Clothes to Deploy for Uncomfortable Situations #WearableWednesday


Imagine this, you’re a start-up attending your first business card exchange. You’re in your zone, with speaking points ready to go and pockets stuffed with original laser cut business cards, but then the reality sets in. Everyone is already clustered in little groups conversing among themselves, and there you are left alone. It’s an awkward moment and suddenly you realize you aren’t as well prepared as you thought. Well, just deploy your mega cap sleeves to show them you’re boss, or activate your funnel neck collar to escape the embarrassment. It’s your clothing and you can command it. That’s the idea behind the Clothing for Moderns by Lea Albaugh. In fact, the clothing gets its title from a vintage dressmaking book with the same name.

It was written for the emerging young woman of the late 1940s, and she’s going off to college and she needs practical advice on how to win her way in the world. You know, via her clothing. A lot of the specific advice is just as classist and body-negative as you get in today’s magazines, but the goal is empowerment.

Lea discusses how clothing is used to alter silhouette, and gives the example of Katherine Hepburn’s shoulder pads in the ’40’s. You can see how she gave that a lift with the help of compressed CO2 cartridges.


Lea is interested in actuators in couture because she’s tired of the normal trends in wearables, most especially LEDs. She’s really looking to hack another aspect of clothing design, so she’s looking at the shape and purpose of textiles.

I wanted to see how much I could mix some of the oldest technologies — woven fabric out of natural fibers, wool in this case, hand embroidery and vintage manipulation techniques — into these space-age fictions.

I like the reference to space-age fiction because clothing is personal and everything has a story. Whether we are talking about a rain-coat that allows us to walk outside in the spirit of Midnight in Paris or a sweater from a boyfriend that keeps us warm on drafty days, it has meaning. However, it is more like preventative medicine, and it can’t change in real time. What if our wardrobe could be designed for us and react in the way we would like, allowing us to set levels of change for our own expectations?

Lea found by making herself a model that the clothing had more meaning. She could choose what type of situation she wanted the clothing to react to, and she also found herself experimenting with the very techniques she valued most. Just look at the beautiful honeycomb pleats which are part of the mechanism of expansion for the funnel neck dress she designed. It reminds me of some of the beautiful origami pleats found today on Max Studio’s work, only with the aid of a servo, it also performs a function.

The point is, people are getting tired of smartwatches and gadgets. It’s time to move onto clothing that transforms to be as practical as it is beautiful. We do love LEDs–they are tried and true and plenty of research has moved them into a palette of choices, from stitchable to surface mount, and from RGB to OLED. However, where are the stitchable components that allow for inflation or motors quiet enough to move clothing during a business meeting? Like all tech things, designers will create better clothing when the industry makes appropriate parts available (and preferably with samples to give out). Likewise, people like Lea and the rest of the wearable tech heroes are showing potential uses to instigate the development. You can join in on the action with our Getting Started with Adafruit FLORA book. Written by our own Becky Stern and Tyler Cooper, you’ll find great projects to disrupt the fashion industry using our stitchable microcontroller. It’s up to you to hack them and make them your own. Be the change and then shoot a cool video in action. We’d love to make you famous.

FLORA book

Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here:

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in!

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.