Thursday, October 22, 2015


    Like the finely machined parts of a watch, the various aspects of the Attire language work together; often meshing in the way that gears do, moving each other forward to get to the result desired.  So far, in looking at the mechanics that exists within Attire, I've talked about Intention, Scale, Elaboration and Luxury.
    This next bit is about Volume.  Of course Volume and Scale are closely related; but Volume usually refers to the larger aspects of a garment or an accessory, while Scale can be in play for a detail of them.
    The smaller the volume of a piece of apparel, and at the moment I mean one that still remains well fitted, if tiny, the more our minds are going to equate that garment with overt sexuality.  So a dress that barely covers a woman from nipples to crotch is going to read as provocative in a sexual way much more readily than one that is knee length.  And a knit shirt that is hemmed to hit the waist line but not pass it, and also has no sleeves, is going to be seen as similarly sexy for a man.
    Now, if those same two garments are even smaller in volume, to the point where fit suffers, then the sexual reaction begins to fade away, replaced by embarrassment, snide humor, or even pity.  Seeing people in clothing that we perceive as too tight, and too small garners instant opprobrium. We see it as an indicator of desperation, and an unhealthy need for attention.
     At the other end of the volume dial, where big becomes gargantuan, the same kind of tipping point exists.  A grandly sized garment can quickly become an item of comedy, or derision to us.  Why else do we dress traditional clowns in clothing either wildly too large, or small?  Because our minds equate incorrect Volume with humor, and even insanity.  The only trustworthy exception to this axiom is in ritual clothing, like the regalia of monarchs, or the panoply of the religious.  In that instance, no train can be too long, no cape to vast, no skirt too wide.
    I find myself thinking of Diana Spencer when she married.  Looked at dispassionately, the poor woman was nearly swallowed within the enormity of her dress, train, and veil.  But our reaction to it at the time, was that it was the height of romanticism. We give, in such instances, ridiculous Volume a pass. But that is a rare and sometime thing.
    Extreme volume in the real world is both inconvenient, and likely to invite negative comments.
    When larger Volume is handled correctly, it conveys a sense of drama, like the sweep of a floor length cape, or the delicious swing of a full skirt.
    When small Volume is well done it relays a message of precision, and attention to detail.
    Like any of the other mechanisms I've already described, Volume rarely exists alone, the other interconnected parts affect it and it, them.  For example, if a garment is a solid color, and large Volume is in use, the effect will most likely be grand and elegant looking.  But render the same thing in the wrong pattern and it becomes a pile of visual noise that exhausts the eye.  And if small Volume is used, and a pattern is chosen, the resulting item can seem fussy, and conservative if too small a  pattern is used.
    So far now, I've addressed 5 parts that make up the inner workings of Attire.  There are others, like Coloration, Pattern, and Texture.  I will get to these soon, so we can start looking at how they all play together.  It's how they interact that makes this all so interesting, and complicated.

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