10 April 2010

Op-shop shopping

As I mentioned the other day, I finally found a model of bra that fits me and is convertible to halter neck, which I bought in both skintone and black. For now, I've decided that I'll set both up in halter and leave them that way unless I find something that needs a crossover layout instead.

Having decided that, I figured that it was time to go looking around the op shops for halter neck dresses. Yesterday afternoon, I saw one dress at Salvos Glendale but it was labelled as a size XL, which should have been too big for me (I'm a size 14 or L), so I didn't try it on. It was black with pink highlights, and after I got home I realised that the pink on the dress might go with the shoes I bought on Thursday night, so I decided that I'd like to at least try the dress.

Having made the decision to try that dress meant driving back out to Glendale today and trying it in boy mode, using foam travel breast forms that are the same size as my good ones, but less liable to damage from being shoved into a bag. Well, if I'm out driving around, I may as well do a loop and try the stores at Boolaroo, Belmont North and Charlestown. At Glendale, I tried and bought the black and pink dress.

At Boolaroo, while I was working my way along the dress rack, a lady came out of a dressing room with about 4 dresses that she'd tried and decided not to buy. She was about to hang them part way along the rack where I'd already been. She looked at me, smiled, commented that there were a few nice dresses there, and placed them on the rack right where I was up to. One of them was a brown patterned halter neck dress with no size tag. I liked the pattern, which is similar to a wrap dress that I have. I took it off the rack and continued to the end. Having found no others that I wanted to try, I went and tried that dress on. I found that someone had done a bodgy job of stitching the centre of the dress up a bit to reduce the cleavage exposed, which wasn't right for me. Aside from that, the dress looked great so I decided to buy it. When I went to the checkout to pay for it, the woman who had put it back on the rack walked past and happily commented that I had taken one of the ones she had returned.

I was very happy not only with the dress but with that woman's behaviour towards me. There I was, quite clearly a male browsing, trying on and buying a dress and she was friendly and supportive without being condescending. Given the strange sideways glances I get at times, her attitude was a truly uplifting experience. :)

At Belmont North, I worked my way along the dress rack, and spotted a long sleeved black and white long sleeved size 14 wrap dress. Long sleeves don't usually work for me, because I'm tall for my dress size, and my arms are long to match. I also picked up a brown patterned faux wrap size M dress, as I have occasionally found size 12 or M dresses that fitted me okay. I tried both dresses, finding the the brown one was indeed too small, and that the long sleeved dress was in fact a very good fit everywhere including the sleeve length! It was also noticeably warm, even though it was quite light. It should be quite a nice winter dress.

The Charlestown store was a bit of a let down. I didn't find any dresses that I even wanted to try on, so I looked through the tops and found one that I liked, which was labelled size L. I tried it, and it was quite noticeably too small, so I returned it to the rack and went to Charlestown Square for lunch.

After lunch, I went home, put on my good breast forms and hip and buttock padding and tried the dresses with the appropriate bras. The long sleeved dress fitted even better than I had expected, accentuating the waist very nicely. My wife observed that that one will probably fit her quite well too.

I changed bra to the skintone halter one, and, after removing the bodgy stitching, tried the brown halter dress. It looks like it will need a little bit of alteration, with some stitching needed on the middle, but much shorter and in a different position to what I removed. The halter strap is not adjustable, and surprisingly, in spite of my big neck, I'm going to need to shorten it a couple of inches.

I tried the pink and black dress with the black halter bra, and after a bit of fiddling, got the neck straps tied at the right length and the dress sitting pretty much right. The pink on the dress is somewhat lighter than the shoes, but they work okay together. Of course, the dress will also go fine with black shoes.

Something I've thought about before, and was reminded of while trying these dresses today, is that I want a hook for hooking the middle of wrap, mock wrap and other crossover deep V neckline dresses and tops onto the middle of a bra. Something that will allow me to pull the dress in at the middle so that it sits flat against the bra, reducing the tendency for the dress to move and allow the bra to show. Perhaps a small curtain hook attached to a safety pin or sewn directly to the dress...

Oh, and a little something I've noticed when op shopping for V neckline dresses and tops. If you're short on safety pins, when you're op shopping, check the all crossover style V necklines. If people haven't stitched the crossover up to suit themselves, there's a reasonable chance that they will have left a safety pin there instead. :)

08 April 2010

My holy grail of bras

I finally got to go out shopping today, for the first time since January.

I've managed to go for dinner out every Tuesday night so far this year, so my average hasn't yet dropped below once every 7 days, but it's not as close to every 5 days as I'd like.

I wandered through a few shops in Charlestown Square, including stopping to chat and getting a photo taken at Tree of Life.

I've previously tried quite hard to find a halterneck bra that met my needs, and had recently looked at modifying a regular bra to convert it to halter, or possibly paying to have a bra made or modified for me. I think that I found my holy grail of bras today. :)

I decided I'd try Bras'n'Things (BnT) first, to see if I could find a full enough coverage bra to cover my breastforms but still show reasonable cleavage, that could be converted to halter. After about 5 bras that just didn't have the coverage, I had just about given up. When I showed the sales assistant the bra that I was wearing, she realised that the middle wasn't as low cut as she was assuming, and came back with another style, Rose by Ultimate Body, which worked! Since it has detachable straps, it can be set up normal, crossover and halter. I'm happy to say that it was only $45, and available in black and skintone, so I bought one of each.

No longer will I have to pass over the halterneck dresses and tops in op shops, as I've done for years. Ditto for narrow backed styles.

I was also looking for the L'Oreal Lash Growth Serum, which I'd been unable to find a few weeks ago. I tried Priceline, no luck. I tried Myer. The woman there said that they didn't have it yet, but try Target. I found the L'Oreal display at Target without any problem. On it, I found a poster advertising the Lash Growth Serum, but an empty shelf alongside it. There was a woman stacking shelves almost right next to me, so I asked her if they had any more. She turned around to a separate stand behind me, about 2 metres from the big L'Oreal display, picked one up and handed it to me. Yay, I finally found it! Since I had to go back past Myer on the way to my car, I stopped to let the woman that I'd spoken to earlier that Target do indeed have it.

Before leaving Myer, I wandered through the shoe section. On a clearance table, I spotted an intensely bright pink suede stiletto in my size. I sat down and tried it, and it fitted quite well. When I asked for the other shoe, the woman went out the back and was gone for several minutes. She eventually came out with some boots that someone else was trying, and told me that she had been searching for the other shoe and couldn't find it. She went out the back again, along with another sales assistant, who came out a few minutes later shaking her head. The first woman came out several minutes later and said that she would have another look later. I thought that she said that she didn't finish until 9pm, but when I went back at about 7pm in boy mode, there was just one man working in the ladies shoe section. He knew about the shoes, which were in a box on a shelf just behind the counter. I checked them for damage, paid and left without the man even raising an eyebrow.

I had another first today. For years, I've always avoided lifts when en femme, I suppose for fear of being stuck briefly with someone who might decide to abuse or attack me. After leaving Charlestown Square, I decided to go to Westfield Kotara to have a look around. Where I parked, I thought I was on the right level to walk straight in the door of the centre but when I walked in the door, I realised that it was another floor up, in an alcove with one lift, which was open. I entered the almost full lift, standing right in the front corner. I held the door open button (backhanded) while a woman wheeled a pram in, then pressed the door close button. The lift went up another level before it went down, and I exited into the centre without incident.

I'd like to say that I took the lift on the way back out, but I didn't. Just outside the door in the carpark, there was a pedestrian ramp, which I chose to use on my way out. I used the lift once, but I'm not going to kick myself for not using it on the way out, because I would probably have done the same in male mode when the lift was that full.