The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim offers players a wide variety of armor sets to choose from. While each set provides differing values of armor, enchantments, and weight, we all know that the most important part of any RPG is fashion. With this in mind, we’ve scoured the works of every Tamrielic smith to rank the top 10 best looking armor in Skyrim.
10 Most Stylish Armor Sets in Skyrim, Ranked from Sharp to Dangerously Handsome
Without further ado, let’s check out the best looking armor sets in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Steel Plate Armor
Steel Plate is a midgame armor set which appears in the game world beginning at level 18. Crafting the armor requires the Smithing perk “Advanced Armors.”
During the midgame, this may be the best armor option available to players, both mechanically and aesthetically. The winged helmet is a standout feature of the armor, providing some nice verticality to the model.
Additionally, the studded fur sash keeps the armor from looking bland by adding a bit of accent color. The gauntlets and boots also have a bit of fur under them, adding to this effect. This accent is not only a nice way to break up the steel gray coloring, but also makes sense within the context of Skyrim. Because the province is a very cold northern region, it makes sense to pack metallic armor with fur for warmth. It may not be the most lavish armor set, but it stands out from its peers due to its unique and iconic design.
Appearing in every Elder Scrolls game since Morrowind, glass is the second-highest quality light armor in the base game. Despite the name of the set, malachite (a green volcanic crystal) is actually the primary material.
The skills of the High Elves produce this armor, which shows in its design philosophy. The brassy coloring and curving angles are reminiscent of the Elven armor set (another High Elf creation). Teal accents (the titular glass) make the armor stand out and provide a nice bit of detailing without being overwhelming.
This design is a significant improvement on Oblivion‘s iteration of glass armor, whose shiny lime green coloration was a blinding eyesore. Skyrim changed the color to include more shades of blue, moving further away from the original design seen in Morrowind. Glass’ new color scheme is a more visually pleasing design, however it loses some of the original’s uniqueness.
As said before, the Altmer make this armor from volcanic crystals. Morrowind‘s design showcased this, giving the armor a green crystalline structure. The crystals and gems used to produce the set retained their shape, protruding from some spots and inlaid in others. Skyrim seems to have taken the design more in the direction of actual glass, what with its blued hews and sanded down edges. All told, despite being a bit of an iterational disappointment, glass armor remains a stand out Skyrim set.
In gameplay terms, dragonscale armor overtakes glass to become the single highest-quality light armor set in base Skyrim. It requires the highest level of smithing to craft and has the highest level requirements to naturally spawn. Made from the scales of dragons (as the name suggests), dragon items are the reason why you will be overencumbered for hours trying to lug the materials to a forge. As well as points to unlock new dragon shouts, they serve as an extra reward for dangerous encounters with your flying reptilian rivals.
This set beats out its heavy cousin, dragonplate armor, by virtue of dragonplate being a bit bland. Dragonplate armor’s monotony and not-particularly-appealing design (save for the helmet) keeps the scales above it in our opinion.
Conversely, dragonscale keeps things interesting in its design with its scaled faulds and hard plates. This design is much more evocative of dragons than the set’s heavy counterpart. The overall structure and silhouette of the armor is clearly reminiscent of its titular wyrms, even including similar horns on the helmet. Compared to this, dragonplate (while not a wholly bad set itself) seems average and unmentionable, whereas dragonscale is a proper homage to the game’s primary antagonists.
Heavy Stalhrim Armor
Stalhrim comes from the island of Solstheim in the Dragonborn expansion, our second returning Morrowind set and first DLC set. Unlike glass, the first returning set on this list, Skyrim‘s stalhrim armor is actually an improvement on the iteration seen 2 games previous. Morrowind‘s Bloodmoon expansion brought stalhrim (then-known as ice armor) to that game. In this iteration, the armor’s white coloring was a bit overwhelming. The icy white acted as a dominant primary color, with spots of gray to accent.
Skyrim‘s decision to reverse this coloration and darken the accent color brought out a sense of clean richness which its predecessor sorely lacked. Additionally, similarly unlike glass, the stalhrim armor seen here illustrates the uniqueness of the material used to construct it far more than the Morrowind version.
Canonically, stalhrim is a kind of enchanted ice only found on the island of Solstheim. The Skaal (Nords native to the island) are the only ones in the world capable of producing this armor. In Bloodmoon, this supposedly unique material appeared no differently than any other variety of ice.
Dragonborn improves this by giving stalhrim a truly unique design. Stalhrim itself now features a distinctive glowing blue coloring, as well as a rough, rocky texture. The new and improved stalhrim armor design is at once more unique and clearly inspired by the Nords’ culture than its elder counterpart.
The Dunmer guards’ primary garb, bonemold armor is yet another set returning from Morrowind. This armor comes from the Dragonborn expansion. As the Dark Elf Great House Redoran controls the island at the time of Skyrim, the version seen in game is Elder Scrolls 3‘s Gah-Julan bonemold armor (the variety which Redoran favors). Bonemold’s exemplification of Vvardenfell’s strangeness made it arguably the most iconic armor set from Morrowind. The set is an inversion of typical medieval knight armor, playing on common design tropes but also twisting them into something wholly new.
A significant facet of Morrowind‘s bonemold was its variety. Bonemold armor came in several different flavors, each one distinct from the others. Morrowind‘s armor system further lent itself to this variety, with the option of choosing which individual pauldrons, gauntlets, and greaves to wear. This system had disappeared from the series’ fifth entry (as is the medium armor status), however Bethesda has supplemented this with a choice between armor with and without pauldrons. That doesn’t quite make up for the fact that so much customization was lost, though it’s still a treat to see this fan favorite return in HD.
Light Chitin Armor
Capping off our trilogy of Morrowind armor which returns in the Dragonborn DLC is light chitin. We’ve chosen light chitin here for its sleeker, more interesting design over the heavy version. Skyrim‘s version of chitin armor is significantly different from Morrowind‘s design. The goggles and general shell structure are all that remain here, the rest of the armor’s appearance is quite a departure from its predecessor. It’s hard for us to say which is better, but the bits of cloth added to the Dragonborn variety seen here add a lot to the armor.
In Morrowind, much like bonemold armor, this set sought to accentuate the alien atmosphere of Vvardenfell. Whereas most other regions in Tamriel (and the real world) use leather for this kind of armor, the Dark Elves instead use the chitin found on giant insect shells, attaching them together with resin.
In Skyrim, the weirdness of these sets is further accentuated by the fact that there is a constant, direct comparison being made with the rest of the game’s armor sets. The bits of leather added to this version of chitin armor keep it from looking bland and monotonous. As well, changing the chitin’s color from sandy yellow to reddish brown is a nice change befitting Dragonborn‘s atmosphere. Though not as wholly lifted from Morrowind‘s aesthetics as bonemold armor, chitin armor’s new look is a welcome alteration.
Vampire Royal Armor
Coming from the Dawnguard expansion, vampire royal armor is worn by two major characters (Serana and Lord Harkon). Players can obtain this armor upon completion of the DLC’s main story. Valerica dons a slightly different version of this set with a pinkish body and red cape. This set wins out over the standard vampire armor mostly by virtue of the cape and the horizontality added by the male version’s pauldrons.
Skyrim gave Elder Scrolls vampires a lot of development (though sadly following Oblivion in cutting the vampire clan/bloodline system from Daggerfall and Morrowind). Before Skyrim, the design philosophy towards vampirism was essentially to make it an extra challenge for experienced players (except in Oblivion where it’s a bit useless). Society at large shunned players who became vampires, requiring more forethought and extensive game knowledge.
In Skyrim (especially after Dawnguard), vampires are a much more viable option for players at any level. You even get your own spooky castle! This armor, with its deep black body speckled with wine red accents, is perfect for players seeking to live out a Count Dracula roleplay. The vampire royal set is among the most finely crafted, intricately designed pieces in the entire game.
Ebony armor has appeared in every mainline Elder Scrolls game. The word ebony here does not, in fact, refer to a dark-colored type of wood as one might initially assume. Much like glass, this is another instance of Elder Scrolls lore taking a commonly known object and making it an in-universe term for a wholly different object. Elder Scrolls ebony is actually a type of volcanic glass. Dark Elves are the primary producers of ebony, as the volcanoes of Morrowind contain plentiful underground veins of the material.
In games past, ebony armor was evocative of pretty standard (albeit very cool) knight armor dyed black and gold. Skyrim did away with the gold accent colors which had been a staple of the set since its first appearance in The Elder Scrolls 1: Arena. Alongside this color rejection was a more encompassing redesign than ebony armor had ever received. The games before Skyrim tended to iterate upon the example set by Arena. Skyrim has completely changed this set’s standard knight inspiration to create an unmistakably Dunmer design. In fact, all of the ebony equipment in Skyrim better represents its creators. The armor’s silhouette evokes the Dark Elves, most obviously in the helmet ornaments which resemble their ears. Hard edges and sharp angles also reflect this, mirroring some of the design philosophies seen in chitin and bonemold armor.
All told, not only is Skyrim‘s ebony armor one of the best looking armor sets in the game, it may just be the best iteration of the armor the Elder Scrolls series has seen.
“Like forged midnight” is how the guards of Skyrim refer to this armor. An apt description, considering how anyone wearing this armor takes on the appearance of a walking shadow. Given to an order of the daedric prince Nocturnal’s loyal servants, the armor of the Nightingales is a must-have for thief characters. Not only does it come with a variety of helpful enchantments for the roguish type Dragonborns, but the set is also given to players towards the end of a questline all about thievery. In a game like Skyrim, which doesn’t have many appealing armor options for thieves, it’s interesting that players get one of the best looking thief armor sets in the series.
The Nightingale set features a shadowy mask, a hood cloak resembling a Nazgûl, and an almost formless bandage-like structure to the armor which evokes the likes of Batman or Spawn. The Nightingale insignia emblazoned on the chest is a nice detail that really brings the whole design together. This is one of Skyrim‘s sleekest outfits, undeniably cool and dripping with style. We strongly recommend any thief characters pick this one up.
It’s got customization options, it’s got a high armor rating, and it’s attached to the game’s best faction. What doesn’t Dawnguard armor have? Although we’re showcasing the heavy version, with a full helmet and two pauldrons, there’s a lot of variety in this set. You can have a full or open helmet, pick between zero, one and two pauldrons, and there’s even a fair amount of color options at player’s disposal. When we said Skyrim‘s bonemold armor tried to replicate Morrowind‘s customization, we didn’t mention that bonemold should have taken more notes from the Dawnguard set.
This is the uniform of the Dawnguard, an old group of vampire hunters who have recently been reformed by Isran. Its design showcases the armor’s specific purpose to combat vampires. The extra padding on the suit’s neck protects from vampiric fangs. A reinforced gambeson serves as a bulwark against undead claws and blades. Wearing a full set of Dawnguard armor provides defense against the spells used by vampires, which leads us to assume that the metallic parts are silver.
This design tells a compelling story, but likewise it contains a lot of little details that are just very neat. On the back of the armor, there is a small water flask. The various belts strapping the set together and to the player’s body make it look like a proper armor set in a way that few other Skyrim outfits do. In fact, very few armor options in the game have this much care and detail in their designs.
Perhaps the Dawnguard expansion’s finest addition, this piece of nosferatu-slaying gear has been winning over the hearts of fans since its debut in 2012, and is our unequivocal pick for the best looking armor set in Skyrim.
Join the High Ground
That wraps up our article of the best looking armor in Skyrim. Did we miss one of your favorite sets? Would you have ordered this ranking differently? Do you have more to say about our picks? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to join our newsletter for more Skyrim content and guides.