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What follows is the first in what will be a series of questions I'll be asking in the hopes of solving a problem I'm running into with one of the species in my story: the werewolf, and the particular difficulties it has when it comes to keeping itself clothed.

In this story, werewolves, among other immortal humanoid supernatural creatures, live in secret amongst humans. The werewolves in this setting can transform into their werewolf form at will, as long as they are exposed to the rays of either the sun or the moon (any phase is fine; the reason they're associated with the full moon is that the fuller the moon gets, the more of the night the moon stays out for). For the purposes of these questions, all you need to know about this form is that it is 10 feet tall, and that shapeshifting does not do anything about the clothes the werewolf might be wearing at the time. Anything they are wearing will be rapidly pulled apart by the force of the werewolf's magically expanding body. Think the Incredible Hulk, except that there are no magic purple pants to keep them decent when they transform back.

Obviously if werewolves are going to blend in with human society, they're going to need to wear clothing. However, werewolves have a very important question to consider when deciding what to wear:

"If I transform while wearing this, will I still be able to put it back on later?"

While hanging around human civilization gives them some degree of protection from their enemies who similarly have to keep their existence a secret, they still may need to transform into their wolf form at a moment's notice, likely with no time to get changed first. Also, the obvious Doylist reason: I don't want every single werewolf action scene to be preceded by the werewolves taking all of their clothes off by hand. Dumb mental image, even if I try my hardest not to call attention to it. No, it'll be much better for everyone involved if these werewolves can wear clothing that, should they transform while wearing it, will merely come undone, rather than rip into pieces.

Also: If I've underestimated the elasticity of some fabric that could totally accommodate both a human and a 10-foot werebeast, they likely still wouldn't use that. If you happen to see a huge monster in the wilderness, well, that's one thing. It's bad news for secrecy, but it's not likely to be traced back to anyone in the pack unless you also see them transform back. But if that monster happened to be wearing clothes, well, not only would that make you immediately suspect human involvement in some way, but also you'll be extremely suspicious of those weirdos in that same sort of spandex that you just saw in town.

No, the way I see it, these werewolves need clothes that, upon transforming, will come apart into deliberate pieces that can be put back together later, and they need them to look as natural for the time and place as possible. They don't need to just buy something that already exists, they can tailor and modify pre-existing clothing to have new features, as long as it's realistically doable and affordable at the time and place.

Which brings us to part one of this question: what they're doing in the 21st century. Specifically, in the 2000s.

When werewolves have nearly all of modern clothing technology at their fingertips, what could they do to design clothes that could look like something a normal human would wear, but could be transformed out of without destroying it?

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you clarify what is the difference w.r.t. worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/185380/30492 ? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jan 30 at 4:36
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica Most crucially, the time periods and technology involved. That's set in a medieval period, this is about what they could do with modern clothing tech. $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Drake Jan 30 at 4:41
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Velcro (or equivalent). Consider t-shirts and tank-tops and similar that instead of sewn seams have hidden velcro seams, so that with enough force the top is pulled apart into front and back sections that can be easily fitted back together. The seams will be a bit bulkier than normal sewn seams, but would pass a quick inspection. For footwear, sandals or sneakers with velcro closures: quick kick and they're off.

It will be lower bodies that have some issues, but it's not terrible. Skirts with velcro or snap waist closures are obvious, or even elastic so they can be dropped quickly. Pants are a little more difficult, but think of athletic training pants which again use velcro seams and are quickly removed without needing to pull your legs out.

So, what have you got? People wearing t-shirts, workout pants, sneakers...clearly, your werewolves, to the outside world, are just fitness fanatics.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Just fitness fanatics" checks out with the lore of my setting. Werewolves in general are really fit. One question though: I wasn't aware that velcro was good with being pulled apart sideways, like it would be when transformed out of. That isn't a problem, is it? $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Drake Jan 30 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ That's the thing: you didn't indicate they couldn't be removed before/during the transition, only that you wanted it to be something that could be glossed over quickly and would allow the clothing to be used again. Tearaway clothing fills that need: it's trivial to mention the character tore away their top and pants and kicked off their footwear as they were changing. In fact, I just did it. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Jan 30 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ I actually did say I wanted it to be something that would come apart during the transformation. $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Drake Jan 30 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ What about zips? Put a flap over the zip (as many normal coats do, so that does work) and it's not obvious it's there. They probably (or, at least, believably) would open neatly if the wearer suddenly got bigger. To keep them from working loose at other times, you could have a single button holding the sides together at the top. Works for jeans. Sew the button on badly enough that it would always be the button that gave way and not the clothes. $\endgroup$ – A. B. May 15 at 11:39
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Hidden press-studs (1) in the seams.

This is an actual solution in use today. For example I saw a girl come by that had her hand grown into her chest (I'm not sure of the reason, either a birth defect or a deliberate medical procedure to provide blood to damaged muscles). You can imagine that getting her jacket and sweater on wasn't going to be easy when both her hand and her shoulder were connected to something.

The solution: Her entire wardrobe including autumn and winter jackets had been reworked. If you look at the clothing you wear right now you'll notice the seam of the arms and legs is usually located on the inside facing the centerline of your body. These seams were opened (or created in case of her jackets) and folded into each other. Inside the fold they placed buttons and zippers (zippers for things that need to close like the jacket, it had a plastic coating across that made it almost watertight when zipped up).

People wondered how she ever got her arms into any sleeve because it was so invisible. Putting it on was a chore but getting the sweaters off (which had buttons) was just a matter of ripping it open (some clothes had been reinforced on the inside to prevent tearing). So it would help your werewolves when they grow immensely quickly as the buttons will tear lose at the seams, falling off their body and allowing the werewolf to pick them up later.

With some extra work you can make the press-studs "pull" the fold closed to reduce cold and water seeping in, although you could perhaps also use things like an additional flap across it as shown on the pockets of this raincoat: https://i5.walmartimages.com/asr/a4efdcb7-9748-440f-8853-a7dbf67b1646_1.29c597ce52775123d901bf8d8cacb85c.jpeg?odnWidth=612&odnHeight=612&odnBg=ffffff

(1): https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/jUQAAOSwW4JdsTzu/s-l300.jpg

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Not hundred percent sure this will help, cuz it might look/sound super stupid but you could give them clothes with zippers or velcro straps that have a lot of fabric underneath. So while they look like they're either really fat or super bulky. Then before they do the transforming they just unzip, let the extra fabric out, and grow into it. Sorry if that didn't make too much sense.

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  • $\begingroup$ Could work. Ingenious. But the OP did specify that the clothes are to come off when the werewolves transform, so this wouldn't work for the question as specified. $\endgroup$ – A. B. May 15 at 11:34
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The Dresden Files suggested that werewolves would tend towards baggy clothing like loose-fitting tops, sundresses, and sweaters because it would be easy to slip out of and shift into wolf form. However, this ignores the fact that baggy clothing could easily get tangled up around a shifting werewolf, which would leave them highly vulnerable to enemies while shapeshifting.

What's more likely is that werewolves would tend towards fashion that is not likely to be restricting and is easily disposed of. Namely really cheap, thin t-shirts, sweatpants, and similar garments that not only can be easily slipped out of, but if a werewolf gets stuck in them they can easily tear them off with little trouble. This, in turn would have some downstream consequences. Having to constantly replace clothes would mean werewolves would have to devote a lot of their budget to replacement clothes (even if they intend to slip out of them, a lot will be torn in accidents and such) and they will often look slovenly because they are typically not dressed in nice clothes or those clothes are torn and ripped. This would probably predispose your werewolves to being from lower economic classes. This fits with how werewolves are often depicted as "blue-collar" supernaturals compared to wizards or vampires.

At least, that's what I did for my story. In my story, it is also noted that werewolves tend towards form-fitting clothing because unlike the average person they are in situations where they could be in danger at any minute and either have to run away in human form or shift. This means that tuxedos, skirts, high heels, etc. are completely out. The few werewolves that do wear something with a hemline are noted as either extremely old-fashioned or wearing skirts as an act of rebellion.

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Perhaps I could interest your werewolves in a nice overcoat? Specifically, you want something you can wear open in the front without being obvious about it (so the werewolf can simply burst out of it when needed, or you can dramatically slip the coat off right before the action starts) and long enough that it won't be obvious to passers-by if you need to sacrifice the clothing underneath. It also keeps the rain off, which is a real plus in some settings.

Fortunately (in some ways) in the early 2000s there are enough teens and young adults you've just seen The Matrix and think black leather trenchcoats are the height of cool that you shouldn't stick out too badly.

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