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


The Two Most Beautiful Words in the English Language

According to poet Henry James, those words are "summer afternoon." Now as a clothes hound and an avid shopper, I'm tempted to say that the two loveliest words are actually "summer clothing." But when I walk along the pier at Caledon On Sea or watch the sun slide towards the western horizon, I know that Mr. James was right. The question then, of course, is what to wear?

At first, it was a little bit challenging to find appropriate summer Victorian clothing, looking for light colors, slightly more casual tailoring, 3/4 sleeves, and so on. Happily, though, I've been finding more and more options as the season ripens into full summer.

Your humble blogger in Naergilien Wunderlich's Blue Paper Taffeta Gown

Coming from a historical standpoint, Naergilien Wunderlich is one of the best costumers in SL. Many of her garments are based directly on existing period pieces. She creates such pieces starting from photos, using special techniques and software to create seamless, photorealistic textures. Wunderlich's Historical Garb has an incredible selection of gowns ranging from Elizabethan to Regency, with a couple of choice modern offererings as well.

This particular dress, the Paper Taffeta Gown is delightful for summer wear, with its shorter sleeves, pretty details and availability in a variety of soft colors. It's perfect for semi-formal events such as high tea, afternoon dances, a garden party, or perhaps just a walk with one's sweetheart. I especially like the detailing on the train, which has some nice swing when walking or dancing. It's priced at a very reasonable L$350.

Long train of the Blue Paper Taffeta Gown

Gentlemen, when the mercury starts sliding upwards, don't despair - there are options for you as well. Matelisse Criss offers a nicely tailored white linen suit at her store, Fashion and Style Through the Ages.

Roberto Viking in the Cream Linen Suit - 1912

The Cream Linen Suit - 1912 is available for L$400 and comes with everything needed, including hat, shoes and socks. Mr. Roberto Viking was kind enough to both bring this designer and suit to may attention, and to model the outfit as well, along with his little dragon, Canth.

Mr. Viking and Canth.

One can not help but admire the sartorial acumen of a man who accessorizes his outfits so perfectly, right down to the dragon. All today's pictures were taken at the pier in Caledon on Sea.


The Sublime Moment

Joyce Grenfell once said that "happiness is the sublime moment when you get out of your corsets at night" but I think we all know that happiness is the sublime moment when you find a good corset. And now we've got one more choice, thanks to Miss Terry Lightfoot.

Miss Lightfoot, shown in her shop.

Miss Lightfoot, proprietor of To a T ~ T.Lightfoot Designs, recently released a new steampunk corset, the Automated Alice. This metalic underbust corset comes in silver, silver & brass, gold, iron & gold, rusty iron & silver, iron & silver, and copper & mixed metals. It is designed on three different clothing levels for ease of mixing and matching with other pieces.

Miss Anna Darwinian, modeling the Iron & Gold Alice.

The basic corset is available for L$150 and comes with the very daring Kiralette ruffled blouse in cream. However, it's also possible to purchase the corset at part of an ensemble that includes fishnet stockings, Sarah Jane bloomers, the Kiralette ruffled blouse, a lace cameo choker, the Telsa bowler hat which sparks on touch, the Tempus Fugit fob watch, and of course the Automated Alice corset for the exceedingly reasonable price of L$450.

Your humble blogger, modeling the Copper & Mixed Metals Alice.

I asked Miss Lightfoot to tell me about the creation process for the Automated Alice. She said that after attending a steampunk convention last fall, she felt inspired to "make more steampunk oriented work, not be so tied down only to period wear." While the corsets were completed earlier on, the blouse took some time to get just right.

"In meantime lots of other things slowed me from completing the set," she said, "as I rebuilt my shop and was working on that as well with builder extraordinaire Angus Mesmer." Not content with the corset and blouse, Miss Lightfoot decided the pieces needed bloomers. "Once I had the bloomers I realized I had to make boots to go with it for the vendor pics". She giggled charmingly, adding "The end."

Dedicated costumers like Miss Lightfoot who go the extra mile (or more) to bring us their creations are part of what make Second Life (and writing this blog) such a pleasure.


Steampunk and Historical Accuracy

Bwah ha ha ha ha.

There is a movement afoot among some members of the RL steampunk community to demand historical accuracy in costuming. I think I've made my opinion of that idea fairly clear above. You'll hear me comment approvingly on SL clothing designers who lean towards Victorian/Edwardian accurate shapes and details, but you'll nevver hear me complain about the ones that don't.

As one friend said, "I'm sorry, is my cog corset ruining your steam fantasy?"

Silk Taffeta Day Dress by Skye Qi, writing desk, chair and book/pen by Tiger's Bookshop.


Das Boots!

Boots are very much quintessential footwear for the steampunk set. Some of the boots I'm going to share with you today are so amazing that you might never get around to looking at the rest of the outfit, should you encounter the wearers in-world, but that's the risk of having fab footgear. Let's start with some basic, well-crafted Victorian styles:

These are my personal favorite everyday go-to boots (that's go-to, not go-go, thank you very much). These are Bettie's Victorian Ankle Boot, priced at a very reasonable L$300. They include both a smaller and a larger size on the sculpted uppers and lowers, although only one base size. They work well with a variety of outfits and I have never caught them acting borky. Sadly, they only come in black.

Next, another good, solid pair of Victorian boots from Lassitude & Ennui. These were brought to my attention by Miss Hope Dreier, who contributed the picture. These are the Elizabeth boots. They come with both silver and gold grommet options, and the tied laces can be hid or shown as the owner chooses. They come in nine different colors (coal is shown here), for L$300 each, and a fat pack of all nine colors is available for L$1350, which is a pretty hefty discount.

Getting a bit more fanciful, we have the spiffy Ziggy heels designed by Miss Tesla Miles, and available at the Tesla Flagship Store. They come in seven different colors (I'm wearing "enlighten" here), and are L$399 which is an outstanding price considering the level of detail. My only complaint is that occasionally the foot shape seems a bit odd, depending on the position, but it's a minor one. I definitely have another color or two on my wishlist.

Next, we have the Punk Junk Funk boots from Le Petit Prince, modeled here by Anna Darwinian (please take a moment to check out her photos, they are amazing!). These are sort of a steampunk Swiss army boot, decked out with all sorts of useful bits and bobs, for a mere L$320. Miss Darwinian said that they were one of her first pieces of steampunk clothing. You'll find them in both black and brown.

Finally, a pair of boots so amazing that the only reason you'll ever notice the rest of the outfit is that the rest of the outfit promises to be just as incredible. These are a work in progress (!) by the wildly talented Mr. Nix Sands. Mr. Sands modeled his creation, the Rocket Dragoon Boots, for me on the top of Mt. Caledon. Here they are in action:
The detailing is just astonishing and these pictures don't do them justice. The boots feature animated gauges on the toes and spare fuel cells strapped to the legs. The rocket cones fold when the wearer is not in flight. When Mr. Sands walked to demonstrate the boots on the ground, they clanked and hissed. Each boot is comprised of two hundred and sixty-nine prims. The scripting is equally detailed; parts of the boots are visible or invisible as appropriate to their current state. They will eventually be offered for sale, rejoice! I can't begin to say enough good things about Mr. Sands' craftsmanship and attention to detail.

That's it for today. I'm sure there will be more boots to explore in the future, but what an introduction to the subject. My deep gratitude to Mr. Sands, Miss Darwinian, and Miss Dreier for their assistance and contribution, and my thanks to Miss Poppy and everyone on ISC who helped me figure out how to get SLURLS.


Welcome to Cogs and Togs

Ah, Second Life. If you can imagine it, you can find it or build it in Second Life. And whatever it is, you can blog about it. My name is Tehanu Marenwolf and I'll be exploring a side of fashion in Second Life that seems to be going a bit under-examined. Of course, now that I've typed that, I'll probably find a dozen blogs devoted to Victorian/Edwardian/steampunk fashion in SL, but what the heck, the more the merrier.

In-world, you'll find me most often at home in Caledon, an amazing region full of fascinating and creative people, where the theme is Victorian steampunk. I had the immense luck to rez for the first time in Caledon's Oxbridge University, one of the best place for a newcomer to find themselves. I found shopping for certain items to be a bit challenging, and for others, just plain brilliant fun. There are a lot of very talented people out there, making wonderful things for the Victorian/steampunk crowd. I'm going to investigate as much of that as possible.

Generally, I'm going to focus on historical fashion from 1840 to about 1919, with the occasional overshoot in either direction, and also on the cogs and gears goodness that is steampunk. Steampunk is about living in a world where steam power is still widely used. Interlaced with this semi-historical setting you'll also find elements of science fiction and fantasy. Think Jules Verne. Think fairies. Think dirigibles, ray-guns, the Nautilous, aether-powered rayguns and more. It's a potent blend and the costuming is amazing.

Many thanks to Cherry Gumbo for thinking of the blog's name, and to everyone at the Palm Court Tea Dance who pitched in with ideas.