Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences

Degree Level



Apparel Merchandising and Product Development


Hubert, Stephanie

Committee Member/Reader

Davidson, Fiona

Committee Member/Second Reader

Smith, Kathleen


Tolkien’s Legendarium has in many ways codified modern fantasy. Illustrations and film adaptations of it have had far-reaching consequences on popular culture, building an 80-year tradition of visual depictions of Tolkienesque fantasy. Particularly, Elven characters are usually depicted wearing costume inspired by Victorian notions of Western medieval costume. In this paper I seek to approach the design of original costume for the Ñoldor from a different perspective, free from the established traditions of other designers’ and illustrators’ work.

The preliminary research focuses on searching the source materials of the Silmarillion and select texts from the Histories of Middle Earth. I looked at what happened to historic dress in Primary World cultures which existed in similar geographies and cultural climates to the Ñoldor in various stages of their history, focusing on materials, construction techniques, social markers, and values expressed.

The result is two preliminary designs of costume that could have plausibly been worn by the Ñoldor, with an explanation of how the design process for each was informed by textual clues from Tolkien’s writings, extrapolation from Primary World cultures in similar social and geographic contexts, as well as my own intuition as a costume designer.


Costume design, J. R. R. Tolkien, Finland, Noldor