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How would a post-industrial revolution mage dress, if they dressed differently?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Electric Bone Flute, Jan 18, 2022.

  1. Electric Bone Flute

    Electric Bone Flute Troubadour

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    I'm not thinking about urban fantasy with a masquerade, as such would be plainclothesed, and I'm not thinking of an author-specific rule where they must have such and such component of their abilities in the clothes (although I once conceived of South African color mages who needed a specific color of the color wheel to cast by draining it from something in line of sight, so they would garishly wear the color of their specialty to ensure they'd have something). Mages are less often portrayed as independent agents and more as part of a larger body (hence the frequency of magic colleges in fiction), which would probably include its own peculiarities, perhaps including to clothing.

    If it's an ancient institution, then maybe a uniform is involved, and depending on the level of connection one has to the institution after finishing training, then maybe they will continue to wear a uniform. Catholic religious orders still dress as if robes are the clothes of the working class, even if the O.F.M. priest I confessed to last Saturday wore a mask in addition, just from the inertia of the wardrobe and the porters' needs. Maybe materials update; yes, some nuns have velcro in those square hat-hoods. The design, however, remains.

    If it's a newer institution, maybe the only thing mages is associated with is whatever safety gear the role may have. Even if it's not connected to an institution, it may have something associated with the subculture. The look won't be right if a a thick and gnarled walking stick comes with the territory but no sanction against t-shirts and ripped jeans.
     
  2. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

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    Are you familiar with the concept of performativity? Long story short, the idea originated in linguistics, but it's taken various winding routes since then. Even shorter story, and relating to this topic: Clothing is one way we send out messages to one another. In other words, if we have a choice in how we dress, then we dress the way we dress for a reason. We want to impress. We want to attract. We want to belong. We want to be a wallflower. We want to inspire confidence—the confidence others have in us. And so forth. We hope the "messages" we are sending out will effect a change in our surroundings, in particular a change in how others treat and interact with us and think of us.

    So....

    I'd consider this when deciding how you want your mages to dress. What works best for your story, your theme, your world?
     
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  3. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Inkling

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    Hey, I'm working on a setting based on a similar time period! So I've been doing a lot of thinking on this topic lately!

    The biggest thing about the industrial revolution was the mass-production of stuff. The largest industry was textiles, cause everyone's gotta wear clothes! And also now that clothes can be made quickly and cheaply, you can have lots of clothes! Lots of different clothes, including printed patterns! So fashion was Very Much A Thing that was rapidly evolving. One of the funnier things, IMO, is that people were wearing breeches and stuff, but pants became a thing (like, the pants you're wearing right now, from waist to ankle). But they were SCANDALOUS! Totally inappropriate for public wear! And they were called unmentionables and sit-upons and banned from colleges and stuff. Extremely funny, because you would think pants would hide more stuff than breeches, so they should be less provocative, right? But people are weird!

    So: your mages are going to have street clothes, and house clothes, and working clothes, and nice evening clothes, and whatever they wear to church (or the thing they gotta be very fancy for). They'll have a winter (over)coat and a warmer weather coat, they'll have hosiery and shoes and boots and night shirts and gloves and HATS there are so many hats oh my god you wouldn't believe it. So you got a lot of potential things to figure out!

    Also: are your mages Normal Guys or not? Like you mention clergy, but those aren't normal guys, they don't get to go home and hang out with their wife or hang out with the lads at the bar after work. A guy who works in a factory or as an accountant or government worker is a normal guy, so they're going to have regular-people clothes. They might have specific clothes to wear at work but they dress like everyone else the rest of the time.

    Also also: has the role of mages in society changed due to urbanization? Because any industrialization is going to have urbanization due to all the population growth (and people needing to work in factories, so they gotta live nearby)(and factories need to be by trains/ports to move stuff around, which also needs a lot of people living by). Any industrialization is going to require a lot more science/technology, it's going to require a lot more organization of people, taxation, city planning...everything is gonna change in some way.

    Example from my thing: There's no magic, but there's alchemy (as in real-life alchemy, not FMA style, so it's mostly the same as real-world physics/chemistry). Pre-industrialization, they made interesting stuff, but it was never at a scale that could change the life of a common person. They were a highly-specialized guild whose products were pretty expensive! When everything is done by hand, that happens. But now that industrialization is a thing, we got alchemists helping to design factories (chemical engineering!), we got alchemists going around selling patent medicines, working with (or against lol) other scientists and inventors, creating even crazier stuff now that they can do stuff at scale. Yeah, there's still people out there looking to turn (whatever) into gold, and there's some schism because these more industrialized alchemists are forgetting the spiritual/philosophical aspects of alchemy. They can probably wear rubbly gloves while in the lab now that latex is a thing lol.

    But also I definitely want things to still have a historical-vibe. I don't want things to be too modern, I don't want people to think this is the 1920s or something, so there's going to be intentionally old-er school things to give a specific vibe. There's a really specific aesthetic I want to go for, so that's directing a lot of my decisions. Do you have a specific theme or genre you wanna go for? What are your design decisions for this setting?
     
  4. Electric Bone Flute

    Electric Bone Flute Troubadour

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    I'm going to be honest and admit that I make these threads to spark discussion. My setting doesn't even have mages in the sense I'm talking about here.
     
  5. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Archmage

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    T-shirts that say "World's Greatest Mage"?

    Okay, that's a little silly, but maybe these mages go in for silliness. Or maybe they've got symbols associated with their mage schools, and they wear shirts with those symbols on them. That would make them identifiable instantly to other mages, but laypeople wouldn't necessarily know what those shirts are about. Could be a way to go somewhat incognito but still be identifying themselves openly as mages. That would also let them dress conventionally while still wearing something mage-y.
     
  6. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Archmage

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    On a parallel note, I have a friend who is a Catholic nun. Her order is very modern, they don't wear habit, but she says that when she runs into another sister while traveling, she can identify her as a sister based on appearance and dress, even with nothing screaming "nun." They don't wear makeup, they dress simply, there are certain plain styles they tend to wear, and they always wear cross necklaces. Again, nothing a layperson would be able to pick out definitively, but someone in the group, like my friend, can. And there may be a certain vibe, too, which my friend can identify because she is one of them.

    Takeaway: if a particular group dresses a particular way, it doesn't have to be a very obvious way to serve the purpose. The contemporary version of mage dress could be very conventional in outward appearance but still subtly signal "mage" to those in the know.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2022
  7. Puck

    Puck Minstrel

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    Institutions with long traditions in the real world often cling onto anachronistic clothing styles. If you look at judges and lawyers in court today, they still wear eighteenth century wigs as part of their uniform. Church of England and Roman Catholic Priests still dress in vestments that have not changed in style since the seventeenth century.

    But Churches provide a good example of institutions where the older, more traditional, ones will cling onto styles of dress that are over 350 years old whereas some newer 'trendier' churches often make a point of dressing in very ordinary clothes.

    A lot depends on 'tradition'. If tradition is important to an institution as a general concept, then its members are likely to cling onto anachronistic dress codes.
     
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  8. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Maester

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    In my work in progress the level of technology is that of the 1930s. Once a mage gets the right to use the title Mage they get a robe. They will only wear it during official occasions or if they are Traditionalists who believe the robe is a badge of office and, therefore, should be worn as such. Otherwise, they wear normal street clothing. There's no need for them to dress differently as their yellow eyes reveal they're mages.

    If the mage joins the clergy they effectively become witch doctors. Obviously, j don't use that term because it has negative - and often racist - connotations but this picture would give you an idea of what they wear as their wardrobe:

    [​IMG]

    The purpose of the outfit isn't to terrorise the individual coming to see them but to terrify any demons or evil spirits that may reside within a person enough that they will reveal themselves. In the tropics they would wear white or a similar lighter colour as it would be too hot to wear black.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2022
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  9. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Archmage

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    Do they do that anywhere besides Britain?

    I've seen that on British TV shows, but it certainly isn't done in America.
     
  10. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Maester

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    That attire is still worn by judges in many Commonwealth countries. However, they might only be worn for formal occasions (such as when a person becomes a judge or during formal crremonies) or only by certain judges (such as Supreme Court judges). Some countries have ditched the powdered wigs or have made some alterations to the robes to take into consideration local traditions, customs and environments.
     
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  11. Puck

    Puck Minstrel

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    Some American judges retain elements of C18th dress for formal occasions in some states I believe (mainly the gowns/robes). I think the American judiciary ditched the wigs in the C19th - still some time after this dress had fallen out of favour with the general population however.

    The US supreme court judges follow a dress code in terms of gowns that had remained broadly unchanged since 1800.
     
  12. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Archmage

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    American judges always wear robes in court, whether the court is Supreme or county or anything in between. But they don't wear wigs.
     
  13. Polunochnitsa

    Polunochnitsa New Member

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    In your story the post-industrial revolution era is the time and place where these mages are. I would want to consider how much your mage is integrated into ordinary post -industrial society. Do they use all the same things as regular people?Which strata of society do mages belong to? Do mages have different ways to manufacture goods, or would they be using what is readily available to all people? Is there a parallel to the industrial revolution in a magical sense which would have any bearing on how cloth, for example, is made? Are there magical properties which can create a colour or weave which ordinary manufacture could not? Would that potentially be a way for mages in this world to identify or camouflage themselves by either wearing things with these properties or not? Would mages of this era embrace modern manufacture, or hold onto traditional handcraft methods of clothing production? What relationship does your mage have to the politics of the time, and does that inform their attire in any way? Do mages conform to a 'mage' code of any sort?
     
  14. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

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    Great advice.
     
  15. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

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    Judges and barristers wear wigs and gowns in Australia in the state Supreme and District Courts but not in any of the other courts, including federal courts.

    Wigs and gowns are supposed to depersonalise the law. The majesty and supremacy of the law is supposed to be evident through the depersonalisation of the individuals wielding it.

    Probably means disappointed litigants (or their families) will be less able to identify judges in the car park afterwards also.
     
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