Monday, 10 May 2021

The joy of sox, or hosiery tips and treats 3: fashion and style

 What's trending? The all-important question that's been essential knowledge in any society. I suspect the way a caveman wore his sabre-tooth tigerskin coat said a lot about his status and style even back then. If you're not on trend, you get excluded and, certainly in the past, social exclusion from the court, tribe, city or state could be serious. 

Thankfully, things are not so drastic now but knowing what's 'in' helps the TGirl about town lead her life without sticking out as a fashion oddity. Although it's fine to stick out if you want to. This season's colours, cut, shoes and hairstyle need noting, even if you don't like them, and the same is true for hosiery.

You've seen this photo before and you are going to see it again now since I love it that much! This was me, a middle-aged transwoman, trying out the fashion among teenage girls in 2008, just for fun. Footless tights worn with ballet flats, short skirt, plain top, long hair and hairband.

I've always followed fashion, especially in shoes and hosiery, as much as I could, and I've noted the changing fashions since I was little. Stockings gave way to pantyhose/tights in the 1960s, largely as a result of the miniskirt requiring a concession to modesty in not showing stocking tops and suspenders off in public. But this and the culture of the time also gave rise to playful, colourful, imaginative pantyhose (groovy, baby!). The early '70s, I recall, were dominated by the notorious "American tan" shade that was ... well, it doesn't really exist any more and some things are for the best!

From M&S Archive on Twitter
 

The later '70s saw the re-emergence of black sheers and around 1980 the colour "champagne" (creamy white) became hugely popular, to be followed around 1982 by ribbed opaques (ideal with your slouch boots).


There was a revival ten years ago of '80s-style ribbed opaques, which I'm wearing here with grey suede boots and heather tartan wool skirt. This combination drew compliments at the time.

Legwarmers of that era have rightly been consigned to the laundry basket of history! I'm fearful that pixie boots will make another comeback! ...I'm digressing. 

It was in the mid-'80s that new, more dynamic hosiery knitting machines were invented and elastane (Lycra) became an almost staple component of hosiery. The latter created sheen, stretch and flexibility; the former led to an explosion of new patterns and styles, with a boost given by Princess Di who was a hosiery aficionada.

As a result, coloured lace (with microskirts) became a big thing around 1986-7, spot tights in 1987-8 (with a baggy purple sweater) or zigzags, and cute repeating print patterns in 1988-9, all thanks to the new weave technology. Fishnets - and more subtle micronets - ceased to be the preserve of showgirls but became smart, mainstream items. Tartan, diamond and other repeating patterns, big prints and suchlike enabled women to make a statement. The recession of the early '90s put paid to all this fun, and black opaques and leggings replaced the groovy, the funky and the bodacious of the '60s, '70s and '80s. Boo! As the '90s progressed there were some tentative returns to colour and patterns, notably chocolate around 1997.*

In the last twenty years there has been such a huge choice of quality hosiery. Yes, there are sudden fashions, like the revival of pastel coloured opaques around 2007, which had me buying turquoise and even avocado, which was everywhere for just a few weeks. Like a '70s bathroom suite, it had no long-term appeal. I wonder why?!

 

A special limited edition from Aristoc. 50 denier opaques in turquoise. Briefly fashionable, which is such a pity because they are the softest, most comfortable pair of pantyhose I have. I wear them often, but only at home - they'd be a fashion fail right now!


At present, women wear trousers (in the widest sense - see my post One Tube or Two). Current fashion is very much for leather and PVC trousers and leggings; everyday wear is leggings (plain or sporty), jeans or just trousers. There's less scope for displaying hosiery, which is a pity given its versatility. But don't turn your nose up at knee-highs (pop sox) or pretty ankle socks. I know they're not exactly the sexy stockings so beloved of that trans community, but they are ideal with jeans and trousers.


In my last post I felt that everyone should have staples in their sock drawer such as natural and black sheers, and black opaques. But when fashion focuses on hosiery I like to buy what's in, even if it has a short life on the catwalk or street. The great colour wheels of 40, 50 or even more shades don't seem to be a thing any more. When they were, such as in the Noughties, I bought every shade of pink (ballerina through to purple) in Aristoc's line. Yes, I did wear them occasionally, such as with a pink ballerina-style dress to a party. Purple was popular for longer, especially in opaque styles. I hear good things about Snag hosiery, ideal for the larger or taller girl - TGirls take note -, and they have a range of bright colours, and also bodyfree/suspender pantyhose that I praised in my last post and which they call "mock garter" (link: Snag site).

Lace pantyhose come back into fashion from time to time, too, and here are three of mine from Jonathan Aston, but in different patterns and colours: "sweet roses" in white, "belgravia" in dusky raspberry and "fleur" in black. Quality and attractiveness that feel heavenly. You really know you're wearing these.



I said above that fishnets are mainstrean hosiery now and as well as the classic black you can get them in a number of other shades. Here's me in pale apricot fishnets (best click on the image to expand to see they are nets):

With Joanne. Photo by Sheila Blige.
 

The way they expand over my legs so as to reveal and work with the natural colour of my skin creates an ideal match here with my pale peach-yellow dress and cream shoes and bag. Fishnets in natural skin shades can work wonders with giving you a smooth, smart legs with a bit of sheen that works with your skin tone, so they are better in some contexts than sheers which impose a tone on you. Ideal if your legs are waxed and so have a natural sheen. 

Whalenets were a thing a decade or so ago but they need careful consideration to avoid pasty white skin clashing with and oozing around thin black net, not to mention the troubles of getting them on and off. My solution is layering with natural sheers but rather than go into this complex topic now I'll save it for my next post, about mixing and matching.

Of course, party time is when snazzy hosiery comes into its own. Just a few of mine: cityscape (London Skyline from M&S, very 2012), sparkly fishnets (Falke), blue neon (M&S) and spider web (market stall, no label, with similar gloves):


 


 

Next time: choosing, matching, layering and how to style your legwear for best effect.

* Lynn, see my reply to your comment/query on my last post about chocolate sheers.


A dip in the archives

 Here's a link to a post from 2012 that I wrote about a favourite hosiery site, MyTights, that no longer exists as it has been taken over by UK Tights (site: https://www.uktights.com/). I loved MyTights and bought a lot from them over many years. Although I've not used UK Tights, I hope they are still providing the same quality service, good advice and trans friendly help that their predecessor did.

As well as describing my inadvertent discovery of their offices, I also state in that post that "one day I'll post about my hosiery collection". Now just because November 2012 was a long time ago, don't say I haven't fulfilled my promise by May 2021!

Sue x


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Oggi continuo ad esaminare la bellezza delle calze e dei collant, sopratutto quelli più di moda.

Sue x



Thursday, 6 May 2021

The joy of sox, or hosiery tips and treats 2: tights/pantyhose

 I'm continuing this series on my favourite clothing items, hosiery, by looking specifically at tights or pantyhose.

Your hostess in standard black opaques
 

For the purposes of this post I will call these garments pantyhose. The word tights describes many articles of clothing over the centuries usually for men, whereas I'm describing the modern legwear for women. Pantyhose, (i.e. stockings with attached panty) cannot be confused with these:

Anglian footed trousers from a bog burial in N Germany around 2000 years ago. A pair of tights, to all intents and purposes.

Men in tights: the Battle of Crécy, 1346. Illumination from Jean Froissart's Chronicles

Men in tights: The Discovery (left) and the Verification (right) of the True Cross from Piero della Francesca's fresco cycle The Legend of the True Cross (1452-66) in the Church of St Francis, Arezzo, Central Italy. Colourful hose (tights) for men of all classes. The workman in the centre with the shovel has rolled his hose down for greater comfort when working.

"Mr Pickwick addresses the Club", illustration by Robert Seymour for Charles Dickens's The Pickwick Papers (1836). "The eloquent Pickwick, with one hand gracefully concealed behind his coat tails, and the other waving in air to assist his glowing declamation; his elevated position revealing those tights and gaiters, which, had they clothed an ordinary man, might have passed without observation, but which, when Pickwick clothed them - if we may use the expression - inspired voluntary awe and respect."

As for modern days sports tights for men, well they aren't part of this picture either.

I guess I have always liked pantyhose for three reasons. The light material and clear emphasis on the female market always made them seem ultra-feminine to me, and that's often the emphasis when you're trans (hence the whole miniskirt and killer heels look so beloved of many MtF trans people). The other reasons were that they were cheap - within pocket money range - when I first started buying as a kid, and that they could easily be hidden since they fold up into a tiny ball that can be secreted into small hidey-holes. My secret feminine world in a matchbox! Nowadays, I appreciate them for their warmth and comfort and the smooth, smart look they give my legs.

My last post about stockings gave some comparisons in terms of practicality. Generally I find pantyhose easier to put on and take off and they stay in place better. But that doesn't mean they don't have their own annoyances, such as slipping down, wrinkling at joints, having less uniform appearance and - my bugbear - not going on straight. I can feel a twisted pantyhose leg on my thigh and nothing irritates me more!

Sizing stockings, especially fully-fitted ones, is important but pantyhose sizing is vital. Too small or too big and they really won't fit well. Unlike stockings where it's the leg measurements that count, with pantyhose you need to take account of height, hips and buttocks too, so you need to know your female measurements, and they aren't so easy to take yourself, which is a problem for those who aren't out yet. Online shopping and communication has revolutionised the world for trans people and made things very much easier, but that has been at the expense of face-to-face shopping at a trans retail specialist who would be able to take your measurements for you.

The other preference for pantyhose I have is that most stockings are sheer with a few opaque styles, whereas I have pantyhose ranging from gossamer-thin 5 denier to winter-warming 200 denier and a far vaster choice of colours, styles and patterns. Remember they are now 97% of the hosiery market, so manufacturers will stick with a few tried and tested types of stockings only rather than take a business risk in developing a fancy style only in stockings.

More detail on sizing and weight in a later post.

I myself have so many pairs of pantyhose, from cheap multipack sheers and opaques from supermarkets to expensive (and more fitted) single items from quality suppliers like Wolford, Tabio, Elbeo and Calzedonia. And, of course, pantyhose for parties or special occasions.



My two photos above show, firstly, cheap multipacks of sheer pantyhose, from Marks & Spencer (M&S), that are perfectly acceptable for everyday use at home or outdoors and should be a staple in everyone's wardrobe. Normal knit 10 denier in tan and 15 denier ladder resist in black that are not so elegant with their complex weave but are more durable. Below them are two pairs of quality pantyhose I have had for a good 20 years, have been worn innumerable times and - incredibly - are still going strong with only slight pilling on the feet. Everyone should invest in quality, too, especially when it comes to opaques. These are Falke 70 denier black opaques and Aristoc diamond pattern tights both bought at Selfridges for about £12 and £8 around the year 2000. Best investment ever!

My next post will be about styles, patterns, colours, etc. But for now I'll also mention some variants on the standard pantyhose.

Open-toe

With a band between big toe and the others or just open, these are ideal with your summer sandals or open-toed shoes.

Marks & Spencer 7 denier open-toe tights. Perfect in July with sandals

Footless

These were all the rage 10-15 years ago and are often sold as leggings, even though some of these leggings are lighter than pantyhose that's described as footless! So where footless pantyhose end is not where leggings begin!

H&M 'leggings' that come two in a pack and are good in summer
The teenager look in 2008. These were labelled as footless tights (from Marks & Spencer) and are virtually the same as the 'leggings' above.


Shaper / control pantyhose

These can be quite useful both for shaping your tum and helping with your tuck. They range from a bit thicker in the panty to a serious squeeze that can be pretty tough to get into. Some have such a high panty that you can hold it up with your bra! Though that's not a good idea if you are likely to be outside a long time and may need a comfort break. Obviously, some manufacturers like Spanx specialise in this sort of thing (link: Spanx shapewear hosiery), many other manufacturers have a shapewear range. 

Support pantyhose that give extra support and lift to your legs are, in my opinion, really only for those to whom medical recommendations apply, or who actually spend much of their day on their feet. If neither apply, I wouldn't go for it as the feel on your legs is bulkier and the look is sometimes less attractive than ordinary pantyhose.

Suspender pantyhose

These were all the rage about ten years ago but are less common now. They are pantyhose with a pattern that resembles stockings and suspenders. The intention is for the suspender to show. It's a reasonable compromise between stockings and pantyhose. I like them: fun, fashionable, sexy. A good pair should be comfortable and feel much the same as wearing full pantyhose. The Charnos pair below with flat surface all through are wonderful, the M&S pair beneath with raised suspenders are not so good, despite costing more (not so stretchy and a bit scratchy).

Sexy

Party

Bodyfree

Sometimes also called suspender pantyhose, these are stockings attached to a waistband by broad bands of material that leave the gusset and hips open. A compromise between pantyhose and stockings with suspenders, these are good for women who prefer or need an open panty area and are ideal for men, or for TGirls who like to 'underdress' when they cannot be fully femme, as they make going to the toilet very easy.

Not all manufacturers quite got the concept. Charnos, for instance, a very good brand in so many ways, never in my experience produced good bodyfree pantyhose, either in their bridal range with, for example, a lace waistband, lace suspenders attached and lace-top stockings, or their official bodyfree range that I confess has been the only pair of hosiery that I was actually unable to get on because of the overly fiddly bands from the waistband to the stocking. But a very cheap range from BHS department stores (now no more) were excellent and I invested in many packs and colours.

 

Fashion no-nos

You can't go too wrong with pantyhose. If you are going to wear them with skimpy shorts, wear pantyhose with no visible panty band. Personally, I hate when the contrast between stocking and panty band shows below your shorts. Maybe it's just me. (Or cover your buttocks like your mother said you should!)

In 2006/7 when the film Factory Girl came out, Sienna Miller (who played Andy Warhol's muse Edie Sedgewick) adopted a Sixties style that only very few women (e.g. Jane Fonda), have ever been able to pull off, which is pantyhose apparently on their own (she actually had a leotard but it was very subtle). Lots of women then went around in nothing but tights (thankfully with panties on) and it was the ultimate fashion nightmare that ended pretty quickly when they realsied they looked awful. Leggings are not trousers and neither are tights. You need to cover that panty area.

I'll be giving tips in a later post about problems like runs and holes. But once you have a ladder or hole, change your pantyhose as soon as you can (unless you are a punk or in rebel style of some kind).

My all-time favourites

So having enthused about pantyhose, what is my all-time favourite pair?

That would have to be John Lewis glossy 15 denier run-resist in black, that came in packs of 3 at about £6 but were a fine, well-fitting, stylish, glossy yet incredibly durable pantyhose that have, alas! been discontinued, presumably because they sold one pack to every customer and she never needed to return for more! Damaging them took some doing - once I destroyed a pair but only after I had dropped a pyrex dish from the oven that shattered and cut my legs.

Here's a favourite photo that shows them off well.



They came in other shades: tan and barely black, but plain black have always been my favourites. 

That wraps up my tour of pantyhose, the second 'leg' on my overview of hosiery. In subsequent posts I'll be looking at styles (colours, sheen, patterns, etc.) and combinations (e.g. layering), and then all the advice I can offer on sizing, weight, costs, care, good brands, online stores, reviews and so on. Yes, I love my hosiery!

 

A dip in the archives

Well, here's me in my old home, after one of the many dressing sessions I offered to other TGirls. Those winning pantyhose are here again. I think they make my legs look fabulous.
 


Sue x

 

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Oggi continuo la mia discussione su i collant, con tante foto! Non so se sono una bella modella, ma insomma, per illustrare ...!

Sue x



Monday, 3 May 2021

The joy of sox, or hosiery tips and treats. I: stockings

 This is the series of posts I've been wanting to write for years as I love hosiery so much. For warmth, comfort and making your legs attractive and fashionable, nothing beats a good pair of tights or stockings.

Super legs can be yours! Sue's top tips for top pins.


I had been waiting for a chance to get to my deposit in London and get my hands on the 300 or so pairs I own before writing, but that will have to wait a bit longer. Yes, I do collect hosiery, often the same range but in different colours or formats, but there's nothing in my collection that hasn't been worn. Tights/pantyhose, stockings, hold-ups, overknees, pop sox; you name it, I've got it and love it. I had a small cupboard and a five-drawer chest for them all. And why not? They're attractive and practical. 

I thought I'd share all my tips on buying, sizing, accessories and care, as well as some photos, stories and even some history.

Let's start with stockings, everyone's favourite. Then I'll write further posts on tights/pantyhose, on fancy styles and other types, on maintenance and other practicalities.

A brief history

It was always men who wore the fancy hosiery from the Middle Ages onwards, whereas women's stockings were largely hidden under long dresses so didn't need to be so smart. It's only in the last 150 years or so that men have stopped showing the shape of their legs, which are often finer than women's. This is a pity, in my view, and in the modern age it would be better if more men had their legs on view as well as women. Not everyone agrees but if you've got good legs, flaunt them!

Men's stockings became a particularly important thing in the Renaissance and the complex arrangement of stockings, belt, codpiece and breeches must have been a pest to put on!

King Philip II of Spain by Titian. Stockings, trunkhose, codpiece. He would also have been wearing a belt with suspenders with buttons that went through eyelets in the tops of the stockings to hold them up. Unlike you and me, he'd also have had servants and squires to dress him in all this paraphernalia!

 

Women's stockings tended to be more straightforward and were usually held with garters above the knee. Finally, in the 1920s, when women's fashions promoted skirts far shorter than at any other time in history, stockings came into view and had to become smarter... and here we are. 

Stockings or tights?

In response to the old question: stockings or tights? I confess I much prefer tights/pantyhose, for reasons that should become clear. The market share of stockings is about 3% vs. tights at 97%, so I assume it's largely glamour models and MtF trans people who are supporting the stocking end of the trade. The draw is that stockings are indubitably sexy, more obviously feminine and in some ways more practical, such as when you need a bathroom break. My advice on stockings is as follows.

Size

I'll talk about denier, sizing and style more fully in a later post, but just to say that sizing is not so critical as with tights. But do make sure the stocking will come well up your thigh. Check size guides carefully especially as MtF trans people are often taller than the majority of women. Bear in mind also that your calves may be larger but your thighs slimmer than the 'optimum' female leg shape used as a model for the stockings. This is especially important if you go for stockings that don't contain super-stretchy elastane, such as the retro fully-fashioned styles.

Suspenders

You have to hold stockings up so you need suspenders/garters. The days of rolling stocking tops down to create support are gone.

Just a point about English: I'm going to call the garment a suspender belt and the straps suspenders, rather than garter belt/garters.

Although suspender belts are readily available and often inexpensive, do yourself a favour and get a good one: one with a decent width, strong material, preferably with six or more straps, and with metal (not plastic) clasps. Unless you are just posing at home for your camera or your lover, a small, lacy, four-strap, plastic-clasp job isn't going to work well if you are going out, or wearing stockings all day.

Not this. An early purchase of mine that's easily found in shops and is pretty but is inadequate to the task.
 

Similar to the point about leg shape, if you have gone through puberty as male then you are unlikely to have the 'child-bearing' hips that suspender belts are designed to sit on. You may also have male-pattern fat stores that are mainly in the tummy, as opposed to female-pattern that are more in the thigh area. This means that your suspender belt, even if tied tight, has little to rest on to keep it from slipping down and loosening your stockings. That's why a good one is essential, such as these styles I invested in from Stockings Direct (https://www.stockingsdirect.co.uk/).


 
 

Lingerie retailers who specialise in retro fashions are especially good for quality items like this, and for giving advice (and caring for their transgender customers). I like Secrets in Lace (https://www.secretsinlace.com/) and What Katie Did (https://www.whatkatiedid.com/). 

Another way of addressing hip/tum differences is to use lingerie designed for men (dysphoria allowing), such as Homme Mystère (https://shop.hommemystere.com/), though admittedly they and others do tend to go for soft and pretty rather than practical. Or get advice from specialist trans retailers such as Glamour Boutique (https://www.glamourboutique.com/) or Doreen's Fashions (with its delightfully '90s website! https://www.doreenfashions.com/).

Alternatively, go for a basque, teddy or corselette with suspenders that hangs from your shoulders that reduces the effects of gravity. A corselette is not so sexy (if that's your aim), but should hold your shape in and your stockings up all day.

A corset or waist cincher can also help create the more slender tum and wider hips that you need to park your suspender belt on.

Should you wear your panties under or over the suspender belt? Fashionistas say under; I'm a practical sort and I wear them over. It's so much easier if you have to take a comfort break.

Chub rub

Apart from the paraphernalia needed, my other complaint about stockings is that often, if you are walking a lot, your thighs rub together and get sore. There are three main solutions:

1) Wear light, skin-tone, matt tights under your stockings and suspenders. More on layering in a later post.

2) Wear specialist shorts (e.g. Snag) or similar. You can even cut the (long) panty off a pair of tights and use that. Though admittedly if you're going for sexy with your stockings, this is going to kill the effect!

3) Use a specialist skin product, which varies from creams and lotions to powders. Most large pharmacies have a selection. Moisturisers don't usually work so well on their own as they usually get absorbed, and plain talcum doesn't last all that long.

Hold-ups

Of course, these days the whole business of suspenders has been done away with by effective hold-up welts. To work, you really have to have shaved legs as the welts can't adhere very well to hair. The welts are usually not harmful to skin but if you do find your skin getting raw where the stocking welt has been, then hold-ups (or that brand) are not for you and you should discontinue use.

Fully-fashioned

There has been a revival in popularity of stockings using old nylon yarns knitted on the original machinery. These are stockings without elastane (Lycra), that are sized and properly leg-shaped rather than  relying on stretch to cover everything. This results in a more uniform thickness of nylon all over the leg rather than its ending up thicker on the calf and thinner on the thigh as is usual with modern hosiery. There's also a preference for the type of sheen, the necessary seams, the broad welts, the whole retro glam look (see the two retro fashion outlets above). They are, of course, all sheer. Some modern stockings aim to reproduce the look but with the comfort and easier fitting of modern fibres. The other advantage of modern fibres is that you can get opaque ones that are ideal in winter.

Retro look but modern yarns: Pretty Polly Nylons range. One from my collection (and quite a few years old now!) The packaging is different now and they seem to be marketed more as another range of glossy stockings rather than intentionally retro)
 
Bettie Page, queen of the '50s cheesecake models, did more than any other to popularise the pin-up look we so often strive to emulate. From Beauty Parade 1952. I've no idea if modern men's mags still have the sort of sexist jokes here. I suspect they do.

I hope some of these tips are useful. Next time, I will talk about tights/pantyhose and why I am such an aficionada.

Hosiery perfects the look
 

 

A dip in the archives

The brief mention of men's hosiery above brings me to another historic trans person: Henry of Valois, who reigned as King Henry I of Poland (1573-75) and as King Henry III of France (1574-89).


 

His sexuality was certainly ambiguous and he had a varied love life, despite his religious piety, not unlike his contemporary James VI of Scotland / James I of England. But his crossdressing, even according to the flamboyant costumes of the time, seems reasonably certain. As well as loving large earrings, and large soft ruffs round his neck, his clothing and corsetry were notably more feminine than that of his contemporaries. Whether he occasionally wore dresses is disputed. 

The problem with Henry, as with so many historic figures, is that his enemies (in his era, religious extremists, both Catholic and Protestant) were determined to demonstrate his unfitness to rule as each side made its impossible demands. He was a pacifist, even opposed to hunting, and in a belligerent era of internecine hatreds that position was hardly going to be popular. He also had to contend with inflation, a phenomenon virtually unknown till Spanish American gold and silver flooded European markets and New World products like tobacco and maize changed agriculture, which was also affected by the beginnings of the Little Ice Age. A gentle person, it seems, in a dangerous and difficult age. His assassination by militant religious fanatics was inevitable. Of course, to fanatics, sexual and behavioural deviancy (and the definition at the time was broad) showed moral deviancy, and moral deviancy was considered to affect the fortunes of the whole kingdom. Crossdressing - if it was even that - hardly explains the climate change, the economic stresses and the religious tensions of his era but, in the same way that more recent fanatics have said that gay living causes tornadoes, it's Henry's personal peccadilloes and preferences that came under the spotlight and were blamed for the ills of his generation.

Sue x


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Oggi incomincio una serie su i miei abiti preferiti: calze e collant. Con un po' di storia.

Sue x



Thursday, 29 April 2021

Blog additions and updates

Firstly, I've added a couple more good trans sites to the blogroll: A Gender Variance Who's Who and Crossdreamers. Both excellent: the first provides a wealth of information on trans people in history and other useful information; the latter has many interesting articles and helpful resources. I've been reading both sites for years but until recently my blogroll linked chiefly to the sites of friends of mine. Since they blog less, I'm now linking more to sites that have a wider interest. 

Secondly, Blogger is to discontinue the email alert service so if you have been receiving update alerts automatically by email, this will end in a couple of months and I will then remove the widget. Sorry about that; it was not my decision. 

I am still working on my own resources page, and on providing better labels and links to past posts. My blog is a very mixed bag of adventures, thoughts and support and labelling ten years' worth of posts is taking a while. Bear with me! 

You'll have noticed that this year I am blogging regularly twice a week and this should continue for a while. 


A dip in the archives

In my recent trawl through old emails to find early photos, I came across this portrait taken at the Boudoir in 2008. It shows how much better my nakeup is when done by a professional! I'm now using this picture as my avatar on various sites.


 Sue x

 

Cari lettori italiani

Speriamo che questa storia del virus finisca presto, e anche l'iter della legge contro l'omotransfobia. La strada è sempre lunga e lenta.

Oggi ho aggiunto altri due siti. Tutti e due in inglese, ma entrambi risorse utili.

Sue x

Monday, 26 April 2021

A trip to the theatre, and more

 Continuing my reminiscences of the first year I was out and about as a woman, I recall this time ten years ago when Emma and her wife Jackie came to stay. We'd planned a weekend sightseeing, eating out and seeing a play.

It shows how comfortable we'd both become about getting on with life as women, compared to our tentative and somewhat comical first night out in London. Whereas that night is seared into my memory for ever, I'm less sure of the events on this occasion, but thanks to Emma's well-arranged photos, I've pieced together what we did.

We went up to London by train, which is a lot easier and cheaper than going by car.

We met Joanne and Irene for lunch at Prix Fixe French brasserie in Soho.


Our main event of the day was a trip to the New London Theatre to see one of the most acclaimed shows of the time, War Horse, the adventures of a Devon plough horse sent to the front in World War I. Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, the story was also made into a film by Stevan Spielberg. 

It was excellent, with life-sized articulated puppets for the animals and a vorticist style for the backdrops. (Here are the Wiki entries on the play https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Horse_(play) and on Vorticism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vorticism). 

Horse puppet and human actors

Example of vorticist art of the WWI era that inspired the artwork on stage. This is "Dazzle Ships in Dry Dock at Liverpool" by Edward Wadsworth (1919)
 

Interval refreshments

That evening we had dinner at one of my favourite venues, Sarastro in Drury Lane that has featured many times in this blog.


The next day we went sightseeing. 

Lunch was at another favourite venue (now sadly closed), Bistro 1 in Brewer Street.

 

In my last blog post I wrote about nostalgia for London and included some photos. Well, here are some more from a sunny afternoon in and around St James's Park.

They also prove that we do get exercise and don't just sit around eating!


 

 

As I said, it was now great to feel as comfortable as this out in public.
The main point of my blog has always been to encourage others to live their trans lives happily so I'm glad to have had this chance to add to that aim.

Thanks to Emma and Jackie for another good weekend. I'd especially like to thank Jackie for her support for trans people and for coming out with us. 

Emma and I were to have a fantastic week together in July that year, and you can read about that in due time.


A dip in the archives

By way of complete contrast, a year after this I spent the last weekend of April in Blackpool and wrote about the Funny Girls show. Here's a link to the entry with the photos from this exuberant show:  

Funny Girls photos

 

Sue x

 

Cari lettori italiani

Secondo me, si apre troppo presto. Non mi fido di questo virus. 

Nelle ultime settimane mi sono messo a guardare vecchie foto dei miei giorni a Londra. Oggi racconto di un paio di giorni dieci anni fa quando la mia amica Emma è venuta a trovarmi con sua moglie e siamo stati al teatro e in giro per la città.

Sue x



Thursday, 22 April 2021

Nostalgia

 Nostalgia just isn't what it used to be ... goes the old gag.

The Covid-19 crisis all over the world means I have not moved from the Italian riviera for over a year, apart from a couple of days for business in Milan.

Being stuck on the riviera is hardly a tragedy, though! I guess the Covid experience has been less severe to me than to most others. It's lovely here: mild winters, and summers that are sunny but not overhot; the sea views and the mountains are stunning; the palms, pines, banana and citrus trees, banyans, eucalyptus, prickly pears and cactuses are green all year; the food is very tasty; and I am in good physical health and losing weight steadily, too. Apart from being always alone with worries about money and rights, I can't really complain compared to what most people have been suffering. 

 

I took this photo as I was writing this post. The view over the Mediterranean from home.

Lush local greenery, which I love.

Snow on distant mountains. Beautiful from afar as it doesn't snow where I live!


But I have been missing my old home in London, England, a bit. I lived there most of my life, after all. I had planned to spend last August there revisiting old haunts and seeing old friends, but it wasn't viable to travel. So I've been going over old photos and also enjoying watching various London vloggers. The dry humour of Jago Hazzard as he informs us about various architectural or transport successes and failures is certainly interesting and entertaining, but if I were to link to any vlogger here it'd be the fascinating artist Nicola White (site here), who is a modern-day mudlark. 

What's a mudlark? 

Well, if you read Henry Mayhew's fascinating and influential London Labour and the London Poor, articles published in book form in 1851 and 1861, mudlarks are people who scrabble in the Thames mud at low tide to try to find lost objects that can be resold or reused, such as lumps of coal. When very lucky, they might find a coin. In previous ages they were pretty much the poorest of the poor. These days, people like Nicola White scrabble in the mud to find objects like driftwood or broken glass and pottery that can be turned into artworks, or simply unearth old objects that are interesting from the point of view of social history: clay pipes, brass buttons, jewellery, musket balls ... not to mention messages in bottles. It's extraordinary that things as ancient as Roman coins and pottery are still there to be picked up from the gravelly mud after nearly one and a half million tides have washed over them since London became a Roman city. It's a mucky hobby, but when you've lived on the river as I have, walked its towpaths and embankments, boated on it, crossed it on bridges and tunnels, even swum in it, then it still holds a fascination, for all its sludginess.

Here's a link to her YouTube channel: Nicola White mudlark; and a link to the ITN (Independent Television News) short feature about her and her weird pursuit ...



Well, it's one way of connecting with one's past.


A dip in the archives

A few random photos from my days in London, with some well-known landmarks...

No idea where this is!

Buckingham Palace

Cuty Sark, Greenwich

Tower Bridge

Chinatown

Covent Garden at Christmas

The Thames at night

Sue x

 

Cari lettori italiani

Benché mi piaccia la Liguria, questa settimana ho avuto una nostalgia per Londra dove ho vissuto la maggior parte della mia vita. Che peccato che gli inglesi si stanno autodistruggendo con il nazionalismo, il razzismo, l'omotransfobia e tutto l'odio che hanno perché non comandano più. Che arroganza! Era un'epoca bellissima quella che ho passato a Londra quando ho incominciato a vivere come donna, ma ormai è finita. Quando anche la storia del Covid è finita e mi sento meno a disagio con tutto quello che è successo negli ultimi cinque anni, cercherò di farmi una vita da donna transgender in Liguria.

Sue x