Lore:Lady Eloisse Answers Your Questions

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Lady Eloisse Answers Your Questions
A Breton countess answers questions on lore

"Greetings Lady Eloisse,
A lady's beautiful, sweeping gown in particular has always caught my eye. I have a number of these, myself, but I have a slight dilemma. There is a ball coming up that I must attend, and I want to dress accordingly, but I simply do not know which out of my array of gorgeous gowns I should wear. I want to go for a princess-like look, so the bigger and flouncier the skirt, the better! Could you perhaps suggest a type of dress I could go for?
Also, are there any particular traits found in each race's noble dress? For example, Bretons are known for a more conservative look, while the High Elves often use ornamentation in their designs.
Yours sincerely, Alena-Draco, Chief Paladin and Matriarch of House Draco"
Lady Eloisse says, "Layers are the way to go, Alena—petticoats and underskirts will provide that blooming and burgeoning 'flouncing' ballroom look. And I think you'll find exactly that in some of this season's higher-end designs from House Manteau, as shown in the sketch below. In High Rock this year we're all about layers, layers frilled, crumpled, and ruched, layers tiered, ruffled, and stiffened. Add a petticoat, then add one more, and I'll wager you'll love the result.
"As you say, every culture has its own look, but at House Manteau we don't like to be too dogmatic about 'staying Breton.' We take a little something from here, another little something from there, try them out together, and are often surprised by unexpectedly well such mixing and matching can work. Wood Elf antlers atop Dunmeri shoulder pads? Why not?"
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"Beautiful Lady Eloisse,
In my travels to Morrowind I encountered a trader, Sadril Radveso, who offered me many wondrous and beautiful wares - carpets, rugs, fabrics, and clothes. Some of them were even silks. It seemed very exotic and exquisite, and I asked him where he got it. He told me that he got it from another trader in the Foreign Quarter of Vivec city, who, in turn, receives such wares from various Ashlander craftsmer. Fascinated, I bought a small decorated rucksack for about 50 drakes and a bottle of Cyrodilic brandy. In fact, my colleagues are jealous of it, 'cause it looks worth [sic] even for a noble!
So, what I want to ask you - what they [sic] make such goods from? Some Vvardenfellic species of [sic] moth, or maybe a silk spider? I will be very grateful for your answer, my Lady.
Your obedient servant,
Scintius Aravellus Abarbus the Framer, St. Alessia's Apothecary"
Lady Eloisse says, "That was a lucky find! Silk comes from an abundance of sources across Tamriel, but few varieties can compare with the spidersilk of Morrowind. Not many outside the clothing trade know that it comes in several grades, known to the Dark Elf tailors as 'shimmer,' 'Azura's-breath,' and 'contraspun.' Shimmer, the most common, is the fine rippling fabric you see on the skirts modeled below. Azura's-breath is even lighter, so fine it is often translucent, but it's no less strong and durable than shimmer. Furthermore, it's particularly receptive to enchantment, and is often employed as the magicka-bearing fabric in spellwear. Contraspun, on the other hand, is so dense and impervious it's said it can turn a knife blade—and yet it retains silk's signature soft ductility. A contraspun garment provides a measure of protection without compromising on appearance!"
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"Greetings, mortal,
Recently I have noticed many mortals roaming about my home plane of Coldharbour in strange attire resembling ornate cloth robes that seem to offer little to no protection in combat. This strange state of dress is not just limited to spellcasters, however, [sic] have observed all castes of mortals charge into battle wearing them. The few Soul Shriven I have interrogated about this odd trend have told me that these robes are in fact called "gowns" and that they are primarily worn by mortal "nobles". However not one of them could in fact answer why mortal warriors would voluntarily engage in combat wearing such ill-suited armor! So my questions are threefold!
One: Why would any mortal wear these "gowns" into combat?
Two: What possible advantages could they offer over proper cloth armor, like a robe?
Three: Where would one find a "gown" of proper style and size to suit a Kynaz of my station?
Respond swiftly mortal! My time is not limited, but my patience is!
- Diraxion, Kynreeve of Clan Deathbringer"
Lady Eloisse says, "Surely a Daedra should know not to be deceived by appearances! There's no reason why practical combat gear cannot be ornamental and pleasing to the eye—even delicate and pretty! Really, the way you Dremora put spikes and flanges on everything, I wonder sometimes how you can even don such garb without doing yourself an injury. Does everything have to look so, what was that Undaunted term, so 'bad-ass' all the time? Think light! Think flowing! Think colorful!
"And in the name of Dibella, don't assume that just because a warrior wears something that looks like a wedding gown that such a combatant isn't fully protected! Beneath that crinoline there are probably layers of tough material hardened enough to deflect an arrow. Not to mention the possibility of magical augmentation!
"Kynreeve, take a glance at the fashions modeled below, confections designed by some of our new friends in Orsinium. Now imagine yourself in one of these splendid robes, perhaps covering a suit of mail. Wouldn't it just make the other Dremora pale with jealousy? Not to mention the cheer it would bring to your otherwise dreary realm of Coldharbour. Think about it!"
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"Greetings, Lady Eloisse!
I, um, wish to erect the spine of apology for accidentally teleporting myself directly into your private chambers earlier this morning. You can never find a good portal spell ingredient list these days, I tell you, and do hope you can forgive me over it. But let me move on to the reason why I requested to meet with you in the days prior to this one: I have three questions dealing with a subject I have little to no knowledge of, Tamrielic Attire, and I believe you are just the lady that can answer them for me. Let's begin shall, we?
My first question deals with the Nibenese and their legendary tattoo parlors. Amongst the Niben, tattoos are considered respectable, honorable, and as physical representations of one's inner strengths and emotions; some Niben subcultures even view them with a spiritual sense. For the Nibenese, tattoos are a part of their attire -- cloths made of ink instead of silk and wool. What is your opinion on this practice, my lady, and why do you believe the Colovians do not partake in it as much as their eastern brethren?
For my second question, I ran into a Mages Guild member named Octavius Mede during my travels through Sutch recently and he convinced me to buy a few robes off of his person that his sister had made at home. When I asked him about the quality of the fabric, he told me that the best robes are always 'mage-made, reinforced silk with layers of softening and anti-wrinkling enchantments' woven into them, and that they offer the best protection. The idea of warlock-tailors and witch-seamstresses entices me greatly, and I wonder if it is advised for nobles to wear magical clothing. If so, that would explain why I never see men and women of import wearing rumpled clothing!
And for my final question, I wish to inquire about the suspicious absence of cloaks in the provinces. When I was a young hatchling at the beginning of the Second Era, post my enslavement to the Dark Elves of Tear, my Dres master once told me that cloaks were signs of nobility and grace within the cultures higher than my own 'primitive civilization' after I accidentally dirtied his. Ever since then I became fascinated with cloaks and aspired to have tailored [sic] just for me, embroidered with symbols of my native Black Marsh, tribe, and village. And when I eventually became a scholar in Cyrodiil, I did just that; imagine how elated I was to see cloaks embroidered with Nibenese, Colovian, Yokudan, and even Akaviri heraldry! But over the years I have noticed that cloaks now seem to be going out of style, and I was bewildered when a Druadach man told me to take my 'oversized table napkin' from between my shoulders. Can you please inform me on why cloaks seem to be less important in Tamriel than they used to be, for I haven't worn mine since that day and I do not wish to publicly embarrass myself again."
– Eis Vuur Warden, Wayward and Contract Scholar"
Lady Eloisse says, "Ah, tattoos—such a divisive subject for those of our profession! Do they enhance one's appearance with a personalized expression of individuality, or do they compromise one's ability to adopt a different appearance for a new situation or condition? It's a personal decision, but certainly some cultures lean more toward tattooing than others—including, as you point out, the Nibenese. The sophisticated folk of the Niben Valley, unlike, say, the wilder Wood Elves or Reachmen, prefer their tattoos to be subtle, even understated. They often proclaim the wearer's allegiance to a cult, lifestyle, or political faction, enabling members of such groups to recognize each other quickly and easily.
"Your friend Octavius Mede did not misinform you—spell-tailoring is an ancient art, and simple protective spells have been bound into garments since time immemorial. The art arguably reached its height in the early-mid First Era, when the Empress Hestra was said to have a Gown of State magically augmented to repel inimical spells, stave off fatigue, and enable levitation at will! While we have no such abilities today, the art still persists, and most great nobles have a spell-tailored item or two in their wardrobes.
"As to cloaks, well—those are SO fifth-century. House Manteau made its name tailoring cloaks for King Joile and his court, but I don't believe we've had a request for a cloak, other than as a costume prop for a stage-play, in at least fifty years. One would have to be eccentric indeed to want to wear something as old-fashioned as a cloak in the year 582 of the Second Era! You're an Argonian, so just look at the lovelies below modeling some of the latest fashions out of Gideon. Would you really want them, and their outfits, covered up in fusty old capes or cloaks? Of course not!"
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"Greetings Lady Eloisse,
I am Hundorian and over several years of searching I have come across several dresses. The most comfortable and the one I'm currently wearing is the Noble Dress. I wear it every day for every task I am doing such as digging, tending to the plants, eating the plants, or accidentally swallowing rocks and it fits perfectly. The problem I have come across however is that I am always having trouble getting it off to take my dirt bath. Most recently I had to get help because I didn't realize you had to lift the dress up and untie the strings in the back to get it off. I finally had my dirt bath after wrestling with the dress and put it back on when I was done. I would like to ask if there is an easier way to get the dress off and who made it as well? I would hate to have to stea- I mean borrow another one. Oh and before I forget, could the holes in dresses also be larger? I always get my tail stuck when trying to maneuver it through. Dirt guide you and please use the pouch of dirt I sent you wisely.
- Hundorian, Lord of Dirt"
Lady Eloisse says, "Dibella's cheek, I hope the dress subjected to such treatment wasn't a House Manteau creation! Indeed, generally speaking, the more noble the attire, the more intricate its construction, and the more likely one is to need assistance when putting it on or taking it off. I still recall giving Clarisse Laurent's manservant Stibbons his first lesson in how to help a lady into—and out of—her stomacher. How he blushed!
"Adapting to tails is a thorny problem for even the most experienced couturier to solve. Most don't even try! My best advice to you, my feline friend, is to stick to clothing made by Khajiit, for Khajiit. Note how naturally they deal with the tail issue. Trust the experts!"


"Most graceful Lady Eloisse,
You must know I am most delighted to write back to you after you so kindly arranged for my sister's evening gown to be made - most gracious of you! I must say the embroidery and level of detail are absolutely stunning, not to mention the lavender accents on the sleeves. The shape, the material, all is marvelous dear Countess. Accept our heartfelt gratitude in the bottle of raspberry wine my father Lord Gaspard hand-picked for you. I believe he will be visiting you sometime soon to take advantage of your personal clothier. In any case, some foreign dignitaries at court were not particularly impressed by the astounding Breton fashion that is my sister's gown, and even went so far as to deride it! Can you imagine?! Comparing our attire with the boring Altmer, Redguard and even Imperial fashion styles! They said it was "quaint" and "pleasant" at best. Preposterous! Tell me, dear Countess, how would you compare our Breton fashion with the styles of the other races? Certainly you would agree we are the most stylish of all the peoples of Tamriel, yes?
'Respectfully yours,'
'Grand Enchanter Etienne Dumonte, of the Wayrest Mage's Guild"'
Lady Eloisse says, "I don't think it's controversial at all to say that the dressmakers and haberdashers of High Rock are the most subtle and sophisticated clothiers in Tamriel. The sniping aimed at your sister's elegant dress is just the same carping, born of envy and ignorance, that we here at House Manteau are all too familiar with. These 'foreign dignitaries,' now—were they Orcs? They were Orcs, weren't they? All too typical. Yet such is the world we now live in.
"On the other hand, look at the latest offerings from Sar'aq of Sentinel, modeled below, which display traditional Alik'r pomp reined in by a certain newfound restraint, which I must attribute to the cross-cultural influence of High Rock upon the design sense of our allies to the south. Quite splendid, don't you think? And yet thoroughly modern—not the least bit 'quaint.'"
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"Lady Eloisse,
This one shows you the claw of greeting, as a humble Argonian sorcerer and a follower of customs it is important to wear robes showing not only this one's profession but to ensure that the local peasants do not come too close due to the fear of being turned into a toad or some other animal a step up from their existence. However having tried many styles only the Bretons seem to have constructed robes which not only contain a pouch for this one's gold while also removing [sic] those absurd hip flaps. Can you explain why all other styles have not followed the Breton lead and what these hip flaps do other than flap around in annoying manner [sic], one human thought this Argonian was a fool and claimed it was armour to protect the hip. Having been in many battles this one can assure you no-one has ever attempted to kill his fine self by stabbing him in the hip.
Ash-Tal Argonian Sorcerer"
Lady Eloisse says, "To be fair, what you refer to as 'hip-flaps' are properly known as 'tassets,' and they are indeed intended to act as protection for the outside of the hips and upper thighs. That said, I agree that exaggerated tassets look simply absurd, completely ruining the body-lines of otherwise fine suits of armor. And the fad for extended faux-tassets on civilian wear currently seen on the would-be fashionable youth of our larger cities is, frankly, just in bad taste. It's no wonder the more upscale taverns and inns are beginning to refuse service to these 'flapdoodles.' Who can blame them?
"Little-known fact: pockets for men's clothes, which have been universally adopted in High Rock, were actually invented by the Nords! The denizens of Skyrim, of course, are fond of their hip flasks of mead, but external flask-holsters are too vulnerable to the depredations of pickpockets, especially when one is 'in his cups,' as the Nords say. The solution: interior pockets, cunningly wrought! Look at the Nord models below, showing off the finery of Jork the Tailor-Thane of Windhelm. I guarantee you every one of these fellows has a flask on his hip or in his lapel, but do you see a telltale bulge? Not in a Jork tunic, you won't!"
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