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Breq, Ancillary Justice
Outline the story …
My outfit is for Breq, the main character of Anne Leckie’s Ancillary Justice and its sequels. This human host body is the only surviving part of a centuries-old starship AI. She seeks vengeance for her destruction while civil war ripples through the intergalactic civilisation.
In popular sci-fi, military characters are often depicted in outfits that evoke 20th century uniforms. However, I wanted to reflect the cyclical nature of dress history, so I settled on the high waistline most recently seen in the Regency era.
Many of Breq’s battles take place in tea parlors and command rooms. She has more use for a freshly pressed shirt than for camouflaged armour. I adapted a 1990’s dress shirt to the Empire waistline and paired it with 1940’s high-waisted slacks. The skirt section can be brushed open so Breq can access her rare alien pistol.
In the language of the Imperial Radch, a person’s gender is so irrelevant that the language does not denote any difference. This cultural androgyny led me to recreate a hussar-inspired Regency pelisse as Breq’s officer’s coat. In matching materials, I then included a patrol cap, which was first used in the 1950’s.
The colour palette is firmly rooted in shades of navy blue and army green, with silver and gold accents. The gear-heart logo on the cap represents Breq’s AI identity and strong moral compass, while the wings on her coat represent her status as Fleet Captain later in the series. Finally, Radch propriety demands gloves.
Outline the construction…
Purchased garments are the tank top “chemise”, slacks, necktie and gloves.
I made my first steel-boned corset in cotton cretonne using Redthreaded’s pattern for Regency long stays. In hindsight, I used the wrong pattern size, because I had to take it in 4 inches. I learned how to set gussets, use binding tape, apply flossing and that toiles are good, actually. The grommets are encased with buttonhole stitches for reinforcement. The lacing cord is elastic for ease of use.
I unpicked a thrifted dress shirt to use as a pattern and recreated it in cotton voile with reflective piping inserts. It turned out see-through, so I lined the front. The cuffs and collar have fusible interfacing and piped edges. The skirt was a hand-printed cotton wrap skirt by Lorna Wiles in Cornwall. I removed the waistband and attached the rest as is. Then I added an upside-down divisible zipper, hiding the ‘bottom’ underneath the neck tie.
I used the Sense and Sensibility pattern for a Regency spencer jacket/pelisse. I paired the walkloden (loden wool?) with cotton cretonne lining. The shank buttons are attached to a piece of cord on the other side of the fabric. The soutache braiding is attached by hand. The weight of the skirt panel in the pelisse pulled the front up, so I added drawstrings to the underbust line. Then I did the same for the dress shirt to add definition.
Finally, I used a tutorial on TallysTreasury.com for a reversible cadet cap.