Monday, 18 January 2021

One tube or two? The skirts vs trousers debate

 Every so often I do a survey of what women are wearing. I mean real women out and about, not the styles that magazines and TV promote. This month I've been comparing the numbers who wear skirts/dresses to those who wear some form of trouser/pant, an exercise I've done several times before just to see the actual popularity of each.

It's not looking good for TGirl style choices! Of 59 women in my part of town one day last week, just 3 were wearing skirts/dresses. All the others were wearing trousers, jeans, leggings, ski-pants, etc. i.e. twin leg garments of one sort or another. Similarly, a survey of 76 women in the town centre gave just 3 in skirts/dresses. About 40 others near home yesterday revealed just 2.

This is totally unscientific, of course. There will be more dresses on a summer's day than in the depths of winter, more skirts in a business district or a trendy shopping street. But the point I am making is that, in a typical town in the Western world, women are dressing ever more in items that were once the preserve of men.

I do these little surveys not just so that I stay abreast of fashion choices but also because I feel that a lot of TGirls who want to be out in public are often out of touch with what women actually wear. The very short skirt or the twin set and pearls so beloved of many TGirls are just not reality. That's not to say you can't wear them - far be it from me to suggest you shouldn't be free to do anything that causes no harm - but if you aren't going to the club then leave that knockout minidress and killer heels at home; if you are in the supermarket then those elbow-length gloves are probably not suitable (although great for warmth when rummaging in the freezer chest); if you are on the bus then your suspenders shouldn't be on display. (Incidentally, pretty much the only people who wear stockings and suspenders these days are 'glamour' models and TGirls.) I have always felt that there is a right place for wearing certain items and a wrong place but, inevitably, TGirls who venture out only occasionally will want to wear that little something that's sexy or snazzy whilst they are out to make the most of limited T time - kill two birds with one stone, in other words - but the fact is they can often end up looking very odd and out of place. They don't pass.* That may not matter and they may like the attention. But on the whole, being taken for and treated as a woman is often the most important thing for many MtF trans people. It's certainly true for me. 

So do check what's appropriate for the season and the location. 

That said, sometimes when I have gone out with female friends they have asked why I have chosen a skirt rather than the more ubiquitous trousers that they also prefer to wear and my answer is twofold: I've been forced into trousers most of my life and something more exclusively feminine is a relief from that; and a skirt enhances my hips and therefore offers a more hourglass shape that would be diminished in trousers, and that helps with passing. These (and the limited time factor above) are significant considerations for MtF trans people.

So it's a compromise between our need to emphasise our femininity and maximise our experience and yet be part of the real world of women. 

Leggings or trousers won't suit every TGirl as they can emphasise a masculine shape that they are trying to hide. I have an advantage in passing in that I am petite and don't have especially masculine shoulders or broad chest or slim hips, but a more masculine shape is inevitably fairly common in our community.

My own compromise is to wear leggings a lot, which are so versatile, being a compromise between trousers and tights and therefore go with tops of all sorts. They have been the most popular item for the last 30 years and although you can go wrong, it's not often. My post "Stockings of sorts..." the other week shows some leggings styles, with dresses or tunics (Stockings (of sorts) and other leg styles). But if you can wear jeans or trousers cut in women's style without compromising your need to appear and feel feminine then do go for those.

Here is a small number of photos of my forays into twin-tubes, mainly hits (I think) and one fail.

Tunic dress, leggings, ankle boots. Couldn't be simpler or more contemporary.

Leggings with long boots, short black jersey skirt, T-shirt, short coat and scarf, ideal for a winter's day

Slacks and tunic top. Again a very simple casual style both indoors and out in spring or autumn.

Skinny jeans, tunic top and ballet flats. Very much the style in 2013 although the emphasis on very long jeans legs, giving most wearers a rumpled ankle, is not my favourite look

Straight-leg jeans with pink cotton top and ankle boots. (Oh, and a giant horse!)


Puffer coat and leggings with ankle boots. Now, the coat makes the upper body look bulkier and therefore more masculine. A skirt would have counteracted that. Instead I wore figure-hugging leggings with just a sweater (under the coat) and these emphasise the upper bulk even more. What's more, being very cold, I wore thick tights under the leggings and so two lots of elastane (Lycra) fibre created a sheen that made it look like I was wearing shiny disco pants. Yes, disco pants made a comeback in the 2010s, but the funky look isn't really what I was aiming for on this day of sightseeing. So here's a warning about how you can defeminise yourself and be out of place unintentionally.

Apart, perhaps, from the last, these looks all work well in an everyday out-and-about context. I try to pass so that I have a better chance of being treated as a woman, and what I wear is an important factor in that success. I do feel that more TGirls could leave off the minskirts, the jazzy tights or the out-of-date styles and embrace the realities of contemporary womenswear, subject to the caveats above.

* Passing for female and whether it's that important will be the subject of another post soon


A dip in the archives

Well, it's 8 years since the "Nottingham Invasion" started up as a monthly trans event that was intended to get TGirls out into normal clubs and bars rather than just LGBT ones. It was a huge success and this summary of my first night there is one of the most popular posts on my blog:

Nottingham Invasion


Sue x


Cari lettori italiani

Oggi parlo del fatto che la maggior parte delle donne al giorno d'oggi porta pantaloni di vari tipi. L'idea di così tante donne transgender di portare solo gonne non riflette la realtà della moda femminile contemporanea. Senza compromettere il nostro desiderio di essere considerate e trattate come donne, e dunque di non enfatizzare un corpo un po' maschile, si dovrebbe (secondo me) vestirsi in un modo contemporaneo è naturale più che portare roba che consideriamo femminile ma che non si vede in giro.

Sue x



  1. In addition to clocking "the norm" of trousers/leggings for women out and about during the day, they are usually accompanied by flats on the feet and only rarely will you see heels. TBH when out shopping for the day involving considerable walking, flat shoes are by far the best choice. Nothing worse than when trying to pass, you are struggling with heels. xx

    1. Thanks for commenting, Emma. Where I live there are enough heels to be seen, usually in the form of boots, mainly ankle boots, but then it is winter. In summer it tends to be flat sandals, but then it's usually warm and dry.

      When out for a long day I find heels OK although a broader heel is better than a stiletto. I don't recommend much more than 3 inches, though. It also helps if the pavements are well made!

      Sue x

  2. I'm with you, girlfriend - winter it's mostly tunic tops and 2-tue bottoms. You look wonderful in them. And as you point out, they're warmer.


  3. "...Leggings or trousers won't suit every TGirl.."

    I think looking on the Internet on the question "what's my body shape?" can be helpful. I had a look at 'how to hide big shoulders' as well, and learned a few things on the way.

    As with your leggings and tunic choices (lovely photos, BTW), the hip/shoulder ratio is not very male (I think that might be a compliment 😉). I've seen a few T folk who will use padding/corsetry to help boost that.

    1. Sorry, Lynn, I missed your comment when first posted. Thank you for the compliment, I do feel I got fairly lucky in the body shape department. That's good advice for TGirls on checking on body shape. Sue x

  4. I'm not up to date on the hosiery market, though I've got several pairs of stockings and thanks to the glorious invention of elastic no belts are needed. Given none are at least 300D they're been sitting in my draw. I obviously haven't had much chance to survey but I haven't seen many skirts about.

    1. Thanks, Lucie. It's cold I take it! It's a pity, but I think you're right about skirts, more especially in winter. Sue x