Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wild Card Outfits aka Geeking Out at the Steam Expo All Weekend

I have had a very busy weekend! As mentioned, we went to the Victoria Steam Expo - we had a blast. 

[This is a large, picture-heavy post] 

Directly below are my Wild Card outfits for the months; I couldn't limit myself to only one costume for the 3 days of the Expo, so I did three different ones. These are not composed of items from my April capsule. Below the outfit photos are a ton of pictures of the fantastic costumes I saw, places I was at, wonderful people I met (hello, people!) and things I thought you might enjoy seeing. 

Wild Card Outfit #1: Black and Blue (Friday)
I planned out all of my outfits in advance, a couple of weeks ago, after a thrifting shopping trip, so that I wouldn't have to futz around figuring out what to wear. I was really glad I did that, as I was pressed for time each day.

My black and blue outfit is composed - like most of my costumes - mostly out of pieces that I already have in my wardrobe. I used the same layering for this outfit a few months ago, with my plaid bustier and striped Noa Noa coat.
This time, I added my floofy Noa Noa blue skirt underneath (I also have a blue cami on underneath, but you can't see it in any of the pictures). I last wore the blue skirt here, back in August.

I pinned the hem of the skirt up to show off my Marc Softwalk boots and my striped tights:
 The stuff:
I bought the wooden fan in Chinatown for $6.99; the cloisonne butterfly/tassel necklace was marked at $5.00 at St. Vincent de Paul's thrift store (but was 1/2 off!), and I found the wicked leather/real eelskin/elastic blue belt at Women in Need for $5.50. Everything else is stuff I already had: Grandma J's copper Renoir set, a vintage copper starburst pin, my Le Chateau bug pin, and star pin.

I also bought these white gloves at Beacon Thrift Shop for 50 cents.
 My boots.
These were so comfortable and looked perfect.

I customized my "flowerpot" hat (last worn here, 2nd outfit) with homemade copper coils. I had broken the feather stem last time I wore the hat, but the copper worked really well to wire it back in place.
I bought a couple of rolls of thick wire at the hardware store ($2.99 each), and rolled the wire around a paintbrush in tight coils, then pulled it out into a sproingy spring.
I just bent them onto the hat. They did make the hat really heavy (along with the added pin), and I was fussing with it most of the night, as it pulled on the elastic and ended up resting on one side of my glasses. I need to attach some good hair clips to the hat to anchor it to my head better.

The outfit without the accessories:
Also before I pinned up the skirt's hem.

And for fun, here's L's outfit. He's a steampunk pirate.
He's wearing his bowler (with a $1.00 thrifted black leather belt forming a hatband), a new Le Chateau vest, a vintage ruffled shirt, an 80s vintage belt (it's stamped "Anne Klein" on the top of the buckle), pants from one of his zoot suits, his Fluevog Earl of Warwick boots, leather fingerless gloves, a wineskin, a couple of heavy bracelets, and a sword.
I wouldn't let him take the sword - I didn't want him to get arrested for having a sharpened weapon in public.

The two of us:
Oh, I used my little copper beaded purse with this (I got it at Plum several years ago for $16).

L's details:
Awesome boots.

The back:
He has his hair tied with a black satin ribbon, and that's his own metallic scarf from the late 80s/early 90s. What a swashbuckler!

Wild Card Outfit #2 - Victoria Ribbons and Ruffles (Saturday)
I wore this outfit all day Saturday, for over 12 hours, so it was my most elaborate.

What's from my regular wardrobe: my red vintage full slip, my olive maxi parachute skirt (last worn here, scroll down), my plaid jacket and leather vest (worn together here, although the leather vest was part of my February capsule), my leather belt and my new Fluevog Babycakes Minis. Oh, and my striped socks!
New items: the little clip-on fascinator, the little overskirt, the bag, the tassel and the ribbon.

Here's how I built the outfit:
I bought a bag of brass curtain clips and used them to create pulleys on the 3 skirts - I tied ribbon to each of the hooks. Totally removable and didn't damage any of my clothes. The ribbon was $2 a yard.

In my slip with the maxi overtop of it. I added the little short skirt to make a bustle effect. I found it at WIN for $6.
 Yikes, I hate seeing my face this large, ha!
I'm trying to show the cuffs of the jacket; I used the curtain clips around each cuff and tied ribbon to those too. I also wore my 70s vintage Sarah Coventry ring and my Foxy clock hand earrings.

I added those items after I took this picture.
The necklace was a gift from blogger Tina of "T Minus, T Plus."  I didn't end up wearing either of the leather cuffs because of the be-ribboned cuffs, nor did I wear the red silk scarf ($2 at WIN) or the wide brown belt. My hat pin was worn on my lapel, with my crow pin. The little brown fascinator was $18 at Heart's Content in Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown.

My tassel and the curtain hooks.
And the tag from the skirt. I can never remember prices, so I always take pictures of the tags. I'm getting old, bear with me.

I found this awesome leather purse at Regalia Boutique in Fan Tan Alley.
It's stamped "Jil Sander Leather Classics" - I've forgotten what I paid for it, but I think it was around $30.

It has another tag inside - and the insides are all leather too.
Although it's a nice bag, I am pretty sure it's not real Jil Sander - it's probably just a good fake - if it were real, it would be worth several hundred dollars! The hardware is just gold-coloured, and it's just a standard zipper on the inside pocket. I like it, though, and that's what counts!

Wild Card Outfit #3 - Black, White and Red Victorian Punk (Sunday)
Today, I wore this fun ensemble for the last day of the Expo. I walked to town, grocery-shopped and met Elaine for lunch before we headed down. It was fun walking around in this!

Items from my closet: the 80s vintage Le Chateau top hat, my grommet belt (on the hat) from Ruth, the free-to-me consignment Le Chateau skirt (circa 2001-2002), and the Fluevog boots. I last wore the hat and skirt together here.

The blouse is new from Dots ($34.95, purchased last month with my gift card from my birthday). It has red pinstripes, but they're hard to see here. It came with this cool built-in bustling.
The stomacher was bought new for $49 at Heart's Content in Fan Tan Alley, as were the black leather gloves (those are the same ones L wore on Friday night).

I'm glad I didn't buy the stomacher one size smaller.
It was nice not to have everything super-sucked in!

Check out the cool hem on the blouse:
Neat, eh?

I wore fishnet tights, and even though you couldn't see the Fluevogs, I knew they were there!
I had originally planned to pin up the hem of this skirt, but that didn't work that well, so I just left it down.

The stuff:
My vintage Liz Claiborne purse, my pocket watch necklace (Plum), my Melanie Lynne necklace (far left), my asymmetrical earrings, 1985 vintage snake pin, starburst pin, vintage 80s leather studded cuff, thrifted leather cuff, and Raven's Rest octopus necklace.

Here's the stomacher:
It zips up in the back, and is satin-lined cotton velvet. It doesn't have too many stays, so it's more of a guideline (heh) than an actual corset-type of garment. The brand is Blacklist.


Okay, now here are a whole bunch of pictures of cool people and stuff that I saw this weekend. Please note that, as always, all links are because I love - I don't get any kind of kickbacks or freebies for linking to people's sites. 

We attended an absinthe tasting at the Union Club, a gentlemen's club in downtown that's been around forever.
Thank you to Annabelle (sp?) for taking our pictures!

So dapper!
 Our friends Nick and Karen were our cohorts for the weekend:
They made most of their costumes. Karen's crocheted gloves were her mom's from the 70s. She made Nick's goggles too! Wow! The "gun" Nick is carrying was made from an assortment of thrifted junk - their friend Terry welded it all together.

 Lovely in satin!

Terry made his jet-pack:
It lights up!
 Sorry about the blurry pictures. Alcohol may have been a factor. Heh.

This mustachioed gentleman pontificated about the history of the Club, the storied history of absinthe and pretty much a dozen other topics.
Great mustache!
 The boys:
You can see a glimpse of Terry's ray-gun that he made. It was fantastic - I wish I had been of sound mind enough to take a picture of it. We'd forgotten that it was "4/20" and many of the people we ran into that night asked if it was a bong.

We tasted 3 different absinthes:
One was Czech, one was from the Okanagan and one was from France. Vintage slotted spoons.
La Fee was the best one, followed by the Okanagan one. We did the whole process with the sugar cube and cold water dripping from an Art Deco water fountain (we did not do the routine that involves lighting the alcohol on fire).

Karen's purse for the evening was a metal "union-made" box.
You look fabulous!
We didn't have the tasting in this room, but this is the Library of the Union Club - L and I had our wedding reception here.
It's a gorgeous room.
 The main staircase.
Complete with a picture of Winston Churchill
 Karen and I getting ready to continue the night's adventures!
We ended up wandering around looking for a bar, but they were all hugely busy by 10pm. We ended up in a little upstairs dive, but it was fun.

I love this picture of my hat, Nick's hat and my gloves, all piled together.
And off to bed!

I walked over to Nick and Karen's in the morning to meet up with Karen to head down to the Expo. They had all kinds of vendors, talks and presentations all day.

I saw this awesome piece of graffiti on a bus stop:
So Art Nouveau!
 Karen looked gorgeous in her alternate outfit:
And a very Happy Birthday to you, my dear! 
 Look at these lush blossoms!
We had a lovely stroll to town. It was a gorgeous day.
 We entered the Empress Hotel from the back, through the Conference Centre. I love this big atrium.
It was very warm as we passed through here.
 We were greeted by this amazing steampunk picnic bicycle:
 Check out the goat skull on it:
I was told by the makers that the brass thingy on the back actually lights and heats up water. How marvelous!

This is Ian Finch-Field, of SkinNhydez (maker of my clockwork leather cuff, here):
He makes the most amazing leather and metal creations. The bird mask is a little creepy (in a good way), and check out his bracer with the clockwork spider! Isn't that amazing? Such a nice guy too.

My amazing friend Carollyne was there (in her steampunk outfit!):
Carollyne, let us know when you want us to model for your next Steampunk Squirrel portrait!

 The costumes were amazing. All people pictured agreed to let me post their pictures. Hello!
Monica and Dave (I think). They were visiting from out of town.
Two lovely young ladies

The Sheriff - one of the volunteers who kept us in line
 Karen and I had our pictures taken several times.
We had lots of natural light during the day

This gentlemen was working at the Freedom Kilts booth.
This couple was a lot of fun:
He's sort of a steampunk Scotsman?
 Of course, I'm never nervous about taking pictures of people's crotches:
His sporran lit up!
There was a theremin there that you could try out.
I didn't try it, but it was really cool. 
This guy had his own clockwork arm!
This man played the theremin beautifully - he made it himself.
This gent was at all 3 days' festivities - with a different outfit every day!
 There were lots of families there:
Isn't the boy great? He looks like Oliver Twist.
 This gentleman posed in front of the bicycle:
I loved that this was "all ages" - young and not-as-young
 This is Astra Crompton - she gave a lecture on making costumes, and of course, her costume was incredible.
Right down to the telescope!
Karen and I wandered around the Empress and took more pictures:
The marble staircase leading to the lobby.
 I'm such a ham.
 A tourist spotted us and took our picture, saying, "This will be the best one!" Uh no, it wasn't.

These are the creators of the bike:
 Wonderful work!

This guy was right into his character (is it from a computer game?):
He built his wooden 7-arrow crossbow - I got to hold it!

One of the volunteers, and Captain Jack, a professional pirate!
Great costumes!
 L came down and met us:
He wore his bowler again, his Tommy Hilfiger jacket, an Iranian vest, another pair of zoot suit pants, and some vintage shoes.

This girl and her partner did post-apocalyptic steampunk (a la "Mad Max"):
To be young and have such a flat stomach!
 Her partner was a real character!
He was hilarious, chomping his unlit cigar
 Such creativity in costumes!
Love the purple boots
 We got tired and headed to the Bengal Lounge in the Empress:
That's a real tiger skin - it's over a hundred years old.
 After a few martinis, Manhattans, etc., hijinks with the camera ensued. Elaine was with us by then.
Making silly faces
 L's "scary eyes":
Ha! I love that picture.
 Karen had a pair of vintage opera glasses and L had a brass telescope:
But what do they see?
Egads, it's a tiger!
It really pulls the room together
 It really is a lovely huge room:
 The hostess took a group photo.
I cropped out most of the empty glasses, hee.
 Nick arrived:
This is one of my favourite pictures of him and Karen.
 Great outfit!
He even has a globe on his belt.
 L and Nick put on their serious faces.

We headed off to Vista 18 to meet Cat and Ross for dinner - they aren't into steampunk but wanted to see us all geared up. I love the views of the city there.
Looking north
 Looking east:
I see the castle!
 Looking west as the sun goes down:

 Looking back to the east, we got a good look at Mount Baker in Washington state:

And then we went back to the Expo for the burlesque (yay for Cherry Poppins!) and the musical entertainment.
Everyone waiting to go in.
My favourites were Bucan Bucan:
They roamed around a bit as they played.
 There was lots of dancing - great music! Check them out here.
The guy on the left played a "steam violin"
 As we left the Empress, we were treated to the Parliament Buildings all lit up:


Elaine and I met up for lunch, then went back to the Expo today for a final go-through and to see the fashion show.

I was happy to get another picture of Kaja Foglio because the one I'd taken on Saturday was blurry.
I know her from her Magic: The Gathering illustrations!
She was promoting the Girl Genius books. I shook her hand! I'm such a dork.

I also got to meet the authors of "The Peerless Prodigies of P.T. Barnum":
Jillian Lerner and  James H. Carrott

Edit: Jillian was kind enough to check out Ephemera and wrote with a correction: "The gentleman sitting next to me in the photo is not my co-creator/illustrator Marc Olivent, but rather James H. Carrott, a brilliant cultural historian who is writing a book about steampunk culture. He was there at the Prodigies booth conducting an interview of me! [his info at and on twitter @culthistorian"

Thanks, Jillian! 

I bought a copy:
Jillian signed it to me!
The card is pretty neat too
 I loved the art at the Steamplanet table.
The very nice lady gave me this photograph. I'm going to frame it.
They had a brass pig being driven by a bunny inside his head. I really wanted it. REALLY wanted it. Extemely cool stuff.

This sculpture was very freaky.
Creepy, right??
I didn't know this picture was blurry until I uploaded it, but it was so incredible.
Steampunk crow!
 It was even lit up inside!
 You can see the detail in the body better there.
Very talented artist!
This is Rad Juli:
She is quite fabulous.
 I bought a choker/wrist wrap from her:
Purple with a pressed-flower brooch on it. It was $29.

There was a proper theremin concert:
Eric and Amy Reiswig - she played a hand-cranked music box that fed paper sheets of "programs"
The fashion show was the grand finale. Here are some of my favourites:
Astra Crompton

 The whole crew:

As I was leaving, I saw this lady in costume. I really admired her multiple belts. She told me she thrifted the whole thing!
Great work!

I did treat myself to one extravagant purchase: one of Ian's bracers:
 Wow, that's a work of art.
I love the attention to detail. It was $140 and worth every penny.

Hope you enjoy my weekend as much as I did! 


  1. Where do I begin!!? There is so much here... First of all, you knock my socks off!! Outstanding looks, you and L too! I am very excited about your skirt pulley system?!; you have inspired me to look at my skirts and dresses in a whole new way! Truly amazing creativity with your clothes - I think you guys were the best-dressed. The flower pot hat - superb!

  2. My gosh, what a super post Sheila! You looked amazing and it looks like a fab time. Thanks so much for sharing so many photos with us.

  3. Thank you for sharing all these pics! Looks like such a fun event! I love your outfit for the second day the most - although they were all beautiful! :)

  4. Thank you for sharing all the pics of yourself and the others at the event. Looks like so much fun! Your pulley system should gave won a prize for "most ingenious!"

  5. So cool! Looks like you had a fabulous, adventurous weekend! I think I love the first outfit best; the bold patterns against that cobalt blue was so striking and distinct. But then, I do love that clever curtain-lifting contraption thingie you did with the Saturday outfit...hmm, I guess I love them all! :)

  6. I love everything about this post - especially your outfits and getting to see a few pictures of L. You guys look like you had such a great time! The pining of the skirts with the brooches and with the ribbon is pretty ingenious. Fluevog boots go so well with the Steampunk theme!

  7. The costumes you come up with are always amazing! You guys looked great, and so did everyone else you got pictures of.

  8. Great post. Special outfits.

    And thank you for your comment on leggings/pants. You're right, of course. It was an experiment gone wrong. The "pants" were very thick which led me to think of them that way and not as leggings, but you're right. Thanks.

  9. This looks like so much fun! All the creativity and imagination - art, jewelry and costumes were right over the top; I loved it. Even the location was on theme, including tiger skin. Thanks for sharing with us. (You and L looked great, goes without saying.)

  10. WOW!!! So much awesomeness!! how I wish we'd have something cool like that nearby!!
    you (and L) looked amazing!!

  11. All of your outfits look great! The one thing I like about steampunk is when people get creative (as opposed to 'just putting goggles on it'), & you & your friends really went to town :-) Also, I love those settings, how gorgeous! I'm jealous.

  12. I would go insane attending an event like this ! I would totally get a kick out of it.
    WOW - all the details in the outfits is just amazing and you two ahhh.... just perfect.

  13. What a great weekend, thank you so much for sharing it Sheila. So many awesome people together under one roof, almost cannot be believed -until seen!

  14. This was amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this event. I really enjoyed every single photo. You looked great!

  15. what a wonderful event!
    Great post! I enjoyed every picture and every comment! Thank you for letting us to attend it with you.

  16. I cannot even comment on the epicness of this post. Incredible outfits, incredible people, incredible art. I am drooling over your bracer, and the etsy shop. Makes me want to ask about custom work (maybe a half-bracer?)

    I am so blown away by all the outfits, especially the guys! It sounds like a gorgeous weekend surrounded by awesome people, awesome stuff, and good times.

  17. Looks like such a special weekend. So much fun, creativity and a place for imagination and pretending. I LOVE IT!! All of your's, L's and your friends outfits/costumes were so wonderful!

  18. That looks like so much fun!!!! I wish you were coming out to Costume Con in Phoenix in May - the theme is Steampunk Wild West. You would love it! I've been costuming like a MAD WOMAN for the last month or so... thus my own lack of posting. But! I promise pictures of my Steampunk Green Bay Packer costume as soon as it's finished ;)

  19. Oh! And your costumes? TO DIE FOR. Excellent work - and so creative! Plus, you looked gorgeous in them all.

  20. There is so, so much to love in this post! I love your blue eel belt and the parachute skirt with pulleys. And the setting of this entire event. And L.'s scary eyes. I could go on and on!

  21. Your curtain ring clips idea is pure genius. I hope you agree that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, because I would love to use that idea!!

  22. You guys are so fun! I adore your costumes, love the colors and shapes you created.

    I dig the samovar on the picnic bike! Sounds like a a great event. I wonder how many of these fans attend the PT festival in WA - it's in June.

  23. You, L and your friends put together such great outfits! I loved seeing all the creations in this post!

    1. Thanks, Laura! I enjoyed revisiting this weekend! What a blast we had.


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