SL fashion

I guess one could say we girls are spoilt for choice when it comes to clothing, shoes, hairstyles, jewellery, and all sorts of accessories and trinkets in Second Life. Well, compared to what the guys have to make do with, I guess it’s true. There’s a wild variety of styles, mostly derived from Real Life (RL) fashion, available for us, and about three months’ worth of average Jane salaries is more than enough to stock a female avatar’s inventory to the hilt with hairstyles, clothes, shoes, lingerie, and so on.

However, it’s when you start looking at what is actually available that the wares on offer by SL vendors and content creators that you realise your options aren’t as many as you’d have liked. Today, I’ll talk about jewellery, and ankle and foot jewellery in particular.

In recent years, I avoided wearing jewellery in SL. It’s not because I don’t like jewellery; I love it. In fact, when I go for a boho kind of look in RL, I wear a fair number of rings on my fingers and toes, and I also have a few piercings in RL. The problem is… Well, there’s no polite way of putting it: The vast majority of SL jewellery designers offer pretty crappy stuff, and they even price it ridiculously. Even these days, we see necklaces, bracelets, collars, rings made of tortured prims, which drive up your complexity through the roof and, with their full bright textures and bling, make you look like you escaped from the worst visual nightmares that 2006-era Second Life had to offer.

Some designers have managed to graduate to the geometrically wasteful lagmonsters that are called sculpts – and they’re pretty determined to stay there for eternity. Also, the jewels are loaded with all sorts of scripts; especially wedding and engagement rings, which have various rather pointless and stupid scripts to locate your significant other(s) on the map – as if you haven’t already given them map rights already – , activate or deactivate full bright and bling, make obnoxious sounds etc. And don’t even get me started on the complete lack of elegant, understated, engagement and wedding rings in SL, but that’s another story.

Mesh jewels are rather rare in SL. Rigged, fitted mesh jewels for mesh bodies like the ones that are currently popular (Belleza, Maitreya, Slink, The Mesh Project, etc) are few and far between, so users of these bodies are essentially penalised. And the ones that are available aren’t always the best you can find. I’ve seen a certain creator whose fitted mesh intimate jewellery doesn’t really have any texturing to speak of, and still uses default shininess.

The situation is even more pathetic with ankle and foot jewellery. Good luck finding ankle and toe rings that are mesh, fitted, and elegant. Most of what’s available is sculpted and, even if it’s mesh, it’s merely positioned rather than fitted. Not to mention the “barefoot sandal” bandwagon that’s everyone jumped on; yes, I like barefoot sandals myself, I have a few pairs in RL too, but I want to find nice, realistic-looking anklets and toe rings in SL that don’t try to make me look like a third-rate knock-off of a Bollywood star and don’t look like an idiot’s first attempt at goth styling. And many anklets are designed to sit so high above your ankle that you wonder if they were glued there, because no amount of friction could counteract gravity in RL.

So, here’s what I hope to see w.r.t. SL jewellery:

  1. Mesh. And by mesh, I mean properly designed in a real 3D graphics application, not prims that were converted to mesh with Mesh Studio or something like that.
  2. Fitted. Yes, go out and acquire the dev kits for the most popular bodies. Then learn how to rig the jewellery for them. In fact, when it comes to anklets and rings (finger and toe rings) in particular, here’s a strategy you can follow. You can provide a package that will include:
    1. All of the rings of the pack, fitted to the hand or foot;
    2. Each individual ring of the pack, fitted to the hand or foot;
    3. A box with individual, non-fitted rings, for those who still use the “classic” avatar.
  3. Realistically-sized textures. People, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you don’t need 1024×1024 textures for diamonds and gems. In RL, gems are really small things and there’s no way in hell you can justify using such high-resolution textures for them. No, you’re not giving us “quality” by splashing such textures on gems whose diameter is a paltry 2mm. You just make our avatars ridiculously laggy and you also make yourselves look like idiots. Always remember the RL size of what you’re trying to depict.
  4. Use materials. The default shininess has become obsolete now.
  5. No full bright, or bling. Period. These things weren’t cool even in 2006, what makes you think they’ll become cool now?
  6. Meaningful scripting. We don’t want green spam from your jewellery. We don’t want our jewellery to announce we belong to xXTonyaMorriganXx Resident, we don’t want mapping scripts; if we really think xXTonyaMorriganXx Resident or .:xXXXSugarDaddyPimpXXXx:. Resident means anything to us, we’ll give them map rights and they’ll be able to spot us through the viewer, there’s no need for you to add extraneous lag with such stupid scripts. Likewise, we don’t need scripts that’ll make the ring or other jewel light up or announce anything to anyone if other avatars of our household are in the region. Just give us a colour/texture-changing HUD and a resizer that supports resizing per individual axis, and we’re happy campers.
  7. Quit trying to imitate the blingiest, flashiest, bulkiest crap you see on TV. Harry Winston’s stuff is only for showoffs, and it’s overrated. Give us elegance. In fact, if you want, I can point you to numerous gorgeous RL designs that you can draw inspiration from.
  8. Let’s go back to rigging: Be prepared to provide fitted and Bento-fitted versions of your jewellery; three months after the Bento-capable release of Firestorm is launched is a good time to launch Bento-capable jewels and update earlier designs.
  9. Quit jumping on bandwagons.
  10. If you’re going to design intimate jewellery (i.e. body piercings), then it must be mesh and fitted.

OK, that’s it for today. See you again later!

.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-Ns

Valentina E.'s ZigZag Dress

Valentina E.’s ZigZag Dress; please click on the picture for a larger version (opens in a new tab / window).

Yes, I know: You can really hear the crickets in my blog, as the intervals between posts are now in the region of months. It’s true that I don’t blog anywhere near as often as I used to, as I have neither the time nor the willingness to give my SL blogging the effort I used to. I’m far too busy in RL and, truth be told, the things happening in RL make all the SL-related drama look like the bitching about First World Problems it really is.

I know this will offend a bunch of people, but when people are driven to suicide by the chronic unemployment to which they’ve been “sentenced” by the neoliberal psychopaths in charge, when people in our neighbourhoods become homeless overnight because the “bailout” programmes have made even renting a small apartment untenable, I really can’t be arsed to give much thought to the technicalities and intricacies of SL, Sansar, High Fidelity or whatever. Thus, until further notice, this blog shall remain a mere pastime for me, whenever I feel like blogging something.

Truth is, I don’t venture into SL that often anymore; I might log on twice a week or thereabouts, and I’ll spend up to thirty minutes in a sitting – no more than that. It’s not that I don’t like SL anymore, but I’ve put things into perspective and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want SL to absorb the amounts of time and energy I used to allow it to absorb in the not-too-distant past, and I really can no longer justify the expenditure it used to represent for me. Even on Plurk and Twitter, one could say my presence has become the definition of boring, because I can’t really be bothered to discuss SL matters, and, quite frankly, I find it hard to relate to many of the things other people write about.

But really, I’m not complaining: Regardless of the fiscal and (geo)political circumstances in RL, I’m quite happy (at long last) with my life, and I’ll leave it at that, as the friends I have in SL already know the things I wanted to tell them – and I’m not too keen on allowing lower forms of online life to dissect my RL. Sorry if I sound blunt, but that’s the way it is.

Anyhow… Writing this post, which is my second fashion-related post in a row, feels a bit odd, as I’ve never actually thought of myself as a fashion blogger. I’ve become known for my often long, in-depth analyses of all matters SL, and I’ve never wanted to be a fashion blogger. But still, it’s all I can be bothered to write about these days. Does this make me lazy or something? Maybe, but I don’t care. After all, I’m just taking a break from my RL activities to write this post, I’m the one who makes the decisions regarding my blog, and who knows when I’ll find the inspiration, the willingness and the time to write my next one?

Valentina E. ZigZag Dress

Please click on the picture for a larger version (opens in a new tab / window).

So, after this lengthy prologue, I shall proceed to the main topic without further ado. Yesterday, Valentina E. announced their new “ZigZag” dress, which is available at the Shiny Shabby event, and comes in versions compatible with the Maitreya Lara and the Slink Physique and Hourglass mesh bodies, and two “standard sizing” sizes (small and medium).  Upon seeing this dress, I had to have it. I love risqué clothing, both in RL and SL, and garments that allow for a bit of déshabillé really push my buttons. So, I teleported to the venue and bought it, and also took a bunch of photos to show you all. Flickr album will come lateris here.

What I’m wearing and using…

.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-Mx

My new look for this springtime

My new look for this springtime; Please click on the picture for the full-size version (opens in a new tab / window).

OK, so I decided to update (once again) my look for this spring – and it’s been quite a bit since I last posted anything here. So, without further ado, here’s what I’m wearing:

And here‘s the album on Flickr!

.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-Mp

OK everyone. My friends already know I’ve been using mesh body parts since 2012; I started with a mesh body by DanielRavennest Ni’s now-defunct Tirion Designs brand – I used it for a few months as the basis of my latex look, and then progressed to Utilizator Mode’s <Avatar 2.0>. Also, people who follow my blog know I generally don’t blog about fashion.

Now, it turned out that the Tirion Designs avatar had piss-poor rigging. Jagged edges in the elbows and shoulders when bending your arms or raising them, and all the other problems we’ve come to know and… “love” with the default SL avatar body – that’s what you get when you download a freebie from a 3D resource website and hastily upload it to SL. Also, way back in the summer of 2013, Tonya Souther of the Firestorm Team had written a harsh, but very poignant, post on the problems of the default SL avatar, explaining why Utilizator’s avatar design was a far better choice – a choice I had already made by that time.

Although my main look is still the latex look I had created with help from Inara Pey (my best friend here in SL), I also need more “conventional” appearances. In this department, I’d stopped mucking about with sculpted nails and the default hands and feet, and have gone with Siddean Munro’s AvEnhance parts (hands and feet). They work fine for me, they look good, and they’re well-supported by the vast majority of skin makers and numerous shoe designers out there. But still, I was saddled with the “idiosyncracies” of the default SL avatar body.

I confess to being partial to Slink – no offence meant to other, really good makers out there like Belleza and Maitreya. Siddean’s a friend of mine, and we often exchange ideas. So, it was no surprise that, when fitted mesh arrived and I wanted a fitted mesh avatar body, I went with the Slink Physique. Fitted mesh clothing in SL still isn’t what it should be, though, for various reasons. It might prove to be a competitive market, as we see more and more creators launching their own offerings.

Tirion Designs' Alice

The “Alice” mesh avatar by the now-defunct Tirion Designs brand. As you can see, it contained the arms, hands, torso, etc., as separate parts. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

In our case, I’ll examine Violet Studios’ ambitiously named Fusion modular fitted mesh body, which is touted as a “quantum leap forward in mesh bodies”. Ms Hemi Violet, the proprietor of the brand, informs us that the theory behind this mesh body system has been in the works for three years, that the body itself was in development for six months, and that it offers the innovation of being modular, i.e. the arms, torso, etc, are all separate parts which you can find in the folder; thus, you can add or remove them as you wish and they’ll still fit seamlessly. I’m quite familiar with Violet Studios’ products, as I’ve used (in the past) her vString breast implants in my latex look with very satisfactory results.

This, however, is nothing new. The (no longer available) Tirion Designs “Alice” mesh avatar came like this, as you can see in the picture to the right – and I know, because I happen to still have one of these bodies. The box contains the full version, the headless version, the arms, the legs, the torso, the hands, the feet – all of them separately. Furthermore, other mesh avatars, like Utilizator Mode’s <Avatar 2.0>, are linked sets; if they’re modifiable, you can unlink their parts (hands, arms, torso or torso halves, head, legs, feet) and keep them in your inventory so you can add them to your outfit according to your needs – and they’ll still fit seamlessly, or as seamlessly as the designer could. Unlinking parts from a modifiable linked set is rather trivial – only one mouse click away. Furthermore, non-modifiable fitted mesh avatars (like the Slink Physique) offer a HUD which allows you to hide those parts you don’t need to show.

According to Ms Violet, the modularity of the Fusion mesh body allows it to be matched with other products from her range, such as her vString breast implants, the “Wideloads” butts, etc.

While the modular design is a good idea indeed, it must be said that support for Violet Studios’ mesh body parts is nowhere near as comprehensive as it is for their counterparts from Belleza, The Mesh Project, Slink, Lolas, you name it. Finding clothing or shoes (outside what Hemi Violet’s brands offer) for these bodies and body parts is certainly no easy task. The same goes for skins, tattoos, manicure, pedicure, the works. Also, it’s nothing new: It’s been done before.

According to the official promotional material, the theory behind the Fusion modular fitted mesh body system has been worked on for three years, and the system itself was under development for six months. Please click on the picture for the full-size version (image credit: Violet Studios)

According to the official promotional material, the theory behind the Fusion modular fitted mesh body system has been worked on for three years, and the system itself was under development for six months. Please click on the picture for the full-size version (image credit: Violet Studios)

Then, there is the issue of value for money. Each of the Fusion bodies costs L$1500. Higher than the L$400 the (non-fitted mesh) <Avatar 2.0> goes for, higher than the Slink Physique’s L$1250 price tag, with far fewer options for clothing, skins, etc. Does the quality justify the price? I picked up a demo to test at home and, for something that was under development for six months (according to Ms Violet’s blog post), I don’t think I’d be willing to pay such a price for any of these bodies. Why? Well, see the picture below (somewhat NSFW), on which I’ve noted some areas where considerable amounts of work need to be done, and judge for yourselves:

The fusion mesh body demo

Here, you can see marked in red some of the problem areas of the Violet Studios Fusion fitted mesh body. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

Personally, I’d be much more inclined to stick with the other, established mesh body avatars, which offer considerably better geometry, some of them offer compatibility with other makers’ mesh body parts, and a far wider range of clothing items that work with them. As it is, the Fusion modular fitted mesh body system leaves a lot to be desired.

.

See also:

.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-JB