Zero-G Couture for the Fashionista

Not everyone in space will wear articulated, bulky space suits.

And not all space ships/stations will be able to afford to provide power for gravity everywhere. Plus, some people will just prefer low and zero-g spaces - people with chronic ailments or fragile bones or joint issues or weight issues.

I’m tired of reading about “ship suits” and authors glossing over what people wear in space.

So, I need help designing suitable zero-g fashions.

How do people keep their hems from floating up and getting in their faces? I’ve thought of farthingale-type light wire cages for clothing with wide hems (bell bottom pant legs, dresses, skirts, tunics…) with the fabric magnetized to cling to the frames. Shorter, narrower hems and ruffles can be corralled with “horsehair tape”, wire, and even duct tape. Wealthy fashionistas might have arduino style robots with tiny thrusters to keep “flutter” sleeves and ruffled necklines from floating up and covering their faces. Shirt hems might be magnetized to pant/skirt waist bands (gives greater freedom of movement than hooks, snaps, or even touch & close fasteners. What other ways can hems be made to behave or to move in fascinating ways?

What sort of shoes would they wear? Mind you - no gravity so they don’t need to actually walk in them. Would they be fancy architectural structures? Would they be built to hide thrusters for “swimmability”? What kind of awesome things could shoes do if they weren’t needed for walking or protection? Toes can manipulate any “animation”. Oh - what about firing weapons? Lights!

Since weight isn’t a concern (but inertia is), would zero-g fashionistas wear fanciful headgear? We can go beyond what we see on the modern runway, which is fantastical enough, so imagining headwear that tops that would be interesting.

What sorts of fabrics would such fashionistas prefer - natural or manufactured? Transparent, translucent, opaque? Lightweight, heavyweight, a combination? Would they focus on texture over weight?

I will have more questions - and maybe sketches (don’t laugh at them - I am so not an artist).


Wow, @TinyFist! All of your ideas have really got me thinking. I’m not much of a fashionista in the real world, so I don’t always put enough thought into this when writing. Thanks for making me think.

And I would love to see some sketches.

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So would I! I am a dreadful terrible no good very bad artist. The best I can do is doodle.

I can’t draw the underpinnings, and I think those are the most important parts - or the thrusters.

But wow - can you imagine mermaids in space? The humans that want to be mer, anyway. Mermaid outfits were just made to be worn in zero-g.

This is the best I can do:


bring back capes. Maybe have some thin springy wire at the edges to keep them from hopelessly tangling, but gauzy capes would be so cool in 0-g.

I could see hairstyles going more vertical, since you’d no longer have to fight with gravity – mohawks, that elegant-messy look, complicated buns… anything that we use hairspary for now would need a lot less in space I’d imagine.


Footwear wouldn’t need to be vey stiff, probably be more like thick socks or slippers… however, footwear would need gripping surfaces on the top of the foot. Several NASA astronauts have come back from the ISS with calluses on their insteps because you end up hooking your toes on things all the time to stabilize yourself in 0-g.

On an unrelated note, I could imagine cutting-edge hairdos that included small articulating wires that flexed in response to EM fields or temperature differentials, creating a head of hair that could flex and move like a mass of tentacles or snakes.


Actually, zero-G makes those issues worse. We send healthy fit people into space and they come back very weakened because they haven’t been working against gravity. Not just muscle mass, but bones deteriorate. We’re evolved to have gravity and without it we start having issues. This is one of the reasons there’s a lot of ant farms in space because they want to see how other creatures can deal with it. So any long term situation would have Earth-like gravity as much as possible.

As for the costume in general, there is the issue addressed in Starfinder RPG that if you’re in space there is always a chance of explosive decompression so you need protection just in case. A large space ship might have many portions that are in a vacuum because atmosphere is expensive and you don’t want it in a duct of nothing but wires. So in Starfinder the ‘flight suit’ is customizable to look like whatever you want, but it’s real purpose is to prevent you from dying in a vacuum. If you have money you can get real clothing that does the same thing. This has the benefit that the environmental protections are translucent shields so you can have ridiculous outfits that are perfectly acceptable for laser pistol duels.

Generally, people would gear towards clothing that didn’t cause issues in Zero-G. Moving is a pain, why make it worse. You might look good but not while struggling to get through a large room (which as a rule you don’t have because how do you get around without something to push off of?). That negates a lot of hoop skirts and various addons.

I’d argue against complex hair, because it would have to be created and locked in somehow. You don’t want your hair getting in the way at the best of times and now it’s getting in others way. Likely it would be tied down or cut short for safety. I could see complex wigs that could be tossed on or hats secured with tape or pins.

As for fabrics… what’s impossible to tell. Synthetics would be more available than natural fibers, but beyond that, you can’t really know until you have a fully developed space culture that interacts in Zero-G constantly. Our own fashion has dramatically changed over the years. We don’t necessarily show off our wealth through our clothing like we did five hundred years ago unless it’s a special occasion. These days we attempt to show off ourselves and that competes with what is considered acceptable. Utilitarian and functional is often more important than it being the shiniest thing on the street. What this society might want to do with fashion could literally be anything.

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Thank you for your thoughtful response.

(1) It does for us now, but this may not be an issue in the future, humanity may evolve, and in an AU, things may be different. Sure if I was writing about the near future, that would be a serious consideration.

I was also sort of thinking of Bujold’s Falling Free.

I dismissed it for the purpose of the story in order to get the fashionista juices flowing and the possibilities for a super-fashion conscious (and possibly quite frivolous) person.

(2) A definite consideration in space in our current level of technology, but technological levels could advance enough that there wouldn’t be catastrophic decompressions - nanotechnology could (in theory) provide near instantaneous repairs to small punctures. There are other technological advances that could provide extra layers of quick repairs, isolations, and make traveling through space less hazardous than our daily work commutes, and possibly less hazardous than sinking while traveling on a cruise ship a la Titanic.

Actually, I was kind of thinking of cruise ship type conditions - in space - where everything is done for the comfort and safety and entertainment of the passengers, so speculating that they worked out many of the kinks in decompression and hull breaches and such is a disctinct possibility. I’m not exactly talking about space battles in runway model high couture.

And what if the zero-g conditions weren’t in space, if technology allowed for rooms, or entire buildings, to turn zero-g on and off as we do lights or heating/AC? In which case, protection might only be for falling if the zero-g gets switched off (and might there not be safeguards where it :::sighs::: out, allowing those in the air to drift to the ground?). (Not that I put this in my original speculation, but who says zero-g fashions have to be limited to space?)

(3) That sounds very nanobot-ish - a definite possibility that other authors have explored. Hologramic or chameleonic or morphing clothing is definitely a possibility. I hadn’t even considered that possibilty. And there is absolutely no way my dreadful art skills could cope with illustrating that! Thank you!

(4) Not so sure about this - having sewn historical costumes, I know the pain people put themselves through just to be fashionable. Corsets, lethal fabric dyes, lethal makeup, foot binding practices, super high stiletto heels…so, yeah, I think some people would put themselves through a lot of pain and inconvenience for the sake of fasion - and some fashion designers would push the envelope to see just how far people would go to be fashionable.

Also, thrusters, teeny little thrusters strategically incorporated into the clothing, headgear, shoes could steer the person wearing them through the zero-g area. This has been used in many SF plots in space, so I can see how it could be applied to fashion.

(5) Actually, I think it proves the opposite. With thrusters, lifters, and other mechanical aids, hoops, trailing skirts, assorted add-ons, towering headdresses, impractical footwear, and such would be entirely possible - and I can imagine just how “naughty” the undergarments would be in such open-ended fashions.

Also, that send me off to think about cults and such that would be anti-fashion - what sort of baggy, non-revealing clothing would they wear? Would it be anti-fashionable, or would it anger them because some fashion designers wold make their modest and unrevealing zero-g clothing fashionable?

(6) That’s why I said “headdresses” instead of “hairstyles”, so yes - complex wigs and headgear - even ones that get in the way of the wearer and the other people in the room - would certainly be there. Imagine 2 fashionistas getting their headgear entwined…

(7) Fabrics would definitely be all over the place. Natural fabrics would be for the planetbound (with their zero-g fashions, if they have zero-g capabilities dirtside, leaning more to artificial fibers) and for the super wealthy, I suppose.

(8) That’s kind of the fun of an exercise in thought like this. What would the people of Planet X wear? How would technological advances affect high fashion? Would there be “cruise ships” in space with all the entitlement of passengers that entails?

Thank you so much for yout thought-provoking response to my silly topic.


Is it so bad that I really want to do this? Even as a bit of fun. That could be so much fun.


Go for it! I’d read it.

I’m probably going to have to throw it in the bunny cage for now. I just started another epic. But I will keep it in mind for November.

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I see pockets as the bases for Zero-G fashion. Lots and Lots of pockets to poke things in to prevent them from floating away. There will be small thin pockets for holding small tools like pens and screwdrivers. Specialized pockets for communication devices. Big bag like pockets just to carry what would be in a handbag. Shirt pockets are easily accessible, so I see a wide range of shirts with pockets for working, dining and shopping.

As for material, it has to be silk. Not only is it produced by the silkworms, but you can also eat the worms as well.

Well, that’s what my characters are wearing and eating on their way to Mars.

–KnollMouse :mouse:

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I don’t see thrusters as viable. If we’re not talking about everyday wear there’s too much chance of failure. Someone moves the wrong way and suddenly you’re trapped in the middle of the room and too embarassed to admit you trashed your thruster.

I think it would be more along the lines of a rave. A small subset of people think it’s the most awesome thing ever, but 99% of people can’t stand the concept.

I was comparing directly to Zero-G without stupid outfits. Moving in Zero-G sucks. It was probably easier to move in a 20ft wide hoop skirt. There’s a difference between inconvenience and impossible to move, which again leads into safety concerns. There’s one thing to be on the height of fashion but you don’t want to be known for injuring your customers. And no one wears the true historical costumes even for fun anymore because of how complex they were. Again it comes to the point of if this is in space, do you even want to have that much open area to allow such large clothing? You need to fill that with something, even if you don’t have gravity. Women first were allowed to wear pants for horseback riding because it was the best way to ride (side saddle must be so fun) so practicality can be taken into account.

Some people do. Plus actors and re-enactors (I forget what the word actually is) and people do dedicate so much time to getting costumes historically correct. Yes they are painful, but I will admit that they look fantastic. The level of detail that some people go into is insane (without the dangers of the actual materials used at the time) but when you see the actual outfits they are amazing. I’m also one of the people who will spend time figuring out if a movie or show has cheated or has tried to recreate. There are few things that will put me off a show but one of them is inexplicable clothing material being used (IE, that should be a linen, why are you using a polyester/cotton blend? or why are all your commoners running around wearing expensive silks)

We also have the whole thing that this is fiction that we are discussing. I would be quite happy to find a piece of fiction that is something along the lines of this topic with detail put into the outfits that people wear and coo over. It would make a nice change to some of the other things I’ve seen done in space or sci-fi fiction, hence my above comment about doing some kind of space battle while people are running around in high fashion.

We also have the whole high heels were first worn by men to keep their feet in stirrups. There is a lot of evolution that could be pulled from real life scenarios and applied to zero-G. I’m looking forward to others thoughts and drawings on this subject.


You’re still thinking in terms of modern day technology. in science fiction, you’re allowed to think of technologies that don’t exist, that we are not currently capable of creating. So micro-thrusters built into the clothing is still a possibility.

I didn’t set the parameter that this would only be for everyday wear. I am aware of the fact that humans, anyway, dress more fancifully for special events. Perhaps aliens (whose fashions I am not at this time considering) would consider our frivolous extreme fashions to be their super casual “T-shirt and jeans” wear.

Not sure where the “injuring your customers” part comes in?

@riverdoe already addressed the fact that some people do indeed wear historical costume as everyday wear. There’s a couple in the US that live as if they were in Victorian times - from the skin out as well as in their home , and there’s a tailor in the UK who also dresses exclusively in Victorian men’s wear and he designs and sells it now. So, yeah, people do the history thing as well as the futuristic thing.

The point of my speculation here isn’t practicality or every day wear. The point is to be fashionable, hence using the term “fashionista”. I want to figure out what fashions would be if unrestrained from gravity, not limiting them to modern technology and modern capabilities, but to stretch the imagination and think of a future or an alternate universe where people aren’t locked into practicality in spacewear, because they aren’t ship crews or space soldiers.

I want to break out of the thinking that we only go into space because we’re fighting or working so everything has to be practical or life-saving. I want it to be touristy and playful, possibly glamorous, with people doing all kinds of things besides drudge work or dying. I hope that by thinking of fashionistas - make up and extreme fashions and cutting-edge couture and all teh underpinnings and, yes, pain, that might accompany being the most fashionable one can be. Whether that fashion is just for an ambassadorial event or a futuristic pop culture event or even for a zero-g model runway fashion (in space or engineered planetside), let’s get some variety in space.

Would you rather I speculated here about rollercoasters in zero-g - because I guarantee you, I have given some thought to designing a rollercoaster that would work in Lunar gravity, and possibly a humongous one in the Asteroid belt that would double as a conveyor belt for asteroid harvesting, and building them on the outsides of space ships so people could have some fun and excitement while traversing space.

Cool outfit. Something happens. outfit prevents safety or emergency response. person dies. designer blamed.

I’d find general what would they wear more interesting. and knowing the day to day culture is important to knowing what would be worn on special occasions.

Saying “but future tech!” doesn’t preclude possible failures. What do they do if something fails?

Well, and that already happens. I think any society where the beings mingle would have caveat emptor and consumer protection laws and waivers, so - not an issue unless it’s a part of the story.

And “but future tech” is a valid response when the speculation is based almost entirely on the tech we currently have. Since we don’t currently have a space tourism and interplanetary travel, I’m kind of looking for solutions/issues that would be “future tech” oriented, so I’d be open to that. Given our current state of drone miniaturization and technology, futuristic clothing thrusters for wear in zero-g is a valid speculation, and given that said clothing would likely need multiple points of attachment, if one thruster failed, it might be “limpy” but the likelihood of all the trusters failing simultaneously would become the province of intent, not chance.

And that removes it from designer-responsibility to sabotage.

Which could make for an interesting story and would still require us to speculate about what the fashions are - and who knows? Maybe that fashion would be the tool needed to save the day.

I’m now imagining a space-cruise-ship with some vast open-air low-grav room where everybody’s outfits are sea-life themed. Mermaids, jellyfish, anameone theme… A gigantic coral reef except they’re all people.

Frills could be a lot of fun – light and flowy, but short enough to not be too in the way. Nano-clothing that constantly reforms what you’re wearing – maybe the bots are more like the seams between fabric panels and they can sort of zip and unzip to make transformation clothing.

Clothing that hides pockets. Lots and lots of pockets, but with less worry about messing up the lines of the body because everything is so loose and flowy and floating anyway.

Clothing that has an emergency mode built-in – perhaps coupled with the nano-clothing – that slurps up any loose fabric and activates the mag-boots (mag boots could just be helpful to have anyway, especially if you could turn them off and on.)

Ooh, having “mood-ring” clothing that’s connected to your brain-waves/twitter feed/whatever and changes based on mood. I’m now suddenly invisioning a meet-cute where their clothing gives them away on accident.

Ooh, instead of those purse-dogs, have purse-drones. Cute little flying robots that can assist you to move around and possibly double as personal life-boats if things get bad. But mostly they’re adorable, and all the famous designers have their own line. Maybe there’s even a trend of getting famous artists to paint them, so they’re collectable.


Those are great ideas! Clothing connected to social media or impregnated with nanotech to reflect moods/scenes is especially intriguing.

Pocket-drones! Because our beloved pocket pups have gained sentience and now want their own little pocket pets, so pocket-bots and pocket-drones would be perfect for the space chihuahua navigating through a field of filmy, floaty fabrics, trailing his own enhanced tail.

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Hi, yes, I would love to be a part of this cruise. :heart_eyes_cat:


I’m just stopping in to say that while I have nothing to add, this has been a fascinating topic to read and a great learning experience. Thanks!