In real life, we do tend to judge people by the clothes that they wear – maybe not in a bad way, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t do it. We assume that people in suits are businessmen (or on their way to/from a formal occasion), people in board shorts are on their way to/from the beach or the pool, that people in long capes and rubber fangs are celebrating Halloween, that women with designer handbags are rich or concerned about appearances.
But what about our characters in World of Warcraft? A lot of people mainly pick their clothing in World of Warcraft based on the stat bonuses and the armour, not because of how it looks. A lot of roleplayers will have multiple outfits for roleplay scenes – I don’t actually know the percentages, but it’s been my experience that a lot of people do it. Some people even go so far as to only wear certain kinds of clothing – my Undead Mage does this to some extent; I won’t dress her in vests or tunics, only robes, and I much prefer to have her wear a cowl or a hood to a hat or a headband. I feel like it suits her character.
So, essentially, what kind of clothing should we wear? Do people notice? What assumptions do people draw from the kinds of things we wear?
Well, let’s go with the basics – there are some items of clothing, clearly designed for vanity purposes, that we can draw fairly solid conclusions from (as, if you’re wearing this, it’s for the look of it, not just for the stat bonuses, and we know that). Items like the Lovely Purple Dress evoke a formal event, as well as a certain degree of… ahem, sensuality (and humour, depending on what race you are). The Blue Dinner Suit from the same event could look formal, but when matched with no shoes, frankly looks a little like pyjamas. If you can work this into your scene, more power to you!
The other obvious choice for vanity outfits is the Hallow’s End items – you can get Flimsy Masks and Hallowed Wands to evoke the idea of either a particularly good costume (in the case of the wands) or a particularly silly costume (in the case of the masks). Hey – why not? It could show you getting into the spirit of things, or going undercover as a pirate or a ninja, or all kinds of unusual things.
Moving beyond the application of simple vanity items, though, there are ways to evoke things about the character through wardrobe. Sure, not everyone is going to immediately understand – after all, a lot of people will still assume that you’re picking your items for the stat bonuses – but it goes some way towards helping, and if you pay attention to this kind of thing, you can avoid incongruency with your character, to some extent. For instance, if your character is generally described as being very modest and yet is often wearing very skimpy clothing, that won’t ring true to a lot of roleplayers.
So, how can you get character ideas across with wardrobes? As I’ve said, there are a lot of ways and, as always, you’re best off thinking up these things for yourself as you’re more intuned with your character concept than I am, but because Blogatelle will insist if I don’t, and because I like pretending my ideas are important, here’s a few ways you can do this.
That was a list with a lot of links, so I’m going to stop that now; I’m sure my point can be clearly seen, here.
Incidentally, a bunch of great ideas were proposed about Theme Week Humans, but I really wanted to get this post out. Thanks for your input – we’ll get to what we can!