Friday, May 14, 2010

Red Sea Rig

My most erudite corespondent wrote yesterday asking, "fat man what do you know about Red Sea Rig?"

"If its a British car I probably owned one or two", was all I could come up with.

Before he would have made me look it up, but this time he took pity and included a most detailed Wikipedia report.

The sun never set on the English Empire, but what did they do at night? Much of the empire was oppressively hot, whether on sea or shore, and managed by and large by gentlemen, with very strict rules of protocol. Wherever he was located, a British gentleman was expected to dress for dinner. Maugham covers this territory very well.

But hokey smokes, in the closed quarters of a navel warship, summering in the Red Sea, pre AC, a man in formal mess dress could die of heat stroke. Thus a new uniform option was born, only for semi formal occasions, in specific locales, hence Red Sea rig.

The components are simple. Black tie, without the jacket, but with either a black or red bow tie with matching cummerbund.

Modifications have been made, to meet specific requirements, and each military service created their own . The gentleman shown is wearing the Royal Marine Band variation.

The female officers version:

A uniform so practical was sure to make friends amongst the civilian population as well, so in many parts of the empire civilian variants have become acceptable. Today they most likely to seen by officers on cruise ships, or diplomats stationed in the Middle East.

The American version, "Gulf rig", is naturally the laziest. Tux pants, bow tie, no jacket, rarely a cummerbund, basically a male guest at a black tie wedding reception.

Don't be getting ideas. You would never be able to sell it to your better half, and protocol requires that you must be invited to wear the rig.



ADG said...

AC transformed the world...or at least expedited the transformation.

Scott said...

The US Navy version is especially attrocious. para 3211.

In 26 years of association with the Navy, I've never known of it being worn.


heavy tweed jacket said...

Many of us live in houses and never have to open the windows, work in offices with controlled climates and a crew of people to keep this unnatural environment feeling, well, natural. It's no wonder that a sense of seasonal and occasional dress has fallen upon hard times. Great post.

Bowtie and Cummerbund said...

Navy has the coolest uniforms. I think that it's appropriate that the bow tie remained part of your uniforms. In that way it is semi formal.