London Alice (Alice: Madness Returns)

Things I have discovered upon trying to kick myself into blogging here again: you can definitely, definitely get out of practice with this sort of “skill”, if you want to call it that.

Second thing I discovered: I give good advice that I should occasionally take myself some time 😉

As soon as I started playing Alice: Madness Returns (about a week and a bit ago) I knew I wanted to try out Alice’s London outfit. Firstly, I didn’t have a blue dress anything close to the one she’s known for wearing, and secondly, I knew I had all the elements of the London dress in my wardrobe. (As an aside, for each level Alice has a different dress to match her surroundings, but they’re pretty special and you’re probably not going to find anything that looks vaguely like em sitting in your wardrobe. I couldn’t even find the elements of her steamdress and my wardrobe is pretty damn steampunk.)

I actually thought this was going to be the easiest outfit ever and actually an easy peasy “get back into the thick of things” post for NaC. Uh no. So while I had the black skirt, striped top and apron, as soon as I put them on in that combination I knew it wasn’t working. It looked, to be honest, kind of shit. It was very much “why the hell is this person wearing an apron outside for no reason” rather than “slightly creepy, plain, Victorian-inspired get-up”. I couldn’t in good faith post a picture of it here and tell you I would genuinely wear it out because I absolutely wouldn’t have.

So today I got a bit of a brainwave. I realised I was doing this wrong because I was dressing too much to the specific items of clothing (ie. it has to be a long-sleeved, striped top, it has to be a knee-length gathered skirt, it has to be an apron, etc) rather than roughly dressing to the shape, silhouette and blocks of colour of the outfit. I was getting too caught up in the details rather than getting the gist and bigger picture across.

So remember, back in the day, when I annotated like this?

What I used to do was follow my instincts and then work backward to to create the annotated image above. This time, I found it useful to draw a little stick figure in my head of what she was wearing and the shapes she created. Alice’s torso is somewhat square – which told me that I need a top that was tight-fitting in order to create the contrast of the more triangular skirt area. This would also be helped by having a belt-like piece of material to really emphasis my waist. As for black skirts – I would need one gathered at the waist and I would need something that was longer than the apron I owned (which is actually stupidly long).

The Outfit

Here’s the breakdown of what I’m wearing – at it’s a lot more than you might imagine:

  • Long-sleeved striped top – $6 random clothes store
  • Dress – $10 from ASOS
  • Underskirt – $2 from Cotton On
  • Bodice/Vest Top – ~$10 from Target
  • Striped tie belt – Actually a scarf I thrifted for another outfit *coughKnivesChaucough* but it was long enough to be used here as a belt. $3.
  • Apron – This had a torso section as well, but I had to fold it down and also tuck the rest of the bottom bit under the white top because it was so damn long! $2 thrifted.
  • Stockings – Leftovers from High School, yep. $10.
  • Boots – ASOS ~$40.
  • (Bottle necklace – Diva $5.)
  • (White Rabbit plush – by Funko ~$10)

As usual, everything is layered to the max. The striped top went on the bottom – that was easy – because it’s all we really need to see is the striped element on the sleeves.

Next I added a black dress (whose black short sleeves you can see) because it had the most triangular shape of everything I had. Unfortunately it was a little short, so I added another black underskirt to increase the length, puff out the skirt and give the bottom a bit of added interest. When you’re doing stuff like this, I would recommend picking an item of clothing that has a wildly different colour or texture to the material above. You’ll unlikely get two items of clothing with exactly the same material, and going for “as close as possible” usually means people notice the variations more and it looks weird. On the other hand when you combine two thing that are wildly different in some way, it looks deliberate and therefore not so noticeable (weird, eh?). You can’t really see here, but the dress is made out of a slightly shiny polyester material, whereas the underskirt is cotton lace.

To create the more square look, I opted to go for the white bodice which fit me quite tightly. As mentioned previously, I was able to fold and tuck the apron under the bodice as well as try for that more trapezoid shape (which isn’t quite conveyed in this photo). In retrospect I would have probably used some safety pins to secure everything in place and ensure that it looked exactly like how I wanted.

Lastly, I think the long, trailing bow at the back of Alice’s apron is kind of a trademark. I couldn’t find any white material that was the right colour/texture/length, but I opted for the scarf because the stripes were a repeating motif. That scarf is pretty long, but it could actually be much longer for the bow at the back. I think in this case instead of having an in-between length bow, you might have to choose between a really large, wide bow OR really long trails. I tried to get the both worlds (not that you can see in this picture anyway) and it ended up looking kind of half-assed. UP TO YOU THOUGH.

edit: Here’s a simpler alternative version. I am really out of practice.

Came up with this when I was taking off the outfit and facepalmed myself so hard it bruised.

This is basically above without the dress and tucking the extra length of the apron into the skirt I’m wearing. Because the skirt puffs out, a little extra padding underneath isn’t really noticeable.

You’ll notice I changed the top from the tight-fitting bodice to actually a quite loose-fitting white tank! I actually think this top works better when the dress is absent – the looseness is just about right to create that square shape, and I think it mimics the relative free-moving apron so you can kind of trick people into thinking it’s part of one thing.

Tank was from Big W for about $5.

Bring Your Own Attitude.

Cyndi Lauper

Yes, that missed week was totally deliberate and required in order for you all to properly contemplate and appreciate Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a suit. It was not because of my failure to write up this post at all!

After that automatic moment of derision after being invited to an eighties costume party, I realised the eighties weren’t really all bad. The eighties had Bowie, Joan Jett, MacGyver and all sorts of good music and things and even fashion. Even I who advocates the wear-whatever-the-hell-you-want system have engaged in the popular pasttime of eighties fashion bashing. Yet the eighties is one decade epitomises the wear-whatever-the-hell-you-want doctrine and if I were honest with myself, I’d probably be rockin’ Cyndi Lauper’s look had I been fashion-conscious between my birth in 1987 and the end of the decade (also if I hadn’t been born in a Communist country but anyhow…).

I got my reference pictures from this website, but I set out to get that iconic “Girl Just Wanna Have Fun” sort of look. Lauper usually wears dresses with a fitted bodice that fan out from the waist, and then accessorises the hell out of them.

I have this tendency to fling everything out of my drawers when I’m constructing an outfit. In this case I was looking for 80’s colour, patterns and fabric: shiny, synthetic, neon-bright, clashy patterns. (As an aside, dressing like Cyndi Lauper would be very similar to dressing for Delirium.)

The Dress/Skirt

I couldn’t find a suitable dress or skirt to serve as the base layer so I basically had to style one from a silk wrap skirt I own. Because there are so many layers you want to the topmost layer to be the lightest and to also be the largest in terms of puff. As the layers go down they can be heavier and more fitted, but if you actually want them to be visible they’ll also need to be a bit longer than the one previous.

If you have a tulle tu-tu or something like that you should use it as a bottom layer to puff everything on top of it up a bit more. However keep in mind that not all skirts were made to be puffed; you should look for skirts that are gathered or pleated at the waistband and billow out. This may require a lot of experimentation – a lot of the skirts I tried on really didn’t work when layered on top of others.

Due to the nature of the wrap skirt I couldn’t get the fitted bodice look I wanted on the top so I ended up wearing an old sparkly tube top over everything else.

Accessories, Hair and Makeup

If you look at pictures of Lauper you’ll see that her jewellery is part and parcel of the look. I basically pulled out every single piece of loud, colourful and shiny jewellery I have and tried them on together without too much problem.

Look for long beaded necklaces of varying lengths. If there isn’t enough variation then you can wind some double around your neck.

The bracelets and bangles need to be chunky enough to jut out from the wrist. She also frequently wears fingerless and fishnet gloves as in the first picture of this post.

Before I left the house I backcombed my hair to get it sort of big and messy. I decided to go all out and added make up too – different coloured eyeshadow. I forgot the lipstick though, but if I hadn’t I’d go for an orange-red.

The Outfit

The Breakdown:

  • Two-layered silk wrap skirt – $30 eBay
  • Black tulle skirt – ~$40 Wildilocks (You can’t really see it here but it’s giving the bottom a bit more volume)
  • Singlet top – ~$10, pretty generic
  • Tube top – ~$10, also pretty generic
  • Gold sash – Stolen from Arts Ball a few years ago 😉
  • Rainbow scarf – This was my mother’s.
  • Black granny wrap – ~$3 thrifted.
  • Lots of miscellaneous jewellery I had lying around the house. No idea how much it’d cost together.
  • Fingerless opera gloves – ~$5 from a discount store. They didn’t start off fingerless 🙂
  • Tony Bianco boots – $100
  • Purple tights – ~$10
  • Odd socks – ~$5?
  • Top hat – $55 from Wildilocks. A bit more Boy George if you ask me.

I’m not sure to what extent I really got the look right or even if I looked very 80’s. On the night of the party I think someone described me as “carnival”. The problem was that I didn’t have a lot of the right fabrics, colours and patterns to dress the era properly.

If I went back I’d probably get  a lot more of the fishnet happening and try adding more layers to the dress-skirt-thing I had on.

Tank Girl (Tank Girl)

After tackling Noodle1 I thought I’d pay homage to Jamie Hewlett2 again by having a Tank Girl post3.  I’ve not seen the film which apparently barely resembles the comics, but internet stills tell me that she dresses similarly. Also she’s Australian and dates a kangaroo that should still count for something these days.

You guys may remember that I said in my Noodle post I really disliked shorts. You may have seen me wear shorts in my recent Tonks post but that’s okay because they aren’t short shorts and they used to be jeans anyway. This time I will go another step further to say I actually kinda like shorts and my previous biases were probably due to not finding the right pair of shorts. The pair of shorts I wear in this outfit were found at Cotton On on sale for ridiculously cheap, so it just goes to show.

You’re On Your Own

The reason I’ve got a whole bunch of pictures here is because I’m not going to do my usual outfit breakdown. People who costume/cosplay as Tank Girl tend to go with the target shirt and fleece hat but dude, she’s an anarchist. She’ll wear whatever the fuck she wants.

While I kept some of the accessory staples “I’ll wear whatever the fuck I want” is pretty much how I approached this outfit, “I” being “I, Tank Girl” of course. Start with some brightly coloured plain bases like t-shirts, singlets, bras and shorts, and wear em together even if the colours clash. Especially if they clash. The reason why Tank Girl looks like a punk anarchist is precisely because the colours and patterns are all over the place.

My primary concern was that the outfit would be unsuitable for winter because she usually bares so much skin. But after Googling some images like the ones above, I realised that it wasn’t always the case. I highly recommend patterned armwarmers, leggings or socks to keep your arms and legs warm. A favourite trick of mine is to wear fishnets over some warmer opaque stockings (and then knee-high socks for a third layer if you’re really cold). Stick on some combat boots over the top and you are ready to beat up a gang of ‘roos.

Accessorise with fingerless gloves, (utility) belts, funny hats, goggles and glasses, bandaids, unisex jewellery and a cigarette4. And a motherfucking tank if you have one.

The Outfit

The Breakdown:

  • Long sleeved shirt with camouflage pattern (I have no idea where I got this or for how much – I think it was cheap.)
  • White tank – $25 because it was official Emilie Autumn merch.
  • Brown shorts – $5 from Cotton On (yay sale!)
  • Navy leggings – $8 from Target
  • Mismatched striped knee-high socks – ~$8
  • Fleece hat – $3 from thrift store
  • Goggles – $10 from eBay
  • Red suspenders – $10 from Target
  • Fleece jacket – $5 from thrift store
  • Doc Martens – $7 from Camberwell Market

I think this outfit would have worked a lot more if I hadn’t insisted on wearing it during the start of winter. During warmer days I’d have swapped out the long-sleeved top for some armwarmers or fingerless gloves5. Definitely should have gone with more colour and more fishnet stuff using old fishnet stockings.


Footnotes:

  1. By the way the blog stats show that my Noodle post is by far the most popular getting hits from Google. It’s getting about 300 hits per week (no shit).
  2. As people say, it’s not Tank Girl without Jamie Hewlett.
  3. I am ever hopeful that Hewlett is the new black and my blog and I will become famous overnight on the Googleplex.
  4. Don’t smoke kids!
  5. At the time of wearing this (which was actually more than a month ago from the date of this post) I had not yet acquired my leather fingerless gloves.

Steampump Part 1

This post is meant to be read in conjunction with Part 2.

The Steampump event was so huge, so brilliant that it definitely warrants two posts. Part 1 will be a picspam of fashion from the night and some general observations about wearing and putting together an outfit. Part 2 will be the specific deconstruction of my own outfit.

I’ve re-uploaded a couple of my photos of favourite outfits on the night below. There were a lot of other people who wore wondrous things – actually pretty much everybody – but I didn’t manage to get a photo of everybody and you can’t really see what people are wearing in some others. You can find my full gallery here, and there’s links to different photographers here should you wish to peruse more pictures.

Create Your Own Steampunk Outfit 101

The Base

The key to many steampunk outfits is layering or at least the illusion of it. If you think of the areas of your body as a canvas, the layered look involves showing as many different colours, patterns and/or textures on as many different areas of your body as possible. A lot of the bases start with a simple button-up shirt or plain top. I would recommend something long-sleeved since your arms are another place to display a layer, but this is definitely not a hard and fast rule, especially since you can use long-sleeved jackets and shrugs to the same effect. Similarly, you can also start with fairly plain bottoms – a skirt or trousers – and add layers on them although I find it slightly difficult to layer bottoms.

Clockwork Insect by In Sectus

Layering

The best items for layering are ones that cover a small area and expose the items under it. For example cropped jackets and shrugs are quite popular in steampunk fashion because people want to show off their corsets or belts. Vests, singlets and waistcoats cover the torso but not the arms and many leave the upper chest exposed. If you start with a simple long-sleeved top you can cover it with a short-sleeved shirt and then stick a corset over the top.

You can experiment with adding skirts and underskirts and bloomers by wearing several skirts of different lengths on top of each other (that also gives the upper layer more volume). Alternatively a lot of people like to pin up or tie with ribbon sections of a long skirt (I’ve used a garter belt to achieve this effect in the past). Not only does this reveal the different underskirt but you can safety-pin multiple sections to give a plain skirt a bustle-like cascading effect.

Layering trousers is a bit more difficult. You can roll them up and wear funky knee-high socks or tuck them into some boots. You can also make something like this. Accessories play a big part: a hip-height messenger bag can add to the overall outfit, or maybe a holster for your Nerf ray gun. If you have some spare material or lace you can create sashes, neckties and cravats. Extra belts can be worn around the hips or worn over the shoulder like a bandolier.  Suspenders can hold up trousers or skirts, or can hang loosely from your waist for a laid back look.

Clockwork Hairpiece by Clockwork Butterfly

Final Touches

This no-sew collar tutorial shows just how important accessorising can be. A cravat or choker can add extra class, a pocketwatch and chain makes a waistcoat look that extra bit awesome, and a hat, hairband or fascinator is almost a must! You might also want to think about adding scarves, shawls, gloves, pipes, cuffs, rayguns, watches, canes, parasols, fans, masks, eyepatches, goggles, spectacles, monocles, weaponry and a number of other easily-obtainable (or makeable) extras to personalise the outfit.

World-famous Goggles by Maduncle Cliff

Ahh! It’s all too much!!

I encourage all of you to experiment, but sometimes we’re the most creative when we work inside limitations or structures. A lot of people find personas and roleplaying helpful. If you’re a “beginner” in steampunk aesthetics it’s useful to think about a character or occupation to impose constructive limits. For example a lady would tend to wear brighter colours, more elaborate textures like silk and satin and carry a parasol or a fan. On the other hand airship crew would have more practical clothing, wear matte textures like linen and cotton, stick to black, grey and brown, carry rayguns and goggles. These are definitely not rules and you should feel free to wear bright pink linen shirts and carry a raygun and a fan. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed or worried you’re not “doing it right”* an occupation might be a good place to start putting together an outfit.

*It’s very difficult to do “wrong” unless you miss the mark completely and think converse shoes, baggy jeans, t-shirt and a hoodie is a steampunk outfit. And even then it’s arguable.

Gemstone Kaleidoscope from Wunderkammer

Shopping & etc

There were some wonderful local vendors and exhibitors at Steampump and I would do them injustice if I didn’t give them some publicity. Thank you to everyone who worked on this event and volunteered their time to help because it totally went off. I can’t wait till the next one.

Unfortunately I didn’t catch the names of everyone who had a stall or performed. If you’re not on this list, let me know!

Part 2