Necessity Drives Invention

Belríä Naratyr: A minor fashion designer of the Seléne school (fl. 2300), best known for the creation of algorithms for the swarm-intelligence kinetic microbots used for clothing management in microgravity to adapt them, instead, to ensure that one’s cloak would swirl in an appropriately dramatic, personalized, and environmentally-tailored manner for entrances, exits, turning on one’s heel, posing against the skyline, and so forth, regardless of whatever the local air currents might be doing at the time.

– Who Invented What: A History of Creativity

Trope-a-Day: Future Spandex

Future Spandex: By and large, this class of garmentage is averted. There are a very few specialist exceptions – skinsuits, which have to be skin-tight in order to work; body gloves, which are mocap and environmental sealing devices for hardshell armor; spray-on protection – but by and large what these things have in common? Being either technical garments, underwear, or both. As main garments, they lack elegance.

Trope-a-Day: Badass Longcoat

Badass Longcoat: Ah, yes, the traditional garb of the adventuring classes, not to mention the more… rakish of the free traders. Whether it’s a duster or a greatcoat, it looks cool, contains plenty of Hammerspace even without exotic technologies, can conceal any amount of discreet gadgetry within the fabric, and billows behind one in an appropriately dramatic manner as required. (Whether or not there is any wind, this can be arranged.)

Don’t go looking for trouble without one!

(That special variation that is the sadly-not-yet-troped Badass Labcoat will be covered when we get to Science Hero.)


Trope-a-Day: Badass in a Nice Suit

Badass in a Nice Suit: Yeah, we’ve got lots of these. Basically all of ’em who aren’t either (a) in the military, and thus in uniform, or (b) possessed of a preference for Badass Longcoat.

(Conveniently, dilatant fabrics make it possible to get reasonable armor protection without spoiling the fashionable lines of said nice suit. And then there’s that fine piece of sartorial militancy, the battle cravat…)


2016_P(Alternate words: Project and pornography. You may or may not get something for the latter one eventually.)

Antíär Steamweaver, Scalar Space Project, Resplendent Exponential Vector, to Daphne Asamis, Polycosmic Chic of Delphys, greeting.

Thank you for your enquiry of the 6th, and permit me please to say how gratifying the entire team here at the Scalar Space Project finds your potential commercial interest in our spatial manipulation technology (albeit not “pocket universes”, as the popular press has occasionally described it, however apposite the term might be for your proposed application; rather, we are able to manipulate the fabric of space-time in such a way to create a polypoid bubble, which we term a claudication, that remains part of the existing universe’s space-time via its neck).

Regrettably, at this time we are unable to fulfil your specific requirements. The experimental equipment we currently use to spin and sustain claudications requires a singularity of not inconsiderable mass, along with ancillary vector control and power generation equipment – and its fuel – occupying the volume of a small moon. While research continues, as yet we are unable to see a clear path to reducing these requirements to something practical for installation in, say, a waistcoat or cloak.

We are, though, most enthusiastic about your proposal, and will bear this application in mind when conducting our future research. Be assured you will hear from us without delay should these circumstances change!

Antíär Steamweaver

for and on behalf of

Scalar Space Project Directorate

Trope-a-Day: Our Nudity is Different

Our Nudity is Different: Oh, boy.

Well, it’s a little complicated, given the sheer number of species involved. The chapter of the Common Social Protocol (that consensus standard of basic etiquette that imposes on everyone as equally as possible) that covers this is thereby unfortunately long.

The CSP, of course, only applies as a matter of law to Empire-managed property. Within private volumes, you can do whatever you like, and on private property, the owners can set whatever rules they like – although most save themselves the trouble and just default to the CSP rules. (Who says libertists can’t coordinate? Ha!)

What the CSP asks in general is that except where otherwise posted (public baths, certain beaches, etc., etc.) you cover your excretory organs (unless they’re lungs or skin, but if you should happen to excrete anything substantial other than gases through your skin, it is considered impolite and incorrect to leave ooze on things), primary sexual characteristics, and anything else you might have that triggers involuntary (i.e. not readily overridable by volition) instincts in your fellow sophonts. This last is intended to recognize that (a) allure is not indecency, but yet and at the same time, (b) it is impolite to push involuntary reactions on people who don’t want ’em. Basically, it’s Wheaton’s Law applied to dress codes.

(The luckiest people in the galaxy in this respect by and large are sophonts who have fur, inasmuch as due to the irritation that comes with trying to wear many types of clothing over fur, fur is clothing for all purposes of etiquette. If you want to wear something over it, that’s fine, but you’re not naked unless you’re also shaved.)



2016_C(Alternate words: Citadel and Computronium, both of which have been added to the later-consideration list.)

Clothes define the sophont, the sages say.

That the sages are indubitably correct on this point is, however, a distinct trial to those of us addressing a crisis, and so finding ourselves dashing aboard the high-delta shuttle to Ambria without luggage, on-board boutique, or time enough to consult a single epulary, locutor, or designer – and thus facing the inevitable meetings with only what I happens to have left on Ambria Highport in the course of meetings past.

Two hours, with light-lag, to pull this listing, and none of it seems suitable. Discard all of the swarmwear – it’s the windy season downside, and surprise nudity is unprofessional. Much as I’d love a cloak for that, none of these have useful amounts of delta-v, which means they’d be strangling me in microgravity.

I have my old uniform from the Flying Corps. That’s professional enough, but too “darken the sky with missiles to let us fight in the shade” for a project in trouble. Then there are all these evening gowns – not an option for a working visit, and three of them aren’t an option for public viewing – and then…

Three choices left. The eight-layer court robes, too formal for any circumstances likely to arise on that planet, and how did they even get there?; a double-breasted engineer’s work-jacket that is too clean to give me any credibility; and one, bless it, technical style business suit…

…in mourning-skies blue. Also a very bad choice for a troubled project, not to mention in general.

I could give up and go with a spraysuit, but without a lot of AR work, all that signifies is a dreadful hurry or lost luggage, neither conditions one wishes to reflect in front of the people who are counting on you to have it together.

It may be time to consider who there is on Ambria Highport that might care to be owed a favor.


Trope-a-Day: We Will Not Have Pockets in the Future

We Will Not Have Pockets in the Future: As mentioned in Waistcoat of Style, both sexes wear waistcoats simply to provide adequate pocket space for their collection of little gadgets for this and that and the other thing.  So, averted to the point that there’s actually a specific garment to provide the future-pockets.

Inspirational Not-My-Art of the Day


Today’s accidentally found art comes via Geek & Sundry’s article: “The Future of Cosplay, Today! Felicia Day Models 3D Printed Armor” (more images and photoshoot video at the link), in which the armor in question was designed by Melissa Ng (link to her work here, and seriously, check it out; it’s well worth it).

Which I post here, apart from the desire to share really awesome stuff, because upon seeing it, well, I could not help but conclude that it’s a work of art precisely in the Eldraeverse idiom.

(Not as armor, technically speaking, there being certain annoying physics-based necessities inherent in protecting one from flechettes travelling at a respectable fraction of c; but for the lady sentinel attending the Court of Courts or another similar formal occasion, it would be perfect.)

And so if those of you with an artistic headcanon could update it accordingly, that’d be shiny. I’ll be over here updating the non-head canon.


Trope-a-Day: Waistcoat of Style

Waistcoat Of Style: Played straight, for both sexes (cut appropriately differently).  The Empire is a “thingist” culture that particularly enjoys its little pocket gadgets for this and that and the other thing, so obviously, you need a garment specially adapted for keeping them in, starting with your fob… terminal.

(And you generally can’t use your trouser pockets, because your weapon belt – and attached sidearm and blade(s) – gets in the way.)

Trope-a-Day: Unlimited Wardrobe

Unlimited Wardrobe: Played mostly straight – the flexibility is not unlimited, after all – by smart clothing, which can offer a variety of style modifications (via inbuilt MEMS), color changes, and other self-reshaping properties on the fly.  (And, of course, at home there are cornucopia machines.)  Played entirely straight by virtual clothing (which consists of an AR projection over a neutral gray jumpsuit or spraysuit, so long as onlookers are subscribing to the public v-tag channel and your coding budget is adequate.

Trope-a-Day: Sticks to the Back

Sticks to the Back: Both possible, and done, with tiny vector-control emitters sewn into the clothing that can grasp objects you place on top of them and hold them in place against the emitters, or even at a designated range from them.  And, obviously, anywhere, not just the back, including – if you care to be quite gratuitous about it – orbiting around you.  (It should be noted that these are generally double-ended – the emitter grips you at one end and the object at the other, such that it doesn’t strangle you with your own shirt.)

Of course, it’s still usually considered unnecessarily showy much of the time, and they do introduce a dependency on your clothing’s power supply continuing to work, something that holsters, pouches and pockets by and large do not.


Trope-a-Day: Star-Spangled Spandex

Star-Spangled Spandex: Fabric that reflects the night sky with tiny stars and nebulae (the generic kind is nebulin), especially the kind that through inbuilt tech or an AR shimmer actually has them move subtly when you’re not paying attention, was a major fashion trend back in the middle Space Age, and has remained a minor one into the modern day.  Even then, it still probably wouldn’t be all that noteworthy had it not made it into the formal regalia designs for the various new offices that were being created to manage all those new spatial holdings.

It’s still not spandex.  No-one wears spandex in this future.

Trope-a-Day: Space Clothes

Space Clothes: Averted; even in space, people just wear regular clothes.  (Sure, they have lots of pockets, but that’s not specific to spacer culture.)  The only difference is that the pure-skirt option is eliminated for both sexes (because microgravity), and the cloaks have to come with MEMS and occasional microfan thrusters to let them manage themselves as people move.

And spandex is not used for regular, day-to-day clothing anywhere.  Even not in space.

Trope-a-Day: Pimped Out Dress

Pimped Out Dress: Well, of course, for much the same reasons as The Dandy and his Distaff Counterpart, The Fashionista are so ubiquitous; namely, that arête, to be acknowleged, must be demonstrated.  It’s not universally appropriate for this purpose, of course, but when it is, it is.

The ur-example of that would be the gold dress worn on several social occasions by Merété Cheraelar, EVP of Speculative Investment at Gilea & Company.  And when I say gold, I don’t mean gold-colored, nor do I mean gold lamé or cloth of gold.  I mean a long and slinky evening gown made from finely-woven solid gold chainmail, complete with “embroidery” made of overlain and interwoven rings of gold alloy in variety of different tints.  (And with, it should be said, tiny flying microbots woven into it at various points to make it possible to move in the thing.)

As extremely pointed messages went, it was most effective.

Trope-a-Day: No New Fashions In The Future

No New Fashions In The Future: Averted over the very long term; over the shorter term, though, I beg to point out that just as with Eternal English, generational turnover is slowed way the heck down in comparison to lifespan – potentially endless – which also slows the rate of fashion change.  Or, at least, the rate at which things go out of fashion (see also: Awesome Anachronistic Apparel).  Fashion innovation certainly continues – but, frankly, it’s doubtful if a lot of things will ever go out of fashion at all, so long as their partisans are still living, and they don’t plan to stop any time soon.

Also played straight for a lot of ultra-formal and – especially – ceremonial dress.

Trope-a-Day: Institutional Apparel

Institutional Apparel: Averted.  Pre-conviction, while the Empire will confine the accused, they don’t own the accused, who may, after all, be innocent as the day is long.  So they get to keep their own clothing and other perquisites until the trial is done.

(Post-conviction, since the Imperials don’t use prison as a punishment – it being horribly inhumane – the prisoner proceeds quickly enough to the cashier, the memetic reconditioner, the euthanatrist, or the executioner that Institutional Apparel would be unnecessary.)

Trope-a-Day: Form-Fitting Wardrobe

Form-Fitting Wardrobe: While it’s not all tight-fitting – many clothing styles are perfectly loose and flowing – just about all clothing in the Empire and other advanced civilizations fits perfectly.  That’s because it’s made to incorporate a whole passel of tiny MEMS, micromachines which ensure that it loosens and tightens and shortens and lengthens in all the right places to fit its wearer just that perfectly, no matter who they are or what they’re doing, as long as the size was approximately reasonable in the first place.  It also never gets caught on things or trails in mud, remains stable in wind and weather, and brushes dirt off itself.  It’s hard to avoid being stylish, really.

(This even applies to hardshell armor, but it tends to be modified to fit perfectly on manufacture, or on-the-fly with a handy nanolathe, rather than being self-adjusting.)

Military Uniforms

Among the things I have finalized recently in my notes are the details of the field dress uniforms for the Imperial Legions and Imperial Navy, and since I have them all finalized and polished up as of now, I present them for your envisioning pleasure:

Field dress (Imperial Legions & Home Guard)

The basic field dress uniform of the Imperial Legions consists of the following elements:

Beret: The velvet beret is worn in branch colors (dark crimson and gold for the Legions, emerald and silver for the Home Guard), with the serviceman’s unit crest in front. Non-commissioned and warrant officers add a silver oak-leaf cockade, and officers a gold oak-leaf cockade, around the unit crest.

Tunic: The thigh-length tunic, belted at the waist, is also worn in the branch colors (dark crimson with gold trim, or emerald with silver trim), single-breasted, with a high stand-up collar to protect the wearer’s neck[1] and five brass buttons impressed with the Imperial crown-and-star. The front of the tunic actually overlaps completely – the inner layer fastens at the opposite shoulder to the outer layer’s buttons, thus doubling the protection over the wearer’s vitals, and making it impossible to slip a blade through the seam. It is worn over a double-layered silk shirt.

For rankers, brass collar-pins on the gorget patches also show the crown-and-star, whereas for officers they hold rank insignia, in silver for non-commissioned and warrant officers, and in gold for higher ranks. Rank insignia is also worn as a knot in matching cord on the left breast. Ribbons and knots for medals and other awards are worn on the right.

Runér, exultants, and praetors may wear certain insignia related to their associated rank and office on their tunics in accordance with service regulations; most typically, their family or personal arms may be worn on the left breast, adjacent to the rank-knot.

Detachable shoulder-boards are added to the tunic to show unit affiliation, on a black background for regular units, a crimson background for units designated as Guards units, and a gold background for units designated as Coronal’s Guards. The design on the shoulder-boards is the battle flag of the unit to which the legionary belongs, or the ship’s crest in the case of ship’s troops.

Sword-Baldric: The legionary sword (a teirian) is worn on a wire-reinforced braided synthetic leather baldric hung over the right shoulder to hold the sword at the left hip. The hanrian and sidearm, conversely, are worn on the tunic belt, at the right hip. The baldric also contains attachment points for grenades, replacement heat sinks, and powercells.

Breeches: The breeches, black regardless of branch, are worn tucked into the boots, and have piping to match the tunic’s trim, bordered with silver braid for officers, or gold braid for flag officers.

Boots: The high (mid-calf), glossy black boots have no buckles or snaps, and are made of internally-reinforced synthetic leather.

Cloak: In wintry conditions, a heavy wool cloak may be worn over the field dress uniform.

Special note: Heavy legionaries who do not wear the uniform when in the field wear instead a surcoat[2] over their combat exoskeleton in circumstances that would ordinarily call for field dress, bearing rank insignia, battle honors, etc., as the tunic does for conventionally dressed legionaries.

Field dress (Imperial Navy)

The basic field dress uniform of the Imperial Navy consists of the following elements:

Hat: Imperial Navy officers wear tricorne hats in the Navy’s silver-trimmed midnight black, a tradition inherited directly from its wet navy precursors. Naval tricornes bear the ship’s crest at front right, surrounded by a silver cockade, or a gold cockade for flag officers.

Unofficially, naval officers who are members of various IN internal societies and clubs may wear a variety of feathers in their hats to denote this, according to their own internal traditions, something broadly tolerated even on formal occasions.

Non-commissioned officers and men do not wear hats.

Shirt & Jacket: The single-breasted naval jacket, of black wool and leather trimmed with silver, is worn over a simple black silk shirt. Rather than buttons, it seals to itself along its edge, in a similar manner to many vacuum suits.

Since the naval jacket has a down-turned rather than a high collar, rank is indicated not by collar pins but rather by the arabesque-embroidered cuffs of the jacket, including either silver or gold rings to indicate basic rank, and colored rings to indicate departmental specialty. As with the legionary uniform, rank insignia is also worn as a knot in matching cord on the left breast; in the case of enlisted ranks, this knot surrounds the symbol of their rating. Qualified pilots (in the Flight Ops department) wear their wings above the rank knot. Ribbons and knots for medals and other awards are worn on the right.

Runér, exultants, and praetors may wear certain insignia related to their associated rank and office on their tunics in accordance with service regulations; most typically, their family or personal arms may be worn on the left breast, adjacent to the rank-knot.

The ship’s crest is worn as an embroidered badge at each shoulder.

Trousers: The trousers of the naval uniform are of heavy black wool. For officers, they have silver braid piping, or gold braid piping for flag officers. Sidearms are worn on the belt, as is the naval sword on formal occasions.

Boots: The naval boots are low, black boots, without buckles or snaps, made of internally-reinforced synthetic leather. They include soles designed to interlock with the gratings used in starship engineering sections, and magnetizable clamps for use elsewhere.

[1] A communication transceiver is often woven directly into the collar, into which a visor can be connected.

[2] A huge, long-sleeved tunic that fits over the armor and hangs to the knees.