That title makes me sound like the biggest holiday fruitcake, I know. My browser ate my post once already, must be a sign to ramble less.
Let's talk clothes. Specifically, let us address how much I hate the "look like everyone else" effect that WoW has. WoW would be the worst prom ever, all the BE mages would arrive in the same robe... a catfight then ensues. Scrunchies would be flying everywhere!
The armor system lacks customization, which was already pretty bad in their characters. Hell, you cannot even improve the stats on older gear which you may have taken a liking too. No, instead you move into the next area after an expansion and usually wind up wearing a "clownsuit" of miss-matched gear. It makes the RPers weep... and not a few of my female gamer friends are very upset when their character looks like a hobo. Especially female RPer friends, they do not like looking like crap.
I'm going to drop my own idea, which I'd want to see rolled out into a game. Yes, my examples will use Asian-looking templates, mostly because well... that's the setting inspiration in my head. This should be something which can work in other settings though. The cuts of the clothing would change, as would the designs "embroidered" onto cloth... "tooled" onto leather, and applied as "filigree" on metal.
I'm going to use cloth robes in my examples, because I snagged a simple example image off wikipedia anyway.
So, you select a "style" of robe at the beginning, likely during character creation, and at the same time you could choose a colour. Say you go with red, unlike the above example your starter robe would be all red... the example is two-tone to show the cuffs and such more easily.
The colour you choose would not make a difference in your stats, but means that even from the start you won't be dressed identical to the other noob rezzing in beside you for the tutorial. Especially if you can choose boots versus shoes, long loose pants under the robe vs capri-looking things... and on and on...
Clothing should be mostly (if not exclusly) from crafting sources, my earlier blog post about account tiering addressed the economy somewhat, but for the most part: plain undyed armor would be in NPC stores and their price/supply would depend on people completing profession-based quests or from people who are "land owners" paying the NPC goverment tithes with crafted goods. Crafters may also sell pre-dyed or enhanced items at market stalls or the auctions.
How are stats adjusted on armor?
Well, rather than "enchanting" which changes stats but makes no outward change to the items... I would think (in the case of cloth) you could embroider runes, hanzi, symbols, or patterns onto the items that embue them with benefits. Also, if you want the stats but do not want the pattern to be visible to other players... just dye your embroidery thread the same colour as the cloth under it! It would blend in then.
The "look" of the lower level items should always be recreatable on the higher grade items... but higher grade "patterns" be they the new robe style or the more ornate patterns of embroidery... should not be managed in linen robes. This means if you loved your beginner robes, you can still increase your armor's strength but keep the same look you had earlier on. While someone not improving their armor skills cannot dress in that fancier cut of robe that doesn't exist as a linen option. There would still be plenty of options for them that exst as linen looks, but there should be some aesthetic "reward" for increasing your skill.
This does mean there would be a whole load of texture results that would be applied basedoff what a crafter does with the item, but there are already so many essentially wasted textures made in MMORPGs for all that gear that amounts to nothing but clown suits. I would sooner spend time producing an array of options people can choose between because they WANT it to look that way, than stick people with ugly things they don't like. What a waste of a texture.
If you start out with a lot of options, and only introduce a few new ones in each tier [of armor quality], many of your early textures will continue to be reused as people move from linen to wool and onward. Releasing new embroidery patterns or clothing styles would be a viable "new content" option to do every few months... giving the crafters and clothing collectors something new to persue.