Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Beautiful Free Ballgowns!

I just stumbled across a fabulous fashion freebie for female avatars, and I decided to use it as an excuse to write up an entire blogpost about all the places in Second Life you can pick up a full-length mesh ballgown, for free! Clip and save for when you need something for a formal, black-tie event (or even if you just feel like swanning around SL in a full-blown battleship ballgown; hey, it’s your Second Life, express yourself any way you want!)

The freebie is from the newly-rebranded store, Dead Doll (formerly known as Dead Dollz), which has set up in a brand new location and is offering a gift to celebrate. If you join the SeraphimSL.com group for free and click the panel shown below, you can pick up the simple, elegant Etta strapless gown for free:

The Etta gown comes in a fatpack of sixteen colours as shown. Here, Vanity Fair models it with a black lace bolero from United Colors (not free; I purchased the fatpack of this bolero, waiting for the perfect gown to pair it with). Sheer perfection!

Another place where you can pick up some free gowns is the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil. Up on the third floor is a large display by VIPs Creations, where in the top row of panels are three different styles of full-length gowns:

This lovely strapless gown with a subtle pattern is by VIPs Creations, and comes in four colours as shown, and even includes the shoes:

Another place to pick up a simple, classic ballgown is the generous freebie store at Hilly Haalan, where you can find this Nadia gown in fifteen colours (you will need to join the Hilly Haalan store group for free to pick up all the freebies here).

While some gowns are the right length for high heels, the Nadia gown works best with flats. Fortunately, at Hilly Haalan you can also pick up a free set of Amy flats which come in a variety of colours to match this ballgown perfectly!

Another little-known spot where you can pick up ballgowns in orange, red, and blue is !Soul, a store which has set up shop in a skybox high above the newbie orientation centre called New Resident Island (here’s the exact SLURL). If you join the !Soul group for free, you can pick up dozens of free gifts of women’s clothing, hair, footwear, and system/Bakes on Mesh skins. Everything in the store is free!

The apparel at !Soul comes in standard sizes, but ballgowns are the kind of clothing that you can easily alpha out your pelvic area and legs anyway, so they will always fit! (You might have to adjust your bust size slightly, though.)

Here is the blue ballgown from !Soul, with the optional fur stole. Looking elegant for zero Linden dollars!

Of course, you can sometimes pick up free ballgowns at the entrances to many of the finer dance establishments in Second Life, such as this gown from the newly-reopened Frank’s Jazz Club (which appears to have started up again just to try and wrench business away from the upstart Frank’s (more information here):

And, of course, there are several beautiful ballgowns to be had at The Free Dove (remember that you have to join The Free Dove group for free in order to get these freebies). Palomma Casanova, the owner of The Free Dove, has reorganized her venerable freebie store by designer, so you will have to wander around a bit to find all the ballgowns. However, there is still a small women’s formalwear section near the back entrance (SLURL):

Nearby is a display by Lurve, which features two very different gowns:

And close by, the Tiffany Designs display at The Free Dove has a couple of lovely full-length ballgowns, perfect for your next swanky soirée:

In fact, you can also pick up a couple of free ballgowns at Tiffany’s main store location (one is mesh and the other is an applier gown; no group is needed):

Take a look at the shimmering, daringly low-cut Nia ballgown in champagne, one of the free gown gifts at Tiffany Designs!

So there you have it—elegance on (less than) a dime!

Remember that the Etta ballgown fatpack gift at Dead Doll is likely a time-limited offer, and that Palomma Casanova frequently rotates the stock at The Free Dove, so please don’t delay picking up these gowns and stashing them in your inventory for your next major event. Happy freebie shopping!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Where to Find Free Mesh Eyes and Free Textures for Bakes on Mesh Eyes

They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. A realistic pair of eyes can make a big difference in how lifelike your avatar can look. For example, I actually went out and bought the eyes from the styling credits, after seeing this stunning Second Life avatar portrait!

These eyes are not free; they are the Darcey eyes in forest green by Suicidal Unborn

Many people, even after they upgrade from a classic, system avatar to a mesh body, opt to keep the system eyes. Others choose to use the mesh eyes that come bundled with the Bento mesh head they have purchased (Catwa, The Genus Project, Akeruka, etc.). In many cases, those mesh eyes now support Bakes on Mesh, which means that you can wear system/Bakes on Mesh textures on your mesh eyes.

Today, we are going to look at places to pick up free mesh eyes and system eyes that will work well with Bakes on Mesh-compatible mesh eyes!

Ajuda SL Brasil

First, teleport to the Ajuda SL Brasil, home to the biggest and best freebie store on the grid, and pick up two sets of mesh eyes, which can be found opposite the Altamura Valentina mesh body:

Now, I must admit that I am not a fan of mesh eyes unless they already come bundled with a specific brand of mesh head; if they are standalone mesh eyes, I have often found that you have to go through an aggravating adjustment process until they look right in any given mesh head. Also, you will have to hunt down an eyes-only alpha when using these mesh eyes to replace your system eyes (if you were lucky enough to pick up the recent free group gift of the Freya unisex Bento mesh head from Catwa, there is an eyes-only alpha in the “CATWA BOM Skin A Makeup Alpha Pack” box, which you need to unpack in order to use).

In the bag on the floor at Ajuda SL Brasil are these beautiful Yuitza mesh eyes in a light brown colour:

And here are the Dossier realistic mesh eyes, which come with a HUD with six colour options:

Free Eyes from Shopping Events

One place where you can often pick up free eyes is at regular shopping events. For example, at the Gift Boardwalk for Second Life’s 17th Birthday (SL17B) celebrations, you can pick up a set of six dark-coloured eyes from ND/MD:

Here is one of the six colours, which come in both system/Bakes on Mesh eyes, mesh eyes, and an Omega applier:

And just look at these absolutely gorgeous Sahara eyes by Avi-Glam, which come in two shades of light brown and are available at their booth here at the SL17B Shop and Hop event. They come in both classic system and mesh versions (Catwa, Genus, LeLutka, and Omega). 

The Second Life Marketplace

Another place to get free mesh eyes is the SL Marketplace. For example, you can pick up this Sunrise set of mesh eyes in eight different colours from Eyden & Yves for zero Lindens (see image, right).

Lu Cosmetics has a number of free mesh eyes available in the SL Marketplace as well.

Sweet’s also has a nice set of free system and mesh eyes.

There’s also a free wearable demo of the Vermeer mesh and system eyes in amethyst purple, which come in four different iris sizes (the mesh eyes are HUD driven).

Eyes from the Second Life Starter Avatars

One of the places which people constantly overlook when searching for free eyes are the set of starter avatars which Linden Lab provides to Second Life users! Please note that, in order to use these eyes, you will first need to select and load the starter avatar (remember to save your current avatar look before you do this!).

If you are using the Firestorm SL viewer, just select Choose an avatar from the Avatar menu in the upper left-hand corner of your screen:

Then just click on the button under each avatar to load it up and wear it.

I recommend just setting aside ten minutes in a quiet, in-world spot, and going through and loading up all the starter avatars at least once; that way you will be able to see what they look like, take notes on what components (hair, clothing, shoes, accessories, etc.) which you might be able to reuse, and all the system eyes will be available, each located in a folder with the starter avatar’s name under the Clothing folder in your SL inventory window (see image, right):

Once you have done that, you can elect to use only the system eyes from that starter avatar folder with whatever avatar look you are building, either as is, or as a texture for Bakes on Mesh eyes (as I have done here with the BoM eyes which come with the Cat Calm mesh head this avatar is wearing, from the Genesis Lab store).

Here are pictures of what some of these eyes look like (listed with the name of the Second Life starter avatar they were taken from).

Anna

Amy

Bitsy

I find I turn to the beautiful dark brown Bitsy eyes often, especially when styling a Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) avatar!

Carla

Chris

Daisy

Dylan

Elizabeth

Feng

Aren’t these eyes gorgeous??

Gabriel

Gretchen

Jesse

Kara

Leah

Leonard

Morgan

Petrol Sue

Rhiannon

Thomas

Wyatt

So, as you can see, you already have a great selection of realistic eyes to choose from, already in your Second Life inventory! Hopefully these pictures will help you choose the perfect pair of peepers for your avatar!

UPDATED! Taking a Second Look at the Viva Full-Mesh Avatar: Why the Mesh Head and Body Wars Are Just Getting Started in Second Life

A month ago, I first wrote about the Viva Full Featured Mesh Avatar (Level 3), available for free on the SL Marketplace. After playing around with the Kalhene Ariadna full-body mesh avatar, and documenting its strengths and weaknesses (notably, a lack of alpha sections on the HUD and support for clothing alphas), I came back to the Viva mesh body with a renewed appreciation for all the work the creator had put into it. The HUD truly is amazing, allowing you to combine both alpha sections and clothing alphas to make just about any outfit fit!

For example, here is one of my alts, who wears an Akeruka Lulu Bento mesh head (one of their early group gifts), which I have grown attached to and wanted to keep. I originally wore it with a classic, SL system body; Akeruka had provided system skins to match the entire range of the Lulu head’s available skin tones. And for a long time I was happy with that.

But today, I decided to upgrade this avatar to a full mesh body, and while I was thinking about how best to do that for an inexpensively as possible, I remembered the free Viva Bento, Bakes-on-Mesh compatible mesh body and decided to try that again. (I wasn’t too crazy about the head that came included with the Viva mesh body, but that is a separate attachment, and you can use literally any head with it.)

Here is what she looks like now:

The only problem I encountered was that the system skins that came with the Akeruka Lulu head were older, and as a result there were white spots at the nail bases of the mesh fingers. To fix this, I used the free set of Bakes on Mesh feet and finger fixes available at League (exact SLURL):

This avatar is wearing:

Mesh Head: Lulu by Akeruka (L$1 group gift, no longer available; the Akeruka group costs L$150 to join).

Mesh Body: the Viva Full Featured Mesh Avatar (Level 3) from the SL Marketplace.

Skin: I used one of the system skins that came with the Lulu head in a matching skin tone, adding the League Bakes on Mesh finger fix in the pale colour, which was the closest match.

Hair: Chella by Analog Dog (I picked this hairstyle with scarf as a free gift at previous gacha event)

Necklace: Metamorpheses Temple Necklace (a gift from the 2019 BURN2 celebration of Burning Man in Second Life)

Top: Cream embroidered peasant blouse by Petite Mort (this is one of my favourite freebies, available from the excellent freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil).

Jeans: Skinny jeans from Mara’s Mysteries (a free hunt gift, no longer available).

Flats: Amy flats by Hilly Haalan (free group gift from their freebie store; the group is free to join; I found that the Viva mesh body’s flat feet are compatible with both Maitreya and Belleza flat shoes, but the Belleza ones fit a bit better so I used those)

Bag: Boho Bliss fringe bag (with hold pose) from a previous Witchwood hunt (Witchwood is the sim where the Petite Mort and Oubliette stores are located, and they regularly hold small hunts; I believe I paid only L$10 for this delightful bag!)

TOTAL COST FOR THIS AVATAR: Only L$161! (L$150 to join the Akeruka group, L$1 for the Lulu Bento mesh head, and L$10 for the bag)


I am very pleased with the result of this makeover! After my experiences working with both the Viva and the Ariadna mesh bodies, I can say this: with the advent of competition from free or inexpensive Bakes-on-Mesh compatible, Bento bodies, we are getting closer and closer to the time when stores charging (and users paying) thousands of Linden dollars for a mesh head and/or body is going to become harder and harder to justify. Yes, I know it’s a bold statement; hear me out.

The Viva and Ariadna mesh bodies are just the first shots fired in a war for marketshare between the established, big-name brands (Catwa, LeLutka, Maitreya, Belleza, Signature, Slink, etc.) and the smaller, nimbler upstarts. For now, the big-name brands have better designer support and offer more options, but, as we see with the fully-featured HUD that the Viva mesh body offers, that gap is starting to narrow!

I’d strongly encourage you to take a look at the Viva and Ariadna mesh bodies on the SL Marketplace, and give them both a test run. Although they are not perfect, they do give an indication of the direction the market is moving. The days of paying L$10,000 or more for a full-body mesh avatar may be numbered!

UPDATE June 11th, 2020: The Kalhene Ariadna mesh body has just updated to version 2.0, with alpha layer support (SL Marketplace link). It now has a HUD with alpha cuts and skin shininess levels, addressing some of my most serious concerns about the product.

In these final two pictures, I have combined the beautiful head from the Kalhene Ariadna mesh body with the Viva mesh body, using one of the Bakes on Mesh skins that came with the recent Limited Advanced head group gift from Akeruka:

Looking fabulous for zero Lindens! The Viva mesh body offers many more features on their included superHUD (such as a better selection of alpha sections to choose from, five different fingernail lengths, and three foot height options), which the Kalhene Ariadna body does not have. Here I just picked the shortest nails, in a natural nail colour, to go with this makeup-free look.

One particularly nice feature is the option to alpha out the wrists but not the hands, as I did for this long-sleeved minidress (a gift from Little Fox at the recent Cosmopolitan shopping event anniversary round). Surprisingly few HUDs that come with mesh bodies allow this—even the expensive brand names!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: The Top Six Places to Find Free System Layer Clothing for your Bakes on Mesh Avatar (And Two Places to Avoid at All Costs)

Now, as you know, I have opinions.

And one of my firmly-held opinions, at least up until now, is that older freebie stores which consist of nothing but system layer clothing for classic avatars should be banished from the grid:

[I hate] horrible, horrible freebie stores that are unloading floor after floor of ancient system layer clothing. Freebie Galaxy is a 15-story crime against humanity and should be burned to the ground!

Well, now that I have had an opportunity to play around a bit with many of the free and inexpensive Bakes on Mesh bodies available (more information here), I am going to soften that hard-line stance somewhat. Because I have found that you can re-purpose these older outfits quite nicely sometimes, like this sexy black number I picked up at the Wise Heron Newbie Mall, which I am wearing on the free Bento Bakes-on-Mesh compatible mesh body called Ruthie from Tiny Things:

Now, there are a few considerations you do need to keep in mind when using system-layers-and-flexiprim clothing on the newer Bakes-in-Mesh compatible mesh bodies:

  • The clothing will be skin-tight, regardless of the settings on the Shirt Fit and Sleeve Looseness sliders on shirts, and the Pants Fit and Cuff Flare sliders for pants. Depending on the mesh body you are using (like the Ruthie body above), you might get a hint of camel toe as a result.
  • The waist on the system skirts is unlikely to look good on a mesh avatar, and cannot be adjusted to fit better.
  • However, one benefit of system skirts is that you can easily adjust their length, all the way from a miniskirt hemline to full-length ballgown length!
  • Also, you will be able to adjust the sleeve lengths and pantleg lengths easily on most system layer clothing, such as this jacket-layer low-cut top:

So, knowing all this, let’s take a look at some of these older freebies stores.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are looking for the best six freebie stores to pick up newer, high-quality mesh clothing, please use this updated list instead, or this older list. The following freebie stores may have a few mesh items, but they overwhelmingly offer older, system-layer-and-flexiprim clothing which can be used with both classic Second Life avatars, and the newer Bakes-on-Mesh compatible mesh bodies.

Helping Haven Gateway

Helping Haven Gateway

Helping Haven Gateway is one of those freebie places which should be more widely known (I find I keep forgetting its name, because I visit it so infrequently!). This newbie orientation centre boasts two large, white, multi-story buildings full of men’s and women’s clothing. What is available here is a mix of newer, mesh clothing from various designers, plus a wider selection of older, system layer clothing. There are some nice things to be found here, so you might want to drop by sometime.

The Freebie Megastore in London City

The Freebie Megastore

The Freebie Megastore in always-bustling London City now has a nice selection of mesh clothing for male and female avatars on their first floor (including some specifically designed for male and female Altamura mesh avatars), but they also have several stories of older, system-layers-and-flexiprims outfits. In addition, you can pick up some very nice system layer gowns and dresses at the Snowpaws store located just across the street.

New Resident Island

New Resident Island is a charming, helpful, medieval-themed newbie orientation centre with an excellent selection of both mesh and system layer clothing for both male and female avatars.

New Resident Island

Please note that some of the freebies here are restricted to avatars under a certain age (e.g. avatars which were created less than 365 days ago).

Freebies Warehouse

Freebies Warehouse

Freebies Warehouse has a well-curated selection of both newer mesh and older system layer clothing (also check the Sexy Girl store next door, which is a Stars clothing franchise and has a couple of free gifts you can pick up).

The Freebie Store at Ayuda Virtual

Ayuda Virtual is the lesser-known, Spanish-speaking cousin to the popular Portuguese freebie store at Ajuda SL Brasil (which is my number-one-ranked freebie store for mesh clothing and footwear). Again, there is a mix of mesh and system-layer clothing here. Menswear is located to the right, and womenswear to the left:

Ayuda Virtual

Wise Heron Newbie Mall

Wise Heron Newbie Mall is a fairly well-curated, well-organized freebie store, which is where I picked up the sexy black outfit you see in the pictures above. There are separate sections for men’s and women’s clothing. Menswear is to the left, and womenswear to the right:

Wise Heron Newbie Mall

Last AND Least on My List: Freebie Galaxy and the Freebies Dungeon (Go Here Only If You Absolutely Have To!)

Last (and least), I will namedrop the above-mentioned Freebie Galaxy, which is essentially a 15-story dumping ground for system-layers-and-flexiprim clothing, and hideous 2003-era prim jewelry and shoes, which you really should avoid at all costs.

And for the love of God, if you are saving Linden dollars by using the advice I regularly dispense on this blog, spend those savings and pick up some good-quality, modern mesh shoes! One of my pet peeves in SL are those avatars rocking 2003-era shoes with busted invisiprims and even bling! So not a look you want to emulate. Here’s a few places where you can find free mesh shoes on the grid.

Go to the Freebie Galaxy ONLY if you have an hour or two to spare, and you absolutely cannot find what you want at any of the previous places. Trust me on this! The place is a nightmare, but at least it is somewhat organized by category.

But, if you insist on seeing EVERYTHING, Freebie Galaxy and the Freebies Dungeon should be the last stops on your list. Freebie Dungeon in particular is a horror show, just a hodge-podge, an absolute disorganized mess. Go anywhere else before you head there!