Estea: The Shadows Lengthen
The primary article of clothing for a dwarf is typically a simple open-front tunic, with large, roomy sleeves that may be worn long or rolled up. This tunic is often made of a light, airy material, such as cotton, linen, or earthsilk, and can be worn either open or closed with fasteners of bone, wood, or metal. Both male and female dwarves wear these tunics, along with a pair of simple breeches or a short, wide- pleated kilt.
Over the tunic, a dwarf often wears a second layer, consisting of a loosely worn vest or jacket. This garment might be constructed out of whole cloth or thread-knotted in a spiral pattern to create a whole garment that looks somewhat like chainmail. Breeches are typically held up by laces or by a belt worn over the loose tunic. Males wear tunics with high necklines and belts at least 4 inches wide. Females often wear low-cut tunics, allowing them to show a bit of cleavage, and they too prefer wide belts, often tailored to show off both waist and hip and fastened in front with laces or multiple small buckles.
While dwarves don’t favor bright colors or fripperies on their garments, they do use touches of color, weaves, and metal to decorate their clothes. Dyed leather ties in primary colors are a common touch, used to stitch together breeches or cloaks (for wear above ground). Woven trims are also used along the tops and fronts of garments, made on small hand-looms with geometric patterns of looping or knotting lines, stripes, or even stylized Dwarven script.
Cloth with woven patterns is even more common, featuring differing thread widths and textures to create mono- tone garments of great tactile interest. Geometric patterns are often seen, especially knotwork or repeating patterns of stitches. These patterns often run in clans, making it possible to tell where an individual is from (or to whom he is related) by the nature of his clothes.
The third commonly used accessory is metal—belt ends, buckles, tie dags, collars, brooches, and beading. If metal bits can be forged, decorated, and attached, a dwarf somewhere likely sports an example of it. Still, these are intended as accent pieces, not as one’s primary mode of self-expression. If a dwarf can be heard clanking his way down a passage when not wearing armor, he is likely to become an object of quiet ridicule.
While dwarven clothing options might seem staid and homogeneous when compared to those of the elves or humans, it is only because clothing has little value in their culture. Instead, the dwarves prize their hair, whether it is on their scalps (for both genders) or on their faces (for males). The dwarven love of textures and patterns is applied to hairstyles as much as anything else, with intricate braids worn by both males and females. A regular three-part braid might be sufficient for daily life, but an important occasion might see particularly old or revered dwarves sporting up to a twenty-part braid, or multiple smaller ones braided together. Metal fasteners or ornaments are common additions to both hair and beard braids, but again, these are preferred as accenting touches, and most dwarves wear no more than two or three on a particularly festive occasion.
While many picture dwarves as dusty, dirty smiths and miners, the truth is quite the opposite. The dwarves’ familiarity with their underground habitats lets them fi nd and harness underground hot springs, pools, and rivers, segregated by gender into separate areas, and attendance is considered an important social function. As a result, dwarves are typically far cleaner and better groomed than most surface races.