Monday 31 May 2021

Just friends

 This week I spotted something in another blog that succinctly summed up something I was aware of in my own life: 

"Looking back, I realize that interacting with girls was easy because I was feminine. However, dating girls was difficult because I had to act like a male and that was so foreign to me that I was lousy at it."

Stana's Femulate blog

Full article here: Going to the Prom

Exactly. I used to blame my poor dating skills in my 20s on having been to a boys' school throughout my teens with no girls to interact with. I realise now - and it has been pointed out to me enough by others - that most of my friends in adulthood have been women because I have always felt drawn to women's company, but not in a sexual way. In addition, most of my male friends are gay.

I have never felt comfortable in men's company or liked what men talk about - sport, statistics, competitiveness, jobs, cars, ... - or felt comfortable at their leering thoughts about women. I've always preferred what women talk about and the giggles we have. And even when they only saw me as a boy, my female friends liked my interest in their preferred topics, my humour, my gentleness, and that I wasn't looking to date them. Of course, later on many learned that I was trans and that made things clearer. So my romantic relationships with women usually developed slowly out of friendships rather than whatever it is men do to get a chick these days. 

Funnily enough, most women want a 'real' man, and then complain when he's violent, unfaithful or does nothing but obsess about sports matches. No, most women actually want a man who treats them unselfishly and unaggressively and has a feeling for their needs. So, ladies, why not date a trans person and get the partner who meets your real needs?

As for that old question of whether men and women can be just friends, I'd say your average alpha male (or would-be alpha) can't as he has a sexualised, domineering view of women. There's too much of an imbalance there. Things are improving as more women reach better positions in the workplace and more people go into higher education where half the students are of a different gender. Opposite-sex friendship in the world of desks is therefore fairly normal. 

I have always loved to be given flowers. Flowers are not for boys!

 A dip in the archives

 On the topic above, here's a short post I wrote in 2011 about being accepted as an "honorary babe" into a small group of female friends:

Honorary Babe

A few years later the same acceptance of my being one of them was reinforced, despite my never having officially come out to this group of friends as trans:

An honorary babe 

In the end, coming out to them was too awkward and they remained the only group of female friends who didn't officially know, although I think they had guessed for a while that something was up:

To tell or not to tell 

It's never easy, is it? But being friends with other women is easy if it's your natural instinct, and if you're MtF trans that may well be your instinct.

Sue x

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Ho sempre cercato l'amicizia con le donne, non con gli uomini. Quasi tutti gli amici maschili che ho sono omosessuali. La risposta al perché dovrebbe essere ovvio: perché sono una donna anch'io, benché transgender, e dunque mi sento a mio agio in compagnia di donne. Gli uomini non li ho mai capiti. Questa compatibilità sociale con le donne è un altro aspetto dell'esperienza transgender e non dovrebbe stupire.

Sue x

Thursday 27 May 2021


 Like most women, I'm usually glad to take my brassière off at the end of the day. It's a bit of a restrictive thing, after all. In the case of many trans people, it's an essential item for holding breast forms so you can't really get away without one. Yet it's also a uniquely feminine garment, which is the thing that especially commends it if you're MtF trans (and hated if you're FtM). 

Unlike in the past, I've been finding unusual emotional comfort in my bras these last few weeks, even if they're never that physically comfortable. A feminine embrace, as it were, in difficult times and when I'm feeling the dysphoria more than usual. 

A dip in the archives

Looking back again at my adventures ten years ago, May 2011 was the one time I went to the clubs in Leeds. It was a long way for a girl from London to go for a night out but a lot of my friends were going to be there so I booked a hotel and went. 

Leeds First Friday (LFF) is still going as a monthly event in the "gay triangle" of Leeds and has always been well-attended. After a meal with my regular friends, we went to the various clubs and it was great to meet others for the first time. It's a small part of town with a handful of clubs and courtyards. My one criticism is that the music in some was played so loudly that you could not hold a conversation (how health laws allowed the bar staff to work in such a high-decibel environment, I don't know). But the courtyards are cooler and quieter and a good place to take a break.

With Maddy and Gayna in Leeds. I miss these two!


For those living in the North of England and the Midlands, it seems a good monthly event for meeting up and having a safe night out. 

It was a long way for me to go and this turned out to be the only time I ever went. I enjoyed it.

Sue x

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Sono contenta di leggere che il comune sta considerando la possibilità di diventare ufficialmente "LGBT-friendly". Con altre iniziative come la legge Zan il mondo potrebbe diventare un po' più sicuro per noi.

Sue x

Monday 24 May 2021


 A couple of months back I mentioned that a somewhat gender-fluid rock band, Måneskin, had won the Italian national music contest in Sanremo (here). Well, they have now gone on to win the Eurovision song contest. I'm no expert on music but I mention them as I like their style: feminine hair, makeup, lace and corsetry, not just for the one girl.


From the Eurovision TV site

Eurovision has always been a festival of camp so this is no breakthrough, and there has already been a transgender winner, Dana International in 1998. But now that this band will be in every magazine and on every chat show we might see both an increase in men wearing softer, more delicate clothing and also, as the band seem to aspire to reducing gender differences across the board, an improvement in acceptance of gender non-conformity and a corresponding reduction in male dominance. I think it's all to the good. I wish them well.

A dip in the archives

My continuing hunt for old photos brought up this portrait of mine, which is my favourite. Pose, lighting and angle all seemed to come together here.

Sue x


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Non me n'intendo della musica ma sono contenta che abbiano vinto i Måneskin. Mu piace il loro stile e il modo in cui aspirano a ridurre le differenze di genere. 

Sue x

Thursday 20 May 2021

The joy of sox, or hosiery tips and treats 6: conclusion - acquiring hosiery, then and now

When young and living at home my stash of girl's clothes had to be well hidden, so part of my liking for hosiery was the ease with which tights and stockings could be secreted away. The best hiding places were under the plastic trays that held the pieces for board games like Monopoly, snaking between the depressions moulded in the plastic. Even if people took the game out to play, there was virtually no likelihood they'd pull the whole tray out of the box. 

I used to read a lot of escape literature, too, involving prisoners of war hiding contraband behind false panels. I'm not sure my false panels were all that realistic and they got busted on more than one occasion. 

Hosiery was available everywhere, and was within pocket money range too, another advantage. 

But I'd gradually 'inherit' items that were deemed unsuitable by the females of the family, and my jackpot was won after my grandfather's death when his late partner's clothes, that he'd never got rid of, were readied for charity donation. The contents of an ali-baba basket with dozens of pairs of fully fashioned stockings magically diverted from the charity bag to my hidey holes. I tell you, when I was a teenager, I had the best legs in the business!

So these are some other reasons, apart from style, warmth and comfort, why tights and stockings are among my favourite items of clothing.

Girls with smart stockings. With Holly, Joanne and Ria at London's Olympia exhibition centre.


These days I just go to the shop and buy and I no longer feel embarrassed if I happen to do so in male mode. Of course, the internet and home delivery makes it all so much easier than it was when I was young.

Most supermarkets, chain stores, newsagents, gas stations and so forth stock hosiery. There are even hosiery vending machines. Cheaper brands are not necessarily poorer quality and you can get perfectly good, near-identical hosiery for less money than the smart labels. 

Silver brocade tights were popular about a decade ago. These Gipsy brand ones were half the price of the fancy label ones I also have, but every bit as good. I do recommend this brand generally.

In fact, if I were to give a sound piece of advice, it is not to bother with really expensive hosiery unless it's some very special limited edition party piece you're after, or you are very rich. Invariably, if I've paid a lot for a pair of sheer pantyhose from a quality retailer like Wolford or Tabio, they've got a hole in them on the first use, and that's £/$/€10-20 gone. These days I won't pay more than £/$/€5 a pair for plain pantyhose. 

So here are some links to hosiery manufacturers and retailers that I find good.


For the classic old-fashioned stocking look, and all the kit, try What Katie Did or Secrets in Lace:

What Katie Did 

Secrets in Lace 

I've used Stockings Direct, and UK Tights seems to be well thought of.

Stockings Direct 

UK Tights 

There are plenty of other online retailers but I haven't tried them and can't comment on their services. Sadly, has just closed down. 

All these companies deliver abroad. 


Here are links to some of the best hosiery brands. Most of them let you buy direct through their sites but you can get most through other online clothing retailers. I've picked the UK site or English-language page for the purposes of this blog, but most of them have state-specific sites and alternative languages too. In no particular order...

Wolford, the Rolls-Royce of hosiery, high-end quality from Austria.

Elbeo, quality, Spanish made.

Falke, German perfection.

Calzedonia, quality, style and wide range from Italy.

Jonathan Aston, great party wear. (For some reason I can only get the Australian site, but it gives you the idea).

Le Bourget, chic quality from France. French site only, they don't appear to offer English (how typically French!)

Cecilia de Rafael, smart style from Spain.

Emilio Cavallini, fun and reasonable value from Italy.

Tabio, quality from Japan.

Gio, for fully-fashioned aficionados.

Charnos, a personal favourite. Good quality to price ratio from the UK.

Aristoc, classic British brand with generally decent quality.

Pretty Polly, popular brand from the UK. Variable in quality; some hits, some misses.

Cervin, classic French stockings. Ooh-là-là!

Cette, quality from Belgium.

Platino, very smart Spanish hosiery.

Levante, Italian heritage, Australian owned. From gossamer sheers to winter woolies, all pretty good.

Trasparenze, amazing patterns to quality everyday sheers.

Gipsy, Italian made and best quality to price ratio. Recommended.

Oroblù, popular Italian-style hosiery in a wide range.

Pamela Mann, broad range and fun styles from the UK.

Pierre Mantoux, despite the French name, these quality items are made in Italy.

Gabriella, despite being founded only in the 1990s this has become a popular Polish brand largely because of its competitive prices and reasonable quality.

Leg Avenue, fun, party and sexy wear, but not best quality.

For some reason the Gerbe site is not working but these luxury items from France can be purchased on other sites. The Golden Lady site is being awkward so I will leave it for now.

Most chain/department stores, supermarkets, fashion houses have their own ranges. Especially good in Britain are

Marks & Spencer

John Lewis 

It's a pity that Top Shop, Debenhams and so forth are in receivership, not to mention those that departed this life some time ago. BHS, for instance, had surprisingly good hosiery.

Larger sizes

Of value to TGirls who find conventional hosiery too small, there are several firms that specialise in hosiery for taller or curvier women. Three that I have heard good things of are Snag Tights, Heist and Spanx

Snag Tights  


Spanx (shapewear of all sorts)

There are, of course, many, many, many more manufactureres, brands and retailers than these all over the world but these are the ones I know best.

Thanks for reading my survey of hosiery. You can read the other five parts by scrolling down, by using the links on the blog archive right, or by clicking on the list here:

Part 1: stockings 

Part 2: tights/pantyhose 

Part 3: fashion and style 

Part 4: mixing and matching 

Part 5: practical advice 

Enjoy your legs, girls. They can be your best asset.


A dip in the archives 

I'll stick with the subject of hosiery for my look back today. 

Here's the most popular photo of mine from Flickr. I'm not sure why, that seethrough batwing top is weird! But I was experimenting with looks before coming out, and maybe seethrough tops and short skirts are what the internet is all about! But here I can again show off those fabulous John Lewis 15 denier run resistant sheer gloss tights that win my top prize for BEST HOSIERY EVER! 


Take a bow, John Lewis. Oops! You've split your trousers. Now that wouldn't have happened if you'd been wearing these.

Sue x


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Oggi concludo questa recenzione di calze e collant. Come mi piacciono!

Sue x


Monday 17 May 2021

The joy of sox, or hosiery tips and treats 5: practical advice

 I'm continuing this overview of hosiery with some practical advice. I have hundreds of pairs of tights/pantyhose and stockings/hold-ups. Some are for special occasions but most are just for everyday wear (today at home, for instance, I'm wearing a standard pair of semi-opaque black pantyhose with a long navy-blue skirt). But whatever you're buying and storing, you need to use a little care.


As in part 2, I'm using US "pantyhose" to describe British "tights" so there's no way of confusing them with other kinds of tights, such as  men's running tights. By useful coincidence there's an article by Celeste on Stana's Femulate blog today that gives the differences between American and British English in this area: Speaking English


How thick do you want your tights? Those gossamer-thin glossies may look great but there's a blizzard outside; those thick black opaques may hide your leg hair but it's a hot day. Warmth is one of the key factors (which is why I'm wearing semi-opaques today; it's not really spring yet) bu the balance between weather and looks is a tricky one.

July 2011. Light sheer pantyhose, for when it's summer dress time but not quite warm enough for bare legs


The simplest guide to thickness is the denier rating. Denier is pronounced den-yer (not deny-er, someone who denies) but should really be dur-nyay as it comes from the old French coin and measure of weight, the denier, itself deriving from the ancient Roman coin, the denarius. Weights and measures often used to correspond to money (like the pound). To be precise, one denier is the weight of a thread of silk 9000 metres long, which is about 1 metric gram. 

You can't get one denier stockings; the lightest I have is 5 denier. Artificial silks like nylon aren't going to be the same weight as natural silk and so the ratings tend to vary between fabrics, between manufacturers, and also depend on the weave. Hosiery is not hugely expensive so it's worth experimenting just to see which brand and style suit you best.

Sheer and opaque

The denier rating gives you a rough guide to how thick your hosiery is going to be. Of course, sometimes hosiery is described as having "X-denier appearance", which means the yarns have a weight that doesn't correspond to the appearance, which would normally be associated with a different denier rating. I find these descriptions fairly inaccurate.

"30 denier appearance". Actually, they look more like 20 denier, but have a high satin gloss and are in some ways unclassifiable. This Italian-Style Silky Gloss range from Marks & Spencer was gorgeous and is wonderful to wear but is now discontinued because satin gloss was a short-lived fashion.


A simpler guide is this:

- up to 10 denier: ultra-sheer

- 10 - 30 denier: sheer

- 30 - 40 denier: semi-opaque

- 40 - 70 denier: opaque

- over 70 denier: thick opaque 

I personally prefer to think in terms of what's actually on sale, i.e. 5, 7 or 8 denier as gossamer (for summer), 10 or 15 as sheer, 20 as satin, 30 and 40 as semi-opaque, 50 as mid-opaque, 60+ as opaque.

20 denier, rarely seen on the street. I think this represents the cusp between sheer and opaque. These are ideal for giving you smooth contoured legs while still being light and seethrough. Much favoured by drag queens and dancers, people know you're wearing them even if they're in natural shades.


Natural fibres

Denier is a best guide to artificial silk fibres. Cotton and wool hosiery is rarely classified in this way, but you'd only usually select these for cold winter days anyway. A lot of TGirls turn their noses up at woolly pantyhose but if you dress every day as I do then a soft wool pair are warm and comfortable, a hug for your legs.

Lovely soft merino wool pantyhose for winter. Items like this cost £/$/€10-15 but are durable and worth it.

Wool overknee socks are worth investing in, too. They can look cute and usually stay up on their own reasonably well.

Matt, shine or gloss?

It should seem simple but manufacturers have created a minefield. The subject is less critical now as glossy hosiery is not so prevalent as it was 10-25 years ago (indeed, hosiery is not so prevalent generally at present as women have opted firmly for trousers and leggings). 

Few items of modern hosiery are without sheen as they almost all contain elastane (Lycra) which is shiny by nature. Original nylon was shiny, too, and most other artificial fibres are as well. However, what's descibed as sheen, shine, high shine, gloss or high gloss seems to vary completely between manufacturers and ranges. I have hosiery that's called "gloss" on the packet that's actually quite dull, and supposedly plain hosiery that's positively reflective! My best advice, as above, is to buy a variety of items from different manufacturers and see what you like best. You get used to a particular manufacturer's quirks in the end.

Sizing and fit

Bearing in mind what I have previously said when talking about stockings (especially fully-fashioned) and about suspender belts (here) the differences in leg and hip shape between those who developed a more masculine shape after puberty and those who went more feminine means trans people need to take care with sizing hosiery. Know your overall height, waist and hip measurements (and preferably get someone else to measure these). The size charts on the backs of packets of pantyhose can be confusing and often refer to hips, which will be more rounded than yours might be, even more so when considered in ratio to height. I'm very unlucky when having to present as male in that I'm short, but this comes into its own when female because being petite with rounder hips keeps me well within the hosiery size ranges. It's not so easy if you are very tall or have a wide waist. There are specialist manufacturers for taller or curvier women that can be considered if sizing is a problem, and some manufacturers of men's or unisex pantyhose. I'll be writing about brands in my next post, with links.

Another thing to bear in mind is that most manufacturers have a standard size chart, but it doesn't always apply to every range they do. Check carefully that what you normally get in, say, "medium" is the same for this new range of theirs you've just spotted, in case you need to buy in "large" instead.

Women from the English-speaking world tend to be taller than average so manufacturers from USA, Britain, Germany, etc. tend to offer larger sizes than manufacturers from the Mediterranean or the Far East. Size charts from Italy, France and Japan can be more complicated and focus on smaller women. So be warned if you go for a beautiful looking continental pair that they will be smaller than you are used to and may feel tighter too (they tend to like a bit of compression).

As a general rule, if on the cusp between sizes or if unsure, go for the larger size. The worst is you get wrinkles, whereas a pair that's too small may not be wearable at all.

Care and maintenance

A lot of hosiery costs little and who cares if it gets wrecked after the first use? Well, that applies to cheap pairs, certainly, but not all hosiery is cheap. I personally prefer not to waste and will look after even low-cost pairs until they get a hole or ladder.

When washing, you are often told to wash by hand. This is fine if you have the time and are very careful (watch those hangnails!). But a washing machine on a gentle polyester setting works fine provided you put your hosiery in a net wash bag. 

Some of my net bags for washing small items. The left-hand one with turquoise zipper is best as the zipper can be parked behind a loop of cloth (far left) to stop accidental opening during washing. These are good not just for hosiery but panties and bras too (though hook the back straps together before putting bras in).


Some people say you should wash your pantyhose and stockings before wearing them for the first time, stating this helps preserve them longer. I've never felt this to be true so unless you don't like the smell of brand new hosiery or might react to products used in manufacturing that are still on them, I can't see the point of washing them to start with. But I'm happy to hear of evidence to support this durability theory.

Don't just stuff a drawer with your hosiery. Apart from not finding anything properly, this gives the yarn ample chance to snag against other pairs or the drawer itself, and to get in a tangle. You can get hosiery compartmentalisers for drawers or just on their own with little compartments for each pair, but this still leaves the possibility of snagging as it just takes one slightly loose thread to catch onto another and pull a hole in the pair. Balling each item up still leads to the same problem. I always keep the original packaging and, once washed and dried, each pair goes back in its pack. Wind the pair over the inner tongue, put in the polythene cover and its cardboard cover in or over that (depending on the design). You then know exactly what's what and the chance of damage is minimal. They also pack flat again, just like in the shop. This is how I have managed to keep pairs of favourites (like the delicate M&S silky gloss ones above) in pristine condition for even 20+ years. Multipacks will have the items pressing on one another, but by definition they are cheap and so it's not so tragic if they get snagged in the box. 

As you can see with all the photos of my collection, everything gets repackaged in its original wrappings. Time consuming but worth it if you're serious about having nice legs. This delicate pair was bought around about 2008. Not worn often but is still pristine.


There used to be a theory that freezing your hosiery made it last longer. I am all for science so for some while I would put selected pairs in the freezer. As far as I could tell, the only effect was to give you cold damp stockings!

Hosiery gloves

If you are pulling on hosiery that's 20 denier or under, it's a good idea to use hosiery gloves. You don't need to buy officially designated hosiery gloves, just a pair of cotton or silk (not latex) gloves will do to help you get those delicate fabrics over your legs without making holes either through overstretching or through rough nails snagging the fabric. Even the tiniest imperfection in your nails can cause a snag, hole or ladder. Make sure you're nails are perfect, girls! And expensive sheer hosiery is often the most fragile.

Leg preparation

I appreciate that the large majority of MtF trans people / TGirls / crossdressers, whatever term you prefer here, do not or cannot shave their legs. Aesthetically, this is not so good with sheer tights but, more to the point, hair causes problems with hold-ups adhering. The day you first wear your hosiery with shaved, epilated or waxed legs is the day you exchange cotton for silk - the feeling of your hosiery on hair-free legs for the first time is a revelation and a joy. You'll never want hair again!

So, if you are able, do invest in a good razor (you needn't go for the kind marketed to women which may be pretty but cost anything up to twice the price of men's razors and possibly not be so durable). Male-pattern leg-hair is tougher and thicker than female-pattern hair so a strong razor is needed. Do yourself a favour and get a separate one to that used for your face.

You can get an epilator but this is a painful way to get rid of hair (toughness and thickness adding to the problem) - see my review of the Braun Silk-Epil 7 under the heading Ow! Eep! Ooh! Urk! for some thoughts and feelings! I don't use an epilator any more, it's a bit too grim an experience.

Hair removal creams are recommended by many. As with razors, I'd advise the male version (e.g. Veet for Men), unless gender dysphoria reacts against that notion. Check that your skin can tolerate the product before using it. (Incidentally, if you want to roar with laughter, read the lead Amazon review of Veet for Men).

The best, though costliest, hair removal treatment is waxing at a beauty salon, though you may be able to do this for yourself, although to do it properly you need a wax melter (looks like a fondue set), disposable spatulas and 'ripper' strips. Treat yourself and go to the spa or salon and relax, chatting to the friendly waxer. I love it. And it hurts less than other methods. Here's my post on an all-over wax I had locally: Hot wax)


My next post will end this series on my favourite topic of hosiery by talking a bit about cost and quality, and linking to some good retailers, manufacturers and hosiery reviewers.


Weight loss

 Totally unrelated (though it helps me reduce the appeal of tummy control tights), today I have reached my first weight loss milestone this year of 1 stone (6.3 kg). Progress is slow, but steady, and that's what counts.


A dip in the archives

 I was going to go into more trans history this week but my main post is long already so here, on the same theme of hosiery, is one of my favourite pictures, recently rediscovered and never posted before. A rare back view (my best side, some cheeky friends would say!), but it shows off my lovely sparkle seam pantyhose.

If you wear seams, girls, they must be on straight. They're arrow straight here, I'm proud to say!

This was taken in October 2010 just before going to Pink Punters LGBT nightclub.

Sue x


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Oggi continuo la mia recensione di collant e calze con vari consigli su come scegliere il paio giusto e come mantenerli bene.

Speriamo che la legge Zan prosegua bene fino alla fine, e che questa maledetta situazione di pandemia finisca presto.

Sue x

Thursday 13 May 2021

The joy of sox, or hosiery tips and treats 4: mixing and matching

 Hosiery is normally something to match with your clothes, although you can start with that pair of pantyhose or stockings that you really want to wear and then find some clothes to match! Yes, I have been know to do it that way. Either way, here's some advice.


Your hosiery should work with your skirt or dress in terms of colour and style. Patterned hosiery should never clash with patterned clothes, and colours should not clash. Here's what I mean. This first photo shows black floral pantyhose (Emilio Cavallini) with a black and white paisley pattern dress. This seemed to work well to judge by the positive feedback I had. 


The second is a deliberate over-the-top floral clash I did some years ago at home to try to convince a friend of mine that a bright outfit plus jazzy tights plus crazy heels is too much of everything and jars. She's never taken my advice so I hope you will: don't do this!

Nice dress in its own right, and nice pantyhose (Pamela Mann) but the colour and pattern clash is plain wrong, the heels aren't right for the dress! Fancy pantyhose like this are best just for parties and would work best with a long black dress. These floral lace pantyhose (Le Bourget) work with this smart black dress, I think.


Coloured tights are usually a particular fashion trend so (if the trend is not too weird) go with what you see being worn around town. Colours like navy blue come in and out of fashion with businesswear. Purple can be reasonable, especially in opaques, with more casual wear.

One vital tip is never to wear white or pale hosiery with dark skirts and shoes, or black hosiery with white or pale shoes or skirts.


If you are going for a standard unpatterned style, whether you choose sheer or opaque may largely be dictated by the weather (more on this in a later post). If sheer, do you want them matt or gloss? Bear in mind that glossy hosiery will draw more attention to your legs. If you want people to focus on your dress instead, then (as with bold patterns) be wary of having too much going on. 

Bear in mind also that glossy hosiery will make your legs look plumper. 

Beware also of glossy hosiery having a different, more rigid weave to matt hosiery and therefore being more prone to ladders that are almost unstoppable when they break out. 

That said, they're my preference in the evening with a dark dress, although they are not seen so much now as they were in the Noughties.


In my last post I suggested that you wear sheer tights under whalenets to make the whole process of getting them on easier. The same can apply to fishnets or open lace. This can alter the tone and look of the ensemble. Here I layered openwork lace over black sheers to darken the effect, more in keeping with the black skirt and boots than my pale skin would have been.

You can layer hosiery more generally and this was a trend for a while about ten years ago but the Lycra in any hosiery has a sheen and the effect of sheen over sheen can create unusual patterns, like iridescent oilslicks, if the weaves don't match perfectly. So you have to know what you are doing unless the psychedelic oilslick effect is what you're after (at the disco maybe). Be wary of this double sheen effect if you are wearing pantyhose under leggings on a cold day (let's face it, cotton or polyester leggings are not very warm) as you can end up with a disco pants look, which is great if you're somewhere trendy but odder in everyday contexts.

The same goes for those who can't or don't want to remove their leg hair. It's tempting to hide it under several layers of hose but this creates a china doll or spandex effect. The weird colour and reflective effects on the legs of drag entertainers like Lily Savage or Edna Everage who do this should put off anyone off trying it for themselves! If you need to hide leg hair get one pair of thick pantyhose. Yes, that will be tough in summer under your wig. Have you considered leggings?


Thanks for reading these tried and tested tips. Next time I'll be writing about practical matters: sizing, weight, cost, maintenance and such. My very first womenswear purchase, aged about 12, using my own pocket money (80p!), was a pair of tights. And since then I have bought hundreds more. So I am offering you a lifetime's experience for free!


A dip in the archives

Nothing directly to do with hosiery but I found an interesting page on the site of the East End Women's Museum in London about Miss Muff's Molly House in Whitechapel. 

Whitechapel is an area of the East End of London that has always been associated with immigration, poverty, social underworlds and crime (perhaps unjustly, though admittedly Jack the Ripper is hard to beat). A Molly House represented a safe venue for crossdressers in the eighteenth century, like trans clubs nowadays. And Miss Muff was certainly a crossdresser. 

Read on here: Miss Muff's Molly House in Whitechapel 

"A morning frolic, or the transmutation of sexes" by John Collet.


Sue x

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Oggi continuo la mia discussione su calze e collant e come scegliere lo stile migliore. Con un po' di storia settecentesca su dove si andava per vestirsi da donna.

Sue x


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: 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.


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


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).




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


Cari lettori italiani

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

Sue x