Sunday, 20 November 2016

Fashion, gender and interior lighting

I've been slightly obsessed with Lindybeige's YouTube channel lately. Here he is, talking about why cloaks are really quite good:
Sadly, like the man said, you can no longer wear this simple, but very useful, garment which has been a standard item in most peoples' wardrobes, in most societies, for most of human history, in public, because people will think you're some kind of nutter.

Or can you? I think that the answer is probably "no" if you're a guy, but I wonder whether this might be a practical* fashion trend for the ladies. After all, plenty of women already wear various types of wraps, shawls, pashminas and ponchos without having their sanity questioned and a cloak is only a wrap's bigger, heavier, cousin.

It would even out the gender imbalance for women to be able to wear something practical that men can't, for a change. At the moment, when it comes to day to day comfort and practicality, we guys have a far easier time than women. To pick just one example, think about shoes.

Smart or casual, it's easy to find a presentable pair of men's shoes that you can comfortably walk as far as you need to in. For style-conscious women, the choice mostly seems to be between wearing something smart or something you can walk about in pain-free (choose only one of the above). Even when women choose something that any reasonable person would consider smart, like a formal flat, or court, shoe, there are still people who think it's OK to pressure them into wearing something painful and impractical instead, because reasons.

Moving on from things that people used in the past because they were practical, here's another Lindybeige vid, about things that people didn't use in the past, because they were totally impractical - blazing torches (as a form of interior lighting):
So, forget Hollywood, the castles and banqueting halls of Ye Olden Tymes weren't lit by blazing torches in brackets. Another medieval trope bites the dust.

I could mention this to my son, whose Minecraft creations are mainly lit with the ubiquitous torches which compete with a fictional substance, glowstone, as the primary source of interior and exterior lighting in Minecraft World. But I won't. Minecraft, you see, just like the Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, but unlike history, is allowed to take such liberties, because it isn't real.

That should be an obvious point, but in this idiotic year, when "post-truth" has entered both the dictionary and the mainstream, actually pointing out the difference between things that literally exist in the real world and things that are totally made-up fantasies feels like a revolutionary, probably subversive, act.

*OK, I realise that a heavy woollen cloak, though it might keep you warm and dry, is also absorbent and will get heavy and smell like a wet dog after being rained on (as well as steaming up any room, public transport compartment, or vehicle you might enter after being out in a heavy downpour). But this is 2016 and clothing manufacturers have access to a wider range of fabrics and water-repellant coatings than ever before in human history, so this isn't necessarily a deal-breaker.