Allison M.

A crossdresser's thoughts on life, fashion, fabulousness, and (oh yeah) dressing up


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Et tu, 21?

“We need a little less Forever 21 and a little more Suddenly 42.”
Maura Ellis to her sister Kate while the two are shopping for a party outfit in a scene from the motion picture Sisters

As I’ve mentioned more than once on here, I’m one who loves to actually shop for clothes in person.  That is, I actually like getting out of the house, going to the mall, perusing through the racks, and tell the clerk to [da-da-da duh da-daaah] “CHARGE IT!” when I find something that will have the right look and fit on me.

And for the longest time (well, at least the last decade), one of my favorite go-to stores has been here:

forever_21

Image source here

That is the West Towne Mall location of Forever 21.  Founded as Fashion 21 in 1984, the chain has become in recent years one of the biggest names in the world of “fast fashion.”  For those unfamiliar with that term, it applies to articles of clothing that are eye catching, perhaps resembling outfits seen only on the Paris catwalks, that a retailer will not only be priced reasonably but also be available for a limited time.  In other words, create the product and generate the demand. Continue reading


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Speak truth and look awesome

It’s Labor Day weekend, meaning it’s time to start considering autumnal-appropriate clothing.  Still, it’s always a good time to think about clothing normally well suited for the warmer months that (bummer) are about to leave us.

Earlier this year, I saw this photo on the New York & Company website.7th-avenue-black-floral-skirt-top

First off, this is not a dress.  No, really, the top and skirt, both of which come from NY & Co’s 7th Avenue line, match each other so perfectly.  The wrap skirt is pleated fully and sits banded at the waist with a self-tie belt.  The black background on both it and the top allows the floral patterns to really pop.

But if you pay attention, you’ll notice that emblazoned across the top is a message of certain import:  “Speak Truth.”  A great thing to think about at this time in our history, really.  Speak truth about the person who you are.  Speak truth about the world around you.  Speak truth about how the people around you should care for others and our planet.  Speak truth and show the world you’re not afraid to state your mind and take a stand for what you believe in.

Not to sound as if I”m bragging (I’m not), but I could see myself pairing these with sandy-colored hair and my best patent leather purse and run errands, do shopping, or just walk through the park on a beautiful and warm day (yes, such days will return).  And when doing so, I’ll be making a statement — in more ways than one.


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Trying to keep a “million dollar” look in place

As I’ve mentioned more than once on this blog, Ragstock has been one of my go-to stores to find clothing items that are unique, edgy, daring, retro-themed… and more than a few times all of those at once.  About that retro vein, Ragstock is known for stocking lots of vintage clothing, whether it would be current designs inspired by looks of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, or something that looks as if it came straight out of those decades.

At their State Street location here in Madison, Ragstock has a “seriously retro” (my term) section where they keep all of their metallic lycra/lamé clothing, along with vintage-style clothing and accessories that would go well with them.  For the most part, I think, Ragstock considers that section as a “costume” area, in that not everyone will go around every day looking like a Blues Brother or a disco queen or a prom queen.

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A more fashionable Memorial Day on the diamond

Like many of my fellow Americans, I’m taking a respite from work today.  And you do know what today is, correct?  It is Memorial Day, a holiday designated to pay honor to those who lost their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  If you are one of the great multitude who do at least a little acknowledgement that this day is more than just an excuse for a 3-day weekend, thank you.  Sure, you may just say something like “lest we forget” while planting an American flag next to a gravestone, or even say “thank you for your service” to someone in uniform (who has their own days, which I’ll touch on briefly in a moment), but you do understand the gravity of this day.

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Another one down: Charlotte Russe

If you’ve read some of my blog posts over the past year or so, you’ve sensed a lament of retail fashion and department store outlets succumbing to the pressures of nimble competition and owners who want to make a profit on their investment.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s selling clothes or toys, whether they catered to a younger or older crowd, or even if they were prominent in online sales.  If a store closes up shop, it leaves an empty space in your nearby mall/plaza/whatever, creates queasiness in city and mall managers, and definitely leaves a big pit in an avid shopper’s heart.

Unfortunately, what’s been a leading reason for these stores/chains shuttering is bankruptcy.  It’s been happening with Shopko, which declared Chapter 11 in late January and has announced more than several store closures since then, including their last 3 locations here in the Madison area.  For Shopko, not only is their misfortune the result of withering competition, it also involves keeping lining further the pockets of their vulture private equity owners.  At the beginning of this month, it was revealed that Shopko had to borrow over $179 million from financial lenders to pay dividends and “consulting fees” to the investment firm that owns it.  Some of that money — $13.5 million worth — could have gone to the State of Wisconsin in the form of taxes and other fees Shopko still owes the state.  Yeah, that’s a lot of money, and who knows what Shopko’s fate could be right now if it went to where it should have gone (i.e. the taxman, employees, debtors) instead of the fat-cat owners who want only one thing: A quick return on their investment. Continue reading


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Oscar, Oscar, Oscar…

Time to fire up that recognizable theme music and… oh, wait, this isn’t supposed to be about Felix Unger disdainfully looking at his roommate’s pig sty of an apartment?  Okay then, sorry. [sound of record needle scratching]  Yeah, this is about last weekend’s big event, the 91st Academy Awards.  And, yes, I’m late to the “pile on the Oscars” party.  In my defense, I’m still trying to shake off a very long, grueling, and stressful work week, so please give me some slack.

Anyway, it goes without saying that the Academy Awards are the most scrutinized entertainment awards show on the planet.  Even just hearing the word “Oscars” makes a human being consider at least one of three Oscar-related questions:  How glamorous were the celebrities on the red carpet?  Was the ceremony worth watching?  And were the actual Oscar recipients deserving?

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Allison’s true tales of Shopko

Does this photo ring a bell, faithful readers?

Vinyl trousers and Gitano jacket

If you read this post from last year, or if you’ve ever perused through my Flickr album, you probably remember seeing the above outfit, and in particular the black jacket I’m sporting.  The black-colored Gitano cotton jacket is probably the oldest item still in my female clothing closet.  I found it way back in 1992 in the youth/young adults section of the Shopko department store down the road from where I lived.

If you’ve also read my previous post, you’ve learned that Shopko is in a bit of a financial bind.  Shopko is a department store chain founded and based in Green Bay that has been in existence since 1962.  Last month, facing a lot of debt and withering competition, Shopko filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced a series of store closures, including the last three Shopko stores here in Dane County.

While I admit I haven’t gone to Shopko very much in recent years, the news of their bankruptcy and departure from Madison and other large and small towns in its footprint left me a bit sad.  I found myself in agreement with a retail industry observer interviewed by the Green Bay Press-Gazette about Shopko’s bankruptcy.  “This one doesn’t surprise me,” he said of Shopko’s bankruptcy, “but it’s a company I hate to see go.”  Indeed, while the Walmarts and Targets of the world have run laps around Shopko and other department store chains, it has been a nice place with generally good customer service, and where you can get what you want (cute outfit, comfy boots) or need (toiletries, shoes, dining room set).

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Having to say hello to a goodbye

By now, you’ve perhaps heard of the hopefully happy news in the world of retail shopping:  Sears is going to stick around a little longer.  A couple of weeks or so ago, a U.S. bankruptcy judge allowed a plan by the chairman and biggest shareholder of Sears’ and Kmart’s parent company to stay in business, beating back challenges by creditors of the company who wanted a liquidation.

So, the judge’s approval means that Sears’ 425 stores will stay open, and its 45,000 employees will remain on the job.  While that’s good news, naturally, it’s not all sunshine and lollypops at the moment:  Sears Holdings has been under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since October, and since that time has closed several of its stores, including its location at West Towne Mall, just down the road from where I live.  And it still has to find a way to attract those who left it behind for the likes of Walmart, Target, and Amazon.

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Sporting a little red and black downtown

Yes, I hear you from a mile away.  “Yes, Allison,” you’re telling me, “we don’t mind you telling about what’s going on in your life and what you’re digging.  But we just want to see new photos of you.”  Okay, you got your wish.

Red hair, candystripe shirt, and vinyl leggings

One Saturday back in may of this year, I attended a regular meeting of the CD/TG support group I’m a part of.  On most Saturdays after our meetings, our group meets up at some restaurant in the Madison area to break bread, literally and figuratively.  On this particular Saturday, we had dinner at Short Stack Eatery, a LGBT-friendly restaurant I’ve talked about here and here and will eventually devote a full post to sometime soon (the food and atmosphere are that good there).

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Random stuff (post-VS edition)

I haven’t been on here the past several days, what with trying to earn a living and fighting an achy cold since Thursday.  But I’m back to share some lingering stuff related to my last post about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and more importantly comments by Victoria’s Secret’s chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, expressing that the show has no place for “transsexuals” (his term) or plus-size models on the catwalk (“because the show is a fantasy,” he reasoned).

Well, any hope that Victoria’s Secret and ABC would generate great ratings for the 2018 edition of the fashion show turned out to be a bigger fantasy.  Last Sunday’s (December 2) airing of the event registered an all-time low viewership number.  And that’s coming off previous all-time lows for viewership in both 2017 and 2016, the last two years the event aired on CBS.

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