The Clothing of Choice for a Spellcaster or Scholar: The Wizard Robe
Now, you can’t be blamed for thinking that these robes are only appropriate for someone dressing as a fantasy wizard character, either at a fantasy LARP event, for cosplay, or just because they fancy it. After all, the clothing is called ‘the wizard robe’ and obviously works incredibly well for that kind of character.
However, these robes are versatile enough for other characters as well. Whether you’re going for a warrior, a scholar, or sorcerer, the only limit is your imagination. The robes suit masculine and feminine outfits, especially when matched with the right accessories. While designed for fantasy, there is definite historical basis for this style, so they could even be worn at a historical reenactment as well.
Like other robes, this full length wizard robe is an overcoat, designed to be worn above whatever else you’re wearing. You have the option of two different versions, made of either black or brown cotton canvas. This cotton is sturdy enough to protect your clothing and keep you comfortable but won’t be so heavy so as to restrict your movement. The robe can be worn loose and open, showing off the clothes underneath, or cinched with a belt to lend more of a feeling of mystery.
These robes also come with a slightly oversized hood, so you can dramatically hide your eyes underneath the shadow of your hood, or wear a really big hat beneath the hood, if you prefer. The wizard robe also features long, full sleeves that flare out into bell shapes.
As a part of an ensemble, this robe can work well as a simple overcoat, but it works best when paired with different accessories. These can personalise any outfit and bring a character even more fully to life.
What is a Wizard? A Brief Examination of the Character Type
When it comes to fantasy, magic is practically a staple of the genre. With magic, often comes wizards. This character in fantasy works has seen a huge amount of variety. But, when we think of wizards, there are certain images that come to mind.
An Overview of The Wizard
First of all, the term “wizard” tends to refer to a male. This definitely isn’t a hard and fast rule, but female equivalents are often given other monikers, such as “witch” or the more neutral “sorceress”. The term “wizardess” is sometimes bandied about, but occasionally she’s simply referred to as a wizard.
Obviously, a wizard must be able to perform some kind of magic, but the type of magic has almost no limits. Some wizards have seemingly unlimited power, but others are forced to exert a great deal of effort to cast a simple spell. Some stories have wizards being relatively common, with “wizarding schools” being a popular trope, but others use their wizards much more sparingly and make them incredibly rare in-universe.
These aspects of the power and commonality of wizards often depend on whether the universe is what’s known as “hard fantasy” or “soft fantasy”. These terms are used to describe the magic system, with “hard fantasy” denoting a system with rigid rules and clear limitations, but “soft fantasy” allows the magic to be more mysterious and unknowable.
You might expect for there to be a pattern here. You know, where more common wizards are often found in stories with a harder magic system and have more limited power. Then, on the other hand, rare wizards are incredibly powerful and belong to a world with a soft magic system. You would be kind of right; this does make sense and does happen in many fantasy works. But fantasy encompasses so many stories, and there are exceptions to this pattern everywhere. Unless you have consumed every single fantasy world out there, it’s hard to say how concrete this pattern is.
Moving away from that can of worms, wizards are generally depicted as wise and learned, as their magic requires study. Again, the amount of study can depend on the story, but some level of education is expected.
This assumed wisdom is also why wizards are traditionally seen as old, bearded men, maybe even with spectacles. Because of this, wizards make great mentors. Oddly, wizard trickster mentors are very common, as experience and study doesn’t always mean a character has common sense.
Finally, we come to morality. Wizards can be good or evil in equal measure. Some stories have wizards on each side, but often the evil wizards have access to forbidden and incredibly powerful magic, which give them an edge. Many pulp fantasy stories often had the hero wielding a sword and the villain wielding sorcery, then somehow losing to a chump with a pointy stick despite being able to warp reality to his wishes.
So, our average wizard is an old man with a long beard, and unknown magical abilities that he has acquired through years of careful study. He can be good or evil. Recently, wizards are allowed a little more freedom in appearance, so younger men and women can crop up in this role. But there’s one question we haven’t answered.
What is our wizard wearing?
The Trappings of Any Self Respecting Wizard
Most wizards come armed with at least a few signifiers of their status. After all, they’d studied for years and have access to the secrets of the universe, they’re going to want to show off.
An incredibly common part of the wizard’s ensemble is his wizard’s robe. The Terry Pratchett novels explicitly say that wizards wear robes to display their ability to practice magic, and this is actually pretty common among fantasy. However, robes often display more about the character.
In settings where there are specific moral alignments (usually games like Dungeons and Dragons), a wizard will display this with the colour of his robes. Other settings use the robe colours to reveal their focus in studies or other aspects of their personality or education.
Okay, let’s get onto the more explicitly magical stuff. Well, wizard’s robes can have a magical aspect, being enchanted to imbue certain attributes or to protect the wearer. But we’re talking about wands and staves.
Wands and staves are very common among wizards and have various uses. Sometimes, they’re actually quite inert, and act more as concentration aids than anything else, or are used to focus the magical energies that are coming from the wizard.
Other times, the wands and staves are explicitly magic. They can be used to enhance or control a wizard’s magic, or sometimes a wizard is incapable of performing magic without them. Or, you can have the case where a certain spell is bound to the wand or staff itself and a wizard is required to release it.
Then there’s everything else. By this, we mean the books and scrolls, rare materials, and other equipment that the wizard may keep on hand. These can be used as simple study materials, helping the wizard to unlock more of his own potential and gain more knowledge. Or these can be magical in themselves.
Spell books and scrolls may be used in the same way as a wand, releasing their magic when read. The rare materials and other equipment could be needed for an enchantment, or a certain spell. It all depends on how the author wants to use these items, and how limited the magic is.
The Different Types of Magic User
Alright, let’s get technical. We now know what a wizard is, but they aren’t the only magic users in fantasy. Now, different works call their magic users different things, but we’re going to look at the wider picture. There are always exceptions.
First of all, let’s look at the obvious. A wizard has to study. He may have a natural ability or potential in magic, but he has to learn how to use it. But many fantasy works have magic being something that comes much more naturally to a character. These are often called sorcerers. Sorcerers can be incredibly powerful, or very limited, it depends on the setting. But these characters rarely have to study to unlock their powers or learn how to use them safely, it just happens. Sorcerers are either good or evil, with maybe a slight bias towards evil.
Next, we have witches and warlocks. This is an interesting one, because a witch can just be a female wizard, with the same variations in morality and sometimes even the same type of magic. However, witches are often something very different. Witchcraft is usually quite nebulous and can involve hexing and cursing people and so many herbs. It’s usually not as flashy or outwardly as powerful as wizard spells but can be devastating. Traditionally, these witches were evil and had made a pact with an evil force of some kind, but there are a lot of good examples out there.
Warlocks, however, are almost always evil. In some cases, these are basically a male witch and use the same kind of magic. However, warlocks are usually the male version of an explicitly evil witch that gains their powers from some dark force. No friendly herbcraft here.
Enchanters and enchantresses are an interesting case. In more modern times, an enchanter referred to a magic user who could imbue items with magic. But traditionally, an enchanter or more commonly an enchantress, would use their powers to charm and deceive people. They’d usually use these powers to seduce, either with illusions or potions or whatever. The item enchanter is either good or evil, but our charming enchantress (it’s almost always a lady) is usually evil.
Necromancers and conjurers are up next, and these usually fall under the wizard bracket of having mastered their power through study (although they can be sorcerers or unnatural creations). Necromancers specifically raise the dead, and they are almost always evil and wear lots of black. Conjurers are usually evil and summon beings from other worlds or dimensions, often demonic in nature.
Wizards in Fantasy: The Most Iconic Masters of Magic
Now, there have been hundreds of wizard-like figures in literature, and we all have our favourites. We aren’t here to start arguments about the best fantasy series, don’t worry. But let’s have a quick look at some examples of wizards in fiction.
First of all, the inspiration for the traditional modern fantasy wizard goes to Merlin. Merlin was a major character in the legends of King Arthur, being a wise, bearded old man who wore a robe and served as a mentor and advisor to the king. He was born with magic, having demonic ancestry, which only serves to demonstrate the folly of sorting magic users into rigid categories. Still, he’s got the look and character down for a wizard, so we’ll let him off.
Next up is Gandalf, because how could we not talk about one of the most iconic wizards in fantasy. You’ll be surprised to learn that Gandalf is a wise, bearded old man who wore a robe and served as a mentor and advisor to, well, lots of people but also the king. If that seems familiar, it’s because Gandalf was heavily inspired by Merlin. Like Merlin, Gandalf gained his magical powers from his birth, being a Maiar, an angel-like being. However, Gandalf once more has the look and character down for a wizard, even down to the regular studying.
Finally, we’re going to look at the Aes Sedai from the Wheel of Time series. This is mainly so we can look at a character who isn’t a bearded old man. The Aes Sedai were born with the potential for magic but needed explicit study to use it effectively (finally). They could be men or women, although females were far more common as the male magic users were cursed to go mad, blow everything up, and die. While they aren’t called wizards, these characters do fit the archetype. They are wise, usually old, wear robes and magical artifacts, and serve as mentors and advisors.
Obviously, fantasy is full of great wizards, but we can’t discuss them all. But what we’ve learnt here is that the wizard archetype isn’t as rigid as it might appear. If it walks like a wizard and talks like a wizard, then the details don’t matter all that much.
Love robes? Then check out the Warlock Robe and the Monk Robe!
The technical specifications for the wizard robes for sale here at Medieval Ware are as follows:
- Material: 100% cotton canvas
- Colours: Black or brown
The wizard robe is available in sizes ranging from Small to XX-Large. The measurements ahead may vary slightly due to the handmade nature of this item.
- Small: 34.4 inches chest, 30.7 inches waist, 52.5 inches length
- Medium: 38.6 inches chest, 33.9 inches waist, 53 inches length
- Large: 41.3 inches chest, 37.4 inches waist, 54 inches length
- X-Large: 44.9 inches chest, 41.3 inches waist, 55 inches length
- XX-Large: 48 inches chest, 45.7 inches waist, 57 inches length
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