Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Dress In Curtsies & Conspiracies ~ Robe à Transformation by Gail Carriger

In Curtsies & Conspiracies Sophronia receives a Robe à Transformation at a key moment in the story. In the book the description is basically of this dress (1865), only I simplified and modified for the correct time period over 10 years earlier (1851).

1865 Robe à Transformation The Metropolitan Museum of Art1 copy

Visiting Dress

Walking Dress

 I love the idea of transformation outfits SO MUCH. It's thrifty and practical and appeals to my sense of efficiency. I suspect Sophronia feels the same way. So, for your edification, here are is a timeline of transformation dresses. The purpose of each version is my best guess based on style and custom of the day.

"You needed a breakfast outfit, something fancier for lunch, followed by the tea gown, and then the heavy artillery fro dinner that night. And if you were just away for the weekend, you tried not to wear the same outfit twice, which meant that for a simple three days in the country you could go through about fifteen different outfits."
~ Daniel Pool

Day Dress
1856 Robe à Transformation The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Day dresses are the simplest form of a dress meant for the late mornings and lounging about the house, shopping, and running errands, that sort of thing.

Dinner Gown
Dinner dresses have elaborate necklines and shorter (but not too short) sleeves. They might also have been worn to the opera or the theater.

Ball Gown
1858 Robe à Transormation The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ball gowns have the lowest necklines and usually quite short sleeves, they can also usually have fancy hems.

Walking Dress
Walking dresses were slightly more covered up than visiting dresses, high necklines and slightly shorter hems (with the exception of 1870s and later promenade gowns).

Dinner Dress (probably mourning)
1861 Robe à Transformation   The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The sleeves on this one give me pause. They are long for a dinner dress (draping in food) but someone in mourning would not attend a dance so it can't be a ball gown. My guess is the modesty of mourning demanded risk at the plate.

Visiting Dress (which means it's a receiving dress)
Ladies in mourning did not pay calls, but they did receive close family and intimate friends. Because of its length this can't be a walking dress, indoor only and black velvet? Receiving is my best guess in the second year of mourning. (Receiving and visiting dresses would both be called visiting dresses, they serve the same purpose.)

Ball Gown
1864 Robe à Transformation   The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Color and style suggest this was for a younger lady.

Visiting or Walking Dress

Ball Gown
1865 Cream Robe à Transformation  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Visiting Dress
Because of the low neckline it could be a dinner dress for a married lady proud of her assets. But I think it was meant to be worn over a high necked long sleeved chemise for visiting instead.

Ball Gown
1866 Robe à Transformation  1866  Musée Galliera de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

Promenade Version
Because of the non-removable train on the skirt, paired with long sleeves, the only possible explanation is a promenade gown. Possibly for a seaside resort or even the riviera, given that this is a French gown.

Ball Gown
1872 Robe à Transformation  Charles Fredrick Worth,  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dinner Dress

Ball Gown
1888 Robe à transformation  Charles Fredrick Worth,  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
 Dinner Dress

Visiting Dress
1893-1895 Robe à Transformation  Charles Fredrick Worth,  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dinner Dress

Dinner Dress or Ball Gown
1895 Robe à Transformation  Worth,  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Presentation Gown
Presentation gowns were extremely elaborate, with trains, but modest coverage for presentation in honor of the gravitas of being seen at court.

Dinner Dress
1900 Robe à Transformation   The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ball Gown
 Because of the elaborate lace and bead work yet comparative modesty of the cut of this dress, I'd say it is for an older married lady.

Dinner Dress
1902-1905 Robe à Transformation   The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Visiting Dress

The switch to Ensemble pieces after WW1...

1930 Ensemble  Jessie Franklin Turner  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Midsummer Madness  Edward Molyneux, 1937  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Then & Now ~ Grey Brocade


1894 Tea Gown  Jean-Philippe Worth The Museum of the City of New York


SS2013 Grey Flower Dress

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

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Then & Now ~ Silver Embroidered


1911  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Amazing Gown

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Gail Carriger's Epic Tote Hunt Revisited

(I posted this originally in September of 2011, and two years later, I'm still hunting. Sigh. Sometimes I am lured into almost finding it and then the quest continues . . .)

Periodically, I will go on an Epic Hunt, Fashionable Reader. These are shopping quests where I just keep searching, sometimes for years, for the perfect item. I can imagine Lord Akeldama might do something like this. Accept no substitutes! Generally, this occurs when I already have something (or several somethings) that is/are working out OK but I really want the ultimate perfect item. What can I say? I'm a consumer.

In recent memory . . .

The perfect motorcycle jacket. I wanted a bi-color (red and black) retro motocross style, that fit the Rack. After two years hunting I found mine, which looks very like the one above, in Exeter at the Real MaCoy's for 15 quid. I didn't get the red and black, and the zipper was missing its tag (I had it replaced entirely with a  YKK), but I still have and love this jacket. The white stripes continue down the back, giving it a skunk effect, but also improving visibility on the road. Do far three people have tried to, literally, buy it off my back.

Lux De Ville Sin City Kiss Lock Bag Patent Vinyl $80

The perfect red retro bag. Needed to be the right red for all my other accessories, big enough to hold a paperback, shiny, and cute. Took me only a month to find, but I did get it online, and I paid mint for it. I was desperate, which must be my excuse.

Men's style hunter boots (sometimes called dressage boots in the US) but in a woman's size and cut. Inspired by pretty much every hero of every BBC costume drama, I have wanted a pair of these boots for nearly fifteen years now. What I ended up with instead are these steampunk-ish Sam Edelmen's which I love.

In the end I found the hunters this last year in both leather and fake. I bought the fake but never wore them because I would wear the Edelmen instead.

Well, Fashionable Reader, the Epic Hunt continues!

I didn't even realize it until I was in the middle of it (that happens sometimes).

Tote, I may be looking for the impossible. I do have a substitute tote I've been traveling with but it's neither nylon nor leather, so it (like all the others) is beginning to shred and fall apart.

Tote must be . . .
  • Black
  • Look enough like a purse to pass as a purse for a "personal item" carry-on
  • Leather (or something equally cool & strong)
  • Zipper top (for security overseas)
  • Smaller front secure pocket (to hold passport and ticket)
  • Back zipper-bottom pocket, or handle strap (to slide over handle of rolling luggage)
  • Wide enough bottom not to tip over when put down
  • Or so floppy in folds away into nothingness
  • About 20" long by at least 10" deep 
  • Not tippy when set down!
Things I'd really like, but seem unlikely . . .
  • Retro touches
  • Large front slide pocket (to hold a magazine)
  • Single strap or strap hooks (doubles always fall off my shoulder) 
  • No flaps (flaps get in the way)
  • Light colored interior, so I can see inside
That's not too much to ask, is it?

Well I found one almost-perfect at Ross . . . but in dark brown. And I found this one on Amazon, had almost everything I wanted, but not all that pretty.

I bought it and then returned it because it was way too small for my needs.

I suppose I'm mostly having one of those moments when I notice fashion designers have gotten into a rut.
  • Luggage has to look luggagey. 
  • Totes have to have two straps. 
  • Pretty purses can't have any functional bells and whistles. 
  • Heaven forefend we attempt to combine style and practicality.
Oh, I see, I'm having an Alexia moment!

So what about you, Fashionable Reader, any Epic Hunts on at the moment?

Epic Hunt successes you'd like to brag about?

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

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