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.

MLX10 Hangar Dance

Someone emailed me through the site the other day and I was all 😀 😀 😀 😀 I was always going to post another update but I made this more of a priority after people said nice things about me. Strangely my timetable has not freed up post-exams due to the huge number of things I’m juggling.

One of my current obssessions hobbies is swing dancing and as everyone on Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook already know I went to this amazing event organised by the Melbourne Lindy Exchange that was:

  • diesel-punk costume themed, and
  • located in a real airplane hangar, and
  • had a live big band playing, and
  • obviously, for swing dancing!

Bear with me if I’m repeating myself, but the outfits at the event were really amazing and if anything I was underdressed. That said, I dressed to the theme but knowing that I’d be moving around a lot and getting very warm and sweaty.

(And yes, that is a real plane in the above picture. It is an aircraft hangar after all.)

Dieselpunk

Over on the BrassGoggles forums I once came across this timeline of -punk addages that seemed… excessive, but anyhow dieselpunk is the alternate history version of WWII, the period from about 1920 to 1950 (think Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, the mOBSCENE video, and even um this Christina Aguilera videoclip) but it often gets lumped together with steampunk since there’s a lot of overlap between people interested in retrofuturism (which is also why I’ve stuck this under the steampunk category).

Where steampunk has the frills and ruffles of Victoriana, dieselpunk is a lot more utilitarian to reflect the wartime. Clothing shapes are very fitted against the body in comparison to wide skirts and puffy shoulders, and the lines tend to be very clean and straight rather than curved. You see a bit of brown here and there, but I’d say the staple colours are army green, beige, tan and all the shades of camouflage. Navy blues are also popular (to continue with the military theme) and bright reds are nice on Rosie The Riveter style outfits.

The Outfit

When I first heard about the event I immediately knew what I wanted to wear, and that I wanted to go with a more militaristic look.

  • Backless, sleeveless shirt-halter vest thing – $10 from a random clothing store
  • High-waisted skirt – $35 from a Dizingof sale (!!)
  • White scarf – under $5 from thrift store
  • Olive Military Jacket – Westco, bought from eBay for $10
  • Goggles – $10 from eBay
  • Fingerless leather gloves – $20 from Sportsgirl
  • Boots – My $100 favourites from Tony Bianco

In terms of building the silhouette, everything is quite close-fitting, and I got more of that pinched waist look by the high-waisted skirt (which also has a bit of boning at the front which really helps keep the shape). The skirt is especially military-esque because of its colour, but also because of the position of double rows of buttons on the front. That’s something to look for in both your jackets and tops and bottoms (you’ll notice my olive jacket has two rows of buttons as well), and something you can definitely recreate by stitching button on existing items if you don’t have anything especially military-esque.

For maximum maneuverability I decided to forego a corset or a fitted belt, and similarly for dancing reasons I decided on wearing this halter-shirt-thing instead of an actual long-sleeved shirt and a neck tie, even though the latter would probably look a lot more formal.

If had the time I would have made myself a garrison cap (this pattern was originally from HMA Badger website, but the site is down as of this post which is why I’ve reuploaded it), but the goggles did a good job of keeping my hair back and the cap possibly would have just fallen off.

Mid-year sales

I got such a positive response for my last NeckThingy post and I just want to thank you all for reading, commenting and linking (again). A lot of people seem to be planning to make one so please send in pictures because I’d love to see what you come up with. I will try to post more easy DIYs in the future but for now you’ll have to humour me this shopping post…

It’s the end of the financial year and retailers are getting their sale on. Here’s a handful of items I picked up on sale that I absolutely love and that will probably crop up in this blog again:

Fingerless Leather Gloves

Sportsgirl was having a super massive sale on these for $20. I’d seen some Very Nice pairs from Dents in Myer but I couldn’t justify $40 on gloves. Luckily weird leather gloves have been in season (I blame Lady Gaga) so Portmans, Dotti and all those types of stores had them on their accessory rack. Sportsgirl was the cheapest and I had to trample around the city from one store to another looking for the right size.

I’ve wanted a pair of these for so long and now I can’t stop wearing them. The leather is very supple and allows a lot of movement while keeping your hands warm during winter. I’d retroactively wear them with almost all the outfits I’ve posted: Noodle, KK, Tonks, the soopar sekrit upcoming character outfit and my steampunk airship first mate.

Top Hat vs Derby Hat

Wildilocks had a massive 2 for 1 sale before their stocktake day and I managed to pick up this hat for $55. The height is much shorter than a regular top hat; it’s like a derby hat but derby hats (or bowler hats) have a rounded crown which this one doesn’t. I already own a top hat but it’s quite high and unwieldy to wear everyday and not nearly as shapely as this one. I love the upturned sides and the slight concave shape of the crown.

I’ll definitely be doing a post about my hat collection in the future. I’d wear this one with steampunk, Mad Hatter or Sandman’s Death inspired outfits.

Black Buckled and Tulle Skirt

The free item from Wildilocks’ sale above. I’ve been looking for a short black ruffle-y skirt and while this doesn’t exactly fit the bill it’s a pretty close match. I plan on wearing this by itself, layering this with different underskirts and pretending I’m a goth ballerina. I’d switch out the skirt in KK’s outfit for this one.

Here’s a picture of me wearing everything and pretending to be Lady Gaga


Wardrobe Spotlight – Suspenders

A note to everyone: updates are going to be erratic again as a go through exams! I’ll get back to about once/twice a week after June.

Wardrobe spotlights are in intended to show off the versatility of basic wardrobe staples and why they’re worth investing in.

Also known as braces, these were traditionally worn to hold up pants and were meant to be a type of underwear not outerwear. Today most people wear belts or buy pants that fit them (I guess) so when they wear suspenders it’s as a prominently displayed fashion statement. (A postmodern statement about pants as a metaphor for life being uplifting rather than a rumpled mess around your ankes?) But if you think outside the box a little they can be used to rock a lot of different looks:

1. Traditional

Suspenders to hold up your choice of bottoms. A pair of nice-looking pants and button-up shirt gets you a very gentlemanly look, but suspenders looks equally as awesome worn with shorts or skirts and a t-shirt for a more punk and hipster look.

2. Why don’t my pants fall down?

A variant on the traditional. Instead of suspenders holding up your choice of bottoms your bottoms hold up your suspenders while they hang idly around your thighs. Also known as the “undo your top button and roll up your sleeves” variant.

3. Harness and extra straps

Instead of holding up your bottoms suspenders can be used to provide extra interest by holding up your midriff. In this picture I created a harness sort of thing by clipping the suspenders onto a belt around waist. You can also do this with bustiers, underbust corsets, etc etc.

4. Giving a skirt extra layers

Okay this looks a little weird, but no weirder than a lot of stuff you’d see on a runway. I’ve tried a similar look using suspender belts which also works quite well, and you could also try pinning extra folds with safety pins. The aim is basically trying to replicate something like this. Realistically you won’t get there since that pattern was especially drafted to be hooked up, but you can get pretty close to a cheap-ish bustle skirt.

I hope your mind is now sufficiently blown. Go out and be fabulous.

Haute Macabre Clothing Swap

Haute Macabre, the fashion blog for growned up goths, ran a giant ridiculous clothing swap where they matched blog readers of similar sizing together so people could pass on some wardrobe they didn’t wear and receive some exciting surprise clothing for the cost of a mailbag.

Well my parcel came in the mail and it was basically bulging with funky new clothes! Thank you Emma from the ACT! I am in love with this jacket and skirt.

Not pictured:

  • Polka-dot shrug that fits as long as I don’t button it up (actually the only thing that fit a bit funny)
  • Light grey jacket with 3/4 sleeves

KK (FreakAngels)

Sadly FreakAngels was not updated this week, but I have been following this fantastic free webcomic from the beginning. It is written by Warren Ellis, perhaps best known for the Transmetropolitan comic series, and drawn by Paul Duffield. Ellis’ work often feature cyberpunk dystopias, although FreakAngels is arguably steampunk in a very literal way.

The comic is set in a post-apocalyptic future in a flooded Whitechapel, London and is focused around a group of 12 people with special powers – the “FreakAngels”. Even though this is a free online comic this is definitely professional project. The art is wonderful and very richly coloured. The storylines are compelling. You should read it from the beginning if you haven’t already.

KK is a loudmouthed, somewhat stubborn engineer FreakAngel. She’s probably not my favourite character (it’s probably Arkady), but she’s definitely the most featured. And I love how she dresses.

Breaking Down KK’s Outfit

Unlike Noodle, KK seems to be quite attached to this particular outfit and only this outfit:

  • Black short-sleeved loose black jacket with grey cuffs, mid-waist length.
  • Pin-striped corset or bustier with grey detailing and piping (??)
  • Short black ruffle skirt
  • Thigh-high fishnets, large diamonds.
  • Chunky mid-ankle shoes.
  • Occasionally fingerless black (leather) gloves.
  • Occasionally a brown pilot’s cap and aviator goggles.

Notice her jacket makes everything above her waist and elbows really bulky in comparison to the rest of her body.

The Outfit

Rundown of items:

  • Aviator goggles – $10 from eBay
  • Plastic-boned bustier – $10 secondhand from the Black Market
  • Pinstripe shirt – ~$15 from Kmart
  • Ruffle skirt – $20 from Tempt (on sale, it was originally $40)
  • Fishnets – ~$5 from Safeway (on sale, it was originally ~$10)
  • Doc Martens – $7(!!) secondhand from Camberwell Market (regular price ~$120)
IT ARE FACT!

A corset and a bustier are two completely different items of clothing, both of which can have boned structure.

Bustiers are the type commonly found in lingerie stores and are sold quite cheaply because they contain flexible plastic bonding.

On the other hand, modern day corsets will usually use steel boning (flat and spiral) and will cinch your waist in several inches. Good quality corsets start around $100 for a basic waist cincher and can go to many hundreds of dollars if they’re custom tailored to your size by a corsetiere.

Corsets are luxury items and usually preferred over bustiers because they retain shape and the bones don’t warp over time. However bustiers are fine fashion items, especially if you don’t want to invest money into something like a corset yet want a similar look.

Tip: if someone is offering a new “corset” for under $90 chances are it is a bustier with flexible boning. In rare cases corsets may be made with plastic boning, but this variety will be very different to the ones used in cheaper bustiers.

Review

Often compromises must be made when you simply don’t own the right item for the outfit. This is OK because, as the title of the blog suggests, we’re not cosplaying. I don’t actually own any short-sleeved jackets (or long-sleeved jackets I could roll up) so I opted for the loosest and least fitted of my shirts. While it isn’t as bulky and doesn’t hang quite as heavily, it’s the right length and gives a similar silhouette with the sleeves rolled up.

KK actually wears black canvas high-tops but my Doc Martens are the same colour and more or less the same length.

I do own pairs of fingerless gloves but they’re all of the knit variety. I plan on buying a pair of leather fingerless gloves very soon (oh so useful and stylish looking!) but in the meantime I wore my DIY armwarmers for a similar look without the sweaty hands.

The skirt is a little longer that I’d like, but I don’t own a shorter ruffled skirt. This is a signal to hit the sewing machine methinks and alter some old black skirts I don’t wear anymore.

The bustier could be substituted with an actual corset or alternatively a black singlet top with good support. The bodice’s cupped breasts are probably one of the more striking features of the outfit.

Aviator goggles completely optional, but could probably be substituted with a pair of aviator glasses instead.

Noodle (Gorillaz)

Noodle 1Plastic Beach is the new album just released by everyone’s favourite virtual band, Gorillaz. I’ve been listening to the music on repeat and I absolutely love Jamie Hewlett’s illustrations. (Yes, I realise not all of the illustrations I feature on this page are “official”.)

Noodle is my favourite character of the bunch – although I’ll readily admit that I tend to latch on Asian characters that break out of the stereotype – and her late teen style phase is actually pretty close to what I tend to come up with when I just throw stuff from my wardrobe on. Plus she’s also a cyborg who’s in a videoclip with Bruce Willis. She’s stylish, a mean guitar player, an awesome dancer and kicks butt. Who wouldn’t want to dress like Noodle?

Her look is quite an easy one to achieve because it’s mostly made up of wardrobe basics. Because it’s my first post I’ll try to walk through the steps of how I figure out what to wear.

1. Google some images

I found a whole bunch of different stuff, but these images were closest for the look I wanted to go for. There were definitely some items of clothing that mark of her late Demon Days look and I picked the items that I had in my wardrobe and I knew would suit me.

Here’s a rundown of what I found Noodle wearing most often:

  • Tops: Plain, occasionally striped, t-shirts and singlet tops – short, not long.
  • Bottoms: Short shorts, occasionally short skirts.
  • Footwear: Knee-high socks, Sketchers style keds or knee-high black boots.
  • Accessories: Military cap, neck bandanna, leather gloves, belts.

Additionally Noodle often rocks a sort of military look (sort of reminiscent of Hewlett’s Tank Girl in a way as well).

Now take out the items that you think would fit into a Noodle outfit and try them on together. Think about colour/texture/themes in her clothing.

2. Build a Silhouette

People who are familiar with EGL will understand this concept. Because we’re not cosplaying and we’re emulating a style, we’re more concerned with an overall impression rather than particular details like colour. This step is thinking about the clothing relative to the rest of her body. How much skin is showing? Where do her shorts and skirts end on her thigh? If you were looking at her animated shadow which shapes and corners are the strongest?

The bulk of Noodle’s clothing is concentrated around her torso and her arms and legs seem to stick out of a rectangular shape made by her clothing. Therefore we want a loose fitting, short-torsed t-shirt and similar skirt or shorts. Under-the-knee socks or boots are a definite because this is where there is a strong line break in the shape or colour.

Her hat seems to be one of those military caps however if you don’t own that particular style, any hat with a forward brim and flat-ish top would probably work. She sometimes wears a chunky belt around her waist.

3. Colour and Texture

Noodle usually wears plain, more low-key colours accented with brighter ones. If you wanted to go for a more military-cyborg Noodle you might want to stick to khakis, shades of grey and all the colours of the camouflage rainbow. Her clothing is matte, and in most cases you’d probably be looking for items made out of cotton or drill.

4. Alter the look so you’re comfortable.

It was a cold day when I walked out so I added opaque stockings under my knee-high socks, and a military jacket over the top of my t-shirt. The skirt was also pretty short, and I generally feel more comfortable wearing tights underneath. I opted for the skirt instead of shorts because I really don’t like the way most shorts look on me (especially short-shorts).

5. Wear Your Outfit!

Noodle Attempt

Items rundown:

  • Black Wool General’s hat – Camberwell Market $15 (+buttons and brooches I’ve collected – maybe +~$10)
  • Olive Military Jacket – Westco, bought from eBay for $10
  • Bandanna – Bought somewhere in San Francisco for $2
  • Brown T-shirt – Piping Hot from Target, ~$10
  • Belt – Buffalo Exchange in Berkeley ~$6
  • Grey Check Skirt – Thrift store, $2
  • Knee-High Socks – Target ~$5
  • Black Leather Boots – Tony Bianco $100 (they’ll last for years)

5. Review The Outfit

I don’t actually own sensible knee-high boots or keds either (that probably needs to be remedied). I had a choice between my mid-calf boots and black sneakers, and chose the former. This actually threw out my silhouette a bit because it cuts off the colour at the wrong place. Next time I’d go with my shorter length Doc Marten boots or the sneakers. I’d probably also wear my pair of leather gloves as well.

I totally dig the colour co-ordinating of the blue socks, belt and the t-shirt print though and was complimented by my swing dancing teacher on how much he liked the outfit!

So that’s the first post finished! Let me know what you think of the blog, if there’s something I missed out or included only boring bits or any general feedback you’d like to give me!