Saying the design ‘evolved organically’ is basically a fancy way of saying 'I made everything up as I went along’ or 'this is completely and utterly BS’d’, all of which would be true.
I started with some really basic concepts - I wanted a veil, I was leaning towards a hair bun, and I wanted a lot of green, mixed in with blacks, whites and silvers. I initially looked at medieval/early Renaissance designs, because that’s where Sollux and Karkat’s designs had their roots, but everything was too loose and blocky. I also discovered how absurdly hard it is to find the right shade of green, which kind of cut down on how big things could be.
I stumbled across this lovely fanart of Kanaya and had the mental argument of 'but Victorian designs are so overused for steampunk’ versus 'but it works so well!’. Because it really does - things can be impecably tailored and covered in trim while still being very Proper. Kanaya isn’t the rebel that Porrim is. I put the bustle together using this tutorial from American Duchess, and then the petticoat and actual skirt were me visually dissecting Truly Victorian’s Four-Gore Underskirt and Petticoat pattern drawings because I wasn’t going to pay $14 plus waiting for shipping for a pattern that is basically a bunch of rectangles. I made the dubious choice to do stitch-lines in silver metallic thread on the black I had because next to terieri’s Eridan I felt woefully underblinged.
The jacket is made out of two yards of dupioni from Silk Baron that I ordered all of a week and a half before the con, and then had to over-dye tint because it was too blue. The base pattern started out as the top to this awful Southern Belle outfit, which I re-cut the neckline on to be higher, and modified the shape of to be similar to this pattern for a cuiraisse bodice (which I did convincingly enough to fool gothichamlet into thinking I’d used a TV pattern). I also did about a million rounds of fitting, because this was going over a corset, and had to look properly tailored. Someone - either terieri or pyropi - suggested doing puff sleeves, and while I didn’t feel like going full-out mutton-sleevee, I did incorporate some looseness in the shoulder, with the bonus of NOT HAVING TO FIT THE SLEEVE, aka my least favorite part.
The overskirts were basically 'shit I need sommething to break up these huge blocks of color SHIT I dyed that green unevenly I need something else’ along with 'ugh all these beaded trims are expensive and ugly, wait we have four yards of silver bell and bead trim at the house’. The green overskirt was inspired by TV’s waterfall overskirt, and the white was inspired by this lovely draped asymmetrical skirt, which I couldn’t quite capture myself, but loved, along with a touch of this design for the trim.
In short I have no idea how I managed to pull this off before Katsu, nevermind having it look good.