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"If you show up at the Countess' ball in those rags, you'll never live down the scandal."
—Adelberd von Tinzberg, Nuln Noble[1a]
Clothing and Fashion

The Old World has a wide range of fashions, from the everchanging attires of the aristocracy to the stinking sackcloth robes of the flagellants. You can't wear armour forever; at some point you'll take it off. And when you do, what're you going to wear?[1a]

Style

Listed here, the following is arranged and organised in order of style. Style changes a great deal depending on where you are and with whom you associate. The Kislevites, for example, favour animal skins in their attire, meaning many have long wolf or bearskin cloaks. In Estalia, famed fencers are far less likely to bundle themselves up in Kislevite apparel, preferring instead loose and billowing shirts, tight trousers, and fashionable shoes. Their cloaks are in fact short capes, and nearly all men sport a dashing hat. Likewise, in Tilea, whose fashions tend to run closely to Estalia's (though no Estalian worth his salt would admit this), people wear longer cloaks because fencers incorporate them into their fighting styles, using the material to distract their foes and catch their blades.[1a]

The Empire, however, is different from the lands on its border. It is a large state comprising smaller principalities, as if several nations were united under one banner. Consequently, styles and fashion vary more throughout these lands than they do elsewhere. Generally speaking, clothes herald the social status of a person, so a well dressed adventurer is bound to be better received than a rag clad guttersnipe. The Empire is made up of three regional groups: Westerners, Northerners, and East Enders.[1a]

Westerners

The west consists of all the provinces west of the Reik and Aver, including Reikland, Averland, and Wissenland. These Westerners believe themselves to be the most advanced and modern of all their kinsmen. Having wealth, culture, and far more amenities than the crude Northerners and Easterners, Westerners benefit from well-equipped armies and a finger in most of the national politics. Many people, from wealthy citizens to peasants can afford clothing cut of decent cloth, as well as expensive dyes and patterns. Men typically shave, at most wearing large moustaches and sideburns. Women, on the other hand, are at the forefront of the Empire's fashion trends, setting the standard for the courts throughout the Old World. Their tastes are fickle, changing hems, necklines, colours, and accessories each year. Currently, though its changing even now, low-cut long dresses in bright colours along with colourful plumed hats are the current rage. As ever, the practice of slashing garments to reveal bright, sumptuous fabric beneath is still practices.[1a][1b]

Northerners

The Northerners come from the second region of the Empire, consisting of Nordland, Middenland, Ostland, and Hochland; they greatly distrust merchants, bureaucrats, and nobles. They see the Westerners as decadent and womanly. Instead of the pampered clothes of Westerners, Northerners tend towards animal skins. They disdain the face powder, silk, soft materials, and strange pretensions of the West. Northerners have ragged appearances, as they often wear their hair long and sport full beards that are sometimes braided like a Dwarf's. Women are encouraged to avoid the decadent clothing of the west, and most shy away from revealing clothes for conservative modest garb. This is not to say that the Northerners have little use for colour. it is quite the contrary, actually. Northerners embrace some of the most garish colour combinations of all the Empire in their cloaks, shirts, and plumes, seeing such unusual combinations as a point of pride. Amongst the nobles, the quality and type of fur worn is seen as an important social marker.[1b]

East Enders

The East Enders make up the final group, originating from the Ostland, Stirland, and Talabecland provinces. They are the exact opposite of the Westerners. Where the West is wealthy, advanced, and political, the east is noted for poverty, its sullen populace, and an isolationist attitude. Here, life is hard. Lacking the funds for elaborate styles of dress or even full suits of armour, Easterners wear drab apparel with a colourful sash, fur-trimmed hats in Kislev style, and heavy wool cloaks. Most men wear drooping moustaches and goatee beards. For women, hair length varies with the season, shorter in the summer months, longer in the winter months. Beyond the borders of the Empire, fashions, as described, run the gamut. The Estalian Kingdoms and Tilea mimic Western fashion trends. Araby merchants, on the other hand, wear long robes of dark cloth, elaborate turbans, and incorporate jewellery when they can. In Bretonnia, doublets are the rage, dyed in the colours of their particular house. Noble ladies wear long gowns in imitation of the images of the Lady of the Lake. Apparel is simple. Commoners wear heavy homespun tunics and breeches, over which they wear leather jacks. The upper class favours expensive clothing, though much of it replicates the attire worn by the lower classes, but of better materials.[1b]

Non-Humans

Halflings prefer the modest dress of the East Enders, wearing breeches, tunics, and vests, unconcerned by the Human fickleness towards personal style. Elves, however, wear bright and colourful clothing, sometimes pushing the limits of what even the Westerners deem acceptable. Incorporating expensive Cathay silks with other fibres, their apparel is as comfortable as it is beautiful. Through simplicity of pattern, Elves achieve a beauty that tailors throughout the Empire can only dream of creating. On the other hand, Dwarfs are predictably utilitarian in regards to ordinary clothing, and leather, wool, and iron are the typical materials.[1b]

Dwarfs

Dwarfs are a practical people and tend to wear hard-worn clothes of coarse wool or tough leather. They disdain unnecessary pomp and splendour, and avoid bright colours in favour of earthy hues. The edges of their garments might be subtly trimmed with gold thread and their leatherware, weapons, armour, and even tools are often patterned with complex designs, such as interlocking zig-zags, squares, or circles. Their favourite types of imagery are heavily stylised, scowling faces representing their ancestors or roaring dragons symbolic of strength and ferocity.[2a]

Dwarfs reserve their vanity for their beards, of which they are justly proud. Even the lowliest dwarf finds time each day to carefully comb his whiskers. The length of the beard denotes age, experience, and rank, and the older the dwarf, the more attention he lavishes upon it – wrapping it into plaits and decorating it with golden togs, often beautifully decorated with gems. The most heinous insult a dwarf can endure is the shaving of his beard – such an act precipitated the War of Vengeance against the elves.[2a]

If a dwarf is wealthy, he can spare more gold from his hoard to decorate himself than could a dwarf of lesser stature. Dwarf ostentation is thus a necessary display of social standing rather than a mark of vanity. Wealthy dwarfs are laden with golden arm-torcs, heavy bracelets, and neck rings. Ear, nose, and finger rings are also popular. Tattoos are another indication of status – thanes are often inked neck downwards with intricate designs, and most other dwarfs sport a tattoo or two to commemorate a notable achievement.[2a]

Colours

Colour of clothing is not so much a statement of fashion as it is a statement of wealth. Certain dyes, such as purple, can only be extracted from a rare mollusc that exists in a small region west of Tilea, hence it is prohibitively expensive and the colour of royalty. Conversely, red is cheap as it can be taken from rust and mixed to lend a little colour to clothing. What follows is an overview of the major colours used in the Empire.[1c]

  • Black - The Norscan warriors and minions of Chaos tend to wear clothing of this colour, but in recent years, black has come to symbolize tragedy and mourning. It is also the colour of scholars and much of the elderly throughout the Old World.[1c]
  • Blue - Light blue is common, and nearly everyone wears clothing dyed this colour. Extracted from copper, it is available in most places. Darker tones are more expensive, and high-ranking nobles favour it.[1c]
  • Crimson - This bright red is extracted from certain molluscs, restricting it to the wealthy. A few ranking Priests of Sigmar wear vestments in this colour.[1c]
  • Gold/Silver Cloth - This material features threads of gold or silver woven into the material. Expensive, only nobility or royalty wear clothing of this material. Emperor Karl-Franz prefers gold cloth.[1c]
  • Green - Green is a very common colour and worn by all levels of society.[1c]
  • Purple - As mentioned, purple is the colour of royalty and nobility. A single ounce of this dye is worth enough gold to feed a peasant family for more than a year.[1c]
  • Red - This is a common colour worn by many people of every level of society.[1c]
  • Red-Browns - Another common dye, it s use is widespread, mostly in homespun materials.[1c]
  • Slate - This is a common grey-blue dye used by everyone.[1c]
  • Tawny - This colour is quite popular throughout the Old World, and nearly everyone has at least one article of clothing in this brown-yellow colour.[1c]
  • Watchet - A vibrant blue is the colour of the year in the West, and its low price allows even the lowliest commoners to have at least one watchet article of clothing.[1c]
  • White - A familiar sight in most communities, white cloth is generally available to most; however, little stays white for long. Priests and nobles often wear white clothing.[1c]
  • Yellow - Another widely used dye, yellow is drawn from sulpher and is worn by young women everywhere.[1c]

Source

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Old World Armoury
    • 1a: pg. 51
    • 1b: pg. 52
    • 1c: pg. 55
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 3rd ED -- Book of Grudges
    • 2a: pg. 13