Notes on Fashion & Status

First: The Callanthe like bright colours, and they like to mix them. They’re hampered only by not having advanced chemical dyeing techniques. This drawing, from the Peacock King, is what they’d wear if they could manage those colours.

I was looking at Russian historical garb today, and I’ve noticed a trend: most historical clothing seems to be based on “put on layer after layer of the same basic pattern until you’re warm.” This makes sense: having a summer & winter wardrobe separate of one another is expensive.

Clothing and status:

So the side the shirts close on indicates skilled worker vs. unskilled labor.

Fabric would also be an indication of status: silk is expensive in any world.

Add on to that pants. I’m thinking that pants are worn by those for whom long skirts would get in the way – those who ride, and those who labor manually. So an emperor and a farmer might wear very similar outfits, but the emperor’s silk tunic closes over the right shoulder, and the farmer’s hemp tunic over the left.

I’m still up in the air on embroidery/beading/etc. And hats! Hats are great for warmth. But. I don’t see the modesty issue coming up in quite the same way. I <3 beanies, but if I go with them, we hearken back more and more to China.

ETA: Terminology! Turkish, modern English, any one of the medieval European? Is it a kirtle or a cote or a qipao or a tunica or a liene or a…?

ETA: Qitari.

ETA: Neat site on qipao

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0 thoughts on “Notes on Fashion & Status

  1. Some of the language choices depend on the market. In an English market, you say tunic and people get the idea of something that hits at mid-thigh and is vaguely shirt-like. If you use a foreign word, you do have to describe it more. On the other hand, when I read “tunic” I think of European-style clothing, whereas your neck closure is much more Asian-inspired. SO I might be picturing the wrong thing. In some ways, it comes down to whether you want to take the time to describe, and whether you feel it is important or matters to your world. If I had to guess, I’d say it matters… Embroidery/beading is another thing that wealthy people tend to have. It costs more, as it takes more time for the garment to be made. Also, people who do a lot of labor are harder on their clothes – embroidery and beading both can snag on things and come undone, beads can also break. There’s my best “sewing” icon. Ha!

    • I’d have to change LJ’s to have a sewing icon. πŸ™‚ I think I do have to call it a smeep, if I refer to it, because it /is/ a different piece of clothing. If I call it a tunic or a kirtle or a qipao, people know (loosely) what that looks like. I don’t know if it matters. Designing fashion soothes me. I know embroidery/beading is for the wealthy. πŸ˜› Designing peasant clothing is boring, comparatively. I don’t know what style of decoration they have on their clothing yet.

      • Oh, you mean beading styles, not whether or not he garment has it. There are a ton out there. It would be fun research! I have also heard that Japanese rope braiding is soothing, and that is what they seem to use for decorative cords and edging. Kumihimo : Book covers give an idea of what it looks like: I’ve seen people do it. It is pretty.

          • Oooo, the scrimshaw is pretty. And much less precise than the sort I am used to (the stuff on whale teeth that bored whalers did on ships – they filled in their etched lines with ink and made very complex drawings). Also, macramΓ©? You already know how to do it. Beading is inherently not as easy to transport as thread or cord. I do like the idea of smaller, portable weaving – Halcyon has some very nice small travel looms. Along the same lines, the drop-spindle has been invented all over the world by different cultures.

            • Ooh, macrame, good idea. πŸ™‚ Yeah, scrimshaw might not be the right word for what I linked (i love that button) On the drive home, I realized exactly how much work cosplaying this would be. πŸ˜€ But I also created someone to cosplay based on the colours Wyst & E picked. πŸ˜€

              • Yay! Having plans is good. Steampunk is a lot of work, no matter how you look at it. The button is lovely, whatever it is.

                • Oy, yes, it is. I think I figured out part of the tiny-work thing. Their prejudice (or one of them) is against worthless people. And they have these periods where women end up rather cloistered…

                  • I am not sure I get the concept. Do you mean that during the cloistered-women periods, the women do a lot of handiwork so that they are not worthless? If so, do the men then end up doing embroidery during the periods when women are not cloistered? Or do embroidery and other handicrafts become scarce and very valuable because no one is making them? That might lead to a market for second-hand work (carefully cutting the lace or embroidery or beadwork off one garment and attaching it to another).

                    • The former, I think they get in the habit of doing a lot of handwork during the cloistered times and just keep doing them; there’s still long cold winters. Though I do like the second-hand embroidery idea.

                    • Ah, that makes sense. And yeah, long winters (I have been knitting more lately). I like secondhand embellishments myself. When people had to actually tat lace or bobbin weave it, it was always carefully removed from an old dress or shirt and reused – it was too precious and too much time had gone into it otherwise. I’ve still seen older pieces for sale at antique shops; machine-made lace has a different look. *imagines the market stall full of nothing but colorful embroidery from older garments, ready to applique onto new ones, and run by a little old lady*

                    • *grins* Have I mentioned that I love markets? They are one of my favorite parts of fantasy settings. They’re like flea markets on crack.

                    • Huzah! That’s so cool. The markets just turn up. In all the cities I write about. And in RPG characters’ backgrounds… I have mentioned the extremely cool indoor Winter Market nearby, yes? This one has the best photos (especially the last photo):,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=132&cntnt01returnid=67 Other photos: Also, these cool people are there with their spices! I feel it is a proper market if there is one spice merchant.

                    • Well, I am in Maine. People invented boiled dinners here. We’re like 96% white. At least one is a good! Plus, they are a very nice spice merchant, and have multiple traditional Indian spice mixes and pink salt from the Himalayas and also very cute little gift bags if you are purchasing for someone else. Plus, between Griffon Ridge and Blue Dragon Mussels, it is a bit like a fantasy market… *grins*

                    • *giggle* They do look nommy. I miss the Public Market in Rochester – Troy has a niceish one that runs all year round, but it’s tiiiiiiny.

                    • I think Burnswick’s would be tiny too. I mean, I have been to the Rochester one, and nearly got lost. The one in brunswick concentrates on a variety in vendors. There will be one person with pickles and jam. One guy with mussels. They try not to have vendors that duplicate others, and also have people with crafts. It’s quite nice. But for sheer size, I think you need to be in a city as large as Rochester or larger for a very big market. The one here in town is even tinier than the one in Brunswick. I’d say maybe 15 vendors? Miniscule. But by the end of the season, a lot of the recognize me, and some will hold things for me (market runs 2:00-6:00 on a weekday and I get out of work at 5:00). The personal touch is ncie.

                    • Rochester’s one is awesome! And it’s … very diverse. Ithaca does not have that, though it has a biggish market for the size of the city.

                    • True. Of course, Rochester is more ethnically diverse than Ithaca. Sounds like you are a big city girl, at least when it comes to food. Maybe you need to live closer to a big city?

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