Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Care and Feeding of Vintage Accessories with Gail Carriger

I recently did a blog post about the care and feeding of vintage dresses. Fashionable reader, this is the follow up to that post.

 How to care for Accessories: Shoes, Bags, & Belts

Cleaning leather.
  • I recently discovered Method Leather Love Wipes which I now use to clean my leather shoes, bags, skirts, belts, and jackets. They are gentle, but you should still check on a hidden area of any item of clothing before you run over the whole thing. I don't like the smell, it's very baby wipe, but they work and perhaps more important, are easy to use.
  • Mid summer I tend to pull all my shoes out and give them a clean, let them dry for a day and then oil them. You can use professional leather oil if you like (be prepared for darkening and emphasis of stains, even some color bleeding) I use either sun tan oil or Kui Nut Body Oil because I like the smell.

Spraying the shoes

  • I take this as an opportunity to check the state of my shoes. Do any of them need resoling? Is the leather cracking on any? (Not much you can do for this.) Will any need to be replaced?
  • I don't oil my bags, belts, or jackets because the oil is slow to absorb and gets on everything. If I have the time, instead I'll do a spit shine. Sadly black is the only color this product is made for. Since it's time consuming, I often don't do it if I don't think I'll wear the jacket in a while.
  • Then in the fall, before (or just after) it starts to rain I Scotch Guard my boots, since they are mainly leather and I live in them all winter. I use the made for suede brand for both my suede and latigos, I don't think there's need to have two kinds. (How to waterproof your shoes.)
  • I know this seems like a lot of work, but I do regard my shoes as a kind of collection, I've certainly spent enough money on them, so I believe they should be appropriately cared for.

Scuffs on plastic or vinyl: 

A word on cracking, cuts, or burns. 
  • There is not way to repair leather or vinyl once it has reached such a  damaged state. You can try to cover it up, but it's basically dead.

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, February 23, 2016

Alexia Manga Cosplay from Gail Carriger

I love it when people cosplay my characters here are some versions of Alexia taken from the manga. So cool!

alicelaughingalonewithtea tumblr

As seen in the Sunnyvale Library 2012.
Yume Ninja-Sovereign via Facebook

Just look at the details on the hat! And the black cape, exactly as drawn by REM.

Costume made worn by fukkas tumblr  Photo by Kide

Another inspired take!

Thanks to everyone who has put together an outfit from my books. It's such an honor, and I love to see them!

If you have cosplay photos, I'd adore it if you added your pictures to the cosplay section of my wiki! I don't feel right doing it myself, it should be your choice to share there or not. But won't it be fun to have them all in one place?

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, February 18, 2016

Gail Carriger's New Bras ~ Felina & Ekouaer

One of the oddest things I've noticed since the Rack Reduction, Fashionable Reader, is the fact that the neck lines on all my shirts seem so much higher. Occasionally they feel like they are chocking me. I know, it's because there is less weighing them down, but still, odd sensation.

Anyway... new bras!

So after turning in my brutal edit pass I took myself off to Nordstrom Rack to try on new bras. Turns out these days I seem to be fitting a 32DDD (or 32F). In some I'm likely more a 30 band, but that's so hard to find I don't bother to even look. I just wear on the tightest hook. (For those of you who don't know, a band should fit comfortably on the hook furthest to the edge when you buy, the closer hooks are designed to accommodate the bra stretching as it is worn. But, I digress...). I was looking specifically for a nude t-shirt bra and I found a really nice and remarkably comfortable one from Felina.

Felina Paramour

Felina Paramour in 32DDD $18-40

This bra did not come in my size before my reduction, so I cannot make comparisons.

After determining a size, I jumped online and ordered a few free return bras from other companies in the same (or similar) size to see how they might compare. Here is what I got:

Felina Demi Bra

Felina Women's Harlow Unlined Demi Bra in 32DDD $36

I think I have owned a version of this bra in black or cream at one point or another over the years for over a decade. I have matched other smalls and this lace is the only lace I've even been able to tolerate, it's nice and soft.

This one turned out to be too big in the cups and I sit much further down into it than I did before my surgery. I exchanged it for a 32DD and that fits fine. Interesting that the same brand, Felina, fit entirely differently in the two bras.

Ekouaer Strapless Convertible T-shirt Bra

Ekouaer Women's Convertible Underwire Strapless Molded T-shirt Bra $19

This is an entirely new brand to me. I was attracted by the versatility and the price. The Felina I already bought is convertible, but can't go strapless. If I'd been really thinking about it I would have gotten it in black. For a strapless bra the fit is pretty darn good. Do I have the confidence to wear it without straps? We shall see.

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, February 16, 2016

The Care and Feeding of Vintage Dresses with Gail Carriger

The Care and Feeding of Vintage Dresses

I have said this before, Fashionable Reader, and I shall likely say it again. But I consider myself a consumer of vintage, not a curator or a collector. By which I mean that I buy dresses with the intent of wearing them. This means I may sweat in them. They may get dirty. They will likely have to be cleaned. They often have to be repaired and occasionally I modify them to suit my needs: tailoring, hemming, and so forth. (I'm not a label chaser, although I'm always intrigued when I can track the source of one of my dresses.)

However, that doesn't mean I intentionally mistreat my clothing. The dresses I find that fit me, that look nice, in colors I like, that suit my accessories and shoes are still valued members of my family. So here are some things I have learned over the years about the care and feeding of vintage.

Please do keep in mind that I am thinking about specifically clothing from after the turn of the century. Or even 1940s and later. Earlier clothing (like Victorian) gets into the arena of textile preservation and proper curration of organic material. I could put my archaeological hat on and address that subject, but frankly while I may admire these dresses, I rarely buy them because they are so finicky to maintain.

Please keep in mind that I'm addressing dresses as opposed to something like undergarments, which present a different series of challenges.

Rules to Drape By

Find a cleaner.
I dry clean all my vintage stuff. It's just easier. I have a green cleaner I really like who does a pretty good job. I think the green chemicals are gentler, and generally the expense encourages greater care. No luck in that department? Identify one used by wedding dress or tuxedo shops, corset makers, and/or the local opera costume department.

A note on cleaning vs. dry cleaning: If the fabric is mixed (as opposed to 100% cotton etc) always get it dry cleaned. If the fabric is pure but delicate I hand wash in a sink with Woolite ex-dark with cold water. I don't own wool, but I wouldn't ever wash it. Don't you DARE wash cashmere. Dry clean only. In general, I wash almost all my (non-vintage) clothing in the gentlest possible cycle with Woolite, and I hang dry. I loathe dryers. I devoutly believe they ruin clothes.

When you get it home take it out of the plastic and off the metal hanger.
I actually put the hangers aside and then when my dresses are dirty I hang them back on the wire hangers to take in to the cleaner. (Thus returning the hangers and not having to remember to take my hangers back with me.) Why take it out of the plastic? Cloth needs to breathe. Store dresses in plastic and there is a good chance moisture will collect inside the bag and the garment will mold.

If it's not knit: hang it, with room to breathe. 
I use those fuzzy hangers that things don't fall off on, but the sticklers will say nothing is better than the fat wooden ones. They distribute the weight over the shoulder seam properly. Also you don't want to cram the dresses together. They need to drape off the hanger properly.

Hang them in the dark. 
The AB, poor thing, shares an office with my vintage dresses. Fortunately, said AB is a computer-oriented cave-type and the curtains are rarely open. Both the dresses and I are pleased with this. Sunlight is rough on fiber.

Fold or roll knitwear.
I tend to store all my vintage sweaters rolled around a piece of tissue paper.
How to remove sweater pilling. I use an electric sweater shaver.


What they did before lint rollers:
"Cloth or Velvet Embroidery, to clean. – Bake a very thick chapatti (unleavened cake) of coarse atta and water. When barely cooked through, take the inside doughy part, form into a roller, and with the palm of the hand roll in over the embroidery. The fluffs and hairs stick to and come away on the dough, which also acts, like bread, as a cleanser. Excellent for velvet."
~ Steel & Gardiner, 1888

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, February 11, 2016

How To Cope With Winter's Dry Skin ~ Gail Carriger's Beauty Routine

I don't do a lot of beauty posts. Frankly, I feel like there are plenty of beauty blogs out there already. But I feel pretty good about my routine this winter. My skin has been dewy and soft which, for a lady of my advanced years (cough, cough), is no bad thing. So I felt I ought to share for the sake of humanity, or skin-anity, or whatever.

Winter is always pretty rough on my skin. I tend to lean dry anyway, but it gets worse in the colder months.

So, what do I do to combat it?

1. No Soap

Not an option for everyone, but I'm not a particularly sweaty person, I don't break out easily, and I don't get very dirty in my day job (AKA sitting around typing) so I really don't have to use soap. Instead I use Alba's Hawaiian Coconut Milk Facial Wash $8.50 on both my face and body. It doesn't sud like a regular soap and it is very gentle.

2. Face Exfoliation

Once a week I use Alba's Pineapple Enzyme Facial Scrub $8. It's one of the most gentle I've found. This helps get the dry skin off, an leaves my face feeling soft but doesn't scrape the way some exfoliation scrubs do.

3. Body Exfoliation

I've talked before about my love of Giovanni's Hot Chocolate Sugar Scrub $27, but in winter I've taken to opting for something more intense: Pure Fiji's Coconut Sugar Rub $35. Frankly it's pretty darn amazing and my new favorite thing. I haven't had dry skin this winter and I think it's mostly because I've been using this.

Downside? Well, the sucker sure ain't cheap. And because it is quite oily it does kinda coat the shower a bit. It's hard to get out of the container (they provide a little scoop but it's still a chore).
Upside? Everything smells grand. It is REALLY good at its job. And because it's sugar based, you can use it directly after you shave without stinging, which I recommend.

4. Face Cream

For daytime, I use Neutrogena's Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum $18. It works as a good base under makeup and/or sun screen, or on its own if you don't intend to go out. I only use the tiniest bit, so it lasts forever.

I also use Eucerin Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Sensitive Skin Creme $8.50 on my neck, cuticles, elbows and other super dry spots. I bought it for my face, but found it a little too thick for that, so this is an alternate.

For daytime, I also use a tiny amount of Olay Total Effects Anti-Aging Eye Treatment $15.30 (Tinted) around the eyes. It brightens things up a bit, and is not so much makeup I need to bring out the big guns to get it off before bed.

5. Body Cream

Pure Fiji's scrub does such a good job I don't need to slather on the cream after a shower the way I used to. I find a nice layer of Aloe Vera Gel $20 is sufficient. (I'm not married to this brand, whatever you find will likely be good so long as it's almost totally aloe.) If I require something more intense I use pure Shea Butter $15.

So there you have it: my winter skin survival routine. I talk more about my gout out favorite skin care products in this blog post.

If you have your own routine down but want to experiment, I always recommend introducing changes one at a time. Switch everything all at once and your skin is likely to freak out. Want to try only one thing on the list? Go for Pure Fiji's Coconut Sugar Rub $35.

This is NOT a sponsored post. I don't do those. However the links are to Amazon where I have an associate's code, so if you follow that's where they lead. If your choose to buy I get a tiny percent, your price will not change because of this. I appreciate your custom.

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, February 9, 2016

Gail Carriger's Black Dress with Red Trim: A Retrospective

Recently on tour I wore my black coat dress with red trim

Here is a bit of a retrospective on trimming (and accessorizing) black with red...

1879-1881  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Walking Dress  1899-1900  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1905  Whitaker Auctions

Fashion photography by Leombruno-Bodi, 1952 via theniftyfifties tumblr

R & K Originals advertisement, 1952

"Scarlet" shoes in a 1956-57 Aldens catalogue via theniftyfifties tumblr

via theniftyfifties tumblr Fashions by Smartee, 1957 - Jean Patchett, centre.

Black Kick Pleat Double Button Red Trim Pinup 1950s Rockabilly Pencil Women's Dress $40

Lindy Bop 'Grace' Classy Vintage 1950's Rockabilly Style Bow Swing Party Dress $48

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, February 4, 2016

Dressing Percy & Quesnel ~ Custard Protocol

I know the Power of my prose ought to cast into your mind exactly the image of what men looked like in the 1890s, but frankly pictures are better.

So, here is a sample of 1890s clothing for gentlemen of the kind the Quesnel & Percy are oft described as wearing.

Fashion plate, 1880s-90s via shewhosorshipscarlin tumblr

“There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, 'Do trousers matter?'"
"The mood will pass, sir.”
― P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters

J.W. Losse Tailoring, 1897 via dandyads-tumblr
Adjusted for inflation, one of these spring overcoats would run you $400-720 today.

This next image is a little more modern but I imagine, given the prevalence of dirigibles, that something like a driving outfit would have been around earlier on as a gentleman's floating outfit.
1906-1908 Driving Coat The Victoria & Albert Museum

Is Your Victorian Gentleman Sponge Worthy? Contraception in the Years 1826-1891

'Jeeves,' I said coldly. 'How many suits of evening clothes have we?'
'We have three suits full of evening dress, sir; two dinner jackets—'
'For practical purposes two only, sir. If you remember, we cannot wear the third. We have also seven white waistcoats.'
'And shirts?'
'Four dozen, sir.'
'And white ties?'
'The first two shallow shelves in the chest of drawers are completely filled with our white ties, sir.'
~ Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

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, February 2, 2016

Prudence Extras ~ India's Influence on Victorian Clothing in the Custard Protcol with Gail Carriger

So I took Rue to India in the first Custard Protocol book, Prudence. It was a lot of fun for the both of us. And, as it's me, I also kept an eye open to the fashion world. India was an occupied territory during the Victorian times, and fabrics and fashion moved from there across the world and into the lives of Victorians in a myriad of ways.

1885 Visite  Les Arts Décoratifs

Not all of the images I collected are strictly Indian. Some are from surrounding occupied territories or highlight other Silk Road influences. Nevertheless, they struck me as quite interesting, so I have presented them for you here.

Fancy Dress Costume  Charles Fredrick Worth, 1870  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

I dithered on how to show these. I went with some original historical clothing items, along with some Victorian and later takes on the same theme and, where possible, a modern fashion look. Also there's jewelry!

Pendant  1860  Bonham’s

Here we go...

17th-18th century  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
1867  Les Arts Décoratifs
Pietro Yantorny, 1920  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
1910 Evening Dress  late 1910s  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
1920s Raymond Dunca; Marchesa SS2013

19th Radhakrishna pendant  India, 19th century  Christie’s

Tunic  India (Peshawar), late 19th century-early 20th century  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

1855 via fashionsfromhistory-tumblr Dressing Gown MFA
1915-1916 Callot Soeurs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Marchesa SS2013

Court Ensemble  India (Lucknow), 19th century  The Victoria & Albert Museum

1820 Turban The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 1907  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1935 Jeanne Lanvin  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Tunic  India, 19th century  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Evening Dress 1893  The Museum of London
"This evening dress is decorated with net panels embroidered with gold thread and beetle wing cases from a species of jewel beetle. The panels were probably made in India where Madras and Calcutta were centres for beetle-wing embroidery made for the European market. The iridescent blue-green beetle wing cases reflect the light like sequins. This type of embroidery is found in British museum collections on dress, textiles and accessories dating from the 1780s until about 1930. Although Indian embroiderers introduced the technique, using it to decorate dress and domestic textiles, Europeans copied them, sometimes using the wing cases of a species of South American jewel beetle. This style of embroidery was also thought to be a suitable pastime for ladies of leisure, who were advised to use a Walker’s number eight needle and green silk thread."

 Dress  Weeks, 1910  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mainbocher, 1950  The Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1913 Lapmshade Tunic  Paul Poiret, 1913  The FIDM Museum

Marchesa SS2013

Opal Bracelet  1900  Christie’s
Shirt  India (Bikaner), 1850s  The Victoria & Albert Museum

Reception Dress  Callot Soeurs, 1910  The Philadelphia Museum of Art; Lounging Pajamas  Callot Soeurs, 1911-1913  
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Fancy Dress Costumes  Paul Poiret, 1913-1914  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sari  India (Lucknow), early 19th century  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Necklace  India, 19th century  Sotheby’s

 1911  Lucile, Whitaker Auctions; Carolyn Schnurer, 1950  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1951 Bathing Suit  Carolyn Schnurer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Kurta  India  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 1970s Hanae Mori  The Frock; Marchesa SS2013

 1960 Madame Grès, 1960  The Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1960s  Timeless Vixen Vintage

Jama  India, 17th century  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 Lounging Pajamas  Callot Soeurs, 1911-1913; Evening Dress  Callot Soeurs, 1913 
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Hasli Necklace  India, 19th century  Christie’s

Court Robe  India, 18th century  The Victoria & Albert Museum

 1911 Evening Dress  Weeks  The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Evening Dress Madame Eta Hentz 
Spring/Summer 1944 MET

Marchesa SS2013 White

Necklace  India (Rajasthan), 19th century  Christie’s

Coat  India (Kashmir)  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Choga  India, late 19th century  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
George Halley, 1960s
Aba  India (Kutch), mid-19th century  The Victoria & Albert Museum

1980 Zandra Rhodes, 1980s  The Philadelphia Museum of Art

2014 Valentino via Red Carpet Fashion Awards

Stunning Exhibition of Indian Textiles

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.