Because I am an active supporter of men who choose to wear bras either for medical or personal reasons, I often am privileged to interact with some amazing people who face constant struggles to be accepted in the traditionally female lingerie world. Between inexperienced sales representatives to outright discrimination, it is not easy for a man to be fitted properly for a bra, and I believe it is essential for fitters and lingerie professionals to approach working with anyone, male or female, with a level of compassion and acceptance they would expect for their own choices. One of my male clients has gone on to launch the very successful Bra Guy blog, which focuses more on working with gynecomastia—a medical condition which results in enlarged breasts in men, but today I want to focus on an alternative reason why men may want to wear a bra: They enjoy it for themselves. Not everyone understands or accepts individuals who bend or break traditional gender rules, too frequently applying derogatory labels to their decisions. There is more than enough hate in the world, and I’d rather showcase why acceptance is so important and how life-changing it can be for the individual. To help me, I asked Trycia, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person, to write a guest post outlining her experiences with cross-dressing and shopping as a biological male in a female world. It took a lot of courage for Trycia to share her feelings so publicly, and I hope you enjoy her post as much as I do!
As I sit here pondering how to put into words something that I’ve struggled with for all of my adult life and much of my teenage years, I question whether it is a struggle or more of a lack of acceptance and open mindedness by many who may not understand or who may not want to understand my decisions. I met Erica online several months ago, and we’ve struck up a nice relationship since then. I’ve purchased several items from her, and along with the quality of the products, I enjoy the openness, honesty, and just wonderful person that Erica represents in my life. As circumstances happened, my business travels took me down to her neck of the woods, and we quickly arranged a time for me to stop by A Sophisticated Pair to meet in person, and of course, shop.
You are now most likely wondering what I am referencing, and it may be for good reason as it is not everyday a cross-dresser has the courage to open up about his/her journey and experiences through life. Erica asked that I put together a blog about my experiences shopping, getting fitted and just a general acceptance of who I am. I will introduce myself first: I go by Trycia, but to most, I am a mid 40’s married dad, multiple kids, 2 dogs living in the mid-Atlantic US. I’m typical in most respects with the obvious caveat that I love wearing women’s clothing.
Years ago, I never would have even considered chatting with someone online about purchasing lingerie, shoes, or dresses, let alone going in and talking with someone in a brick & mortar shop. I typically had to sneak around in stores under the guise I was purchasing for my wife (who does not know about Trycia). It was never pleasant, certainly not the way I hoped I’d be able to purchase things for myself. I wanted to walk in and be welcomed with open arms and provided with customer assistance, like any woman who entered. I figured if I was willing to spend, they should be willing to help. Now I am not naïve enough to think everyone in the world will have that open a mind, but I always hoped there would be a few merchants out there who would work with me and understand my needs. In turn, I would respect the fact they are running a business. I understand I might have to be handled somewhat differently as to using dressing rooms and selecting clothing so as not offend other customers, but please still treat me like the customer I am.
Further to my dilemma is the fact that certain sizing is especially limited due to my body type. Have you ever tried to find a 42 or 44B bra? I have, and I can tell you it is a “needle in the haystack” type of search. 36B? No problem. 44D? Easy enough! But the larger band, smaller cup market is woefully small, and again, having never had the courage to try things on at a store, even purchasing shoes, dresses, skirts, etc. is trial and error. With male measurements from waist to hip to chest, it makes for a challenging translation to women’s clothing. Am I Misses? A Woman? A Plus-Size? Imagine buying everything you liked in the store just so you could try them on at home. It is not a fun proposition at all.
About a year ago, prior to meeting Erica, I finally began telling myself I needed to find a few stores who I could work with to buy clothes. I wanted to go there, try things on, and receive honest feedback on how I looked in the items I contemplated buying. I wanted to experience the freedom I always felt I was entitled to, so I started making a few phone calls to stores. While there were missteps here and there, I found a few avenues to pursue. My first foray was at Macy’s because they have a private fitting area that you can schedule appoints with a private shopper, and the woman seemed very willing to work with me. I gave her some ideas on what I might be looking for, and she said she would have items ready for me when I arrived but that we could also look for more. And items she did have! I had plenty to choose from, although I was not happy with the overall look of the Macy’s clothing selection. To the personal shopper’s benefit, she gave me positive and negative feedback as I modeled each for her—I figured I am here to try clothes on, and I need someone to help with a thumbs up or thumbs down. I did end up with a cute pair of pants, but that was it. I also made notes on sizing and certain cuts just to enhance my knowledge of the woman’s clothing world.
Now with some level of confidence I sought out other options. I came across a store I was vaguely familiar with, one that had personal shopping services, and in looking at their website, the clothing greatly appealed to me. Of course, the challenge was sizing, and with Talbots, the store in question, they only carry larger sizes in certain stores. I initially sent an inquiry via their website, explaining in detail what I hoped to do and what the most convenient store would be. Within a day, the caller ID on my phone came up with local Talbots—Let me tell you I hesitated more than once before picking it up! However that hesitation was completely unwarranted. The shop manager was willing to discuss with me what options I would have and that unfortunately her store did not carry the sizes I would most likely need. But she did give me the manager’s contact information of another store not too far away. I was starting to feel very much at ease. I called the other Talbots, and when we chatted, I knew I found the right person. We talked about what my likes and dislikes were and then about when I’d be able to come in for a visit. She said that it would absolutely be a privilege to open the store early to allow me to browse the shop with her, have privacy, and certainly not cause any awkwardness with other customers.
The day came, and as I pulled into the lot, I was full steam ahead, no hesitation this time. I walked in, was greeted by the manager, and she actually had brought in several of her staff to greet me and show how much I was appreciated. To tell you I was stunned would be an understatement. I’ve since met most of the ladies several times, and now most now know me! We shopped around, found things I liked as well as things she thought would look good on me, and then I tried on all of it. If something did not fit but I liked it, we tried a different size. She was very matter of fact about what did not look good but very bubbly about what looked great. This is exactly what I was hoping to find: someone open-minded and accepting. It was a very emotional day for me, one that I will hold close to the heart for years to come.
With my newfound outlook, I knew that I had always wanted a proper fitting bra but had no idea where to turn. So I began search the web for resources. I came across The Lingerie Addict, and from there came across this place called A Sophisticated Pair. I figured, why not? So I dropped an email to Erica, openly and honestly discussing what I was looking for as well as how I reviewed her bra calculator. We hit it off quite well! I was really able to hone in on my bra size, but as we both agreed, finding them to purchase is a task. Add to the problem that I love things very feminine, lacy, and such and the search becomes that much more difficult. I did find quite a few things on her site that I purchased. This included panties and bras, and I was more than happy with them. Now with an opportunity to actually meet Erica in person I contacted her about meeting in person to see what we might be able to do. So in early January 2016 as my plane touched down in Greensboro, my excitement grew knowing we’d meet in person and actually be able to discuss what other options were available for me. Towards her closing time we agreed to meet at the shop, and it is so cute! We discussed the fact options are limited for my size range, but that a manufacturer called American Breast Care definitely had some stock in the size I would need. I tried on a few different bras & Erica anointed me a 40B in style 502. I felt I had come full circle. I’ve found both a clothing shop who has fully embraced Trycia as well as a wonderful lingerie boutique in North Carolina (of all places) who will work with any and all customers to make their experience as welcoming and wonderful as mine.
To those of you who have welcomed me, I cannot thank you enough. Let us all live life to enjoy it in whatever way that may be. As the saying goes, life is too short not to enjoy. Thank you to Erica and to the ladies of Talbots who have truly made me feel accepted as the person I am. I hope this provides useful insight into the challenges a cross-dresser or anyone, male or female, who falls into the larger band, smaller cup category faces. We need to make ourselves heard, and we deserve more options than currently exist. I can also reassure you that the cross-dressing community is alive, well, and willing to spend on goods that meet our needs. I wish I could meet more of you, talk with you, allow you to ask questions of me. Honestly, this was an emotional moment to put all of these thoughts together, it is the first I’ve ever done it. It made me realize how long a journey I’ve been on and how much the acceptance by you, among others, has really affected me.