Wig Buying Tips for Crossdressing Beginners
if it was easy you would never see bad hair
If buying a wig was easy? You'd never see a bad one. Sadly, it a bit trickier than it looks. The information included here - is based upon my own failures.
Simply stated - I don't wish for you to repeat my mistakes.
Here I'm going to show you:
- The exact vendors I used for on-line wig purchases
- Tips for shopping in retail wig locations
- Helpful accessories and procedures regarding the purchase of new wigs
Additional Chapters in This Section Include:
Wig Selection and Care
Buying New Wigs
Wig Buying Tips for Crossdressers
Buying a Full Set of Hairpieces
Wig Care and Maintenance Tips
where to purchase your first cross dress wigs on-line
If you're situated in an area where the first-hand purchase of an ideal wig seems impractical for concerns regarding indiscretion - you'll likely want to buy most of your wigs on-line.
Here's a few ways to make that click a success - from the start.
Pssst! Most vendors "suck"
I hate most on-line wig vendors.
Why the disdain?
First off, I'll never understand what bozo first developed the idea of classifying wigs by manufacturer. However, every other idiot that subsequently uploaded a web site - copied that notion. I don't know about you - but I evaluate wig purchases by intended function. Most of us know or care little about the maker. We just want it to look right. This policy forces us to visit six different sections of a damn same web site - in order to simply compare almost identical looks. It's a stupid layout - and makes finding the right wig - a real pain. It's not user friendly at all.
Second, most vendors won't ship you a fully styled wig situated on a wig head. The version of styling they'll send - is in a plastic bag - and in dire need of being cut-in - to look decent on your cranium.
Most will tell you anything you want to hear. Most deliver very little. We're just a new avenue for them to sell a wig.
In summary - they suck.
The best on-line wig vendors
They're only two places I want you to purchase your first wigs on the net. In fact - I insist that you buy your hair from the Web - you only purchase from these places early on. They're both discreet, affordable, they know their stuff, and they'll ship a styled / pre-cut wig to you. Thus, your new mane will be ready to wear the day it arrives.
All those compliments - and I'm not getting one penny of financial benefit from either of these two institutions. I must be doing something wrong. *Laugh*
Great Lengths Now - "Clare"
If shopping on-line is your best - or only option - and you seek a wig that's quite realistic - I'd suggest you visit "Clare" at TGNorth.com.
I bought several wigs from this lovely lady - and so have many of my friends. She runs a full scale transformation service - and is highly skilled at selecting the optimal style and color to enhance your features. Her prices are competitive relative to the quality she offers. She also stands behind her product. I've had the sad experience of buying from others not as good as Clare. Those wigs have long sense been "trashed".
Perhaps most importantly to newer gals? She's very nice and compassionate. She'll review your needs with care and her packaging is totally discreet. She has a 1-800 number and you will speak to her directly. No person will make you feel more comfortable in your purchase.
Hollywood Wigs -
In case you haven't noticed, most of my wigs are a bit more than mall wares. *Laugh* I simply relish hair...with a bit of attitude.
If you're seeking a mane to match a lively persona - look no further.
I buy many of my club wigs - and almost all my show / formal hair from these fine people. They sell wigs to a number of famous personas - and they ship these incredible completely styled wigs directly to your door. Most shops that produce ultra-styled hair - will look at you as if you're insane if you inquire about them mailing such a wig.
The fact they're located amongst a host of large wig vendors in Hollywood - causes their pricing to remain competitive.
They carry a wide range of hair - but the wild ones are my personal favorites. Just follow their links to the custom wig section...you'll get the idea.
Pick up the phone
Regardless if you order a wig from one or both of these vendors - I'd suggest you first talk with them on the phone - and share a bit about your goals and plans for your hair. Likewise, they can be more helpful if you share any concerns regarding your exact facial features. They'll use their web sites to "show" you suggestions - but you'll still need a bit of human interaction - to insure success.
Don't be nervous.
They're there to help you. They're experts - and they're nice people!
where to purchase your first cross-dressing wigs at retail
I'm almost embarrassed to admit how I bought my original wig in a store.
First, I drove by the place - about 20 times (Did I mention I was a little shy about all this when I first started?). Next, I went in and came up with this lame story about how I was going to a costume party dressed as a woman. They proceeded to cart me off to a booth and bring in a cheap rag. I shyly told the girl I really wanted to look good as a female, so please bring me something better. After explaining I understood the higher cost, things went very smoothly.
Buying at retail offers a few potential advantages. The obvious one - you get to see the wig - and examine it more closely - before purchase. It offers a bricks & mortar location for you to take it back - and have them style and maintain it. You'll also gain first hand knowledge on beginning challenges - like how to properly attach and care for it - two things I was guessing at, when I bought my first one.
However, retail isn't all rosy. It's unlikely most of you will ever encounter a local wig dealer with a more thorough knowledge of transition issues as Clare - or a wild inventory like Hollywood Costume. Thus, a balanced approach to new acquisitions seems prudent.
Following, is a bird's eye view of the retail landscape you'll likely encounter during your search for great hair. I've included my assessment (based upon my personal success & failures) on how you might utilize each avenue to acquire your best look.
The Standard Retail Wig Shops
It's awfully nice if you can locate a discreet & friendly retail wig vendor, offering:
- a wide selection
- fair pricing
- skilled stylists
- an in depth understanding regarding male-to female transformation particulars
- a convenient location
- a discreet environment
Sadly, finding all those attributes in a single shop - is pretty rare. Thus, you'll need to rank which features you consider most essential to your first purchases - and base your patronage on those priorities.
The Health Issues Shop
The most common wig retailer you'll encounter focuses its inventory on women who've lost their hair due to health issues. Women undergoing chemotherapy often purchase wigs until their hair grows back when this process is completed.
These tend to be a bit pricey for beginners. Also, their clientele tends to already know the exact hair style & coloring they seek. You - are on a somewhat different quest.
If this is all that's available in your area - I'd browse to learn - and make my purchases on-line...or during my travels.
The Ethnic Shop
Another type of retail shop you'll often find are those focused on African Americans. They'll often be located near concentrated clusters of residences predominantly owned by African American. Often, these shops double as "wholesale beauty supply locations.
These shops are often your best bet for a lower priced wig of decent quality. Some shops provide detailed styling services for these wigs - others don't. You'll need to ask. I buy a number of decent wigs from these places - and get them restyled elsewhere.
In America's largest cities - you'll discover a number of wig retailers I refer to as custom shops. They provide about as close to the perfect world - I first described - as you'll ever find.
Most these shops are Asian-owned with highly skilled stylists - often African Americans. These stores only shortfall is often in the customer service department. Essentially, they offer very little help to those traveling, needing shipment of wigs, etc.
The kinship of hair - between African Americans and transgenders - runs deep. The very best wig stylists I've known from all across the United States - were of African American descent. The coarseness of this group's hair - is most parallel with the synthetic nature of most wigs. Likewise, more African Americans possess short hair - and wear wigs - on a daily basis. Simply stated - they know wigs better than most Caucasians.
Here's an idea. If you have plans for visiting New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, etc. - why not plan on visiting these unique wig retailers? You can purchase a number of wigs - take them to a Mailboxes, Etc - and ship them home all safe and sound.
The Custom Wig Specialist
A number of highly skilled stylists will break off - and operate smaller wig services from their home. These people often sell wigs - but their primary role in the wig food chain - is in professional styling and care.
In Atlanta, I found a source that performed custom wig care and styling for a variety of theatrical venues. He represents the high end in terms of skill among these remote experts. Others - are simply qualified hair stylists operating from the home - with a specialized focus in wigs.
Developing such a source will provide you with confidence in buying a wig that's not quite right in your travels. You know - you can always take it to your specialist for clever adjustments.
If you ever get an opportunity to visit this little neck of the woods - welcome...to wig heaven. *Laugh* Hollywood Boulevard - situated in Los Angeles - is perhaps the very best location to find any type of wig you desire - at a fair price.
Simply stated - more people buy there - thus, a large number of retailers exist to sell them wigs.
Other Retail Wig Issues
Here's a few final tips you might find helpful during the acquisition of your retail wigs.
The Discretion Issue
If you're extra shy about buying a wig retail - remember this:
Wig shops cater to secrecy. Many of their customers are female cancer patients who would rather be caught dead, than be seen without their hair. All I've been in have private booths you can go into to try on different styles of wigs. Some will include the fact they cater to TV's or Entertainers in their yellow page ads.
A simple phone call asking if they work with transgendered people can help the process. Make an appointment with someone if you feel it is necessary.
Due to fears of indiscretion, some new gals miss out on the most important phase of wig purchase - the cut in. Essentially, wigs are styled generally by the manufacturer - and must subsequently be cut to perfectly match the particular features of your head and face. Thus, the bangs are usually far too long, the hair is too thick, and the hair has little body. All that changes - with a professional cut-in and styling.
What style seems right for you?
Here's a trick you might find helpful in identifying a better hair style. Save images of t-girls who you find appealing on line. Try to seek images of gals wearing wigs that are your same age, weight, and skin tone. I can't begin to add up the number of wigs I bought that would only look stunning on an 18 year old.
Find your mirror - and you'll find wig success. ((hugs))
Shipping a Wig
If you buy a few wigs during your travels - you'll likely be faced with a need to ship - a fully styled wig back to your home.
How does one mail a large wig - and not ruin the styling? It's not usually as difficult as it first sounds.
Here's a few ideas that'll make it go much smoother:
First, purchase a Styrofoam wig head when you buy the wig - and have them pin the wig securely to this head. Also, have them add a bit of extra hair spray - to better lock in the styling you just paid for.
Next, buy a plastic trash can liner large enough to loosely cover the wig. Now - drop by a Mail Boxes, etc - and have them box and ship the wig back to your home location. Try to select a box for shipment that fully fits the size of your wig - but with little extra space. Be sure and have them add those Styrofoam peanuts to keep the wig secure during shipment. However - make certain - you first load the wig into the trash bag. Otherwise - you'll often mess up the styling trying to remove all those little monsters. *Laugh* It's also a good idea to note on the box - which end is up - so that UPS will reduce the amount of time your wig sits upside down.
When you receive your wig at home - it will usually just require a mild bit of pulling and fluff - to restore it to its original condition.
If you're shy about walking into a Mailboxes to ship a set of wild hair - tell them your wife or girlfriend works in theater - and you got stuck picking up her work project. Jeez - the things we must do as men, huh? *Smile*
a few other "essentials"
How to put on a wig
My personal stylist - Monty Schuth - includes some excellent details at his web site regarding installing your wig. The most common mistake I witness with newer gals is flopping the wig upside down as they line it up onto their heads. This - is brutal on screwing up your styling.
Secure the band in the rear of the head - and slide the wig forward at the temples - eventually finding the perfect resting spot at your forehead.
Some people simply keep their wig secure with the tightness afforded by the rear band. Others - us metal pins to secure the hair to their existing hair and wig caps.
Personally - I prefer two sided hair tape that's already shaped to the contour of a wig. You can buy this tape at costume shops - but the extra strong stuff - known as lace front - I've only found at hair replacement vendors like HRS & Apollo. Note - if you do use lace front tape - I'd suggest you first line your wig cap with a strip of their standard wig tape. This stuff gets a bit gooey - and can be a real bitch to remove from the innards of your wig cap - without the other tape in place as a liner.
Add on-line vendor link
This tape secures the front portion of your wig to your forehead in a realistic manner. Simply clean the spot where you intend to "apply" your wig with a bit of alcohol - secure the tape to the inside of the wig - and press down for a moment once it's in place. This tape bonds more securely as the day or night progresses - and offers a great deal of freedom in the use of your hair.
Most people use a wig cap to better cover any existing hair on their head - and keep it from peaking out from the temples. These are available from wig suppliers and most beauty shops. You can acquire them with black or blonde coloring - based upon your hair color of choice. I keep every color on hand.
You can also rig your own wig cap by cutting up an old pair of thigh-high stockings and achieve the the same effect.