Stylist Lyndsey Duff, above, is passionate about helping everyone, including in the trans community, look their best
Stylist finds passion in working with trans women to find the right fit
Clothes can easily be taken for granted: A cisgender man buttons up his shirt before work. A cis woman puts on her slingbacks before a night out. Clothes are comfortable and also reflect who we are — preppy, curvy, slender, conservative, whatever. When something doesn’t fit right, we pick the next size or buy a new article.
For a trans man or woman, those options are quite different… and it’s not always about the fit or style. Lyndsey Duff discovered that there are no clear guidelines for the trans community when it comes to finding the right garment, so she’s trying to do her part to help.
“I realized it was something that wasn’t being represented in the fashion community or in any influencer community. Everyone may be inclusive but they aren’t talking about it,” says the 28-year-old.
Meaning that shops and clothing lines may be supportive of the LGBTQ community with rainbow collections or reassuring Instagram posts but aren’t doing much more beyond that. Addressing transgender wardrobe issues was something Duff never found — and she should know.
Duff is a stylist at Nordstrom at NorthPark Center, helping shoppers select just the right pieces that are stylish, comfortable and cut perfectly to fit. But it was a customer interaction in Austin prior to moving to North Texas that changed everything for her.
“There was a situation where a mom had called for her daughter who was transitioning,” Duff says. “It turned out to be a really intense experience helping this trans woman find clothes who represented who she is. I saw her mom get so vulnerable in her reaction to seeing their child be happy. I fell in love with that.”
Duff found purpose that day and hopes to continue that here in Dallas. She’s discovered the layers that can go into the shopping experience for a transgender person.
“There are no guidelines. Going from one body structure to another and trying to find who teaches that is difficult,” she says. “And on top of that, some people may feel unsafe shopping for clothes. I can’t even imagine going through that.”
So Duff invites shoppers to stop in to see her. She’s primarily worked with transwomen but will also work with transmen as well. Working with the backing of her employer, she brought the notion up to her HR department to talk about being socially aware with a particular customer demographic.
“They are already an open and welcoming company and were incredibly supportive. It’s been amazing the strides they have gone through to help people feel safe,” she says.
Customers begin by calling her for a phone consultation and to make an appointment. She will discuss expectations, wardrobes, colors, etc. Once the face-to-face happens, the session is entirely private.
“We meet in a private dressing room that’s spacious and comfortable and safe. I grab what the client needs and work with pieces to pull together an outfit they can walk away with and feel confident,” she explains.
She also says that Nordstrom can be a resource for shoes, where many women’s sizes go up to 14.
And the looks are across the board. She recalls one client who wanted to lean very feminine in her look whereas another preferred plain tees and skinny jeans.
“I feel like in their experience, they get robbed of trying to figure out the difference of what people expect them to look like and who they are. And women who don’t feel like they are passing, that insecurity is prominent, I’m sure. This has been eye-opening,” she says.
Duff describes the experience as an educational one also for her clients. New to different sizes, she works on teaching basics of reading women’s and men’s clothing pieces and how they can fit on the body. She often finds that there is a tendency to overcompensate, but that comes without exploration of style. Mostly, Duff wants to teach transgender shoppers not to be afraid.
In turn, this has been a learning moment for her as well.
“I’m glad they can feel comfortable, and we open up this dialogue,” she says. “Having this opportunity to work with these women who find their confidence in their bodies has taught me how to be more confident.”
And for an all-over transformation, Duff has consulted with other departments in the store such as cosmetics and bra fittings. She says they’ve all been on board with helping her customers achieve their full look and perhaps even their truest selves.
“It’s OK to explore and make mistakes and learn from them. I want people to know there is someone to help them,” she says. “Being able to explore fashion with these women and be there for them has been the single best experience of my life.” █
Reach out to Duff on Instagram @thekeencloset.
IN THE CLOSET
There are pieces that Duff recommends should be in anyone’s closet. These can be a basic foundation for any wardrobe. Duff understands that perhaps not everyone does shop at her store but advises to try to get the best quality of each item for long-lasting wear and comfort.
“I feel like everyone should have a cardigan sweater — always. And then two pairs of jeans: one black and one regular,” she advises.
Other items she suggests are a good tank top, a couple of quality tees or undershirts. For women, she recommends Bandeau undergarments, a bralette and the signature black dress that can be worn to any event. For men, at least one good suit.
— Rich Lopez