What's the number for the fashion police?
New Jersey, set to ban low-slung trousers
and thus make them cool. Best just to let fashion pass.
One of the problems in writing a dystopian novel is that you have to look over your shoulder to avoid being overtaken by events... And just the other day I was writing a few pages about how the Consensus used a shortage of clothes to impose its dress code upon the people...
They'll be banning music and dancing next. Where's Kevin Bacon when you need him?
Maybe New Jersey has something like this in mind... (unspellchecked because my onboard spellchecker is a PITA to use, and by no means yet polished or finished)
"Well that was a rare sight! Riding in today I spotted a bare and very shapely pair of female legs displayed in public despite the weather, or maybe as a defiant reaction against it. Or she was a brave soul expressing what she thought of the Logical Dress Movement.
Like the beginning of the Consensus, no-one can pin-down its origins exactly. In truth there were probably a number of causes. There was the inevitable counterreaction to the tattooing craze earlier in the century; now tats are seen as out-of-fashion, gauche, lower class, and a barrier to getting a good assignment; not to be seen in public, better covered, best removed if possible The New Moralism also frowned upon the brazen display of flesh by both sexes, as it was seen as disrespectful of, and antagonistic to muslims. The recent run of colder weather, and the fact that clothes made from more material are seen as being a sign of relative affluence have also played their part.
The pendulum of fashion had been swinging away from cheap, disposable rags before the Crises; but the suddenly intensified post-Crises austerity made all the difference. With the collapse of the retail clothing sector as their access to cheap, worn for a single season, just-in-time supplied, imported stock was cut off, durability came back in style. When the Transitional Commision took 'temporary' control over the sector - along with many other sectors of the economy - they had an opportunity to impose their Consensus values on what was worn.
It took longer than expected to establish a Fed clothing industry; and while the workforce was being trained to produce subsistance clothing some people looked patched and shabby. Eventually the first officially-approved styles in a limited range of sizes began to trickle into the few shops that remained, with the promise of a planned reduction over time in the availabilty of extra-large and beyond sizes to encourage the population to lose weight. It was measures such as these that forced us to understand how our lives had changed; perhaps permanently, and that consumer choice was now a bygone luxury.
Not so much drab, as uncompromisingly utilitarian; and made out of tough, synthetic, recycled, but not very comfortable fabric, in dull colours that reduced the need for laundering, the first designs came as a shock, and met initial rejection. But we had little choice: either you wore your pre-Crises clothes until they wore out, or bought from the dwindling stocks of upmarket apparel if you could still afford to, or did as some skilled and independent people did and sew your own. For the rest of us it was Utility Style or nudity. Eventually the early quality control and sometimes hilairiously bizarre sizing problems were sorted, clothing credits were allocated, and people grudgingly began to wear them. Then fuel-poor and freezing, they clamoured for ecosuits - a rebranded thermal onesie - to live in when the first of the really bitter winters took hold.
Some of the changes were understandable; the move from many sizes of rain jackets to one-size-fits-all waterproof ponchos was logical; simplifying production. As was the replacement of zips with buttons in most cases; buttons were less likely to fail, and if they did they could be repaired rather than throwing away the whole garment because of a broken zip. Some other decisions didn't make sense, but were imposed anyway. Despite meeting the one-size-fits-many criteria, production of tights and stockings was suspended. So were leggings which were seen as servile, demeaning to women, and mal-moral. It was true that in pre-Crises times many women who should never have worn lurid leggings did, and the results were often unpleasant to look at; as well as stretching the seams to bursting point, sometimes beyond. But back then it was a woman's choice whether to wear them; not any more. The anonymous controllers of clothing production had made their ruling: maxi skirts, wraps, or full-length loose fitting trousers would protect womens' modesty from now on.
Footware changed as well. High heels were out, as were ballerina pumps; and for both sexes, canvas shoes and flip-flops; all of which were condemned as disposable, and indicative of a slovenly attitude. Though canvas shoes with hook-and-loop touch fastenings for those with special needs are still available. Sparkles, sequins, bows and other decorations were decried as an unneccesary frivolity. Boots had to be strictly practical, and trainers were only to be worn while training for sport. Instead came durable, but unstylish shoes. Plastic unisex sandals and clogs proliferated, eventually evolving into flacks; hardwearing wooden or plastic soles that could be fitted with a variety of interchangable strap styles or uppers.
The Crises also affected the hair and beauty industries. Hair styling and colouring products became scarce, so styles became more 'natural' and easier to maintain without a continual supply of products that the connies deemed harmful to the environment. The same paternalistic shortages applied to cosmetics of all kinds, with it being deemed a sign of enpowered self-esteem to show yourself without them. Almost overnight, nail bars closed down as the need for managable, low-maintainence, ready for manual work fingernails became apparent.
The move away from artificial beauty products seems to have become permanent, but clothing styles have subtly changed as the material shortages have eased, and people learned the skills to make their own clothes, recycle material, or buy made-to-measure from the resurgent tailoring sector. A counter-revolutionary style has evolved, pushing the boundaries of accepted taste, but not too far. At the moment colourful ethnic home woven designs are in, and the connies can't complain; as are wraps that conceal many sins. The worst excesses of the insistent anti-obesity campaign may have been brought to an end after things began to spin out of control, but it is still prudent to artfully conceal too much fat with carefully styled fabric; not that being overweight is as common as it used to be.
Showing too much leg, or bodily flesh can still attract occasional verbal abuse by connie zealots; flamboyant displays of accessories, jewellery, and all facial piercings will result in many disapproving glances. As will publicly flaunting a pale flabby lifebelt of a midriff with a pierced navel below a camisole see you refused service in many places. While wearing any promenantly branded clothes is likely to get you laughed at these days. It seems barely believable that people used to pay high prices to become a walking advert for a company's product, and to have believed that doing so actually increased their stature in the opinion of others. Well if that was the case then, it certainly isn't now! Sportswear is only worn while playing sport, and anyone wearing delberately distressed or holed clothes is asking to be referred to the Community Support office as an urgent case. No one wears garments that are too tight-fitting, or jackets too short for them now; and denim is a thing of the past with jeans, as well as shorts or any calf-exposing trousers, falling foul of the unwritten dress code.
Most people conform to the norm and avoid controversy by wearing workwear, or uniforms; of which there are many. The connies are very keen on uniforms. Most professions have them, though they are by no means compulsory, yet; as it is seen to encourage pride in oneself, one's work, and a sense of collective community. The uniforms are usually variations on the boiler suit theme, with different colours and patches denoting the assignment class. Even pre-school groups have them now, supposedly to ease the transition to the first national school system uniform jumpsuit; standardised throughout the Fed, but with different shoulder patches for each school.
I had to look away from the delightful sight to avoid the pothole I knew to be near and concentrate on the road again. Wherever she went I mentally wished her luck; wearing a knee-length skirt is a daring act, bound to get you noticed. I hope the attention she gets is the sort she was looking for."
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