Welcome to Part 12 of my World Building blog series 😀 I’ll be covering just about every topic I can think of that goes into world crafting. If you have any topics you’d like me to write about, please let me know 🙂
At this point you’ll have figured out the geography and weather of your world, which means you can figure out you’re going to dress your characters. You’ll want to know if your clothing is going to focus more on form/function or on aesthetic, or a combination. You’ll also want to know how clothing changes between locations and income levels. Not everything that you figure out has to make it’s way into the story, but you need to at least mention clothing once in awhile so your characters aren’t wandering around naked in the void.
Clothing is diverse and serves a lot of purposes. You’ll want to have at least some idea of the clothing that’s going to be used for work, casual, formal, ceremonial, travel, etc. A good start for this is to research places that reflect the time period and/or location that you’re using as a basis for your world. If you’re not basing your world of anything currently existing, then just check out some locations that have similar climates to give you an idea of what’s practical for the area.
Obviously in fantasy you can dress your characters however you want, but you still have to be considerate of your world. If you’re putting wool cloaks on people in the tropics, you’re going to have some raised eyebrows. It’s much easier to dress your characters when you know what you’re going to put them through. For example, if they’re going on a journey of some kind you’re probably going to want to get them into the sturdiest clothing they can afford.
What fabrics are available? What dyes are available and do the colors have any specific meaning? How does the quality vary based on expense? Do people make their own clothing, have someone make it custom or buy clothing that is pre-made? Are any types of clothing/fabrics/colors forbidden? Does that apply to everyone or just specific groups? A good example of these restrictions of the color purple being reserved for royalty. In regards to production, you don’t have to have anything complex in terms of knowing industrial processes and whatnot, but if you’re naming a fabric, you should be aware if it’s possible for it to come from the climate you’ve chosen. If not, be aware of where it might be coming from.
Ceremonial clothing is my personal favorite because it’s going to be elaborate. You get to include fabrics and designs that no one would normally wear and you’re also probably going to include some jewelry. Here is where you can include everything you want that would be entirely impractical for your characters to wear on a regular basis. Want them head to toe in crystals? Do that. Want them wearing fabrics so brightly colored their sear your eyeballs? Do that. This is the place to get creative and have fun.