“I wish I could leave you certain of the images in my mind, because they are so beautiful that I hate to think they will be extinguished when I am. Well, but again, this life has its own mortal loveliness. And memory is not strictly mortal in its nature, either. It is a strange thing, after all, to be able to return to a moment, when it can hardly be said to have any reality at all, even in its passing. A moment is such a slight thing, I mean, that its abiding is a most gracious reprieve.”—Marilynne Robinson, Gilead (via litverve)
While visual and conceptual dichotomies are clearly present in the relationship between the undergarments and armor (male/female, hard/soft, outside/inside, armed/disarmed), no one simple reading is possible. A bustle is an industrial contraption, while a breastplate is delicately adorned. In the 14th century the term corset was used to refer to a breastplate as worn by a soldier. And though one might expect the feminine undergarments to be alluring, they often appear clinical, even dingy, divorced from the body’s lingering presence. On the other hand the armor often conveys an aggressive sexuality, both gorgeous and cruel. Yet in both cases the garments are transformative. The undergarments enhancing and constricting the body to support the fashion of the outer dress; the armor shielding the body’s mortal flesh, while concurrently turning its wearer into a terrifying war machine.