The Victorian Effect in WoW

Before I even get started – yes I know that the perception of the Victorian age to be the dark ages of sexuality/sensuality/what-have-you is wildly inaccurate. However, the perception exists and the term “Victorian” is often used for this connotation.

Or… “How Shoulders Are Like Ankles”

When you look at another character in WoW, what’s the first piece of gear used to make a visual assessment of the character?

Note that I’m not saying “inspect,” I’m saying “look.”

Here, try it out:


Helms can be hidden.

Cloaks, also, can be removed from view.

Pants and boots are often covered by robes in the case of casters, which in turn can be covered by a tabard.

Bracers are generally little more than color peeking out over nondescript gloves.

Until very recently, belts were little more than a painted sash of color about the waist.

All we’re really left with to gauge a character with at a glance is the weapon(s) and shoulders.

I’ll admit, neither are particularly impressive in this screen shot but he’s only level 61 and the last instance he entered was Scarlet Monastery. He’s not even been through the Dark Portal. Poor guy.

Now compare that to his younger (though more recent) incarnation:


The chest piece actually goes out of its way to cover the chest, leave bare the shoulders, and continue on down the arms – in what appears to be fishnet. (Alas it loses the effect when not worn by a purple-hued character.)

My warrior is in club gear.

Much as we have the image of Victorian men’s hearts aflutter over the “accidental” exposure of a genteel lady’s ankle, I’ll have to admit this particular chest piece strikes me as titillating. The very idea of uncovered shoulders on a warrior is indecent.

My mage’s shoulders were covered by about level 17, most likely with the Double-Stitched Woolen Shoulders available through tailoring.

With the introduction of BoA gear, all my Horde alts have had covered shoulders as soon as they could scurry to a mailbox and pick up their care packages of gear and starting coin.

And before they make it that far, if they aren’t in a robe, the starting outfits may leave the shoulders out in plain view, but they do so in a completely sleeveless fashion. Not this blatant covering of the chest and arms with a deliberate exposure of the shoulders.

The truly bizarre thing is normally I am eager to get shoulders on my character. It’s one of the signs of “growing up” in the game and later on will be used as an identifier for the level of content I am geared through.

But for this character, I’m rather enjoying his bare shoulders.

In a game where it’s not uncommon to see nearly-nude characters dancing on mailboxes in the hopes of receiving a few copper, I feel practically scandalous running about with naked shoulders.

6 comments on “The Victorian Effect in WoW

  1. theerivs says:

    Shoulder Floozy!!! For shame For Shame!!!


  2. Dark/Soth says:

    First thing I noticed when I looked at your purty little nelf? The absence of a Horde toon to put him out of his misery.


  3. Fish says:


    So IRL my family is jewish. At my little brother’s bar mitzvah, my ex fiance had on a dress which happened to leave her shoulders uncovered. One of the people in the congregation, completely unrelated to us, started accosting her about covering her shoulders in synogogue!

    And I agree, bare shoulders in Wow can be kind of refreshing. . . A lot of my characters have naked shoulders because they share BoA stuff. . .


  4. telanarra says:

    @fish well i guess i know the answer to what type of fish you are


  5. Darraxus says:

    Good ole shoulders. I had a pair of stockade shoulders (actual name of the item, or stockade pauldrons). They were leather and I wore them on several leveling characters so they looked less like a doofus.


  6. […] will mean an end to the Victorian Age for my […]


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