In the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess rendition, Link's tunic appears to have laces on most, if not all, of its side seams below the sleeves, but only partially atop the sleeves, and not at all atop the shoulders.

Is there a practical reason for this partial placement of lacing (why not either sewn or laced the full seam), is it meant to be a design choice or a repair, has this lacing ever been seen before in real cultures, or is it presumably just for visual aesthetics?

enter image description here enter image description here

  • I guess I don't understand your question. Which part of his outfit are you talking about?
    – RedCaio
    Sep 29, 2016 at 8:43
  • He's talking about the little cross-stitches on the arms and under the arm.
    – Valorum
    Sep 29, 2016 at 8:56
  • 1
    Never mind the lacing, I cannot find an example from medieval or roman times of a tunic with a split on the side. (that the lowermost lace holds together)
    – Abulafia
    Sep 29, 2016 at 10:36
  • 1
    @Abulafia - I think this is the look that they're going for, where the tunic is actually a single piece of fabric held together at the sides (and the arms) by laces. One size fits all; img0.etsystatic.com/130/1/6533195/…
    – Valorum
    Sep 29, 2016 at 11:42
  • 1
    If they weren't laced so much, not only would Nintendo have had to invest a lot more in extra cloth physics, it also would have meant that Link's entire outfit would have been flapping around all the time. Not exactly useful in the midst of a sword fight. HYAA-- catches arm in loose sleeve, drops sword. Or while exploring. Runs towards ledge HUP Trips due to catching leg in loose tunic around waist, falls over ledge into pit of lava UAHHHHHH. Sep 29, 2016 at 12:25

4 Answers 4


Links tunic is made that way obviously mainly for fashion.

We can break it down into 3 pieces (2 matching). The front/back and then the 2 sleeves.

This type of front/back without the sleeves is a common surcoat.

The sleeves on the other hand are likely 100% style choice, but it could also be that the tunic is a much more solid construction and needed to be slit and the designer simply liked this better than stitching it, or that are designed to connect to some other armor piece to support it, but what this could be, who knows. There is however, no shirt design that has such lacing I know of for the sleeves.

It could also just be there to reinforce the stitching which is often enough done on older clothes so that you have two levels of stitching/lacing that takes off tension and makes it less likely to tear. This is definitely somewhat true of the cap.

So there is functionality to why they are be there, but there are also design choices.

Also Link's Tunic is Actually a Surcoat (a weird one at that), over Leather armor, over a cotton or Linen Gambeson


Leather Tunic




Completely out of universe answer.

It looks to just your typical cord lacing to allow more leeway for different sizes people to wear the clothes.

I can't find anything that resembles that pattern of lacing ,but typical medieval clothes commonly used this type of fastening.

This photo shows lacing that was used in the 15th century with Memlinc and other Italian and Flemish artists:

enter image description here

Obviously not the same Link's tunic, but demonstrates that sometimes laces are just for decoration, as seen in the above photo around the bottom of the garment.

There are a few types of lacing,

  • Spiral Lacing
  • Ladder Lacing
  • Double Helix Lacing
  • Criss Cross Lacing
  • Over Under Lacing

enter image description here

A lot of it decorative, but for the majority of the time did serve the purpose of creating better fitting clothes.

  • Those laces are not decorative v.v They're for tying armor so that it's supported.
    – Durakken
    Sep 29, 2016 at 14:21
  • @Durakken, I think you will find that this piece of clothing was worn by artists and not used for battle.
    – KyloRen
    Sep 29, 2016 at 21:38
  • Whether it is or isn't the clothing is either modeled on the clothing worn by knights or is the same clothing, just not used for the function. It happens all the time, but that doesn't mean that those laces are decorative.
    – Durakken
    Sep 30, 2016 at 2:16

The green part of the costume could be a single piece of fabric held together at the sides by laces. A medieval-esque example is shown below. It also becomes clear that the green fabric is leather. Note for instance the shadowing on the pattern in the corner of his tunic, which would be created by leather tooling and carving.

The way leather moves means that it is easier to render realistically in a computer game than what say cotton-fabric would:

  • It does not flutter in a breeze
  • it buckles but less so than soft cotton and does not hug his shape, so it does not seem "odd" if it remains unchanged when Link makes a movement. Imagine the contrast to a polygon-defined t-shirt, which can make it look like the character is wearing a cardboard box.
  • It can be smooth and shiny, meaning less computation on how it reflects light and less fuss about its texture.

Thanks to the comments by Valorum and DisturbedNeo in particular, which made it possible to piece together this answer.

enter image description here

  • 1
    You may want to note that the goal is to allow the tailor to sell a "one-size-fits-all" tunic made from a large single piece of fabric or leather without the need for stitching. You can simply cut the hide off a cow, cut it to size and the lace the edges together; easyfreepatterns.com/patterns/250/…
    – Valorum
    Sep 29, 2016 at 13:09
  • @Valorum: Thanks, edited it. But note the cut at Link's hip. There's one lace-crossing and further up an unbroken section of leather, before there's new sections of lacing under his arm. If the tunic is identical on his right-hand side, it's possible that the artist has drawn something that's impossible to cut from a single hide.
    – Abulafia
    Sep 29, 2016 at 15:12
  • @Valorum ummm no, not really. While there were taylor in the medieval age they were not the place you go for "one-size-fits-all". Peasants would make their own clothes while the Rich would have all their stuff custom made...
    – Durakken
    Sep 29, 2016 at 15:15
  • @durakken - I think in this instance this is a "stylised" version of a peasant tunic. As Abulafia has pointed out, it's actually stitched together in places, suggesting an anachronistic mix of techniques.
    – Valorum
    Sep 29, 2016 at 15:40
  • 1
    "which made it possible to piece together this answer." Are you sure the answer wasn't stitched together? ;)
    – FreeMan
    Jan 26, 2022 at 17:56

Someone said that it's a Surcoat over leather armor which is wrong 🤣, it's a over chainmail. Which is also probably a good reason as to why those cross stitches are there. They are actually ties. If you look, they go all the way up to under the sleeve. Without the stitches, the tunic could actually be pulled in half with the neck area being the "middle", this would make it easier to put the tunic over the chain mail like a poncho almost, and the stitches would pull the tunic back together. Sliding a shirt over chainmail would be a lot harder.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. The question seems to be more about why the sleeves are only partially laced; can you answer what that design means and where it comes from?
    – DavidW
    Jan 10, 2022 at 20:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.