Through the Future Lens: What We Wear

Future fashion has been the subject of speculation for centuries. For as long as people have paid attention to trends, someone has always been out to start a new one, to be the first to do the next big thing. Almost every science fiction classic lingers, at least briefly, on the matter of what’s being worn.

With the advent of the 3D printer that can print in plastics, paper, and other mediums, the future of fashion is closer than ever. Printers can print elegant, custom-fitted casts that are as much adornment as medical device, laser cutters can carve out elaborate patterns and intricate lace in the blink of an eye. Some scientists are looking to refine recyclable household items from clothes to dishes: why wash it when you can simply remake it?

If one were to believe Barbarella and countless science fiction films since, the future isn’t going to require a lot of fabric—maybe less material than it would take to make a place setting. Climate change and intensifying solar radiation may put an end to that fantasy as full-coverage comes into style to keep us healthy, not modest. Take heart, with warmer temperatures becoming the norm indoors, in order to save money and reduce pollution, we may go nearly-naked as soon as we’re out of the sun.

In our future setting of the Pandora Project, uniforms are quite common. Simple, egalitarian, work-safe, easy to produce, and time-saving, uniforms have a place both in and out of the military. Beyond that, our characters’ clothing is often a nod to the past. Formalwear includes the ancient toga and barely more modern tuxedo, casual dress includes kilts, traditional hand-dyed tunics, and even jeans.

When people express themselves through clothing in our future world, they often reflect their culture and their past, accented by their individuality. It’s a way to express the diversity of Earth’s cultures and to stay connected with the foundations that make our characters who they are.

In the present, we are often looking to the future. When we get there, we’ll no doubt want to remember where we came from.

About Us

Anah Crow and Dianne Fox write sci-fi, paranormal, and contemporary queer romance for Carina Press, Samhain Publishing, and Amber Allure. They’ve been writing together for more than 10 years. You can find them on the web at and on Twitter at @anahcrow and @diannefox.


  1. Love the idea of cultural clothing and traditional fabrics being a statement of individuality. Yeah, I don’t think you’ll ever get the Scots to stop wearing kilts. lol

    Thinking about future clothing is a lot of fun. For the Stellarnet Series, I had clothing with antibiotic fabric made with polymer threads that could be worn several times and then recycled rather than washed. When one of my characters needed new boots and clothes, he chose a color and style, placed an order, and the manufacturing block in the space colony used a full-body scan of him to create the new items for him to pick up later in the day. If only we could do that now! I hate laundry. And whenever I find something I really like to wear, a year or two later when I need another one, I can’t find them in any of the stores any more. Would be nice if I could just order up another shirt or pair of pants from my 3D clothing “printer.”

    1. I really like the idea of being able to just place an order for the exact style I want (even one from a few years ago). I have the same issue you do, I’ll find something I really enjoy wearing and then I won’t be able to find it in stores again later.

  2. But can it please be pretty?

    I know I’m shallow, but one of the reasons I don’t enjoy a LOT of SF is that the clothes seem to be so deliberately ugly or dehumanising. Laser cut lace and body-scan perfect fits should lead to better clothes not worse!

    1. I know exactly what you mean. 🙂 Anah and I have a lot of love for fashion, both cultural and modern, so our fashion choices for our characters are carefully considered to reflect who they are and what they would enjoy wearing.

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