ReOrdered World: A Question Of Fashion
by Steve Quilt
Version for “Tales of the Veils” website.
Not for reproduction on other websites or in any other publishing format without author’s permission.
The atmosphere in the management conference room was sombre as it always was when a leading retailer was in trouble. Trouble in their case meant being at risk of going out of business, and the two dozen or so well-dressed women knew why they were there. Summoned at short notice from all over the country, they were in no mood for frivolity.
“Ladies,” said the CEO as she stood at the front of the seated assembly. “I won’t beat round the bush. We are facing what the industry euphemistically calls a challenging trading situation but I prefer the phrase: Not Selling Anything. The end result is,” at this the middle-aged woman in the navy blue skirt suit waved her hand at a large chart behind her,” is the downward line in red is heading for a meeting with the horizontal blue line marked zero at the bottom. You don’t need me to tell you what this means for us all.”
Several of the women looked distressed at the real prospect of losing their jobs and one or two appeared close to crying. Just about all the rest of the women nodded in agreement. They were the managers of the company’s stores dotted around the country and they all knew first hand what would be the end point of their declining sales figures. Only Cathy Miller didn’t show any reaction. She was by nature a fighter and she knew that this was a fight her company had to win. Crying and merely agreeing wasn’t any sort of solution. She sat forward with an intense look on her pretty, 30 year old face.
“So,” said the middle-aged CEO, “we need a bold new sales strategy. However this isn’t a time for discussion, because with the best will in the world we will go round in circles trying to accommodate every point of view. All that will happen is you will argue, feel bad, go back to your stores and nothing will change. Other than the red line dipping more.”
“In other words, Georgina,” said Cathy from the floor, addressing the CEO, “you have already made your mind up what we are going to do.”
“In short, Cathy, yes.” Georgina fixed her eyes on Cathy. It was almost as if the CEO expected trouble from her flame-haired Manchester store manager. Georgina held her stare for a few seconds and then turned her gaze away to look at the faces of the other females. “The plan is we embrace the ReOrdered World. Fully.”
There was a momentary silence as the gathered women took this on board. “But,” the manager of the Leeds store as she gasped what Georgina was saying. “That means…” She paused, unable to fully articulate the implications.
“We don’t sell bikinis and mini-skirts and see-through blouses, only…” said a stunned Jenny, manager of the Bristol store. But even she couldn’t find the final words.
Cathy found them. “We are going to sell Niqabs and Burqas instead,” she said. “Abayas, too.”
“Abayas?” Harriet, the young and newest manager there who had been boss the Norwich branch for only two months looked puzzled.
“Long, floor-length coats and dresses,” said Cathy. “Neck to ankle. No bare arms. The ReOrdered World doesn’t like seeing legs and arms, or hands for that matter. That’s why Abayas are in.”
“But this year’s late summer fashions are due,” protested Norma, who managed the Edinburgh operation.
“Yeah, right,” said Cathy, and gestured at the rain slanting down outside the windows. Several of the other women laughed.
“That’s one of the problems, ladies. Seasonal fashions.” Georgina sighed. “We try to sell what we think people will buy but we keep tripping up. The seasons trip us up better than anything. We do know increasingly people however want consistency. We keep missing the sales targets because we are impelled by fantasy. Orange hot pants one summer, beige raincoats in the autumn, silly reindeer sweaters in December… We keep stocking up on changes we think will work but increasingly it’s not what the public wants to buy. We only have to look round and see how many women are veiled today. Women who want Abayas and Niqabs. Like it or not, that is what they are wearing. And what they are wearing they are buying.”
“But they’re plain and dull, and once you’ve got a few of those, that’s it. No one will buy any more of the same thing.” Lorna, who ran the Belfast store, was shaking her head as if this was the worst idea ever.
“Not true,” said Georgina. “If you take time to study the trends and styles in the veiled world, you will see a multitude of rich fabrics, fine detail and stunning decorative borders. Little touches that thrill women. The materials are as diverse as any fashion house, from silks and satins to wool and cotton. The colours are gorgeous, too. Not supposedly exciting fashion as we have seen perhaps; remember how we thought purple denim overalls would be the thing last year? How wrong we were as our full warehouse testifies!”
“But what about accessories?” It was Norma speaking again.
“Plenty,” said Georgina, clearly ready for this objection. “Veiled women have to wear opaque stockings, high heeled, high sided boots often. Foot and leg wear that will not show flesh. They wear long, shoulder length gloves under long sleeves. If they are in a Burqa there are different levels of eye screens, some thick to restrict vision and some almost transparent. Under the veil they are often hooded or gagged, so there’s huge market for ball gags and ring gags and even cock gags—“
The women in the room broke out in a whoops of laughter at the idea. One or two applauded. They settled when Georgina held her hand up.
“And then there’s body formers and chastity belts underneath. It’s about modesty and control. Again, like it or not, finally it’s what women want in the ReOrdered World. It might hurt you to understand this, but Feminism is as good as dead and buried. Anyway, we as a business made very little from the Feminist movement. No sales value at all there. It was virtue signalling but the cash tills didn’t ring.”
A collective agreement swept the room. Cathy however had another question. “There’s a problem, isn’t there, Georgina?” All eyes were now on the redhead as she spoke.
“There are always problems in retailing,” the CEO responded. “But tell me what you think you have seen, please, Cathy.”
Cathy took a deep breath. “We have to change all our stock. We have to go and buy enough Abayas and Niqabs to keep our stores stocked. That’s a big investment. We have to move quickly, because unless people start banging on our shop doors to buy purple denim, we won’t be in business in six months. So we have to buy fast and restock quickly.”
“There are plenty of Niqab and Burqa manufacturers in my area,” said Donna, manager of the chain’s Birmingham outlet. “We can source a lot from there.”
The CEO shook her head. “We could, if we were faster to this. The Midlands may have some large manufacturers, but they have been signed up already by our competitors. There is little spare capacity at the British veil factories. No, we have to extend our reach further afield to get the stock we need at a price we can afford.”
“Abroad,” said Cathy, nodding. “Somewhere where they can cope. Some place they make the best Niqabs and veils. And cock gags for that matter.”
Georgina for the first time since the meeting began, smiled. “Congratulations, Cathy. You’ve just earned yourself a trip to Kyserba.”
“I will go on one condition,” said Cathy, sounding as if she was in charge.
“Go on,” responded Georgina.
“I take an assistant. One of my choosing.”
“Done,” nodded Georgina. “Just make sure it is a successful trip.”
“I can’t wear that,” said Leanne. She was 21 years old and fresh out of college, pretty and slim. But under the jet black Niqab that lay on the chair in Cathy’s office she would be just another shapeless, shrouded figure. Her whole identity would be gone, and that always troubled the young who prided themselves on being seen and admired.
“You have to wear it,” said Cathy, not even attempting to express sympathy with any ideas of being visible. “You are going to Kyserba with me, and I will wear one just the same as you. Except mine with have a little gold decorative trim on the veil, just to show I have some authority. But veiled we will be, and if you want to make progress at this company then you have to follow orders.”
“But my mother said—”
“Your mother is not here, but I am,” snapped Cathy. “Time to get veiled, young lady!”
Leanne frowned, started to object but stopped herself. She picked up the Niqab. “And what do I wear underneath?”
“Kyserban women wear a thin black rubber one piece,” said Cathy. “That’s it there on the chair.”
“What… you mean… no bra?”
“No,” answered Cathy. “The rubber will flatten your boobs because unlike the west, Kyserban men aren’t interested in big tits. You’re not very big up there anyway so there should be no problem.”
Leanne frowned more. She was clearly full of admiration for her own young body and this was about the worst thing she could think of. “I’m not going there to find a man,” she said, more to herself. The she said more clearly: “And I go without panties?”
“You will wear a nappy. There aren’t public toilets for women out there. The women are expected to carry their own waste round with them. Get used to it, Leanne — we will be there a whole week.”
“Oh God,” said Leanne, and for a moment contemplated walking out then and there. But tickets had been bought, arrangements made and anyway, what would her mother say? She gulped at the prospect of some family row and grunted a sort of reluctant agreement.
The rubber undergarment went on (Leanne felt uncomfortable being watched by Cathy, but was unwilling to object to being stared at while naked) though she was glad to cover up despite the sensation of her boobs being squashed to her chest. Almost at once despite being in a hotel room in London with the central heating off, the young woman began to feel warm. It would, she knew, be a lot warmer in Kyserba. The rubber undergarment was open-crotched and Leanne eagerly pulled on the jet black nappy with its black rubber outer to help cover up the exposed bits of her lower half.
The nappy was big too, and clearly had room for a lot of waste. It was, in a weird way, like going back to being a child. Leanne could recall, vaguely, the feeling of a great, wet weight on her little hips when she was a toddler, but then her mother had kept her in nappies until she was four, almost five. It was a peculiar memory because it was both revolting and humiliating and also strangely exciting even for a small girl. There was a strange comfort in it, like she was being protected and safe. Leanne was ashamed to admit it even to herself, but even now she still masturbated to the thought of being put in nappies and made to walk round in them to everyone’s amusement. Fortunately, she wouldn’t have them on view as soon as she got the Abaya on and though no doubt everyone in Kyserba would know she was parcelled up underneath, it wouldn’t be visible. She still recalled how her relatives would come to their big house and she would be made to show all her uncles and aunts how nice she looked in her nappy. At least soon this one would be hidden, and the veil would hide her embarrassment too.
Leanne got into the Abaya swiftly, and immediately felt the weight of the thing. It wasn’t as she hoped made of a thin, lightweight modern material. The Abaya was thick wool, and it hung heavily on Leanne’s head and slender shoulders. Already the feeling of being stifled was consuming the young woman, and the temperature rose.
“You haven’t put on the stockings,” said Cathy, watching the girl carefully. “Or the gloves.”
Leanne stared at Cathy and then at the black woollen stockings on the chair along with the gloves. At least the latter were satin, even if they were long and reached up to her shoulders. She gave another despairing grunt and struggled into the stockings before straightening her Abaya, only to find that it was near impossible to put the gloves on while dressed in the full-length garment. That had to come off, and with more grumbles Leanne rolled the long gloves up her arms and then finally dragged the Abaya back on.
“Happy now?” the young woman asked, tartly. She caught sight of herself in a full-length mirror and felt both repulsed and oddly satisfied at what reflected back. She pushed the second part of the thought aside.
“I’m happy you can follow instructions. Your mother will be pleased,” responded Cathy. “But you have got your face showing. Not good.”
“But we aren’t in Kyserba right now!”
“We are going to be soon, and if this venture is going to be successful the sooner you get used to all this the better. The company can’t afford to fail, got that? The veil is vital to our success, so get it on now!”
Leanne blanched at Cathy’s tone, but she complied. Once secured, the black veil hung from the bridge of Leanne’s nose down to her knees. Again, it was wool and though fastened tightly behind her head, the veil was heavy and even more oppressive in its own way. There was a greater feeling of trapped heat in there, too. “I feel ridiculous,” complained Leanne from behind her veil. “Women shouldn’t be like this.”
“Women are like this whatever you think, and in the ReOrdered World they are increasingly like this. That’s why we are doing this.” At that, Cathy began to undress and put herself in the same outfit as Leanne wore. The younger woman watched fascinated as the western clothes came off (and marvelled at how Cathy did it without complaining) and how the older woman disappeared under the black rubber, along with the nappy and black wool. She also put things on in the right order, so when her Abaya settled and the veil was put on, she was correctly stockinged and gloved and, Leanne had to admit, looked quite stunning. The older woman held herself well and from behind her own veil smiled at the younger woman. “Take a good look at yourself,” said Cathy and indicated the mirror.
Leanne looked and said, from under her veil: “So?”
“I look like you. There’s no difference,” said Leanne, though she was unable to turn away from the mirror. Seeing herself like this was fascinating. Even faintly arousing how she was underneath it. The thought occurred to her she could wear anything under this, even a chastity belt which, if Leanne was honest with herself she had masturbated over that idea, too.
“There is a difference. You don’t hold yourself properly,” said Cathy. “You look depressed. Pick your shoulders up, girl. Head up. Don’t slump. You are doing this for the company and, dare it say it, for the future of women.”
“You don’t believe that do you?” Leanne stared at the older woman.
“It’s not what I believe, it’s what women are doing,” answered Cathy. “You may think the fashion industry leads, but it doesn’t. It responds to what women want. Right now, they want to be covered up. Hijabs, Niqabs, even Burqas. It is what they want so it is what we will do. What we will provide.”
“I want to be free,” pouted Leanne.
“And you are, under your Niqab. Now, enough talking. Let’s get you finished up.”
“But I am finished, surely.”
“No, you need an eye covering. A thin gauze, to hide your eyes,” said Cathy. “You will be able to see well enough but no will see your eyes.”
Leanne nodded. It made sense in a way she couldn’t fathom and in a way, it was fun being part of the future of women.
Doing business in Kyserba meant being like they were in Kyserba, and Cathy had mixed feelings on the plane to Serba, the capital of the world’s most veiled nation. She was seated in business class with her young secretary Leanne next to her, who was already looking pretty much at ease in her black Abaya and matching Niqab face veil.
“We have to get used to this,” Cathy had said when they dressed for the flight from London. She herself wore an identical veiled outfit, except her face covering had a gold embroidered trim. Authority, she explained to Leanne, demanded a small indication of her position. Leanne to her credit had got used to it, and no longer looked like a depressed sack.
Cathy however was a little unsure because she would be dealing with people who would be difficult. Not because Kyserban men were no more difficult than any other men in the middle east, but part of her ability to negotiate was being able to show her face. She knew from experience that men would watch her face as much as listen to her tone to ‘read’ how business and negotiating was going. A small pursing of the lips, or a little frowning would convey a lot to the people she was dealing with. Now she would be at a slight disadvantage, she felt, with only her bright blue-green eyes showing through the slit in the fabric over her face. Equally, while her Niqab would hide any ‘tells’ that might weaken her position she had too often traded on her vivacious good looks. Kyserban men would not be vulnerable to a well-timed coy smile or a hint of thigh when she crossed her legs, she knew. A perfectly hitched back skirt could remove thousands from the cost of what she was buying for the company. Now, it would be different.
This whole venture would be about modesty and sincerity, not flirting.
On the other side of this was the feeling, for the first time in years, that Cathy could truly relax. She had heard it said that veiled women were more at peace with the world. There was less competition among them, the way it was in the time before the idea of ReOrdering caught on so much. Of course, that was how their retail business had been: they made money from women who wanted to ‘put one over’ on other females, either for sex or jobs or some other advantage. They would eagerly buy uplift bras and a skimpy low cut dress or a skirt with slits up the legs. But there was, among all this expensive quest for the hottest look a tension that made women sour and unhappy. In a weird way, it made men unhappy too. Either they could not possess what was being dangled — literally — in front of them but they were continually being left flustered that women were not submissive, prone to rapid change and inconsistencies. Not willing to be willing, as the saying went.
A veiled woman was a submissive woman, and everyone properly veiled knew their place. Better still, a woman with her face hidden and her body shrouded did not need to enter any competition for praise. Equally, she did not have to endure snide comments from jealous females. How many times had Cathy seen women desperately trying on clothes that did nothing for their figures and even less for their dignity? How many tears had she seen fall because the latest mini-skirt did nothing for some poor unshapely woman’s heavy thighs or sense of self worth?
No, if she was honest Cathy understood the need for women to be women, and as such for women to be under the control of men. The latter point puzzled her intellectually, but she had to admit as she hid her face not only was there a deep sense of relief that a seemingly never-ending battle was over, but she was modest and modesty meant being guided. Guided under someone’s control.
But there was no controlling man in her life. There was no man to admire her black-clad shape or demand that she cover her eyes. No man to tell her to fix her gag because it was better if she was silent. It had been her choice, to pursue a career, but as always there was a price for this. She might have hoped that in a crowded bar, the right man would see her face and be the right person for her. But for all the drinks and bars, it had never happened. So why was wearing a veil a better thing? Cathy was unsure, but somehow she knew any uncertainty was just part of a transformation in her.
In an odd way too, Leanne had shown how a young woman who was initially opposed to being veiled would quickly go along with it. Getting her dressed in a Niqab and even hiding her eyes under a gauze screen had somehow confirmed to Cathy that this was the right thing to do, for them both. There was a sense of contentment coming from Leanne that was almost palpable. But the, thought Cathy, I feel better too about me.
There is always point in a hard-driven career when you want to hide away and not always be on show. This was it for Cathy, and it felt wonderful.
These were strange and unexpected feelings, and putting on the Niqab had brought them flooding to the surface in Cathy. It was almost as if in disappearing from view, the cork had been pulled out of a bottle of suppressed desires. A welcoming of reality, in many ways.
Leanne, next to Cathy, had said much of this in her own way as they left the hotel to go to Heathrow. She commented how men looked at her differently, and wondered what her boyfriend Jamie would say if he saw her. More, how much would he let her say once he saw his woman in a Niqab? “He likes to gag me,” she said, quietly on the tube train taking them towards the airport, sat in their all embracing, heavy and hot Niqabs. “I don’t mind, but sometimes he puts a towel over my face when he fucks me. But I can’t see his face when he comes, not when I’m that way.”
“Now he wouldn’t have to,” said Cathy, understanding. “You get to look at him all the time from under your veil but he can’t see you. Trust me, he will treasure you far more as a hidden partner.”
“Because Leanne, he will know he has property that needs to be looked after. You being hidden will make him appreciate your being below him. I know it seems crazy, but men are like that. They don’t want what is open and free; they want what they want which is to be in charge of something that depends on them.”
“Yes,” agreed Leanne after few moment’s thought. “But my mother wouldn’t approve of me being covered up like this.”
“Mothers don’t have to approve. They’re women too and have to do what they are told. Your father might prefer your mother silent and willing to obey, have you thought of that?”
Leanne hadn’t, but she nodded agreement. “She would have to accept his word, because women need to be controlled and hidden. She can’t object to me doing this, either, what with me being 21.”
“Indeed. You are 21 and able to make up your own mind, Leanne.”
“That’s the problem,” sighed Leanne. “I don’t know if I want to make my own mind up. Sometimes I think I should be this go-getting executive assistant, following her mother’s example and wanting to climb the corporate ladder. Other times I think I just want someone to pin me down and use me as they see fit. I mean, I love Jamie, but he’s confused too. At least I think so. He wants me to look good when we go out but I know he’s worried men might take me from him if I look too available. That would destroy him, but the dresses and skirts I wear make me being stolen more likely to happen. Revealing myself makes mea target, whatever I say to make him feel I am his. But if I was in a Niqab I don’t suppose there would be anything like that going on.”
“So you like this?” Asked Cathy, indicating their black garb.
“I feel different,” said Leanne. “Just not sure yet if this is the different I want to feel. But I admit it’s growing on me. I can’t help catch a glimpse of how I look when we pass a shop window and I see my reflection. It makes me feel proud to be me under all this.”
“Good. But you can’t just do this for a week and then forget it.”
“I know. I came to that conclusion myself. I want to show Jamie the new me, the hidden me. I want to be covered up and silent in his presence.”
“How about you try a gag, now?” Cathy looked at Leanne’s lovely brown eyes, or at least what she could see through the thin eye-covering the girl wore.
“A gag? Here?” Leanne blinked as if she was shocked.
“Leanne, this is Kyserban Airlines. The female cabin attendants are in Niqabs. Have you heard them speak?”
“Because under their Niqabs I will guarantee they are gagged. Maybe even face masked but you can’t tell through their eye coverings.”
“So how does this help me?”
“It helps because it means you can relax. You don’t have to make small talk with me. You can feel how it would be if you went out with Jamie like this, on his arm. Maybe how you should be in his presence while he watches TV or does that model-making hobby he likes so much. Not distracting him or making demands. Just being yourself, and loved for it.”
“Silent, because I am gagged.”
Cathy smiled under her veil. “Yes. Want to try it? No one will mind.”
Leanne gave several small gestures of uncertainty as she struggled with the thought. Then she said: “And tied up, too?”
“If you like. I am sure the stewardess will bring you a nice clean ball gag. If you look at the arm rests there are straps on them, see?”
Leanne looked and nodded. “So I gag myself and you strap my wrists to the arm rests?”
“And my feet?”
“I bet the cabin staff can find you an ankle strap. You are hardly alone here: I saw a woman in a lovely blue Burqa being strapped up in her seat when we got on in London. Even a strap across her chest. Serious stuff.”
“I wish I’d seen that,” said Leanne, glancing round but not being able to see much of the rest of plane. All she could see were mostly Niqabs.
“Better you experience it for yourself,” said Cathy. “We have three hours before we land, so that’s plenty of time to get used to being quiet and strapped up as a woman should be in public. You can sit and think of how Jamie will love what you are going to be.”
Leanne nodded. “Okay, I will. Thanks.” The young woman pressed the button to summon one of the cabin crew. “Oh, one more thing. Would you mind if I have my eyes covered up too? I mean properly this time.”
“Not at all. Full blindfold or thicker gauze? Or do I decide?”
Leanne chuckled under her veil. “You choose. You’re the boss.”
“In more ways than one,” smiled Cathy. She took Leanne’s gloved hand and squeezed it affectionately, and then set about strapping her assistant’s wrists to the arm rests, tightly so the girl couldn’t hope to escape. She would ask for a large gag too for Leanne, when the cabin crew arrived.
And one for herself, for what Leanne did so would she. In more ways than one, Cathy decided.