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What Should I Wear for the Eclipse?

I am going to an eclipse watching party, but aside from the viewing glasses, which I already have, what should I wear? Dressing in theme seems silly, but I want to acknowledge the event. — Susan, Rochester, N.Y.


It’s human instinct, when celebrating a total solar eclipse — a moment of real darkness in the middle of the afternoon — to want to dress for the occasion. It’s a way of marking its importance and making a memory, along with uttering cool phrases like “the path of totality.”

So how best to do it? Obviously, protective eyewear is the most important accessory. Otherwise, some unexpected fashion advice comes from scientists, who suggest wearing red and green. Those colors are generally associated with a different time of year and event, but apparently they are also a lot of fun to wear during a total eclipse, thanks to something called the Purkinje effect.

Discovered in 1819 by the Czech anatomist Jan Evangelista Purkinje, the Purkinje effect refers to the way the cones and rods in the eye process light. When the light changes very quickly — like during an eclipse! — the reds get darker, and the greens become bright. So if you are outside checking out the sky during the totality, you and those around you will also have fun checking out your magically morphing outfit.

Beyond that, there is … well, a galaxy’s worth of options. Fashion has been obsessed with space and what happens in the heavens since man first started imagining space travel.

Why? Well, there’s something deeply romantic and optimistic about the cosmos. The infinite unknown represents, in this context, possibility. And that is something everyone needs.

Though the presence of starship-inspired clothing has ebbed and flowed over time, what has been called “retro-Galactica” and “neo space age” has been on an upswing of late, perhaps because of NASA’s plans to return to the moon. Or because of the obsession of titans like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk with the final frontier. Or even Zendaya’s “Dune: Part II” promotion outfits, all that silver in Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour and a general dissatisfaction with the planet we are on now.

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