Thursday, February 27, 2014

Belts ~ It's What's for Your Waist - Part 1 Decorative

Decorative belts, my dear Fashionable Reader, are not a new thing. Here is a brief historical overview from Sophronia's time to today...

We begin with the bow, always a popular choice.

Bodice  1865-1866  Musée Galliera de la Mode de la Ville de Pari

 How about one with a fringed bustle attachment?

1872  Godeys Aug 1872

Or something sparkly? Belt for lady, of black velvet, with jet ornament and chains in front.

1872 Godeys Sept 1872

A bit of everything?

1880  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Something for Primrose in the Custard Protocol series...

1895 Afternoon Dress  Whitaker Auction

After the turn of the century, decorative belts really had a bit of a revival.

1902  Augusta Auctions

via stylisharistocrat tumblr, Evening dress, House of Worth, c. 1902

1905-1908 Afternoon Dress  Jean-Philippe Worth,  The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

This one is fun.

1930 Belt  Cartier,  Sotheby’s
Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Two Months Without Buying Clothes?

Yes indeed, Fashionable Reader, you read that title right. Two whole months! Without meaning too, (because I did bring home 2 leather jackets, summarily rejected, and then returned) I have spent nothing on clothes in 2014. I broke my fast this weekend with a black sun hat, because I was away, intended a hike, and I already freckle beyond acceptable parameters.

Sonoma Hat Co. Black Ribbon Sun Hat, collapsible

It's sort of more like buying sunscreen, right? Nevertheless, this made me go check and realize that yes indeed I haven't bought clothing this year. How bizarre for me. I guess I made two more clothing-related New Year's goals without meaning to...

via FB

1. To spend less on objects and more on experiences with people I love. This is part of my ongoing effort to free up time for others. As much as I relish my life as a writer, and I feel fortunate to have this profession, it has rather eaten me from the inside out since 2009. My career has been nurtured enough for now, and it is time for me to gather in the other parts of life that are important.

2. To not buy any tops at all, knowing that next year I'll most likely be getting a reduction. After all, what is the point in buying when I know it won't fit in a year or so? And since tops are more necessary than bottoms in a wardrobe, and I have plenty of bottoms, I just haven't bought anything.

 Hopeful Before & After: 1905-1907  The FIDM Museum; 1910  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

I did visit Target recently because my fashion spies reported in that they have a rainbow selection of skinny belts right now. I have a great love of the skinny belt. (Yes my belt series on this blog will continue soon.) But I had a careful list of the four I actually needed in my wardrobe (thank you StyleBook) and none of they ones they have were exactly right.

1872 Godeys Nov

However, if you are in the market, $15 will get you pretty much any color (except chocolate brown, emerald green, blush pink, and dove grey).

I walked out empty handed. You know, there a certain kind of power in that.

I wonder how long I can keep this non-spending habit up, especially with my trip to NY next week.

I am curious, amongst my fashionable readers, have any of you intentionally done a clothing fast? Unintentionally?

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

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Then & Now ~ White & Black Gown


1898-1900 Jean-Philippe Worth The Metropolitan Museum of Art



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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Incoming... Belts!

I have decided, Fashionable Reader, to do a series of blog posts on belts.

I have mixed relationship with this accessory, since I have a huge Rack but a small waist, cinching in anything remotely baggy makes me look short and top heavy, like Dolly Parton. It's not good. But leaving things loose and suddenly I'm 50 lbs heavier with no waist at all. This is why you will mostly see me in fitted dresses with belts. (And this is why I love corsets.)

Baggy versus fitted versus corseted

This ambivalence, however, doesn't stop me for buying belts and being fascinated by them. I have a collection of about 25 ranging from waist clinchers to skinny hipster, leather to metal, some for the hips, some for the waist. With a 10 inch difference only elastic belts can do double duty. In my defense, I did use to work for a leather company that made belts.

That said, belts are an important part of Sophronia's wardrobe in particular. Which is odd as in the 1850s belts were not all the common. The 1950s on the other hand!

1950s sewing pattern illustrations via theniftyfifties tumblr

Sophronia, however, always has to hang things off of belts. So I often seek inspiration from later on in history like the 1870s or 1890s ~ the luxury of writing steampunk.

 Godeys 1872: July Belt Reticule & Oct 1872 Belt Parasol

Matched Belt ~ 1908  The Victoria & Albert Museum
Sash Belt ~ 1910-1913 Evening Dress  Georges Doeuillet, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Swiss Waist ~ 1900 via vivelareine tumblr
And for yout amusement I leave you with the infamous, bustling belt.

1872 Godeys Sept 1872 Belt Bow

1872 Godeys Sept 1872 Bow Belt Skirt in Action

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

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Then & Now ~ Sexy Wine Undergarments



1876  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


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

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book Outfits in Blue ~ German & French Covers of Soulless

Today, Fashionable Reader, I present for you clothing chosen to match one of my foriegn covers.

This is the French pocket paperback issue of Soulless utilizing the German cover. I started out ambivalent about these covers but they have grown on me. The color pallet is by far the best feature.

Here's what Alexia might actually wear of an evening:

1875  The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Here's what a real corset looks like from the time period (OK a little earlier)

1860s  The Victoria & Albert Museum

Some some lovely stocking to go with:

1890 Stockings  1890s  The Metropolitan Museum of Artblue

Here's something to wear over it all:

1885-1889  Evening Cape  Emile Pingat, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Muff  1860  Musée Galliera de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

Here's something for winter visiting hours:

1880  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
And here's something for Lord Akeldama to wear as he receives her call.

1800 French Court Suit, c. late 18th/early 19th century
He'd probably be deeply excited that they matched so well.

Some items in my own wardrobe I might wear to match this book:

Blue dress from J.C. Penny some 7 years ago, $40

Glass beaded necklace from Murano, Italy 1996

Lapis vintage 1950s necklace, gift

Matched earrings I found at a Thrift store

A favorite dress of mine, 1940's influenced, good stretch, $40

the original German cover

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

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Then & Now ~ Beaded Black Gown


1887  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Almost Then

1920s  The Frock


Bottega Veneta corset dress at

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