Monday, April 15, 2013

Hoaw to Pack Steampunk (and other costumes) by Gail Carriger

So, Fashionable Reader, I have done multiple blogs on packing. I've blogged about how to stack and roll vintage and how to mix and match outfits so as to maximize space. I've done a piece on what to take to conventions as a writer and how to pack modular for different length trips. This kind of thing overly concerns my little organized soul. I travel a lot and I want to make packing as easy as possible, too much of my brain power is spent determining how to do this easily.

Non-local steampunk conventions are a challenge. I usually take one of my larger suitcase and even if it's only a few days, which means I have to check luggage. It's hard to check costumes, that litany of "what if it gets lost?" goes through my head over and over again. All that work, all that time, all that money! Nevertheless, that's the way it goes. I pack shoes and hat boxes and any books or heavy objects at the bottom, then smaller clothing items, and end with all my fluffy skirts on top. This is the one instance when I fold rather than roll. My spoon and autumn outfits pack the best which is why you seem me in them the most.

My teal and fancy outfits have skirts that really wrinkle easily so I don't pack them as often.

My cream outfit is too expensive to risk loosing. Plus it has a full size hat. So it almost never travels at all.

This is one reason to lean in favor of tiny hats. Much more portable. I tend to shell hats into one or two hat boxes, then stuff socks, shawls, gloves, and other soft items around them, in the box, to keep them from ratting around too much.

 Cocktail Hat  1938  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 1945  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 Fried Egg Hat Luna on the Moon

1938  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Bes-Ben, 1950s  The Indianapolis Museum of Art

I pack the truly valuable and irreplaceable items in my carry on (corsets, pocket belts, jewelry, spoons). So far TSA hasn't raised an eyebrow at me.

I also always carry one small steampunk quick outfit in case the checked suitcase does go missing. For example . . .

Thrifted silk dress $25; vintage check cotton dress $60

Dresses from my collection that pack small and steampunk easy. Accessories add the steampunk touch without adding too much weight to the carry-on.

Pattern tights (Jessica Simpson tights $12); a leather & canvas pocket belt (United Colors from way back, similar style money belt) adds a way to transport room key, cash, and a credit card

Vintage slip $20, similar modern version for $16

A pretty slip works as a night gown or for under a dress, or as a light underskirt in a pinch if its way too hot.

Necklace pouch, nice to have to run down in the morning with only the necessities to hit to buffet without full get-up.

My favorite cashmere mitties, because my hands are always cold and they go with everything. These are by Moe Munroe. Moe's mitties are hugely expensive and difficult to source online. I couldn't find these exact ones for sale but here are some others of hers.

One size fits most, from $50-$100, the above available at Delicious Boutique.

So there you have it, tips for steampunk travel:
  • pack heavy and awkward items with hatboxes at bottom, fluffy skirts on top
  • bolster hats inside hat boxes with soft items
  • put accessories, corsets, and valuables in the carry on
  • include one easy steampunk outfit in case the checked luggage gets lost

A friend and I were once traveling to a steampunk event and she wanted to take her full size top hat. It's impossible to fit a top-hat case in the overhead or under the seat, the world no longer really accommodates hat boxes. So her solution was just to wear it the whole way. People found it charming. So traveling with a hat, that's one solution...

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


  1. You could always pack a steamer trunk and travel by ship or rail. :-D

  2. I'm living on wrong century... =P

  3. You can ship large or irreplaceable items to the hotel, rather than try to haul them yourself. I have found FedEx to be the most reliable. If you notify the hotel ahead of time, most are willing to store your lovely packages for a few days prior to arrival. That cream outfit is just too lovely to keep leaving at home!


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