[LMB] Colors

M. Haller Yamada thefabmadamem at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 10 08:48:32 GMT 2022

On Monday, January 10, 2022, 05:12:49 PM GMT+9, Beatrice Otter via Lois-Bujold <lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk> wrote: 

---- On Sun, 09 Jan 2022 23:25:09 -0800 M. Haller Yamada via Lois-Bujold <lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk> wrote ----

I would guess that having everyone in "the same" uniform was something that rulers were willing to splash out on . . . not sure about for common people, but maybe? 

I don't really think of religious costumes as being uniforms, but they seem quite uniform -- similar styles and fabrics. I googled Egyptian priests, and saw half a dozen priests wearing the same sarongs and costumes in a picture. I believe I've seen pictures of Egyptian servants dressed very similarly. 

I saw a beautiful Minoan "Ancient Greek wall fresco" of three priestesses wearing the same dress, with three stripes down the front and the same border. (Hellenic-art.com, Minoan priestesses II)

A prehistoric painting/silhouette of dancers showed several dancers wearing the same headdresses and butt bustles.  (Pinterest, it seems. CHAUDRON: Prehistoric rock paintings of Libyan and Algerian Sahara. 

I suppose it depends on what the definition of uniforms are. I recently saw (maybe on Atlas Obscura?) servants serving dinner, all dressed in black pointy shoes, tights and really short and very shoulder-paddy tops. (YES! "Why Were Medieval Europeans So Obssessed With Long Pointy Shoes.) Fashion? Or uniform? The styles were identical, even though the colors were different. 


Beatrice Otter:
The difference between armies and the examples you name is that from the fall of Rome until the 1800s, armies were not professional standing forces. You had two basic models: nonprofessional armies where people come together for the war and then disband afterwards (feudal levies, etc.) and mercenaries. The nonprofessional armies, being soldiers/men at arms was only temporary and every lord had their own colors, and knights often had their own devices. So it wasn't worth it to give the rank-and-file a set of clothing solely to wear while they were in the army. Expensive, and they'd have their own clothes anyway. They come with clothes, and probably wouldn't be in the army long enough to wear those clothes out. I mean, some of them would be, but since you don't already have an industry set up to make clothes for soldiers, it's easiest if you expect them to buy/make any clothing they need with their pay. And their commanders wouldn't be uniform, often, because even if they were professional fighters on some level they weren't often fighting together in a big army like that, and each of them had distinctive gear. Mercenary armies ... were usually outfitted on the cheap, and sometimes turned brigand, and would go from one war to another fighting for whoever could pay them. Why bother putting them in a uniform?

Monks and nuns, on the other hand, will be at a particular abbey for life. The abbey has to clothe them. Besides the fact that it's *easier* to just make the same garments over and over again, it's also a sign of humility that they don't have fashionable/distinctive clothes. Servants, again, would be with their master/mistress for years and it was the master/mistress' responsibility to see that they were clothed. The easiest and cheapest thing to do is give them all the same thing.

Beatrice Otter
Micki: I agree with you that  army uniforms are different (soldiers would just BLEED in the darn things). I was talking more in the vein of uniforms as in the various servants etc of the Vorkosigans, and in reply to, I think, William, who thought maybe uniforms would be too expensive to be used in the far past. 

Some humans just seem to like to see a bunch of people wearing the same clothing. If they are rich enough to indulge (organized religions, traders or conquerors), it seems like a very common whim throughout history to dress them in the same clothing (or as close to the same as possible). 

As to the monks and nuns -- yes, and. I think it was the Atlas Obscura article that I mentioned earlier that said the clergy might be supposed to wear humble articles of clothing and not stand out, but some of the rich ones would still wear sumptuous clothing (and pointy shoes that were useless). 

Servants might be given hand-me-downs, so I don't think it's a given that hand-woven, hand-sewn clothing would all be the same. I think it's again, a whim of the person viewing the servants. Maybe they only wore matching outfits (uniforms?) for special occasions and only in the very richest (or quite rich but whimsical) households. 

Drifting from the topic to something more on-topic: Vor colors would be at the whimsy of the original count who chose the colors, I would suppose. But the Barrayaran-wide services would probably subscribe to notions that make the enlisted man an identical cog in the machine. With the automated-yet-personal machines available to make uniforms, there might be small differences in fit to make the fighting cogs more efficient, but there wouldn't be much control over, say, the collar shape or how long the uniform tunic might be (they'd want to present a very uniform presentation as a bunch, so all the uniforms might be tailored by machine to fall precisely one meter from the ground when standing at attention). 

Drifting further still: I think it's interesting that uniformity in clothing might be a temporary stop along the way . . . that if we get machines that allow us to mix and match sleeves, bodices, necklines, backs, hems, collars, etc., we might be closer to an original variety of clothing. But I think there will always be occasions when we're supposed to dress alike. 

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