Monday, January 20

In Which Minnie Zephie Demonstrates Her Success at Failure

So, it seems like a very long time since I posted any pseudo-Steampunk Sunday looks.

It's not for lack of trying.

Over the past year and a half I have been slowly acquiring new clothing items, mostly secondhand, and then trying them out in various combinations, looking to create outfits that are comfortable, practical, weather-appropriate, and just Steampunky enough to satisfy my style hankerings.

It's been easy enough to find clothing pieces that might work in a Real World Steampunk Wardrobe, like the things I find and share with you here often enough from Ebay and other places--but it is much harder to then put those gathered odds and ends into combinations with the other things I have, and get them to turn out on my body the way they look in my imagination.

Let's just say, my imagination is not the issue.  Some of the pseudo-Steampunk ensembles I have put together have made my heart sing, like this one, and especially this one. Even this one keeps turning up on Pinterest, so I know there are others besides me who can see the outfit through rose-tinted goggles.  Those are my best Real World Steampunk successes thus far--imperfect as they are--and they have only whetted my appetite for more.

But for every one outfit that has made me happy, there are likely several more that were total pseudo-Steampunk fails.

The camera is the ultimate mirror, and it does not lie.

So I thought you all might enjoy seeing some of the outfits I have tried putting together this past year that did not work.  It's a little embarrassing to show you these outfits that I tried--and, much as I hate to admit, actually wore in public. To church, no less.  But, it's all part of the learning curve, right?  Maybe you'll see in these outfits a glimpse of what I was going for, and can even offer helpful suggestions on improvements in the comments.  Or maybe you'll just think What the. . ?! and get a good chuckle at my expense.  Either way, thanks for stopping by to share in my failure.

Real World Steampunk Wardrobe Fail #1, December 2013:

Linen dress by Land's End. I realize now this might have been a red flag.
Leather belt by Cabi
Scarf I've had so long I don't remember
Earrings by Elaina Louise on Etsy
Boots by Miz Mooz

Okay then.  This would be one of those times when I tried to stretch pieces past what they were able--although they did admirably work together in a completely unintended way.  Here I was going for a steampunky "Citizen/Adventurer" kind of look, and thought I could start with a dress that was close enough and then elevate it to pseudo-Steampunk with accessories.

Well.  As you can see, the accessories were not enough.  Even my oh-so-Steampunky hot air balloon earrings could not save me.  The overall look was quite cohesive and even attractive, but much less Steampunk and way more late 70's Lady Stetson.  I had pictured the scarf wrapped around my neck as a kind of Victorian cravat, but I think it turned out to be the wrong shape for that.  I may also have been running late to church and thus may have haphazardly flung it around my neck, mistakenly assuming it's a scarf, what could go wrong.

Also, I was so excited when I found this really nice quality, like-new dress on Ebay for a reasonable price, because it is linen, which is a fabric authentic to the Victorian times. I am a texture girl, and absolutely love fabrics that lend the heft and drape and visual appeal of older times.

Well.  As you can see, the main issue with the linen is the extensive wrinkling.  I was prepared for that when I purchased it--but that particular Sunday I ended up holding my young son in my lap for quite some time, and the warmth from our bodies together practically ironed a huge mark there across the front of the dress where the belt rode up under my ribcage while I was sitting.  Quite unattractive. 

Still, the look was not completely a loss. . . but I am also a little unsure how to salvage it.  The belt might work fine next time if I'm not planning on holding kids in my lap. . . and I could get a different scarf and tie it better next time. . . .  But maybe the cut of the collar will never quite look right, even if I get the scarf right. . . and maybe the hem length is just too modern. . .

At least that Sunday I had a hip and artistic young college woman compliment me on my outfit; she said the whole thing made her happy.  But I think she was clearly enjoying me being playful in a  retro kind of way--and that's just not the vibe I was after.

So there you have it--when good ideas go awry!  Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, links to your own favorite Real World Steampunk clothes, or personal tales of fashion fails.  I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, January 19

More Military Cardigans

Cardigans are one of my favorite wardrobe staples--comfortable, practical, so easy for layering during transitional seasons, and so warm for winter. I had several cardigans I wore pretty much non-stop for years, and just this winter retired, because they had grown pretty baggy and worn.  If they were my favorite cozy sweaters, they might still be worth keeping just for around the house; and yet, I am getting of an age where it's too easy to feel frumpy, so even around the house I would prefer to wear only things that make me feel good.

Of course, anytime I need something new in my closet, I always first check to see if I can find it the least bit Real World Steampunk!  Pseudo-Steampunk to enliven an otherwise boring jeans outfit--perfect.

Here are some things I saw on Ebay today:

by Free People, found here

I love the texture, color, buttons and angled front.  Not so crazy about where the sweater would fall on my own midriff, but it would still work over a tunic dress and tights.  The overall look would not be neo-Victorian, but would be cute, and a nod towards Real World Steampunk if paired with steampunky accessories and tall boots.

by Rubbish, for Nordstrom, found here

Again, just a basic little sweater for layering.  This is the kind of thing that would be useful when you are going to be wearing jeans but want to have a vaguely steampunky vibe otherwise.  I can see this with a brown and white skinny stripe top over dark denim or brown skinny jeans, with steampunky tall boots.

by Love Culture, found here

The sweatshirt fabric of this one is not ideal, but again--a fine choice for an otherwise boring jeans day.

 Marc by Marc Jacobs, found here

I featured this one in the last cardigan post, in a mossy brown.  The same sweater in black is much more formal, and would look equally good with jeans or skirts.

by Free People, found here

Now, if you are like me and would prefer to wear tops and cardigans that de-emphasize hips when in skinny jeans, this is a nice option.  I'm not crazy about the neckline, however, which is a little too slumpy--a more fitted or stand-up collar like most of the previous cardigans have would not only be more flattering, but more neo-Victorian.

by Leifsdottir, found here

This one has a lovely drape--which is, alas, quite modern in look.  However, I love the ruffly millitary-esque detail down the front, so feminine and a little edgy.  This one too would look really good with skinny jeans over a tunic-length top.

by Bravo New York, found here

Oooooooh, so lovely!  What a flattering, ultra-feminine shape--I almost can't believe it is a sweater and not a jacket.  And it is a beautiful shade of brown, and is cashmere to boot! This one would look great with jeans and really dress them up, but I would like it best with a long skirt in some kind of stripe pattern, with little black granny boots peeking out underneath.

by Roz & Ali, bidding ended

Talk about ultra-feminine!  This is so over-the-top luxe, and so darn pretty.  I am not a fan of faux fur, but this is the way to do it--the color and texture really work well together. This would be so flattering on the right woman, and could be worn with all manner of clothes, from jeans to long Victorian style skirts, to knee-length knit dresses, and could be dressed up or worn casually. So fun!  The right woman could really play up the punk in this cardigan too--if she swapped out the buttons for something dark metal toned.

If you have a favorite cardigan that would work in a Real World Steampunk Wardrobe, please do share in the comments!   This was a fun, quick search today, but so far nothing perfect for my own wardrobe.  I always welcome your ideas!

Thursday, January 16

Steampunky Boots by Matisse--Until 1/21/14

Zulily's current deals include a couple of excellent pseudo-Steampunk boots:

Matisse Saddle Blakely, regularly $247, available through Zulily for $105.

Matisse Outlawed, regularly $248, available through Zulily for $70

The discount on this last boot is unreal.  Seventy dollars, new.  There are no returns at Zulily, so make sure of your size before you order--and customer reviews at other sites seem to recommend ordering a half-size up from your normal show size.  But if you have tried on Matisse boots before and are pretty sure this will work for you, then you can't beat the price.

Use this link to sign up for Zulily (it's free) if you never have before.  If you order anything through the link, I think I might get a kick back. : )

I also found this other pair of potential Real-World Steampunk boots, by a brand called Vestiture:

Chocolate Zeila Extra Wide Calf Buckle Boot by Vestiture, regularly $110, available through Zulily for $45.

That pair above is not real leather, however--normally I only show you real leather boots, because that is what I am personally shopping for, but these do look pretty nice for faux (as best I can tell in the photo) and they are supposedly wide calf, which is a real bonus for some of us.

I don't care for most of the clothes on Zulily, but when they do have something I like it is at a fantastic price, so well worth keeping an eye on.

Wednesday, January 15

In Which Minnie Zephie Finds Herself Chagrined

It's been a while since I posted here--too much other life happening, and not enough Steampunk in my life to write about!  The latter I hope to remedy this year. But tonight, I am prompted to make a quick post because of some beautiful bits of pseudo-Steampunkery I cannot believe I somehow missed:

the Steve Madden Perrin boot

The most Real World Steampunky black leather lace-up boot I have seen all year!  Look at the height on this boot, and the sweeping lines, but how it still keeps from leaning too far on the piratey end.  Look at the coppery-toned grommets!  Look at the vintage menswear cut of the toe and the material of the sole and heel!  What is not to love?!

But alas, this boot has just broken my heart. Because somehow, I missed it.  The boot is nowhere to be found in my size tonight--at least with my cursory searching.  This boot did not exist last Spring when I was scouring the web for such delights--it must be a new boot for the Fall or Winter.  But it is so gorgeous, I guess it sold out everywhere.  (wah waaaaah)

Why was I looking for boots again today?  Because I have come to realize that I need a casual pair of tall black boots--there are just too many things in my closet that I'm not reaching for because I don't have any footwear that looks with with them.  These boots--these boots--would have been so perfect.

side view--ahhhhhhh, shape, and the zipper detail!!!

If that was not bad enough, I found another pair tonight, also by Steve Madden, that is equally as unique and Steam-worthy:

Steve Madden Miidori

I love buckles. But I am really picky about size, shape, placement, finish, etc. I have never seen this particular combination on a boot, and it really works, esp, in this lovely ruddy leather.  And again, these seem to be almost impossible to find already, even though they must be new this Winter.

(Except believe it or not, I just checked eBay, and found my size of the Miidori.  Except, I'm not actually sure if they are my size or not--oh, the pain!  Do I buy boots I am not sure will fit?  Wisdom says no--but the so far bidding rate of $30 whispers take a chance!)

I've learned my lesson:  never stop looking for Steampunky boots.  One never knows what wonderful boots might yet be found.

Do any of you have any favorite Steampunky boots to share?  I'd love to know what else I might have been missing!

*UPDATE: Further searching revealed the answer to why I had not seen either boot before. The Perrin was out in 2010, and the Miidori must also be an older style. Why they suddenly showed up in my searches this past week and not last year when I was much more thoroughly scouring the web, I don't know. But the good news about this is that now I know to keep my eyes out on Ebay for them!