F - Fashion


It may come as a surprise, but I'm not usually very clear on what clothing in my novels looks like.  Everyone comes dressed (this goes without saying) but I'm dashed if I can yank a good image of typical clothing out of my head with anything less than strenuous effort.  But I've got 221,230 words through Adamantine, through an entire plot and several cultures, and I think by now I can see their clothing clear enough (though seamstresses all must pardon my technical ignorance) to give you a sketch of what clothing in Catti and Faerie is like.


The Catti folk, living a rough, uncultured life, are in the habit of wearing tough tunics and trousers of homespun.  Though they are naturally clad with fur, in the harsh weather of the north they may layer on the skins of dumb animals cut into vests, jackets, cloaks, and chaps; in fine weather they may go about in little, whatever is decent yet light and durable.  Shoes are uncommon; they may occasionally wear boots in really bad weather when the water freezes between their pads, but in rain they can leave shoes as well as take them, and in fine weather it is preferable to let toes go naked. 

But for all the Catti, in either tunic or dress, sew up their clothing simply, they are very fond of shiny adornment.  A well-to-do Catti might be seen with a great, violently-coloured scarf of foreign silk (possibly bought, probably nicked), the women are wont to wear heavy jewellery of gems and amber-stones, and every Catti boy, on becoming a man, wears a single ring of gold in one ear.  They are a rough, durable lot, but the Catti men and women alike crave gem-fire and metal-gleam as jealously as any fairy girl would. 


Menswear among the fairies is about as straightforward as our own: a stout pair of trousers, varying in weight depending on the season (I know a fellow partial to corduroy), a shirt of linen or cotton, often a vest (also varying in type of cloth depending on its usage), and either a jacket or a coat depending on the occasion.  Because of the obvious presence of wings (these are fairies, you know) every article of clothing meant for the upper body has two slits in the back on either side of the spine, left open when the shirt is being put on so that the wings can slide through to freedom, and buttoned up again to the wing-base after dressing.

Dresses, like our own, vary almost beyond reason, but they do sometimes share the same construction in the back as their male counterparts.  Often, however, dresses are cut with low backs so that women don't have to bother at all with excess buttoning.  Styles tend to be long sheath with plenty of give in the skirt for leg movement.  Prints are used sparingly, usually coyly peeking out from amid a plain coloured overlay, though the "tabby" pattern is very popular among the fairies.  Any colour, be it vibrant or muted, is welcome; tastes in these vary from year to year even as they do among ourselves. Unlike the Catti, the fairies consider it uncouth to wear a lot of jewellery, and they can be rather snooty about precious as opposed to semi-precious stones.  Silver is valued above gold in clothing, not because it is more rare than gold, but because it usually looks nicer against the varied colours that fairies can come in.


Despite the rigid "Pax Romana" held in place by the Faerie military, a gentleman is wise to go about with a bit of steel on his person.  You are unlikely to find the long cavalry sword among civilians, unless it is an antique and an heirloom; the every-day sort of blades will be rapiers and dirks, light and easy to handle, not hard to learn how to use, and can be made to look quite ornamental under a fairy's purled coat and fold of wing.  Ladies might carry daggers usually no more than a hand-span in length, sometimes even smaller (you only need about two inches in the right place to kill your man).  Archery is a fabulous sport among fairies, both on and off the battlefield, indulged in by both soldier and civilian alike. 

Though Catti have been taught to use fairy arms (which has in times past been a cause of desperate trouble for the army), the Catti naturally prefer heavier weapons such as the battle-axe, and their swords, forged of several intertwined and hammered rods of iron, are more bludgeon than blade.  They have never taken to the bow and have never learned how to fashion their own; for long-distance they favour the spear and the throwing-knife.  But being less expedient in war tactics than the fairies, their bloody temper prefers to see the light go out of your eyes at close range than to kill you at a distance.  It is not as safe for them, but what can you do...?

13 ripostes:

  1. Ooooh ... interesting. I can't say I have my clothing styles for my fantasy worlds down either. In fact, all I know in one world is that feathers in caps and tights have gone out of style for men and that pants aren't the status quo for women. Some worlds I know better ... but still ...

    Oh, and I highly commend the fairies for their choice of silver over gold. Silver is much prettier than gold any old day.

    And you only need a knife to be two inches long ... hmmm ... that's an interesting fact that a certain character would want me to remember.

  2. I love this, Jenny! Especially the weapon side of things. I never do consider weaponry very often in my books, which is something I really ought to consider, seeing as how someone has to die at some point and they might as well do it by a valiant and intriguing method...thankee! I am very much enjoying this A-Z series!

  3. I love how even the Catti love jewelry. And the fairy clothing sounds so dreamy...Well done! :)

  4. Huh! Why is it that most of my characters never seem to be more than an arm's length away from a weapon...?

  5. love the way you described the fashion of your dream worlds, I really don't think you have anything to worry about all your words are so descriptive, fashion buffs have nothing to complain about. Though I have yet to delve into fantasy writing, I read a lot of fantasy and dont like when stories go into odd detail about the clothes, i think it depends on the book and style its written. Oh and the weapons I really was inspired by the way you described those.
    Blessings ~ Rachel Hope

  6. I love planning the costumes of my people. In fact, some of my countries have actually started out as a costume design and then gone on to inform me they have a story I need to tell.

    I enjoyed reading this, Jenny! I like the Fairies' clothes best. Only a two inch blade... wow! I'll remember that.

  7. I have to pick up one of your books...

  8. The fashion of each respective race seems to suite them explicitly and beautifully, Jenny. But... do they wear modern clothes or rather more ancient and archaic in their nature? Like... do Catti and Faerie women own sewing machines?

    Thankfully, I do not have to invent or plan the costumes for my folk, because you know... there is not much give and take when one is writing historical fiction, set in Ancient Rome no less with all the delightful togas, stolas, pellas, tunics, daggers, spears, jewelry and hairstyles... the fun stuff!
    But sometimes it can get complicated. For example, somewhere (I since can't remember where I read that stolas were worn only by married women... but then what else would I call a Roman girl's garment other than a stola?

  9. Joy - I had not considered that a question that needed answering. Sorry for the oversight! While fairy clothing is "advanced" in style - more complicated than a bit of round cloth with a hole cut out for the head - they are not an "industrialized" culture as we would understand it today and they do not have, among other things, what we understand as sewing machines. They have complicated textile mills with an elaborate spinning and weaving system, for they do have spinning wheels and looms, and an iron sense of efficiency and practicality, but no motorized machinery.

    If I remember correctly, and if my sources do not cheat me, if there is a specificity assigned to stolas you are free to call girls' outfits "tunics" if you like - I know I always have, and tunics are not defined by length only by style. So...I hope that helps!

  10. I think young girls of Rome wore Chitons, too, but I may be confusing that with Greece.

  11. Honestly, when reading your novels, even if you don't describe their dress, I feel I can see it. You create the feeling of what they're wearing with color and aura instead of description, and that's AMAZING.

  12. Hmm, Kendra, thanks for reminding me of chitons... I was forgetting about them. The thing is Romans were often largely influenced by Greek style, philosophies etc.