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Vintage Style In A Modern World

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Swimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail Carriger


Every one of us hates swimsuit shopping, Fashionable Reader.

I don't know a single curvy girl who enjoys it.

It's the worst of bra shopping, meets the worst of size matching (no, actually my bottom is a medium and my top is a large), meets the great fear of Cellulite in Public.

Swimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail Carriger

I go on holy grail hunts for companies that do bra-sized tops with bottoms I can buy separately. That's if I dare risk a bikini, which I mostly don't. Plus, I know I'm out $80 for a bikini that fits well, but it still won't fit perfectly.

 I have one tankini with a zipper front but it's so very sporty-looking zipped (and so very not sporty-looking unzipped) that it rarely gets an airing.

Swimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail Carriger
Wearing a reto leopard tankini top (from Target) as a top.


I came to a realization (odd it took so long for a girl who wears so much retro off the beach) that perhaps I should try vintage bathing costumes. Why not? The past produced dresses better for curvy girls, why not swimsuits? One good part being that, without chlorine and with different fabrics, vintage swimsuits seem to last longer than modern ones. Also, they have such interesting patterns and necklines.


I started the hunt some eight years ago and have ammassed a collection of suits since then, perhaps not of the colors and patterns I might wish, but I'm willing to take a color risk in order to wear a good, supportive, nicely-shaped suit.

Swimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail Carriger

I will admit, I was afraid they might look a little, well, granny-like. However, vintage suits seem to be all over the fashion blogs and runways for summer this year. So what do you know? I'm on trend for a change.


Vintage suits seem to dictate a specific look ~ full make-up, heels on the beach, matched robes or little jackets.

Swimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail CarrigerSwimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail Carriger
(left ~ yellow form the 1960s, right ~ Carolyn Schnurer bathing suit ca. 1952 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

However, I think you can go beach chic with a vintage suit and not have to go all the way retro. Here are my three paired as possible outfits.

Swimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail Carriger
 (Maxine of Hollywood suit thrifted $20 a long time ago, gold ballroom Very Fine dance shoes from It's a Wrap in LA $10, sailor shorts from Crossroads in San Francisco $12)
Swimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail Carriger
 (Labelless suit from Bon Mar Thrift store in Sonoma $5, Union Bay cargo shorts thrifted a while ago $15, Miz Mooz sandals recent score from Crossroads in SF $25, silver cuff probubly around $10 can't remember source)
Swimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail Carriger
 (Roxanne turquoise tie-side skirt suit from Bon Mar Thrift store in Sonoma $5, H&M shorts $25, thrifted Apepazza flats probably from Buffalo Exchange around $20)

So there you have it, why not give a vintage suit (or a vintage inspired retro suit) a try?

Here are a bunch of retro suits on Amazon. They can get expensive. 

Please do check your vintage and thrift stores because suits do sometimes turn up. Often they are in the lingerie section.

You'll stand out in the right way. And I believe such suits provide the kind of support and coverage that gives a curvy girl those most necessary of feelings when wearing a swimsuit ~ confidence and courage!

Swimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail Carriger


Swimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail Carriger
(Claire McCardell bathing suit ca. 1957 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)


Swimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail Carriger
Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.


Swimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail Carriger

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.

Reticence Extras: CP3 Straw Hats of the 1890s for Primrose in the Custard Protocol Series by Gail Carriger


Went to the Degas exhibit a little while ago, Fashionable Reader. Here's a retrospective on some of the straw hats of the 1890s that I saw there. These may, or may not, show up on Primrose in the forthcoming Custard Protocol book.

Reticence Extras: CP3 Straw Hats of the 1890s for Primrose in the Custard Protocol Series by Gail Carriger
Image taken by Gail Carriger, do not share without attribution
Reticence Extras: CP3 Straw Hats of the 1890s for Primrose in the Custard Protocol Series by Gail Carriger

Made me think of Ivy...

Reticence Extras: CP3 Straw Hats of the 1890s for Primrose in the Custard Protocol Series by Gail Carriger

Reticence Extras: CP3 Straw Hats of the 1890s for Primrose in the Custard Protocol Series by Gail Carriger
Image taken by Gail Carriger, do not share without attribution
Reticence Extras: CP3 Straw Hats of the 1890s for Primrose in the Custard Protocol Series by Gail Carriger

Reticence Extras: CP3 Straw Hats of the 1890s for Primrose in the Custard Protocol Series by Gail Carriger
Image taken by Gail Carriger, do not share without attribution
 
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.

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


In which Gail discusses, at length (or should I say at short?) her volatile relationship with capris.

I can't stand cropped trousers.

No, there it is, I simply can't.

I agonized over this blog post and finally decided, Fashionable Reader, that I owed you honesty.

This is, of course, my opinion, if you are a fan of the crop than you should wear it. But . . .

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I have dabbled in every single one of the styles I discuss herein.

Most, I eventually rejected. Like the middi skirt, I feel the capri foreshortens me by chopping me at the calf. I believe wholeheartedly that just above or just below the knee is a far more more flattering look.

I'm only 5'6" and curvy, a cropped pant is just Not Good. Often they are even unflattering on models.

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I tend to feel to get away with it I must wear very high heels.

I think the rail skinny pixie-type can carry them off, like Audrey Hepburn. But I don't look like her, and neither does most everyone else on this earth.

The tall girl (5"8'+) can sometimes work a capri, but please make certain you stick to only a few inches below the knee (otherwise it looks like you just have pants that are too short).

Now, a word on the subject of definitions:
  • Capris
  • Clam diggers
  • Pedal pushers
  • Cropped pants
  • Breeches (as opposed to britches or jodhpurs)
  • Knickerbockers
On the internet and in fashion blogs, there seems to be a good deal of confusion as to which cropped trousers of which style mean what. So I am going to bypass the whole discussion and give you my own definitions. Wha ha ha!

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


Department stores tend to file any pant that ends below the knee and before the ankle as a capri. Since I'd rather avoid department store lingo, I'm going to ignore that word altogether from here on out. We will broach each style with a look at both vintage and modern takes, ending with my suggestion of what you might choose, if you simply MUST wear a cropped trouser.

Breeches

The general idea behind breeches is that they are slightly baggy at the top and then come in tight at or just below the knee, then then end or stay tight down to the ankle.

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I own a few pairs of breeches, both with a very equestrian look to them. One is part of a 1930s riding suit in grey with matched blazer, very Madame Lefoux. The other are light-weight brown that I have been known to wear them to ride a bicycle. (Sadly, I've no pictures of either.) In general, I prefer to pair this style with riding boots and use for more casual steampunk events. If you are going to go for breeches, try something like this . . .

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Clam Diggers

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Sigh, is there anything good that can be said of clam diggers? I tend to throw this term at any pair of baggy cropped pants either shortened or (more commonly) cuffed/rolled. So unflattering.

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The UglyIn Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

If you must wear clam diggers, do it for digging clams. If you are quite slender and tall, you might be able to carry off this retro take, but proceed with caution!

Of course if you are going for the super hot butch look, carry on, I'll be drooling in the corner.

Culottes

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

They are very wide legged, cut short anywhere after the knee and to the ankle, can be quite skirt-like. Ugh.

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I would not sleep well tonight if I suggested, in good conscious, that anyone ever wear culottes. But if you must, go all the way to vintage and don't look back.

Cropped Trousers

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I use this phrase to refer to any mensware inspired trouser that is then cut short, usually just above the ankle. To me this kind of trouser has the look of someone who just didn't buy the right length.

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Ralph Lauren 2011 Fall Runway
Who can carry of a cropped pant? Well a man from the 1950s, and adorable gay boy . . . Or, if you must, punk it up with chunky boots in the same color as the pants. Or the Femme Dandy look can sometimes work this, but I think they need to be a LOOK. You know?

Knickerbockers

Besides being fun to say, knickerbockers are quite baggy and come in tight at the knee. Traditionally worn by paperboys, they still have that feel. They were also worn for gentlemen sporting events, hunting and fishing, a so have a strong tweed association. Sometimes, unfortunately, they are still worn for golf.

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The UglyIn Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

They tend to be baggier than breaches and don't have the longer cuff. I own a pair of black which, again, I mainly use for steampunk and bicycle riding. If you are going to wear knickerbockers, you'll always look a little costumey . . run with it.

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Pedal Pushers


This is a style I wear. I tend to define them as tighter and almost legging-like. I prefer ones that ended just below the knee or right abov the swell of the calf, and I wear them with very high heals.

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The UglyIn Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

If you wear pedal pushers, I suggest going retro with the whole look. Otherwise they can seem too sloppy and lazy. A knit top instead of a t-shirt and a simple scarf tied about your head can make all the difference. For example if you are on the pixie end of the spectrum . . .

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


Of if you are bit more statuesque and of Alexia's proportions, try something like this . . .

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


Which brings me to my final thoughts.


In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


 No matter what your look or size, in my mind the most flattering form of a cropped trouser is something that ends just below the knee. This look can be chic and modern even work appropriate, ultra retro, or punky cute. To that end I leave you with three of my favorites, hoping that if you are hellbent on the cropped trouser that you consider these options first . . .

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

In Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The UglyIn Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


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.

The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger


I had an interesting encounter the other weekend, Fashionable Reader.

I was at a barbecue. You know, that thing, in the back yard, where you burn the meat?

This was no a high fashion event ~ suburban in location, and 30-something anti-hipsters in attendance. These were not my friends, I should add.

Now, where was I? Oh yes . . . the encounter.

Also in attendance was a Very Fresh Girlfriend of one of the fringe members of said group. Clearly nervous, she enters stage right, a lovely fashionable young thing.

Now, to set the scene, I am wearing a cute white dress, tights, and riding boots ~ very de mode. However, it is cold and damp, so over it all I have my favorite black double-breasted rain cape (I happen to own three capes total).

The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger
black double breasted & belted from Max Studio, $130, thrifted vintage cream wool, no label, $25, faux fur from H&M $15

Now this new girl, either in an awkward attempt to make conversation, or just because she is, well, a bitch, says,

"Oh, is that a cape? Not everyone can wear a cape. I should never even attempt it."

It was the tone that threw me. It was said in that way of catty southern ladies,

"Oh, she has put on a few pounds, bless her little heart."

I simply drifted away and on to a far more interesting conversation on the relative merits of DC versus Marvel comic books. (Marvel baby, all the way.)

To the meat of the matter. 


I disagree with the principle of the statement made by Very Fresh Girlfriend as well as the execution. I think anyone can wear a cape. They are delightful fun, one feels rather comic-book-ish (Marvel, I hope, not DC). The belted cape is a good option to prevent loss of shape.

The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger




On the practical side the cape allows you to layer in fun and flattering ways. You can wear full or puffy sleeved jackets and then throw the cape on for extra warmth or rain protection. On the impractical side it is difficult to carry a shoulder bag with a cape. (You'll notice most of the street shots bellow have clutches or handbags.)

The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger

If you are slightly shorter of stature, a short cape is probably a better option. Regardless, if cut in the right way in can disguise rather than enhance the chest.


And they come for a long and distinguished tradition:
The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger  
1895 Emile Pingat cape via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1905 Jean-Phillipe Worth evening wrap via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1933-1934 Elsa Sciaparelli cape via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

"A mackintosh cape, one of the thinnest and lightest possible to procure. should always be carried to protect the shoulders in case of a sudden shower, and a fur cape for chilly evenings or east wind will be found a most comfortable addition."

~ Lillias Campbell Davidson, 1889

The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger  
2011 RT Convention ~ Richelle Mead, Jeanne Stein, Nicole Peeler, and Gail Carriger (in a cape)

For the Characters! 


For Primrose in the Custard Protocol Series



For Felicity in the Parasol Protectorate Series 

The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger

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 with Gail Carriger



"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

Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
via gravesandghouls tumblr, Victorian costumes c. 1880s (Source: vintagegal)
Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
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...

Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
folly  costume via realhistoricalpatterns tumblr

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


Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
  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


Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
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.

Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
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...

Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
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.

Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
waste basket costume via realhistoricalpatterns tumblr
Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
via eccentric victorian on tumblr
Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
“Scrap Book” 1890 National Gallery Victoria
Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
“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 Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
Fancy Dress Costume Charles Fredrick Worth, 1870 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
via weirdvintage-tumblr Bird girls of Szegeden, Hungary, 1880s (via Vintage Photo)


Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
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.
Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
White Witch Costume 1885 Kerry Taylor Auctions

Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
“Folly” fancy dress costume 1890 The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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


Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
Halloween Bombshell Veronica Lake

Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail Carriger
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.

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.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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:

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy
 A brown vintage version.

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

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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!

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy


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.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy
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.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy
 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

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf DandyMenswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy
 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).

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf DandyMenswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy
 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.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy
 James Bond in a grey 3 piece, the vest has a small shawl collar.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf DandyMenswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy
 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.

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy
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:

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf DandyMenswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy
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!

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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.


Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf DandyMenswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf DandyMenswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy

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

Menswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf Dandy
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.

Men of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail Carriger


Here, Fashionable Reader, I put together a bit of a design board for masculine steampunk garb. In honor of Romancing the Werewolf, my first gay romance set in my steampunk Parasolverse.

Men of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail Carriger

I thought I'd provide you all with some fun images to inspire either for yourself or another. Because, my dears, these men are certainly inspiring!

Men of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail CarrigerMen of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail Carriger

Men of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail CarrigerMen of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail CarrigerMen of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail Carriger

Men of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail Carriger

Men of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail Carriger
My dear friends. The gentleman at the front inspired Tunstell!

Men of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail CarrigerMen of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail Carriger

Men of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail CarrigerMen of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail Carriger


Men of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail Carriger
My Darling friend portraying Lyall!

Men of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail CarrigerMen of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail Carriger

Men of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail Carriger
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.

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.

Cover Cosplay for Gail Carriger Books, Literally, At the Alaska Steamposium


So at the Alaska Steamposium the con com were given a challenge: Dress like a Gail Carriger cover. Beatrix took it literally.

Cover Cosplay for Gail Carriger Books, Literally, At the Alaska Steamposium

The outfit was covered in details from my books including such things as...

Cover Cosplay for Gail Carriger Books, Literally, At the Alaska Steamposium

Dandelion Fluff on a Spoon.

Cover Cosplay for Gail Carriger Books, Literally, At the Alaska Steamposium

Flowers, bows ribbons and so forth all made from pages and paper.

Cover Cosplay for Gail Carriger Books, Literally, At the Alaska Steamposium

There was even a tiny book written by, as Beatrix put it, any one of the Lefouxs.

Cover Cosplay for Gail Carriger Books, Literally, At the Alaska Steamposium

Cover Cosplay for Gail Carriger Books, Literally, At the Alaska Steamposium

Really remarkable work.

Cover Cosplay for Gail Carriger Books, Literally, At the Alaska Steamposium
Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

You can visit the following shopping lists: Travel Dork, My Steampunk, My Wardrobe.
Product links on this blog are usually to Amazon using my associate code. At no additional cost to you this means I gets a slight kick back if you make a purchase. Thank you! This allows me to continue to produce this blog without sponsors.

Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With It


My book, Prudence, is currently on sale for only $4.99 (ebook USA). In honor of that, Fashionable reader, I'm posting a fun thing I used to do a lot - outfits that match the cover!

Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With ItPrudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With It

I had to put this image first, because it is such a perfect match to the colors of the cover. It's an 1870s  dress from Kerry Taylor Auctions. I'm not sure which of my characters might wear something so exotic, this period would place it during the Parasol Protectorate series. So perhaps Ivy?

And now, looking at the cover here's some more picks...

For Alexia in the Parasol Protectorate series...


Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With It
Suite  1830s  Christie’s

Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With It
Afternoon Dress  Charles Fredrick Worth, 1872  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For Countess Nadasdy...


Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With It
1883  Musée Galleira de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

For Primrose in the Custard Protocol series...


Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With It
 Pingat afternoon dress ca. 1896  From the De Young Museum
Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With It
1895 Cufflinks  Tiffany & Co., Sotheby’s

Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With It
1890s  Augusta Auctions

For Gail...


Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With It
Madame Grès, 1945  Kerry Taylor Auctions

Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With It
1950s  Whitaker Auctions

Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With It
2000 Gianni Versace  The Frock

Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With It
2015 Katrin Langer floral brocade clutch at modaoperandi.com

Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With It
2015 Nicholas Kirkwood purple suede Mary Jane

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

You can visit the following shopping lists: Travel Dork, My Steampunk, My Wardrobe.
Product links on this blog are usually to Amazon using my associate code. At no additional cost to you this means I gets a slight kick back if you make a purchase. Thank you! This allows me to continue to produce this blog without sponsors.

Gail Carriger Steampunk Fancy Pink at Gaslight Gathering in San Diego


My last day at Gaslight Gathering I had one outfit planned to go with this corset which turned out not to work out. It was to go over a vintage dress that ripped asunder. Don't cry, I'll use it as an excuse to whittle down the wardrobe. Never a bad thing. So instead I wore my Fancy corset with this...

Gail Carriger Steampunk Fancy Pink at Gaslight Gathering in San Diego

This is my other Alyscia Dark Garden corset. You can see it's different, there's princess cross over straps (I should have gotten a photo of the back). I gave this fabric to Autumn to use. That's how I have excess for the reticule, hat, and the shawl. Yes I made those three items. I can't remember where I got the fabric, but I know it was a pain to work with. It had to be fused. I love patterned fabric that has a geometric or Deco feel. I tend to go for that (where possible) over something like paisley or brocade. I had this corset made specifically with an eye toward evening fancy events, like the opera. It has a satin iridescent skirt to match, and a bustled overstrict for steampunk, but neither travel well. (At the time I was dating an opera singer.) I'll look into a wine pencil skirt for this in future, for ease of travel.

Here, I'm wearing it with the underskirt of the cream outfit from the night before. Which really DOESN'T travel, the crinoline got all squished and refused to obey me for the whole con. Won't to that again!

Gail Carriger Steampunk Fancy Pink at Gaslight Gathering in San Diego

The choker was a gift from a fan, the longer necklace and earrings were purchased from the Dickens Fair years ago, and all the other accessories are custom except the gloves, which you can fine here for $15.

That hat kept falling off, I have to put a better clip on it.

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

You can visit the following shopping lists: Travel Dork, My Steampunk, My Wardrobe.
Product links on this blog are usually to Amazon using my associate code. At no additional cost to you this means I gets a slight kick back if you make a purchase. Thank you! This allows me to continue to produce this blog without sponsors.
Swimsuits: Come to the Retro Side, We Have Support from Gail CarrigerReticence Extras: CP3 Straw Hats of the 1890s for Primrose in the Custard Protocol Series by Gail CarrigerIn Which Gail Carriger Goes Into An Emotional Quandry Over Capris ~ The Good, The Bad & The UglyThe Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger Fancy Dress Costumes ~ The Victorian Halloween with Gail CarrigerMenswear Basics ~ Hacking Style for Dudes from a Werewolf DandyMen of Steampunk Style ~ From Biffy to Lyall with Everything In Between from Gail CarrigerCover Cosplay for Gail Carriger Books, Literally, At the Alaska Steamposium Prudence Cover & The Fashion To Go With ItGail Carriger Steampunk Fancy Pink at Gaslight Gathering in San Diego

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