Starting From Scratch

This week we discuss starting from scratch, for those with little or no wardrobe.

This is a rewrite of an item published in the early 2000s, which was written originally as a response to one potential attendee who wrote in saying:

“I don’t have a THING to wear!!!!!” (Literally!)

After this was published, we received comments that it was helpful to those who did have somewhat of a wardrobe as well.

“I don’t have a THING to wear!!!!!”

That’s just fine. That can be taken care of. And we’ll help you get started.

This column is addressed mainly toward those who have little or no wardrobe, or don’t think they have the garments that would be appropriate to wear at DLV.

Yes, it is very possible to come to DLV with absolutely nothing and find everything you need. There are shops and vendors in Las Vegas, both mainstream and alternative, who are eager for your business.

I will mention a few shops and vendors in this article. I have no direct connection with any of them, other than being a satisfied customer of most of those I’ll mention.

Now … taking off from a totally cold start …

Let’s divide and conquer. :) Let’s concentrate first on below the neck and then above the neck.

Undergarments: Foundations. Unmentionables. :) There are many sources in Las Vegas, from discount outlets to high-end boutiques and everything inbetween.

Most of you probably have at least a small collection of undergarments already. Even if you’ve been dressing only in private, some of these will most likely be just fine for under the outfits you will wear in public. The key points are fit, comfort, and wearability.

If you don’t have anything, or anything you think appropriate, you can get anything you need quite easily from many sources in the Las Vegas area.

Of particular interest are the special needs of our community. The average male body does need a certain degree of control and/or padding to assume a feminine figure. Breast forms are almost certainly needed and they are available from several sources.

As of this writing, no local Las Vegas sources for reasonably-priced breast forms are known. Clinical supply houses are known to stock a wide variety of forms but they are high in price.

Bad Attitude Boutique specializes in corsets and shapewear. They are reasonable in price and they deal regularly with the t* community. “Size and gender friendly” is their motto. (Or is it their slogan?) :)

For the more common items such as bras, panties, etc., these are available many places, from department stores, to discount outlets, to specialty shops. If you’re a bit shy about purchasing things like this, just ask one of the others or a Big Sister volunteer to help you out.

Hosiery, pantyhose, stockings, etc., are available just about anywhere, even at convenience stores. Pantyhose are almost considered a disposable item these days, and it’s actually hard to find a place that doesn’t carry them. :) For the garter-type stockings, garter belts, etc., you’ll also find countless sources, from the outlet malls to the specialty boutiques. Again, if you’re uneasy or shy about shopping, ask for somebody to go with you.

A good place for lingerie and hosiery at bargain prices is the Hanes-Bali-Playtex outlet in the Las Vegas Outlet Center. Much of their stock is “slightly imperfect” and is discounted quite a bit.

For shoes you will have countless options, but where you shop will mainly depend on what size you wear and what styles you are interested in.

One important point to note is that in this day and age, many shoe styles are quite androgynous, meaning that you may already have some shoes that will be quite appropriate for casual girlmode. This is particularly true for various athletic styles, and also holds true for many flat casual styles as well.

If you wear a womens shoe size 10 or so or smaller, any department store or mall shoe shop will have a very wide selection of all styles. Look in the north end of Las Vegas Outlet Center for several options.

If you wear a larger size or want some more exotic styles you also have several options in Las Vegas. Glamour Boutique has a selection of the higher heel styles in larger sizes. Leonards Wide Shoes (alas, said to be closing shortly) has quite a few casual and dressy styles in the larger sizes and they are familiar with the TG community.

The best selection of exotic styles is most likely at Red Shoes on west Sahara, and they welcome TG business, but the staff has been reported to be somewhat snitty (to everybody, not just TGs).

When shopping for shoes, regardless of what you’ve heard, the only way to be sure of fit and comfort is to try them on. Yes, yes, yes, there are all kinds of true-isms out there that say to add 1 or 2 to your boymode size except on Sunday and subtract 1/2 when the moon is first quarter, but the only real way to buy shoes is to try them on. If you are shy about shoe shopping, go to some of the places that are known to be familiar with the TG community or ask one of the others to accompany you.

Far more common in our community than having absolutely nothing to wear are the reports of having nothing that is appropriate or presentable to wear in public. A report from somebody who cancelled just before DLV last year stated that the main reason she was cancelling was that she didn’t think she had the outfits necessary to appear in public.

We hope nothing like this will happen this year. If anybody’s in this situation and wants some help, ask for one of our volunteer Big Sisters to help out, either before DLV via e-mail or in person at the beginning of DLV.

Let’s talk about outerwear. This will be the “look” that you present that will be observed by others.

We will cover outfit selection in some detail in some of these columns between now and DLV.

The important points to remember about selecting an outfit for any particular activity include:

1. Your personal style, your likes and dislikes, your particular mood at the time.

2. The time, place, and circumstance of each activity. The weather, the walking distance. What is usual and customary to wear to such an activity.

3. Your age, height, size, body shape, and fitness level.

As with shoes, many casual items are quite androgynous, such as shirts, jeans, slacks, and it’s often difficult to tell mens from womens styles.

Some items that you already have will most certainly work in casual girlmode.

We’ll discuss the casual style in more detail in another column in this series.

For dresses, separates and coordinates, etc., a good place to shop if you’re a beginner would be Dress Barn in the Las Vegas Outlet Center. They will have a good selection in both regular and larger sizes and the prices will be quite reasonable. They are very familiar with the TG community, so you will be nothing new to them, even if you shop in boymode. Again, ask somebody to accompany you if you’re nervous or shy about shopping!

If you want something a bit more dressy or even a bit glitzy, try either Chez Magnifique in the Las Vegas Outlet Center or DuBarry’s on Decatur. Both welcome TG business. These places ain’t cheap, but they are not outlandish, with DuBarry’s being somewhat higher in quality and in price.

For things more exotic, yes, there are a number of sources. Glamour Boutique, Bad Attitude, and several other places.

Las Vegas does have countless shops which carry clubwear and such, often in larger sizes. Many of these more far-out outfits would be appropriate to wear to such things as the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the Night Of The Soiled Doves, and even possibly our Dance Night.

We’ve covered the neck down, so to speak, now let’s talk about what goes on from the neck up.

Skin care and cosmetics:

If you have absolutely no experience with makeup at all, I would strongly suggest booking an “instructional makeover” with one of the professional makeup artists listed below. When you get to your appointment, just state that you are a total beginner and that you want to learn a “basic face” and get some hints for both a daytime and evening look.

If you already know how to do a basic face and just need some supplies, they are available most everywhere. If you’re really shy about shopping,

If you need some advice or consultation, Bare Escentuals (also known as Bare Minerals) in the Fashion Show Mall is well-acquainted with our group and welcomes TG patrons at any time. Bare Escentuals will be willing to spend a very liberal amount of time with you, personally demonstrating their products and showing you how to use them.

JC Penneys at Boulevard Mall is known to be TG-friendly. They carry the Dermablend line (among many other things) which is a very good beard cover. Do be warned that department store cosmetics can be a bit pricey. :)

For hair, some prefer to wear and style their natural hair and others prefer wigs. I’ll concentrate on the latter, since that’s the way most who are new want to go.

A wig shop that is not T-friendly is a wig shop that’s soon out of business!

The TG community is always a certain amount of any wig shop’s business. They know this, and almost any wig shop will be familiar with TG needs and will welcome your patronage.

One item of good news is that the wig business in Las Vegas is extremely competitive! This keeps prices down and service high. The sales staff of any wig shop will be prepared to spend some time with each customer, to suggest styles, and to experiment a bit with various looks.

The wig shop that I most often recommend is not the most convenient, nor does it have the best setting. They do offer, what I believe, the best selection and service in the area. This is Vegas Girl Wigs and they now operate exclusively out of the Fantastic Indoor Swap Meet at the corner of Decatur and Oakey. The mall is only open Friday-Saturday-Sunday and can be crowded and zooey. Vegas Girl Wigs invites TG business and they will take special measures if you’re shy. Just say so, and they will draw the curtain around you.

Another wig shop in the same location is Hair Fantasy ‘n’ More. Again, they are experienced with TG customers and will draw a curtain if you request it.

Serge is a large wig shop in Commercial Center on east Sahara. They advertise heavily and will welcome your business. Their main shop is not cheap. They do have (also in Commercial Center) a separate wig outlet shop with better prices and a decent selection. They also have recently opened a second wig outlet on west Sahara.

Nails: Ok, put your hands above your head. Now these (as well as rings and bracelets) fall into the above-the-neck category. :)

Whether you want just a manicure and polish or a full set of acrylics, there are (at least) two nail shops (see the Big List) who will welcome your business.

Some of our people do get a temporary set of acrylic nails at the start of DLV and have them removed at the end. Boymode may be a challenge if you do this, but one of our people gets around this by wearing gloves while in boymode.

One hint if you wish to blend, is that if you have larger hands, avoid long false nails and/or bright colors of nail polish. These will only draw unwanted attention to the size of your hands. If you have larger hands, go with a nice manicure and a muted or clear polish. . . .

Jewelry and accessories:

If you’re starting from scratch, you will probably want to concentrate on costume jewelry, as opposed to precious metal or gemstone quality items.

Stores such as Target will have a wide selection of costume jewelry at reasonable prices, plus there are accessory shops in the various malls that will have an extensive line. Claire’s at the Las Vegas Outlet Center (nee Belz) has a very good selection at very low prices.

One accessory that you will definitely need is a purse. It’s up to you as to what style and size you will need, mainly determined by how much you intend to carry in it and what outfits you will carry it with.

For a beginner, I suggest you look for a medium-size handbag in a neutral or dark color. This will give you enough space as you get a feel for how much you need to carry, plus it will go with just about any outfit, both casual and moderately dressy.

For a preview of some of the shops available to you (and there are many more) visit our Big List of vendors and clubs at:

This is updated frequently and includes customer ratings and comments.

A few notes about shopping …

Yes, it’s natural to be nervous when shopping in person the first few times. One thing to keep in mind is that you are the customer. You are the one spending the $, and you are in control of the situation. Yes, you are the one who calls the shots! No matter who you are or what mode you are in, your money is green and the merchants want it.

When a customer (that’s you) enters a shop, the salespeople want to see two things. First, they want you to find something that you like, so you will buy it. Second, they want you to be happy with what you bought, so you will return and buy more, and also recommend them to others.

Another thing to note is that Las Vegas is a “show town” and it’s not unusual to see men buying cosmetics or womens items. In fact, I frequently see men browsing in the Hanes-Bali-Playtex outlet at LVOC.

If you have any specific question or concerns about dress, you can ask them here in our DLV Discussion Forum or if you would feel more comfortable not asking them in public, just write in ( and we’ll do our best to help you.