30 October 2012

Comments arising

A few comments have been made in the past two days, that relate to Saturday, or my nails being green, which was of course for Saturday. All of the comments have been positive.

I had to drop into the building society on Monday afternoon to ask about something. The manager, who I think may have been one of the two staff members present on Saturday who I didn't speak to, answered my query.

Before I left, one of the other tellers who had complimented me on Saturday commented "You look different today", and smirked. The one who had been outside on Saturday and not recognised me until I turned around greeted me by name as I walked past, as if nothing had ever happened.

I bought a wig back in 1999 from a salon that has since moved and changed owner, but the original owner still works there part time. On my way between clients today, I decided to drop into that salon to ask about getting my wigs washed, since they have been sitting out on stands getting dusty, and I haven't worn them in ages.

The current owner commented on my nails, assuming that I was in some sort of show. I told her that I always have my nails done, but that this colour was for my Halloween costume, then showed her the full length photo from Saturday. Aside from being quite complimentary, she asked if I went to the Lotus restaurant, which is where the regular cafe nights are held. I explained that I used to go there all the time but circumstances have prevented me from getting there much this year.

After the hair salon, I went to see a client. The two women at the front counter often comment on my nails, and always in a positive way. Today, the obvious question was why were my nails green. I told them that it was for Halloween and that's all that was said. They didn't ask what my costume was that needed green nails. Like many people, it's a case of knowing but choosing not saying anything.

I guess I'm just a pessimist. I keep expecting bad things to happen because so many other people claim that they do, but I'm happy to say that they haven't happened to me any time recently.

29 October 2012

Tony Bianco Egypt

I got an offer of 30% off one online purchase from Tony Bianco during October because it was my birthday this month. Given my love of high heels, of course I wanted to buy myself a birthday present. :)
Early in the month, I didn't see anything that was enough different to the shoes that I already have to want to buy. Part way through the month, I checked their web site again and found a new release called Egypt, which is a 14.5cm (about 6") stiletto heel with a 3.5cm platform. Those numbers are the same as the TB Popstar, which has proven to be my favourite shoe.

From the photos on the web site, I assumed that the underlying design was the same as Popstar. The obvious difference, aside from a colour that was different enough for me to be interested (Sand suede), was that the heel is wrapped and the underside of the arch is covered with a continuation of the leather that covers the platform, rather than having the sole extend up the arch and down the front face of the heel. For comparison, I've used the left Sand suede Egypt and the right Nude patent Popstar in these photos.

When they arrived, I was a bit disappointed to find that the box had been squashed, but I've been assured that they will happily swap the box in store. I just have to sort out where I can do that, since I'm nowhere near a TB store.

When I took the shoes out of the box, I thought that they looked more delicate than Popstar. I don't mean delicate as in likely to fall apart ~ they are well made. What I mean is delicate in their proportions and appearance. The heel is noticeably thinner and the sole smaller. The heels are so thin and the soles so narrow that it feels as though they are flexing, because it's difficult to get enough weight onto the sole to keep it flat on the ground!

These are delicate shoes, which call for wearing only in the right places. If I'd had these before I went to IMATS, I would have considered wearing them, as the whole time I was in heels was spent inside the venue, on concrete or carpeted floors on one level. In contrast, I knew that they were not suitable for wearing around the uneven, sloping footpaths of Cardiff (complete with cracks and holes that could swallow a heel) with my Halloween costume, and didn't even consider them when selecting shoes for that outing.

Overall, the Tony Bianco Egypt is a beautiful shoe that is suitable for experienced wearers of very high heels who have good balance. Because of the fine heels and small soles, I wouldn't recommend them for inexperienced wearers of very high heels, or anybody who doesn't have good balance.

28 October 2012

As I said a few months ago...

I finally did something that I said in a blog post a while ago that I was planning to do.

I paid someone to come in and mow our overgrown yard, and arranged for them to come back fortnightly to maintain it and progressively tidy up the details that haven't been done yet. The idea is to reduce the list of things that I personally need to do.

No big deal, huh? That's what I thought until I realised that the blog post where I said that I was planning on doing that was from January last year!

As a side effect of that, I was able to stand in our back yard yesterday to take a few photos of my costume, including this one. A week ago, I would have been waist deep (or worse) in weeds!

Something else that I said I was going to do a few months ago was the whole pregnant Tinkerbell or Disney princess Halloween costume, which ended up simplified back to just doing a reasonably straight Tinkerbell (albeit in 6" stilettos).

As a result of a post on my boy Facebook profile and a few comments that arose from that, I am now led to believe that someone that I would not have expected has been reading my recent blog posts.

I won't say who it is, because I have absolutely no desire to embarrass them, but it is someone who initially freaked out when they first learned about me but has since overcome some of that. I'm very happy to know that I no longer freak them out, and I want them to know that they're welcome to add me on Facebook at any time if they want to. :)

27 October 2012

It's Tinkerbell

Warning: very long post!

Sometimes it's fun to have young children pointing at you and smiling when you're in a dress, high heels and makeup. When the dress is a Tinkerbell costume and the children are pointing and calling you Tinkerbell, it's very easy to smile and enjoy what you're doing!

In spite of my earlier ideas of doing a pregnant version of a Disney princess or Tinkerbell, I got busy with work and didn't complete the pregnant bulge let alone trying to sort out a costume that could accommodate that bulge.

All of a sudden I realised that it was only a few weeks away, and I didn't have a costume. I looked around several costume shops and found nothing even close to what I was looking for. I looked at photos on google images, and ended up deciding to get 2 different costumes, both California Costumes brand, through an eBay seller who combined postage.

I tried both costumes on the night that I got them. It turned out that I'm a little too fat for the top of the Little Red Riding Hood dress, so Tinkerbell became the only option. To get ideas on accessorising the costume, I looked at images of the original Tinkerbell character. She had her hair up in a large bun, fairly subtle makeup, bare legs and shoes that would be best described as green ballet flats with white pom poms on the front. No earrings, and no noticeable nail polish.

I looked at how to do a bun and realised that I needed to buy a hair bun donut. I looked at the size of Tinkerbell's bun and decided that what I needed were 2 of the largest size donut I could find, to stack one on top of the other. Unfortunately, there were none even close to my hair colour, so I got two in a yellowish blonde. While buying those, I also spotted a green Orly nail polish called Here comes Trouble on special for $5. It was darker than the costume but a similar enough shade.

I tried putting my hair up in a bun, but found that the if the hair wasn't perfectly spread around the donut, the yellow colour showed through prominently. I mentioned this on facebook and a friend suggested using a stocking leg to cover them and help hold them together. Since I had a pair of pantyhose with runs in them that were going to get thrown out, I cut the toe and brief off one leg to get a long straight tube, which I fed around the pair of donuts twice, starting at the inside, through, over the outside, up through inside the original start, back over the outside again, then up inside, leaving only one end loose inside. While the colour is not a match to my hair, it's a lot closer than the colour of the donuts, and makes them into one piece.

With today (Saturday) being the day for the Halloween event, I got the green nail polish put on at my regular nail appointment on Wednesday. It's a lot different to any colour I've worn before. It's bright and very, very obvious, and I find myself smiling just looking at it. :)

When I tried the costume on the first time, I realised that the skirt, which had ties on both sides to allow the length to be adjusted, was shorter than my body shaper. To hide that, I did as I've done before and wore lace patterned tights over 2 pairs of pink ballet tights. The ballet tights almost hide the colour difference between the body shaper and my legs, and the lace pattern breaks up the edge enough to make it invisible unless you know to look for it.

Since I don't have any shoes even vaguely like the original Tinkerbell ones, I had to choose a combination of tights and shoes that would look right with the costume and be comfortable to wear. The first 2 options that occurred to me were the nude Tony Bianco Popstar 6" stilettos (that I wore at IMATS) with cream tights, or my mustard ballet flats with mustard tights. I was concerned that the TBs would be too high for the uneven and sloping footpaths, but didn't think that the mustard was going to look right. I considered the alternative of a pair of nude Bloch dance shoes that I bought back when I was belly dancing, but after looking at the shoes side by side, chose the TBs, which of course meant wearing the flats to drive and changing when I got there.

When I first tried on the dress, I also noted that the neckline didn't show as much cleavage as I wanted, so on Friday night, I tried the dress on again and used 2 small safety pins to gather the vertical elastic between the breasts more tightly than it did before. It improved things, but didn't fix it entirely.

In a common (judging by google images) departure from the original Tinkerbell look, I chose to wear green eyeshadow to match the costume, rather than neutral browns. I used 3 shades from one of the palettes that I bought at IMATS in 2011, which is the first time I've used those palettes!

The costume came with a small pixie dust pouch, which meant packing very light! I put my license, credit card, money, house and car keys and camera in that bag, and took powder, lipstick, brush etc in another small bag that I left in car.

Before I even left the house, I had my first wardrobe malfunction. I went to pull the skirt down, as it tended to ride up on my hips a bit, and in the process tore out the gathering ribbons on one side of the skirt. Oops! I fixed that by yanking on the other side ribbons, which came out too. No more adjustable length skirt. On the way to the car, I hit the next hurdle. My bun was so high that it hit the garage door while wearing flats, and didn't fit in the car. I had to duck to get my hair into the car, and had to recline the seat more than usual and drive leaning back hard against the seat just so that it cleared the hood lining.

I didn't get to the building society to deposit some money on Friday, so that was my first job for the outing. One of the staff giving out lollies at a table outside the front door recognised me and greeted me, but the other only saw me from the side or back and was surprised when I turned around, then greeted me by my male name while trying to pick her jaw up off the ground. Two of the other 4 working in the branch also greeted me by name. Now that I've broken the ice of actually turning up there en femme, I might do it again some time. :)

My next wardrobe malfunction was that the left wings kept wanting to fold over onto right wings, which led the woman behind me in the line in the Building Society to say to me "Let me fix your wings for you", which she then did. I later tightened the wing straps, which reduced the problem but didn't fix it entirely. It really needed something across the hinge to hold them in place, and something to keep them level, as the wings were wonky in the photos.

I walked around the area a bit, and while doing so, I had several young girls point to me, calling out Tinkerbell. I also had one girl who felt the need to tell me that I was very tall, in a way that reminded me of the blog The Junoesque. I think that that was an unintentional compliment, in as much as I think that she, and many of the girls pointing at me and commenting, saw me as a woman dressed as Tinkerbell, not as a crossdresser dressed as Tinkerbell.

After a while, I made my way to the Lifeline op shop, where I was photographed a few times both with my camera and with Bev's phone. That's where the photo at the top of this post was taken. I also went across the road to the other op shop before heading back towards my car. On the way to my car, I greeted one of my neighbours who lives a few doors away around a corner.

My final wardrobe malfunction for the day happened just after I got home, when the middle of the adhesive bra that I use to create cleavage went pop, which I assumed meant that the clip had broken. When I took it off, I discovered that it had not broken, but that the plastic tab that attached the clip to one cup had come unstuck from the cup, so if I can find a suitable glue, I can fix it. Yay. :)

In spite of very few adults being in costume, I enjoyed the outing and wearing this particular costume so much that I'm already considering next year. Tinkerbell's original costume has a much shorter skirt, like a dance leotard with the zig-zag edge of the skirt over it. This one has a net piece around the waist that's a bit like that zig-zag, but over a longer straight skirt. I'm thinking that I'd love to get a matching small diameter tutu with integral undies and a full circle skirt sewn on in place of the straight skirt, make a weighted tail for the wings that keeps them at a nice V angle to each other and keeps them level (like a pendulum weight), and wear it again next year. :)

02 October 2012

Choosing high heels

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with Magda at IMATS, various compliments that I received for the shoes that I was wearing, and subsequent discussions on the Beauty Heaven forums and on Facebook.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I have a large number of pairs of high heels. I just opened a cupboard dominated by shoe boxes, and without opening any boxes, did a quick count of heels that I know are 2" or higher, and came up with 24 pairs.

And how many of those do I like and choose to wear often? Six pairs, all closed toe courts with stiletto heels 4" to 6" high.

The list of favourites includes five pairs of Tony Biancos (TBs) ~ Samaire in black kid, Palais in dark chocolate brown kid and in red suede and Pop Star in nude patent and in orange suede. The one other pair are Siren Marcs in red leather, which are at the bottom of my preference list because they aren't as comfortable for me as the TBs.

I have only one other pair of TBs, which I've never worn because of the colour. They are Samaire in blue suede, which is a colour that has just never suited any outfit I've ever worn. If I could re-colour blue suede to olive green, I'd wear them until they fell apart. I want olive green heels but have never found any, and make do with my well travelled chocolate brown Palais instead.

Ironically, typing this has got me wondering about seeing if I can find someone who can dye those shoes for me, as I don't think that I could bear to do it myself in case I ruined them, but if someone else did it and it didn't turn out well I'd be disappointed in them, not me. :P Also, looking at the colours, I think that the timber heels and platforms would look better with olive than they do with the blue.

So why do I choose to wear the most expensive heels that I own, and leave all the cheap ones languishing in the cupboard?

Well, there is style, of course. I have some shoes that I used to wear a lot that have shorter, thicker heels. I could still wear them, but I've got better so I choose not to. I've also got a couple of pairs of proper Bloch dancing shoes with 2" heels, that I haven't worn since I stopped taking belly dance lessons. They would still be suitable for dancing or perhaps for a period costume around WWII.

I have other shoes that are horrible to wear, and aside from being colours that I don't otherwise have, I really don't know why I've kept them. Perhaps I'm keeping them to protect other people from buying such rubbish from whatever charity I'd donate them to, or perhaps I'm just a hoarder.

The highest heels I've got, the TB Pop Stars, are my absolute favourites to wear. From them, I've learned that a good quality platform is no harder to wear than a non-platform shoe with the same rise from the ball of the foot to the heel, and in fact they are easier to step forward onto the other foot because of the rising curve under the toes.

Thinking about why I find the Pop Stars so wearable, I’ve noticed about they have a non-slip patch in the middle and the sole under the platform is very flat across from side to side, even though it’s curved front to back. Being so flat across makes it much easier to keep the foot properly upright. To tilt a foot sideways deliberately for a photo, I find that I have to consciously take weight off that foot and lift and tilt that shoe on the edge.

If you’re looking at high heels, try to find a pair of TB Pop Stars to try on, or at least look at the design, and look for shoes that have that same flatness across the soles. That flatness makes the shoes far more stable, helping to keep the feet upright and reducing the risk of twisting an ankle (or both).

I've lost count of the number of times I've seen women walking in heels with both heels tilted quite badly, and worried about the loads that this puts on the ankles. I used to think that this was all to do with tilting the whole shoe because the sole wasn't flat enough, but I've got some shoes that got me thinking that it is a different problem entirely.

Regardless of heel height, you’re looking for shoes that are rigid from the heel through to under the ball of your foot. Non-platforms that don’t have the curve up under the front are likely to have a bit of flex under the toes to make it easier to roll your foot forward to step off onto the other foot, but if there is any flex between the ball of the foot and the heel, the heel will tilt sideways whichever way you tend to roll your feet. Many seem to be rigid from the back of the sole up to the heel, but aren't rigid enough between the back edge of the sole and under the ball of the foot, so the whole back half of the shoe twists relative to the ball of the foot!

If you put a shoe on and, while standing with your weight spread over the heel and ball of your foot, you can push your heel sideways and feel the heel of the shoe tilt, the shoes are garbage! I have a pair of Miss Shop brand shoes that are a perfect example of this. They are so unstable that I’m pretty sure that I only ever wore them once!

01 October 2012

IMATS Sydney 2012

I'm happy to say that I got there. :)

I bought the ticket last month just before the prices went up, then virtually forgot about it (along with my blog) while concentrating on work. A couple of weeks ago, I realised that it was getting close and made a big effort to get work done to catch up so that I could afford to take the day off.

On Friday night, I was still quite short on sleep and not at all organised. I packed a few things into my pilot's case, epilated my face, shaved my legs (which I hate doing, and only do when I don't have time to wax or epilate), straightened my hair and did several other preparatory jobs.

I ended up getting to bed at almost 1am and putting my alarm back to 5am because I figured that I had to try to get 4 hours sleep.

Dragging myself out of bed at 5am, I struggled several times with things that I usually have no trouble with. Even when I'd finished my makeup and had breakfast, I was still seriously considering cleaning myself up and going back to bed, but I kept reminding myself that I'd paid for the ticket and I wasn't going to waste it.

Like last year, I drove to Wahroonga and caught a North Shore train into the city rather than catching a train all the way. This time, I was looking for a specific exit from Town Hall railway station that kept me indoors for longer while walking towards Darling Harbour than the path that I used last year, and it turned out to be called Town Hall Square. At the northern end of the station is the connection to the Queen Victoria Building that I used when we farewelled Su back in June. The end of Town Hall Square is about half way along the western side, and using it kept me indoors for almost a whole block further than the route I used last year, and saved me climbing stairs only to walk back down the hill along the street.

I arrived around 10am, and even with a pre-paid ticket there was a queue to check the tickets and enter. As soon as I got into the venue, I made my way to the cafeteria area at the back to change my shoes. I'd worn the same flats as I wore last year, but this time the left shoe had rubbed into the back of my ankle through my pantihose and chafed the skin quite badly. It was ironic, then, that putting on my almost 6" Tony Bianco Popstar stilettos was a relief from the flats because they took the pressure off the sore spot on my ankle! Yes, that's two 9-volt batteries stacked between the shoes to give an idea of scale. :)

Unlike last year, I hadn't arranged to meet up with anybody else, but through the course of the day I chatted with several people I already knew and a few that I knew on line but hadn't met before. I also had some random conversations, including 2 women I don't know who complimented me on my shoes and a woman in the cafeteria at lunch time who asked me about my bag, asking if it was a beauty case (no), where did I buy it (a bag shop), etc.

While sitting alone eating lunch (in contrast to last year when there were a dozen of us eating lunch together), I noticed a couple of women looking for a table so I invited them to join me. They turned out to be some of the American staff of IMATS who were running the show. :)

Unlike last year, I wasn't focussed on looking at the sales stands, so after wandering around and finding it unappealingly crowded around most of the stands, I stopped to look at what one of the speakers, Becca Gilmartin, was doing with body art, and was so impressed that I stayed for the rest of her presentation, then the special effects presentation by Thomas Surprenant that followed. Even when you watch them being done step by step, it's amazing how convincing makeup bruises, grazes etc are when they're finished!

After chatting with a few people I knew including some who I hadn't met in person before, I had just about decided to head home when I sat down at the back of the main stage area to change my shoes for the walk back to the station, had a look at the program and decided to stay for another session, presented by Donna Mee.

The revelation for me was that the speakers are actually more important to me than the shopping opportunity. I had an enjoyable day at IMATS, in spite of buying nothing but my train ticket and lunch. :)

I had a slightly odd moment when, in the middle of the day, I forgot how I was dressed (stilettos and all), and was surprised when the guy at the register in the cafeteria addressed me as M'am. :)

In the whole trip including the trains both way, walking to and from Darling Harbour and the whole time in the venue, I never once even felt that anybody was seeing me as a guy. I guess I'm convincing enough for some people, others aren't taking any notice, and the rest are simply too polite to say anything. Even a girl of about 3 years old on the train didn't even look twice.

I have some notes for myself for next year, that others may also benefit from.

* Take a jacket, cardigan or shawl. Sitting down for an hour at a time to watch presentations can get a bit cool in the big, draughty exhibition hall. My cape is too big for this!

* I'd really like to be there both days and catch as many of the speakers as possible. I could easily ignore the entire sales side of it and just be there for the presentations and to meet up with other people.

* Take the time to read the program of speakers online before hand to decide who you'd like to see, and plan to be there all day both days. To make that possible, make sure that you get enough sleep in the lead up to the event, and preferably take the Friday afternoon off work.

* Catching trains to Sydney and back and staying within walking distance of Darling Harbour on both Friday and Saturday nights would be a really good idea, although I could probably settle for staying somewhere close to a railway station around Hornsby if I could park my car there safely from Friday night to Sunday afternoon.