Friday, June 29, 2012

Gail Carriger is Currently Craving ~ Cuffs

I love cuff bracelets, particularly the ones you can squeeze shut. 

I have these little boney wrists (the only thing boney about me ~ well, and my nobly ankles) and bangles never ever fit me. I know I could take links out but I'm terribly lazy. A nice flexible cuff is wonderful and I'm seeing these fab graphic styles all over the place.
 Pierre Hardy cuff via

 I'm hoping the style trickles into Target and JC Penny and the like in the not too distant future. (I am very fickle in my jewelry taste, so I tend to buy cheap and costume so I don't curse myself for the expence when I suddenly go off a piece, loose it, or get bored with it.)

 $15 from a consignment shop

In fact, I have a mad passion for those cheep elasticized bracelets because they are the only ones that fit properly. I also love the stretchy rings because I can wear them on my bare hands or over a glove.

Ring, $6, It's a Wrap, Burbank

 But we were talking about cuffs. I also think they are very elegant and slimming and make for a great unexpected statement piece. So many opt for the necklace for an event but I think a cuff can make for a very nice touch.

I tend to think a solid shine cuff is a little too wonder woman, and you shoudl be wary of wearing one on each wrist for the same reason.

So I like the cut through better, and one large one, on one wrist.

Jessica Ricci Abundant French Lace Cuff Bracelet at

Pamela Love cuff visit

And some cuff inspired other jewelry:


Boot thingies from the runway.



Marc by Marc Jacobs


And something metallic for Sophronia to wear.

Afternoon Dress  1848  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Then & Now ~ Corseted Dress


1885  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


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

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gail Carriger in Sunnyvale in a Black & White Skirt

I don't know if I've posted in the past about how, before I was published, I had this dream about flying to New York. I think every wannabe author has a similar dream. Only mine was very specific and very fashion orientated. My dream was that I would go to New York to meet with my agent and editor and I would be wearing a black and white skirt.

It's not often dreams come true.

In 2009 Orbit flew me to BEA in New York, before anyone had even heard of Soulless, to present the ARC to the unwitting masses. While I was there I would meet, you guessed it, my agent and my editor! I was understandably excited. I was also, as you probubly might have guessed, in a veritable shopping frenzy looking for the perfect black and white pencil skirt.

I hunted, I searched, I looked everywhere. I tried all my favorite stores both vintage and modern. I did the Height Street treck. I visited Santa Cruz. I couldn't find one I liked.


But low, my darling Mum came to rescue. She is a fabulous seamstresses and offered to make me the skirt from a vintage pattern and we could choose whatever fabric I wanted. Well I found this great black on white irregular spotted fabric, and she made me this wonderful fish tale pencil skirt.

Did I wear it to BEA in 2009 and meet my agent and editor? You bet your booty I did!

Ah, look how young and innocent I look. Lee sigh.

I paired it with red for that occasion. I do like black and white with red.

Sadly the skirt hasn't had much play since then. I guess I felt like it was meant for the dream, and the dream had been satisfied. But I rustled it out of my closet last weekeend to take down to Sunnyvale for a little event at the library there.

Here I am posing with the lovely young lady dressed as Alexia from the over of the Soulless manga. For this occasion I kept the whole outfit black and white.

So, with an eye towards wearing this skirt more often I've collected some inspirational images of how to wear a cute black and white skirt.

 With red, retro and modern

 With teal or turquoise.

 With pink or blush.

 With olive.

Just pure black and white with modern touches.

Inspired I put together these two outfits which I intend to wear soon.

 A retro take with blush, silly shoes, a chunky necklace, and olive bag.

Modern take with some mixed patterns and steampunk ankle warmers.

Both looks require high heals and I'm off them for the moment, but I can't wait to try them out soon.

Here's a evening idea, going with golds and neutral accessories.

It doesn't have to be a skirt these days, either. I've seen some patterned trousers turn up too. I'm not certain this look is really for me, but I have seen a few who could carry it off. And, of course, I'm on the perpetual hunt for the perfect black & white check pedal pushers.

While I adore my dotted skirt, the one I want to buy did finally hit the stores a mere two years too late, in fall of 2011. I'm hoping some day this Marco de Vicenzo will turn up in a consignment shop in my size. A girl can dream, right? After all, dreaming is what started this madness.

How about something black and white for Prudence to wear? Since I'm working on the Parasol Protectorate Abroad series right now my life if filled with 1890's dresses.

1900-1902  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This one is a little late period for her, but so pretty, I couldn't resist. It won't make it into the books though.

What to read when wearing black and white? How about Jane Yolan's marvelous Sister Light, Sister Dark and White Jenna?

The best thing about this lyrical almost mythological two part series is the world building. I've not seen anything like it before or since and it's, simply put, amazing. The writing is definitely on the side of strong and empowered women (showing feminist 1970s roots, I believe). I think the world and story are complex enough for any reader, although I believe the target audience is YA. (When she wrote it I'm not certain there really was a "YA" concept yet.) Anyway, I love it, it's brilliant! I've kept these two books since I first read them over 20 years ago. It's a rare series that travels with me, as I move every 2 to 4 years.

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Then & Now ~ Grey & Black


1870s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sooner Then

1949 Christian Dior  The Philadelphia Museum of Art



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

Monday, June 25, 2012

Then & Now ~ Black & Gold


Evening Dress  Coco Chanel, 1922  The Victoria & Albert Museum


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

Friday, June 22, 2012

Closet Staple ~ The Black Pencil Skirt with Gail Carriger

White it is mid summer for most of us, the runways are showing Fall/Winter. So, Fashionable Reader, I thought I would visit my favorite closet staple for the up coming season ~ the black pencil skirt.

I have several. In fact I have even posted bout my longer wool middi length in the past. However, the knee length skirt is more flattering on all figures, and less difficult to style.

 I have had mine for so long I can't remember where I first got it. It's not vintage, but modern, it has a bit of a stretch, a little slit at the back, and nice wide reinforced belt, and, best of all, pockets! I do love the pockets.

Strangely enough, I don't wear it all that often. I usually have the pin stripe that's part of a modern suit or the velvet that's part of a vintage suit with me when I travel. They just parse out to more outfits. Or I take the 1940's because it's more esoteric or the striped fish tail because it's more quirky. Inf ace, just writing about it makes me feel guilty. Poor neglected skirt.

Regardless, this is a closet staple I think more ladies can wear. Particularly if it is tailored properly. And it is so incredibly versatile. Plus I always think it's a good idea to put black away from ones face.

 Vintage, Retro, and Modern takes on the black pencil.

Of course, my favorite thing to do with a black skirt? Yes, you guessed it, pair it with red!

Queen Dita

So let's think about how to style it for different occasions. How about a glamorous evening look?

I'd add a nice silky blouse. Not necessarily cream with The Rack, but perhaps a jewel tone blue or green for the fall and winter and a nice coral or sage for summer or spring.

And for day?

 First is from the What I Wore blog

 A nice cool printed blouse, shake it up with fun accessories.

If it's really warm this skirt can even work with a tank for summer. Although, tanks are always difficult with the Rack and I, again, try to avoid white. If not possible throw on a jean jacket to break up the up top volume.

 Pencil skirts can be worn with flats but I tend to think heals work better, unless the skirt is a few inches above the knee.

The black pencil is also good for business attire.

If the black skirt doesn't come as a suit you can still pair it with a black blazer. Just pick a blazer that is a completely different pattern or texture than the skirt. That way the miss-match look intentional.For example I might pair my black skirt, which is a basic matte stretch, with a black shiny brocade, a black lace, a black tweed, or a black leather blazer. Alternatively you can match the shirt and the jacket, rather than the skirt and the jacket.

A word on boots with pencil skirts. I suggest ankle boots, and then only with a shorter (two inches above the knee) skirt. The same applies to pumps with an ankle strap. Boots can cut of your legs oddly. You can do a knee high, but pair with black tights so that there is no weird flash of skin. Otherwise stick to oxford style booties, Mary Janes, or regular pumps.

 There are also many ways to style this skirt for fall and winter.

Mix it up with jewel tones and neutrals like camel and grey, or make is trendy with a navy top and army green jacket, or turn it serviceable for travel with a belted trench, collared shirt and ballet flats.

Lastly a few more fun retro ways to style the black pencil. With spots and splashes of red and with a nice cross front flutter sleeve top, peep toe pumps and a flower in the hair.

And something for Alexia to wear?

Dinner dress  Emile Pingat, 1877-1880  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

What to read while wearing your black pencil skirt?

Tumbler by Brand Gamblin is a fun story of the classic loner western. A stranger rides into town with nothing, saves the day, wins over a community, and has a happy ending. Except that this happens to be set in space. And the stranger is a tough woman. I found Libby an engaging main character and the supporting cast was fun. A nice quick read.

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