January 30, 2013

Beginner’s Tip: Strappy Camis

So, I had enough fun writing the last “tips” article, I thought I’d put together another one. I’m just learning this stuff myself, but I like sharing what I’m learning for the next newbie who wanders by.

One of the first habits I developed after embracing my feminine side was underdressing. I suspect it’s one of the first habits many dressers develop because it’s quick and easy to hide and lets you constantly be dressing. Some swap out underpants for panties; others begin to wear pantyhose under their pants; others even wear bras under their shirts. It’s all good.

However, as a new crossdresser — and someone who’s come at it in her thirtysomethings — I’m not only man-sized, but also carrying extra weight. This makes bra shopping nigh impossible. Large size bras can be expensive (I haven’t found one less than $30 in my size), are hard to find (I’ve never found one my size in a store — even Walmart, who caters to their big clientele, rarely carries bras above 46 or maybe 48 on occasion), and often only come in large cup sizes (great for dressing, bad for trying to hide under a shirt). And besides, I’d like to lose the weight soon; I don’t want to spend big on an item now.

camipicWhat I did find was, for $10 each, the JC Penney a.n.a. Strappy Cami in plus sizes. They come in women’s 1x, 2x, and 3x sizes, which normally size small for men’s equivalents; but in this case that’s a good thing. For me, at least, this means that they have a skintight — but not unpleasantly so — fit. They’re very comfortable, and the cloth will sort of cup and hold what you naturally have up there (come on, my fellow fat men, you know man boobs are part of the package). While it’s not exactly the look and feel of a bra, it’s a great first step for getting that *feel* when you’re starting out with underdressing.

I like the a.n.a. Cami in particular because of the fabric. It’s a nice blend of cotton, spandex, and modal (rayon), so it’s soft and smooth and stretchy without losing its shape. Not all camis I’ve seen in stores are made with the same material., and so all might not work equally well for this particular purpose. Remember, the point is to get them close to skintight, so that they mimic the feel of a bra and hold that shape throughout the day.

Someday I’ll invest in a bra, likely after I’ve slimmed down a bit. For now, I’m going to invest in more a.n.a. camis. And when I do slim down, they’ll loosen up and become functional as tops in my wardrobe.

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  • I love camis ~ it’s just a matter of making sure the strappy ones don’t show, or going for a “tank top” instead. As for bra: Hie thee to eBay. Type in bra and you can search by size. I looked at 48 (you can specify a cup or not as you wish) and found a LOT for under $20.

  • Also, try HerRoom.com, they usually have good sales and being a petite woman with an odd bra size (30D), it’s nearly impossible to find bras in stores. Also, if you find one that seems to work but it’s a band size issue, have you tried bra extenders? They can give you up to an addition 3-4 inches in band size. Or even something like a bandeau bra might be helpful as those run S, M, etc. with little regard to band size. They do also make the “sticky” bras. They are backless, which eliminates the band size altogether, and they stick directly to the skin with self-adhesive side panels… I would warn that I’ve had a hard time keeping the sticky from getting all gross after a few wears.

    (Side Note: those camis ARE thee best! Lightweight and great for layers)

    • Thanks for the feedback! HerRoom.com looks like a useful site to have bookmarked. And no, I’d never heard of bra extenders; definitely a helpful bit of info!

  • Ali,
    I am about 20-25 years ahead of you in age but my development as a CD was not all that different from yours. When the kids were home I was in large measure limited to underdressing. I still do that and I am sitting in my office now with panties, pantihose and a black thigh length slip on under my male duds.
    I have long had a PO box and did most of my purchases by mail. I am also a big guy (6′, 245 lbs). Like an old football coach said “you can’t coach speed” ~ when it comes to dressing to pass “you can’t coach size” ~ although I am looking to drop some pounds.

    Over the years I have done well with mail order or purchasing on line. I have found my size (anywhere from 18-24) in Lane Bryant, Woman Within, Roamans and a few related vendors as well as from JCP, Target, etc. Most of my pantyhose is from Silkies.com. Their ‘queen XL seems to fit well.

    Some merchants do not ship to PO boxes so I have had them shipped to me at the office. So far no one has ever said anything and I do not think that the mail room crew cares what they deliver or where it is from but if anyone ever mentioned why I was getting something from a retail store or a ladies store I could always say it is for my wife.

    I have enjoyed your blog so far and will try to check in from time to time.


    PS: I have to thank Meg for linking over to this site.

    • Lots of helpful tips — thanks for sharing them! It’s weird, whenever I’m engaged in dressing, it sometimes feels like I’m all alone, but I have to remember that people have been doing this for years. Your experience is invaluable to us newbiews.

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