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Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)



The third book in my Custard Protocol series is out now!  This book is set in the mid 1890s and I have concocted a pictorial guide to a possible outfit that a young lady of Prim's rank might wear during this time period.

The images run with what she would need to put on, in order. Ready? Here we go...

On the bottom half:


Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
1. 1890  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
2. 1890s Stockings The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
3. 1899 Garters  1899  The Chicago History Museum

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
4. 1895-1905 Oxfords   The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 Note that shoes have to go on early? Well before the corset and also the rest of the dress for bending and hemming reasons.


Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
Combination  1890s  The Metropolitan Museum of Ar

Combinations are a hard one for me, as an author. Because they were totally UBIQUITOUS undergarments at the time of the Custard Protocol books. They were the most common form of underwear. However, the name and the concept is entirely lost to the modern mind set. Most of my readers would have no basis for comparison should I drop the word "combination" into, for example, a shape change or a nookie scene. I must, therefore, use the word in correct context so as to make it clear that is what the character is wearing. Or have it described to another foriegn character. And yet, it's not something that would be described. So I have to have said foreigner describe it and everyone else get embarrassed. Oh! I like that. Forget I said anything, OK?

On the upper half:


Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
Bust Improvers  1890s  Whitaker Auction

Prim wouldn't need these, but I include them because I think its so fun that they exist at all!

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
5. Camisol  1895-1905  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
6. 1893  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
7. Sleeve Supports  1890s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

And over the top:

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
8. 1895  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
9. 1894 Evening Dress  Charles Fredrick Worth, 1894  The Kyoto Costume Institute

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
10. 1890s  The Goldstein Museum of Design

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
11. 1895-1905  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
12. Muff and Hat  1890s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Alternatively, here's a look at more sporty options...


Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
Stockings  1890s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
Combinations undergarment, England, 1875 - 1900

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
Corset 1890s Summer Corset   The Victoria & Albert Museu

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
Corset Cover  1895-1900  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

And sportswear on the outside:


Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
Gym Suit  1895-1899  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
Cycling Ensemble  1895  The Kyoto Costume Institute

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
Shirtwaist 1894 The Museum at FIT _ OMG that dress!

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
1890s Under The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
Travel Suit  Jacques Doucet, 1895  The Victoria & Albert Museum

You don't have to take the pictures as proof. Here's some research to back it up...

Gwen Raverat at the end of the century describes the modest dress of a respectable female.

"Women were incredibly modest . . .  even with each other. You could see a friend in her petticoat, but nothing below that was considered decent. At school, the sidht of a person in her white frilly drawers caused shrieks of outraged virtue; and I should have thought it impossible to be seen downstairs in my dressing-gown."

~ Judith Flanders The Victorian House (pg. 269)

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
americangothgirl-tumblr Catalog Photographs, Front and Back Views of Woman In Corset, c. 1880s. Albumen Prints

"This is what a young lady wore, with whom I shared a room one night...

  1. Thick, long-legged woolen combinations.
  2. Over them, white cotton combinations, with plenty of buttons and frills.
  3. Very serious, bony, grey stays, with suspenders.
  4. Black woolen stockings.
  5. White cotton drawers, with buttons and frills.
  6. White cotton 'petticoat-bodice', with embroidery, buttons and frills.
  7. Rather short, white flannel, petticoat.
  8. Long alpaca petticoat, with a flounce round the bottom.
  9. Pink flannel blouse.
  10. High, starched, white collar, fastened on with studs.
  11. Navy blue tie.
  12. Blue skirt, touching the ground, and fastened tightly to the blouse with a safety-pin behind.
  13. Leather belt, very tight.
  14. High button boots."
  ~ Judith Flanders The Victorian House (pg. 269)

Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
Undergarments ca. 1900-03  From the FIDM Museum


Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)
 1898 Walking Suit, House of Worth, French, Made of silk and lace


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.

Gail Carriger Things I'm Picking Up for Prime Day


So I keep a long list of items that interest me, Fashionable Reader, but that I'm not sure if they are worth it or not. Prime day, for me, is an excuse to try out some stuff at a lower price point.

So here is what I am picking up...


Gail Carriger Things I'm Picking Up for Prime Day

Angerella Vintage Retro Pin Up Halter One Piece Swimsuit Monokinis for $9.99 comes in four different patterns, sizes are kind of restricted. I'm trying the L & XL (6 & 8) respectively. (I know, right?)

Gail Carriger Things I'm Picking Up for Prime Day

Pretty Polly Womens Nylon Backseam Tights for $14. Like all other denizens of the nude with black back seam (who can't wear Leg Avenue), I used to buy American Apparel. They discontinued their version years ago. I've been hunting for a replacement since. We shall see how these fit.



Things on sale that I have, love, and recommend...



Gail Carriger Things I'm Picking Up for Prime Day


Life's perfect silk head scarf for $13 There is something about this scarf, the colors just seem to always go with everything in my wardrobe and its thick enough to be full cover, but still light-weight, and it's the right size to tie in pretty ways without too much excess.

Gail Carriger Things I'm Picking Up for Prime Day



Life's perfect sleep mask $9.99. Super-smooth with the all important Two Straps.
Retro Rack is also on Facebook and Pinterest 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.

The Evolution of the Stocking: History of Victorian Undergarments Series from Gail Carriger


My dear fashionable reader, just some fun today on the evolution of the lowly stocking...

The Evolution of the Stocking: History of Victorian Undergarments Series from Gail Carriger


“Stockings, originally designed for practical purposes, soon transformed into a fashionable accessory with the invention of the knitting frame in 1589 and then the circular-knitting machine in 1816. This technology allowed for a tighter weave and a better fit. Also, it was much easier to produce stockings, making them more affordable and readily available to a larger public. Plain white stockings were in mode for quite some time, until the mid to late-1800s when hemlines rose, and the ankle was revealed. This change in fashion called for colorful and fanciful motifs to decorate the lower leg, a visually appealing effect.


~ From A Brief History of Stockings

The Evolution of the Stocking: History of Victorian Undergarments Series from Gail Carriger
 Stockings  1788-1793  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

"The flirtatious and vibrant colors of this pair of stockings increases their value, making them an accessory of interest. The two colors used, enhanced by the two-color embroidery pattern creates an elaborate sensibility. The period from 1890-1899 was known as the “Naughty Nineties” and this pair of stockings is a testament to the frivolous fun women had with their dress.”


~ From A Brief History of Stockings

For Preshea in Poison or Protect...



The Evolution of the Stocking: History of Victorian Undergarments Series from Gail Carriger
1860 Stockings  1860s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

"In buying stockings, whether silk or cotton, you will find it cheapest in the end, to get those of the best English manufacture, particularly those of fine quality. For winter, and to wear with boots, English stockings of unbleached cotton are very comfortable, feeling warmer than those that are perfectly white. It is to be lamented that all black stockings (even of silk) are painful and injurious to the feet, the copperas dye being poisonous."

~ The Ladies' Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book by Eliza Leslie (1864)


For Ivy in the Parasol Protectorate Series...

The Evolution of the Stocking: History of Victorian Undergarments Series from Gail Carriger
 Stockings  1870  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For Alexia in the Parasol Protectorate Series...

The Evolution of the Stocking: History of Victorian Undergarments Series from Gail Carriger
 Stockings  1873  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For Imogene in Romancing the Inventor...


The Evolution of the Stocking: History of Victorian Undergarments Series from Gail Carriger
 Stockings  1880-1899  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For Primrose in the Custard Protocol Series...


The Evolution of the Stocking: History of Victorian Undergarments Series from Gail Carriger
Stockings  1890s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Evolution of the Stocking: History of Victorian Undergarments Series from Gail Carriger
Garters 1899 The Chicago History Museum

For Gail...


The Evolution of the Stocking: History of Victorian Undergarments Series from Gail Carriger
Stockings  1910-1917  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Evolution of the Stocking: History of Victorian Undergarments Series from Gail Carriger
 Garter  Lucile, 1914  The Victoria & Albert Museum

From the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue:

LOUSE LADDER. A stitch fallen in a stocking. (AKA a run)

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.

Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger



Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger

As much as the great agony of my life is the perpetual hunt for a pretty well-fitting vintage-style wire-free bra, there are other things than just bras to consider when dressing vintage from the bottom up. As I am certain you are well aware, Fashionable Reader. So, slips . . .

Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger

Since I dress vintage so often yet many of my dresses are on the cheaper end (read: not lined) this means I need to wear a slip underneath.

Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger

I prefer a vintage slip to shaper-wear under these circumstances because the two are designed to go together. Shaper-wear can bunch in odd places where a nice silky vintage slip drapes just so. Also it looks lovely if you happen to be caught mid-makeup application by the nice young busboy they sent up with your milk (for morning tea).

Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger
Chemise  1908  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger
Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger

Like vintage dresses, I have very little difficulties finding vintage slips that fit me, they seem to be cut for a large rack, small ribs, and bit of hip. Almost any vintage shop worth its mothballs will have a slip section as well as a dress section, usually back in one corner. But vintages slips still also turn up in thrift stores, I've never paid more than $15 for one.

Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger

There are other options, like teddies and tap pants and the like. I'll use them for under full skirt dresses, but since I tend to opt for pencil dresses, anything that adds bulk down bellow looks . . . odd. This is also why, although I really prefer thigh-highs, I actually tend to opt for full coverage stockings most of the time. (Thigh-highs in a pencil skirt means you can see the garter clips, especially when sitting down, a big no no.)

Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger
Drawers  1900s  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

And if there is one thing your foundation garments should NEVER do, it is show in ANY way!

Unless, of course, that is the whole purpose of the outfit.

Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger
 1950s The Victoria & Albert Museum
Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger
 My favorite garter. All of mine are from Held Over on Haight Street $8 ~ $12.
Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger
The obligatory matched undies.

So, a brief note about undies.

If you, like me, favor a pencil skirt, please find yourself some micro invisaline undies and wear with control-top stockings so you have no VPL (visible pantie line) or learn to love a thong or go comando. You have no other choices, I am afraid. There is no greater sin in the universe than VPL. Trust me, Fashionable Reader, there just isn't.

Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger

 Which brings us to stockings!

Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger
Stockings  1890s  2 The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger
Stockings  1900s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Something has happened to stockings over the past 20 years. They've started to suck. I mean, suck construction-wise. We have far more options so far as retro styles are concerned (just do a search for backseam nylons on Amazon and see how many hits you get! I remember the days when you were lucky to find one pair!) but they will only last for a few wearings. I have stockings from the 80s (not even the 50s) that I can still wash a wear today.

Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger

So you want my number one stocking tip?

Avoid Leg Avenue. 

I'm a size 4 - 6 on the bottom and stand 5"6' tall, not a difficult fit really (nothing like my upper half). Yet LA stockings NEVER fit me. They are invariably too long, cheaply made, and too tight around the thigh. They appear to be made for barbie dolls. If I need a quick pair I always go for Music Legs instead. I find their fit is far better. However, in general I haunt thrift stores for nylons from the 80s which occasionally turn up unopened and in nice pale creamy colors.

Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger

My number two stocking tip? Put a tiny dollop of clear nail polish on the back-seam on your Achilles tendon, stay still while it dries. It'll keep your seams from moving. I will say, for the record, this is the only tattoo I have seriously considered, because keeping the seam straight is still an effort.

Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger
Competence DVD Extras: Dressing Primrose From the Foundation Up (Gail Carriger's Research Behind the Custard Protocol Series)Dressing Primrose for the Boudoir for Competence (Research Behind Gail Carriger's Custard Protocol Series)Gail Carriger Things I'm Picking Up for Prime DayThe Evolution of the Stocking: History of Victorian Undergarments Series from Gail CarrigerDressing Sophronia from the Corset Up (Finishing School Series) with Gail CarrigerDressing Prudence From the Foundation Up, Custard Protocol Special Extras with Gail Carriger Dressing Alexia ~ From the Foundation Up for the Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger Then & Now ~ Ribbed StockingsProper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger

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