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Here’s How H. G. Wells Predicted the Future of Fashion (We Can Only Hope He’s Wrong)

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Here’s How H. G. Wells Predicted the Future of Fashion (We Can Only Hope He’s Wrong)

During a dread spiral, prompted by current events, you might find yourself standing in front of your closet with a thousand-yard stare, wondering what you’ll be wearing if everything turns into a total dystopia. Well, H. G. Wells was way ahead of you, girl! Here’s the LittlePinkTop book review of his 1895 sci-fi classic “The Time Machine,” with highlights from all of the British author’s wardrobe descriptions.

We sometimes imagine that the people of the future will be much more intelligent than us, as evidenced by their flying cars, smart gadgets, and sleeker, more functional clothes. Maybe they have utilitarian, bulletproof Iron Man armor or sexy, skin-tight Batman suits… 

But what if H. G. predicted the fashion of the future more accurately than Hollywood? If you read his book “The Time Machine,” you might remember its eccentric protagonist, the Time Traveler, who created a time machine to explore the unknown. So, yeah, girl, you should really rethink how you spend your free time!

When the Time Traveler went to the distant future (year Eight Hundred and Two Thousand Seven Hundred and One A.D.), he was very much surprised to find “a slight creature—perhaps four feet high—clad in a purple tunic, girdled at the waist with a leather belt.” Say whaaat? He continued: “Sandals or buskins—I could not clearly distinguish which—were on his feet; his legs were bare to the knees, and his head was bare. Noticing that, I noticed for the first time how warm the air was.” Well, H. G. Wells got the climate change part right. So, what if these wardrobe predictions pan out too, and everyone ends up wearing “the same soft, and yet strong, silky material”?

We might even end up with the same hairstyle, just as H. G. Wells described. “Their hair, which was uniformly curly, came to a sharp end at the neck and cheek; there was not the faintest suggestion of it on the face,” he wrote.

We are already embracing the futuristic tendencies the sci-fi writer described in his book. Fashion today has many unisex options. And this is precisely how H. G. Wells thought it would go. The Time Traveler noticed that people of the future were all alike, and there were no differences in their clothing that could be used to distinguish sexes. And even children seemed to be “but the miniatures of their parents.”

Moreover, in this classic novel, people of the future spend their idle time doing little more than eating fruit and wearing their “rich soft robes.” The laziness was evident in their language, too. They converse in “a strange and very sweet and liquid tongue,” a vocabulary limited to simple verbs and nouns. Hmmm, just like TikTok videos!

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At first, the Time Traveler observes slowly deteriorating yet “splendid shelters” for the “gloriously clothed,” with “no signs of struggle, neither social nor economical struggle.” He explains: “The shop, the advertisement, traffic, all that commerce which constitutes the body of our world, was gone.”

Hmm, well that doesn’t seem to match our ad-filled social media feeds, does it, where that desirable piece of clothing seems to follow us around from site to site?

The novel’s protagonist comes to realize that “strength is the outcome of need; security sets a premium on feebleness.” The happy, carefree beings fall victim to nocturnal predation.

LittlePinkTop will leave it there to avoid spoilers. But what can we learn from this novel, fashionistas? There are risks to the cushy wardrobe. We may have enjoyed shuffling around the house during work-from-home but it’s time to make braver fashion choices, such as leather skirts and aviator sunglasses on the weekends, and high-end business totes on the weekdays!

View Comment (1)
  • Are you a lit major? This is an amazing interpretation of “The Time Machine.” Love the fashion connection. 🙂

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