I Am No Man: Éowyn’s Journey from Gowns to Gauntlets

By Shannon O'Toole

As the one of the three main women in The Lord of the Rings, it is no wonder that Éowyn has one of the most memorable wardrobes in Middle-earth. With dark and heavy gowns, light and flowing dresses, and even armor, Éowyn’s wardrobe is perhaps one of the most varied in the entire trilogy.

Éowyn’s dresses are striking and they express her personal journey throughout The Two Towers and The Return of the King. Her character’s evolution from a lady to a warrior is best reflected in each outfit she wears during the two films.

Lady in Mourning

Éowyn first graces the screen in The Two Towers as she races to her dying cousin’s bedside. Many of her later outfits are lighter in color with flowing fabrics and beautiful simplicity, but her first dress is a dark color made with heavy fabrics and intricate details. The upper portion is a deep, rich green velvet, embellished with gold brocade around the collar and neckline. Below the waistline, the velvet gives way to lighter shades of green. She wears an ornate gold belt loosely around her hips, and a delicate gold floral necklace set with blue stones.

This dress is worn through some of Éowyn’s most harrowing moments in the two movies she features in, and the dark, heavy fabric she wears perfectly matches the tone of these scenes. In this dress, she joins her brother Éomer at their dying cousin’s bedside and beseeches her uncle, King Théoden, to come see his son.

Éowyn Fights Back

The next time viewers see Éowyn, she is wearing perhaps her most iconic dress. The scene finds her weeping at her cousin Théodred’s bedside. Gríma Wormtongue enters, telling her that Théodred must have died overnight. Wormtongue reflects on Éowyn’s fears and insecurities, and for a moment, it seems that he has ensnared her. But she looks him in the eye to tell him, “Your words are poison.” With that, she leaves the dark room and fearful thoughts behind.

Bursting through the doors of Meduseld, the details of Éowyn’s dress are fully revealed. Her dress is made of a lighter weight, white fabric. Gold rope is tied around her biceps. The bell sleeves elegantly catch the wind blowing through Edoras. The fitted dress features gold embroidery along the neckline and is cinched with an ornate, gold belt. She once again wears the gold necklace from previous scenes. As she surveys the rolling plains of Rohan, it seems she has broken away from something sinister. Her bright, flowing dress reflects the hope and renewal that she is yearning for.

Moving On and Looking Sharp

Éowyn is seen next at her cousin’s funeral. Once again, her dress is a heavy, dark blue velvet gown with a high gold collar. She wears a gold circlet on her head, featuring her familiar floral motif. Around her neck, she wears a thick gold chain with a large, intricate medallion. Her long hair, which flowed freely in the previous scene, is pulled up. Éowyn’s sadness is palpable as she sings a lament for the cousin she loved so dearly, and her somber, heavy garb further expresses this.

Next, Éowyn appears in the stables in Edoras. She is dressed simply as she tends to the horses — a simple, light blue top with a ragged brown underskirt. For warmth, she wears a long, brown tunic lined with fur around the neck and along the hemline. The only detail revealing her station as the King’s niece is a gold brooch with a blue stone. She appears in this outfit once again as the Rohirrim make for Helm’s Deep. Despite being the King’s niece and respecting the duty that comes with her station, Éowyn dresses practically when the occasion calls for it.

To Helm’s Deep

Later, still in Edoras, Éowyn opts for a simple blue top with her sleeves rolled up to her elbows under a simple brown overdress. She practices in the halls of Meduseld with her sword, whose hilt features two horse heads and looks strikingly similar to her beloved uncle’s sword. When Aragorn takes note of Éowyn’s proficiency with a blade, she tells him, “The women of this country learned long ago that those without swords can still die upon them.”

With rolled up sleeves, her simple style, and her sword in hand, Éowyn shows that she is pragmatic and unafraid of protecting herself and the country that she loves. She wears this dress again at Helm’s Deep, where she is charged with accompanying the women and children into the Glittering Caves to keep them safe. In this simple style, she is almost indistinguishable from the people that she leads. This relatability is perhaps one of Éowyn’s most noble traits.

Preparing for the Road Ahead

The audience first sees Éowyn in The Return of the King from a distance as she stands outside of Meduseld. Back home in the Golden Hall, to celebrate the victory at Helm’s Deep, she dresses once again in a manner that reflects her station. Her dress is a pastel blue with bell sleeves and features light yellow brocade with Rohirrim knots embroidered down the center of the bodice. The light color is one of celebration, and makes Éowyn stand out amongst her fellow Rohirrim who are dressed mostly in red, brown, and green tones.

Shortly after the Beacons of Gondor are lit, she wears a traveling outfit to accompany the men to Dunharrow. The bodice appears to be a deep green with either burgundy or deep brown sleeves and a wide collar. The outfit has gold detailing, and although the bottom of her outfit cannot be seen, it can be assumed that it’s fit for riding a horse. She tells Aragorn that traditionally the women of the court ride along with the men before battles. Her clothing both honors her position as the Lady of Rohan and allows her to address the practical necessity of riding her horse a great distance. Éowyn also brings her sword along with her, foretelling her plans for the battle ahead.

As the Rohirrim settle into their encampment at Dunharrow, Éowyn changes into the outfit she first appeared in briefly at the beginning of The Return of the King. Featuring a simple off-white underdress with long bell sleeves and a long brown overdress with gold detailing, it is both simple and elegant. Éowyn once again dresses to reflect the situation at hand; she is both a lady and one of the many citizens of Rohan preparing for the frightening path before her.

Born for Battle

Despite being told that she must remain behind, Éowyn defies orders and rides into battle disguised as a soldier of Rohan. Her long hair is tucked into her helmet, which hides most of her face. She is dressed in simple armor; she wears a tattered green cloak, chainmail, and a simple leather vest in brown and gold. Her tunic, pants, gloves and boots are earth-toned like the other men of Rohan. Having grown up around the cavalry of Rohan, Éowyn knows what it takes to go unnoticed in their ranks. The only thing alluding to her true identity is her sword.

With this disguise, she charges into the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and faces the Witch-king. She only reveals her true identity when the Witch-king tells her that no man can kill him. Casting aside her helmet and allowing her long, gold tresses to fall, she tells him, “I am no man,” as she drives his sword though his helm. Her nondescript armor allows her to blend in with the rest of the Rohirrim, and makes her victorious reveal all the more satisfying.

Éowyn is brought to the House of Healing to recover from her wounds. There she wears a simple white dress and a deep blue cloak with gold trim and small, metallic spots that look like stars against the night sky. Éowyn again perfectly balances practicality and grace in her style of dress. It is also here that she meets Faramir. He also wears a tunic in a deep shade of blue with metallic detailing. Their similar style provides a visual representation of the budding relationship between the two kindred spirits.

Return of the Floral

Éowyn is seen for the final time at Aragorn’s coronation, which she attends with Faramir. She wears a light gold dress strikingly similar in its construction to her iconic white dress. Gold ropes wrap around her biceps, a gold belt falls above her hips, and gold detailing encircles the neckline.

She returns to her gold floral motif from The Two Towers in the form of a circlet she wears about her head and a golden necklace. A matching cloak wraps around her shoulders. Harkening back to her earlier looks, she honors her roots as a Shieldmaiden of Rohan. With its bright tones, it celebrates both the victory of the Free People of Middle-earth over Sauron and Éowyn coming into her own.

As both the King’s niece and a down-to-Middle-earth warrior, Éowyn is adaptable in her wardrobe choices. She always dresses for the occasion at hand, slipping seamlessly between more simple looks and the styles fit for the niece of the King of Rohan. Beyond the inherent practicality of every outfit she wears, her style also reflects both her moods and where she is in her personal journey.

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