Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gail Carriger's New Aquisition ~ Sweater Set

Recently, I purchased this cream sweater set at the Alameda Vintage Fashion Fair. I know it's crazy Rack-tacular, but it fills a niche in my closet. I assure you I am wearing it with very cute heels. I don't know why I bother, no one ever pantographs the shoes. We are a world of torso-ed people.

Sweater sets may emphasize but they are good for us well endowed ladies. Because they stretch. This one fits my top and my bottom which, with an 11 inch difference is usual even for knitwear. Ladies, I am seriously considering a reduction. It's just too ridiculous.

Couple of vintage sets:

Suzy Parker wearing Balenciaga by the Seine. 1953. Photo by Louise Dahl-Wolfe

Fashion photography by Leombruno-Bodi, 1956 via hollyhocksandtulips tumblr

Evelyn Tripp (right), September 1952 via theniftyfifties tumblr

For Alexia to wear:

Jacket  Emile Pingat, 1885  The Victoria & Albert Museum

For Sophronia to wear:

Le Conseiller des Dames Saturday, March 1, 1851 v. 35, plate 45

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gail Carriger's Book Tour Outfits: Curtsies and Conspiracies

I'm struggling with a lot of back log after two weeks on tour for Curtsies & Conspiracies. (And this is my second time constructing this blog. For some reason it said it went live yesterday and then disappeared into the aether.)

So without much verbiage, Fashionable Reader, I give you the various outfits I wore on book tour over the past few weeks. I'm sorry I didn't always have time to get a full photo taken, but then many I have worn before. I hope to do more on many of these in the future.  

Velvet 1940s suit with black and red polka dot fascinater at Borderlands in San Francisco.

At Copperfields in Petaluma wearing my favorite red & black coat dress.

Packing for Seattle

Navy polka dots with red accessories at Mysterious Bookstore and Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle.

Nancy Berg for Vogue, 1954 theniftyfifties tumblr

And at Third Place Bookstore with a red H&M top and tweed skirt. The skirt is on the chopping black, I don't wear it often and as you can see it wrinkles when I sit and doesn't travel great.

I know I didn't give you much info but if you have questions please feel free to ask.

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Then & Now ~ Ecru


1909  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Marchesa Fall 2012

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Then & Now ~ Black Silk Evening Dress with Long Sleeves


Evening Dress  1902-1903  The Cincinnati Art Museum



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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Steampunk Costume Loves by Gail Carriger

I've had a love affair with costuming for as long as I can remember. For me any day of the year could be Halloween. Then I got into historical reenactment, and then I discovered steampunk. As a result, you might describe my steampunk costumes as quite proper, so far as these things go. I'm lucky enough to be able to do several steampunk events a year, but because so many of them require flying I've settled in to four basic outfits that travel well: this means I have something for Friday night, Saturday day, Saturday night, and Sunday day.

Each of my steampunk outfits has its variations and its reasons. Each includes parts that I have made myself and items that I have purchased. Some objects are quite meaningful, others are quite silly, for me that's the beauty of steampunk.

1. The Spoons

The spoons with and without the jacket. (Without photo is by J. Daniel Sawyer)

Why I love it: This was my first steampunk outfit, the spoons corset in particular has become associated with me. I love the whimsy of that particular element, and at the time it was an entirely whimsical choice.

Secret sources: The jacket is a vintage 1940's number that is tacked and turned and trimmed with 1950s copper paperclips (found in a friend's garage) and ribbon.

How I acquired it: The black skirt and taffeta over-skirt are both thrift store scores. Shoes are Via Spigas from Nordstrom Rack. In the bellow image, I am wearing the over-skirt and corset over one of my 1970s vintage evening gowns, because that particular gown travels very well, without wrinkles. The goggles dangling from waist are by Brute Force Studios and are made of tea strainers.

The spoons with an alternate underdress.

Deeper meaning: Because it is the oldest for my steampunk outfits, this one has been modified the most. It has grown along with me and my relationship to the steampunk community. I use it to cater to my love of tea, hence the teaspoons and the tea strainer goggles.

DIY moments: The hat is a straw blank from Ben Franklin's doll section decorated with lace, old watch parts, and a rose made of feathers via the trusty hot glue gun. I'm wearing it with a black pocket belt and a holster for my folding tilting vintage parasol both made from cargo pants. For this outfit I took an old torn lace ready-to-wear sweetheart Dark Garden corset and sewed a ton of brass buttons and beads all over it with the teaspoons at the neckline. This was well before I was an author and had deadline demands, I blog all about it in detail.

The Spoon corset in detail.

Special touches: I carry a little teaspoon on a chain dangling from my pocket belt, which I find endlessly useful. I wear the pen around my neck almost all the time at any convention, as well as an octopus piece of jewelry somewhere.

2. The Teal

Cover of Changeless that inspired the outfit.

Why I love it: It's quick and easy and it travels small, because the skirt is more narrow than puffy.

Deeper meaning: It matches the cover of my second novel, Changeless. Although I've made some adjustments and modifications. It isn't a color I would normally choose but the teal is one of the reasons I love it, it stands out. I use this outfit to emphasize my author activities.

The Teal with and without the jacket.

How I acquired it: I ordered the top and skirt in a custom color from Clockwork Couture. I paired it with my Dark Garden pinstripe pointed Victorian under-bust corset with vest detailing, over a black Max Studio 1920s influenced dress. If you're interested in corsetry I have blog posts all about how to chose them, how to fit them, and how to wear them. I adore corsets, worked for years for a couture company, and a have amassed a vast collection over years.

Secret sources: I had the jacket tailored by my friend Sarah, who is a professional seamstress with the theater. The necklace above is made of hardware store parts. The large flowered parasol is from the online retailer Lace Parasols & Fans. All my corset busk covering buttons came from Rubyblackbird on Etsy.

DIY moments: I milled the hat, it started life as a tiny buckram fedora. I added feathers, old beaded earrings, and big teal buttons using needle and thread. The velvet middle skirt was made by splitting and modifying the bottom part of a thrifted dress. I now wear this outfit with the black pocket belt and a holster for my folding tilting vintage parasol both made from cargo pants.

Special touches: The black octopus necklace was a gift (similar but even cuter, Sea Devil Black Octopus Necklace $18). I found the typewriter key earrings and teal watch necklace in various steampunk dealer's room, and now I can't function at a convention without either. The broaches and pins all over the pocket belt are collected from flea markets and gifts from readers.

3. The Autumn 


Why I love it: I love this outfit because it is so cheerful and because it has no black elements.

Deeper meaning: Secretly this is my favorite steampunk look for two reasons: because the corset is so small it's my most comfortable and because the skirt is so long, I can wear this with flat boots and rest my feet.

How I acquired it: The shirt and skirt were thrift store scores, the skirt was clearly a bridal item, the pickups already sewn in. I pair it with my favorite Dark Garden corset of all time, a small corselette that looks very like a Swiss Waist.

Swiss waist photo from the 1860s

Secret sources: The feathers are from a thrifted wall mask, it was falling apart when I got it. The bird is a fake one from a sewing supply store. The teapot pin was made by Rubyblackbird on Etsy.

DIY moments: The hat blank was from a thrift store, I think it was meant to be a wall decoration which I stripped and redecorated. The pocket belt is made from a cargo skirt, nice to have all those pockets all the time. This one is my favorite.

The back side.

Special touches: The fan dangling from my waist is from Brute Force Studios. I ordered it because the fan becomes key to my main character in the Finishing School Series. Occasionally I'll wear this with an old-fashioned field lens around my neck, reminiscent of my archaeology days.

4. The Fancy


The fancy full version, and casual.

Why I love it: I built this outfit after I immersed myself in the steampunk culture. I wanted something that was more evening for Saturday night events. It was assembled from scratch with steampunk in mind, rather than cobbled together from costume bits I already owned. I bought the fabric and gave it to Dark Garden to make the corset. I wanted something so unique no one else would ever have it.

Secret sources: The two iridescent taffeta skirts came from two different thrift stores at two different times. They are probably both bridal. I also employ tassels once intended for curtains.

DIY moments: I had extra bed ruffles so I used them to make the underskirt fluffy. You can see me wearing just the underskirt in the second image above. The undershirt is dyed with tea to make it less white. Over-skirt is also decorated with trim and ruffles, I used the excess to build out a bit of a bustle at the back. I picked up most of this trim from a major score at a church sale in San Jose back in 1996.

The bed-ruffle underskirt, and many ruffled over-skirt, and the tea died undershirt.
How I acquired it: The corset is a Dark Garden custom with custom fabric, the Alicia style with Princess cross-back straps. It's my favorite over-bust corset designed for bodice wear, and it fits me perfectly, it's so comfortable.

Special touches: The hat is a teeny tiny bucrum which I recovered with more of the corset fabric and decorated with a fake humming bird and feathers from that broken mask. I talk about a number of the accessories for this outfit in a special dedicated blog post.

The hat.

Deeper meaning: This outfit is rather frilly, I don't know if I can find much meaning in frills. I do wear it with my patchwork boots. They are vintage Kenneth Coles, and were possibly the greatest shoe score of my life. My BFF found and bought them for me in High School from Buffalo Exchange on Telegraph in Berkeley for a cool $20. They are patchwork, velvet and brocade, Lord Akeldama would be proud. And, shockingly, they are comfortable! I always think of my best friend when I wear them.

So those are my four favorite steampunk outfits and why I love them. I also have a cream steampunk outfit I bring out for special occasions.

If you'd prefer to be inspired by the past, here's a fun blog post on Steampunk Outfits ~ Timeline of Inspiration. If you are particularly interested in the steampunk aesthetic I have a number of other blogs on the subject.

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gail Carriger in a Patterned Purple Dress in San Jose 2013

For my launch night at Hicklebee's in San Jose I wore a new dress I picked up at the Alameda Vintage Fashion Fair last month (for $10!)  Of course, I wore it last night because it went with the cover of the book. I'm just that OCD, Fashionable Reader.

I paired the dress with an H&M jacket from a while ago, it's a structured, slim fitting, tuxedo cut and it closes over the Rack. The belt is modern too. And the shoes are black characters that I attached a bow and a teapot button onto. The leather gloves and the hat are vintage. The hat is a navy straw skimmer with a cream feather detail. (I've had it forever but rarely wear it and can't remember where I got it.)

The earrings are little lapis lazuli drops, bought at a convention a few years ago.

Perhaps the dress is a little late 70s early 80s but I think it has a nice 1940s feel. The skirt is slightly pleated and the fit is great, and I love the sleeves. Best of all, it's this crush-able polyester fabric that packs like a DREAM. No wrinkles ever!

With the Hicklebee's staff.

And that was the outfit, relatively simple for me.

via theniftyfifties tumblr

More to come. I leave for Seattle tomorrow night.

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dress the Cover ~ Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Last week Curtsies & Conspiracies went on sale. I thought you would forgive me an amended reboot of a blog post from the beginning of this year with some fashion items to match the book cover.

Here we go!

 First let's start off with things from the past.

 Something for Sophronia's mother, perhaps?

1842 The Metropolitan Museum of Art
And an amazing broach to go with it:

1845  Doyle Auctions

Something for Sophronia herself to wear:

1850-1852 Evening Dress  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Something for Dimity:

1850  Nasjonalmuseet For Kunst, Arketektur, og Design
Something for Monique:

1855  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

1950s Headdress  mid-19th century  The Museum of FIne Arts, Boston

Something for Agatha:

1854  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Something for Preshea:

1855-1858 Evening Dress The Metropolitan Museum of Art
And something for Lady Linette:

1855-1859Dinner Dress  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Something for Alexia to wear in the Parasol Protectorate books:

1874 Afternoon Dress  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

And something for underneath:

1884  The Chicago History Museum

Something for Prudence to wear in the Parasol Protectorate Abroad books:

1900s  The Goldstein Museum of Design
For her hair:
1900s  Sotheby’s

And to carry.

1900  The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Willow Pattern Plate Set Necklace

And a peak at what Gail might wear to launch this next book!

 Blue brocade shirt, made from an 80's dress.

Blue and white print dress & over jacket.

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