Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Steampunk Accessories ~ Gail Carriger Style

 The obligatory steampunk accessory is goggles, Fashionable Reader. But I prefer to stick with a few themes and carry them to an extreme. Due to my love of tea and the adoption of teaspoons on the Rack (for the Spoon corset), one of my accessories is a small teaspoon on the end of a long chain that dangles from my belt. This has proved most useful on more than one occasion for stirring the tea at events, or the sampling of other peoples deserts. (I take proprietary interest in the calories of others. I'm saving you from yourself, you understand? And it only a teaspoon full...)

At AnomolyCon with SJ Chambers; a spoon necklace $10

I always were my Joan pen necklace, but then, I wear that at conventions whether it's steampunk or not. It's amazingly useful, as an author, to have a pen around one's neck at all times. I have considered wearing it always. Because when I don't have it on, I never seem to be able to find a pen!

The infamous pen necklace, yours for a cool $15

Lately I have taken to wearing a pocket watch about my neck as well. This causes an inordinate amount of jingling against the pen as I walk, but then I am already not a very stealthy person. Sophronia certainly has me on that front! However, being on panels it helps to be able to check the time without whipping out the anachronistic iPhone. There's a wide inexpensive selection online.

Mine was a gift and is a little like this one, $4.

I can't vouch for the functionality of the ones above, but mine keeps time beautifully. I pull out the stopper so as not to use up battery life in between events.

Steampunk folding fan from Brute Force Studios $55

Sophronia adopts a bladed fan with leather guard as her favorite weapon in Waistcoats & Weaponry, and when Thomas posted this one to Facebook I just had to have it. It's stunning and people always comment on it, but frankly it is not particularly effective as a fan. Decent for rapping the knuckles of the unruly, however.

Speaking of which, I highly advocate for fans. They are most useful. My Japanese translator kindly sent me two beautiful little paper ones that tend to travel with me at all times. Let's just say: I've never been cold at a steampunk convention (with the exception of that Seattle SteamCon unfortunately occupying two hotels in a blizzard). The little fans travel well because they are so light, fit easily into a pocket and work wonders. You can buy blank paper ones and decorate to go with your outfit, or one of the sandlewood and coat with brass spray paint, there's a wide range to choose from.

Godeys Nov 1872 Sash bow, made of black watered ribbon, two of the ends begin finished with silk tassels.

I also have a pair of Brute Force's tea strainer goggles. They don't seem to sell them on their site anymore, possibly because the strainer part tends to dent?

I do sometimes wish mine could be used as actual tea strainers!

I also, somewhere, have a teacup holster. Mine was made for me special by a friend, to hold a very specific teacup. I believe it is residing in storage at another friend's house with the rest of my vast teacup collection (you doubted me?).

ArtificerLeatherWork on etsy has this model in black and brown for $65

In addition to these, my most useful items, I have a collection of things like spy glasses, a crispy lens of magnification, and boot button hooks that dangle from the belt for fun and entertainment.

As you can see I tend to gravitate towards accessories that have meaning for me. There's a lot of food and tea themed items. The spy glass reminds me of the field lens I used to carry as an archaeologist. The magnification lens and the fan connect to the Finishing School book series. I often decorate my outfits with octopus emblems, an ode to the Parasol Protectorate books, among other things.

 Teapot necklace, and oval silver gear necklace, both gifts.

Catherinette steampunk ring, gift from the AB

 Several necklaces of different lengths with silly slogans and such, collected over the years. Worn with lamp switch cords instead of chain.

Roman coin, Emporer Tiberius, gift from my grandparents when I turned 10.

I think that is the key when adding the accessory touch to a steampunk outfit. Make it something meaningful to you, a conversation starter, something that speaks to your personality, or your steampunk character development. Bonus points if the item in question is also very useful!

Godeys July 1872 Belt Reticule: Chatelains are again in vogue; this is of Berlin iron; the belt around the waist is of leather, with ornament to attach a bunch of keys from.

I have a lovely brown and black leather hanging pouch from my days at the Renaissance Faire that I use to hold all my bits and bobs. I managed the Oberon Leather booth for years, and as a result have a delicious collection of pretty leather bits, many of them completely custom. Bosses prerogative, after all.

 Making proper use of a parasol

I also usually carry my folding tilt parasol. Most steampunk conventions are inside, so it's not practical, but when I had it outside that one time at Comic Con? It certainly saved Gail from becoming crispy fried Gail.

Lastly you'll often see me with a leather file folder strung over my shoulder. I had the boot boys at the leather both attache a studded shoulder strap made of old belt, and a bicycle disc brake gear looking thing to the front. That's my author kit. It hold cover art images, handouts, extra business cards, name tree and all the other useful items I find I always need at a convention.

You can kind of see it in this picture on the left hanging from my shoulder

Sorry I don't have a better shot of it.

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


  1. Love love love the tea holster!!!! Have to share this fan

  2. All your steampunk bags and reticules are so cute and practical! That is my biggest problem when designing a steampunk outift - finding something that works with the outfit, yet can carry everything I need, particularly at cons. I have been thinking about designing a Japanese steampunk outfit, it which case I might just use the big kimono sleeves as pockets!

  3. This is brilliant! And, if you excuse the impertinence, ma'am, you remind me of my dear friend Iris - mostly the hairstyle and the cheerful smile. She's training to be a history teacher in Scotland (I know, a barbaric place, but hey, I was raised there. Must be the reason for my lack of etiquette.)


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