How to Be a Steampunk Lady for Halloween

September 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Obtain a gown.  Let us assume for the moment that you live in a cold clime, and will need to be modestly-clad.


Add an Asian influence.

You could also accessorize with a shawl, fan, etc.

You might be martially inclined, or even inclined to march:

Say what you will about corsets (such as, you can’t swing a dead cat on Halloween, or on Etsy, without hitting one), it’s tough to get a real steampunk look going without at least one corset, or more if circumstances require.  But that doesn’t mean you automatically have to gravitate to the slutty ones that are really just boob-accentuators.  Think of your corset as a protective apron.  Gird your loins against gamma rays and whatnot that you may encounter on your adventure.  The steampunkiest-looking corsets, ironically, are those originally intended to be underwear, but in reality look like something that got put through a time machine and then landed in outerspace.  Be that as it may, your classic girdle makes an industrial-strength corset, worn on the outside of the clothing, of course.

There’s no need to limit oneself to only one corset, and the base layer of the traditional girdle will need to be jazzed up with something more modern, or reinforced with something flame-retardant.  Think layering.  Your outfit will thank you.  Your hourglass figure will thank you.  Please be careful how much you eat for lunch, and don’t forget your smelling salts.


And now top that whole sandwich off with a belt.  The belt is important, and here’s why.  The belt might be where you store your magic amulet.  Or, it serves a productive purpose and allows you to hang gear, ammunition, or weapons off of it within easy reach.  Don’t underestimate the importance of the belt.


If you have a few extra leather belts laying around, we recommend randomly strapping them to your person in various places (arms, thighs, collar bones, etc.), hinting at purposes only you understand.

Some form of headgear is now in order.  You could go with the good old fashioned top hat or fascinator:

Or the military / marching band / majorette look:

Or indulge your whimsy and go for the fantastical:

If you’re of the more practical persuasion, you might want wear a helmet instead.  There’s aviator, fencing, motorcycle, Viking, pith, football, scuba, riding, and air raid, to name a few.


Now that we’ve got the basic outfit, accessorize accessorize accessorize. Let’s start with some protective eyewear.  You have a huge range to choose from.  Vintage motorcycle goggles are perfect, as are anything else that looks perfectly ridiculous and goes over your eyes.  Don’t be afraid to choose something absurd.  Absurd goggles are arguably the most important element of a good steampunk get-up.

A lady always wears gloves.  And/or gauntlets.

And carries a reticule.  Industrial strength, in case of accidents, or if it’s from the future.

Hands-free options can be particularly useful.

What about footgear, you ask?  Depending on where you’re treading, you could go pretty or practical.  Again, now is a good time to bring in that Asian influence.  Steel-toe ass-kickers or Japanese geta, your choice, but consider the elements, comfort, and your own particular fetish.


And now a word about safety.  We’ve already girded our loins, so now you might want to concentrate on covering some other vulnerable areas with body armour.  Supplement as needed.  You don’t want to go all medieval, but depending on your adventure, you could be getting into some dangerous territory, and worse case scenario you can always refer to it as the Cyberman look.  Not sure how butch you want to go, but the 19th-century-prostitute look is just lame and isn’t really steampunk per se, it’s just a prostitute from another era.  Real steampunk girls range from can-take-care-of-herself to total-badass.  But even the badest-ass needs to protect her tender bits.  So let’s be careful out there.

A gas mask is a creepy yet effective accessory.

Extremely important.  Do not venture forth un-armed.  Make sure your packin’ heat.  Your weapons choices are as varied as are aliens to shoot them with.  Do not, I repeat, do not underestimate the power of a cookie dough dispenser.

And finally, no steampunk rig is complete without a parasol.  No one’s sure why.  But it’s a requirement.

Last step, strap one of these to your back …

… and attach it to your person with one of these, and you’re good to go!


Don’t forget the requisite randomly-placed gauges, gears, clocks, tubes, guns, buckles, valves, and dials, that should protrude from your outfit in convenient spots, preferably connecting to different spots somewhere on down the line.

DIY Two-Toned Cowboy Shirt

August 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

DIY Two-Toned Cowboy Shirt

Presto, chango: fancy western.  Thank you to Emma B. on Cut Out + Keep craft tutorials.  Great idea for a cowboy costume at Halloween!  More cowboy shirts available from Vintrowear, both plain and fancy.

Hop on Pop Shop! Keith Haring Magnets!

July 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

Amazing!  Puffy!  We have this week a rare and unique item – Keith Haring puffy magnets in their original packaging.  This is a virtually unblemished set, purchased in the heyday of the 1980’s, straight from the Pop Shop.  You must see.

Keith Haring Puffy Magnets from Vintrowear from Vintrowear

Keith Haring Puffy Magnets from Vintrowear

Keith Haring Puffy Magnets from Vintrowear Keith Haring Puffy Magnets from Vintrowear Keith Haring Puffy Magnets from Vintrowear Keith Haring Puffy Magnets from Vintrowear Keith Haring Puffy Magnets from Vintrowear Keith Haring Puffy Magnets from Vintrowear

Keith Haring Puffy Magnets from Vintrowear


March 17, 2012 § 1 Comment

Finding redemption at Roy Vaccaro’s New York Old Iron in Brooklyn.

NY Old Iron

NY Old Iron

NY Old Iron

NY Old Iron

Smitten by a mitten, and a slice of Memphis with the Bo-Keys

October 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Lebowski and hand knits

Many thanks to our good friend JKE for sewing the upcycled fleece lining into the mittens on her fancy sewing machine.

In other news, last Monday we were “Just Chillin'” at Joe’s Pub with the Bo-Keys, featuring a good friend of Cousin Craig’s, Scott Bomar.

The Bo-Keys

Finally, what week wouldn’t be complete without an up-skirts shot of the most famous lady in America:

Statue of Liberty

Thank you to Mr. Vintrowear for that inspired photograph.

And in case you’re wondering how the Etsy store is going, well, it’s hopping!  Don’t forget to check out vintage cowboy shirts at the Vintrowear Etsy store.  And the full selection is also available at

Ode to Western Wear Ken

October 2, 2011 § 1 Comment

Giddy up, Ken!

Western Wear Ken

1980 Western Ken

Western Wear Ken

1982 Horse Lovin’ Ken

Western Wear Ken

Western Ken from Lynne’s Lovables, in red leather and fringe.  Yee haw!


Want to look fashionable, just like Ken?  Vintage western shirts from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s on sale now at


Are you in the market for a pair of used antlers? How about a polyester rhinestone gown? Thrift stores of Ronan, MT

July 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Along US Highway 93 heading from Charlo to Polson there’s an edifice of peeling white paint with an array of used appliances glimmering out front.  This is home of the “White Elephant 2nd Hand Store” in Ronan, MT.  Having always wanted to see what its inner sanctum held (and harboring a longtime dream to own a junk store just like it), I popped in to browse while my relations dropped off a broken screen at the Hanson & Granley hardware store (across from the Ace, which no self-respecting local frequents, to hear tell.)  I had envisioned the While Elephant carrying row after row of pristine fancy cowboy shirts embroidered with cows, horseshoes, eagles, dice, or, I dunno, blue herons or something.  What I found instead was a giant selection of animal pelts, antlers, farm implements, and combat boots.

Antlers, farm tools at White Elephant 2nd Hand Store in Ronan, MT

Animal pelts! at White Elephant 2nd Hand Store in Ronan, MT

Over on the other side of the store, they did sport the traditional inventory of vintage glass, musical instruments, and oddly, ziplock bags full of quilting fabric scraps.

Vintage glass at White Elephant 2nd Hand Store in Ronan, MT

And while they had a nice selection of beaded Native American jewelry (the whole area is smack dab in the middle of the Salish Kootenai reservation), they carried not a single cowboy shirt.  Among other things, White Elephant is also a pawn shop, and it seems to do a fairly brisk business despite its remote rural location.  While browsing, I witnessed not a few customers swapping stuff for cash and vice versa.

Heading into town yielded a gem of a shop called Twice But Nice Discount Store.  They had a sizable vintage collection, dresses going for $8-9, on sale for 50% off!  I found some groovy selections, such as this plaid maxi dress with a yarn-fringe slit up the front:

R&K Originals vintage plaid maxi dress at Twice But Nice in Ronan, MT R&K Originals vintage plaid maxi dress at Twice But Nice in Ronan, MT R&K Originals vintage plaid maxi dress at Twice But Nice in Ronan, MT R&K Originals vintage plaid maxi dress at Twice But Nice in Ronan, MT

And this glamorous gown in turquoise polyester with cowl-style mock turtleneck and rhinestone-studded eyelet along the collar-bones:

JC Penney Fashions turquoise rhinestone gown at Twice But Nice in Ronan, MT JC Penney Fashions turquoise rhinestone gown at Twice But Nice in Ronan, MT JC Penney Fashions turquoise rhinestone gown at Twice But Nice in Ronan, MT

I did pick up for myself an Emma Peel-style blue wool dress.  As soon as the NYC temp dips back below 90, I might actually try it on to see if it fits.

As seen at Holy Name Thrift Store on 96th Street

July 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

Holy Name of Jesus should be renamed Holy Name of Awesome Vintage Polyester.  Not a great name for a church, but certainly much more descriptive.  I found some cool retro dresses that will probably outlast humankind and the planet earth.  Plus some other nice gems, too:

A shockingly-mustard floor-length gown, tank-style with a gold brocade neckline trim and a gold trimmed hem.  Metal zipper, no tag.  Looks hand-sewn.

Baby blue Sears JR Bazaar polyester dress, with a drawstring spaghetti strap neckline and a tiered layer skirt.

This one’s actually been at the store for the last year or two.  I think a good drycleaning and it might make a nice spring/fall jacket!  It’s lined with wool, and behind the cloth toggles are metal snaps.  A red/back silk traditional Chinese quilted jacket with cheongsam collar.


Cream colored lace nightie with robe, an “Eve Stillman Original.”

And check this out.  An Oscar de la Renta Pink Label two-piece skirt suit.  Fuchsia embossed.  Someone should go back and buy that.  I tried to convince a portly West Indian woman shopping for shoes to buy it, but she looked at me like I was a crazy person.  But later on she took a liking to me and starting asking me advice about a rather nice sand-dollar belt she wanted to buy.  “What would I wear it with?” she asked.  Wow, people are actually asking me fashion advice!  I guess if you wander around a store with a camera and point out designer labels to people, you assume a air of knowledge.  Assume away, friends!

I think this one’s my favorite.  That yellow shirt front is sewn in.  Awesome!

And this I think is the perfect librarian-wear.  If you’re a librarian with a time machine to the seventies, and you’re also a practicing Wiccan.

These are the ones I didn’t buy.  I picked up two dresses that look to be about size 10.  One a wool suit-dress contraption and another a black polyester long sleeve gathered neck dealie.  Also found a neat-o silver and brown polyester top with a crazy fringie waistline.  I’m going to sneak a few more items into the drycleaning budget.  Please, Interweb, please please send all your peoples to to buy western shirts.  I need to support my vintage-buying habit.

Required Reading

June 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Credit card in hand, I navigated to Vintage Fashion Guild to join their noble ranks.  But alas!  Denied entry because I have not met this criteria:

  • At least 100 feedbacks received (as a seller) if selling through an auction/fixed price public website; or proof of sales experience in vintage fashion for at least one year.

The age old conundrum: can’t get experience because I have no experience.  Can’t increase my ad budget because I haven’t sold anything.  Argh.  But while perusing their very moving and effective testimonials from sellers who have have been admitted to their inner sanctum, I came across this:

“I spend a small fortune annually on books about vintage, but here, ultimately, is where I do most of my learning. It’s an amazing resource and community, worth far more to me than the $35 I dish out to belong!” Glad Rags & Curios

Well, it looks like Ms. Glad Rags already got her $35 worth already, because look, there’s her name up in lights for all the world to see!  In case you’re curioUs, her shop’s on Ruby Lane.  The lesson I’m going to take away here is not, “Start-Ups Need Not Apply.”  The lesson I’m going to take away is, I’m not the only one spending a small fortune annually on books about vintage!  It’s safe to say I’m addicted to buying bizarre and cheap used books about vintage fashion from Amazon.  To wit (to whit? two wit? tuit?), my latest acquisition, Hillbilly Hollywood: the Origins of Country & Western Style:

This is a book about famous people you’ve never heard of.  They were the big stars in what is now a ghost town.  They were part of a Hollywood that sold tickets to an imaginary west.  They wandered to California from real ranches in Texas and Oklahoma, many of them, and they really did know old cowpoke songs and really could ride horses.  Then they stepped into a myth.

I think I purchased the very last copy known to mankind.  It was, like, $35 a few months ago.  I got it for $13!  And for free, I got listing in International Fashion Bloggers and Bloglovin.  Plus I made some new friends.

96th Street Thrift Store Mecca

June 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

I recently got a postcard in the mail about re-fashioNYC.  Housing Works is partnering with NYC to place donation bins in apartment buildings and other public and private locations.

It seems as if Housing Works is growing like gangbusters these days, which I hope is a sign that recycled and re-purposed — and sometimes vintage — clothing is a trend that is here to stay.  They just opened up a new Housing Works in my neighborhood, and I feel as if 96th St. has become a veritable thrift-store Mecca.  The new Housing Works on Broadway between 96th and 97th is still putting the finishing touches on the facade, but the store is fully operational.  I’ve popped in a couple times.  HW has some finds sometimes, but many of the locations focus mostly on furniture.  I volunteered for them for a few months last fall, but I had to give it up because I was trying to launch Vintrowear.  The 17th St. store has a huge selection of clothes, and occasionally I came across some cool vintage and/or designer finds.  Case in point this Valentino poncho.

The Salvation Army on 96th Street between Broadway and West End recently remodeled, which has transformed them from a decrepit tenement house to a modern, clean facility.  I rarely find anything vintage here, but occasionally I come across something that might help with my Halloween costume.  And I basically live in a pair of Esprit khakis I got here a couple years ago.

The thrift store at the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus on 96th between Broadway and Amsterdam is the 3rd in the, shall we say, Holy Trinity of 96th Street thrift stores.  Say what you will about the Catholics, this is one good thrift store.  It’s the size of half a city block in the basement of the church, and every single time I go in there I find at least 1 thing vintage.  For some reason I avoided the place for most of the 15 years I’ve lived in the neighborhood.  I think it’s because as an Episcopalian I’ve been conditioned to avoid Papists.  But when I finally went in about a year ago, right off the bat when I walk in the door, I discover a vintage little black velvet jacket.  The only thing I don’t like about it is it has three-quarter length sleeves, but it’s come in handy plenty of times as a cover over a cocktail dress.

A few weeks ago when I went in, I came across this:

It’s a somewhat bizarre beaded acrylic cardigan.  Not sure what era because the tag is gone, but I’m fairly sure it’s not modern because it’s got a lining sewed in.  It sort of looks like the lining is hand-sewn, but it’s hard to say.

Plus, the yarn has that scratchy, been-around-for-a-long-time-but-refuses-to-degrade-because-it’s-a-petroleum-product feel.  Which for vintage clothes is a good thing, because the color stays forever bright and moths won’t eat it.  It does have a few small holes, because the weight of the beads has pulled it down slightly:

The beadwork is massive.  It’s on the front and back, and then sprinkled throughout.

I tried it on but unfortunately it’s too big.  So much for it being my go-to Christmas sweater.  If it had fit, I think the look would have been suitably retro-hipster.  But since it was slightly too large for me, instead of goth-girl it had more of a grandma-girl effect.  Once I add women’s clothing to Vintrowear, I think this will go into the inventory.  I think it’s about a size 10, so all you size 10 goth-girls get ready.

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