A delightfully fun—yet informative—reported essay on female military garments. Patricia Marx’s breezy tone whips you through this piece and provides a few chuckles along the way.

Today, the Soldier Center’s labs are more Willy Wonka-ish than ever. There are two climate chambers—one designated Tropics, the other Arctic—which can re-create just about any environment on earth in order to test products and the responses of human beings. Want to have your vitals monitored while you cycle on a stationary bike with forty-m.p.h. winds gusting your way, at temperatures of up to a hundred and sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit? You can do it here. Copper mannequins equipped with more than a hundred sensors are used to test hopefully protective garments, to see how soldiers would weather flash-fire scenarios similar to those resulting from an I.E.D.