I bought my first dress - a little black velvet number - in December 2008, just in time for an evening gathering at a private house in Brighton on 16 December 2008. This was the very first occasion that I'd stepped out in public in full female garb. I was very, very nervous at the time; but still proud of my effort. I'd bought the dress and shoes and accessories all on my own, without help or advice. I knew exactly what I wanted. But the process was nerve-racking, and I had expected to be torn to pieces in Marks & Spencer by a howling mob outraged by my presumption. Or if not there, then later by the villagers of Piddinghoe, where I was living. But in fact no wicker cage awaited me, no burning ritual took place, and I survived.
And here I am, trying to look good in some pre-gathering photos taken in 2008 - interspersed with shots taken just two evenings ago. All of them in that dress. I do apologise for the dodgy quality of these pictures, but they were all taken in subdued light. Can you spot any substantial differences in the three years that have passed?
It seems fair to say that longer hair and an obvious gain in self-confidence make a big difference! Everything else is down to the very subtle effects of feminising hormones and facial hair-removal.
It's been a very long three years, but thus far I'm reasonably satisfied with my transition into Lucy. Of course, had I started this in my twenties, rather than my fifties, the changes would have been more profound in that time. Sigh.
As for the dress, it still fits nicely despite plumping out in various ways since 2008 - maybe it fits better because of that! It shouldn't go out of fashion. A black dress like this is a classic standby for all posh occasions. It's also one of the very few items of female clothing bought in 2008 and still in my wardrobe. I don't expect I'll ever part with it: it's my debut dress, as important in its way as a wedding dress, and you don't discard those!