Monday, February 5, 2018

Fin Fashion

Nope, that's not a typo. Today I'm blogging about fashion in the aquatic society of my WIP, The Shell and the Star.

"Say, what?" you ask. "You mean an aquatic society like Atlantis?"

Well, no. Personally I never believed in the whole Atlantis-became-a-society-under-the-sea-after-it-sank line of thought.

This aquatic society is populated by the Perling, also known as the People of the Shell--their cultural icon. If you missed my blog last week, it might fill in a few of the blanks about my upcoming story:

An Evolving WIP: A WIP About Evolving

This week I'm going to talk about how the idea for fashion and clothing evolved for this undersea society. So, literally, it's "fin fashion."

Creating Fashion that Doesn't Exist

As a writer, one of the fascinating parts of creating a fictional world is developing the underlying culture and traditions where the story takes place. Since I rarely write contemporary Sci-Fi Romance, writing what I know is not an option. For this particular work in progress, one of the first questions I asked myself was: What sort of clothing would an aquatic society wear?

First, let me be clear. The Perling aren't mermaids. No cliché, strategically-placed sea shells and scaled lower bodies here. The Perling are evolved humans who have spent most of the last 50,000 years--or 50,000 "calendars" in this universe--living in the shallow bays of the sea after an asteroid all but destroyed their world.

They are evolved humans with finned hands and feet, and bodies that are elongated and more torpedo-like with lean muscles in the arms, legs and torso that have adapted to buoyancy vs. surface gravity, and moving through liquid rather than air. These physical characteristics set them apart from their stout land-dwelling ancient ancestors.

This is the world of the hero, Trey. Who, being a genetic throwback, doesn't fit as seamlessly into this watery world as most of his peers, but he still manages to identify and develop his own unique strengths.

Trey's world is one of serene, current-kissed beauty and sun-dappled blue lagoons. When I started imagining the type of clothing the Perling might wear, some very definite images took shape in my head.

Everyday Fashion

The more traditional clothing for this society was inspired by the simple elegance of a very familiar water dweller--the fancy goldfish.

Since the Perling live in tropical seas, there is no need for materials that provide warmth in cold water temperatures, so their garments of choice are light and drifty. They're called swim veils.

Swim veils are created from gossamer materials, fashioned into a loosely-worn body sheath with billowing parts or small veils to add a bit of flair with water movement. (Gives a whole new meaning to "current" fashion, yes?) These garments and embellishments are designed to drift with the tide, but not create a lot of drag with more vigorous movement.

In general, swim veils are brightly colored with many patterns and styles, much like the variety in our own societies, especially the more tropical areas. The design might suggest colorful underwater fins or flora.

I attempted to search out an assortment of stock photos for examples and inspiration, but found very few, and most offerings too outlandish and exaggerated to truly be practical in the water. This one of a belly dancer in costume--on dry land, of course--felt somewhat close to the effects of the swim veil in water.

The sheaths used by the Perling, however, wouldn't be ankle length, which would restrict fin movement of the feet, or have sleeves that reach to or past the wrists, which would interfere with the movement of the hand fins.

The garments would have a simpler cut and fewer embellishments than the clothing pictured in these photos, but I think the general idea is captured in these images.

Clothing for those engaged in more authoritative roles--such as male or female politicians, statesmen, and businessmen--would be finer and with more subdued patterns and colors, perhaps more reminiscent of the sophisticated simplicity of Greek robes than what we think of as business suits.

For workers and harvesters, the attire would be more practical and of more durable materials that could withstand the duties of, say, seafan farming or coral collection. (Most of the shallow-water coral on the planet has died and bleached, and is selectively harvested by the Perling to be ground into cement-paste, the basis for a compound used in undersea construction of buildings and dwellings.)


Like our sportswear, youth and athletes might find traditional clothing cumbersome and impractical for more active sports or lifestyles. They trade conventional swim veils for the convenience and practicality of swim kilts--which are, as the name suggests--an article of clothing that's a cross between a Scottish kilt and swim trunks, using a lighter, more H2O-friendly material. Female athletes might also wear swim kilts, with a bandeau top.

Swim kilts allow freedom of movement and reduced drag for more vigorous sports, like the favorite Perling past time of Boggy Ball, which is somewhat like the Aztec/Mesoamerican sport of handball crossed with water polo. Because of the need to move quickly and strategically, this and other vigorous sports are customarily played "swim kilt optional" in the Perling society.

Hope you enjoyed this foray into Perling fashion. The Shell and the Star is a planned release for later in 2017.

And finally, Congratulations are in order... my co-bloggers for their 2017 SFR Galaxy Award wins last week!

*Applause, applause!*

You can find links to the two award-winning books by Greta van der Rol and Pippa Jay on the upper right sidebar of this blog.

The SFR Galaxy Awards recognize standout books in Science Fiction Romance, so you can be sure these winners offer some of the best reading in the genre.

To read all seven rounds of 2017 award selections, go to the SFR Galaxy Awards site.

And that's a "wrap." Have a great week!


  1. Fascinating world-building, Laurie. One question; can these people breathe underwater, or are they like dolphins and whales?

    1. Thanks, Greta. I can't really answer your question without getting too spoilery, but I will say the extent of their adaptations is covered early on in the story. :)


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