For the last week since I wrote the post about my difficulty in shoe shopping, I have been wondering what I can write about next. I enjoy writing this blog and the very act of composing something at least weekly really helps with my own thinking process. Instead of unresolved thoughts firing off randomly in my head, having to put them down into some kind of readable form forces me to work them through to their logical conclusion. And blog posts of that ilk are my favourite ones to write, and the ones that I will look back at occasionally to remind myself of my state of mind at a particular time.
Of less ongoing interest to me are the “I went here and I did this and then I went there and then I did that” type of post. I have been feeling less and less enthusiastic about writing those type of posts because eventually I’m just repeating myself. I feel like I’m just writing for the sake of writing, and I can’t imagine it’s terribly enlightening for a reader either. Hey look, Kirsty ate some food and bought a skirt. That’s interesting, isn’t it? Now that’s not to say that some of these more journal-style posts aren’t worthwhile for me. When I do something different, be it going to the Crumlin Road Gaol a few weeks ago, or visiting Titanic Belfast, or even that Christmas dinner in the centre of Belfast, I think that’s worthwhile. It’s something different, and just for myself it’s a nice memento of my experience, or even my own mini-Trip Advisor. What I write might even conceivably lead someone else to think about visiting, or indeed avoiding, those places. But for more run-of-the-mill things like going shopping or going out for a meal, well what is there to be said that I haven’t said already? Not a lot, as far as I can tell.
On reflection I think that my aversion to further posts about shopping/dining is really testament to just how “normal” that part of my female life has become, which is I suppose cause for celebration in itself. Eight or nine months ago, when every time I stepped out of the car into the real world presenting as female was genuinely an adventure, everything was a new experience, and it was right and proper that I document that both for my own sake and also in the unlikely event of someone else being in a similar position and finding a bit of inspiration in me having done it too. Nowadays, going out shopping as Kirsty is not much more of an adventure than going shopping as Bob. It is, however, a lot more pleasant and enjoyable than going shopping as Bob, both because I can present an image to the world more in tune with how I see myself, but also because I can’t for example go shopping for a new dress, try it on, see how it looks on me and so on while presenting as Bob. Well, I suppose strictly speaking that would be possible, but I just wouldn’t enjoy it. If there’s anything I can do as Kirsty, I’m not going to do it as Bob.
I think what I’m really saying is that the novelty of being out in public as a woman has worn off. Depending on how I choose to look at it, this can be either a good thing or a bad thing. It’s bad in that I don’t really have that sense of elation, almost of euphoria, that came the first few months that I was going out in public as Kirsty. Instead, and this is the good part, it has been replaced with a sense of calm and rightness, knowledge that this is really who I am, that my head isn’t being turned by a “buzz”, and that I’m not just seeing everything through a pink fog. I am who I am and this feeling is here to stay.
Well that was meant to be a one-paragraph preamble to what I was really going to write about, how I was stuck for inspiration and something quite bizarre but nice just happened, and suddenly I’m nearly 700 words in without really saying anything. Not exactly a woman of few words, me. So what was I actually going to write about? Well pull up a chair, lower the lights, stop smoking that stuff, it’s illegal, and I’ll tell you…
When Mrs Kirsty arrived home from work this evening, she was clutching a parcel that she had collected from Wallis. It was a dress that she had ordered for in-store collection. Now in case you’re getting way ahead of me and thinking it’s for me, it’s not. It was a dress from their petite range. Mrs K is 5’2″, a full foot shorter than me. She is an 8, I am a 16. There is no sharing of clothing going on in our marriage. But I digress. Again. What had precipitated the purchase of the dress was the recent engagement of my niece – well she turned 30 last December, it’s about flipping time. Now the wedding itself isn’t until Summer 2016, so the dress isn’t for that, and anyway we wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to take it as a given that we would be receiving an invitation. Although I’ll be really offended if we don’t. It was just the fact of the engagement led Mrs K on a train of thought that lead her to realise that she didn’t really have anything, well, dressy. So she decided to remedy that.
Mrs K tends to select her clothing from catalogues or websites and then order it to be delivered to the store, from were she collects it and to where she returns it if it’s unsuitable. She doesn’t like the idea that someone else might have tried on her clothes before she buys them, so she generally doesn’t buy clothing that’s on display in shops. Right little fusspot. So anyway the dress arrived. This dress, in fact. She pulled it out of the bag, took one look at it, and announced that it would be much too small and wouldn’t get over her bum. Mrs K is curvy. Not fat by any means, she is a size 8 after all, but she is definitely curvy. My male side loves her figure, my female side wants her figure. But for all that, she rarely shows it off, preferring instead to wear looser tops and jeans, and always with flatter shoes, often trainers. Now she wears very nice and fashionable tops and jeans, but tops and jeans nonetheless. But this evening she pulled that dress over her head and as it stretched around her and she pulled the hem down to about an inch above the knee, she looked completely stunning. Really really stunning. And then she immediately complained about the size of her bum. Oh, the irony. She wears loose-fitting clothing to make her bum look smaller, I wear padding to make mine look bigger!
But this is when things began to take a turn for the decidedly odd. She asked me how I thought she looked. For millions of women asking their husbands this question, they will get a standard response, something along the lines of “You look lovely, dear”. But that’s not what Mrs K got from me. Well at first she did, I told her, truthfully, that I thought she looked amazing. But the dress reminded me of one of my own dresses, albeit mine is a little less figure-hugging, so I asked her what she would wear with the dress, and then took my own out of the wardrobe to illustrate that I was trying to work out what went best with my own too. She wasn’t sure what she was going to wear on her feet, but even with just the dress and bare legs it looked to me like what she it really needed to set it off was a pair of nude or cream heels, although Mrs K never (and I mean never) wears heels. So I reached up to the top shelf of my half of the built-in wardrobe, retrieved my own cream court shoes with a 3.5 inch wooden heel and suggested “I would wear something like these with that dress”.
At this point I fully expected Mrs K to exclaim in a stage whisper “For God’s sake put those away, the kids could walk in here any second”. But instead of that she took the shoes off me, laid them on the floor, and stepped into them to get an idea of how that would look on her. Due to the massive size difference in our feet, she looked akin to a toddler trying on her mum’s high heels, but with a lot more lady-bumps. Despite the size, I thought looking face-on they looked great on her. She seemed to agree, although she said that there was no way she could walk in something with that size of heel. I think she could surprise herself. She certainly surprised me.
So since she wasn’t particularly keen on the height, even though the style seemed good, I then said “Well see what you think of these”, reached to the back of another cupboard, and produced a pair of nude ballerina pumps with a small wedge. She tried them on too, although due to the lower height they are even longer than the other pair so looked even more comically huge on her. I think she preferred the first pair.
“Would you wear it with bare legs?” I asked her. She replied not, and immediately went to get herself some tights. But the only tights she has are opaques. She put them on and right away the hem of the dress lost its impact. “No”, I told her, “You can’t wear opaques with that dress, you need nude or natural sheer”. Her immediate response was that she wasn’t going to wear “tan tights”, to which she has a huge aversion due to connotations of grannies and Nora Batty. So I had to explain that natural and tan aren’t the same thing, and produced a pair of my own 12 denier natural shimmer tights, stretching them over my arm so she could see what they look like on pale skin (she is as pale as I am). She agreed that yes, they would be an improvement. Then she suggested that we check the Wallis website to see what the model was wearing with the dress. And she was wearing… nude heels with natural tights (or possibly bare legs). Go Kirsty!
Mrs K then suggested that perhaps sandals would work, although with no great conviction and I wasn’t convinced. Particularly not flat sandals. By this point I was now in full-on “girlfriend” mode, and I suggested yet another shoe look. I retrieved the lacy cream shoes that I wore to the Snow Queen Ball at Eastbourne back in October. They have a serious 4.5 inch heel so there is no way she would wear something like that, but I suggested that she imagine that but as a ballerina pump with a closed toe. A bit of a stretch perhaps, but I have definitely seen such shoes, and I’m sure it would look gorgeous with Mrs K’s new dress.
At this point I discovered another irony. The blog that I wrote last week about my difficulty in finding shoes actually struck a chord with my wife. Just as my feet are on the cusp of being too big for women’s shoes in high street stores, what I had forgotten was that Mrs Kirsty has a similar problem. Her feet are so small that sometimes she struggles to get women’s (as opposed to girls’) shoes to fit. I know for a fact that she has bought kids’ trainers before because they are a better fit. She really is quite small – our twelve-year-old daughter is three inches taller and three shoe sizes bigger than her mum!
Eventually the moment passed and we resumed our evening, but for about 10 or 15 minutes, it felt for the first time ever that it was really me interacting with my wife woman to woman. Even though I would have looked completely male at the time, it was a girly chat. And it genuinely felt two-way, like she wasn’t speaking to me as a man, I was a trusted girlfriend. I didn’t expect that when I woke up today. Or indeed ever.
As an aside, it’s a bit of a TV cliche that a wife will catch her husband trying on her tights and shoes and all hell will break loose. I would imagine that it is a lot less common for a woman to be trying out her husband’s cream heels and tights as part of a feminine style consultation. I feel rather good about this. And I hope, I really do hope, that this helps Mrs K see the female side of me, and how natural it all is. Because it all flowed completely normally, it was only later while I was cooking dinner that I thought “Hang on, did that really happen?” And it really did.
Kirsty the style consultant. Who’da thunk it?