Tips, Tricks, and Tools for Second Life Avatars Wearing Skirts, Dresses and Gowns

In a blog which I originally began a little over four years ago, covering social VR platforms in general (and Sansar in particular), many of my readers are no doubt puzzled and/or bemused by my regular blogposts about Second Life, which at the ripe old age of 18 is seen by many outsiders as quaint, outdated technology. Why do I bother with SL, you might ask.

However, I still see Second Life as the perfect, mature, fully-evolved model of a successful metaverse, which many newer platforms would be wise to study and learn from. I often joke that I got my Ph.D. in Virtual Worlds from the University of Second Life 😉 and one of the lessons I learned is this: that people are willing to invest considerable amounts of time, energy and money in avatar customization! There’s a reason why SL has a marketplace with 2 billion user-generated assets to date, and still boasts an annual GDP of US$600 million!


As many of you already well know by now, I derive an inordinate amount of personal satisfaction from styling one of my small army of Second Life avatars from head to toe in the perfect look! (I’m sure that artists get much the same feeling when finishing a sculpture or a painting.)

Vanity Fair, looking expensive at Frank’s Jazz Place (you can learn more about my champagne glass pose and animated cigarette holder here)…the gold Mia gown is from Suna Designs.

One admittedly small thing that absolutely drives me up the wall is when a female avatar is wearing a voluminous skirt, a ballgown or a dress, and yet is still wearing an AO (animation override) where their arms and hands poke into the dress. I also see this happen with a lot (and I mean, a LOT) of “thicc” avatars with super wide hips and a large ass, as seems to be the current fashion in SL avatar shapes (and in real-life plastic surgery!).

People, if you’re going to go to all the trouble of getting that over-the-top ballgown (or tweaking those body sliders to extremes), then at least get an AO which works with your outfit and/or body! (Or pick up something like the Shoulder Overrider, which I discuss a little further down.)

So today I wanted to compile a handy list of tips, tricks, and tools on how to handle the problem of your arms and hands falling into your avatar’s outfit and body—particularly voluminous gowns and dresses with poufy skirts!


First, if you’re the type of gal who likes to rock a full-blown battleship ballgown, you probably should invest in an AO specifically designed for gowns. There are two which I have tried and can review: the Gown AO by Kamila Hauptmann’s store Posture Is Everything (available for L$1,000 on the SL Marketplace) and the Southern Belle and Woman in Ballgown Bento AO from Tuty’s Animations (available here in-world and on the SL Marketplace for L$650; they also have a Dressy and Formal Bento AO which looks good, but I have no personal experience with).

Kamila Hauptamnn’s Gown AO is the older product and it is non-Bento, which means that you will have to add a hands-only AO to animate your avatar’s fingers separately (and you can easily pick up a free one from any of the freebie Altamura mesh bodies located at the various freebies stores on the grid (here’s a list to guide you)…you should never have to pay for a hands AO! What I like about the Gown AO is that you can load different sets of animations for seven different types of gowns:

  • small gown (arms and hands closer to the body);
  • medium gowns (arms and hands a bit further out);
  • large gowns (arms and hands furthest away from the body);
  • gowns with a bustle (which keeps your arms and hands out of the rear of the gown);
  • mantua gowns (that is, very wide gowns, see the image below for an example);
  • classic gowns (not sure exactly what this means!); and
  • classic gowns for BBWs (big, beautiful women!).
An example of a mantua gown—some are even wider than this!

As far as I know, the Gown AO is the only product which can accommodate even the largest and widest gowns you can throw on an avatar. What I don’t like about the product is that the animations are rather stilted and unnatural-looking. Here is an example, my goth girl alt, wearing the Gown AO:

My goth avatar wearing the Gown AO and using Tuty’s animated geisha fan (styling credits here)

The fan used in the above picture is a good way to get at least one of your avatar’s hands out of their skirts! I was able to pick this up for free in the past (it was a mislabeled gift at Tuty’s), but you can pick up the Scripted Geisha Fan today from the SL Marketplace for only L$50. This is a editable, tintable fan which alternates between five very natural, smooth animations, and it’s a great bargain!


Tuty’s Southern Bell and Woman in Ballgown Bento AO is now my preferred animation override for gowns. This is a Bento AO, so you don’t need to add a separate animation override to animate your fingers, and I have found that it works wonderfully with most gowns. (It’s also a heck of a lot cheaper than the first one.)

In those cases where even an AO desinged for ballgowns is not enough, I add a very useful tool called the Shoulder Overrider, available for L$299 on the SL Marketplace (it’s also available for the same price in-world here; you have to walk to the Fatty Mesh store sign and click on it to be taken up their sales skybox). This is an add-on HUD which only overrides the shoulder joint of your avatar’s AO, allowing you to bring the arms up even more than usual! The only downside is that it can make your shoulders look a bit hunched. Here’s a before-and-after shot to illustrate the difference it can make, in an oriental gown with long, full sleeves:

Below is an avatar wearing the very wide Clara ballgown from LANA (by the way, the L$500 free store credit offer is still available as of today, and you can pick up two colours of this glorious ballgown for free with the store credit…more details here). The avatar in the picture below is using both the Tuty’s gown AO, plus the Shoulder Overrider (the HUD shown in the upper right hand corner of the picture) to keep her arms and hands free of the voluminous, dramatic overskirt on this glorious gown.

If you act quickly you can still pick up this glorious Clara ballgown for free from LANA!

Now, if you don’t have L$650 to spend on a ballgown AO, there are some alternative options which are inexpensive or even free. For example, there is a graceful, old AO for empire-waist gowns by PixelDolls (remember them?), a store which has been long gone from the grid, but still exists on the SL Marketplace (it comes included with the Innocent Dans L’Amour gown for L$150, and I find I pull it out of my inventory and use it all the time with wider, “poofier” dresses and skirts). Here’s a couple of the poses from the Pixeldolls animation override, to give you an idea (you’ll need to add a hands AO, too):

And today I discovered a freebie from a store called ISHIKU, a HUD intended for use with champagne glasses and bottles, but which could easily be repurposed to keep your elbows bent while wearing a ballgown! Just join the ISHIKU group for free and click on this sign in-store (here’s the SLURL):

(Note that there’s another couple of similar HUDs on the group gift wall to the left.)

The ISHIKU champage hold HUD works like a charm! Even better, there are subtle finger movements while it keeps your avatar’s elbows locked. (No, the free HUD doesn’t include the champagne glass or champagne bottle; you have to buy those from ISHIKU or obtain them elsewhere.)


Finally, I wanted to share with you that the 10th anniversary group gifts from Contraption are still available (I wrote about some of them here), and among them is probably the best prop I have seen in quite some time: the Everybook. Just teleport here, to the gift platform, join the Contraption group for only L$1, and pay the vendor L$1 to pick up your book (your Linden dollar will automatically be refunded):

The Everybook comes with a HUD with six different high-quality Bento hold poses, for either the left or the right hand. Here’s four of them (click each picture to see it in a larger size):

The book comes with two different covers, and if you happen to have PhotoShop or other picture editor skills, you can even change the diffuse, normal and specular textures on the book to customize it to your liking! Here’s a few more examples of how I used it as the perfect finishing touch for a couple of Second Life avatar looks (these illustrate the last two poses of the six):

And, of course, it’s also a very good way to keep at least one of your arms out of the skirts of your dress! The avatar below is using both the Contraption Everybook, plus above-mentioned Tuty’s scripted geisha fan with a freebie AO, to keep her arms off her rather voluminous ballgown (again, the Clara ballgown by LANA):

Hey, she may look a bit bookish…but at least her arms aren’t hanging into the gown! 😉 As I said, it’s a particular pet peeve of mine in Second Life…

And, if your historical/fantasy roleplay outfit demands it, there’s also a very nice candle lantern you can pick up for only L$5 on the SL Marketplace, as shown here on my vampire alt. The Alyonushka lantern includes the Bento pose shown here, and you can click on it to change the colour of the lantern. You’ll notice that I tinted the Tuty’s geisha fan red to match the outfit. (Yes, the Clara ballgown from LANA also comes in a 3-colour fatpack of bloodstained versions for you fashionable vampires and serial killers!)

So there you have it—a distillation of 14 years’ SL experience on how to keep your arms and hands away from your skirts, dresses and gowns, for that perfect look!

UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Three Stores Offering L$500 Free Store Credit Each, But This Weekend Only!

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Steals, Deals & Freebies group yet? I will be posting EVEN MORE news and tips on finding fabulous freebies and bargains in Second Life than I post here on the blog! More information on this brand new SL group here.


LANA, Shy Doll, and Studio Nova are three stores on a brand new sim, and to celebrate the grand opening, each store’s group is free to join, and each store is offering a L$500 free store credit as a group gift—but only for this weekend! Obviously, the sim has been quite busy (it’s a homestead sim which can only handle twenty avatars at a time, max), so you might need to keep trying to get in (or use a tool like the handy, free Teleporter Hammer).

With the free store credit at clubwear store Studio Nova, I was able to pick up two different colours of this Laury top and matching asymetrical skirt:

From the Shy Doll store, I used the credit to pick up this lovely two-piece Alissa set, a bodysuit and a separate, sheer laced overshirt! I consider this is an SL wardrobe staple which you can repurpose to use in many other ways, as I have shown in this blogpost, where I turned it into a Disney princess outfit!

And even better, you can pick up not one but two different colours of the Alissa set as free group gifts with your ShyDoll group tag: rose and an iridescent purple! You can then mix and match the bodysuit and sheer overshirt, if you want to mix it up.

There was so much to choose from at the LANA store, but in the end I decided on two dresses. This is the Hazel long bodycon dress, which comes in many different colours—just the thing for an elegant evening out!

And yes, Auntie Ryan is still an absolute sucker for a full-blown ballgown! 😉 (Oh, lawsy, lawsy, lawsy, if you only knew how many ballgowns I have in my avatars’ Second Life inventories…Auntie Ryan may need to find herself a 12-step Ballgowns Anonymous group!)

But behold this truly glorious Destiny gown, which includes optional sleeves and an optional lace overskirt, with the lace tintable on the bodice, sleeves, and overskirt using the included HUD! (There’s also optional sparkles, but I left them off; they’re pretty seizure-inducing…)

So hurry on down to the three-store sim (here’s your taxi), before the end of this weekend, and scoop up those free store credits—and some fabulous free fashion!

You tell’em Auntie Ryan sent you. 😉

UPDATE Sept. 6th, 2021: I checked today (Monday, September 6th), and the free group store credits are still available to pick up. Hurry down before they’re gone!!!

And I am completely head over heels in love with the Destiny ballgown by LANA! Here’s what it looks like in white; I tinted the lace layer on the sleeves, bodice and skirt to a light pink to match my jewelry, and I just love love love it!!! I am all ready to meet my Prince Charming and have him sweep me off my feet.

UPDATE Sept. 7th, 2021: I checked again early this morning and the free store credit is still available at LANA, so I picked up this absolutely stunning Clara ballgown for an alt. The gown comes in two pieces, a sleek full-length gown, and an optional, dramatic overskirt attachment:

And if you like, you can even pick up a fatpack of three colours of this Clara gown (black, white, and red), in a special blood-splattered version, for the price of a single gown! Here’s what the red bloody gown looks like on my vampire alt. Equal parts fashion and horror! (You can pick up the lantern for only L$5 here on the SL Marketplace.)

The sim is a lot less busy than it was over the weekend, so if this entices you, get down here, snap up that free store credit, and go do some serious shopping!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: 7 Deadly S[k]ins L$1 Daily Sales—Pick Up a Fatpack of Skins for Only One Linden Dollar!

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Steals, Deals & Freebies group yet? I will be posting EVEN MORE news and tips on finding fabulous freebies and bargains in Second Life than I post here on the blog! More information on this brand new SL group here.


I don’t know how I missed this bargain (my freebie fashionista skills must be slipping!), but Second Life skin maker 7 Deadly S[k]ins has a daily dollarbie deal for you! The store sells skins for a variety of brands of mesh heads, including Genus, LeLutka, Catwa, and LAQ, and the packages I have picked up so far include head skin, plus Bakes on Mesh skin in a range of skin tones (usually, ten).

It can be somewhat tricky to search for the store name because of the weird punctuation, so just do a search for “deadly” under Places in Search, or use this SLURL. 7 Deadly S[k]ins is also one of those annoying stores with a forced, central spawn point, so you’ll land up outside the entrance of the store. Go inside, and you’ll be facing the front counter. Enter the door on the right, then go straight through a second door, then turn left, and the Today’s Offer vendor panel will be on the wall.

You don’t need to join any group; just pay the vendor L$1. The offer changes every day, and consists of a generous fatpack of skins in various skin tones. Here is today’s gift, the Jeanelle skin for LeLutka Evo heads:

Here are a couple of examples of skins from previous days which I picked up for only L$1, the Gaelic and Francis skins, both for Genus mesh heads.

I particularly like this last one, the Francis skin in walnut!

Given that most fatpacks of skins at 7 Deadly S[k]ins sell for L$850, this is quite the bargain! The store sells skins for a variety of brands of mesh heads, so simply show up every day to check out the latest offering! Happy freebie shopping!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Belleza Has a 50% Off Sale on the Jake, Freya, Venus and Isis Mesh Bodies!

This is not a freebie, but it is a bargain! Male and female mesh bodymaker Belleza has updated all of their bodies, and is having a 50% off sale! According to a message sent out to the Belleza store group:

The time has come….

The Belleza updates are here!

Jake, Venus, Isis and Freya are updated to Bakes on Mesh (BOM) and the Universal Neck. Check your package for a full list of updates and bug fixes.

If you would like to discuss the update – hop on the Belleza Discord.

The Universal Neck update is mainly in response to the new line of LeLutka heads, which left a noticeable neck seam when paired with some bodies.

If you already own a Belleza mesh body, you can hit the redelivery terminals in the Belleza store (they also have them at the MEN ONLY event, the #BIGGIRL event, and Addams).

The male Belleza Jake Bento mesh body is for sale for L$1,500, a significant savings compared to the price tags for Signature Gianni and Geralt (currently retailing for L$4,000 each) and the Meshbody Athletic and Legacy bodies (selling for L$5,000 each) . Belleza Jake mesh bodies have excellent fashion designer support, so you will have zero problems dressing this body!

And the female Belleza Freya, Venus, and Isis bodies are only L$1,250 each, or you can pick up the three-pack for L$2,250—three Bento, Bakes on Mesh-compatible mesh bodies for less than the price of one Maitreya Lara body! Please note that while the Belleza Freya mesh body still has a lot of fashion designer support, it can be harder to find clothing created to fit the much less popular Isis and Venus mesh bodies.

Even better, these updated Belleza male and female bodies are now modifiable, which has many Second Life users excited at the new creative possibilities! For example, users can now create glowing skin for these bodies, and they would make excellent starting bases for a furry avatar.

I think this sale is a bold and savvy move by Belleza, especially at a time when avatar fashion designers were dropping support for female Belleza mesh bodies in favour of newer bodies like the INTHIUM Kupra. This move could spell a revival for the especially popular Belleza Freya body, which offers a curvier, “juicier” shape that is currently the popular style in avatars.

I don’t know how long the 50% off sale will last, so hurry down and snap them up before they’re gone!