Today I'd like to talk about fetish, and what it's role is in enhancing and defining the BDSM experience. I'm not talking at the moment about fetishes people have for feet or some particular activity. What I'm talking about is the stylistic trappings -- the crosses, the leather, the latex, the rubber, the pretty floggers. The toys. Yes, some of the toys are very well designed for their purpose, but they also do something else important. A toy is something you play with. BDSM is play. It can also be a lifestyle, of course. But fetish wear helps make it playful, even if it some of it seems very serious. Donning leather for an evening is a kind of ritual. It may help define the role one is about to play: Master or slave, Dominant or submissive. It can, obviously, signal to one's partner that one wants to play, or draw attention to what kind of play one would like -- why does that dress cover everything by my ass? I think it serves another important function as well. I've met some people very into punching, and I'm not going to say their kink is not okay. They make sure they do it right, know how hard to hit, what parts of the body are okay and which need to be treated gently. It can be done safely. But for *me*, it's not a turn-on, because it looks like abuse. Do the same amount of impact to the same places on the body, with a flogger, and it looks like play. It is also a nod to the foundations of BDSM -- Safe, Sane, and consensual -- in a way that a fist or even an open hand is not. Fetish wear, of course, can be wonderful for some very sexy self-expression as well. Authors don't get a great deal of input into their covers much of the time, but we get some, and the two covers I've included with this post use unconventional clothing to really tap into the characters involved. I don't think Betsy from Dom and Domme could rock the slutty school girl look Amanda wears on the cover of Brat and Master, or vice-versa, but I think both indicate that someone is going to be having a whole lot of fun.