As a kid, whenever I got really bored (this was before the internet, mind you), I'd play dress up. Dig into my closet, my mom's closet, the dress-up box, and put things together in ways that they were never meant to go.

Sometimes the results would be excellent, like my mom's Irish fisherman's sweater over my red dotted-swiss ballet dress, worn with a vintage locket and birkenstocks. I was eight. It broke "the rules".

 If I could, I'd wear that same outfit today, because it was quirky and fun back then, and I could use more of that in my daily life.

I'm feeling the urge to play dress up again. Break some rules. Have some fun.

Skin: Beleza
Hair: Fashionably Dead
Glasses: Solar Eyewear
Jacket: House of Nyla
Shirt: Bare Rose (Tartan swim suit!)
Pants: Oyakin
Shoes: G. Field


Day Dresses...Part One

It seems like there's no end to the number of amazing gowns in the Steamrealms. One can find the perfect outfit for any event, any ball or dance in varying degrees of formality. But what about simpler outings? Afternoon tea, a walk in the garden, a country picnic, a day by (or on) the sea...all of these beg for quieter, less complicated dresses. Apparently, these are not so easy to find.

This came to my attention to other day when someone kindly admired my charming but informal teagown, saying that she had a hard time tracking down dresses that weren't ballgowns. Myself, I like to save the grand gowns for the formal occasions. It helps them to stay special; putting one on signifies that it is an out-of-the-ordinary event. And so, I have more than a few day dresses in my wardrobe. I'd like to share them with you.

From Wunderlich's Historical Garb:

Wunderlich's is one of my perpetual favorites on the grid. Her outfits tend to be low-ARC, with many of them being system clothing only, or just a few additional prims. Miss Wunderlich is a RL costume scholar, with high standards for research and historical accuracy. The photorealistic textures of her outfits are gorgeous, the color selections are outstanding, and her prices are extremely reasonable.

Here I am in Wunderlich's Bustle Mourning Dress in Turquoise. Found in the late Victorian section of her store, it dates to c. 1876. Coming in at just L$250, the outfit comes with day and evening bodice options, although I feel both are appropriate for daytime. Colors are turquoise, red, brown, blue, copper, emerald, purple, and (of course) black, all with the sheen of changeable silk.

Next, I'm wearing Wunderlich's 1879 Wrapper Dress. Found in the bargain corner of her main store and priced at a sweet L$100, this was one of my first ever SL clothing purchases. There are two skirt options, one with buttons, one without. The dress comes in soft gray, green, purple, bright red, and a mustardy brown, all with the same beautifully detailed embroidery. Miss Wunderlich even includes a photoframe with a photograph of the original dress on the Victorian lady who first wore it as documentation. It's one of my favorite early spring knocking-about dresses.

Finally, I'm in Wunderlich's embroidered bustle polonaise walking dress in yellow. Also found in the bargain corner for L$100, this charming dress was inspired by a costume in the film "The Prestige" and is "mostly historically accurate." The outfit is terrifically simple, but with wonderful textured detailing of embroidery, stripes, and the polonaise skirt. Additional colors are peach, pink, lavender, gray, green, and black and white.

Hair is from Truth, Skin from Beleza, shoes from L&E.
Look for more day dresses next week!


Gentle Hobbies and Grand Passions, Part Two

It could be argued that the Victorian sidesaddle riding habit is one of the garments that laid the foundations for later Steampunk interpretations of the dress of the period. One of the hallmarks of Steampunk fashion for women is androgyny, whether it be a hint contained in a few details or accessories, or the full-on adoption of male clothing. The Victorian riding habit typically had almost masculine tailoring and simplicity, quite a contrast to the lace and ruffles of feminine dress of the time. The result was startling when compared with normal modes of dress, as well as alluring and elegant.

Victorian-era Fashion Plate

With Blackbird, my new horse, housed safely in her stall, I knew it was time to find riding gear. Something simple and elegantly tailored. Nothing in the way of frills or fuss. Enter the Victorian Riding Kip by Skye Qi.

Supremely unfussy, both in lines and rendering cost, this outfit is a very good value at L$150. The Riding Kip is primarily system clothing, very well-textured and shaped, with garments on the underpinnings level as well as the outerwear level. It comes with undershirt, blouse, glitchies, skirt, and gloves. Prim accessories include riding hat and cane.

I was happy to discover that the pieces are modifiable, so I tinted my riding kip from the original vanilla to my favorite soft cocoa brown. Besides, one couldn't possibly wear white after Labor Day.

The skirt of Miss Qi's riding kip has just enough bustle to create a really lovely line from shoulders to toes, while flashing a daring hint of ankle. The texturing, one of the things I focus on when evaluating an outfit, is really quite nice. The fabric of the kip is obviously very sturdy, and meant for a day's riding, able to protect the wearer from scratches and the like.

Ladylike Sidesaddle

Bustle view.

A horse is a horse and a man is a man
And neither can be the other
And each can survive but is much better
In the company of one another.
~ Tomás Ó Cárthaigh


Gentle Hobbies and Grand Passions, Part One

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire. It is a grand passion." Like shopping and fashion in Second Life, right? For a couple of posts, I'll be looking at the means to indulge one's equestrian passion in style.

Cheval Verite

The relaxed country atmosphere of Caledon On Sea, the impending autumn, and my increased land holdings all cried out for one thing. At last, I have the thing I've wanted since I was five years old. I have a PONY. Well, not exactly a pony. I have one of Virrginia Tombola's magnificent Cheval Verite riding horses. For a long time, I resisted the pull of her Eyre Carriage House, but I couldn't resist forever.

A girl and her horse.

The Cheval Verite comes in a variety of breeds, and one can choose their saddle option, English, Western, or sidesaddle. I, being a proper Victorian girl, chose sidesaddle, and a darling black horse because black goes with everything. At L$1850, this was not an inexpensive purchase, but the package comes with a wearable horse for riding, very detailed and flexible, a static horse for display, and a dual-rider version for sharing a ride with a sweetheart. The sidesaddle and English versions are both L$1850 each, the Western option is $2200.

Look for "Gentle Hobbies and Grand Passions, Part Two/The Riding Habit" soon.


Frugality is misery in disguise.

Your humble blogger, avoiding misery.

Today's title brought to us by Publilius Syrus. I only occasionally agree with this thought. On a recent shopping trip, I walked into one of those occasions.

In my previous post, I mentioned a dress that caused me to revise my budget. I think that most of us have certain favorite designers, designers who have an almost mystical control over our purse strings where their new releases are concerned. Budgetary Achilles heels, as it were. Personally, I have a tremendous weakness for the lovely work of Mau Delarosa: in my opinion, one of the best historical designers in Second Life.

When I discovered that Miss Delarosa had a new release, I considered purchasing it for all of, oh, five seconds perhaps? Even at L$700, The Black Taffeta Evening Gown had to be mine. Miss Delarosa's designs are definitely at the higher end of the price scale for historic clothing, but the incredible detail and craftsmanship that she puts into each design makes them well worth the price tag.

The flow of the dress echoes the flow of the fountain.

The Black Taffeta Evening Gown is a late Victorian dress, with a sweetly sinuous line, very flattering to feminine curves. The level of detail is just incredible, with beautiful embroidery and fine tailoring, right down to the cascading train.

The bowed train of the Black Taffeta Evening Gown.

The ensemble includes lovely detailed accessories: embroidered gloves and a wrap to protect the wearer from the chill night air.

Opera-length gloves with matching embroidery.

Kamilah Hauptmann's fabulous Lionsgate Palace proved to be a jewel-like setting for a photo shoot in my new gown. It's a wonderful build; please take a moment to explore it.

A fine silk wrap, catching the moonlight.


The Moon of Falling Leaves

Few of the famous poets and thinkers of the Victorian age seemed to have anything good to say about November. They wrote it off as "Chill and drear" and "dull and dark". In the Steamrealms, I think we know better. With winter not far off, it's a marvelous time to celebrate the changing seasons with picnics, dances, strolls through the countryside. And for those hunting for the perfect thing to wear, a host of designers are obligingly providing us with new designs.

I dearly wish I had the lindens to lay my hands on all the pretty new things I've seen recently, but alas, one must budget. Leading off the list are the new Fleur d'Automne collection of day gowns from Montagne Noire Clothiers. They come in jewel tones of turquoise, ruby, and topaz, and are a very economical L$250.

Fleur d'Automne

Next are the Lady Romana evening gowns from To-a-T. These lovely striped, brocade gowns are made with Terry Lightfoot's typical versatilty, coming with a variety of shirt options for a variety of looks. In six different hues, they are $500 each.

Lady Romana

Naergilien Wunderlich of Wunderlich's Historical Garb is offering a new example of her meticulously crafted, impeccably researched, thoroughly lovely dresses. Empress Elizabeth's Hungarian Coronation Gown dates to 1867.

The picture says it all.

Miss Wunderlich's interpretation of this gown was inspired by the original design from Charles Frederick Worth, and is offered in a range of colors. Ringing up at L$850, each gown set consists of two bodices, two system skirts, two prim skirts, glitchies, prim shoes, and sleeve, chest, and train attachments, to create individual outfits ranging from merely formal to all-out splendor. With Christmas and Solstice festivities just around the corner, this would be a marvelous choice for a grand ball. Glass slippers, anyone?

The display at Wunderlich's.

Next time, the gown that tempted me into revising my budget. Until then, happy shopping.


Hushed October Morning Mild

October Mornings are just about the best, I think. Crisp, but with the promise of warmth to come. A gentle warmth, not the searing heat of summer, not the changeable temper of spring. On October mornings, I love to sit on the porch, wrapped in a quilt, and drinking a cup of sweet, milky tea. And when the opportunity arises, I love to go for long rambling walks in the country, past golden fields or in woodlands flaming with bright colors.

Your humble blogger in the Wild Woods of Caledon Tanglewood

When walking amid the vivid colors of nature, I don't necessarily want to compete or clash, and so a simple, elegant walking suit becomes a good choice. Here I am in Ingenue's One Boy - Victorian Edition walking outfit. Betty Doyle designs her clothing with care and attention to detail. The shirt and skirt top come in different layer options for versatility, and there is a version of the shirt without the tie. The prim skirt has scripted and non-scripted versions for walking and sitting, as well as a resizer. It's also got a very nice bustle. At a very reasonable L$300, this is a wonderful outfit, and ideal for mixing with other pieces as well. Worn with my favorite Hatpins hat, the Lady Sarah.


Autumn is the mellower season...

For me, autumn is always a time of the simplest pleasures: crisp mornings, gentle afternoons, leaves flaming into sunset colors, geese calling overhead. Digging into the closet for my favorite sweater and hat. Snuggling under a down quilt and flannel sheets worn soft with time and love.

And then there's a pleasure that's far less simple but every bit of fun. Shopping for fall clothing! SO much simpler in Second Life. Here's my first outfit for the fall. Sometimes simple is good. This is Toasty Warm by Fuschia Begonia of Fuschia' Frocks. At an economical L$150, this outfit is a good bargain. It comes with muttonchop sleeve prims and a driving cap. Miss Begonia has done an absolutely lovely job with the texturing. This dress looks as petable and cozy as a favorite blanket, should a blanket be so nicely detailed and tailored. It has a very nice profile, with a sweet bit of bustle. I do loves me the bustles!

There's also the matter of avatar rendering cost. This outfit, all things considered, weighs in at an ARC of 970. Not bad, with the marvelous hat, my Tauri eyeglasses from Solar Eyewear (they have an adorable pair of round Victorian-esque pair on my want list, check them out) and the Ziggy/Enlighten heels from Tesla. The dress is absolutely doing its part to keep the ARC down in the realm of the reasonable.

And then there's my new favorite hat, the Lady Auburn Boater, from the fabulously talented Miss Reghan Straaf of Hatpins. I do love boaters best of all the Victorian hats (with itsy-bitsy top hats not far behind at all), so imagine when my pleasure when I found this gorgeous little seasonal beauty. Like many of my Hatpins hats, I've not wanted to take it off since purchasing it. At L$250, Miss Straaf has made this hat do the work of many. It comes with a menu allowing the wearer to change the size of the hat, as well as the texture and color of the hatband. In this picture, it's set to amber. Those are my kitty ears you see poking out of the hat. Miss Straaf, being the Commandante of the Caledon Catgirl Brigade, tends to make hats that accommodate one's ears fairly gracefully.

Also, I'm finally starting to find hair that works with hats - no easy task when you're as fond of messy little updos and short styles as I am. This particular style is from Kyoto's Hair Shop. The creator, Kyoko Forcella, does not have a huge selection, but I love just about everything there and the prices are exceptionally reasonable. Individual shades are L$100, six color fatpacks are L$250. Very pretty styles, I recommend giving her store a look.


RL Running Me Ragged

Your humble blogger's typist is currently in school, getting close (four classes after this term) to completing a degree in graphic design. She's been really super busy and needs her playtime badly, which is why the long delays between posts. This will change in a couple of weeks when the summer term ends. In the meantime, I thought you might like to see something of one of the pieces she's working on. Thanks for reading Cogs and Togs; we'll return you to our regular fashion programming soon!

Illustration for a Steampunk production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night
created by Tehanu's typist


Showing a Little Ankle

The Victorian era was generally one of great repression. Beneath the veneer of gentility and breeding, however, there was quite a bit going on, and I'm not talking about just the lovely corsets. In many ways, Steampunk is about turning Victorian repression inside-out, quite literally sometimes with corsets as outerwear. I can't really comment about the other steam realms in SL, but in Caledon while we're not really repressed, we do tend towards gentle and courteous behavior in the Victorian tradition. And we need our outlets.

Your Humble Blogger at one of Caledon's favorite outlets,
the Blue Mermaid

Besides, every once in a while, you'll find an outfit so sexy and divine that you find it irresistible, even if you're not sure where you're going to wear it in our refined Victorian-esque culture. Here I am in one of my absolute favorite outfits for letting my hair down (figuratively) and yes, it does take a little courage to wear (literally).

All right, so I'm showing a lot of ankle..and leg...and....

This is the Rouge CanCan Girl ensemble from Reasonable Desires (boots are my favorite Bettie's). Priced at a very reasonable L$199, the outfit comes in nine different colors, and a fatpack with all nine is available for L$999 for the serious can can affecianado. It's a great outfit, especially for dancing, and I recommend it.

Dancing on the bar at The Blue Mermaid

So if you're wondering where you can wear such an outfit and not feel underdressed, wonder no more. One of the best parties in Caledon happens every Wednesday night at The Blue Mermaid, an outstanding dance club owned by the divine Miss Hypatia Callisto. Miss Callisto has created one of the warmest, most comfortable, most welcoming atmospheres going. The festivities get underway at 7:00pm. Miss Callisto attracts some really wonderful and talented DJs to her club as well, including her dear friend and trusted companion, Mr Icarus Ghost, and the sublime Magdalena Kamenev. Also, Miss Callisto provides some of the best dances available, and a wide selection thereof. All in all, it's an experience that shouldn't be missed.

The Blue Mermaid