Faq II: Equipment & Maintenance:

2.1 Clothing

     Fencing clothing includes the jacket, pants, plastron (underarm
     protector), and socks.  Some companies manufacture unitards
     (combined jacket and pants).  Inexpensive practice gear is
     fashioned of synthetics or heavy cotton, but competition clothing
     is required to pass an 800 N puncture test.

     Casual and beginner fencers can rely on cotton or synthetic
     jackets, but should consider using a plastron for extra
     protection.  Track pants or baseball knickers are also thrifty 
     alternatives to genuine fencing clothing.

     Most jackets are left- or right-handed.  Women's jackets are not
     only cut differently, but have pockets for breast protectors.
     Ambidextrous (back-zip) jackets are available, but generally not
     with homologated fabrics.  Ambidextrous (double-sided) plastrons
     are available from some manufacturers.

     Knee-high sport socks (such as for soccer/football or baseball)
     can be purchased from most sporting goods stores.  Skin should
     not show between the socks and pant legs nor the cuff and glove
     of the weapon hand.  The trailing hand and back of the head
     should be the only areas of exposed skin on the fencer's body.
2.1.1 FIE Homologated Clothing
     800N homologated clothing is fashioned from special fabrics such
     as kevlar, Startex, or ballistic nylon.  Some uniforms
     (especially older uniforms of kevlar construction) offer partial
     800N coverage in vital areas with lighter 350N fabrics used
     elsewhere.  Full-coverage 800N uniforms are now the norm in
     homologated clothing.

     The rules for FIE 'A' level competition demand homologated jacket
     and pants (full 800N is not compulsory for the 1994/95 season).
     As of April 1, 1995, an additional 800N plastron is required.

     The CFF currently requires a minimum of 800/350N uniforms for all
     elite tournaments.  No plastron is required in conjunction with
     FIE clothing.

     Beginning October 1, 1995, the USFA will require a minimum of
     800/350N uniforms for all selection events and the Olympic
     Festival (this will include Cadet, Junior and Open NACs, Div. I
     National Championships, Junior Olympic Championships and U-19
     National Championships).  A regulation (non-FIE) plastron is
     required at all USFA events.

     800N clothing generally provides the highest degree of quality
     and protection available.  It is strongly recommended for serious
     competitors, and for anyone else concerned about their safety.
     Although considerably more expensive than practice gear, many
     fencers find it well worth the price.

     Kevlar clothing should be washed with mild detergent-free soap,
     and no bleach.  Hang dry away from sources of ultraviolet light
     (especially direct sunlight).  Store in a dark place (a closet or
     your fencing bag, for example).
2.1.2 Colours
     Traditionally, fencing clothing is all white (for historical
     reasons that probably had to do with detection of hits), but the
     rules have recently been relaxed to allow "light" colours on the
     body.  Other colours may be permitted on the limbs.  The fencer's
     last name and country can appear on the back in block blue
     letters (or in the USA only, on the trailing leg); this is
     required in international competition.  National colours can be
     worn on an armband on the trailing arm.  Club or association
     badges can be stitched to the upper trailing arm.

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