January 3, 2010
I wrote once about how much effort I go through to make characters look stylish and unique, so I suppose it’s only fair that I share my general thoughts on fashion for us mere humans of Earth as well.In modern-day Earth, humans are remarkably similar. This is because we all buy from big chain stores likes Walmart, Marks & Spencer, and Binns. Those big chains generally get big by being sensible with their business, which is the law of buying versus selling (That is, buy low and sell high). If they can get something very cheap and then sell it cheap enough to sell a lot and still turn a good profit, they can afford to grow and be big stores.
That’s all well and good for the economy, which is a big topic these days with the recession and all, but I think in general it’s been bad for our fashion sense.
Take a look at history, for a moment. A couple hundred years ago we were wearing turncoats, bussles, tophats, vests, and doublets. One hundred years before that we start getting even more complex outfits, to the point where I couldn’t begin to name all the articles involved. In the medieval age, though, even the simple outfits were more varied, with cloaks, doublets, various hoods, coats, boots, and such still turning up. Today however, we’re very content with various minor alterations to a small variety of clothing items, trousers, skirts, dresses, shirts, tshirts, coats, hats, and gloves, for the most part.
So has this move towards simplicity been a financial move? Clearly not, because there’s still a very thriving industry of tailors and less mainstream articles, and we still yearn for the complicated outfits in our renfairs and our academy awards. Heck watch the red carpet and the catwalk and I’m sure you’ll find some outfits even King Louis would scoff at. Clearly we’re all too happy still to spend outlandish amounts on looking good.
Perhaps we’re just more comfortable with outfits that are easier to make and buy? No, again we happily and swiftly refute this notion. Almost every piece of our written fiction has a universe where everyone dresses significantly different to our own world. The Ancients of Stargate, the adventurers of Dungeons & Dragons, the riders of Rohan in Lord of the Rings, or Section 9 of Ghost in the Shell. Be it fantasy or scifi, it seems every other world is dressing better than we do ourselves.
So what is it that makes us so dull? Why do we like buying our tshirts with their witty slogans or our jackets with their name brands? Why is that we were so happy once to stand out of the crowd, but now we’re happier to stand out in it?
The answer I think is complaceny. The answer is conformity. We’ve exchanged our variety and our individuality for cheap buys and instant unity. And that’s a real shame to me, because I seriously value my uniqueness and my individuality, I value being someone you could point to on a street within an instant of spotting me. To me that isn’t the want to be recognised or the need to be a celebrity, because I could care less if you knew my name, so long as you could pick me out from a lineup, so long as you could say I was unique, or individual.
That’s part of the reason my attire has been getting a little mixed up of late. I’ve got a bright blue fedora with a couple buttons that I wear just about everywhere, a black leather pouch that slots on my belt with a mystical orb design engraved onto it, and most recently a black hooded cloak with a gorgeous blue velvet interior (Presently in the midst of being made more practical and unique). (In my quests to get these a top tip for doing so I’d say is to check out the more niche markets, like the LARP suppliers, for items) And this is all in the name of looking good and looking unique.
So why do we have to keep dreaming and imagining and remembering these times when everyone abided by their own fashion sense and not that of the big chain stores and name brands? Why not just go out and buy clothes that look good and really make ourselves stand out? If a Steampunk or a Cyberpunk can so happily do it, then so should we!