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In a medieval fantasy setting, if you had to regularly deal with transforming into a beast that's taller, stronger, and that have a much larger build overall than your frail priestess body, what would you wear that could actually withstand the transformation without the need of constant repair, and how would that work?

I guess this is a problem usually solved with the "It's magic" card but this isn't really an option here.

Either some unusually large robe or some padded clothing that would get squeezed but still hold would do the trick, but maybe someone could help me find a more elegant solution? Maybe some kind of belt/strap that would move to a second position if under pressure but I have no idea how that would even work.

Well, I can't quite find a solution that I like right now so any insight would be welcome.

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    $\begingroup$ If there's no magic, how does the lycanthrope's body (appear to) change mass? More importantly for this question, what are the before/after dimensions of the wearer? $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Sep 12 at 8:21
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    $\begingroup$ Oh there's magic alright, it's just that a solution using magic is currently not available anytime soon due to many circunstance that don't really matter with the problem at hand and that I don't wanna bother y'all with. Wouldn't have come here if it was as simple as "magic". As for the before/after dimension, I don't have the specific, and I want a more general and recyclable solution anyway. Let's say the increase is significant enough that normal clothes would be torn apart or damaged without being something as ridiculous as a double in size $\endgroup$ – Gaia Bladeo Sep 12 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ I thought that I rmemebered a question about someone who grew and shrank and their clothing, but I couldn't tind it. $\endgroup$ – M. A. Golding Sep 12 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ In folklore, this was usually handled by having the werewolf be unable to change except after taking the clothes off. Involuntary werewolves felt a compulsion to do them both. (And if you couldn't get back the clothes, you couldn't change back.) This is, of course, very restrictive on the character. $\endgroup$ – Mary Sep 12 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ It might just be easiest to make the transformation like a fever: a sudden rise in body temperature that drives the person in question to take off all their clothes. $\endgroup$ – Ted Wrigley Sep 12 at 18:18
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Some smart leather-working should save your priestess from flashing.

This is so much easier with modern materials. Velcro or spandex would make this so much simpler. But, alas, medieval tech it is.

For the chest, torso, waist, legs, and arms, you basically have an expanding cylinder - I'd build a flexible outfit out cotton or linen or hide that's much too large, and fold it back on itself, like this:

enter image description here

If the transformation is rare (warewolf once a month sorta thing), or the smaller being needs to be athletic and mobile, then a few sacrificial stitches could hold the garment taught on the smaller user, and then immediately give way when the transformation occurs. Those sacrificial stitches can be repaired in a few minutes by the small being after the change, they'd probably keep the needle and thread on them.

However if the transformation is very common, and the small being doesn't need to do gymnastics, then a thin peice of rope wrapped around the outside, granny knotted and the ends tucked inside will do the trick.

However, if the transformation is very common, and the small being needs to be extremely mobile, then you need something with two latching positions.

Cut these two shapes out of leather: enter image description here

The long peice of thonging with a circle in it attaches one side to the clothing, the other end hangs loose.

The Double-T shape rolls up into a cylinder, with the T bits inside (which result in that part of the cylinder having smaller diameter, smaller than the circle). It's then stitched shut, and one end is attached to clothing.

The leather is flexible and distorts under strain, but the circle in the leather thonging is held against the T bits under normal forces.

When the character expands, the forces are much greater, and the leather distorts and travels to the next position.

After they transform back, they pull the string hard and their clothing tightens, the circle then travels past the other T, and is then held taught again.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is all I wanted and more! Thank you! I'll look into that. $\endgroup$ – Gaia Bladeo Sep 12 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ There are a variety of gripping slip knots that would be easy to implement too. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 12 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs I thought there would be but I couldn't find any with my google-fu. The only ones I could find had their slip pull a seperate cord to the tension. $\endgroup$ – Ash Sep 12 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Ash: I use Prusik hitches for adjustable belts occasionally. Even something simple like an adjustable grip hitch tied in reverse would do the job as long as the rope isn’t too grippy. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 12 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ I like it, but from what I've seen of my leatherworking friends a simple tube with heat-formed constrictions would be adequate. $\endgroup$ – Mark Morgan Lloyd Sep 13 at 9:46
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It is ok for magic users to get naked first.

Witches get naked. True for salacious Frazetta witches but also true for creepy Goya witches.

goya witches flight with some seriously tall hats

https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/witches-flight/5e44d19d-7cda-472b-b6d8-8868c599d252

There are a number of reasons this is how they are depicted. Taking off clothes means removing the self from civilization and public interaction. It is clearly a departure from any sort of Judeo-Christian norm. Taking off clothes harkens to fertility rites and older gods. It is an intimate act, a precursor to animal actions like procreation and childbirth, and butchering. It is a frightening act seen in a stranger who knows that she is watched - what does this stranger think is happening or will happen?

And having her strip will give you time to write. What does she look like under her clothes? Is she talking? The scene where the priestess carefully removes her clothes and what she has underneath will be a scary and uncertain one for the reader. Where is this going? And when she changes into a beast, do not have her immediately attack. She can still speak, but she does not sound the same. And the reader will think "holy moly where the f* is this going now??".

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    $\begingroup$ Actually, taking off your clothes to work evil magic is a virtually universal cultural belief, including non-Christian areas with fertility rites. $\endgroup$ – Mary Sep 12 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Mary - I wonder if the converse is true? Should I put on more clothes to work good magic? I wonder what the dress code is. Can I just wear a hat like those Goya witches because those hats are sweet. Insights welcome. $\endgroup$ – Willk Sep 12 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ Good magic frequently requires elaborate ritual clothes. $\endgroup$ – Mary Sep 12 at 17:35
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I would suggest pleated robes with wide sleeves. Pleats allow great expansion. The garment will be pleated everywhere, including sleeves, when a priestess is in her human form and will stretch when she transforms.

If you have access to natural rubber or similar material you can use it to make necklines stretchable for a better look. Rubber would also work great for expandable belts.

If you do not have rubber equivalent in your world belts can be knitted. Ribbing and lose knitting would provide significant stretch. The same as pleats, they will return to their original shape once the priestess returns to her human size.

If the expected change in size if very significant, go for kimono-like robes made of pleated fabric with long sashes that would be removed before the transformation and tied again after.

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Make garments of human, wolf or whatever skin, which retains enough genetic characteristics that simple contact with the wearer means the transformation spreads to the clothing.

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