Out & About:
Shopping in St. Louis and some favorite spots to shop
Am I passable? That is probably the number one question I hear from crossdressers, especially those who want to get out in the general public. The answer is yes, no, and sometimes. It is like the saying, You can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. (A. Lincoln, 1863) I wonder if he was talking to a crossdresser?
Most people do not look closely at others while shopping. Women are more observant more than men. Teenage girls are the most observant, probably because they're looking at your clothing. If that is out of place, you probably will be spotted as a TG. What is the downside? Usually a glance of puzzlement or slight amusement, sometimes a quiet comment to a companion, "That's a guy." If you absolutely dread that, then it is best to stay out of shopping malls. Another way to avoid being spotted as a crossdresser is to dress down to the point where you might as well be dressed as a guy. This is the way most women dress to go to the malls - tennis shoes, jeans and sweater, t-shirt, or sweatshirt. BORING!
A good place to start is a smaller shop, like a self-service shoe store. Don't worry about being spotted, because you probably will be. Just keep in mind that there probably only will be a couple of heads that turn and, since you are there to buy, or possibly buy, you are most likely accepted.
This brings us to another point regarding acceptance. People are like mirrors. If you are friendly and cordial, this attitude will be reflected back at you. If you are concentrating on the merchandise and unconcerned about what others are thinking, they probably will not be thinking much about your actions. If you are secretive and slink around, people will view you with suspicion. Ask a question or make a pleasant comment, this will break the ice and set the other person more at ease. Their main concern is not that you are crossdressed, but why you are crossdressed.
Once you become desensitized about the being spotted issue, then you can attempt a mall. Try doing so at a time when it is not so busy and at a time when there are not too many teenagers present. Young teenagers will be the most likely to say something, and if it is outside it might be derogatory.
It is said that if a crossdresser goes out shopping with another crossdresser that the chances of being spotted go up significantly. This seems to be true, but I think the value of having companionship while shopping is more than worth the risk of being spotted.
My manner of dress varies depending on where I go shopping and what my mood is as far as to how bold I want to be. When going to a mall, I usually wear slacks or a fairly long skirt, and these are conservative. Other stores I may go with a shorter skirt, but still remain tasteful. Also keep in mind to wear something easy to get out of if you are clothes shopping and want to try on clothes.
This brings up the issue of dressing rooms, to use or not to use. If you are uncomfortable with just going in and using a dressing room, ask the sales clerk "where can I try this on?" or "where is the dressing room?" If you get a negative response, you will get the last laugh by handing the clerk the item and walking out. She or he loses the sale. If you have a choice of asking a male or female, ask the female.
St. Louis is a fairly accepting city and you are not the first to venture out into the general public. Like buying a new car, once you do, you start seeing the same model everywhere you go. I have been getting out more and more for the last 18 months, and on more than one occasion have seen (spotted, clocked) other TG's in the shopping malls. I don't know if I have become more perceptive or others are getting out more often, but I do know that most stores are accepting of our presence, and why shouldn't they be? We are there to spend money.
Some of my favorite spots for shopping:
Any wig store. I especially like Grand Wig (2911 Washington) and Queens Wig (8974 Jennings Station Road). Although neither carry major brand names, the quality seems very good for what you pay. Most are in the $30-35 range. Another place to buy wigs--name-brand at salon prices--is International Hair on Brentwood Boulevard; service is by appointment only. Most wig salons sell to the tg community, but some prefer you come in at special times.
For clothing stores, I like: Fashion City(8980 Jennings Station Road) is a neat place for prom-type dresses and trendy wear. They are tg friendly and there are 3 dressing rooms. This store is right next to Queens Wig. Most of the second hand stores seem at least tolerant. Some are very friendly, such as Vintage Haberdashery on Grand Ave.
Neat areas to browse: The shops and restaurants in the Loop area of University City have been very friendly to me. The restaurants in the Central West End have likewise been tg friendly. I have not had any problems with the stores that are remaining in the St. Louis Center and find it a pleasant place to shop, and also to dine in the tea room at Famous Barr.
Salons: As for wig styling or a makeover, I like going to Richard Tracy at Options Salon (8992 Manchester), but be forewarned you will have to book a month in advance for a makeover.
Well, that is a sampling of shopping in St. Louis. For more information see the TG Guide.
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