Thursday, August 29, 2013

Then & Now ~ Cream Scales

Then

Ball Gown  Charles Fredrick Worth, 1888  Kerry Taylor Auctions

 Now



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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Then & Now ~ Lavender Handbag

Then

Reticule  1800-1825  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Now

Croco Purse Organizer With Floral lining
Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Then & Now ~ Orange Bag

Then

Purse  1800-1825  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Now

Circle Flower Purse by Grand Crafts
Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Then & Now ~ Deco Dresses

Then

 1927 Augusta Auctions; 1920-1923  The Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1920s  Whitaker Auctions

 Now

WWIB-Gucci

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

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Buy My Closet ~ 7 Items for Sale

For new readers to Retro Rack, thsi is nto a normal blog post. But I'm selling some of my favorite vintage pieces, right now on ebay and I wanted to give readers first crack. I only do this one a year or so. This is your chance. They all have a top of about size 8 or so and a bottom of size 4-6. Shoes are size 7.5. If they don't sell, I'm going to have some happy friends.

1. United Colors of Benetton Brown Houndstooth Blazer M

This Italian made blazer is classic cut 100% New Wool fully lined probably a size 6 or 8. Base color is khaki-tan with rust brown check, lining is a dark mushroom. It's beautifully made and very warm. Front closes with three brown buttons at good spacing and stance for the busty lady, fully functional pockets: two small patch pockets high, and flap-top normal pockets low with matched buttons. Full length sleeves boast three matched buttons at each wrist as well. Slender classic collar. The jacket is in wonderful condition partly because the fabric is so strong. Jacket has no size label but I'm a busty 6 to 8 and it fits me perfectly.

No photos of me in it, because I rarely wore it. That's why I'm not keeping it. But here are some fun ways I would have styled tweed for everyday and and post on houndstooth.

2. Vintage 50s Green Blue Flowered Pencil Dress S/M


This small/medium sized stylish 1950's cream colored pencil dress with petal collar and short (about 1/2) sleeves has pretty blue flowers and green leaves all over it. The rare, petal collar has a tiny blue bow at the center. There is blue piping at the waist. Strong metal zipper up the back. Fits beautifully as fabric has a tiny bit of stretch to it, particularly the top, the skirt section is lined so less forgiving. Most likely to fit a dress size 6, hourglass shape, slightly top heavy. Skirt section is smaller than top.

 Wearing this dress in France.

I talk about styling this dress two ways in this blog post on my French trip.

3. Vintage 50s Salmon Pencil Dress Unique Neckline S/M


This small/medium sized stylish 1950's dupioni salmon (dark peach) colored pencil dress is perfectly cut with a very unique neckline and short sleeves. The neck is like a reverse sweetheart, giving great modest coverage to the busty lady. There are small catch pleats at the waist. Strong metal zipper up the back. Fits beautifully, the skirt section is lined, but lining has been cut with pinking sheers above the hem. Dress has no label and could be home made. Most likely to fit a dress size 6, hourglass shape.


I wore this dress for my Heartless launch party in San Francisco.


 Retro and modern takes on peach.

4. Vintage 50s Black Pencil Dress Unique Neckline S/M


This small/medium sized stylish 1950's brushed dupioni black pencil dress is perfectly cut with a very unique neckline and short (almost cap) sleeves. The neck is a V, with a double layer color and in slash front, also giving great modest coverage to the busty lady. There are slight pleats at the waist, and the design of the front panel is very forgiving over the stomach area. Dress fastens with eight buttons up the front, close enough together not to gap over the bust, and a safety snap. Fits beautifully, fabric is relatively strong, back is lined, has waist tape and internal hip tabs (which gives it the early 50s feel).

No photos of me in it, because I rarely wore it. That's why I'm not keeping it. Even though it's my only black pencil dress I simply find myself reaching for a black pencil skirt instead.

5. Vintage 50s Green Blue Pencil Dress Sz S/M


This small/medium sized stylish 1950's linen pencil dress is simply cut with a unique bold green & blue leaf print and short sleeves. The neck is relatively high and there is piping detail at the waist. The dress is in wonderful condition partly because the fabric is so strong, almost duck cloth weight. There are slight pleats at the waist. Fit is tight and almost a wiggle dress, skirt is fully lined. This dress is selling for $50 because I love it so much, I'll just keep it if it doesn't meet the minimum.


I wore this dress to ALA in New Orleans where I had the honor of giving a speech on my love of Terry Pratchett. Good memories. Much as I love it, I find myself reaching for my green day dress instead.


6. Green Shoes




Worn twice these Chelsea Crew NIRVANA Ankle Strap High Heel Sandals in Emerald Green are just too small for me. Size 38. I love green shoes so much but these ones simply don't work for my foot.

From a 1940s add. So similar!

7. Cream Bow Shoes


Worn twice these Alfani Cream Peep-toe Heels with Bow Detail size 7.5 are also too small for me. I dithered over buying them and shouldn't have, in the end, because I was never able to break them to fit well. I'll be smarter next time.

So there you have it. Clean well-maintained vintage pieces, hopefully off to new, less boobular homes. Sigh. I shall miss them so.

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

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

13 Essentials in Gail's On the Go Fashion Emergency Kit

Inspired by this post, I thought I would do my own on the Fashion Emergency kit, Retro Rack style.

  1. Totes Micro Umbrella ($12), I have 3: a black and white houndstooth check, red Asian print, and a leopard. These aren't the best umbrellas but at a convention I merely need something that fits in my purse to protect my hair during the mad dash between hotels. 
  2. Glasses case: houses either my sun glasses (when I'm inside) or my regular glasses (when I'm outside). This leopard one I picked up at Ross for $5, I'm always looking for ones that aren't too big yet stiff for added protection. 
  3. Scarf: I carry a small square headscarf for the same reason as the umbrella, only with wind in mind. During travel, I use it for packing my hats. I collect scarves from thrift stores, at this point I pretty much have one in every color. When desperate, they also work as a napkin.
  4. Mini sewing kit ($3). Since I wear vintage, it's necessary for me to repair on the go. A good kit from a hotel often works fine for travel, but I make up my own with extra straight pins, safety pins of variable sizes, folding sewing scissors (they seem to get through TSA) and a multi-thread braid I picked up at a boutique craft shop ~ different color for every repair.
  5. Breath mints, I like Altoids minis and lately I've been trying Kissing Elixir's vanilla mint spray. Not strictly fashion related but necessary. In my Altoids tin, I also include pain killers and an additional couple safety pins, as the tin comes out with me on my rounds.
  6. Mini clear nail polish top coat, for repairing nylons. I struggled to find a tiny one and ended up having to buy a sample kit just to get the really small bottle. It's worth it to avoid TSA and having to separate my liquids out of this kit for flight. 
  7. Zip clip for badge ($4, but there are fancier ones). I hate hate hate badge lanyards at conventions. They are inevitably ugly colors and rest exactly over the Rack in a flappy inconvenient overly eye-catching manner. So I carry a zip clip, designed with a metal clip to go over a belt or pocket. I sometimes clip it to my neckline or, better, on my purse instead of my person. That way I can show it to people as needed but I can flip it to the back of the bag for photos. (I know, this defeats the purpose of a name tag. But I have yet to meet a convention that prints the name big enough to actually read as one struggles with small talk, so why mar a perfectly decent outfit?) Mine is actually loosing its snap, so I need to invest in a new one. That is is the biggest issue, much attention it put into the cip part, not enough into the snap. Bad designers. 
  8. Necklace pen $20. I am rarely seen without it during daylight hours of a convention (and it gets lots of compliments).
  9. Necklace watch, similar $20. Since I don't wear a watch but I like to be on time to panels this one is usually on me (for steampunk events) or in my bag. (Occasionally I'll use my phone.)
  10. Cravat pin AKA stiff short hatpin. These are hard to find, I'm always looking for the really stiff sharp ones. What passes for hat pins in the dealers room of most steampunk conventions, I am sad to say, wouldn't hold down a dead butterfly. Mine are all vintage. This 1960s one is my favorite and most sturdy.
  11. Emergency emery board. Mine came from a hotel kit. But I've been known to break a bigger one in half and carry the end with me.
  12. Shoe blister kit. Contains blister band-aids, regular band-aids and back-up shoe inserts.
  13. Extra badge ribbons, collected from various cons and gifts from friends.
Of the above the umbrulla, glasses, and scarf do not go in the kit. And while I really love mesh baggies for most travel purposes, like so:
Kingsley Silver Mesh Travel/Cosmetic Bag Set (3 Piece) $14
Because my kit involves both pins and liquid, I prefer to house it inside a zipper top plastic bag like one of these from Travelon:

Travelon Set of 7 Packing Envelopes, Assorted Sizes $14
(I do all my modular packing with these jobbies, I have two sets and I love love love them!)

Or the best of both worlds the mesh reenforced plastic storage bag:
Set of Three Mesh Storage Plastic Bags with White Zipper (also with red zipper) $9
What's not there but still important? 
  • The obligatory Tide Stain Pen ($8 for 3). Yes I carry one, but it's in my everyday bag because I have it with me at all times. The most important thing to remeber with the Tide pen and vintage is that once you have used the pen on a stain, the garment should not be dry cleaned (the chemicals may react badly with stain remover) but laundered/hand-washed instead. Just FYI.
  • Small bottle of Fabreze. I transfer to a tiny spay bottle that goes with my toiletries. I only use this in cases of emergency when it turns out I will have to wear a dress more than once in a row. In which case I turn the garment inside out, spray only smelly areas, and let dry on the hanger overnight before I wear it again.
  • For longer trips I packa  few Woolite Travel Laundry Soap packets, perfect for washing the smalls in a hotel sink.
  • Small travel lint roller, or just a bit of masking tape. 
  • Spare gloves, especially if I'm wearing white ones. They soil so easily I usually include an extra pair for events. In daily life I carry a leather pair with me at all times, my hands get cold at the drop of a hat (pun intended).
Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Then & Now ~ Draped Dresses

Then


1880s Liberty & Co., early 1880s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Almost Then


1955 Tree  Charles James, 1955  The Victoria & Albert Museum

Now


Draped Pink Dress $27

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

Monday, August 12, 2013

6 Styling the Rack Thoughts ~ Wendy Williams

Occasionally, when I am sad and sick and lounging on the couch I catch a bit of daytime TV. The Wendy Williams show supports only the best kind of trash, but more interesting to me is the fact that she is a full figured woman. She's a great deal taller than me but she sure has a Rack to be proud of and I thought I might investigate how she (or her stylist) handles such tracks of land. Perhaps there is wisdom to be found there for all of us well endowed?

1. Wrap It Up




Wendy loves her a wrap dress or shirt. I totally support this, for most of them have sleeves and a nice v-neckline, add a little stretch and thus they can accommodate a range of Rack. However, her's are clearly tailored to stay in place. I'd say they are either sewn closed at the neckline point where they cross, or in some cases possibly pinned to her bra underneath. She obviously invests in serious foundation garments, custom made bras/corset, and takes advantage of this fact to hold her clothing in proper place. A nice lace-top camisole under a wrap dress is imperative if one doesn't have the time or the tailor for this kind of attention to detail.

2. Drape Over It



One of the things I love about this kind of thing is it screams expensive. But it is hard to find in a dress that is stretchy enough to fit. I suspect these gowns of being entirely custom to her figure. As these things go, although I generally prefer and pencil and tailoring, it's interesting to see that the less fitted dresses, on the right, appear to be more flattering.

3. Belt Under It


Like me, Wendy has a small waist to go with the large Rack. The danger is that with a belt emphasizing the waist, the Rack can look even bigger. This happens to me particularly when I wear a waist cinch corset. In the first image the slightly blowsy top seems to have a minimizing effect, I have not found this to always be the case but perhaps I should investigate further?

4. Add A Cardy



Source
I do love the cropped fitted cardy with a pancil skirt look, it's very vintage in feel. Wendy also seems to go rather matchy, adding a further retro aspect, despite her love of modern make up and hair. My guess it that those first two button front ones are sewn closed, because of the complete lack of gaping. I've been tempted to do this before. Note that she always takes care of where her tops fall, keeping them well above the hips, a generally more flattering approach.

5. Tuck in the Blouse




This woman loves her pencil skirts, which I more than understand. She always seems to tuck in, a thing I admit I am loathe to do. But it does work. I'd guess her blouses are tailored in at the waist slightly, so they don't puff out too much? And they must be either tucked into her nylons (spanks, controls or whatever) or pinned down so they do not shift. Of the four above, the last one does not sit at her natural waist and is thus less flattering although also the most boob minimizing. As you probably know, I like this look a lot. Although, like Wendy, I am most often to be found in a dress, because it's easier to put together quickly.

6. Flaunt It



I like the cut of the black dress. The full skirt balances out her Rack, but does it feel a bit young? The top is fitted well and she's either wearing a corset underneath for added support or that bodice is fully boned. The other dress is a bit too much for me, but I suppose there is the old "if you've got it, flaunt it."


Pencil dresses, I'm a big fan. These are very body-con, and again I am very taken with her amazing undergarments. I want to know where she shops for those supportive seamless wonders!

Source

I included this one mainly because it's basically a street look.

And another curvy diva in a truly divine dress.


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