The Highwaywoman, by Conlaodh

highwaywomanThe Highwaywoman, by Conlaodh.

I was a Highwayman.
Along the coach roads I did ride, with sword and pistol by my side.
Many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade;
Many a soldier shed his life’s blood on my blade.
The bastards hung me in the spring of ’25,
But I am still alive.
—Willie Nelson, “The Highwayman

One distinction about the designation “highwayman” (or woman) that I think a lot of people forget is that it refers specifically to a bandit who robs on horseback. Those who rob travelers on foot are called “footpads” and rank lower on the villain hierarchy because they can’t afford a horse. I suspect this is partly how highwaymen came to be romanticized as “gentlemen bandits,” being that much wealthier than their pedestrian counterparts.

highwaywoman2At any rate, I rather like the dress and riding habit our crimson-haired highwaywoman is sporting in this image. The earth-toned color scheme is effective to me. Too many of the more romanticized depictions of highwaymen and women feature rather flamboyant outfits; the green and brown allows our heroine to blend better with the woods on either side of the king’s highway.

It’s difficult to tell with a 3D image, but I suspect that our heroine’s riding habit is leather: durable for travel and basically protective in a fight. Her corset is a stronger leather, offering excellent protection at the midriff. The petticoat and blouse are durable as well, green wool or cotton. The outer skirt is dark-green wool tartan, bringing to mind the many Irish highwaymen of the 17–1800s.

I think her accessories are genuinely effective as well. On top of being thematically appropriate for the steampunk genre, the goggles help keep the riding dust out of her eyes. Gloves are light, form-fitting material, durable for riding and flexible for pistol marksmanship.

I think the main thing I find missing in this picture is lack of head wear. With our modern society’s planes, trains, and automobiles, it’s easy to forget that hats were a vital part of any traveling attire, protecting people’s heads from sun, rain, and snow alike. In terms of practicality and thematic appropriateness, I’d recommend a top hat, tri-corner hat, wide-brimmed or cocked hat, or a riding hood of some sort—preferably in the color scheme of the rest of her outfit.

In addition, I’d recommend having a scarf or bandana handy for keeping the dust out of her nose and mouth (or for additional identity concealment, should the need arise). Lastly, I feel like she’d do well to have a blade or other side arm handy, in case she ends up using both pistol shots. Just… make it a cavalry sabre or longsword—too many stories depict highwaymen with rapiers, which is about as worthless as a weapon can get on horseback.

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