Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Then & Now ~ Dior Classic


Dior 1947 Newlook


I kinda want to do this look myself. I got this adorable cream jacket that would just do the trick.

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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

TV Style: Whose Wardrobe Would I Steal? from Gail Carriger

Inspired by this blog, I've been thinking hard about whose TV wardrobe I would steal if I could, Fashionable Reader.

Agent Carter ~ Agent Carter

I haven't watched this show yet, but I already know I want her wardrobe. I tend to lean slightly more 1950s than 40s, but that doesn't mean I don't adore this period and I like a little comic book twist to the color scheme and simplicity of outfit choice. (Don't worry I WILL watch it, I just tend to wait-until-thing are release to disc or streaming, as I don't really have a TV anymore.) Also the costumer is picking colors pallets good for a brunette, hally-flipping-luya.

Pushing Daisies ~ Chuck

It is entirely possible that Chuck and I could actually exchange wardrobes and no one would notice. Ignoring fit, of course.

Bomb Girls ~ Any of them

I love the range of outfits in this show. I haven't seen all the episodes yet, but I certainly will eventually if only for the costumes.

Mad Men ~ Joan

This one's pretty exciting because there's an off chance these dresses might actually fit me, with a bit of tailoring. Joan should come as no surprise to long time readers of this blog, I have talked about her style before. I tend to adore everything, from the pencil silhouette, to the full coverage (mostly) necklines, to the length of the skirts, to the style of sleeve. I've no idea why some enterprising manufacture doesn't just knock these suckers off (in ALL SIZES with the sleeves) after every episode... I'm looking at you Torrent, or eShakti, or Modcloth, or...

La Femme Nikita

If I were a tall stunning blonde (or really any variant on less curvy and more strapping than I am) I would dress like this series all the time. It is basically up market designer goth with some architectural elements, very chic with sometimes a little edge of raver. Love it.

Bet you thought I'd say Downtown Abby. Frankly, while I adore many of the outfits, especially from the first season, I don't think they would look good on my body type. (Spoiler: I wonder if that's really why they off killed Lady Sybil? I mean, she was the curviest of the three and they were heading towards the 1920s, which doesn't do us curvy girls ANY favors.)

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Gail Carriger's Book Tour Outfits ~ Team Purple!

First things first, I went out and got a mani-pedi to match the book cover. Because that's how I roll.

Then, for my 6 cities in 6 days Prudence tour I tried to wear all outfits that (if they didn't match) at least went well with the cover of the book. All of the dresses on this tour were from eShakti with custom sleeves, necklines, hemlines and fittings. I had the same shoes while I was away from California, cream colored Miz Mooz (similar) from last season or BP wingtip oxford flats from Nordstrom. The sweater, purse, and gloves you see in some of the pictures are all vintage. The long pen necklace is available on Amazon in both silver and gold.

1. San Diego ~ Mysterious Galaxy 

 Lavender with lace overlay. I love this one. And it packs beautifully.

Earrings are vintage discovery at a thrift store in college, I used them for Rococo and Regency costumes but they are more likely 1950s. Hat also vintage, can't remember where I go tit but it's one I wear all the time.

 2. Portland ~ Powell's

 As you can see in the original eShakti picture above I had sleeves added on, right is via Kathryn Dressler on FB

Vintage head band plus shell fan earrings (gift from my mum), and lace choker with parasol drop (gift from a reader).

 via @GeekyLibrary on Twitter and Sarah Gulde on FB

This dress wrinkles a little much for me. I did iron it before the event, but one car ride later... I do love the cut, neckline, and the pockets, of course.

via Sarah Gulde on FB

Back shot of the applique vintage hat I am wearing, and the lovely purple one I was gifted with from Sarah at the event.

3. Denver ~ Tattered Cover

 Right is from Sally Wright via FB

Above you can see what I look like all bundled up with the bag and all. 

 via Jade N. Goodnough at Tattered Bookstore Colfax

This dress is probably one of my new favorite dresses, it is very dark navy over black. It travels beautifully, works for both modern and vintage, doesn't need ironing, looks good with a belt, with flats or heels, has pockets, and fits like a dream. Given the inclement weather, I paired it with a vintage felt hat (a very early one from my collection). In addition there is a modern snakeskin belt, and simple faux pearl drop earrings (modern but old to my life) and a faux pearl family heirloom necklace piece I was gifted with as a child.

4. Dallas ~ Barnes & Noble

This dress is what eShakti calls "orchid" and navy color block, and not normally a color combination I would go for. But it matched the cover so nice I couldn't resist. I was actually hesitant about keeping it but I've decided to like it. It's another one the wrinkles a bit much for my taste.

Photo on the left by Joeseph Hernadez on the right by Matt Bowerman via FB

I paired it with the same vintage hat I wore in San Diego and new purple necklace I picked up in the dealer's room at London Worldcon last year.

With and from Melissa Coker via  FB

5. Houston ~ Murder by the Book

 Right if from and with Natasha Glass via FB

This dress was one of my whimsey purchases, it's chambray with a kind of southwestern pattern, that if I had really seen it on the site I might not have gotten (reminds me of my youth in the wrong way). However, because it is chambray and patterned it doesn't show wrinkles, the cut is great, and it travels well. The way the pattern is different over the boobs only emphasizes the Rack, but what can I do? It is what it is. I did have to ad the brown lace trim at the neckline (and to the sleeves) because it was a little too low.

 from Natasha Glass via FB; from Vicky Satterwhite via FB

The necklace is an old costume piece (annoying that it goes wonky like that) with matched earrings. It also has a matched bracelet but I rarely wear bracelets because when they aren't invisible under the gloves, they are busy causing my stockings to run. I think I picked this suite up in college at the same place and time as the bow pearl earrings in the first outfit.

The hat is a new one off Amazon for only $15. This is the grey, although it has a blue tinge to it. It also comes in black, pink, red, blue, and purple. The feathers stick out a little, making it a tad difficult to pack, but it was still easier to travel with than my larger hats and it might work for steampunk in a pinch.

6. Borderlands ~ San Francisco

Because this bookstore is basically home turf, I didn't have to worry over packing or size of hat or only one pair of shoes or anything: so I branched out and had fun with a full on New Look style. 

The hat is the vintage felt burgundy teardrop that I died black with fabric paint. I'm wearing the same necklace and earring set that I wore in Dallas. The blouse is made from a vintage 50s black dress that I cut and hemmed into a peplum shirt because I thought I would wear it more that way (I was right). The skirt is the bottom half of a vintage early 50s sweater suit. Those are vinatge black kid leather gloves that have seen better days. But, really, kid is the easiest and most functional thing to wear.

Borderlands via @Jessieclapon Twitter

You can see the shoes in the above picture. They are Irregular Choice pin stripe wedges with embroidery and lace detailing. I love the look of them but they are murder on my feet for any length of time. Irregular Choices always are, for me. I envy Nicole Peeler who can wear them with complete impunity. Still, I continue to wear these just enough to not get rid of them.

via Christina Velasco

Oh, and yes, I am indeed wearing this outfit over a corset. That's why it looks so good.

So which was your favorite tour outfit? 

Sorry I don't have really great fashion shots of some of them. I'm terrible about remembering to pose if I don't have someone there to remind me.

Thoughts on the various eShakti dresses? 

You can see how all the different cuts and necklines and colors look on my top heavy figure.


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

quotes Gail likes

“Lady Maccon.”
“By George, Boots! How the deuce can you possibly tell that there is Lady Maccon?” queried the other top-hated gentleman.
“Who else would be standing in the middle of a street on full-moon night with a raging ruddy fire behind her, waving a parasol about?”
“Good point, good point.” —Gail Carriger

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Then & Now ~ Sari


17th-18th century  1860s The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


Marchesa SS2013

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

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Then & Now ~ Pink Indian Influence


1970s Hanae Mori  The Frock copy


Marchesa SS2013

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Gail Carriger in a Cream Dress with Brown Accessories in Tucson

For the second day of the Tucson Festival of Books I wore a cream dress, also from eShakti, with brown accessories. 

There was a lot of walking so I swapped out heels for flats (those are cheap mushroom colored wingtips that I turned in spectators with some fabric paint) plus the same brown vintage leather bag and gloves from the day before, a new reversible belt (black & gold) from Target, vintage hat, and a lovely collar from Clockwork Couture.

It was very windy so the hat kept falling off and the hair was a disaster in about ten seconds, but it looked sort of French chic BEFORE I left the hotel room. Oh the trials and tribulations of a fashion obsessive.

The Outfit Plan

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

Monday, March 16, 2015

Gail Carriger wears Coral Lace Pencil Dress in Tucson for the Festival of Books in 2015

This dress was a pure whimsey purchase for me from eShakti. (They don't offer it any more but they do have the same fabric in a day dress.) When it arrived I couldn't get over how well it fit. And it packs beautifully because of the lace overlay. It's also nice a cool.

I'm not happy with the slip showing so I am going to have to hem that.

I paired it with brown accessories for the daytime look (a pail pink hairband, vintage brown leather gloves and bag, old Aerosoles brown suede peeps, and a little brown cardy).

Then I switched for gold heels (Sofft ~ similar) and a vintage shell evening hat with my newly acquired cape (Barry Faux Fur Double Layer Cape comes in black, blue, brown, and red.) I like is so much I'm contemplating another from the same company in red.

Outfit planning

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My 3 Series ~ A Silhouette Retrospective for Readers, Fellow Authors, & Dilettantes from Gail Carriger

A conversation on Twitter inspired this blog post, Fashionable Reader. I am so very immersed in the Victorian Era it often doesn't occurred to me to explain fashion. So, I thought this would be a good moment, with Prudence forthcoming, to talk about about the different silhouettes in my three book series.

Ivy and her hat, REM's character sketch

"The English attach too much importance to ceremonies merely conventional, and for which there seems no motive but the ever-changing decrees of fashion."
~ The Ladies' Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book
by Eliza Leslie (American 1864)

  All 3 At A Glance

Sophronia/FS: Early 1850s ~ Alexia/PP: Mid 1870s ~ Prudence/CP: Mid 1890s

1854  The Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1877  The Museum at FIT; Evening Ensemble  Hellstern & Sons, 1895  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Before we start rgr. Soulless: Confession time, one of the reasons I chose the 1870s to start with is how ridiculous the fashions were during that time period, very bustled and frilly. Of course history also had a say in why the 1870s as we;;, I'm a fan of Queen Victoria's Little Wars. Then it seemed quite natural to chose c. 20 years before and c. 20 years after, for the next two series. Of course, this is primarily for various character age reasons, but also because of the change in silhouette. And, fortunately for me, the humor writer, all three time periods are fashionably ridiculous in their unique way: and each very different from one another, as I hope you will see.

 The Finishing School Series

1851 - 1853

1851 Wedding Dress, American Met Museum

For the author:
Main points of entry?
Sloping shoulders, low necklines, nipped in waists, increasingly wide bell skirts, puffy and wide sleeves. Younger ladies in pale colors.

Wedding dress, 1852 Dress for bride (via Angeliki Roumelioti pinterest); Wedding Dress 1852

What makes it silly?
Very wide a full skirts requiring lots of petticoats (as the cage crinoline had not yet been introduced).

1854  Ball Gown The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1855-1865  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
* 1854 saw the arrival of the cage crinoline in England. This is a skirt (or series of tape ribbons) with concentric circles of wire in it to make if poof.

Why for this series?
Good for espionage: the full skirts and wide pagoda sleeves hampered movement, but also are great for hiding things. Pockets could be put in and hidden everywhere. Fashion is rife with useful plot moments and vehicles for humor.

1853 The Empress Eugénie, famous for her elaborate toilettes, wedding dress
1855  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The authroial drawback?
Hats were mostly confined to bonnets, not my personal favorite. Although hair was really quite ridiculous.

Bonnet 1854 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

What were the men wearing?
Some carry over from the Regency Era, especially for formal occasions. Trousers relatively tight but knee britches had been abandoned except for boys and the countryside. Jacket styles began to include a wider range of cuts.

Coat ca. 1845-1853 The Victoria & Albert Museum; 1851_Parisian; Wedding Waistcoat 1854  The Philadelphia Museum of Art

What to watch for inspiration?
Cranford, North & South, Under the Greenwood Tree

What happened next?
Things got, if possible, even more ridiculous. Skirts just got wider and wider with the cage crinoline in play.
Wedding Dress  1864  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Cage Crinoline  1862  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Want to learn more about the ever expanding hoop?


The Parasol Protectorate Series

1873 - 1876

For the author:
Main points of entry?
Many layers, lots of trim, many kinds of hats, full bustles, long sleeves, restricted movement, range of necklines and sleeve styles.

 1874 The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Morning Dress  1875  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

What makes it silly?
Big back bustles (although not so big as the 1880s revival bustles), way too much trim and ribbons and bows and whatnot. Extremely bizarre hats. New experimentation in color ranges and pallets. Access to new and amazing fabrics from India and China.

 1872-1874 Wedding Dress The Victoria & Albert Museum; Bustle 1873, Austrian, Made of cotton and horsehair
Summer Corset  1872  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Why for this series?
The hats! The fabrics. The yardage. The restrictions. All represent a level of confinement and superficiality that Alexia, whether she realizes it or not, chafes against.

1872-1875  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1870-1875 Wedding Bonnet   The Victoria & Albert Museum

The authorial drawback?
Too much fabric, way too hard to move. Challenging for cover art.

 1872 Ball Gown  Charles Fredrick Worth; Bustle 1872-1874 both The Metropolitan Museum of Art

What were the men wearing?
Relatively somber colors in suits, flashy waistcoats and vests, some experimentation with fabrics.

 1873_May_Gof; 1873-1875  The Victoria & Albert Museum; 1875-1880  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Gustave Caillebotte- Portrait of Paul Hugot, 1878

What to watch for inspiration?
The Buccaneers, some of The Forsythe Saga, some of The Pallisters

What Happened Next?
Skirts started to come in closer and closer to the body, the lobster tale became fashionable, fabrics became (if you can imagine) even more elaborate.

 1870s  Kerry Taylor Auctions; "Lobster Tail" Bustle  1870s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1879-1880; 1879  both The Metropolitan Museum of Art
 1878-1879; 1879 Wedding Dress both  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


The Custard Protocol Series

1895 - ????

For the author:
Main points of entry?
Experimenting in asymmetry, puffy sleeves, wide range of outfit choices, more freedom of movement, complementary fabrics, the biggest most outrageous hats ever (Queen Ivy's influence). Fashion houses appear, scions of fashion became brand ambassadors for a house to which they were loyal. (Prudence lives in Worth.) Iconic dresses given names as if they were art pieces. New Woman movement influences sportswear and major dress reform due, in part, to the ubiquitous bicycle.

 1890s Wedding Dress  1890s  The Indianapolis Museum of Art; Wedding Dress  Jean-Philippe Worth, 1895  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

What makes it silly?
Those truly bizarre sleeves, those enormous over-decorated hats equal a very top heavy look.

 1895  Kerry Taylor Auctions; 1890 Sleeve Supports  1890s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1895  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Summer Corset  1895  The Victoria & Albert Museum

Why for this series?
The hats! The sleeves, the ridiculousness continues.

 1898  The Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1894  The Goldstein Museum of Design

The authorial drawback?
I really think this period is ugly, it's hard to write characters swooning over dresses I think are hideous.

What were the men wearing?

 1895 Evening Vest  1885-1895; Ascot  1890s both The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Suit ca. 1894 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
1890s man via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr
Isn't he the cutest? Biffy, perhaps?

What to watch for inspiration?
Lark Rise to Candleford

What happened next?
If you can imagine, dresses became even more elaborate eventually bleeding into the massive hats and complex outfits of the turn of the century.

Ball Gown  Jacques Doucet, 1898-1902  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

"If you chance to find an authoress occupied with her needle, express no astonishment, and refrain from exclaiming, "What! can you sew?" or, "I never supposed a literary lady could even hem a handkerchief!"
 ~ The Ladies' Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book
by Eliza Leslie (1864)

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