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bemused by my regular blogposts about Second Life, which at the ripe old age of 18 is seen by many outsiders as quaint, outdated technology.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!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Bags, Bags, Bags!

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.


Now, I do not usually blog about avatar accessories in Second Life, but I recently came across a couple of nice group gifts which I wanted to share with you. Remember, that I am only blogging about a very small fraction of what I find on my travels around the grid! For everything I find, please join the RyanSchultz.com Steals, Deals, and Freebies group in Second Life (please see the notice in red above for details). The group costs L$50 to join, but you’ll easily save multiple times that, from all the tips, tricks, tactics, and advice being shared within the group! We’re already at well over 40 members, and I can now call myself a professional freebie fashionista (and you can wear that tag with pride, too!).

Now, I should tell you that I am not a fan of bags without high-quality, Bento animations built in—high priority animations which do not break when I use them with the stands and walks in my animation overrides! Happily, both of the bags I tell you about here meet that stringent requirement.

First up is a free group gift from Vive Nine/Ryvolter. of a very versatile purse which comes in open and closed versions, in two designs, and with a wide variety of Bento hold animations, as you will see! Just teleport to the Vive Nine store, hit the small panel shown below to subscribe to the free group, and then hit the bigger panel to pick up your gift:

The best thing about this bag is the absolutely wonderful variety of hold animations, as you can see! There’s also a HUD to change the texture of the scarf wrapped around the handle of the bag (or remove it completely), and have it closed, or open with wads of cash sticking out 😉 ; please click on each thumbnail to see a larger version of the pictures.

Again, these are are high-prioity animations that should work very well with your standard AO.

If you are in the mood for some luxe shopping bags to finish off your fashionista emsemble, you can pick up a set of three as a free group gift from Sibilla. Just join the group for free (there’s a red group join panel on your right as you enter), and click on the panel located in the centre of the store, as shown below:

The shopping bags come in two holdable versions (wrist and hand), as well as an editable, rezzable version for decor (say, in the corner of your bedroom):

There you go! You’re all set to rampage your next virtual shopping mall in high style!

This avatar is also wearing:

  • Mesh Head and Body, and Pumps: the Maitreya Lara-compatible Ariadna mesh body by Kalhene, which I was lucky enough to pick up for free before they switched to the paid-for Anya version (more information about the Kalhene Anya body here, which I still think is a great bargain compared to Maitreya Lara).
  • Skin: Zara Bakes on Mesh skin in the sandy skin tone (a recent free gift from Wow Skins)
  • Hair: Jamie unisex hair by Firelight! (a recent free gift from the Firestorm arena)
  • Hat: Hex hat by Moon Elixir (a free hunt prize I picked up years ago; you can pick up a fatpack of six colours for L$100 in-store).
  • Jacket: from the free Kendal outfit at Juli Fashion; just join the group for free and scoop up nearly sixty free gifts of womenswear!
  • Skirt: Black pencil skirt from the Roxy outfit (a free gift from a store called Chaotic; just look for the store vendor with the FREE sign above it (exact SLURL) and pay the vendor L$1 for dozens and dozens of gifts of of women’s outfits and Slink footwear; no group is needed, and your Linden dollar will be automatically refunded).

TOTAL COST OF THIS ENTIRE LOOK: FREE! (L$1,895 if you have to buy the Kalhene Anya body and the Hex Hat fatpack from Moon Elixir.)

Happy freebie shopping!

UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Free Face Masks and Toilet Paper!

I got an insider tip on a very timely accessory for your Second Life avatar: a face mask! (I still need to hunt down surgical gloves, eye protection, and hazmat suits, but it’s a good start.)

Teleport to MALified (here’s the exact SLURL); you do not need to join any group to pick up this freebie, just click the panel:

The mask comes in seven different colours: black, blue, cyan, pink, red, violet, and white. They are completely adjustable to fit any avatar. Here’s a close-up look at the white one:

You can also pick up these masks on the SL Marketplace for free. Some people are actually charging L$180 or even L$200 for face masks, so this is a real bargain! And best of all, unlike the real world, there are zero limits to supplies.

UPDATE March 21st, 2020: Salt and Pepper have a new free gift available, something that is much in demand in the real world: free toiler paper! Just click the panel in the store (here’s the exact SLURL). You do not need to join any group to pick up all the virtual toilet paper that you will ever need!

UPDATE March 27th, 2020: Sau Motorcycles is offering a complete package of pandemic supplies, including masks (decoration and werable versions), boxes and rolls of toilet paper, even a toilet paper thrower! Just pay the vendor display one Linden dollar and it will be automatically refunded. Here’s the SLURL to the store.

The sign says:

Free COVID-19 Supply Kit: toilet paper, N95 masks included. Decoration, throwable, attachment…everything you need to get a little fun in this hard time. Hope you enjoy this and please share with your friends. We are never out of supply!

Stay healthy!