Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco

Instead of the Dickens Fair, Fashionable Reader, I managed a quick drop by at Borderlands in San Francisco last weekend. They very kindly came to my rescue. Since I wouldn't actually be visiting Victorian London I elected to decline the planned steampunk cover look in favor of more sensible wear. I opted for purple, cream, and black.

Purple and I have a long and checkered history. I used to hate it. I associated it with the leggings and oversized sweaters my mother wore in the 80s. But now I've come around. I even did my nails to match.

My preference is for short, oval shellacs. 

It was raining in the City, so boots were a must. Here's the outfit breakdown:

I use an app called StyleBook to create my outfits. Someday we will talk more about that if you are interested, Fashionable Reader? Anyway, you can see from above that I use it to show all the possible combinations for a given outfit (for example I have three black skirts that work with this top, several different shoes depending on the weather, and different hats to make it more or less fancy).

From top down: Hat, Bon Marche Thrift Store, Sonoma, $7; jewelry set Dark Garden Unique Corsetry, Dickens Fair, $25; Madman signing pen, gift from a friend; shirt, Kohls (buttons sewn shut) $10; sweater Kohls, $15; belt Haight Street, $15; skirt Valencia St. thrift store, $7 (buttons added); boots, Miz Mooz, $100; gloves, vintage shop, $10.

That cream hat is quickly becoming one of my favorites. And how excited was I to finally trot out the Kohls sweater? Can you believe something so vintage came from the junior section of a department store, and goes over the Rack, and isn't wool? It reminded me of this set:

1955 Sweater Set Christian Dior The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Speaking of wool:

I picked this skirt up super cheep intending mainly to wear it with a corset of mine (hence adding buttons to match) but I find myself really gravitating towards it this winter.

Dark Garden Custom Corset c. $1000

Perhaps it's that the shape is very hip right now yet still pleasingly 1940s. Perhaps it's that it seems to fit me really well. It is lined, except the waistband (a fault all to common in wool garments) so I do have to wear an undershirt (or a tucked in shirt) to protect my tummy from the dreaded wool rash but otherwise I love it. Some other ways I'm thinking about wearing it . . .

I also have an allergy to nickle earrings. Generally this means that I always buy danglings (rather than posts) so I can replace the hooks with silver or gold. Unfortunately, these ones are posts. They must be a pretty low alloy because it took several hours before my ears began to ache, but ache they did, so these earrings are out. (The clear nail polish trick doesn't work for me.) Sad, because I really liked the set.Now the hunt is on for new earring to match! Perhaps I will modify a pair of stemapunk earring to take the pearl drop part. Hummm. DIY plotting!

The shirt I chose is a bold purple rose print. If you, like me, are slow to accept purple print is a good entry point. Although, with the Rack, I might be better wearing a print on my bottom half. 

 Second image is Giovanna Battaglia

 1952 Mainbocher The Museum of the City of New York; 1960s Vintageous

Christina Hendricks in Vintage Carolina Herrera

 The sweater over the shirt is a heather knit.

 Heather knit sweater; Trina Turk Belted Heather Tweed Dress

Purple, like most colors, has a wide range of shades from cool to warm, and from dark to light so it will suit any complexion. So saying "I don't look good in purple" isn't really a good excuse. It is perfectly fine to say "I don't like wearing purple." This is similar to not liking Brussels sprouts ~ own it baby! I feel it is perfectly appropriate to dislike colors illogically. I, for example, don't like yellow. Blech!

That said, I have gone out and found some temptingly beautiful purple pieces for your consideration.

Hermes leather bracelet at hermes.com

Giovanna Bataglia; H&M Dark Purple Coat

 1914-1915  Nasjonalmuseet for Kunst, Arketektur, og Design; 1910s Evening Dress  Nasjonalmuseet for Kunst, Arketektur, og Design

 1900-1905  The Goldstein Museum of Design; 1900 Pendant  1stdibs.com

And if those last two images don't convince you to try purple, nothing will.

And now, for the characters!

For Sophronia after Etiquette & Espionage

1860s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For Ivy Hisselpenny in Soulless

1872–75 purple dress by poteidia

For Rue in Prudence
1890s  Kerry Taylor Auctions

For Primrose in Prudence

1896 Ball Gown Jean-Philippe Worth

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


  1. I absolutely love that skirt!!! Must find me one like it!

  2. Awwww! So sorry to hear about your nickel allergy!
    You should come shopping in Norway! It's not a 100% fool-safe rule, but practically everything is without nickel here. If in doubt, you can ask, but most often, there's no nickel anywhere. Especially not in piercing jewelry.

    ...But it would be a rather expensive journey just to shop some jewelry. Unless you ordered in the internet, of course.

    That said, I adore purple/black-combinations. It can often seem very goth too, I think.
    It's a pretty darn awesome combo.

    1. That is the most fascinating tidbit about Norway! I will certainly remember, should I be there, to shop for jewelry!!

    2. Yes. Just remember; to be as safe as possible, buy from actual shops, not from those who sit and sell things in the street.

  3. I use to dislike purple until I got myself a colourful man that loves both purple and turquoise and I guess he had an impact on my cause now I own several purple dresses and I don´t know how many accessories! I believe you can come to love all colours on way or another :)


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