Thursday, July 30, 2015

Gail Carriger Talks Post Breast Reduction Surgery Part III ~ Dresses that Don't Fit Anymore

A few of the dresses I thought would still fit surprised me by not fitting anymore, Fashionable Reader.

This lavender number was one of those. Sadly it's the whole style that no longer looks good, and isn't something I could tailor, or really have any interest in doing so. It's just an inexpensive little number I got at Ross.

These two eShakti's are also going away entirely. Either on consignment or off to friends. I do love that color block number, but they are both made of the same fabric and that fabric does NOT travel well. If they don't sell or get taken by friends I might think about trying to tailor (depending on cost) and keep, but at this juncture it's unlikely.

I'm waiting to try on all the rest of the eShakti's. I'll decide whether to tailor or dispose of at that point. Most I can't try on now because they are too hard to get into and out of. Regardless, I won't know my final breast size for at least a year and I can't wear a proper under-wire bra for six months. Both have to be ready before getting anything tailored (I think I'll go professional on this) to ensure I get the correct fit.

Speaking of eShakti I will likely still order from them once I have my new measurements, even though I should be able to buy off the rack size 6 at that point.  It's the sleeves, you see. Being able to add on sleeves and change necklines is really important to me, and other sites and places that sell retro dresses (like Modcloth) all too often have them sleeveless. That said, I am likely to buy eShakti less often now, because I will go back to purchasing real vintage when I can. The prices are commensurate, and the real deal really is better when possible.

So for now, my current remaining wardrobe will certainly extend to my upcoming events, just expect to see me in a lot of real vintage. I'm looking forward to visiting my old friends. I may even dig about in storage for a few I put aside because I thought they would never fit again but couldn't part with for sentimental reasons.

This is so exciting!

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

You can also visit the following shopping lists: Travel Dork, My Steampunk, My Wardrobe.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Gail Carriger Talks Post Brest Reduction Surgery Part II ~ Dresses That Surprised Me By Still Fitting

So a number of my dresses still fit fine, Fashionable Reader. In fact, most of my truly vintage stuff looks better WITH the new rack.

With my old Uber Rack I had to buy things with a bit of stretch, or panel in to hide major cleavage (which is now no longer necessary). So the old investment pieces all still fit fine (or better) without any need to tailor down. The exception is my teal 1960s velvet dress, which was always too big everywhere but the Rack. So I shall see about trying to pull it in along the side seams.

However, a few dresses that I really thought would not fit (or not look right anymore) turned out great. Which was a pleasant surprise. Here they are...
Blue 1940s (1970s) blowsy flowered.

This is a 1970s piece that has a 1940s vibe to it. It's that sort of material that never wrinkles and is incredibly light, so it's perfect for travel. With the New Rack it actually falls better, won't require a belt, and looks so much more 1940s. I'm thrilled.

A number of my tops now have more of a 1940s look than a 1950s look, possibly because my figure has changed to reflect that.

Both of these now look way more 1940s. I'm excited and pleased.

The other dress that really surprised me with how well it still fit was my eShakti custom coral lace.

Can you believe it? I mean I dropped at least 10 cup sizes! The under-slip looks different over the Rack, it sort of arches up, but the dress is stretchy enough to still fit. I'm delighted. It still needed hemming, but that's done so this one is good to go ~ yay!

I know, I know, pictures to come of what they look like now. I'm just low energy and low makeup right now—not fit for public consumption while still recovering. The bags under my eyes have bags, it ain't pretty.

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

You can also visit the following shopping lists: Travel Dork, My Steampunk, My Wardrobe.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Gail Carriegr Talks Post Breast Reduction Surgery Part I

It will be a while before I post photos of my newly reformed Rack, Fashionable Reader, (one wonders, given the diminished size if I can justify capitalization of Rack anymore?) It will happen, but not until WorldCon. Which is also, coincidentally, the first time I'm allowed to really be at all physical and lift luggage and such. This surgery has a pretty long recovery period.

Jayne Mansfield via the nifty fifties tumblr

My new chest size is 28-30 DD-E so I still have something. Nothing on what I was, of course (28-30 HH-JJ). It can be up to two years before I actually settle into a final size. However, as my ribs are likely to remain 29 inches (an in-between band size), I'll always fluctuate a bit between bra sizes depending on the brand.

via Glamoursplash- Vintage Maidenform Bra Advertisement - 1961 - Chariots of Fire

For those of you who lament the lack of Rack, because I address fit issues that you particularly relate to, here are some options:
  • Beyond Her Reality is a bit more bodycon than yours truly, but is the only blogger I know who has a body shaped almost exactly as mine was.
  • Girl With Curves is more curvy than I am (or was) but is also a great option.
  • Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, good analysis and plenty of photos of underpinnings and bathing suits. 
All have a more modern aesthetic than me.

Regardless, I carried the weight of those extra 4 lbs for a very long time. I won't forget it, or what it was like to have to dress it. And it's not like I'm flat-chested now. Don't worry, I won't abandon you to the slings and arrows of ridiculous body standards of the modern fashion industry.

I'll be reporting in over the next few weeks about which of my dresses still fit me, which will need to be tailored, and which won't be able to be tailored. I'm worried about all my custom eShakti, but it's a small sacrifice to loose 1/3 of my wardrobe for the relief I now feel with smaller breasts.

Onwards and (more importantly) upwards!

Infographic from Herroom
Retro Rack is also on Facebook, where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

You can also visit the following shopping lists: Travel Dork, My Steampunk, My Wardrobe.

quotes Gail likes

“Cats were not, in her experience, an animal with much soul. Prosaic, practical little creatures as a general rule. It would suit her very well to be thought catlike.” —Gail Carriger

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

All About Oxfords from Gail Carriger: Men's Shoe Style Explained

Fashionable Reader, this is a reboot of a blog post from Aug 2008 (before Retro Rack existed) on the subject of Oxfords. I recently made the purchase of a new pair and it reminded me of my love for this shoe style. (Mine are Derby Spectator Wingtips in black and white. They are dance shoes that I had resoled and sprayed for outside wear.)

Oxford, 1894-1900, USA via shewhowirshipscarlin tumblr

I realized, because they use men's terminology, I was lacking knowledge on the subject of Oxfords versus Spectators versus Wingtips. So I did some research. It's relevant, given a certain fashion forward individual who first appears in Changeless.

Oxford is a specific cut of men's shoe with enclosed lacing.

Classic Men's Oxford and a Women's Oxford Pump in Grey by Aerosole

Sometimes called balmorals and originally quite plain, the later style "bluchers" or "derbys" had open lacing.

Women's Derby Peep Toe Stiletto in Red

In modern times men call all of the above Oxfords regardless of lacing, and they often have a piece of leather stitched over the toe section, making them "Oxford caps."

Wingtip is the American term for a Brogue style men's shoe with the classic W pattern over the cap toe.

Men's Oxford Wingtip and a Women's Derby Wingtip in Distressed Brown by Me Too

Thus you can have a Wingtip Oxford, although a plain Oxford is considered more formal, but you can also have a Wingtip loafer with no lacing at all.

Spectator is a term used for any shoe with two colors in blocks following the cut of the shoe, whether tonal or contrasting, for men or women.

Derby Wingtip Spectator Open-Toe Pump in tones of grey. Spectator Pump w/ Strap in tones of black
Wingtip Spectator Pump in Black & White, Oxford Wingtip Spectator Stiletto Platform in Tones of Brown, Derby Spectator Pump in Distressed Cream & White

Spectators appeared first on men's Oxfords in England in the late 1860s, but had their heyday in the 1930s. For women, they were probably most popular in the 1950s.

So Oxford is the cut, Wingtip is the style, and Spectator is the color pattern.

  Shoe Guide  via Gentleman’s Essentials tumblr

Gail's Collection:

 The brown and cream are just painted versions of the cream.

Folding flats, not really wing tips, more just cap toes.

These ones are actually on the chopping block. They aren't leather and are basically falling apart at this juncture.

 Again these red and black ones were painted, I can't actually remember the starting colors.

The red ones are painted versions of the black and white. The red paint started to crack badly so they are now gone and have been replaced with the new ones from Shoes of Prey.

 My new Shoes of Prey, I will blog a bit more about this shopping experience in a future blog post.

Quote of the Day:
"Remember that all 'slang' is vulgar. It has become of late unfortunately prevalent, and we have known even ladies pride themselves on the saucy chique with which they adopt certain Americanisms, and other cant phrases of the day. Such habits cannot be too severely reprehended. They lower the tone of society and the standard of thought."
~ Etiquette for Gentlemen

You might also enjoy...

Gundry and Sons, shoemakers via London Street Views (includes Queen Victoria's wedding shoes).

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

You can also visit the following shopping lists: Travel Dork, My Steampunk, My Wardrobe.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Then & Now ~ Speckled Grey Dress



Christian Dior, 1953  The Victoria & Albert Museum


2014  S_S Elie Saab

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

You can also visit the following shopping lists: Travel Dork, My Steampunk, My Wardrobe.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Then & Now ~ Lace Wedding Dress


Crochet Lace Wedding Dress  Ireland, 1870  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


2014 Zuhair Murad

On Sensible Weddings

"The most fashionable marriages of this season are the simplest. Several of the ton have been married within ten days without bridesmaids or groomsmen, without cards, receptions, or display. The parties drive up in a single coach, dressed in a travelling costume. The sexton takes the place of ushers. Unattended, the parties step from the coach to the alter. At the conclusion of the ceremony, they retire to the coach, are driven to the station, and comment their bridal tour. This sensible method promises to be popular and general."
~ Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine August 1872

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

You can also visit the following shopping lists: Travel Dork, My Steampunk, My Wardrobe.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

An Angry Rebuttal from Gail Carriger ~ Goodbye, Button Gap: The Best Tops for Busty Girls

I may have gone on a bit of a rant on Twitter yesterday over this post: Goodbye, Button Gap: The Best Tops for Busty Girls | Now, is some big Juggernaut of a fashion site that posts twee little blogs like "5 Shoes Every It Girl Has In Her Closet" with lots of shopping links. Clearly they are heavily sponsor-supported and quite lucrative, and frankly that's fine with me. I follow them on my feed, don't I?

1956 Marilyn Monroe photographed © Milton Greene via eternalmarilynmonroe on tumblr
Showing the dreaded button gap.

But this recent blog post intended for busty ladies like myself really bothered me.

  • They used all flat chested models.
  • Their recommendations are exactly the OPPOSITE of what busty girls should wear.
  • The tone of the images/suggestions comes off as really condescending since basically her answer to not being able to wear a button-down is to wear something too big.

The article's author claims to be busty but I can NOT believe that she is. Either that or she was so tightly confined by her sponsor sites' selection that she was forced into choosing the wrong things by vendors that clearly have no idea how to dress a curvy lady.

The article suggests the following solution to the dreaded button gap:

Oversized button-up shirt

Why this will NOT work:

It will look like a tent jutting out from the widest point of the breasts and falling straight down, eliminating any waist and slenderness. It will likely make you look a great deal larger than you actually are.

What to do instead of going over-size? 

1. Buy a button-up shirt that actually fits your boob area. Tailor in the excess at the waist, etc. Add darts if needed. You can have a professional do this for you, or learn to do it yourself relatively easily. Or trade with a skilled friend. Invest in a good shirt that you really like and that will last in order to make the tailoring time and expense worth your while.

Thrifted chiffon top that I tailored in sides and waist.

2. Buy button downs that fit, mostly, except for the gap. Which means: in a fabric that has some stretch. Then add in multiple hidden hooks and eyes over the dreaded gap area.

This top has hidden hooks and eyes so there is no gap.

3. If you are like I was with a really huge bust on a tiny frame, you can also just sew this dreaded gap part closed and pull the shirt on over your head. I know it kind of defeats the purpose of a button-up, but it keeps the look.

JC Penny top with ruffles that I just sewed the offending area closed.

4. Look for button-up shirts that have lots of darting, good pleats in the right area, and clusters of buttons right over that trouble spot (vintage and the best modern ones actually do this). Be prepared to pay good money for something that fits properly.

 Vintage pieces with good button placement. Note the massive darts in the gold dress that mean no gap? The red and white may not be the most flattering but see, no gap.

Wish I had a better picture of this top but it is button-up and tight, yet has no gap. That's vintage tailoring for you!
 A modern button up that actually fits over the rack with no gap and another vintage one shown over a corset. It's clear-on-white in the first, and black-on-black in the second, so hard to see, but the buttons are very close to each other on both of these shirts. It takes a while to put them on, as a result, but there is no gap.

Then the article suggests another solution:

Forgo the button entirely

Why won't this work? 

OK, it will work, but not with the tops that the article chooses to highlight.

The blouses shown are, in order:
  1. Cropped: Really busty girls struggle with cropped mostly because few crop tops cover the entire bust. Plus, there is no denying a crop top may look cute on an A cup, but looks stripper on a D. Unless that's what you are going for, of course.
  2. Architectural: I have a whole blog post about why this look won't work on the Rack
  3. Boxy: Sigh. I have a blog post addressing this sin too. Usually the ribs just under the boobs are a curvy lady's slimmest part, to be emphasized, not covered over, whenever possible.
  4. Baggy with a tie belt: Mellon sack, anyone?
  5. Peasant top: Can have exactly the same problem as an oversized button-up shirt or a boxy top, often worse because neckline pleating make these shirts balloon out even more. The first one they show would make me look like a walking, talking marshmallow.
  6. Tailored jacket top: Generally a good idea, but you can see with this particular choice that the stance of the belt is too high. Instead of the waist this jacket (on a busty girl) would tie just below the boobs, like a Empire gown. This is hugely unflattering on a larger chest because it pleats out very full over the stomach, making one look preggo. 
  7. All the rest fall into the above categories.

How to properly forgo button-up shirts:

1. Find knitwear or stretch tailored pieces that give the illusion of button-up. You can even sew on your own buttons if you like for a faux button-up shirt look.

2. Layer a button-up knitwear piece, like a lightweight cardigan, over a tight tank or cami.

3. Look for both blouses and button up shirts with pussycat bow tops that will drape down and hide a multitude of sins (and catch all your crumbs). 

 Shown (gasp!) without a bra. I'd had minor surgery on my back so couldn't wear a bra or corset for that event.

A favorite button-up blouse of mine, this cherry ticks all the boxes: it's stretchy, it has a bow at the top that drapes low enough to hide the gap, it's a busy print which distracts from the gap, especially if I wear a black bra underneath. It's very cool and lightweight. Love this one. It's not so tight it's bodycon, but it still shows my figure.

4. Another option is a crossover or wrap top. Us busty girls usually have to wear this type over a cami or a tank, but it can be very flattering when cut properly.

5. One can also hunt for zipper front tops. They are around, but not all that common.

6. Lastly you can do some quick modifications on the fly. In the following example, I used a red scarf tucked into (and safety-pinned to) my bra to hide the ridiculous amount of cleavage.

And finally I will end with this: a nice close-weave knitwear top is always a good option for a busty lady. Thus Fall is my favorite time to shop.

Good luck ladies!

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

You can also visit the following shopping lists: Travel Dork, My Steampunk, My Wardrobe.

quotes Gail likes

“Oh, Professor Lyall, are you making a funny? It doesn’t suit you.”
The sandy-haired Beta gave Lady Maccon a dour look. “I am exploring new personality avenues.”
“Well, stop it.”
“Yes, my lady.” —Gail Carriger