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Vintage Style In A Modern World

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Gail Carriger in Plaid in Palo Alto

For my last Etiquette & Espionage event I wore a plaid dress over a blouse with Very Big Sleeves. 

Gail Carriger in Plaid in Palo Alto
Dress is from Buffalo Exchange on Haight Street for $25, it's not vintage and has a nice bit of stretch to it. It also has pockets at the front, or more correctly one big pouch style pocket. I sewed on the clock buttons to add a little extra interest. Gloves are vintage brown leather, gift. Shoes are by Soft, but they were a dark pink color I had died brown.

This particular outfit has some steampunk notes and since the event was listed as a "Steampunk Reception" I thought I should nod in that direction. Normally, I use this blouse (1970s I think) for my Victorian recreation outfits, but I happened upon the idea of putting it under this pencil dress when watching How to Marry a Millionaire (for the millionth time).

Gail Carriger in Plaid in Palo Alto

Sorry I don't have a bigger screen shot. How to Marry a Millionaire is one of my favorite fashion movies of all time and I would like to own every outfit that each of the ladies wears. So good. Anyway where was I? Oh yes, plaid with steampunk touches.

Gail Carriger in Plaid in Palo Alto
You can kind of see the hair band. It's a big brown satin bow I got at Ross for about $4. I sewed a brass octopus to the center and added a little puff of brown feathers out the back. I'm wearing a vintage costume jewelry gold 1920s earring and brooch set, gift from my mother.

Gail Carriger in Plaid in Palo Alto

Since it was a relatively cool day I paired the dress with a vintage fur wrap.

Gail Carriger in Plaid in Palo AltoGail Carriger in Plaid in Palo Alto

Sadly the poor wrap ripped during the course of the day so it's gone off to Goodwill. It's pretty near impossible to repair fur and certainly more effort than I have time for. Especially as I've owned this one for three years and only worn it 2x. I picked up this wrap from Bon Marche Thrift Store for $15, so I'm not too upset about the loss. I'll do a little blog to morn its passing shortly.

Gail Carriger in Plaid in Palo Alto
 1929 Ensemble  Louiseboulanger  The Museum at FIT

However, back to plaid. I've written on a number of occasions about my love affair with this fabric. I think it goes back to my goth roots. It's one of those patterns that bisects both the alternative scene and the tweed toffy country set. Tally ho the nightclub and all that.

It's funny but even though I have a whole lot of plaid already in my wardrobe it's something I gravitate to whenever I am out shopping. Plaid and and color red. I'm powerless to resist.

Gail Carriger in Plaid in Palo Alto

Hope you all have lovely plaid filled days!
Gail Carriger in Plaid in Palo Alto
Plaid Punch Sept 1853

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

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco

So Etiquette & Espionage (my new YA book and the first in a four book series) launched into the world on Tuesday night. The organizers of the event said they woudl love it if I would wear something steampunk. I was left with a bit of a quandary. With Nova Albion around the corner, a local steampunk event thus allowing me to pack and wear ALL my favorite steampunk outfits and ALL their companion parasols (YES!!), I didn't want to wear one of those to this event. Too much repeat in too story a time. Plus I needed something I could drive in that was a little more casual. I'm rather chuffed with myself for concocting this outfit:

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San FranciscoGail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
Outfit front & back

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San FranciscoGail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
 Outfit side shots

I started with my Fashioned By Flobért gold robe carriage dress (which might, more properly, be called a coach dress) with buttons all the way up the front.

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San FranciscoGail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
 The dress hanging, and at World Con in Reno in 2011

The dress is stained and slightly faded, in a heavy satin. This makes it only suitable for low-light late evening events, and warm, and in ever great need of ironing. I bought it on sale for $10, it needed repairs and new buttons all up the front. I have a great source for vintage buttons in Petaluma and I sourced 32 abalone shell replacements for $10 plus narrowing every single button hole. It was quite the task. I do like the architectural details in the bodice. I'm now in possession of a nice wide belt, which I'll be wearing with it in future when it's not all steampunked. It did steampunk nicely though, didn't it?



Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco

It actually has a bit of a train, so the front hem is shorter than the back, which shows off the shoes and looks ever so slightly bustle-like with the waist cinch. It's very robe like, not surprising as it turns out Fashioned By Flobért was mainly a boudoir designer.

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San FranciscoGail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco

Similar styles:
Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San FranciscoGail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
 1930s Elsa Schiaparelli  Kerry Taylor Auctions; 1970s Halston  1stdibs.com

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
 1940s Dress  Charles James for Elizabeth Arden  The Frock

I paired my Flobert with patchwork boots and long dark red vintage gloves inherited from my Grandmother.

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
The boots, Kenneth Cole, from Buffalo Exchange, Berkeley some 20 years ago, $20. 
I was so poor at the time my best friend bought them for me.

I also wore this little octopus necklace. I like to have octopus on my person somewhere.

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
Adorable octopus necklace, gift from a reader

The hat from my Autumn steampunk outfit, and when I'm not facing a windy San Francisco night I susually perch it far forward on my head.

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San FranciscoGail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
Signing with the hat and a perched spinner from VivianWestwood SS runway

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San FranciscoGail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
Christian Dior Haute Couture 2010 and a very cool hat on one of the guest!

I was reminded of this recent photo shoot in Restoration Hardware.

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco

Along with the accessories I wore my custom stripped Dark Garden pointed waist cinch as a Swiss Waist with Ruby Blackbird Corset buttons to make it look more belt like. I was drawing on this kind of thing for inspiration.

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San FranciscoGail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
 1910-1915 Motoring Ensemble, The FIDM Museum; 1896-1899  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San FranciscoGail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
 1900 Ball Gown  The Metropolitan Museum of Art; screen cap from the Pallisers

So there you have it! Another event, another outfit.

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco

Before you ask, the waist cinch is 22" but I don't have it laced fully down.

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco

Something in this vein for the characters?


For Professor Briathwope in Etiquette & Espionage:

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
1850s Men’s Dressing Gown  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For Ivy:
Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
1885  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For Prudence:

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
1895 Dress  Museo del Traje

Gail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San Francisco
By Cake Central member CakeDiva11

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

After Christmas Sale Steampunk Necessity Shopping List by Gail Carriger

  • Christmas Tree Skirts = shawls, short skirts, foundations for bustles, cannibalize for trim and tassels.
  • Decorations = sprayed, painted, otherwise modified to become valves, switches, cane tops, jewelry or other prop style parts
  • Little motors that turn trees or run trains = other, more exciting motorized objects
  • Christmas Lights: Need I say more?
  • Scarves, brocade table runners = Gentleman's cravats or ladies sashes.
  • Fake flowers, leaves, small decorations = hat decoration
  • Wrapping decorations particularly the bows = bow ties or dress/bustle skirt decorations.

After Christmas Sale Steampunk Necessity Shopping List by Gail Carriger
 Christmas tree skirt as a, well, skirt

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

The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger

Here, Fashionable Reader, I put together a bit of a design board for masculine steampunk garb.
Many from the Saturday of Comic Con 2012, at the Steamy gathering.

The Men of Steampunk by 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!

The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger

The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger
Cheeky Tee is cheeky.

The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger

The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger

The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger

The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger

The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger


The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger

The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger The Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger


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

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

Since Saturday was steampunk invasion day at Comic Con I rejected my normal retro attire from something a little more appropriate.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk




By Rebecca Rowan

I paired my spoons corset with a lighter skirt, vintage raw silk that I'd added a ribbon and ruffle on to. The skirt was a gift.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

Over that I added a slip I'd made for a Mina Murray costume.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

This slip that was comprised of the top part of a velvet 1930's dress combined with the bottom part of a 1920's dress. Both cannibalized from ripped items I'd been given by my mother's friends. Sometimes it helps to be known as that girl with all the period costumes.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

The resulting look with striped tights and a little straw hat was rather cheeky can-can looking and not really my style, but cute and cool enough. As we milled about outside for an hour or more I found myself quite grateful to have the parasol!

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

I wore basic flats from my days working the Dickens Christmas Fair. These flats with a foam insert have seen me through nine years of four long weekends or more standing on my feet on cement for 8 to ten hours.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

I was please to have them as the third day is often the worst. I only though to wear them at the last minute. Of course this outfit woudl have been much cuter with my button high heel boots.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

But these flats worked fine and boy were they comfortable.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three SteampunkGail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

And the thing I always forget it that most of the time when someone take a photo, they forget the shoes, or are simply too close in a crowd. My partner is good about trying to get the shoes, but that's a rare thing in a photographer I find.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three SteampunkGail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

So to this combo of vintage slips, tights, and flats I added my black pocket belt carrier from the spoons and teal outfits. It's the same style and creation as the tan DIY one I blogged about before, made from a pair of cargo shorts.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

The color pallet for this particular steampunk outfit is a bit classic goth and somber for my taste.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

I prefer less black in my steampunk but the outfit was dictated by necessity and the original one, from the color pallet of the spoon corset itself.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

Although, lately I have been thinking about mixing it up for my next steampunk event and pairing this corset with the fancy iridescent's trimmings.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

But, I'm getting distracted, back to Saturday's Comic Con steampunk day.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

I was certainly not the only lady there dressed in garb. Here, for your pleasure and inspiration, are a number of others in some amazing outfits! Enjoy.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three SteampunkGail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk


Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three SteampunkGail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk


Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three SteampunkGail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

I also got to meet Bruce Boxleitner there to talk about his new Lantern City steampunk project, but that's a story for the author blog, you Fashionable Reader are here for the clothes.

Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

Don't worry, I have plenty of pictures of the gentlemen in steampunk garb as well. I'm prepping a blog post on the subject to run after I'm done with the Comic Con roster.


Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.
The Spoon Corset Outfit In Detail ~ Steampunk by Gail CarrigerGail Carriger Denver in Steampunk AutumnGail Carriger Denver in Steampunk SpoonsGail Carriger Denver in Steampunk Black & GoldSteampunk  on Retro Rack with Gail Carriger Gail Carriger in Plaid in Palo AltoGail Carriger Gold Steampunk in San FranciscoAfter Christmas Sale Steampunk Necessity Shopping List by Gail CarrigerThe Men of Steampunk by Gail Carriger Gail Carriger at Comic Con 2012 Outfits ~ Day Three Steampunk

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