November 26, 2005

Fiber, function, flexibility, freedom, fashion.

In 1924, the Englishman George Mallory and Andrew (Sandy) Irvine died trying to climb Mount Everest. A photograph taken at base camp showed them dressed in "English gentleman's attire of plus fours and tweed jackets":



Now, Graham Hoyland, the great nephew of a member of the expedition's members, wants to climb Everest wearing the clothes they wore. He says it's not as ridiculous as it seems because, in fact, as the recently recovered bodies revealed, the men wore a lot of layers:
"The typical myth of Mallory was that he was under-equipped and amateurish," said Mary Rose, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Lancaster University in the UK, who was inspired by the discovery of Mallory's body to attempt a recreation of his wardrobe.

In fact, she said: "We've found that he understood his clothing probably better than modern climbers.

"It was quite an advanced system; the silk gave wind-proofing, and the silk and woollen layers moved off each other so it was quite easy to climb."...

"I guess I will find it much easier to move across the terrain, but I imagine the wind will be really cutting," [Hoyland] said.
Cool project. It reminds me of efforts to recreate the shoes of the 5,300-year-old Iceman:
"These shoes are very comfortable. They are perfectly able to protect your feet against hard terrain, against hot temperatures, against cold temperatures," [said Petr Hlavacek, a Czech shoe expert who has created replicas]....

Despite their flimsy leather soles, the shoes offer a good grip and superb shock absorption, and are blister-free, Hlavacek said.

It's like going barefoot, "only better," he said. "In the Oetzi shoes, you feel something like freedom, flexibility."...

[The shoes were tested by Vaclav Patek, a Czech mountaineer ... who owns a firm that makes mountaineering shoes for extreme terrain, has climbed all of Europe's tallest mountains. "I daresay I would manage to climb them all in the Oetzi shoes," he said.




The love of natural fibers. That was a major 1970s cultural trend. Now it's an area of scientific study, but will the fashion trend ever come around again? I remember the reaction to the first wave of polyester clothing, when lots of people made a big point of wearing only natural fibers. Somehow we slid back into polyester (renamed "microfiber") and lost that well-cultivated aversion to the artificial. There are all sorts of high tech fabrics now, and we don't ever bother to shun them. We don't ever talk about the importance of layers anymore.

Now, there's a fashion trend that's got to revive at some point:

25 comments:

reader_iam said...

Now, there's a fashion trend that's got to revive at some point:

Hah! You've never met some of the ladies in my book club ...

bluebizz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jimmy said...

I don't understand how anyone can wear polyester clothing. They feel fake and cheap, even if they are well-made. They don't insulate heat in the winter and get sticky in the summer.

They're dangerous because they can melt in extreme heat and cause serious burns. Cotton can at least resist flames to a certain point.

And polyester clothing is often just as expensive as the more comfortable, organic cotton clothing!

Simon Kenton said...

What is this "we," white woman? If you are involved in winter bicycling, biathlon, or rafting, you tend to talk at wearisome length about layers.

Ron said...

Ann, that pic at the bottom...is that you and RLC back in the day? ;-)

Ann Althouse said...

Simon: When I first came to Wisconsin, in 1984, I constantly heard advice about wearing layers. I haven't heard it in years. Also, in fashion, no one talks abut the "layered look" anymore, but you used to hear it all the time. Is all I'm saying.

Dave said...

Great movie. Terrible fashions.

Is the quality of a movie inversely proportional to the fashion acumen of its actors?

Palladian said...

Hey, Annie Hall was from Wisconsin!

And named Ann!

Have you got any wide ties and vests, Ann? I won't ask about a fedora, however...

DEC said...

I never do business with people in polyester suits, shirts, or ties. They look like losers, and I prefer to work with winners.

Ann Althouse said...

Actually, I do have a fedora, a man's fedora, because I need an extra-large.

And I'm not "from" Wisconsin in the sense of having the accent and the culture and so on. I grew up in Delaware.

I think the Annie Hall clothes were cool. I bet they come back some time and that when cute young women, as opposed to book club ladies, wear them, you'll like them.

reader_iam said...

So, Ann, I've been meaning to ask forever : you don't say "my-in" for mine, do you, or "whut-tr" for water, the way so many Delawareans do? Listening to your podcasts, I must say that I do hear some of the "Delaware diphthong" still hanging around, a bit.

I never used the former two, because I started out my life for 10 years in the Midwest, but I did pick up the diphthong over my 25 years in Delaware. It drove my parents crazy.

Palladian said...

Well, I'm fairly immune to the wiles of fetching young women in Annie Hall clothes, if you know what I mean. Don't be so heteronormative! ;)

Actually, I always loved the Annie Hall look; I kind of wish it would come back here in New York and replace the painful looking "streetwalker in stilettos" and the "I just stepped out of a 1978 JC Penney's catalog" styles that have been haunting the streets for the last 3 years.

I was going to ask where you grew up in one of the podcast threads because your accent is very hard to place. I remember hearing you say "sharp" once and though you might be from New York.

The first time I saw the replicas of Oetzi's shoes, I said "I want a pair!" I'm sad that they aren't being sold! They would do well alongside the Dansko clogs that I wear in the studio.

reader_iam said...

I think she also lived in NYC for a whole bunch of years, too.

Ann Althouse said...

Palladian: "Well, I'm fairly immune to the wiles of fetching young women in Annie Hall clothes, if you know what I mean. Don't be so heteronormative! ;)"

LOL.

"Actually, I always loved the Annie Hall look; I kind of wish it would come back here in New York and replace the painful looking "streetwalker in stilettos" and the "I just stepped out of a 1978 JC Penney's catalog" styles that have been haunting the streets for the last 3 years."

Good descriptions! Every time I look at the cover of Lucky magazine I feel ill, seeing the worst of the 70s.

"I was going to ask where you grew up in one of the podcast threads because your accent is very hard to place. I remember hearing you say "sharp" once and though you might be from New York."

I lived in northern Delaware and northern New Jersey until I went to college. After college I lived in NYC for 10 years. So I have some kind of mid-Atlantic blend.

Hey, I need to do a podcast. I keep waiting for the new microphone!

"The first time I saw the replicas of Oetzi's shoes, I said "I want a pair!" I'm sad that they aren't being sold! They would do well alongside the Dansko clogs that I wear in the studio."

I think Oetzi's shoes look like the old Earth Shoes of the early 70s, which I definitely wore. I'm a big fan of Dansko clogs. They are the best shoes for standing, so, good teaching shoes.

reader_iam said...

What microphone did you finally choose, if I may ask?

Dale B said...

"I think Oetzi's shoes look like the old Earth Shoes of the early 70s, which I definitely wore."

The one time time I tried on Earth Shoes I felt like I was going to fall over backwards.

Most of the cotton and wool fabrics I see today are blends with some sort of synthetic fiber. Not all but most that I see. The blends wear, resist stains, and launder better (fewer wrinkles) than pure natural fiber cloths.

Joan said...

I'm not sure what fashion circles you run in, Ann, but in the fashion-for-the-masses "What Not To Wear" on TLC, Clinton and Stacy are forever going on about layers -- but thin ones, so you avoid bulking up. Every casual-wear top sells "layering Ts", and if you've ever watched an episode of anything current, you'll remark that every female character wears at least 2 tank tops or camisoles, or 2 t-shirts.

Layering has become so commonplace that no-one ever talks about it anymore. But it's out there, everywhere.

chuck b. said...

Dressing in lawyers? You mean law suits?

I think we’ve all had quite enough experience with that, Ann.

Oh, LAYERS. Nevermind.

Ann Althouse said...

Joan: Yeah, you are right about wearing two tank tops or other kinds of tight tops. The stores do push that around here and I see it all the time. Never thought of it as "the layered look," which involved a lot of floppy layers, like Annie Hall.

Jacques Cuze said...

The last few years have seen some sort of rise in women's shoes where the toe of the show are incredibly long, with a very sharp, pointy tip, as on this page.

Why are these considered good looking, and by whom? How long until they are tossed into the dustbins of history?

What kind of women detest them, and where can I find them?

Clive said...

Ann, Mallory's off-beat dress sense went way beyond tweeds...

http://images.rgs.org/imageDetails.aspx?barcode=23984

I promise you it's not an out-take from Monty Python.

Clive Davis
www.clivedavis-online.com

Susan said...

In the mid 70's, I had an Annie Hall type 3 peice suit including a tie. I loved it. It was perhaps my favorite clothing ever. I always thought I looked really cute, not at all masculine, but in fact very feminine. One day I was walking down the street in it and passed a man and his son, maybe 9 or 10. As they got a few steps behind me, the kid turned around and yelled "WOMEN'S LIBBER!". I laughed out loud. I loved the suit, I loved the women's lib movement then. It was empowering. Too bad what it's become. I hope the AH look comes back but it won't have the cutting edge it did then.

Palladian said...

"I'm a big fan of Dansko clogs. They are the best shoes for standing, so, good teaching shoes."

I took my clogs to wear during my class exactly once, as my class is 6 hours long and I am standing during most of it. As I was taking off my street shoes and putting on the clogs one of my students came in and asked if he could get my sweater out of the closet. It took me a moment to realize that it was a joke about Mr Rogers. I didn't try it again.

readeriam: I believe Ann said she had purchased the Snowball mic, though I hope she's not going to wait until she gets it to do another podcast, as the Apple site says it ships in 10-15 days

reader_iam said...

Hey! I think that may be the one my husband suggested that I suggest to her, and I did include that in a comment somewere or another. It probably didn't have anything to do with her decision, but I'll have to tell him anyway. Small things like that always make him happy.

AJ Lynch said...

I read the book "In search of Mallory" . His body was finally found in the 1990's. One badly broken leg and mostly intact due to the cold except where the birds had pecked at his bare flesh. I ama fan of thos etype of books and marvel at the almost primitive clothing they had to wear compared to today's space age materials/ zippers and closure devices.

Mallory was reputed to be born to be a climber- it sounds like his nephew was just born nuts.