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Clothing

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Cloth

Most fabrics brought from Earth, but not all.

Generalizations: Sartorias-deles being generally colder and wetter than Earth, sturdier fabrics were traditionally favored. In the earliest days, almost everything was wool, or partially wool. Sheep-herding was an important part of local as well as general economies, and many types of fine wool fabrics were developed, which still retained wool's capability of trapping body heat even when wet. Yeath was the first venture outside. Yeath are highland animals, growing long, silky coats then dropping them in spring. Yeath only live in high mountains within a certain range of the equator; they do not do well in the extreme south or north, so they are not numerous like sheep. Yeath fur is generally made into coats or cloaks or shawls, sometimes spun into thread but mostly part-woven so that the fur hangs down as it's extraordinarily soft as well as warm.

Hemp and flax were next in importance. Cotton came much later, and it only grows well close to the equator, but it's never been regarded as a necessity except in the equatorial islands, where cotton garments are common. Cotton is mostly used as a blend with linen, which takes far more work to process. Pure linen, labor-intensive, generally has the cachet of being 'fine' material for the socially conscious; the best stuff was double, triple, quadruple hackled, bucked, and bleached, and the threads made extremely fine before they were woven. Lightweight, much-hackled cambric is made from flax, though in some areas it's made of calendared cotton. But the cotton cambric (though it looks and feels almost the same as linen) is considered the fabric of wannabees. (This does change a few times as fashions come and go, but this is a generalization.)

Silk is the next category, and is considered pretty much by everyone a luxury item. Mulberry silkworms were brought to the world, and silk production began in the river valleys that later became Colend. Many of the thin gauzy fabrics favored in Colend and Sartor and other areas are silks from moths and spiders either radically evolved or not from Earth at all. Like silk, the threads vary at the molecular level, varying the prism effect. There are wild silks all over the world, and their gathering and weaving is usually kept secret, making the fabric an expensive commodity. On other areas, particularly some of the deep, ancient cove forest areas where humans seldom penetrate, intricate relationships have evolved between spiders and other denizens, leading to a kind of trade of fabulous cocoon silk. The history of trade in these items is almost like a secret history, with many odd turns.

Suffice it to say the main market for these varieties of silk is Colend, whose fashions, despite the many varieties and changes, tend toward layers of extremely fine fabric.

What People Wear

The evolution of clothing has so much to do with what's available and what's practical. But there are also cultural assumptions woven right in at the thread level. On Sartorias-deles, fashion and attitudes were brought over from Earth, to change as life changed.

This being a colder, wetter world, warmth has never ceased to be important. The human form hasn't altered materially, so styles haven't changed in the general outline: people like to look good in their clothes, but they also like to be able to move. Because of the Waste Spell openings in the middle aren't a necessity, so there are no zippers at all, or buttons in the fronts of trousers. People still like trousers and shirts separate. One-piece garments (not easy to get on and off) are generally only popular among those who are living in isolation in areas of bitter cold where bathing is labor-intensive. That's not to say that fashion hasn't come back to clothing that takes a long time to get in and out of, but generally these fashions are pretty much limited to those who have lots of minions to do the fastening and unfastening.

The basic garment is the smock and trouser with a drawstring waist. Children pretty much over the world wear some sort of variation, moving on to adult clothing when they reach their full growth. Trousers are favored by both genders for riding. Trousers generally have been favored by men, especially when man-and-horse has been the basic military unit, and men have been tapped for that role. But tunics long and short, robes long and short have come and gone in male fashion--with or without trains. Generally, male fashions are designed to draw the eye upward to the shoulders as broadest point. Women's fashions, like on Earth, have varied between hip, waist, and bosom as focal points--usually as contrast. In other words, the flare of a skirt from waist and outward, or the drawing in from neckline to waist, the 'entrancing curve', has been the most enduring line for women. Otherwise garments range across a great variety.

Undergarments are pretty much the same for both, fine linen or cotton-linen (or cotton) in warm weather, wools for winter. Gloves are made from a variety of fabrics, or from very fine leddas.

Shoes are made from leddas, though some styles (like dancing slippers) can be silk stitched to a leddas sole. Leddas can be worked until it's almost as supple as cloth, or it can be stiff and thick, for work shoes and boots. The latter are often soled with wood, or hemp, or treated leddas, and capped with steel.

Fastenings are generally laces, buttons, or ribbons. Ribbons are usually confined to formal clothing; Colendi fashion has produced an entire history bound up in ribbons, and what they signify. The most common buttons are carved from wood, though buttons can be made from all kinds of materials, including gems. Laces can be quite elegant, usually affixed with aguilletes at the ends when one can afford them.

Hats go in and out of fashion. Practical hats tend to stay in fashion, that is, rain hats or sun hats in summer. Hats as social significators also go in and out of fashion, as do the manners that go with hate wearing, doffing, etc. Same with gloves, which can be made out of a variety of materials. Those meant for weather or demanding work are usually made of leddas, sometimes worked with fine chain links, with cloth lining.

Sumptuary Custom and Law

Many countries tried sumptuary laws, and they had as much success in the long run as Earth ones, depending on the significance of the law or the change the authorities are trying to suppress. There are variations, and all for varying reasons, but here's a generality: most people frown on the wearing of clothing that signifies an earned rank. But most people (especially at the lower reaches of society) shrug when fashion causes emulation of those above in social rank. So for example, in Colend, let's say the fashion has just changed in court, and a certain type of silk ribbon called sphere-of-air-and-light (short name lis) is back in fashion, worn around the brow to signify new love. The court wears them, the merchants see them, but they don't copy the court fashions because then they are seen as mere mimics. But a local artisan wins a fierce competition to paint the ceiling of the new public hall for summer events. He receives his pay, a part of which is for materials but a part is recognized as reward. His daughter shows up at the celebrating dance wearing a lis ribbon. Everyone in her circle thinks her entitled.

The Colendi learned first that sumptuary laws finally make the authority laughable, and so the only recourse is to be wealthy enough to change fashion frequently, so that mimics are pretty much always behind. More communication without words.

Fashion

Fashion is, as well all know, a different matter entirely from clothing as practical covering. Fashions obviously vary, changing sometimes daily in Colend, to places where it's quite acceptable--indeed, even honorable--to wear your grandparents' clothes. Fashion is meant to attract, to indicate status, belonging, challenge, mood, etc: fashion is a mode of solidarity or individualism, a means of self-expression.

Certain rules are generally recognized: if a body part is covered, then it's polite not to refer to it. What this means exactly can vary, for example, in most of the northern hemisphere men do no go shirtless. At least they wear a vest, covering their nipples as do women. In the south (which is warmer) this rule doesn't apply to men, and in places, doesn't apply to single women either. Generally, in those places, once a man or woman has mated, at least a semblance of covering up signifies their status.

If a part is covered, then it's polite not to 'notice' that part. Thus, if someone is missing a finger, but always wears gloves, no one will ask what happened. But if the hand is bare, then to ask is considered within the bounds of politeness. Clothing thus signifies privacy layers.

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Page last modified on February 18, 2008, at 01:44 PM