How to dress an Elf?

From Lorien to the Undying Lands...

Moderators: caedmon, Greg

User avatar
Udwin
Vendor
Posts: 663
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:00 pm
Location: banks of the great River, Kaintuckiana
Contact:

How to dress an Elf?

Postby Udwin » Fri Sep 18, 2020 2:43 am

My partner has recently expressed an interest in getting into the woods in a Middle-earthy fashion. and she has been talking about creating an Elf outfit. Despite my rigorous combing of Tolkien's works, I cannot find any details or descriptions of actual elvish garments besides colors (gray, white, green, & brown might be all), Legolas' light shoes, and fur-cloaks in Lorien. As I'm sitting on a big pile of nice linen waiting to be made into something nice, I thought it would be fun if we could discuss some possible directions to go in. If nothing else, I would love to hear everyone's ideas of what a practical Elf kit might look like.
Such kit would probably be used just for dayhike treks at first, so probably nothing too flowing/drag-on-the-ground-y...but she wouldn't mind looking like a princess all the same ; )
Personae: Aistan son of Ansteig, common Beorning of Wilderland; Tungo Boffin, Eastfarthing Bounder, 3018 TA
User avatar
Iodo
Haeropada
Posts: 1122
Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:58 pm
Location: North west england UK

Re: How to dress an Elf?

Postby Iodo » Fri Sep 18, 2020 5:58 am

I guess if there's no description it's up to your own interpretation, If it's any help, a few years ago I made this: viewtopic.php?f=25&t=3977&p=42685&hilit I never really wore it because a few people - including me - thought it look a little elvish, maybe something similar to this in green or gray and with a bit more shape to it would work? other than that, there are some ideas here: viewtopic.php?f=38&t=4320
Gimli: It's true you don't see many Dwarf-women. And in fact, they are so alike in voice and appearance, that they are often mistaken for Dwarf-men.
Aragorn: It's the beards.
User avatar
Eofor
Silent Watcher over the Peaceful Lands
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2020 11:40 am

Re: How to dress an Elf?

Postby Eofor » Sun Sep 20, 2020 2:15 am

I have been giving this one some thought and the only garment that is consistent is the hooded cloak. Glorfindel wears one as do the Galadhrim and they furnish the fellowship with similar garments so there's one thing.

While it depicts male clothing there is Tolkien's own illustration of Beleg finding Gwindor. Gwindor is a bit hard to see but Beleg seems to be wearing a shirt, cut off trousers and pointy red shoes? A great look but perhaps not one your partner would embrace.

Image

So we move into the field of educated guesswork and so here are a few things I thought of to throw in the mix;

- Elvish ladies seem to be comfortable riding horses over large distances, Aredhel rides from Gondolin to Himlad , Galadriel rides from Lorien to the wedding of Elessar and Arwen and back again. Given that the Elvish fashion is to ride bareback it seems reasonable to conclude that this wasn't done side saddle and so some sort of travel clothing was donned.

-This one is pretty obvious but at Elrond's feast even Aragorn gets into some fine clothes so it's likely that formal and travel garb was not the same.

- From the description of accessories (Elronds silver circlet, Arwens gem studded cap, Glorfindels silver studded flask) they seem to be highly decorated.

There are a few other things that I thought of but they all lead in the same direction which is practical clothing made of a finer weave, cut and decoration than that of other races.

I know it's the horrible hobbit movie so I hesitate to post it but garment wise I think that some of the concept art for Tauriel's outer garments ticks those boxes - Practical, Non restrictive, Feminine and tastefully decorated. For me If you took that outer garment and grounded it with a pair of fine linen trousers and under tunic ,high boots, hooded cloak and added the right accessories it would look quite fine and clearly Elvish.

Image
For seven days without eating or sleeping the new king sat, until he stood and cried "This cannot be borne!"!
User avatar
caedmon
Balku'npâ
Posts: 795
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2008 4:30 am
Location: Palmer Alaska

Re: How to dress an Elf?

Postby caedmon » Tue Sep 22, 2020 7:00 pm

Ok, my take on the elves. They are biologically humans. The difference is that they have a different and special grace conferred upon them.

In trade for an immortal soul unconfined by the rings of the World, they have a fea and (sometimes) a hroa that will last until the end of Arda, and everything they do is just better.

It's like those really annoying people you know who are pretty, and fit, and good at everything. And you want to hate them, but when you actually talk to them, they are just genuinely nice warm and likable people? That's elves. (Except they have no soul, and sometimes they know they're better than you, and that stings.)

So what does that have to do with clothing? Their stuff is not more elaborate that what humans make, it's not from materials we can't get. It's just that when they do it, it's better. Figure out your target cultural inspiration, and make it the best you can. Also, what should your target culture be? Well, for any Beleriand elves, or their decendant cultures (Grey Havens, Lothlorien, Rivendell, Eregion) go with whatever you think the Numenoreans did a their height, and make it nicer and more elegant.

For Avari (Mirkwood), go 11th century England but more elegant. Don't do sewn leaves.
-Jack Horner

----------------------------
Impression: Boater Wesman ( Balku'npâ Adúnerama ) bronze founder living in Archet, Breelander of mixed dúnedain descent. c. 3017
User avatar
Iodo
Haeropada
Posts: 1122
Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:58 pm
Location: North west england UK

Re: How to dress an Elf?

Postby Iodo » Tue Sep 22, 2020 7:41 pm

caedmon wrote:It's like those really annoying people you know who are pretty, and fit, and good at everything. And you want to hate them, but when you actually talk to them, they are just genuinely nice warm and likable people? That's elves. (Except they have no soul, and sometimes they know they're better than you, and that stings.)

That sounds exactly like what us dwarves think of elves :lol:
Gimli: It's true you don't see many Dwarf-women. And in fact, they are so alike in voice and appearance, that they are often mistaken for Dwarf-men.
Aragorn: It's the beards.
User avatar
Darnokthemage
Silent Watcher over the Peaceful Lands
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:02 pm

Re: How to dress an Elf?

Postby Darnokthemage » Tue Sep 22, 2020 7:45 pm

Really depends on what type of Elf, is it from Mirkwood, Lothlorien, Lindon or Rivendell? I really think one should look at a mix of ancient and early medieval clothes if one wants to do the Elves justice. One should also look at the natural world, and at the animals around us. Image

This piece from Turner mohan really settles into that "Elven" timelessness, with influences form Tudor, egyptian and medieval clothing, while still not being distinctly any of them. I think the further we go along the third age, the clothes of the Elves would "Northify", meaning that they would start using tunics, cloaks and clothes resembling more what the human population would wear.
Artist, larper and history lover.
Cimrandir
Silent Watcher over the Peaceful Lands
Posts: 242
Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 2:44 am

Re: How to dress an Elf?

Postby Cimrandir » Wed Sep 23, 2020 4:24 am

I generally like Turner's work but man, that's some overly decorated clothing there. I guess if you're an ageless fae and you don't want a simple tunic, you have the time to make all that.
User avatar
Darnokthemage
Silent Watcher over the Peaceful Lands
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:02 pm

Re: How to dress an Elf?

Postby Darnokthemage » Wed Sep 23, 2020 8:23 am

I think Second and First age Elves would have more "fae" clothes, while the third age elves would wear more "Beowulfian" clothes.
Artist, larper and history lover.
User avatar
Manveruon
Thangailhir
Posts: 2148
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:11 am
Location: Littleton, CO
Contact:

Re: How to dress an Elf?

Postby Manveruon » Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:48 am

Figured I’d throw in this discussion from a while back, too, which Darnokthemage started:

http://www.middleearthrangers.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=38&t=4320&start=30
User avatar
Manveruon
Thangailhir
Posts: 2148
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:11 am
Location: Littleton, CO
Contact:

Re: How to dress an Elf?

Postby Manveruon » Sun Sep 27, 2020 3:02 am

All other specific reference to primary sources from Tolkien’s writings aside, I have always felt that it makes sense for the elves to wear a really streamlined mixture of functional and decorative clothing - and wherever possible, to combine form and function so that the form IS the function, if that makes sense.

I also see them using a lot of natural organic shapes as inspiration for their clothing and architecture, so to me, the “Art-Nouveau-by-way-of-Norse/Celtic-design” that Weta Workshops seemed to be so fond of throughout the New Line franchise feels... well... just about right on the money! To me at least.

Particularly for the elves of Rivendell, Who dress elegantly, in long flowing tunics and robes that have the feel of both Medieval Europe, and sometimes also feudal Japan, with a very... um... swoopy? Quality? Lots of long skirting, fitted sleeves, etc. The clothing is practical (for people living in the Last Homely House, anyway), and not overly complex, but finely decorated nonetheless (not gaudy, just very very fine). Vinework, scrollwork, pointed sleeves, etc. are all omnipresent, as are lots of meticulous small buttons, piped standing collars, and so forth.

Then you’ve got the silvan elves, who are even MORE naturalistic in their design, and to me, once again, it’s a merging of form and function. In my head that means fewer silks, more linens and wools - but still more fitting than would be seen in mannish garments, and lots of leaf-shaped sleeves and skirts. Lothlorien being a bit more high-class might take slightly more to the styles of the other high elves, particularly in Caras Galadhon, but the elves of Mirkwood, being of a somewhat less noble variety might have had a more “mannish” look to their garments. Or then again, they may also have been a little more feral and naturalistic, taking even MORE cues from nature, until some of their clothing had, perhaps, almost the look of being grown more than sewn.

Personally, I also quite like the overall look of Legolas from the LotR movies, in that he’s really wearing a surprisingly simple outfit. He’s got Soft shoes with gaiters that function basically as boots, then simple hose/leggings, a silken tunic (I’d have probably chosen linen or wool for traveling, but he IS a prince, after all), some bracers of the same supple leather as his “boots” (of which really only one was probably needed for archery, but a pair is fashionable after all :lol: ), and finally a tunic of durable suede leather, with leaf-shaped seams and hems, as well as some very tasteful embellishment in the form of Subtle silver vinework traced across the chest.
Overall, it was rugged and practical in its way, but also elegant in cut and finely embellished - in a word, elven!
User avatar
Darnokthemage
Silent Watcher over the Peaceful Lands
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:02 pm

Re: How to dress an Elf?

Postby Darnokthemage » Tue Sep 29, 2020 8:51 pm

I disagree, no buttons and piped standing collars is probably the way i'd go! It feels very much too "high medieval, and takes away from the "timelessness" of the elves.
Artist, larper and history lover.

Return to “Elvish Culture”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest