The age old dilemma! Function vs form!

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The age old dilemma! Function vs form!

Post by Snowrose on Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:12 pm

In any kind of costume design there is a cross road you eventually must go down: Function vs Form. Historically, the richer you were, the less functional the outfit. You didn't need function because you had people to do that for you! So they were able to create these fanciful fashion designs that completely inhibited the wearers ability to perform any action on their own. Meanwhile, warriors developed fashions with very small regard to form. Did they do the job, or were they pretty? To have something pretty that was simultaneously functioning, you were one lucky rich man.

How does this apply nowadays? In our costume design?

Well the answer to that is simple: do you want your outfit to have the potential of being fully functional, do you want it to just look cool, do you want it to be comfortable, or do you want some combination of the three? In most cases, good quality pieces that look cool or are functional tend to have a certain level of standard for comfort. This being said, the more you cheep out on either end the less comfortable it tends to be.

Once you've decided what kind of balance you want your costumes to have between function, appearance and comfort, you need to decide how much you want to have your costume historically accurate. Please see the forum on Armor 101 and fabric and textiles 101 for more information on materials as well as the functionality of various armor.

My personal motto: I want all three, and I'll do what ever it takes to make it that way.

Usually, I choose to go for appearance and comfort to begin with. It is the less expensive route, as functional armor and armaments cost a good amount more. Once you have a basic set of costume designs, you can also reformulate them and remake them as many times as you like until you have narrowed down what you want, BEFORE going and buying the real things (either armor or appropriate textiles such as linen or silk).

Another piece to consider when deciding functionality is your character's background. Would they where heavy plate mail? Would they scamper around in rags? Would they have finely woven dresses of embroidered silk taffeta?

Once you have settled on the basic idea of your characters fashion sense, it is time to plan the costume out. You are in luck because I have years of experience with sewing and fashion design-- with costumes being my forte. If you have an idea that you can't quite put to paper, I will happily draw it out for you, and tell you whether that particular design is physically possible to make, is flattering, and I can help you make the pattern and put it together (or find places to buy something as close to the design as possible).

Happy costuming!

--The Ashen Dragon
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