Sith apparel was the term given to the armor, robes, and general attire of members of the Sith Order in all its forms. As the dark side counterparts to the Jedi, the Sith were traditionally garbed in shades of black, this color being the very symbol of the ancient threat they represented. However, unlike the Jedi who did not believe in material possession, the position of Sith Lord was highly individualized and the personal attire of each Dark Lord reflected this.
Although similar to the clothing and armor worn by the Jedi Knights of the Galactic Republic, Sith apparel was in fact much more personalized to the wearer than its Jedi counterparts; for many Sith, their armor and robes were an integral part of their identity. For users of the dark side, though, their clothing and armor usually involved some measure of physical protection, such as traditional armor plates, cortosis weave materials, or even self-contained life support systems. Many Sith were most easily recognized by their distinctive garb and often used this to further intimidate or impress their foes and allies alike.
The Old Sith Empire
- "Marka Ragnos, great Dark Lord, wear this victory helmet during your battles in the afterlife."
- ―Ludo Kressh
Unlike their Jedi predecessors, the Sith Lords decided there was no place for modesty and humility, and many of them seemed to appreciate flaunting riches and outstanding signs of their wealth. As the first Sith Lords derived from fallen Jedi that enslaved the Sith species, the style of their clothes reflected aspects of both those cultures. They thus adopted a fatuous fashion full of bright colors (such as green, gold, light red or purple), with golden and ornamented parts of armor. They also favored extravagant headdresses, war helmets and capes accented with eccentric necklines. Naga Sadow and Ludo Kressh were good examples of this. Most Sith Lords would feel pleasure and a sensation of power through the jealousy and greed their material possession aroused among their peers; this might explain the riot of colors and wealth they used to display, just like master Qordis did with his luxurious apartments on Korriban.
On the contrary, notable exceptions included Ajunta Pall. Despite being a well known Sith Lord, his clothing suggested no individuality, but this could be attributed to the fact he probably kept more human habits, being one of the human Dark Jedi who discovered the Sith species.
It seems many Sith robes were Force-imbued in the making, so that they could be used to enhance or assist the ability to channel the Dark Side of the Force. By the means of those, the wearer could call upon more strength or wisdom than they naturally would. Some of those artifacts were still intact and usable at the time of the Old Sith Wars, such as Aleema Keto's or Crado's robes, and the dreaded Helm of Dathka Graush.
The Sith Lords of the Old Empire each wore personalized battle armor designed to strike fear into their enemies. The Sith armor traditionally consisted of bronzium[source?] plates worn over dark red—or, more often, blue—robes, and were usually covered in sharp spines to be used as weapons. Each Sith Lord's armor was unique. Many centuries later, Darth Vader's heavy suit would follow this tradition of intimidating and fearsome-looking protective coverings. If the latter followed closely the making process of the ancient armors, it's quite possible they were made through the use of Sith Alchemy, in order to augment the user's physical strength and vitality.
The Old Sith Wars
After the Dark Lords Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma established their Brotherhood of the Sith, the first order to their new students was the Jedi pogrom, in which the apprentices were commanded to strike down their Jedi masters. As such, very few of them had the chance to change their Jedi garments, which led to a yet less uniformed Sith order.
Kun went on with the tradition of the battle armor, as he himself wore one. Sith warriors wore Sith Robes designed with a hood which could conceal the wearer's face, keeping them from being identified. Some Sith Robes also came fitted with basic armor, made from cortosis.
Revan's Sith Empire
At the time where Revan founded his new empire, the Sith likely chose to get more practical robes. The technology itself had known fundamental improvements in the previous decades, and fairly quickly gave a more austere and high-tech look to the whole Galaxy. This is probably why individuals such as Darth Bandon, Darth Malak or even Revan himself wore such unadorned sets of clothes. Darth Revan himself owned a special set of armored robes, including a full helmet of Mandalorian design. The many renegade Dark Jedi who joined Revan simply clung to Jedi garment style, adapted to the dark shades of their new allegiance. The Sith Empire also had huge numbers of minions at its command, including the Sith assault troopers and the Sith Assassins, whose outfits were highly specialized.
In the aftermath of the Mandalorian War, the Republic officers who served under Revan turned to traitors and joined the new Sith empire. They replaced their red and yellow uniforms with azure blue/gray jumpsuits. The higher ranking officers wore caps. This uniform was also worn by the trainees at the Sith Academy.
The Great War
Sometime after the Great War, a Sith robe was a popular choice of garment for Sith serving the Sith Empire and the Sith Emperor during the Cold War between the Sith and the Republic. It was heavier than what Sith tended to wear before and after the events of the Great War and the Cold War. The Jedi developed a similar garment which was equipped by their military forces. They also had a special type of gauntlet, called Warrior's gloves, that they wore during the Cold War.
The New Sith Wars
- "If this is all we have to stand against Lord Hoth, we may as was well burn our black robes and start practicing the Jedi Code."
Throughout the New Sith Wars, the style of the Sith apparel evolved into a more sober form, though it still had a touch of the old elaborate fashion of the ancient lords. Brighter colors were apparently left behind in favor of different shades of black, dark purple and gray. The Sith would generally wear black capes with cuirasses and multi-pouched belts with buckles featuring symbols similar to later Darth Maul’s tattoos. Lord Kaan and Darth Bane himself were often seen dressed that way, and Bane even wore an armored pauldron and a vambrace to protect his left arm. Darth Bane later wore biological armor made from hard-shelled orbalisks which, through a symbiotic relationship, increased his Force abilities.
Order of the Sith Lords
The Sith Lords that came after the establishment of the Rule of Two were in hiding and generally favored simpler black garments. Sith apprentices wore special training gear during their training to become Sith Lords. An example of such training gear was worn by Darth Maul, and consisted of an uniquely tailored vest. As his skills increased, there was less need for this gear. Once Maul acquired the status of Sith Lord he was robed in the black garb of the Sith Order. In a more elaborate way than the standard zeyd-cloth cloaks, Darth Maul wore black robes and loose-fitting desert-like garb, and a collard coat belted at the waist. The very large hood would drape down the back, while the sleeves were elongated and almost touched the ground. Where the sleeve attached to the main body of the robe, two slits were cut, through which Maul could put his arms.
Darth Tyranus seemingly favored the traditional garb of the Counts of Serenno, made of a sober black officer-style Vjun tunic and reddish or brown armorweave capes, the shape of which would visually enlarge the Count's silhouette. He would also wear black boots made of rare rancor leather.
Though Asajj Ventress wasn't a Sith per se, she wore "the trappings of the Sith", as Dooku himself noted. Her gear consisted of high-collared tight-fitting black and white dungarees which were covered at waist length with a wide black skirt. The skirt was easily removable by simply tucking the sash away.
Darth Sidious (and apparently Darth Plagueis) favored monk-like robes made of harsh zeyd-cloth. One of those was navy-blue with very long sleeves, and the other, which he wore in his late days, was definitely darker with a raised waffle pattern on it. Palpatine possessed several sets of Sith robes. One was made in a red, heavy and velvet-like fabric, ornamented with Sith symbols. Palpatine publicly wore it in front of the Senate when he addressed his Declaration of a New Order. Indeed, he knew nobody in the rotunda would recognize the origin of these clothes, and he estimated the time of hiding had come to an end for the Sith. Another garb was an elephant gray robe with a large hood, a black velvet capelet and puff sleeves. Palpatine was seen in it when he battled Yoda. When the reborn Sidious went on a trip to Korriban in 11 ABY, he adorned a shorter, more practical variant of his well-known black cape, complete with capelet and a long, straight walking stick.When Darth Vader needed to get his famous survival armor, Darth Sidious insisted on creating an intimidating look and completed the design with a cape and tabard reminiscent of the more usual Sith garb.
Darth Vader provided his Secret Apprentice with an Imperial uniform that he mended himself many times over his lifetime. Starkiller's training gear was both simple and versatile seeing as it survived numerous training sessions and volatile missions. Starkiller used numerous variants of his basic gear. One variant was the home made Heavy training gear which gave basic protection in toxic and polluted environments. Another variant was Light training gear which weighed less than the basic training gear, and also provided more comfort in humid environments.
Sith of Darth Krayt's Order wore armor of various design. Darth Krayt himself wore an imposing form of armor designed to instill fear into the hearts of his enemies. Darth Wyyrlok wore a set of combat armor over his robes, while Darth Nihl wore a strange set of armor designed to intimidate enemies.
Behind the scenes
Sith robes production design
As George Lucas envisioned the Sith as the dark counterpart of the Jedi, their robes were mainly designed as black versions of the Jedi apparel. The under-robes for the costume of Palpatine as an Emperor were in fact a Japanese kimono of black raw silk, as revealed in Star Wars: The Magic of Myth book. Ben Kenobi's inner robes were also made of the same material, but in a beige version. Darth Maul's attire was sewn from a hand woven fabric called Indian Homespun which had been dyed black by costume designer Trisha Biggar.
Tales of the Jedi design
Though the timespan covered by the Tales of the Jedi stories kind of fits "Star Wars' Middle Age", the style of the costumes rather reflects Antiquity. As for the Sith, they seem to be widely inspired by ancient Babylonian or Egyptian fashion; for example, Naga Sadow's and Darth Andeddu's headdress are quite similar to Pharaonic deshret and khepresh crowns. Also, rather than be limited to dark colors, the robes of these ancient Sith were quite vibrantly colored, extremely opulent.
- Episode I: The Visual Dictionary
- Attack of the Clones: The Visual Dictionary
- Revenge of the Sith: The Visual Dictionary
- Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
- The New Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Star Wars: Power of the Jedi
- Jedi Academy Training Manual
- The Art and Making of Star Wars: The Old Republic
- Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- The Essential Reader's Companion
Notes and References
- ↑ Episode I: The Visual Dictionary
- ↑ Revenge of the Sith: The Visual Dictionary
- ↑ Clone Wars Chapter 5
- ↑ Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- ↑ Revenge of the Sith: The Visual Dictionary
- ↑ Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (novel)
- ↑ Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
- ↑ The Force Unleashed (novel)