The fashion of Shadows of Isildur: Laketown are heavily influenced by the historical Dark Age and medieval eras and the many cultures that swirled within; from Viking to Celt, Spanish to Middle-Eastern and whispers of Mongol among others.
It is a modern sentiment in film, literature, and society that flesh is the moniker of wealth. That is not the case in medieval eras or in our Middle-Earth. Your attire and the way in which you wear it, is the telltale sign of your finances, your societal status, and your culture of birth or alignment.
The finery of your weave and cloth, the evenness or rarity of your dye and the skill in which your leathers have been tanned all bear testament to your status, or lack thereof. It is a definitively fair way of thinking to say that 'The clothing makes the man(or woman).'
The style differences between poor and rich are measured not only in purchase ability but also in location. The poor of rural villages, where raw goods are easily had at hand, would likely fair better than the poor of Laketown where those materials are only available from importation and therefore are of a more costly nature. It can also be said that the rich of rural villages are more likely to fair less in grand attire than those of Laketown or larger cities, for importation to a small village is much more difficult and far more costly. So it is fair to say that the fashion divide between the poor and rich of a rural area is more narrow while in cities would have levels. In the cities it is likely that the very poor are clad in long-worn items sometimes barely more than rags, or pawned scraps from their betters with a scale upwards to a middle-classes broadly stuffed with various ilks of merchants and guildsfolk with yet more levels to be had amongst the wealthy.
For Cultural Clothing Styles:
- Silvan Elves
Nettle, whether rough or fine, is a staple material. Derived from a commonly-foraged and grown plant also used as food and medicine, retted and rough-spun nettle is one of the most affordable of weaves in Middle-Earth. Despite its 'cheap' nature, when finely-spun and long-retted it can be more costly than the finest of linen because of its luxurious nature and because of the difficult in weaving such a prickly, painful to work with material.
As nettle grows wild, it is often produced at home or as a secondary source of income from many households and thus remains the common fabric for the poor, or any time a durable and cheap fabric is needed - like bushel bags for crops and grains. Retted nettles are also dried and split and woven into ropes or twine of various thicknesses.
Wool, like nettle, is an affordable and readily-had commodity, especially in the rural areas of Middle-Earth where sheep are kept for meat, milk, and indeed, wool or leather.
The sheep are sheared and their fleece used to be spun and woven into wool. Despite being thick, wool is suitable for most climes depending on how it is woven. Woven thick it provides great insulation and is a natural moisture-wick, keeping the skin dry in rainfall. The cheapest of weaves is generally coarse, scratchy and rough while the finer commonly called worsted is soft, downy or at times felted for comfort.
In Dorwinion and other warmer regions where grazing land is at a premium, some peoples are known to keep long-haired goats for similiar purposes. The finest of goat wool is known as mohair and is soft, luxurious, and with a natural iridescent sheen like silk.
Produced from wool by using water, soap, and friction this heavy, thick non-woven fabric. Easily worked into shapes and sewn, it is popular for accessories like slippers and hats, and more rarely full sized items like robes.
Wincey is a blend of wool with low quality linen, often done with the roughest and most coarse weaves of either, blending in what some weavers will say is a poor attempt to make a lesser evil out of two. The finished weave is barely tolerable against bare skin (though still better than low quality nettlecloth) but due to its durability, moderate warming factor and low-cost, it is a common sight amongst the poor whether village-bound or city.
Sometimes it is known that less scrupulous weavers swap nettle weft in place of the linen, producing an even shoddier and rougher fabric if that was somehow possible.
Linen is woven from flax, a plant like nettles that has further uses for food and handicrafts. The fineness of the plant fiber is notable in the finished good. No matter how poorly-woven the weave it maintains a certain softness to it and when woven very finely is remarked as being the poor man's silk. The flax is retted much like nettle before being woven. Basic linen can be affordable to the rich of rural areas and the middle-class of cities, often worn by wealthy merchants or guildsmen.
Linen has a visible weave and beautifully absorbs colors. Delicate it is quicker to dirty and wrinkle than wool, but is lighter during warmer months, and finer against the skin as a lining material or for underclothing.
Very finely woven linen, has a tendency to be fairly translucent and thus remains most frequently utilized for smallclothes, chemises, and other items worn underneath
Dowlas is type of double-woven linen fabric that is thick and sturdy. It is widely utilized for painting canvas, satchels and bags, tents and shop stalls, and for the outer layer of tough padded cloth armors.
Cotton also known as vegetable lamb, is like linen and flax a plant-based fabric woven from the fluffy bolls harvested from a cotton bush. The plant is only grown in the warmer climes of Middle Earth, and even then generally in lands overseen by people often at odds if not war with others.
As such, it is rarely seen outside of finished bolts leaving it's weaving a mystery to outsides, and is thus relatively expensive as a result. Cotton is well liked for its very soft nature, breathability and at times, its gauzy weave making it somewhat sheer and a far more affordable approach to sheer silks. Very tight weaves of cotton are highly desired by very wealthy artists, or very wealthy benefactors, for canvases.
A plain weave of cotton, muslin, is the less costly version of it. Sought for its delicate or tight weave, muslin is usually preferred for warm seasons or in very warm climes. Muslin can be quite common for shifts, chemises and tunics for those who can afford it.
For those who do not purchase it for clothing, the material is commonly known as "cheesecloth" and used in winemaking, cheesemaking, and to help filter beeswax. Absorbent and thin, it is a popular material for bandages, slings, and tourniquets.
Men are uncertain how the Wood Elves of Mirkwood produce this mysterious fabric, though it is known to involve products from the birch tree. Soft and thin in comparison to its durability, its natural color is a greyish-white hue called "swan white." Expensive compared to Man-made materials, it is valued for its use in bandages or as a component in cloth armor production.
Silk is a curious fiber produced by insects - in the Harad lands it is known to be produced by a breed of moth or butterfly and within the eaves of Mirkwood, it is said that the Wood Elves produce it from similiar raw stuffs gathered from the dangerous fell spiders that crawl within.
Smooth, soft, and shiny like mother of pearl, it is produced with fair expense or danger and is thus very costly even when produced so close at hand. It is exceptionally rare to see bolts of silk outside of cities, and even inside cities would be for the very wealthy or those of nobility.
Undyed silken thread sold in skeins is excellent utilized as wound-care, the thread making a clean binding for stitches that minimizes scarring.
First developed as a weaving technique by the Haradrim, this elaborate fabric is used for upholstery, drapery, and even clothing in the houses of the very wealthy. Production involves weaving complex and beautiful patterns into a finished fabric, generally of a geometric or floral design with multiple colors. Incredibly heavy, this fabric is difficult to work with or to wear for any period of time and thus, most people will encounter it as ribbons or strips decorating the hems of garments sewn in less expensive and more pliable fabrics.
Produced from a blend of cotton and silk, this rich, luxurious fabric is the stuff of kings and Stewards. It is soft, with a rich sheen that folds and flows beautifully. Utilized most commonly in robes and cloaks of artisans, bureaucrats, and nobility, it flows and hangs like liquid, and can be dyed any color imaginable. Painting and embroidery on the fabric shows off artistic skill on a particularly stunning canvas.
Rawhide is the hide or pelt of an animal not fully treated, or tanned, which has then been used for clothing or accessories. Rawhide is the cheapest of leather options and is known for being rough, stiff, and at times brittle. Due to the very low worth of rawhide it is exceptionally rare to see dye wasted on it.
The sourcing of leather depends wholly on the nature of the area. In rural areas it is common that leather is harvested from cattle and deer while near cities it would be smaller game, potentially deer and on occasion bear. Wolf and warg leather are not widely used in Rhovanion for superstitious reasons.
SUEDE AND BUCKSKIN
Softened with fish oil or bear grease, suede is the peak of the leather world. Most leather, if finely handled, can produce a suede feel but the very best of suede is chamois, lambskin, calfskin and the very rare and ridiculously costly sealskin. Buckskin is a suede-like product produced from deer or cattle hides that is smoked to soften and preserve it.
Fur, like rawhide and leather, is dependent on the fauna around a village or city, or that which is imported in. Commonly, fur is used as an accessory on clothing though in winter, or cold climes, can be used as clothing itself.
Dyes are commonly derived from locally-sourced ingredients though some require goods imported from outside sources. Some dyes are seasonal due to their ingredients used while others can be available through the year, which makes the latter far more affordable to use.
Common colors locally produced in Rhovanion:
RED - True-red, red-purple, red-pink, red-brown, pale-red, dark-red, dark-pink.
ORANGE - Orange, orange-red.
YELLOW - Yellow, pale-yellow, dark-yellow, yellow-green.
GREEN - True-green, pale-green, dark-green, grey-green.
BLUE - Pale-blue.
PURPLE - Purple-black, lavender.
BROWN - Brown, pale-brown, deep-brown, peach-brown, brown-black, cinnamon, wheat.
SHADES - Grey, grey-black, black, creamy-white, off-white.
CLOTHING STYLES - Rhovanion
Rhovanion sense of decorum dictates that fashion for women is wrist and ankle length, though often during the course of a working day skirts are tucked and sleeves are pushed out of the way. To have sleeves or hemlines that don't allow for such is to display that one indeed, does not manually labor. To have more layers, finer fabrics, and richer colors are all displays of status and wealth. Tradition dictates against females wearing pants or trousers rather than skirts, but creeping introduction of Dorwinion-based style and the increased involvement in women in the military following the fall of Dale slowly grates against that long-standing precedent.
SHIFT - Smallclothes for women, never worn publically without something worn over it. Typically worn like a 'slip' under other dresses or blouse and skirt combinations. Generally not socially acceptable under a bodice without further dress.
CHEMISE - A versatile garment, a chemise can be worn as an alternative to a blouse when worn underneath a bodice or an overskirt, while providing a further layer. Sometimes the term shift and chemise are used interchangeably when referring to a woman's base clothing layer. To wear simply a chemise and bodice as a "dress" without another skirt is show one is truly poverty stricken.
SKIRT - Worn on the hips, ankle-length and commonly cut to flow about the figure. More billowy styles require more fabric and are thus more costly.
BLOUSE - Long-sleeved, blouses are worn on the chest and typically range from billowy to fitted and are long to the hips.
BODICE - Bodices come in a variety of shapes and styles, worn on the chest. Always worn over a chemise or blouse. While a more daring woman might wear something sized a tad too small, styles are typically modest with necklines and cuts that allow for ease of manual work.
Because bodices do not require the flow or yardage of a blouse or skirt, they are often the choice to display finer fabrics and colors if one's entire ensemble cannot afford it.
OVERDRESS - Overdresses come in a variety of styles and shapes, worn over a shift, chemise or blouse and skirt combination. Overdresses commonly come in sleeveless and bodice-fitted styles which use ribbon, ties, or lacing closures.
APRON-STYLE DRESSES - Similar to other overdresses, this apron-style dress is a long, often times shapeless dress worn overtop of chemises or skirt and blouse combos. The apron-style dress is often pinned into place with brooches.
SLEEVES - Sleeves are worn with cotehardie overdresses or bodices, closed and secured with buttons, ribbons, ties, or laces, and are a telltale sign of one's finances and station for what better way to show such other than waving around trailing sleeve-cuffs.
Rhovanion decorum dictates that a man, should at minimum wear some form of trousers and a tunic. Wearing one's smallclothes in public is a sign one is destitute, savage, drunk, or insane.
SMALLCLOTHES - Smallclothes also known as braies are a loincloth style primary garment for men.
LEGGINGS - Leggings are typically fitted and worn on the legs, ideal for showing off the curve of a man's calf.
TROUSERS - Trousers, worn on the legs, can be quite relaxed and range from such to very form-fitting similar to leggings.
TUNIC - Tunics are worn on the chest and can be long-sleeved or short-sleeved. Tunics are a staple of men's fashion and typically have hems somewhere between the upper thigh and knee.
VEST - Vests are typically worn on the chest and overtop of a tunic. Vests are secured or unsecured with buttons and can have hems from waist to the knee depending on the style. Like women's bodices, vests are a piece often chosen to display richer fabrics and colors when one needs to choose.
JERKIN - Jerkins, like vests, are worn on the chest and closed with buttons. Jerkins are worn overtop of a tunic. Jerkins are a rarity in Rhovanion, a costly import from Gondor where cotehardie is the normal style.
ACCESSORIES - Generally Unisex
CLOAK - Cloaks are typically worn about the shoulders and can be from knee to ankle-length and either hooded or without a hood.
ROBE - Robes are often worn as outerwear similar to cloaks though come sleeved and are hooded. They can either come with waist ties or be kept closed with a sash.
KNITS - Knits range from shawls and hats to socks, scarves and mittens or gloves. Knits are a staple of winter wardrobes and can be woven from most cloth type and therefore offer options to the poor and rich alike.
SASH - Sashes are worn about the waist similarly to belts.
BELT - Belts are worn about the waist to keep one's pants or skirt up.
BOOTS - Boots are fashioned from leather and worn with an ankle cuff up to a mid-thigh cuff. Boots are typically closed with lacing.
SHOES - Shoes are fashioned from leather and worn about the foot and rarely have a cuff higher than the ankle. They can be closed with lacing, buckles, or buttons.
BABIES AND CHILDREN
SMALLCLOTHES - Worn similarly to loincloths, smallclothes are what modern times would call a 'diaper'.
LEGGINGS - Leggings for children are typically knitted for the give in the weave which also help to keep them warm in winter months.
TUNICS - Tunics are long-sleeved and knee-length, seeming somewhere between a tunic and a chemise which gives them a wholly unisex appeal.