Look At Those Clothes!

Musings on style and fashion

“Space, the Final [Fashion] Frontier . . .”

image_exp_space008Ever wonder what you’d wear if you were to head out into Major Tom territory? Me either, until The Man in the Plaid Shirt sent me this little piece on the newest spacesuit design from NASA. The designer, Amy Ross, says it’s all about mobility, but I think she’s got some nice fashion-forward layering going on there, with that Bermuda-shorts-like unit over the leggings.

I know, I know, we’d all prefer Lieutenant Uhura’s sassy threads, but let’s be reasonable— those work for flirtation purposes aboard ship (“I may be cute, but watch it, Buster: I am also very, very cool”), but not while  floating around in The Void, where it’s 80 gazillion degrees above zero, if you’re floating near a star, or below zero if you’re elsewhere. image_space033 (By the way, did you know that Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, sang with Duke Ellington when she was 16?? And wasn’t William Shatner way cute back then?!?)

Still, I think Amy might want to up the cute factor of her spacesuit a little bit, at least for the girl suits. Yeh, sure, making the suits the same for everyone focuses on tasks, not gender—to say nothing of keeping everyone equally alive. But let’s face it:  With sincere respect for feminism, no-glass-ceiling-ism, and all the other worthy isms, most girls want to be distinguishable from boys, even when they’re at work. So give it some thought, woudja, Amy luv? And before you head back to the Singer, you might want to check out  Dava Newman’s BioSuit for inspiration. Lieutenant Uhura would very definitely approve.  image_exp_space003 (2)                                                           May the force be with us all.


Categories: Fashion & Science (No, Really)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. I really liked Dava Newman’s BioSuit. Why can’t Women Astronauts be stylist while in space? Individuality is still important.
    The whole idea of getting in and out of clothing and the similarity with the butterfly larva is interesting. Perhaps, you could do some research for another Blog episode on the various methods used in clothing to do so: zippers, snaps, buttons and some not so obvious.



    • That BioSuit really is sharp, isn’t it? It has all the essential elements of style (with apologies to E.B. White): function, fit, flair, and comfort. If I’m recruited for space travel, the answer is “No dice unless I get a BioSuit.” And that whole topic of how we get in and out of clothes is an intriguing one. At one extreme you have Indian women doing up their saris just by wrapping the cloth in a certain way–no clasps, no ties, no nothing. And at the other extreme, Victorian ladies with buttons everywhere–buttons on their (several layers of) underwear, sleeves, dress fronts, shoes–buttons for days!


  2. Thanks for the fascinating science of fashion (or is it, fashion of science?) post!

    I read that the wearer gets in and out of this rig from the hump on the back, which opens like a refrigerator. Is this anything like the “taxi dress”?

    Of course, this technique of climbing out of your “clothing” was pioneered in the insect world. Adults emerge from their larval stage by opening their skins generally on the back side and climbing out. Monarch pupae do it best, I think. Who can beat the butterfly at a fashion quick-change?


    • Yes, it really is a lot like the Taxi Dress–easy in, easy out is the basic idea. Of course, the bugs confine it to easy out, but it’s the same principle. And the insects’ technique is fascinating: Sounds a lot like a back zipper to me. I think good designers, like good artists and scientists and, well, good you-name-its of any sort, draw inspiration from everywhere, so who’s to say Charles James (the Taxi Dress guy) wasn’t in part inspired by the Monarchs when he put zippers in his gowns? (He was one of the very first to zip vs. buttoning or hooking or tying or knotting or whatever.) And guess what? He actually designed a lovely dress called the Butterfly Gown because it suggests a very beautiful creature emerging from a chrysalis. Cool, huh?


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