me feel self conscious, shy and worried for my safety. As I reached the end of my teens I stopped being out and carefree. It was sad to say goodbye to it all and leave my innocence behind. I thought that was the end of it. I would just have to conform and do what was expected of me.
Did I ever feel the urge to ‘cross dress’ during that time? That’s an interesting question. Cross dressing assumes that you acknowledge you’re one gender and choose to dress as another. Being Trans doesn’t feel like that at all. I’d seen ‘men dressed as women’ and that certainly wasn’t me. I was a girl but nobody could see it. I was astute enough to know that whatever I felt inside, others wouldn’t see me that way. If I dressed as I wished like every other girl they wouldn’t see me as one. I certainly didn’t want to be seen as a cross dresser so I could no longer dress as I pleased. Being Trans you want to be accepted for who you really are; being mis-gendered and having your gender mis-read is the last thing you want. I ended up being imprisoned in clothes I hated; forced to dress as someone I wasn’t and fashion became a closed book.
Thirty years out in the fashion wilderness is a long time. Fashion changes constantly; Madonna’s street urchin look gave way to New Romanticism and Punk; Power Dressing came and went; 90’s casual chic gave way to hippie style again and we were back where I had started from; frayed jeans, faded florals and denim skirts. By the mid noughties I was out and making my way as I should have been. The problem was that I had missed out on almost three decades of fashion and I was one very frustrated girl: A girl who had yet to grow into a woman. Having been out now for almost a ten years I’ve rapidly relived the fashions of the past including ones I was never old enough to appreciate: I’ve had a preteen pink and lilac phase: I couldn’t resist the nostalgic delve into vintage and 50’s Dior New Look; I still have my collection of fabulous VOH dresses and bolero jackets. These days however I just buy High Street Fashion.
More often than not these days my friends know that I’ll be found in ‘New Look’. For those across the pond; New Look (NL) is a UK fast fashion store. My working girl’s limited salary needs to go a long way and in NL it does. I love skater dresses, leggings, skinny jeans, jeggings, crop tops, bodycon dresses, booties and ankle strap heels. I like shorts with tights, fake converse sneakers and hoodies, the list goes on. I’m a happy fashion addict if truth be told and as long as I have cash in my purse to spend I’ll indulge my passion. True, I may feel slightly guilty when my friends say ‘Aha! I thought I’d find you in here!’ as they catch me browsing the racks or heading off to the dressing rooms with items to try. I may not be willing to spend $110 on a green scarf or listen to mannequins trying to talk to me but I guess I am (as my daughter alleges) a shopaholic: After all I do have 30 years of catching up to do!