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Vintage Style In A Modern World

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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 Carriger's New Acquisitions or Gail Loves Green

I recently returned from my annual pilgrimage to Santa Cruz. This ritual has to do with high school affections, graduate School memories, and a new romance with a wonderful B&B. It also has to do with vintage clothing.

Gail Carriger's New Acquisitions or Gail Loves Green
New dress from Moon Zoom, $28

Time was once that Down Town Santa Cruz boasted not only several excellent thrift stores but a veritable cornucopia of vintage shops. Sadly, Moon Zoom appears to be the last honest vintage hold over offering really good options (by which I mean before 1970 and nothing new retro) and the thrift stores have gone decidedly down hill ~ those that are left.

Gail Carriger's New Acquisitions or Gail Loves Green Gail Carriger's New Acquisitions or Gail Loves Green
 Vintage gloves from Moon Zoom, $6 each

Still, Moon Zoom remains standing strong, and I showed photos of self in the I Mag black & green dress, because they might not remember me but they certainly remember that dress!

Gail Carriger's New Acquisitions or Gail Loves Green
 The I Magnum from Moon Zoom last year.

And then I waltzed out with several pairs of gloves and a pretty summery flowered number.

Gail Carriger's New Acquisitions or Gail Loves Green
I paid about $18, here they are on Amazon for $12. Sigh.

I also bought some long green opera gloves to go with said green and black dress for a different shop, and some new green shoes as well (from the infamous shoe store next to the hat shop). So cute and 1940s these are Chelsea Crew, a new brand for me.

Gail Carriger's New Acquisitions or Gail Loves Green


$60 They are a 7, and I usually wear a 7.5 so I think Chelsea Crews run a little large. 

I know, I know, such a risk trying something not Miz Mooz or Via Spiga. But they are green and I kind of have a thing for green.

I did try on these Miz Mooz in 7.5, which seem to be running true to size this season. (You never know with the Mooz.)

Gail Carriger's New Acquisitions or Gail Loves Green

Miz Mooz Women's Scarlett Pump (comes in blue, red, black brown, and purple)

I loved them in blue but they will probably end up coming home with me in red. I'm going to need a replacement for my well loved and much worn Miz Mooz red pumps in the not too distant future. My old standbys are on their last legs ~ so to speak.

Gail Carriger's New Acquisitions or Gail Loves Green

I will be sad to see them go to the great shoe store in the sky.

Anyway, so that's the loot from Santa Cruz.
  • 1 dress I didn't need, but fit too beautifully to bypass
  • 2 pair of gloves vital to replace
  • 1 pair of gloves that I wanted
  • 1 pair of gloves that were too cute to resist
  • 1 pair of shoes I'll probably get my money out of
 Now, of course, I'm thinking about a new green blouse. Since I have the shoes . . .

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

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints

One of the things to do for Spring 2012 is to mix prints. I'm not quite able to get behind this particular branch of the trend. (Although I might try it while in England just to be experimental.) Perhaps it reminds me of the 80s too much. Perhaps it is the fact that you need to buy prints in the same color family to pull this off well and I just don't invest in prints that often. However, I am getting rather taken with all the pretty flower prints I'm seeing everywhere.

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints

So my thought on flower prints is to pick one statement print you really like and roll with it. Something light with clear colors for spring. If you don't want to bee too gilry there are some pretty cool abstract and stylized pieces out there.

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints
This skirt has a peplum too, very on trend. I tend to be wary of overly bold prints, like the one above because (particularly with The Rack) I want to be careful about how the prints cover, point out, and emphasize body parts.

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints

Here's a relatively subtle one. I like bolder prints if they lean a little Asian, as the one above does, or decidedly retro, which the smaller prints will do.

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ PrintsGail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints

Here are some lovely retro ways to wear this season's prints.

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ PrintsGail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints
Left is a funky street retro 60s look; right is the lovely Tuppence Ha'penny by Charlotte

 Here are some of my favorites from Spring 2012.

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ PrintsGail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints

And here are some blasts from the past . . .

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ PrintsGail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints
 1922 Wiener Werkstätte The Metropolitan Museum of Art & Emilio Pucci, 1970s  1stdibs.com

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints
mark shaw model in studio of marc chagall (1950s?)

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints
Recently spotted in magazine, awfully familiar looking, no?

Don't want to do your print as a full dress? There are some great ways to accessorize with print these days. Also I do love the partial print, jsut at the hem or neckline. Like an embellishment they will act to draw attention to a particular area.

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ PrintsGail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints

Or you could accessorize with cake!

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints

And, of course, I could let you go without choosing something for one of my characters to wear. Here we have a gown for Sophronia, the main character in the Finishing School books.

Gail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints
1850 Dressing Gown The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Then & Now ~ Rose PrintThen & Now ~ Printed Day DressGail Carriger Purple & Black In San FranciscoGail Carriger's New Acquisitions or Gail Loves Green Then & Now ~ Printed Day DressThen & Now ~ CherriesThen & Now ~ PrintsGail Carriger Talks Spring 2012 Fashion Trends #3 ~ Prints

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