It’s funny to say now, given my wardrobe consists of a three-year old pair of jeans, an old hoodie, and a bunch of vacation T-shirts my parents donated to me like a homeless person, but I used to have five separate outfits, one for each day of the school week.
Unlike business attire – where you’re basically swapping five different colored dress shirts – high school wardrobes are managed like a pitching rotation in baseball. You have your aces (the clothes you look your best in), your dependable innings eater (the clothes that aren’t flashy, but get the job done), and your back of the rotation outfits that you only wear because you can’t wear your best outfit twice.
In order to simulate this in Skyrim, I’ve chosen to give many NPCs random outfits. For example, Asteria in the picture on the left is wearing what most would identify as “The Ysolda,” whereas if given the choice, I would prefer she wear the dress on the right, or any variation without the plunging neckline. Of course, for the sake of realism, the hope was that over multiple meetings, you would see all the various outfits, with the NPCs ostensibly rotating their wardrobe the same way we do. However, upon further inspection, it seems that whatever outfit is loaded when you start the game stays for the duration.
Which is why, when given the choice, Bethesda probably decided it was best to give each NPC a set outfit. Randomizing clothing not only heightens the chance of a mismatched look, but also the awkward situation of showing up to fourth period wearing the same thing as that copycat Tracy, and you know that bitch isn’t gonna change.
As for the mod NPCs, I’m not sure I need to revert back to unique outfits just yet. For one, I think they’re spread out in ways that similar outfits rarely clash, and you still get different clothes on different playthroughs. But, if you spot two people wearing the same dress to the same party, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.