Although I have been dressing for some years, it is only been lately that I have gained courage to expand out from mere solo time locked in the house. My wardrobe has mostly been acquired through trips to obscure shops (often adult only) for lingerie. I could buy inexpensively, taking items to the counter to pay with cash while dropping seemingly innocent comments like “It’s for my wife.”
Along came Amazon—safe, secret, and anonymous. I could get breast forms and more without having to tell a fib to a disinterested clerk. It was only recently that I stumbled across CDH. Within hours, I’d made friends and received the encouragement needed to take “the next step.” I made it my goal to go to a mainline store and to start building a true wardrobe that was more than see-thru bras and super slutty panties.
There was a list of errands, which required at least a couple of hours driving here and there. It was the perfect opportunity to slip in a trip for clothing in between the bank, pharmacy, pet store and others. After carefully planning my route to create an opportunity, I walked into Dillard’s at a large mall and headed straight to the women’s clothing section.
My first reaction was of utter confusion. The departments were laid out as misses, petite, ladies, plus, none of which made any sense to me. I knew that shirts come in a 16-inch collar with 33-inch sleeves, pants are 36” waist 36” in length. What’s the difference between a size 12 versus 13? Can the same person wear a ladies in one measure and a petite in another? This is never going to happen without help. I just wandered in circles passing clerk after clerk, too afraid to seek assistance. Then – the moment of truth. A nice-looking young lady, perhaps 30ish, looks me straight in the eye and asks, “How can I help you sir?”
Before I could talk myself out of a response, I blurt out, “I need to find a nice skirt that comes up to about here,” cutting my hand across my thigh about 2-3 inches above the knee Without missing a beat she replies, “What size sir?” Pulse rate is probably running 130-140 but I take a quick breath and say, “It’s for me.” Shockingly, she doesn’t cringe and states, “Oh, then you need to be over in that section for ladies, this is petites. Someone there will be glad to help you.”
Unbelievable; no screaming, no call to security, no demands to get the h… l out of this store.
Same questions to the next clerk, a lady in her sixties. I received the same answers but this time with a little different inflection in her voice as she says, “You mean for you to wear?” “Yes,” I reply. She answers, “Oh well, then let’s look over here first.” The next 20 minutes with the clerk felt as if I was downstairs in men’s section looking at blazers.
When I asked if I could try an item on, she says, “Of course, but you need to do it out here; the fitting rooms are ladies only.” Yikes! right in the middle of the store??? There was no going back now so I took off my windbreaker and slipped a light dress over my head. I went to check myself in the mirror. Two other women shopping for something or other are trying to watch me without being too obvious. I cannot tell if they are confused, startled, curious or angry, but no matter, I keep at it and after three tries I end up with an above-the-knee dress instead of the skirt I had in mind.
Nerves under control, I check the time. Amazingly, only 20 minutes has elapsed. This is actually fun. I am going to press on, “Where can I find stockings?” “Just to the other side of the escalator,” she replies. This time, I march right up to the counter, “Can someone help me with stockings?” Came the answer, “Sure, right over here. What are you looking for?”
“I want black stockings, not pantyhose. They are for me.” She says, “Okay, let’s see, I think this is what you want. They are thigh-highs and I wear them myself.” I ask if they can they be worn with a garter belt and she tells my yes, if you want to spice things up, they certainly can. After paying and before I walk away, she leans in a bit and says very clearly and with intended emphasis “Now, if you ever need any other help you come see me directly.”
With a smile as I leave I note there is still time for lingerie shopping.
After a back and forth pleasant conversation with a college age salesperson, who treated me without judgement, she directed me down the mall to Victoria Secrets. I was quickly building up my courage despite all my initial fright. I might as well have been asking for a nice pen and pencil set.
At Victoria’s Secret the salesclerk was a young lady, maybe 25. “Where are the garter belts?” “Oh, I’m sorry we don’t carry those. Is there something else I can help you with?” I boldly asked, “How about some nice black panties for me to wear?” “Sure, they are all on display on top of the cases here, here, and here. You’ll probably need a large or XL so look in the bottom two drawers and let me know if I can help you.” This part of the story ended as “pending.” I never did find panties and it was time to get to the pharmacy.
My new friends at CDH made it possible for me to remember that the real demons in our life are often those we create for ourselves, and that we shouldn’t live our lives in fear. This might only be a small step for many and a minor accomplishment to those further along in their self-realization. If there are readers who, like me, need the encouragement then perhaps this will provide some. I would appreciate any feedback from all of you, my newest and dear friends.