The Uniform

Pattern Recognition Chapter 2: Bitch

CPUs for the meeting, reflected in the window of a Soho specialist in mod paraphernalia, are a fresh Fruit T-shirt, her black Buzz Rickson’s MA-1, anonymous black skirt from a Tulsa thrift, the black leggings she’d worn for Pilates, black Harajuku schoolgirl shoes.  Her purse-analog is an envelope of black East German laminate, purchased on eBay – if no actual Stasi-issue then well in the ballpark.

CPUs.  Cayce Pollard Units.  That’s what Damien calls the clothing she wears.  CPUs are either black, white, or gray, and ideally seem to have come into this world without human intervention.

What people take for relentless minimalism is a side effect of too much exposure to the reactor-cores of fashion.  This has resulted in a remorseless paring-down of what she can and will wear.  She is, literally, allergic to fashion.  She can only tolerate things that could have been worn, to a general lack of comment, during any year between 1945 and 2000.  She’s a design-free zone, a one-woman school of anti whose very austerity periodically threatens to spawn its own cult.

This is Cayce’s uniform and it is one of logo-free, timeless fashion.

Much like the stars of the new game of Hipster Time Traveler:

A game which involves an analysis that could be a warm up to PR’s study of the Footage.

My friend Ryan Oakley described his choice of fashion in this Coilhouse interview:

I wear a suit because I’m a western man and the suit is the single best item of clothing we have.

A suit is not a vulgar symbol of wealth, a display of superiority or an expression of bourgeois respectability.  It is a beautiful thing.  When I put one on, I hope for it to look equally normal and equally weird one hundred years in the past and one hundred years in the future.  That’s the meagre dimensions of the sartorial truth I aspire to.

The black suit is the uniform of choice for The Observers of TV’s Fringe, letting them drift through the 20th and 21st centuries without being noticed.

Sean Bonner has been talking about The Uniform for a while now, and it seems to be a key part of his new technomadic lifestyle.

It’s been 2 years since I wrote that and I’ve got back and forth and tried out a few things here and there, but especially with this year of travel I’m really seeing the value in having a uniform and wardrobe that is similar enough that it doesn’t take a lot of thought about packing or getting dressed, but is easily repeatable and replaceable as things wear out. I’ve been experimenting with some of the Multibasing ideas as well and leaving sets of clothing in different parts of the world so that when I travel there I don’t need to pack as much as I would have if I was bringing everything with me. It’s a different approach to the no baggage challenge but with similar goals I think.

And me?  Well as an out’n’proud gear queer wannabe space marine my wardrobe has slowly drifted from all-black to variations on military green.  I now have a trench coat, light jacket and quilted jacket to match against.  With Bonner’s ideas in my head, I’ve started buying basic tshirts in multiples too.  And have culled clothing I was only wearing so I wouldn’t have to do another wash (you know you do it too).  Slowly, my own personal fashion units are forming, assembling to create my own version of The Uniform.

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