Allison M.

A crossdresser's thoughts on life, fashion, fabulousness, and, um… oh, that's right, dressing up!


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Random fashion stuff (2/9/2020 edition)

This past week has been a long week of wonder and worry.  For me, it was spent fretting over the eventual end of my current work assignment (March, in all likelihood) and pondering where my professional road will wind next.  For many in our country, the week was spent fretting over how scary politics is right now, and whether we’re going to go darker.  (Don’t worry, that’s all the politics I’m going to talk about in this post.)

Let’s cheer things up, then, with some fashion talk.  Well, first actually… we’re going to need to talk about not-so-cheery stuff, namely stores closing here in Madison.

Gap is now no longer part of the immediate Madison shopping landscape.  I admit I only went to Gap a few times, and mostly just to window shop.  Still, it was a bummer to learn last spring that Gap would close its State Street location.  And it was a real bummer seeing Gap have a store-closing sale at its West Towne Mall location.

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Christmas without the angel wings

This post and the one that will follow are in relation to a couple of holiday-related TV tidbits I’ve talked up in the past.  That next one will be about something that likely won’t leave the airwaves any time soon.  This one, however, is about one that has.

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Photo credit: Corey Tenold via Vogue

You probably recall this photo from a post I wrote at this time last year.  The image was from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which was first staged in the mid-1990s and used to be a prominent part of CBS’ holiday schedule.  Last year’s show, which aired on ABC, was marred by pre-air controversy thanks to a Vogue interview with Ed Razek, chief marketing officer of L Brands (Victoria’s Secret’s parent company), and Monica Mitro, VS’ executive VP of public relations.  Let’s just say that neither executive, Razek especially, made a good impression with their dismissive comments about plus-sized and trans models (they weren’t part of the “fantasy” VS was going for in the show).

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My three Thanksgivings

It’s Thanksgiving Day morning 2019 as I write this.  This day finds me relaxing and recuperating from what’s been a busy week at my work assignment, not to mention what will be a busy month to come.  Without divulging any details of the company where I’m currently assigned (due to privacy and all), I’ll say that this company has clients from across the country, and that December is always their busiest time of year.  Hopefully for my sake, such a busy time will spill well into January, if not February.  If not, hopefully a new line of work, from a staffing agency or otherwise, will be lined up for me by the time I leave this assignment.

This Thanksgiving also finds me at home, just relaxing, perhaps doing some laundry, and not paying too much attention to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade unlike more recent years.  I have no plans to go anywhere, other than maybe a walk around the neighborhood to get in some much-needed exercise.  Speaking of which, I was tempted to participate in a 10K run that is staged in Madison every year on Thanksgiving, but it’s kind of hard to run in a heavy winter coat.  No, we don’t have snow here in Madison at the moment, but the chilly temperatures would dampen any enjoyable run.

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Comings and goings at West Towne

While my mind formulates a post about my recent night at Trans Monologues (it’s coming, I promise), I want to keep my writing juices flowing with a few things about the mall down the road from where I live, West Towne Mall.  Thankfully, none of what I want to talk about is about this incident (yikes!).  Rather, it’s about a couple of stores at West Towne, beginning with Forever 21.  As you may have heard, Forever 21 declared bankruptcy back at the end of September, and that the roster of locations the retailer plans to close includes the spot of West Towne they’ve rented out for the past 10 years or so.

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The dress that made a queen go… Whoa!

Hopefully by now, you’ve read my previous post about the 2019 OutReach Awards Banquet, which was held earlier this month and honored those in Madison’s LGBT+ community, our allies, and our collective progress toward equality.  I attended the banquet with fellow members of our crossdresser/transgender support group.  You’re probably reading that part and asking, “Gee, Allison, did you dress up?”  Well, of course I did!

Studded mini dress and sparkly heels

Now that I’ve given you a bit of catnip, let me tell you a little story about the lead-up to that night.  When I first attended the OutReach banquet a couple of years ago, it was at the end of a rather long day of volunteering and working.  I didn’t have enough time to make a pit stop at home, change into Allison, and reach the Monona Terrace in time for dinner to be served.  So before I started my day, I packed my female outfit, left them in my car during the day, and did a quick change into Allison at a private gender-neutral restroom at the hall.

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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:

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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.

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