Sunday, 10 August 2014

Fashion

Mogmush frowned at the small man before him and reached around to grasp one the knives festooning his person. The smaller man backed away hurriedly and dropped the tape measure.

"No one touches me there!" Mogmush slurred. 

"I...I..." The tailor stammered and looked around for an ally. Gudguff stepped in to save him.

"Mogmush! Put that away right now!" His voice had the same snap to it that a school teacher learns to use. "We've all had enough of you flapping in the breeze, and gods forbid the wind picks up." The Wizard had been sitting on a comfortable chair idly leafing through a catalogue of the most troubling fashions for men. Stripes seemed to be in favour.
"The simple fact is, my barbarian friend, that where we are heading, a loinclothn is simply not going to be enough. Now, I know you think it will be." He paused and arched one very bushy eyebrow. "But believe me, it wont."

Mogmush stared from one to the other for a long moment. The gears of his mind were clearly turning and he swilled some cheap wine around his mouth whilst he was thinking.

"Fine." The tailor breathed a loud sigh of relief as Mogmush slowly put the knife away. "But!" They paused to stare at the man as his word hung in the air like an over-ripe fart. The Barbarian swayed drunkenly on the spot for a few moments longer as the tailor and the Wizard slowly leaned forward in suspense. 

"But, what?" The tailor's voice was creaky and frightened but it woke Mogmush from whatever place his mind had wandered to. 

"I want some ventilation!" The drunken Barbarian roared.

So this week we will delve into the strange world of fashion and its effects on Fantasy. Dig out your heels and stripes, you'll want to look your best for this!

Clothes is clothes! Fashion isn't any real use, is it?
Well, for the average slopmonger...no. At the annual village fashion parade, the careful observer would see many subtle and intricate variations on the theme of filth spattered shit brown. Yarmi the smith over there is currently sporting a daring long leather apron/no shirt combo that gives great ventilation when at the forge and excellent protection from molten metal. etc etc.

Now, the fortunate townsmen and city folk will have a much greater choice in the clothings department, largely because there is more available in the first place and they actually give a toss what people think about them. Unlike the country slopmonger who can barely form an opinion on air.
Towns see travellers from all over coming and going, fashions from the capital or even foreign lands will come through and mingle together. Interesting things like necklines and waists will emerge from the primordial wrappings and bundles of cloth that served up until that point. People will aspire to own more than one shirt, maybe even more than one pair of boots. The way a man wears his tunic, its cut and its colour or pattern might tell volumes about his origin, his personal tastes, his trade or even his political leanings.
Or they might just tell you that person particularly likes that awful shade of green.

OK, so you're saying that clothes are banners or something?
 They can be. It really depends on what sort of world you've built, how far advanced they are and how much heed they pay to practicality. Clothing styles will vary depending on the climate and the social pressures of the place they originated in. What follows is a rundown of the sorts of styles that might be found in various different geographical locations.

Cold and Northerly
Warm things! Furs and thick wool, leather for the rains. Big boots to deal with the mud, though they will probably be soft soled to deal with the snow. Are these people nomadic? If so they'll probably have horses, loose and comfortable would be the order there with riding boots, much like our own dear cossacks.
In an interesting note it was the vikings that invented socks. As would make sense.
Temperate but generally OK. 
Whatever you like. If it's nice and warm in the summer with a hint of cold in the winter then fashion in such places might be tempered by religion, social convention and fashion more than by practicality. It might be that colour is more important that cut or vice versa or that foreign influence is changing the tastes of civilians and that they are following outside trends. Or perhaps some vile demonic entity has taken over and is slowly forcing everyone to wear onesies.
Warm, as in, uncomfortably so.
Loose, flowing and covering clothes, ones that protect the head from the sun and give a lot of shadow, those would be the order of the year in this case. Nice light fabrics for the day and heavier thicker things for the night, when the cold closes in and makes the baking desert into a freezing...desert...um yeeeah...

It is really just common sense. People have always worn what was most comfortable in the climate and easy to produce. Kilts, shorts, trews, skirts, dresses, sacks and onesies.

Oh, I get it! Like, whatever is easiest will be what people wear until they learn how to make something else. 
Yup that would be it indeed. people bow to practicality until they think they can get around it and make things interesting, or at least more interesting that it has been. Once that happens then out come the peacock feathers and the sequins and the pockets that don't actually work.

But it's a good indicator of status isn't it?
Ah, ten points to the disembodied typeface! The richer people are the better they dress. In our modern western borderline androgynous monoculture quality is worth more than colour. The materials and the way they are put together speak far more than the pattern or the garish and new shade of pink.
This would have been the same in history and thusly in fantasy. In a world without industrialized manufacturing and with limited chemical expertise colours and patterns would be hard to come by and would be clear indicators of rank and status.
Purple, in Roman days, was the most expensive colour to manufacture. Senators, the biggest of the bigwigs, wore a thin(ish) band of purple on their robes. Ceaser, being a total wanker, not only declaired himself emperor of a republic but then had a nice and hideously expensive, purple robe. Seriously rubbing peoples noses in his own magnificence.

So, if my characters see someone walking by in purple striped trousers with lots of gold braid and a very pink shirt then they can guess that this individual is probably a king?
Yes! That or your character is off their head on cough medicine.

Mogmush tensed and flexed. His muscles strained at the fabric and caused several passersby to pause and stare. The materials strained and shifted in interesting ways and suddenly Gudguff wondered if the loincloth was actually better. 
A woman standing behind Mogmush made a strange noise and fell over quivering as the Barbarian performed a series of squats and lunges. 
Shard, the young and viciously intelligent young woman that Gudguff was hoping would be a half decent sorceress, stared in horror and fascination. 

"It's almost as if hiding all the muscle and...legness..." She struggled to tear her eyes away from the Barbarian and his destructive testing of his new garment. "It's almost as if hiding all that has made it more visible."
Gudguff stared in his own brand of horror at the spectacle and nodded slowly. 

"It might be that when something is totally visible it makes people look away." He winced as something shifted in the trousers and Mogmush paused with a pained look on his face. "Or perhaps its more that Mogmush is not comfortable in them and is drawing attention to them himself."
They paused and stared in horror for a moment longer before Shard piped up.

"It could be. But I think its more likely to be the fact that no one has seen that shade of...of..." She paused and tried to catalogue the shade before her. "Pink?"