A suggestion at the moment, but if it is received well I might implement it myself. It might be too complicated, but I feel like in-game a lot of this would be resolved behind the scenes and could be safely ignored for those who don’t care about trying to minmax their clothing. Even then, I think it would feel like the result was /making sense/.

(First note: In the code, all of these valuables will be multiplied by 10, for those technically inclined, and I’m sure you’ll understand why)

All wearables have three values: Bulk, and Size, and Stretch. for the purposes of this discussion, we’ll treat Size 2 as the normal Size of, say, a t-shirt. While a child’s t-shirt would likely be size 0. Stretch is a range, default 0, with Size as the “minimum” value. Size can be modified through the tailoring skill - Bulk and Stretch cannot. Bulk may end up tied to volume or derived from it, but we’ll ignore that relationship for now, except to note that some items like backpacks and utility vests may have varying bulks.

Bulk indicates how much material the item takes up. A winter coat or a backpack would be bulky. A wifebeater would not be. A sweater would be somewhere in between.

Size is about how tightly the clothing fits. You suffer penalties for wearing clothes that are too small. Too small depends on your base size (2, unless modified with traits) and the bulk of already worn items.

When wearing clothing, smaller clothing (and then clothing that is less bulky) is automatically stacked at the lowest level.

Encumbrance is determined by the base encumbrance value of all worn items, plus the size of each item minus the bulk of the items below it, plus a fraction of the max size+bulk.

This may seem complicated at first glance, but I feel it will easily become intuitive if I walk you through a couple scenarios.

One: Character is wearing a wifebeater and a leather jacket.

The leather jacket has a base encumbrance of 1, size of 2, and bulk of 1, and the wifebeater has no base encumbrance, size of 2, and bulk of .1. We’ll say neither has any stretch.

For the arms, we’d have the 1 encumbrance from the jacket, plus a .3 encumbrance from the bulk and size of the clothing.

For the torso, we’d have the same, but since the effective size the jacket is being compared to is the bulk of the items below PLUS the players size, we get an additional .1 encumbrance on top - the price we pay for wearing a perfectly skin tight jacket, hah.

Finally, we calculate our largest of item size+bulk (the jacket), minus our size, for “1”. This value, divided by 10, is our general encumbrance modifier from wearing any clothing at all, and mainly penalizes us for things like really jam-packed backpacks or exceptionally loose clothing. Here, it’s another mere .1.

However, 1.4 or 1.5 encumbrance are both, effectively, “1” encumbrance. The wifebeater doesn’t really add anything.

Two: Now let’s add a nice, heavy sweater vest to the same character.

We’ll say the sweater has a base encumbrance of 0.3, a size of 1 (What is this, a kids shirt?), a stretch of 1 (at least it’s stretchy fabric), and a bulk of .7.

The vest is stretched up to size 2, putting it on par with our other items. Bulk means the resulting worn order would be wifebeater->sweater vest->leather jacket.

We’ll stick to the torso this time. The wifebeater adds no base encumbrance, and it’s bulk increases our effective size to 2.1. The Sweater vest has an effective size of 2, so we get a .1 encumbrance penalty on top of it’s base encumbrance. Current encumbrance: .4, still trivial. But now we hit the real issue - it also adds .7 to our bulk, bringing our effective size to 2.8. With our leather jacket dropped on top, we are no suffering a penalty of of .8 from the size difference. Add the 1 from the stiffness of the leather, and we’re up to 2.2 encumbrance. It’s still our largest, bulkiest item, so we can throw the meaningless .1 on at the end and raise it to 2.3, but effectively we’re still at 2 encumbrance.

So can we make this better?

Three: We make an adjustment to the leather vest to make it looser.

With tailoring skill, we can change our clothes a bit. By adding a bit of material, we can let our leather jacket out, and we’ll say we increase it to size 3.

Copying the first bit from last time:

The wifebeater adds no base encumbrance, and it’s bulk increases our effective size to 2.1. The Sweater vest has an effective size of 2, so we get a .1 encumbrance penalty on top of it’s base encumbrance. Current encumbrance: .4, still trivial. But now we hit the real issue - it also adds .7 to our bulk, bringing our effective size to 2.8.

However, with our new, looser leather jacket, we’re actually still in decent shape. We slip it on over the sweater vest and suffer no size penalty at all, just the 1 encumbrance penalty from the jacket, bringing us to 1.4. When we go to calculate the end result, though, the “bulk penalty”, we are comparing it to the NEW size(over player size)+bulk, of 2. This is still only a .2 encumbrance penalty, bringing us to 1.6, which isn’t really any worse than 1.4, and is a good deal better than 2.2.

Four: And what about a backpack?

Backpacks will all have high stretch values, so it’s unlikely you’ll run into a “too small” penalty, and it will end up being the item you wear on top. So that only leaves the bulk modifier at the end, beyond any base encumbrance the backpack provides. We’ll say this is a high quality backpack that provides a measly 0 base encumbrance when empty - it is barely noticeable. We also get the 10% size penalty, but it adjusts to ever so slightly larger than our our leather jacket (bringing us up to 4 size - 3 size jacket plus bulk 1), so it’s about .2, or .1 more than if we were just wearing the jacket. This puts us at 1.8. Getting a bit higher than desired, but not bad at all considering.

But filled with canned goods, it’s going to bulk up significantly. Every 1 point of bulk from the backpack adds another .1 encumbrance penalty. Let’s just make bulk equivalent to the backpacks volume at this point, and say our backpack has a volume of 40. If we expand that backpack out to max volume and bulk, we’ve got an additional .4 on top of our penalties.

Well, we seem to be back at 2.2 encumbrance. But you know, considering we’ve got a full backpack, some decent armor, and quite a bit of warmth, that’s really not too bad.

So what do you guys think? Is something like this an alright idea?

(As a final note, some items, like Chitin armor or Plate Mail or boots, would have the “RIGID” tag - this would mean they simply CANNOT be worn if you have they would have a size penalty. So there would be no stacking up on those rigid items.)