How to Dress for Dominating Your Partner This Valentine's Day

Or, wardrobe tips from a dominatrix.
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Tyler McCall
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Or, wardrobe tips from a dominatrix.
Me-OW! Photo: Agent Provocateur

Me-OW! Photo: Agent Provocateur

This time of year, there's always plenty of shopping pieces about where to buy the prettiest lingerie to impress your man or to show off your naughty side. And with the added hype of a certain just-released movie (something about the color grey, I don't know), there's been an overload of info about how to best capture your inner Anastasia Steele.

But what if ... [dramatic pause so that my parents can stop reading — bye, guys!]

You wanted to be the dominator rather than the dominated this Valentine's Day? 

Looking to get advice for just such an occasion, I hopped on the phone with Andre Shakti, an educator, producer, activist and sex worker living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Not only is Shakti totally rad, she's also a dominatrix professionally — both in porn and in something called "session wrestling," which is wrestling women for money. ("It’s the best job ever," she says, and we can't totally disagree.) 

Read on for some of her really great tips, not just for the sex-having, but also for dressing in general. 

Badass, right? Photo: Andre Shakti

Badass, right? Photo: Andre Shakti

Communication Is Key: As with all sexually-based activity, the number one thing you can do is talk to your partner beforehand. "What I do with my partners and clients if I’m going to be dominant is first figure out what they are into," Shakti explains. "It’s like, 'Well, let’s have this entry conversation before we just jump in and I start whipping you with a household appliance; let’s talk about, where does it come from? When did you start thinking this was hot?'"

Shakti says in her experience, most people have a "root" to their fantasies, and when you talk about why they're into the things they like, you can better understand the logistics. It also helps you feel less ridiculous in the moment, because you're not just trying different things to see what works and what doesn't work. "That’s the last thing you want to do when you’re with your partner, you know? Feeling disconnected during the experience," she says.

As an example, Shakti explains someone might have had a thing for an older babysitter growing up, and using that as a root, that person would want you to just be dressed casually in jeans and a t-shirt. Dominating in denim? Yes please. Which brings us to...

It's Not All Leather and Latex: The stereotype of a dominatrix in all leather exists for a reason — that certainly works for some people. But that doesn't mean you have to take things in the bedroom from zero to 100. "The thing that a lot of people don’t realize about domination work is that oftentimes it does not look like the movies," Shakti says. "The fact of the matter is that dominatrixes see many, many different clients and those clients, guaranteed, all have very, very different fetishes and preferences — you’re getting a lot of people from all across the board."

So in addition to that old latex-clad standby, you could also have someone with a foot fetish — in which case anything you wear north of the ankle is unimportant — or a thing for cheerleaders, maids, or '50s housewives. If it exists, there's probably someone who is into it. "In reality, you can be dominant and play with domination in your personal life without the shiny, leathery accessories," Shakti says. 

Get Them to Buy You Something: If you're really stuck on ideas — or short on cash for new things — make your partner get it for you. "Part of it can be, 'Here are my measurements, go pick me out something to wear,' and that way you can be guaranteed he is going to pick out something that he’s really into," Shakti says.

There is also a group of people who enjoy this kind service play (some people call it "fin-domming," or financial dominating). That's a good opportunity to get things you want, too: make a wishlist, give them a list of fabrics or designers you like, and even if you end up with something you won't wear again, it's not a total loss. 

"They are purchasing it for you, you know they think it’s hot, and again, just like with regular sex, knowing your partner is so incredibly turned on by what you’re doing is invaluable," Shakti says.

Turn the Clothes into a Prop: "A lot of people will put on the clothes — like we’re talking about corsets or sexy bras and underwear and garters and stockings and heels — they’ll put on the clothes and realize they’d much rather have the clothes off, that the clothes often feel like a hindrance," Shakti says. "Instead of letting them be this prop that sits on your body that restricts your movement at times, bring the clothes in as a form of play."

She has developed a sort of rewards system: getting to remove an article of clothing becomes a goal for a partner to achieve. Making it feel sexy or like part of the action is key. "Nothing ever happens by accident," she says.

Say "F*ck it," and Wear Whatever You Want: For her part, Shakti will absolutely not wear pink or rhinestones, and if she's going to wear heels, they've got to be comfortable. "I am not trying to balance myself and take care of another human being while I can barely walk," she explains with a laugh. But being comfortable is the number one most important thing.

"It’s not as much about the clothing as a lot of people think it is — it’s more about the confidence, the self-awareness and the skill than it is about what you’re wearing," she says. "You can literally wear whatever you want — whatever makes you feel sexy, powerful, confident and comfortable. Whatever makes you get into that dominant headspace, that can be your dominant outfit."

Here's the bottom line, guys: Any person worth getting down n' dirty with is going to find you at your hottest when you're at your most confident. Wear whatever makes you feel your best — anyone who isn't on board with that is a terrible, trash person and doesn't deserve your sexual efforts. 

Happy Valentine's Day!