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Mars Suits are an early example of the Space Race Trend, and originally designed to be worn on the surface of Mars during the Mars missions. Their design focussed on being lightweight, allowing feeedom of movement, maintaining pressure equally on all parts of the body and insulating the body from the temperatures on Mars. They were later also worn on Earth and were adapted to "off the peg" designs which were less stringently manufactured, making them widely affordable to the general public.
Design of Fabric
Mars suits consist of a sandwich of fabrics separated by a layer of vacuum. The inner layer is flocked with hollow fibres containing air which are also heating elements powered by the movements of the wearer or rechargeable electric cells. This is surrounded by a layer of foam. A reflective layer follows, which is black on the outside. There is then an evacuated layer consisting of rigid cells following the shape of the body, then another layer, black on both sides, made of an elastane amino acid polymer called neohooverene. These design features combine to produce a garment which can be comfortably worn with no other clothing on Mars during the day, and on Earth in cool or polar conditions including Antarctica and the Himalayas. They are also somewhat resistant to radiation, though not sufficient to be of use in the Afro-Asian Exclusion Zone.
They are one-piece skintight bodysuits like jumpsuits, often with built-in footwear, gloves and helmets with an airtight front zip. The original Mars suits were extremely expensive and tailored to the individual's body shape. Later Mars suits, designed only to be worn on Earth or in protected space environments, were less stringently designed and flexible enough to be worn by people with different body shapes to some extent, though this also made them less effective. They are generally used as outerwear in cold climates and the winter. The tendency is for people to wear them as if they are underwear with clothing on top of them rather than the other way round. The issue of going to the toilet is generally dealt with by having the zip fasten from the top of the front of the garment round the crotch to the level of the coccyx, where it forms a seal. The inverted zip has been adapted to other garments, such as jackets.
Early suits were always black, but later on different colours were used, which again reduces their effectiveness. They are often regarded as too revealing to be worn as outerwear.
There are a number of practical problems with their use. They don't breathe well and sweat and insensible water loss tends to build up next to the skin, so the thermostat is normally set slightly below room temperature.
They are also only minimally gendered, in accordance with the unisex trend. The crotches and the busts are both padded with foam, giving them an appearance which would seem odd to Elizabethan eyes because both men and women wearing them seem to have breasts. This was considered amusing at first but with the erosion of breast partialism which began towards the end of the first Caroline decade, this swiftly became perceived as irrelevant.