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Vintage Style In A Modern World

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Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Night Three Blue & Black

After a day spent in steampunk garb I changed that night for my easy royal blue dress. This is the one I put to the vote for the documentary. It's not vintage but it fits well and with the full skirt it looks good with flats.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Night Three Blue & Black

With the AB off and about on his own I sadly got very few pictures of this outfit. But i paired it with black and fake white diamond accessories.

I like blue and black as a color combination, I think it's quite classic but with just enough edge. Wine or red with black is so popular in goth culture, that though I love it blue and black feels fresher to me.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Night Three Blue & Black

To make it ultra modern I like to go for blue leather, or mix it with neutrals.And my retro cut JC Penny printed one is an old favorite. Apart form anything else, it packs great. Although, I am thinking of putting a crinoline under it to make it more poofy.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Night Three Blue & Black

Something for my characters to wear.

 Something for Sophronia in the Finishing School books . . .

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Night Three Blue & Black
1850-1852  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Something for Alexia in the Parasol Protectorate books . . .

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Night Three Blue & Black
1875  The Philadelphia Museum of Art

And something for Ivy after the Parasol Protectorate books . . .

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Night Three Blue & Black
 1880  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art


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

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger

As I just blogged about on my Author blog, this here is my new cover for the Spanish edition of Blameless.

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger

There is something very Spanish about it, perhaps the color pallet. Perhaps it is her profile. Perhaps it is the little lace gloves. Delving into my own wardrobe I uncovered the following items of clothing that might go with this book.

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger

And here are some fun fashion items from around and about the interwebs to match . . .

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
This Prada necklace at prada.com
Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
Ombre patent leather Vernice Bowler from Prada
Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
Bow Pumps

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
 Abbey-Lee-Kershaw-Vogue-Russia-Design Scene Net
Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
Diane von Furstenberg

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
Ruby and Diamond Necklace Michele Della Valle  Christie’s
Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
Moustashe Pumps

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
Dita; Monique-Lhuillier

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
Emilio Pucci from a magazine

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
Amazing bloody nails

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
 Vena Cava; Derek Lamb

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
From a magazine
Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
Kendra Scott Maxine earrings

Vintage looks

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
1961 Cocktail Hat  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
Marilyn Monroe

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
 1950s Cocktail Dress  Pierre Balmain  Whitaker Auctions; 1950s  The Frock

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
1948 Cocktail Dress  Cristobal Balenciaga,  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
1945  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
 1940s  Timeless Vixen Vintage; 1930s  Timeless Vixen Vintage

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
 1925 Coco Chanel  The Chicago History Museum; 1910s  Antique Dress

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
1910s  The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
1902  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For the Characters


For Alexia after the Parasol Protectorate series

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
1880s  Whitaker Acutions

For Countess Nadasdy after the Parasol Protectorate series

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
1885 Charles Fredrick Worth  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
 For Ivy after the Parasol Protectorate series

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
1885-1886 Charles Fredrick Worth,  The Museum of the City of New York

For Prudence after the Parasol Protectorate series

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
1884-1887 Mantle  Emile Pingat, The FIDM Museum

For Primrose in the Parasol Protectorate Abroad series

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
1896  Whitaker Auctions

And for Prudence in the Parasol Protectorate Abroad series

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
1890s  The Victoria & Albert Museum

Book Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger
1890-1899  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger

The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger

In honor of up-coming valentines day I thought I would wax poetical on the subject of my favorite red dress. I spent a long time searching for the perfect red dress. I ended up not with vintage, Fashionable Reader, but with retro. My perfect red dress is the Jessica Wiggle Dress by Pinup Couture. I paid full price for it, $98, and dithered for a week before I could work up the gumption to shell out that much. But I've gotten my money's worth.

The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger

It has the right body conscious fit, that great thick supportive stretch fabric (50/50 cotton/poly), and can be worn for evening, or with a jacket or sweater for day. Better, because of the blend, it packs well and doesn't really wrinkle!

The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger

It comes in plus sizes, red, black, burgundy with black trim, navy with red trim, hot pink and black, and black and white check. It's not all that available anymore, but I found it on a few sites.

The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger

I like the fit of this dress so much, I'd consider buying it in another color. But I'm waiting to find it on sale cheap, $98 is a bit much. I've worn mine in a million different ways, but my favorites with black or with black & white.

The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger
At RT in LA, and at Frankfurt Book Expo.

This dress has, as is intended a very 1950's feel to it, although the length is almost 1040's. Here are a few vintage pieces it reminds me of.

The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger
1950s dress via Timeless Vixen Vintage; Elizabeth Taylor
The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger
Niagara Screen Test; Vintage Vogue Street Shoot; from Tuppence Ha'penny by Charlotte

I do know many are you are scared of red, and it sure can look sheep. But there is just something about it. If you pair it with the right accessorizes, if you are careful with your cut and style, it can be so very eye catching. I'm a girl who likes to stand out, surprise surprise, I believe in "owning it." Sometimes a red dress is all it takes.

Now you don't have to go as body close as the Jessica Wiggle. Here are a few modern red dresses in different cuts for your perusal.

The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger
$120 MICHAEL Michael Kors ~ pleasing draping over tummy hides stomach; nice ladylike length; interesting neckline emphasizes face and boat-neck widens shoulders, both detract from a large rack, best with heels.
$195 DKNY ~ fitted top and cowl neck good for mid-sized breasts, shorter length and fuller coverage would be wonderful with black tights, light pleating hides a tummy, a good day to night option, great with both heels and flats.

The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger
$450 Milly ~ full skirt great to balance out a figure but higher waist may not work on the rack; probubly better on  a pear shape; would work great with flats; another great day to night option.
$550 Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti ~ another great body conscious Jessica Wiggle alternative; more modern length better for both heals and flats, nice tummy draping to hide flaws; cross top doesn't always work over a large chest, would need to check.

The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger

And how abotu a red Jessica Wiggle dress for Alexia Tarabotti?

The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger
1870s dinner dress via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

What to read in your red dress? Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause.

The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger

This brilliant, sexy YA, did urban fantasy before we knew that's what it was called. Please don't judge it by the abysmal movie version, the book is nothing like that dross. It's romantic, fast paced, a true insight into what it might be to be a teen girl, and a werewolf. The main character is strong, powerful, and has a genuine path to self actualization and independence. We should be so lucky as to have young girls read and want to be Vivian. I adore this book, highly recommended.

The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger
The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger

Gail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil Skirt

Gail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil Skirt
Black Pencil Skirt, mid length, kick pleated back, black & white lining.
Cashmere poly blend, Tahari, Nordstrom's Rack $75.

The infamous black pencil skirt.

I know, it's wrinkled in the picture, but trust me, this skirt is great. I am a huge advocate of the black pencil skirt. In fact, I would say it is almost more important to a wardrobe than the Little Black Dress. If you are of the pear shape and self conscious about a pencil, then by all means go for an A-line instead (I have one of those too, future blog in the works).

Gail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil SkirtGail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil Skirt
World Fantasy San Jose, Soulless Launch Party, 2009.

So perhaps this skirt is a little tight. But my goodness I love it. And honestly, I'm in my 30's I've made peace with the dreaded girl tum. Frankly, I'm a chick and I'm curvy and I have a tum because I'm not an airbrushed model. Besides, I don't want to be one of those crazy razor sharp Hollywood women who do 800 sit-ups a day and look like they not only live on endives but might actually turn into an endive at any moment.

Gail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil SkirtGail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil SkirtGail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil Skirt
Gail & Marilyn, real women with girl tums. A model who is not.

Gail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil Skirt
Katy Perry with Girl Tum

 So while I can still zip up the darn thing, I'm going to wear it. For World Fantasy in 2009 I paired it with a pink blouse (which I no longer own) to match the cover of Soulless, and some Irregular Choice shoes.

Gail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil SkirtGail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil SkirtGail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil Skirt
Jet tassel necklace from Dark Garden at Dickens Fair, $30; matched earrings $10 PantheaCon dealers room; black simulated leather opera gloves, inherited from Grandma; Irregular Choice shoes, Haight Street San Francisco, gift.

Irregular Choice makes the most wonderful looking shoes on the planet . . . and possibly the most painful. Mine are wedges (unlike the ones above) and I love them, but I can't wear them for more than a few hours even with inserts. Sadness.

However, Fashionable Reader, this is meant to be a WorldCon retrospective and so here I am, in the black pencil skirt at WorldCon 2008 . . .

Gail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil Skirt
Gail and Lawrence Person in the Con Suite.

This time I wore it with a gray silk sailor blouse and gray spectator pumps.

Gail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil SkirtGail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil Skirt
Vintage gray blouse, possibly 1940s Thrifted $15, Via Spiga spectators, gift

I have several other black pencil skirts but this one sits apart because of the length. Normally, I do not go for a mid length skirt, in this case several inches below the knee. Nor do I recommend it for any but the very tall. For that reason I always wear this skirt with the highest heals possible.


Vintage wise, this length is best suited to a 1940's Dior look. That said, the black pencil is a staple that always seems to show up on the fall/winter runways and this year was no exception. I even spotted a few in this, a more vintage, length.

Gail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil SkirtGail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil SkirtGail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil Skirt
Fall 2011 runway; Sarah Jessica Parker in Marc Jacobs; Christina Ricci

More on the black skirt in future, I have several different versions and I intend to go into the relative merits of each.

Gail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil SkirtGail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil SkirtGail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil Skirt

Gail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New Orleans

I have returned from New Orleans, Fashionable Reader, I what I lost in water weight due to the heat I regained in fat from all the fried food. Orbit put me up at the Sheraton on Canal Street and here's the view from the bedroom window, such a  beautiful city!

Gail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New Orleans

On Friday evening, after recovering from a rather hectic plane ride, the AB and I headed out for nibbles. Following instructions from a fan, we sourced Maspero's fried calamari, which was indeed delicious. The AB was also favorably impressed with the draft beer.

Gail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New Orleans

New Orleans if full of the nicest people! I often get compliments on this red dress, which suits well enough but I feel is rather basic. However, never before have so many lovely ladies said how much they liked it. The AB suggested this was the Marilyn effect, as the top is quite boobilicious.

Gail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New Orleans

On Saturday for speeches, panels, and a publisher dinner I chose something a bit more conservative. It turned out to be a fortuitous choice for that was the "coolest day" and it was the warmest of my three dresses.

Gail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New Orleans

 I did learn, however, that stilettos and humidity are mutually exclusive with blisters popping up instantaneously. Sadly, I consigned my peep toes back into the suitcase.

Gail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New Orleans

I ended up wearing my oxfords the entire rest of the trip. For these first two outfits, which involved a lot of walking around in the sun I also wore a white straw hat as well. I had alternating flowers for the hat to match each outfit (expect immanent blog on the subject).

Gail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New OrleansGail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New Orleans
Oxfords are BP from Nordstrom and they are very light-weight and great for travel. I think a shelled out good money for them, $60. It was worth it. I like them so much I bought the second pair in a darker mushroom color which I am going to stain to be brown two tones (again, expect a future blog).I LOVE millinery ~ one of my favorite hobbies. The hat is from my usual Bon Mar Thrift store, $10. I did entirely redecorate it, though.

I know, I know, white and cream, but sometimes a girl's just gotta protect her skin. For Sunday, however, I was inside all day, so I switched hats to a cream mini topper. It was the hottest day and luckily I wore my lightest dress. Still, because of the AC, I regretted not packing a light shawl.

Gail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New Orleans

Note that the bra straps are invisible? Success! Although, the hat kept falling off (when I talk I get very animated and gesticulate wildly and wiggle around a lot). I had a nice hat pin but it broke, time to invest in another stronger one.

Gail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New OrleansGail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New Orleans

I paired all three outfits with crocheted gloves (from Bon Mar Thrift Store Sonoma, CA ~ $2) and a vintage cream purse (from Moon Zoon in Santa Cruz, CA ~ $20) with added octopus bling (gift).

Gail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New OrleansGail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New OrleansGail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New Orleans

So, coping with humidity and avoiding sweat blisters. Any advice or thoughts, ladies?

Gail Carriger New Orleans in a Pink Dress

I've been wanting to wear this dress for a while. It's a bit vavavoom for book events, in a Marilyn Munroe on the beach kind of way. But it is very light, cool, and pink, so it was the first one I chose for the New Orleans trip. I'll be wearing it Sunday for a signing at the ALA Hachette booth from 11 AM ~ noon and for my Books A Million in Baton Rouge event at 3 PM (Facebook event page).

Gail Carriger New Orleans in a Pink Dress

This 1950s dress is very lightweight cotton with a faux wrap look to the bottom that ties to one side. I purchased it at Bon Mar Thriftstore for $5. I added the lace to the spaghetti straps to hide bra straps, as I am not one of those girls who can go anywhere without a bra. Before you ask, no one over a certain size can wear a strapless bra, period. They simply don't work. Even if I managed, through some miracle, to find one in 30H, and it managed to stay up, I'd spend the whole day selfconsciously tugging because I'd feel like it shouldn't!

Gail Carriger New Orleans in a Pink DressGail Carriger New Orleans in a Pink DressGail Carriger New Orleans in a Pink Dress
1950s dresses via Timeless Vixen Vintage

That said, I do have a nice corset I could wear under it, but who buys a beach dress and wears it with a corset? I haven't seen any dresses of this type on the runway or in urban snapshots, but that won't stop me from wearing it this summer. Perhaps I will do a blog on how to make it street chic.

Look at it this way, Fashionable Reader, at least we aren't confined to wearing something like this in this in the summer heat!

Gail Carriger New Orleans in a Pink DressGail Carriger New Orleans in a Pink Dress
Left 1878-1880 English & right 1880-1882, both summer day dresses

Nevertheless, I am curious. What's your solution to the bra problem paired with lightweight summer clothing? Do you end up widening all your straps like me, or opt primarily for short sleeves? How about the fated white muslin peasant top? Or do you sweat it out with a cardigan?
Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Night Three Blue & BlackBook Outfits ~ Wine for Spanish Blameless by Gail Carriger The Red Jessica Wiggle Dress by Gail Carriger Gail Carriger WorldCon 2010 Retrospective: 1940s Black Pencil SkirtGail Carriger OUtfit round Up Dresses and Calamari in New OrleansGail Carriger New Orleans in a Pink Dress

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