In the last installment, I talked about some of the influences on fashion design in South’s version of 2032. Now I’ll look at the clothes themselves.
In general, I intend to avoid the usual future-styles tropes: jumpsuits (hot and impractical for everyday wear), metallic fabrics, unisex smocks, government-issued uniforms, and so on. I’m also going to wimp out and not try to predict heel heights (although I expect high heels to continue their fifty-year run as the footwear of choice for the fashionable vamp-about-town), lapel widths, pants-cuff sizes, or exactly how many inches above or below the knee hemlines go in Spring 2032. Pull out your dartboard and make your own predictions; you’ll be just as right as the experts.
What will people be wearing in Southern California in the 2032 of South?
Look down, you’re wearing it. The staples of jeans, khakis, polo shirts and tee shirts will continue as the go-to casual wear and the clothes of manual workers. Returning veterans popularized tee shirts and khakis after WWII and these staples have never really gone away since, even though their market positioning has gone all over the map. Jeans have been working wear since the 1870s, made big gains during WWII among factory workers, and went viral with James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. Polo shirts (aka tennis shirts) made their first big splash in the 1930s and really entered the vernacular in the 1970s. Toddlers and 70-year-olds (and everyone in between) wear these items; I can’t see them disappearing in the next twenty years.
Bollywear. Remember all that stuff about Indian designers taking over the world? Well, here’s the fruit of that. Certain traditional Indian styles have been adapted to non-Indian markets, especially for women:
- Kameez: a tunic worn over shalwar (loose-fitting slacks that narrow at the ankles; not as popular because of their unfortunate resemblance to harem pants), now shortened to mid-hip or the top of the thighs. It can either be fitted or draped (often worn to work in places where women are prohibited from wearing body-conscious clothes). The traditional knee-length or mid-thigh kameez can be worn as a dress.
- Choli: the polar opposite of the kameez. A tight, short top, usually baring some amount of the midriff. It can be sleeveless, short-sleeved, or long-sleeved. Most popular among young women or grown-up women who have stayed fit or had work done. In areas infested with “moral guardians,” it may be worn under a jacket or shawl that goes away once the wearer is inside. The smallest versions of these are popular clubwear.
- Lehenga: a long skirt, traditionally floor-length, embroidered, pleated and worn with a choli. It’s evolved into two forms. The casual version is ankle length, often flat rather than pleated, and printed rather than embroidered; it’s the second coming of the peasant skirt. (I’d link to a picture, but this incarnation doesn’t exist yet.) The more formal evening-wear version maintains its traditional styles.
- Churidar: tight-fitting trousers cut long on the leg so they bunch at the ankles and lower calves. A lighter-weight and dressier alternative to jeans, churidar are worn by younger men and women (or people who can still pull it off). Men’s churidar tend to be white or black and are usually worn over boots; women’s churidar are made in any number of different fabrics and colors. (Note: it’s hard to find a picture of a man wearing churidar without a kurta (tunic), which is not how it works in 2032 America.)
Remember when? Fashion seems to run in 30-year cycles of looking backward; for instance, as of 9:00 AM on 30 August, we have 1980s nostalgia at our throats. (It may be over by the time I post this.) In 2032, styles hark back to vintage 2000 looks: Burberry, ripped jeans, capris, and layered tank tops for women; khakis, camp shirts/guayaberas, vintage baseball caps, and (original!) Ed Hardy and Robert Graham for men. There’s some overlap with the Bollywear; for instance, men wearing untucked Ed Hardy over churidar, or women wearing choli with capris. (I’m just reporting here, folks, I’m not responsible for these trends.)
Suits. Business suits still exist for men and don’t look radically different; after all, the basic form hasn’t changed much since the Edwardian Era. However, about the only men who still wear them are politicians, lawyers in court, corporate executives, and newsreaders on the web. There are business suits for the dwindling number of women still in these professions; they tend to have skirts and are very fitted.
Staying undercover. In areas plagued with “moral guardians,” women in particular face two conflicting imperatives: being fashionable, which may involve tight or revealing clothes, and not getting whacked by a metal baton or sprayed with dye by a zealot. Scarves, shawls, lightweight jackets and sarong-analogues all serve to bridge these requirements – which, of course, also plays into the whole Eastern-design motif. Men have to work really hard to be considered immodest, and the “moral guardians” are largely barred from wealthy areas (you don’t mess with the campaign contributors).
Colors and fabrics. Spring 2032 features hot subtropical colors for women: mango, aqua, cinnamon, saffron, plum, persimmon. Men’s casual wear picks up a few of the less out-there colors from this palette, and the 2000s-nostalgia aloha shirt can be brightly colored. Suits are still grays, olives and browns. There’s some hangover from the Chinese colors that were hot in 2031 (red, gold, black, jade green) and Chinese-motif prints, including stylized calligraphy. Linens and cottons are still popular in warm environments but require more cleaning and maintenance than some of the modern engineered “performance fabrics,” which have escaped athletic wear and have gained a following for their lower maintenance requirements. (Water is expensive; you ration your clothes washing.)
Does this sound reasonable? Did I screw the pooch on any of this? What did I forget? Let me know.