Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Gail Answers 6 Fashion Blogger Questions

1. What made you want to start your blog?
I love blogging and writing. I spend the majority of my down time looking at fashion blogs and thinking about clothing. I wanted an outlet for that part of my creativity. My author blog is all about the writing business (though still fun) part of my life, this blog was a great way to explore my showmanship side. Also as I wended my way through various fashion street blogs I noticed the women were either ultra skinny fashion industry types or plus size stunners. There was nothing for people like me, average in general, top heavy in particular. I wanted to read a blog that gave me tips on where to shop and how to dress and couldn't find that blog. So I started it myself.

2. Do you have any specific fashion goals for the rest of 2014?
I wanted to find a really stunning teal dress by my November Waistcoats & Weaponry book launch, and I managed to score a velvet beauty while I was in England. I have a short list of items I'm always looking for, like replacement red pumps. But right now I'm actually trying really hard not to buy too much. I hope to have reduction surgery next year, and there's no point in buying lots stuff now that won't fit in the future.

3. Who was your first style icon?
The cast of Cry Baby.

4. What's the one wardrobe essential you can't live without?
The Stylebook fashion app informs me that the things I wear the most are: My black leather day bag, my studded leather motorcycle boots, and my typewriter key earrings. But I'm always willing to shop so nothing is irreplaceable.

5. When you can't think of anything to wear, what's your go-to outfit?
A cute ultra girly retro dress with a motocross jacket and motorcycle boots (for day) or mile high strappy sandals (for evening).

6. Who takes the majority of your photos?
When I’m at events and have a travel companion then she/he does it. If I'm alone at an event, when someone asks to photograph me, I ask them to take a picture with my iPhone for the blog. I always have to remind them to include shoes. If Locus is present, I tap one of the staff. If I'm local, which isn't often, it's the AB.

Above you can see two recent images both with the iPhone: the first taken by a professional press photographer the second is taken by a friend with minimal tech experience.

 Here's one taken by a traveling companion, and a second taken by a random person in the bar.

This last was taken by an ex-professional fashion photographer.

Can you see how several factors are involved in the quality of the photo, not just lighting and outfit? There's also angle and my own comfort level with the photographer to consider.

Anyway, Fashionable Reader, I do hope it goes without saying that if you ever have any questions for me you should please feel free to leave them in the comments. At any time, not just for this post.

And, just in case you like to read it, here's an article and interview in French about my fashion choices. 

Pip pip!


"Should you perceive that the dress of another lady is, by some accident, out of order—for instance, that a hook or a button has become unfastened; or that a string is visibly hanging out; a collar unpinned, and falling off; the corner of a shawl dragging along the floor; a skirt caught up; or a sleeve slipping down, immediately have the kindness to apprize her of it in a low voice, and assist her in repairing the mischance; and, if necessary, leave the room with her for that purpose."
~ The Ladies' Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book by Eliza Leslie (American 1864)

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Gail's Gold Hugo Dress in England

Yes, I did buy this gold dress thinking about the Hugo Award ceremony.  What can I say? I am a horribly shallow human being. Besides, where else is a lady author to wear a gold dress?

Gold Dress for Alameda Vintage Fair $30

Gold dress with flower op over (and the lovely Anne)

Hugo Awards outfit

For the Hugo awards themselves I paired with leopard hair bob, black velvet hat, jet tassel jewelry, black beaded cardy, long satin gloves, leopard belt, and leopard sandals.

"The fashion of wearing black silk mittens at breakfast is now obsolete. It was always inconvenient, and neither useful nor ornamental."
~ The Ladies' Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book by Eliza Leslie (American 1864)

Gold Dresses in Retrospect

1858-1859  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1880 Wedding Dress  1880  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1929  Musée Galliera de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

1933 Evening Dress  Jessie Franklin Turner,  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1949 Pactole  Christian Dior, 1949  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1958 Evening Set  Traina-Norell, 1958  The Museum at FIT

Modern Perspectives on Gold Dresses

2014  S/S Christian Siriano

2014 Josie Natori

2014 Valentin Yudashkin

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Red Pedal Pushers In England

My troubles with the capri trouser are over, Fashionable Reader. I scored these pedal pushers recently and have decided I love them. 

With Adam Christopher at 9 Worlds
Inspired by:

Red, black and white fashions for Life magazine, December 24 1956 via theniftyfifties tumblr

At WorldCon

As you can see I am wearing them with heels, this, for someone of my height, is vital with pedal pushers. 

Some Inspirational Images


via soleil-de-matin tumblr
Model in Prince of Wales trousers by Slimma & batiste by London Pride, Vogue, 1960

via retrogirly tumblr

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cream Lace Dress With Black In England

A little while ago I purchased this Tahari a cream lace dress at TJ Max.

It looks only a bit retro, but if fit so well I had to buy it. Nothing seems to fit these days. It also packs well, so I took it with me on my recent trip to the UK. I wore it to all three of my events, styled differently each time. 

At 9 World with a black wrap shirt from Max studio, black pumps, typewriter key earrings, and a black velvet hat with my hair slicked back. My favorite look for this dress.

In Nottingham with the same shirt underneath the dress, a bow belt, same pumps, and a flower in my hair.

And for an evening look with a beaded sweater and a black jet tassel necklace with matched earrings.

I meant to wear it with leopard sandals at some point, inspired by the following image. But the weather never permitted it.

2014 Cream & Leopard

And here are a few more ways I may style this dress in future:

2014 harpers-bazaar-fall-2014-habituallychic-003

2014 harpers-bazaar-fall-2014-habituallychic-006

A Moment of Then & Now


1903  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1958 Jayne Mansfield in her wedding dress for her marriage to Mickey Hargitay, January 13, 1958 theniftyfifties tumblr


 2013 Elie Saab Couture; 2014 Naeem Khan

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Long Haul Flight Essentials

Right now I'm in England, Fashionable Reader. This blog post will be up here for the duration, if you're new to Retro Rack please be aware that normally I update 2-3 times a week.

screen cap Austenland (2013)

I travel a great deal as an author, Fashionable Reader, but not so many long hauls as when I was an archaeologist. Then it was often long flights to far away places for long periods of time, which meant: checked luggage. These days it's shorter hauls for just a weekend or so, which means carry on. However, I do end up going over night to foriegn shores at least once a year or so. And next year it's that big flight down to New Zealand. Also, I tend to have to check luggage for big steampunk events, too much clothing. For these flights I have a whole different approach than regular flights.

First of all, I never travel with a backpack. I understand the freedom of movement, the health of the spine, and all the arguments connected with carrying weight on one's back. But: I hate them. I am constantly being hit in the head by people who are not aware of their backpack, particularly in the isle on planes, particularly large males. I find them aesthetically unsightly, and they mess with the fall of clothing.

Instead, for an overnight flight I carry a tote and a very small rollie.

Anything I need during the flight goes in this tote under the seat in front of me.

Anything I may need on the ground immediately after landing, plus all my main safeties in case checked luggage gets lost, goes in this rolly and in the overhead.

I modified one of the outer pockets of the tote to be a handle sleeve, so I can pop it on the rollie. Both items fit under the seat or in the overhead, but I design my travel around the tote being the reachable one.

Onboard Beauty

First of all, I hoard samples. Whenever offered a beauty sample I always think in terms of what I want on a plane, especially if I am stuck sleeping in my seat. Some online vendors like Sephora often give samples with orders.


The tiny envelope packets of goo are so small and so little that, so far, TSA has never even noticed I have the kit with me, which means I don't have to pull it out during security. Plus this allows me to pack my kit so small in can fit in the seat back or some other easily assessable zone.

It's a little bit smaller than my open hand

So what do I actually pack?

For when my checked luggage goes missing:
Body scrub, makeup removed, shampoo & conditioner

Most hotels provide toiletries... in the USA. Not so overseas. Also, I am never certain if I will like the smell of the hotel product (I've started to keep a list of the chain hotels beauty lines and whether I like them. Hyatt, for example = yech.) 

So, on the assumption that my checked luggage will find me in less than two days, or I will find a drugstore, I pack some product to fill in the break in case I need it on landing.

Perfume, and perfume oil, eye cream, sin screen

Vital necessities:

I buy these two wipes in bulk. I use the Basis as a makeup remover and/or cleanser and the other is a mild toner

These are things I know I will use on the plane. So that I can take care of my skin in the extreme environment of recycled air.

Moisturizer: hand, face, body

Baby toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, nail file, bobby pin

Comb mirror combo

Just because: 

Single use wet ones for when I spill my food inevitably

I have a small collection of items that I just find I always need on planes. These are often also in my purse.

Chapstick, pen, zit sapper, eye drops, earplugs & pain killers

What's missing?

Tiny deodorant. I haven't found one that's really small that I like, so I tend to pack my regular travel roll-on separately instead.

Sleeping Sitting Up

I know, it's awful. I have a sleep kit that I take with me to hotels, it also comes on the plane with me. It includes more earplugs and painkillers (I'm paranoid), sleep mask, little warm fluffy travel socks, and prescription sleep aid. Before you jump on me, I have a non-addictive personality and I fill my prescription for my 10 pills once every three years, at most. So I think I'm doing OK. I only use them when flying overnight, and occasionally on the ground in alternative time zones to cope with jet lag when I have business right away.

I also travel with a silk camping sleep-sack. It's remarkably warm and I can climb into it comfortably and buckle the seat belt over top. It's not restrictive, and serves double duty as a big scarf, and folds up as small as a tiny travel umbrella with less weight. Since reading an article about how rarely airlines wash blankets, I have become even more attached to this baby.

Memory foam neck pillow. This is a hard choice because it takes up a lot of space but is so vastly superior to the blow up kind that I make the sacrifice. Mine comes with a removable sleeve to wash easily.

Other Things I Do Not Check

  • Prescription medication
  • Any clothing items necessary after landing depending on weather predictions i.e. hat, gloves, scarf, raincoat, umbrella
  • Food & snacks
  • Various kits: emergency repair, convention, and tea
  • Itinerary and travel documentation
  • Packing check list (I keep a running file on Evernote as well)
  • Reading material
  • Phone and associated charging necessities
  • Breath mints & toothpicks
  • One event outfit: including a vintage style bra and high heels
  • Extra socks and undies
  • Makeup
  • Jewelry
  • Anything I would be heartbroken if lost (like corsets)
  • Self filtering water bottle (filled after TSA)
  • My purse, wallet, etc.
  • All funds (never check money)
  • Sun glasses & spare regular glasses
  • A few zip-loc bags: they just always seem to come in handy
  • Tissues
  • Collapsible mini tote

Dressing for Travel

It may fascinate you to learn that I do not, in fact, travel in retro dresses with full makeup. Sorry to shatter any illusions. Instead I am perennially looking for the perfect pair of breathable slacks. I want them to look business, but be comfortable enough to sleep in, not too hot or too cold, wrinkle free, with full pockets both front and back, hemmed for flats (not heels), boots also, easy to button/zip. Needless to say, it is an endless hunt. Right now, I have a black pair of light weight ruched cotton that fits my profile but is a little too trendy and a grey pair that's almost there but kinda boring. What can I say, I like the hunt.

This Chart Tells You Exactly How Much Underwear You Should Pack.

For tops I choose something I can wear with a comfortable bra, that's darker in color, cotton, and short sleeved. I pair that with a cardigan, these days my long cashmere grey one. I also have whatever jacket is my main for that trip in the overhead just in case, and a scarf in the tote under my seat.

I'm usually wearing boots of some kind, unless it's mid summer and a beach location, because they are my bulkiest shoe, zipper easy to get on and off, and (most importantly) require socks. These days as they make you take your shoes off at TSA I can't imagine not wearing socks! Gross.

Final Precaution

I try to remember to photograph my checked luggage. This comes off as paranoid but my checked luggage has gone missing almost 50% of my travel. It's one of my bad luck things. I find if I snap a picture, that works best to show the peeps at the other end when it doesn't show up.

You don't have to go with my choices: Wish wish has a different selection for travel. 

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.