Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Outfit In Detail: Black Velvet and a Red Trumpet Skirt with Leopard Accessories


Hello Fashionable Reader!

Here's my most recent event outfit. I went to Borderlands for their Mass Signing 20th Birthday Celebration!

(And then stayed for the Sponsor Social.)


The funny thing about this outfit is that I was having such a hard time deciding what to wear, I had Twitter vote on it.


Here's the break down of what they chose and how I put it together.


The velvet blouse is part of a 1940s suit (the skirt is no more). Like all black velvet, it photographs poorly, but it has tons of lovely little details like buttons and cuffs. You'll just have to trust me that they are there.

The bag, gloves and shoes are all modern but I bought them 10 years ago. The bag came from a thrift store, the shoes are aerosoles, and the gloves H&M.

However, still available are...


Next to the amazing Katherine Kerr (I was a little star struck). 


I'm afraid, since it was at night, the light wasn't awesome
 
Finally here I am in my special Borderlands Sponsor sweatshirt...


Take a good hard look, this is the only time you will ever see Gail Carriger IN A HOODIE.
Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

You can shop my recommendations via the following lists:
Steampunk, Retro Jewelry, Makeup, Retro Clothes, Lifestyle


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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Degas Was All About the Hats, So Is Gail


Hats make me happy, Fashionable Reader. I hope this comes as no surprise.

Image taken by Gail Carriger, do not share without attribution


Apparently Degas was a big fan, too. This exhibit I went to included others who were fans of hats, as well as some hat making displays, and of course the hats themselves.








This last is a double whammy of Gail's loves: hats & parasols!

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

You can shop my recommendations via the following lists:
Steampunk, Retro Jewelry, Makeup, Retro Clothes, Lifestyle


Product links on this blog are usually to Amazon using my associate code. At no additional cost to you this means I get a slight kick back if you make a purchase. Thank you! This allows me to continue to produce this blog without sponsors.

Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween



"And yet here he was, if one could credit one's senses, about to take part in a fancy-dress ball, a form of entertainment notoriously a testing experience for the toughest. And he was attending that fancy-dress ball, mark you—not, like every other well-bred Englishman, as a Pierrot, but as Mephistopheles—this involving, as I need scarcely stress, not only scarlet tights but a pretty frightful false beard."
~ Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

via gravesandghouls tumblr, Victorian costumes c. 1880s (Source: vintagegal)
Fancy Dress, 1874

Fancy dress costumes were very popular in the Victorian era, Fashionable Reader. There were follies, masquerades, fancy dress balls, not to mention a variety of other events that might call for a costume of some kind or another. I feature a fancy dress ball in the Finishing School books and I'm contemplating what might happen if Lord Akeldama decided to throw one. However the Victorian approach to fancy dress was quirky to say the least. Here are a few examples...

folly  costume via realhistoricalpatterns tumblr

Classic jester costume, also the domino were both, extremely popular in the Victorian era.


  antique-royals-TUMBLR 1860s 

via Bizarre Victorian fact of the day…

A traditional Halloween custom which was practised across Britain (particularly in rural areas) in the Victorian period was for groups of people (of all ages) to don strange costumes and go door-to-door in the hopes of receiving food or gifts, or of causing a bit of mischief. This custom had a huge number of regional variations. On the Shetland Islands the ‘skeklers’ wore tall pointy hats and voluminous costumes made of straw. In Montgomeryshire in Wales men dressed themselves as ‘gwrachod’ (an ancient Welsh hag-like monster) by putting on ragged clothes, sheepskins and masks. They went through their neighbourhood frightening children and being rude to adults. Young people in Glamorgan cross-dressed and went from house to house singing riddles, while ‘guisers’ in Scotland with masked, blackened, or painted faces chanted rhymes like:

    Tramp, tramp, the boys are marching
    We are the guisers at the door,
    If you dinna let us in, we will bash yer windows in,
    And you’ll never see the guisers any more.


Source: victorianfanguide


gardener costume via realhistoricalpatterns tumblr

Aristocratic Victorians loved to play the poor, particularly the romanticized country poor. In addition to gardeners, milk maids, peasant girls, shepherds and shepherdesses were quite popular.

page costume via realhistoricalpatterns tumblr

There was also and interesting take on cross dressing that occasionally appeared. There's a certain romantic notion and of the beautiful page boy, almost gender neutral and certainly gender bending that made this archetypal character open season for men or women. Maxfield Parrish capitalized on this with some of his work using a female model for many of his pages and princes etc...

rose costume via realhistoricalpatterns tumblr

Objects were also open season. And an idea I kind of love. Above we see a young lady dressed as a rose garden, or rose bouquet. Bellow is one dressed as a... waste basket. I may have to put that into one of my stories.

waste basket costume via realhistoricalpatterns tumblr
via eccentric victorian on tumblr
“Scrap Book” 1890 National Gallery Victoria
“The Dirigible” via OMG That Dress tumblr

Other cultures were also popular, as were historical figures. Always keeping in mind the Victorian silhouette. You'll not that while masks were popular grotesque make up was not. Victorians might theme a masquerade to a particular place or time period or even a famous author, Shakespeare characters, for example, might be a theme.

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

via weirdvintage-tumblr Bird girls of Szegeden, Hungary, 1880s (via Vintage Photo)


via Old Photos & Bacon☣ @photosandbacon


I have a lot of fun imagining how a costume party in my steampunk Victorian era might look. Can you imagine people coming dressed as trains, or dirigibles? Or werewolves or vampires for that matter. I may have to write a short story about this at some point.
White Witch Costume 1885 Kerry Taylor Auctions

“Folly” fancy dress costume 1890 The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

And something a little more to my personal taste...


Halloween Bombshell Veronica Lake

Halloween Bombshell, Myrna Loy
Myrna was best known for her role as Nora Charles
in the 1930's The Thin Man movies
Bollywood Steampunk


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

You can shop my recommendations via the following lists:
Steampunk, Retro Jewelry, Makeup, Retro Clothes, Lifestyle


Product links on this blog are usually to Amazon using my associate code. At no additional cost to you this means I get a slight kick back if you make a purchase. Thank you! This allows me to continue to produce this blog without sponsors.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Victorian Riding Hats Are Cool


Normally, Fashionable Reader, I avoid all things riding and horse related in this blog. Because people who ride horses troll. I know, right? But yeah, they do. [Gives horse-related chip-on-her-shoulder scabber who came trotting over here via a google search the royal stink eye.]

Anywhoo, but I took a photo of this wonderful hat at the Degas exhibit and I couldn't resist sharing so I'm gonna take the risk.

Image taken by Gail Carriger, do not share without attribution


I'm gonna pretty much leave it at that. Victorian riding hats are cool. I love how they are inspired by menswear. 


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

You can shop my recommendations via the following lists:
Steampunk, Retro Jewelry, Makeup, Retro Clothes, Lifestyle


Product links on this blog are usually to Amazon using my associate code. At no additional cost to you this means I get a slight kick back if you make a purchase. Thank you! This allows me to continue to produce this blog without sponsors.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

1890s Fashion in Video: Around the world in 1896







Look at the fashions in this amazing video! This is the 1890s, exactly the right time period for Prudence and Primrose and the Custard Protocol books.

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

You can shop my recommendations via the following lists:
Steampunk, Retro Jewelry, Makeup, Retro Clothes, Lifestyle

Product links on this blog are usually to Amazon using my associate code. At no additional cost to you this means I get a slight kick back if you make a purchase. Thank you! This allows me to continue to produce this blog without sponsors.

Presentation Outfit ~ Why I wore Red & Black, 1950s Flowered Sheath


I recently did a Business of Writing presentation. I don't do this often, but I feel like I'm getting to the point in my career where I should pay it forward. A kind of, "Let me tell you what I have learned from my mistakes so you don't have to."

Anyway, this is what I chose to wear for my presentation:


I always think of red and black as power colors

I'm not sure there is any scientific reality to my assumption, or if, instead it's just that I feel more powerful when I'm wearing them. I blame Star Trek. Red makes me feel in command.
Also this is a pretty comfortable and cool outfit, it's light weight and simple, and doesn't wrinkle easily. It's one of my go to outfits in general, and for autumn in particular, I think, because of the color profile.

This outfit, from the 1950s, is in two parts: a black cotton shift dress with red & orange applique flowers that perfectly matches a stiffened georgette jacket.


In 2012 in just the sheath in Spain, before my publisher there folded
In 2012 at a romance event in LA

The jacket has been a bit of a problem over the years, because it is georgette with a fused backing from the 1950s it's actually pretty fragile. I've repaired it a number of times. Fortunately, the pattern is so busy it's hard to see the repair stitches. It does, however, mean that a presentation is a much better venue then a convention (where I am doing a lot more risky stuff).


Wearing this dress at a convention before I promptly ripped the jacket. 
I love this dress because it feels faintly Spanish influenced and it reminds me of this one on Joan in Madmen:


I keep waiting for eShakti to do a run on this style of dress but I suspect the fabric is hard to come by as is, and no one wants to do that kind of applique anymore!
I'm wild about this swim suit:
Bathing Suit  1950s  Timeless Vixen Vintage

For the characters!


For Mrs Barnaclegoose in the Finishing School series...

1855 Kerry Taylor Auctions

Countess Nadasdy in the Parasol Protectorate series...


Charles Fredrick Worth, 1878-1880  The Philadelphia Museum of Art

And the countess later in Romancing the Inventor...


1885  Kerry Taylor Auctions

Boots  1885  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Vintage velvet hat with applique leaves (gift), vintage glasses (gift from a reader) with my prescription, necklace vintage heirloom, dress & jacket 1950s, modern CK wedge sandals from several seasons ago (similar $15-30).
Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

You can shop my recommendations via the following lists:
Steampunk, Retro Jewelry, Makeup, Retro Clothes, Lifestyle


Product links on this blog are usually to Amazon using my associate code. At no additional cost to you this means I get a slight kick back if you make a purchase. Thank you! This allows me to continue to produce this blog without sponsors.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy


In honor of Romancing the Werewolf, Fashionable Reader, I invited Modern Biffy to the blog today to bring you some VERY strong opinions on menswear.

Take it away... Biffy!

In my humble experience, men can be very difficult to dress. The ones who have an interest in fashion can often be the worst to deal with. For they know that there is a code to be hacked in manipulating others through image, so they are extra paranoid about it.


My approach it to show them images and ask for input.

Which one do you like?

How do you want to dress?

What kind of impression do you want to give?

I've got some tips inherent in my Dressing for Conventions rant as well.


I advise trying to focus attention in on the clothing itself, rather than the man who wears it.

Ask a man who he wants to look like and he'll say "Brad Pitt" or "George Clooney" or "James Bond."

That's hopeless.

Better to ask what he wants to look like. What kind of impression does he want to give?

Start directing his attention to the clothing rather than the man underneath it.


 For example, very few body types can carry of this look:


 But a great many out there can do this one, and look marvelous.


Suits 101

 I think that every man should own at least two suits ~ one grey and one black. These will hit pretty much every necessary event from weddings to funerals, and you can mix and match for casual occasions, like so:


This is a very modern look with the skinny trousers and mix of brown & black elements, but you get the idea. He's taken the black trousers from one suit and put them with the grey blazer of the other. How come he gets away with mixing chocolate brown, tobacco brown, grey, black, and a patterned tie? He kept all his lines clean and stuck with neutral colors.

 A brown vintage version.

To experiment with color, the base components should be more matched, like so:


He's done all black with grey trousers and then two pops of matched red. The color will draw attention instantly, so if you want to rock the yellow socks, make certain your shoes are polished to a mirror shine because people will be looking at them!


But I am getting a little advanced here, shall we go back to the basics?

Those two suits?

Here's a break down of the necessary elements.


1. Choose an English or an Italian cut.

2. In both black and grey.
Because of intended use, I always suggest the grey be of a lighter fabric than the black. Also, while cool, I am against linen, it wrinkles too easily.

A black suit is for:
Weddings that are formal, evening, autumn and winter, and/or inside that don't specify white tie, evening dinners and events, funerals, first time meetings with executives from foreign countries, any afternoon event that might lead into evening. Because this will serve your black tie needs, the trousers should not be cuffed. Tuxes, for the modern man, are usually so infrequently worn that it's OK to rent. So long as when you rent you make certain to get the right size.


A grey suit is for:
Weddings that are informal, morning or afternoon, spring and summer, and/or outside that don't specify black tie, outdoor formal events that do not specify mourning jackets, christenings, lunchtime appointments, morning occasions. Try to go for slightly lighter greys rather than charcoal. Silvers, steels, blue tinged, or even dove tones. Think about eye color and complexion when selecting the tone of grey.

What about brown?
Serves the same as grey but for formal occasions will require all new accessories, so I'd opt for grey if you can.

Blue?
Has a nice vintage feel and I actually like a blue suit a lot. In lighter hues it could serve instead of the grey but is a daring choice. Navy has similar problems to brown.



3. Single breasted jacket. 
Looks best on most body types. Double breasted adds width and bulk.

Yes. It. Does.

I know, honey, you love it. It makes you feel a tough and all mafia-ish. Well, it also makes you look fat. Nash. If you're rail thin and you want to rock the vintage look, than why are you reading this blog? We are talking basics here, not advanced costuming.

I also suggest a notched narrower collar, but do experimented with various different style jackets. Remember the jacket MUST fit you in the shoulder, and around the back and middle, hems and cuffs can be taken up.

Jacket button rule?

From the top down . . .

Always
Sometimes
Never

Only two buttons?

From the top down . . .
Always
Sometimes but mostly never

Remember, however, to unbutton all of them when sitting.

1964  The Victoria & Albert Museum

4. Flat front trousers.
For the effing love gentlemen! FLAT FRONT. Never ever pleated. Do you like the crotch poof? No one likes the crotch poof.

No one.

I don't know why they even manufacture pleated anymore. Always bring the shoes you intend to wear with with you to try on suits, so you can check the length of the trouser. Easier to shorten than to lengthen.


5. Crisp white skirt.
With standard cuffs and collars. Leave the fancy ones for costumes. Again, this should fit the shoulder and neck and I suggest trying a "slim" or "modern" cut even if you are on the larger side. These terms actually mean that the shirts are made to fit closer to the body and can be more flattering as a result, adding less volume with less fabric. They often wear better under a jacket because they have less bulk. They also look better tucked in and don't poof as much.


6. A relatively skinny black tie.
Black will serve for both suits and most needs so if you only want to buy one tie this would be it. If there are formal occasions in your future you might need a black bow tie as well. Yes, ready-tied is fine. (Hush don't tell Lord Akeldama.)

7. Trouser (or Dress) Socks.
"When wearing dress pants or casual pants, apart from jeans, the color of your socks should be dictated by the color of your pants and not by the shade of your shoes."
~ From Ask Men

8. Black formal shoes.
I leave the style up to you. I dislike a square toe, and kind of like a pointy modern look, but if you're struggling I'd opt for something simple. Oxfords are a great choice, wingtips if you want a little flash, spectators if you want a lot.

That is really all you need. Amazing.

 1960s  The Victoria & Albert Museum

Packing for a trip?

Mix up your suits for other events. Use the grey trousers where you might wear jeans for a more formal daytime look. Invest in some nice colored fitted t-shirts (blue, green, graphic black & white) for less formal occasions for under the jacket. Add a great pair of dark wash boot-cut non-distressed jeans, and one or two fancy patterned shirts, a good trench or warm overcoat or a black leather blazer (depending on the weather) and you have the perfect wardrobe suited to almost any occasion.

Suit Samples

 Modern grey suit & a Lounge Suit 1911 The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
How little has changed.

Modern and vintage takes on the grey suit. Note that the modern one is generally a slimmer cut and has been paired with a faint check shirt and brown accessorizes for a very contemporary twist? The vintage look paired grey with blue, a classic combination that never gets old (joke intended).

 Right is 1961  The Victoria & Albert Museum

Black formal suits modern and vintage. Again, note the looser cut in the vintage look? But otherwise little has changed. Although both vintage examples are three piece suits, which brings us to . . .

Addendum . . . Going Retro

So you have your two classic suits, what next?

The 3 Piece Suit.
I always suggest if a matched vest is offered for your suit that you spring for it. Why? Because it adds an instant vintage component to your look.

 James Bond in a grey 3 piece, the vest has a small shawl collar.

 Modern takes on the vest are both collarless. In the first we see a casual grey version without a tie and with brown shoes, and the second is a formal take with all the trimmings.

Jean Patou in that late 1920s wearing with a double breasted cross over vest with a shawl collar under a single buttoned jacket.

Shawl collars are difficult to find now, but very vintage looking, so if you think you are only going to use the vest for steampunk, costume, and retro events than go for it.

As with jackets I strongly suggest single breasted vests (as opposed to double breasted waistcoats).

Also, its a good idea to pay close attention to where the top button of the vest sits (the neckline's stance). Not only does this dictate how much of the tie is seen but it should be dependent on the stance of the jacket. If the jacked buttons higher, the vest should go higher up, as seen in the very first look. When jacket is buttoned you should see the top button of the vest, sometimes the second to the top.

There are some fun ways to pars out a 3 piece. For example:


Jean Patou 1924

The check suit.
Madmen has much to answer for, this is one of them. I suggest making certain you have the bases covered. Then, if you are ready, go vintage shopping and find some kind of outrageous check suit or sport coat. Why not? Break all the rules, rock a wide tie too!


Sweaters
A pull-over v-neck sweater is a good addition to a man's wardrobe. It adds that vintage feel when worn with the white shirt, suit trousers, and a tie. Good for sporting events, added warmth, or the very casual meet-up. I'd go for a nice neutral soft blue, grey, or taupe/mushroom.



The turtleneck.
The turtleneck with a suit is an . . . option. Be careful though. It can look quite pretentious.



"Happily, Woman is much more susceptible to external polish than Man is."
~ Etiquette for Ladies, c. 1850

Romancing the Werewolf has the cutest cover ever & is up for preorder. 
Releases Nov 5th! 
Amazon | B&N | Apple | Kobo

Lyall is wearing a Dark Garden Beau Brummel custom corset.

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.

You can shop my recommendations via the following lists:
Steampunk, Retro Jewelry, Makeup, Retro Clothes, Lifestyle


Product links on this blog are usually to Amazon using my associate code. At no additional cost to you this means I get a slight kick back if you make a purchase. Thank you! This allows me to continue to produce this blog without sponsors.