Thursday, October 23, 2014

Finishing School Characters & Clothing Quiz Answers!


Here, Fashionable Reader, are the answers to the quiz on which dresses go with which characters, and a bit of an explanation from yours truly as to why.

#1 Agatha

1850s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Why? I put Agatha (who is a red head) into a lot of mustards, oranges, browns, yellows, and muted colors that would not work with her complexion. This is to indicate her own lack of taste, or possibly lack of agency in handling her father's choices. Her family is rich so the dress is always of a very high quality fabric with lots of nice trimming. The colors are also reflections of Agatha's warm, earthy, almost practical personality.

#2 Professor Lefoux

1851-1854 Red The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Why? Professor Lefoux wears a lot of solid dark colors. Her bodices are always buttoned up, and her skirts narrower than fashion dictates. I also chose this dress because of the close sleeves (practical for working in the lab). All of these things reflect her nature: buttoned up, narrowed perspective, focused, intense, no frills. But she is still French, so her choice of color and richness of fabric is often quite sophisticated.

#3 Sidheag


1850s Ensemble  Nordiska Museet

Why? Sidheag is often described as having the taste of a governess and a love of plaid, due to her Scottish roots. This is the kind of thing she would wear. It's easy to get on, basic, and practical. She, like Agatha is often described in browns, so this blue is a little cool for her. This is because she is also grounded and connected to nature through her werewolf upbringing.

#4 Preshea

1850s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Why? Preshea is very sophisticated, or thinks she is. She wears a lot of stark contrasting colors, black and white, dark blue and cream. Thus this black and gold number (although probubly intended for a married lady) fits her taste. Also this would look great with her coloring: pale skin and dark hair. Preshea thinks and acts older than she is. She's sharp and cutting and her colors reflects her prickly nature. 

#5 Dimity


1853 Evening Dress  1853  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Why? Dimity has a bubbly bright cheerful personality which is reflected in her clothing choices. She likes a bit of floof, and this neckline would show off all her jewelry. Because of her slightly scatty nature I often dress Dimity in busy patterns, layers, and other complexities of dress.

#6 Lady Linette

1854-1855 Blue The McCord Museum

Why? Lady Linette is always described as dressing too young for her age. She favors insipid colors: baby blues, pinks, butter yellow. I imagine her always in the colors of nursery rooms. She also loves a dress with border details, ruffles, and lots of trim so this one is perfect for her. The whole point of her clothing is for the reader to think: what is she hiding? Because she is always hiding something.

#7 Monique

1854 Evening Dress  1854  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Why? Monique is truly elegant, annoyingly always, she is also to the very height of fashion. Her skirts are always bigger than everyone else's. However, she is also very good a simplicity. I think she'd like this dress because of the supposed innocence of all that white, not to mention the queenly sashes.

#8 Sophronia

1850-1855  The Metropolitan Museum of Art2

Why? Sophronia has to wear her sister's cast-off dresses a lot, so they are often a little old fashioned in cut (this one has pagoda sleeves and a narrow skirt) however well made. This one would work for her because the folds could hide many pockets and the sleeves are perfect for her various wrist devices. Also, most of the time, she's a bit more conservative that Dimity so far as ruffles and necklines are concerned. I put her in blues and greens a lot because her nature is to be rather cool to those around her. But she also ends up in brocade, because there is a lush depth to personality under her tricky exterior.

Sp there you have it! How'd you do?

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Quiz! Match the Finishing School Character to Her Dress


It's funny, Fashionable Reader, but I spent so much time researching clothing (for each time period that I write in) that I have gotten to the point when I see a dress on one of my favorite blogs and I instantly know which of my characters might wear it.

So I thought we would have a little game. Hope you like the idea.

Bellow I have chosen some dresses that I think utterly exemplify several of my Finishing School characters. I'll give you the list of characters and then the dresses and you can guess which would be worn by whom. I'll give you the answers in a few days.

Wanna play? You can leave your answers in the comments or you can just play along at home.

Characters Represented:

  • Dimity
  • Sophronia
  • Sidheag
  • Lady Linette
  • Preshea
  • Monique
  • Agatha
  • Professor Lefoux

#1

1850s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

#2

1851-1854 Red The Metropolitan Museum of Art

#3

1850s Ensemble  Nordiska Museet

#4

1850s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

#5

1853 Evening Dress  1853  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

#6

1854-1855 Blue The McCord Museum

#7

1854 Evening Dress  1854  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

#8

1850-1855  The Metropolitan Museum of Art2

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Recent Acquisitions ~ Teal Velvet Dress


Well, Fashionable Reader, while in England I bought this velvet dress. I hinted at it in previous posts.


I found it at Real McCoy in Exeter. It fits the Rack but is a little big everywhere else. Still it's such a lovely color and a great match to my new book cover (Waistcoats & Weaponry) that I couldn't resist. I paid about $100 for it. Which is more than I normally like to spend on a event gown, but it's England, everything costs more there.


The sellers tag said 1960s but if it is, it must be early 60s (my guess is more like late 50s by the cut). But it's in fantastic condition.

I'll be wearing it on the Waistcoats & Weaponry book tour this November. So you will see pictures of me in it after that.

Some of the things I love about it? 


The swag of extra fabric at the waist, hides the girl tum. A neckline high enough to allow all bras (and fabric thick enough to disguise seams) but still low enough to show off necklaces. Solid beautiful color allows me to go wild with most of my accessories. Evening appropriate.

Some things I'm scared of?


It's unlikely to pack well. Thick velvet can be quite warm. And it is a little big, so I'm not certain how flattering it is. I took a look at it to see if I could take it in myself, but I think it requires a professional tailor. If I'm going to do that, I'll wait until after surgery.

Here are some dresses with similar cuts, or at least concepts: 

2014 Cushnie

1950 Dress  Ceil Chapman, 1950s  Mill Street Vintage

2014  Lanvin boat neck fitted dress

Ensemble  Jacques Doucet, 1920-1923  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fan Influenced Imagery & Fashionable Items


Still thinking about Sophronia and her fans, Fashionable Reader.  Only this time I've been delving into things that feature fans.

Here we go...

(via design-is-fine- tumblr) Portable Desk, japanese laquerware for western markets, 16th-17th century. Brooklyn Museum

Bracelet  Victorian  Lang Antiques
1880 Dress  1880  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Pendant Brooch  Charlton, 1925  Christie’s
By Cakes Decor (via Cake Wrecks member Ria123)
My Earrings
And my other pair made of shell.
ava_gardner fan
1919 finethankyouandyou-tumblr "La Flamme et L’Allumette," Illustration for Harper’s Bazaar (1919).
Erté (Romain de Tirtoff) (French (born Russia), St. Petersburg 1892–1990 Paris)

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fans that Aren't Fans for Sophronia


As I said before my main character, Sophronia, is a spy. And I have been raised to believe that all spies should have a signature weapon. In Waistcoats & Weaponry Sophronia finally gets hers: the bladed fan.

As I was researching fans I came across these fun ones, sort of spy-like in and of themselves... fans that aren't fans at all.

A fan that is a dance card:
1890 Carnet de Bal  1890s  Sotheby’s
A fan that is a cane:
1880 A rare cane from 1880, featuring an opening slot in the shaft, containing a red fan. The fan opens out 180 degrees and clips to the side of the shaft

 A fan that is an advertisement:

1880 Trade Fan  1880  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
A fan that is a gun:

via @NoCrazyTalk on Twitter (THANK YOU)

A fan advocating the Hypocras Club?
1900 Tiffany & Co., late 19th-early 20th century

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

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fans For Sophronia ~ A Historical Retrospective


Waistcoats & Weaponry is coming, and in this third Finishing School installment, Sophronia finally acquired her signature weapon. All spies, as you know, have signature weapons. So I've collected for you a bit of a retrospective on...

 The Fan!


1790s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


1800 Brisé Fan  The Kyoto Costume Institute
This is very how I imagined Sophronia's fan:
1820 Brisé Fan  1820s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1830s  The Victoria & Albert Museum

1840s  The McCord Museum

1850-1870 The MET

 The Fan in the USA
The Fan Museum

1867-1876  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Godeys July 1872 Fans
1875 Fixed Fan  1875  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1875 Tortoiseshell Fan  1875-1889  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1880s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mourning Fan 1885-1895  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Wedding Fan 1890 Tiffany & Co., 1890s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

"Some young ladies have a bad habit of biting their fingers, especially if they rejoice in handsome hands; and the same ladies, by way of variety, are prone to bite the corners of books, and the edges of closed fans." ~ The Ladies' Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book by Eliza Leslie (American 1864)

1890s  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
1900s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Shell handle fan 1910  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Peacock feather fan 1915  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


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