Posted by: Jess Riley | October 27, 2008

How Do Your Clothes Reflect On You?

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.

  • Modest characters will probably not wear Lofty Breastplates or other similar items, if they can avoid it. Similarly, you probably won’t see a really modest character in the Lovely Purple Dress or similar. Of course, it depends on how it fits depending on race, but keep in mind how it looks on before making a decision. Some of these items are awfully scanty!
  • Similarly, feminine or some kinds of modest characters will prefer to wear a robe to a tunic/vest and pants combo. My Undead Mage for instance, as mentioned above, doesn’t want to show her rotting knees, so makes a point of wearing robes that cover her whole body instead.
  • Headgear can be used to great effect. A noble character, or someone who believes they are very noble, may opt to wear a Tiara of the Oracle or a Sorcerer’s Crown over a Preceptor’s Hat. A devoted warrior may prefer a helmet of some design, while an engineer may prefer their goggles.

    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!


  • Responses

    1. Well, as Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man” and unfortunately in WoW, the rest of that saying doesn’t hold true exactly in the sense, that those damn naked dancers sure can have influence on detracting us from RP’ing as well as other things to say the least lol.

      As for the topic, I think what you wear is almost as important in how you act when trying to pull off your character. Because if your a gnome who just loves engineering, to not sport goggles would almost be a crime as a character who loves fishing, yet doesn’t wear any fishing attire in any regard when fishing, especially when it will increase their fishing skill.

      To cite another saying, “dress for success” which implies that how you dress determines just how successful you are in things. And when it comes to RP’ing, such is true really because you will be a lot more successful in expressing your character and as well as their believability, when their clothes fits who they are.

      So the point is, what you wear is just another excellent way of expressing who your characters are and that you yourself are a RP’er to some extent, and as a result serves as another way to attract fellow RP’ers to you. Hell, in some ways, dressing up all nice could be considering RP’ing itself, because you are playing dress up after all.

      And in addition to this entry, I like to add over at That Damn Role Player, the blogger has gone into clothing a bit for WoW with two great entries on putting some nice outfits together. (Links below)

    2. My outfit (clothes) AND appearance are very important to me. If a game doesnt provide many options to change appearance, it could actualy kill the game for. If i play a toon for years i need to “like” the toon…and this means also how it looks and dresses.


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