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Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger

Today, Fashionable Reader, I present to you outfits, vintage pieces and retro looks that match the cover of the fourth Parasol Protectorate Book, Heartless.

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger

 This cover has Alexia looking very girly in front of Woolsey Castle wearing a fetching purple combination the background mostly greys. Here are a few picks from my closet to go with this cover.

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
A casual look pairing a plaid BCBG fishtail pencil skirt ($50) with a jersey cowl top (Marshalls $20) my favorite cream textured Via Spiga peep toe stilettos (Nordstrom Rack $50) a vintage green bag (Hubba Hubba $35) and a jellyfish bracelet, gift.

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
A more formal option with a print blouse (Kohl's $20), floaty Donna Karen skirt (now gone), bow earrings (can't remember), Miz Mooz boots (Nordstrom Rack $75), cream hat (Bone Marche $15), a vintage vinyl purse (moon Zoom $20), white gloves ($20), and a silver chain rose necklace, gift.

A few little pieces to go with this cover.

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
 Retro bathing suit. Very flattering.

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
 Ombre tights. I really want some of these. 

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
Prabal Gurung Spring 2012
Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
 1940s Dress Clips  Sotheby’s

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
 1939 La Sirène  Charles James  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
1910s Earrings   1stdibs.com

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
Octopus tentacle handkerchief, gift from a reader.

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
Flower arrangement from Mum's tea party.

And now . . .

Something for the characters to wear!

For Lord Akeldama...

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
1770s  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

For Alexia pre-Biffy...

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
1872-1876  Manchester City Galleries

For Alexia post-Biffy...

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
1878 Charles Fredrick Worth,  The Kyoto Costume Institute

A gift for Alexia from Conall...

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
1870s Bracelet  Sotheby’s

For Ivy after Timeless...

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
1883-1889  The Goldstein Museum of Design

A hat to go with it...

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
1909 Dinner Toque  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Some sparkles...

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
1880s Suite   Christie’s

And a fan...

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
1885-1895 Fan The Metropolitan Museum of Art

And for Evilyn...

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
 1885  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
 1900  Toque  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 Something Prudence to wear...

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
1899  The Victoria & Albert Museum

And for underneath...

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
1890s  Augusta Auctions

Something for Lady Linette in the Finishing School series...

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
1840  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Something for Sophronia...

Book Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger
1860s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger

10 facts Gail wishes others knew about Upper Class Victorian clothing.

1. Gown = Bodice + Skirt

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Ball Gown  1900-1905  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Most gowns and dresses were in two or more parts: the top (or bodice) and the bottom (or skirt/overskirt/underskirt+overskirt). The two were sewn (yes on the wearer), tied, or hooked together. (This continued into the Edwardian era.)


10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Ball gown and day dress, 1865 Robe à Transformation The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This lead to transformation outfits: same skirt, different bodice dictating different occasions and allowing for double use. Very practical.

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
 Godeys July 1872 Fig. 12 Low muslin bodice for a white French muslin dress, trimmed with lace and colored ribbon brows. Fig. 14 Pink silk bodice far an evening dress, made with plaited bertha, edged by points bound with satin; a ruche of illusion inside of neck and sleeves. Fig. 15 Ladies drawers, made of muslin or linen, trimmed with tucks, tatting insertion, and tape trimming. Fig. 16 Piece to wear over a surprise dress of black grenadine, made of blue China crape, trimmed with white lace.

2. Lots of Layers

There is usually an article of clothing both under the corset and over the corset. 

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Chemise 1876 and Combination 1890s both via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Slip 1900-1908 and Petticoat 1909-1911 both via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Under: Depending on time and class, was called a: chemise, petticoat (which, as the name "small coat"  implies had a top part like a slip as well as a bottom part), slip, combination, or camisole.

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
 Corset Cover  1864-1868 and Camisol 1895-1905 both via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Corset Cover  1900  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Over: Camisole (yes called same thing as above) or a corset cover. Then the bodice of the dress, that's so long as there wasn't also a chemisette (which is a little like a Dickey) required for day (see bellow #3).

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
 Godeys July 1872 Ladies' corset, made of fine linen, and edged with a narrow Valenciennes lace around the neck. Ladies' chemise, made tightly gored, with puffs set in the front from the neck down, insertion and edging around the neck and sleeves.

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Godeys Nov 1872 Corset cover for lady, made of fine linen, and trimmed with medallions of embroidery and lace. The sleeves are trimmed to correspond.

3. Detachable Sleeves

Sleeves could be detachable (like those worn by bakers to protect the bottom of their sleeves from flour) and were called undersleeves.

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Chemisette, Undersleeves, and Handkerchief  1860s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
 Godeys Oct 1872 Open habit shirt and sleeves, made of fine muslin ruffles plaited, and embroidered insertion; and Undersleeves and collarette, made of muslin, embroidered and trimmed with Valenciennes lace; Godeys Sept 1872 Collar and under sleeve, made of linen tucks and narrow ruffles; the collar is to be worn with a surplice dress.

In the 1890s there was a brief fad for cage sleeve supports as well.

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Sleeve Supports  1890s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

4. Colorful Stockings


10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
 Stockings  1870 and 1880-1899 both via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Stockings could be very colorful and were held up with garters (not a garter belts), or garter straps which were attached to the corset and went down over the drawers and bottom part of the chemise often causing them to bunch up.

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
 Garter 1875-1825 and Waist Cincher 1908 both via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Stockings  1860s  The Victoria & Albert Museum

5. Drawers, to Split or Not to Split?


Split drawers appear in the late 1840s and continue through the 1910s but drawers were also sewn closed during the Victorian Era. During the Regency Era evidence suggests drawers were not split, but then, corsets were so short drawers didn't need to be split as the waistband din't tuck into the corset.

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
 Godeys Sept 1872 Ladies drawers trimmed with rows of insertion and tucks, finished by a lace edging.

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Split Drawers 1900s  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Split Underwear 1916  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
A further note on drawers: In England, even during their surge in popularity in Europe, women did not wear pantalettes (ankle length drawers) only girls. Later period knickerbockers were shorter and more practical than drawers but did not entirely replace them. Bloomers is a term not really used in England until after 1910.

6. They Stuffed


10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Bust Improvers  1890s  Whitaker Auctions
Bust improvers were introduced in the 1880s, so yes, the Victorians stuffed.


7. Leather Undies

In the 1860s some undergarments were made of chamois leather, for added support, and layered over cloth. I had a hard time finding a picture of this, although written evidence abounds, but here are some leather stays from the time.

8. Stays Please!


10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
1876 Corset “Queen Bess” The Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1890s Summer Corset  The Victoria & Albert Museum

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Corset  1897-1899  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Speaking of which, corsets were never talked about in public. If for some reason they had to be mentioned (between ladies of the same age, or in written form), they would be referred to as stays or (better) foundation garments. The word "corset" appears to be mainly used in late period advertisements. Whether there was a recognized difference between the two terms at the time is unclear.

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
8 From the 1897 Sears, Roebuck & Co. Catalog

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Godeys Nov 1872 Waist for child of a year old, to button skirts on, made of white muslin, trimmed with worked edging. Ladies chemise yoke and sleeves, made of insertion and tucks edged with lace.

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
 Knitted waist for a child.

9. Maid Required

With the exception of some tea gowns and carriage dresses worn, if a lady was daring enough, without stays, it was actually impossible for an upperclass woman to dress herself (or undress, for that matter).

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger

Yes, if you are flexible you can button up the back of your own bodice, or even lace your own corset, but most gowns were custom designed to go over a tight lacing and that requires a dresser or lady's maid (unless you're wicked strong and flexible). Speaking of which, corset laces are pulled tight to either side, not straight back. Images like the one above are a joke and the technique would not be effective.

Yes, I'm aware of the recreationest YouTube out there claiming this isn't true (but note her dresses button up the FRONT and she is very relax laced), and I can get into my own full Victorian, but I'm never laced tight, I'm never sewn in, and I'm never fully preiod accurate, because...

I'd need a maid!

10. Occasion Dressing

Gowns had designated times and places they could be worn: from sportswear specific to event specific to occasion specific to time of day. This changed throughout the Victorian era.

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Dressing Gown early 1870s versus Tea Gown 1898-1901 both via The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Dressing gown intended to be seen only by a lady's maid and possibly husband, Tea gown worn informally about the house seen by staff and family but not visitors unless very intimate.

Here's a short list from Gail's memory (a lady did not need to actually have one of each!): nightgown, peignoir, wrapper, negligée, dressing gown, morning dress, tea gown, day dress, walking dress, promenade ensemble, visiting gown, afternoon dress, dinner dress, evening dress, ball gown, reception gown, court dress, wedding dress, opera dress, fancy dress, masquerade costume, ice skating ensemble, tennis wear, riding habit, bicycling ensemble, hunting outfit, shooting outfit, country dress (the tweeds), picnic ensemble, travel gown, carriage dress.

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Shocking Lady Cricters Punch 1892 (via Project Gutenberg) and Walking Ensemble 1865 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Plus outerwear. Plus many of the same in various shades of mourning (full mourning, half mourning, and mauves for extended mourning for the pious).

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
 Evening Dress and matched Shoes 1889  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The under privileged usually only had three dresses: a working dress (sometimes this could be a uniform or livery), a day dress (for home activities usually worn covered with a pinafore or apron), and Sunday Best.

Much of the same holds true for a man

Which is to say:
* He had lots of clothing in multiple parts some of which hooked together so it wouldn't shift around.
* He wore many layers.
* There were such things as chest and calf improvers (padding).
* He might have had chamois leather undergarments.
* Men undergarments were not talked about in public.
* He needed someone to dress him, which is why even bachelors kept a "man" (his valet). What Jeeves calls a "gentleman's personal gentleman."

10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger
Leather Underwear For Men

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

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco

Instead of the Dickens Fair, Fashionable Reader, I managed a quick drop by at Borderlands in San Francisco last weekend. They very kindly came to my rescue. Since I wouldn't actually be visiting Victorian London I elected to decline the planned steampunk cover look in favor of more sensible wear. I opted for purple, cream, and black.

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San FranciscoGail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco

Purple and I have a long and checkered history. I used to hate it. I associated it with the leggings and oversized sweaters my mother wore in the 80s. But now I've come around. I even did my nails to match.

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
My preference is for short, oval shellacs. 

It was raining in the City, so boots were a must. Here's the outfit breakdown:

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco

I use an app called StyleBook to create my outfits. Someday we will talk more about that if you are interested, Fashionable Reader? Anyway, you can see from above that I use it to show all the possible combinations for a given outfit (for example I have three black skirts that work with this top, several different shoes depending on the weather, and different hats to make it more or less fancy).

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
From top down: Hat, Bon Marche Thrift Store, Sonoma, $7; jewelry set Dark Garden Unique Corsetry, Dickens Fair, $25; Madman signing pen, gift from a friend; shirt, Kohls (buttons sewn shut) $10; sweater Kohls, $15; belt Haight Street, $15; skirt Valencia St. thrift store, $7 (buttons added); boots, Miz Mooz, $100; gloves, vintage shop, $10.

That cream hat is quickly becoming one of my favorites. And how excited was I to finally trot out the Kohls sweater? Can you believe something so vintage came from the junior section of a department store, and goes over the Rack, and isn't wool? It reminded me of this set:

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
1955 Sweater Set Christian Dior The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Speaking of wool:

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco

I picked this skirt up super cheep intending mainly to wear it with a corset of mine (hence adding buttons to match) but I find myself really gravitating towards it this winter.

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
Dark Garden Custom Corset c. $1000

Perhaps it's that the shape is very hip right now yet still pleasingly 1940s. Perhaps it's that it seems to fit me really well. It is lined, except the waistband (a fault all to common in wool garments) so I do have to wear an undershirt (or a tucked in shirt) to protect my tummy from the dreaded wool rash but otherwise I love it. Some other ways I'm thinking about wearing it . . .

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San FranciscoGail Carriger Purple & Black In San FranciscoGail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco

I also have an allergy to nickle earrings. Generally this means that I always buy danglings (rather than posts) so I can replace the hooks with silver or gold. Unfortunately, these ones are posts. They must be a pretty low alloy because it took several hours before my ears began to ache, but ache they did, so these earrings are out. (The clear nail polish trick doesn't work for me.) Sad, because I really liked the set.Now the hunt is on for new earring to match! Perhaps I will modify a pair of stemapunk earring to take the pearl drop part. Hummm. DIY plotting!

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco

The shirt I chose is a bold purple rose print. If you, like me, are slow to accept purple print is a good entry point. Although, with the Rack, I might be better wearing a print on my bottom half. 

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San FranciscoGail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
 Second image is Giovanna Battaglia

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San FranciscoGail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
 1952 Mainbocher The Museum of the City of New York; 1960s Vintageous

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
Christina Hendricks in Vintage Carolina Herrera

 The sweater over the shirt is a heather knit.

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San FranciscoGail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
 Heather knit sweater; Trina Turk Belted Heather Tweed Dress

Purple, like most colors, has a wide range of shades from cool to warm, and from dark to light so it will suit any complexion. So saying "I don't look good in purple" isn't really a good excuse. It is perfectly fine to say "I don't like wearing purple." This is similar to not liking Brussels sprouts ~ own it baby! I feel it is perfectly appropriate to dislike colors illogically. I, for example, don't like yellow. Blech!

That said, I have gone out and found some temptingly beautiful purple pieces for your consideration.

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San FranciscoGail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
Hermes leather bracelet at hermes.com

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San FranciscoGail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
Giovanna Bataglia; H&M Dark Purple Coat

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San FranciscoGail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
 1914-1915  Nasjonalmuseet for Kunst, Arketektur, og Design; 1910s Evening Dress  Nasjonalmuseet for Kunst, Arketektur, og Design

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San FranciscoGail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
 1900-1905  The Goldstein Museum of Design; 1900 Pendant  1stdibs.com

And if those last two images don't convince you to try purple, nothing will.

And now, for the characters!

For Sophronia after Etiquette & Espionage

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
1860s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For Ivy Hisselpenny in Soulless

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
1872–75 purple dress by poteidia

For Rue in Prudence
Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
1890s  Kerry Taylor Auctions

For Primrose in Prudence

Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San Francisco
1896 Ball Gown Jean-Philippe Worth

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

Gail Carriegr in Tulsa in Black & Cream

Recently in Tulsa, only flying with carry on so I just took one vintage dress with multiple acessories. I went with black and cream because it's the most versatile.

Gail Carriegr in Tulsa in Black & Cream

So for the evening reception on the Friday I wore left hand side of the outfit board, and for the day spent teaching on Saturday I wore whats on the right hand side.

Gail Carriegr in Tulsa in Black & CreamGail Carriegr in Tulsa in Black & Cream

This is the little cashmere sweater I was so excited about finding at the last Alameda Vintage Fair. The evening bag is s new addition as well and worked perfectly for the event. The daytime outfit is a little frumpy. I blame the jacket. It's not vintage, I got it on Haight a while ago. It's a stiff waffle fabric and is alittle less fitted than I prefer. It has pockets, which is nice, and I like the single clasp, but I've been idly looking to replace it for a while now. With out the jacket looks a bit better.

Gail Carriegr in Tulsa in Black & Cream

All in all I was far more excited by the evening outfit than the day version, but they worked well enough for my needs and the layering was good given the inclement weather. I added my pale pink blanket coat to the mix whenever I was outside.

Gail Carriegr in Tulsa in Black & Cream

But the subject of this post is not pink, it's black and cream.

Gail Carriegr in Tulsa in Black & Cream

I also got some pretty Steampunk loot from Samantha of Bohemian Romance!

Gail Carriegr in Tulsa in Black & Cream

Now, here's some inspiration for you concerning the combination of black and cream. A little softer than black and white, a little more vintage looking. And, of course, cream and its derivatives (ivory, ecru, etc..) are often kinder to the complexion than white (or black, for that matter) so it's always a good idea to put it closest to your face. On the other hand, it can emphasize the Rack considerably, so scarves.

And now for the characters!

Of course, something for Ivy Hisslepenny from the Parasol Protectorate series. (The boxed set just went on sale!)

Gail Carriegr in Tulsa in Black & Cream
1875 Bonnet  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

And something for Sophronia in the Finishign School series. She's a fan of fans.

Gail Carriegr in Tulsa in Black & Cream
1620  The Victoria & Albert Museum

And something for Prudence in the Parasol Protectorate Abroad series.

Gail Carriegr in Tulsa in Black & Cream
1912-1915 Ensemble   The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.
Then & Now ~ Peacock DressesBook Outfits ~ Parasol Protectorate Omnibus Vol. 1 by Gail Carriger Then & Now ~ Black OverlayLooks Inspired By Books ~ The Parasol Protectorate Omnibus Vol. 2 by Gail Carriger Gail Carriger in Brown & Cream in Santa Clara ~ Nova Albion Steampunk Convention Outfit Day 2, 2013Gail Carriger's Office Inspires FashionBook Outfits ~ Heartless Purple by Gail Carriger 10 Tips on Writing Victorian Garb by Gail Carriger Gail Carriger Purple & Black In San FranciscoGail Carriegr in Tulsa in Black & Cream

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