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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.

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger

So, Fashionable Reader, I am procrastinating terribly and have decided to post one of my occasional book outfit posts. Today, we will take a look at Changeless.

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger

Book the Second of the Parasol Protectorate is all greys and black and teal. I've two outfits influenced by this book and formal one, as you see above and the flowing, which is more casual.

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger

I love Alexia's dress on this cover, it's probably my favorite. In fact, I had it made up for me from Clockwork Couture.

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail CarrigerBook Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger


Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail CarrigerBook Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger

 One of the things I really love about the Changeless cover is the range of teal to turquoise in both the dress and an script background slashes.

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger

Here are some Retro Rack friendly images I've collected inspired by this cover, starting with some fun vintage pieces.

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger
1912 Tunic dress Museum Purchase

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail CarrigerBook Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger
 1930s Timeless Vixen Vintage; 1932  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail CarrigerBook Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger
 1940 nov; 1953 Norman Norell  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail CarrigerBook Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger
 1960 Hubert de Givenchy  The Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1961 Roger Vivier for Dior,  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Here we have some retro images.

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail CarrigerBook Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger


Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail CarrigerBook Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger


Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger

And here are a few modern takes on this color pallet.

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail CarrigerBook Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail CarrigerBook Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail CarrigerBook Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail CarrigerBook Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail CarrigerBook Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger

Some interior design inspiration from this color pallet.

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger

Something for Sophronia to wear in the Finishing School Series

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger
1860s  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Something for young Prudence to wear, in between the Parasol Protectorate and the Parasol Protectorate abroad books.

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger
1885 Girl’s Dress  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

And I will leave you with . . . cake!

Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail Carriger

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

Gail Carriger in New Orleans in a Green Dress

So, as I said in the last post, I'm off to New Orleans and Baton Rouge this weekend, Fashionable Reader. At last report, I needed to be prepared for 95+ and should limit my makeup. (Crisis! I never limit my makeup!) Anyway, on the hunt for my lighter weight vintage dresses I unearthed this one for Saturday . . .

Gail Carriger in New Orleans in a Green Dress

This is a louder pattern than I normally prefer, but this dress fits me so beautifully and is such a lovely light weight duck cloth, I can't resist. It's extremely well made and in the best condition of any of my  vintage pieces, but label-less, I'm afraid. I'd guess around 1954. I got it at Bon Mar Thrift Store in Sonoma for a cool $15.


I will be wearing mine retro style, and I'll post the look when I get back from New Orleans. However, I've been seeing a number of similar print dresses all over the web ~ in some of my favorite fashion blogs and on the runways. I thought I'd include some street style shots of how to wear just such a vintage patterned piece in a modern way. Hope you enjoy.

Gail Carriger in New Orleans in a Green DressGail Carriger in New Orleans in a Green Dress
Right Bluegirl Fall 2011 RTW runway, and left from the excellent fashion blog What I Wore.

Gail Carriger in New Orleans in a Green DressGail Carriger in New Orleans in a Green Dress
Left some runway or another and right

I'll be at the American Library Association Annual Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans, (June 25 - 26, 2011), wearing this patterned green dress Saturday to speak at the YA Luncheon at noon and on the Science, Fantasy & Information Science Program from 4 ~ 5 pm. I hope to see some of you there.
The Courage to Wear a Cape from Gail Carriger Book Outfits ~ Changeless by Gail CarrigerGail Carriger in New Orleans in a Green Dress

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