For many people the chance to play with their appearance, their clothes and the like forms an integral part of their Second Life™ experience. Even if you never change out of your “Ruth” appearance (the girl with the purple top who is the default Second Life avatar is called Ruth, being Ruthed is when you shape doesn't load properly and you revert to her body), acquiring new items (including notecards and landmarks), managing them and your inventory will be important parts of your Second Life experience, and because clothes are important to many we are going to look at wearing and changing clothes and attachments at the same time.

Getting something new

Buying, taking or being given a new item - hereafter one transaction has a level before you make your purchase of course: actually finding what you want. There will be a chapter on using search that will try to cover that. But, once you have found the item there are a few ways you can interact with it to initiate the transaction. In approximate order of frequency they are:

NOTE: delivery of items in Second Life usually happens within a matter of seconds. Certain distributed vendor systems may take as long as 30 seconds. However, on occasion Second Life struggles to make the delivery and your delivery may be delayed or even not happen. In these circumstances you can check your transactions history via the Second Life website and see if you have made a payment. If your payment was recorded but the item was never delivered (also indicated on the transaction history) you can try to contact the seller direct and as if they will send you one, or return your money. Most sellers are content to do this.

Finding your purchase in your inventory.

Top of Inventory windowThis is fortunately easier than it used to be, thanks to the Recent Items tab in the inventory. Open your inventory (Inventory Button or Cntl-I or View>Inventory) and at the top of the window are two tabs: All Items and Recent Items. Clicking on the Recent Items tab will, by default, show you items you have acquired since logging on - such as your recent transactions. These transactions may, depending on the process by which you acquired them, be new items in the Objects folder, or new folders of their own either containing an object or all the items as separates. You can, usually, spot new folders in the All Items tab of the inventory, and with the default inventory sort option on (newer items at the top) finding new objects in your Objects folder is not usually too hard either.

Rezzing and opening boxes and the like

The process of causing an object to appear in world, whether as part of building or something you have just bought, is called rezzing. This comes from the 1982 film Tron but is in common usage in Second Life. Removing an item is sometimes called derezzing, but deleting, taking, returning etc. are also used depending on how it is removed. In world is a common phrase indicating anything done whilst logged in to Second Life, and you will find it throughout this guide.

Building is beyond the remit of these materials at the moment, however to rez your shopping in world, once you have found it in your inventory you can simply select it with the mouse, and holding the mouse key down drag it out of your inventory into the world and then release the mouse. This will cause the item to rez. It you have used Take Copy you will always have a direct copy of the item. If you have been shopping, you will probably have a box or bag containing the items you have bought. You can ONLY rez objects. Notecards, scripts, skins, clothes (as layers) etc. cannot be rezzed in world. Objects have an icon which appears as a box in your inventory.

Once you have rezzed the box, you can right click it and choose Open from the pie menu. You will be offered the chance to copy the items to your inventory, or copy and wear if there are clothes layers present. It is probably best to copy to inventory and then wear if you wish. Copying to inventory creates a new folder in your inventory with all of the items in it for you to look at. It is not unknown for sold objects to be sold unboxed. It is worth checking before you unpack the box.

Wearing clothes, skin, hair and attachments

Your avatar MUST always have skin, hair, eyes and a shape. You can, and probably should, also wear clothes on various clothes layers. You may also wear attachments - for example all of the best hair in Second Life combines a hair layer (usually a bald base) and one or more attachments (hair style, bangs (a fringe if you are British), and many skirts consist of an attachment with or without a glitch layer.

To wear any of these items you can right click them in your inventory and choose wear from the menu. If you wear a jacket and you are already wearing one, the new one will replace old one. If you wear an attachment the same thing will happen except the drop down menu will offer you choices about where to attach including attaching to your HUD as well as wear. For most clothes attachments you can just wear and the item will attach to the right place on your body as they remember the attachment point. If you wear a box by mistake (a common mistake) it will attach to your right hand. For clothes and attachments you have a Take Off or Detach From Yourself item in the menu when you right-click it in your inventory. If you have problems finding what you are wearing in your inventory, typing (WORN) into the inventory search window will pull up all your clothes, attachments, body shape, skin, hair and eyes.

Second layer of take off menuTake off, top layer of menuYou can also take items off from right-clicking yourself and the pie menu. If you choose Take Off> you will drill down through several layers that allow you to choose individual items, whether clothes or attachments to remove. You can also remove attachments and clothes from the Edit menu, by choosing Detach Object or Take Off Clothing respectively, and choosing items in the sub menu. If you have an object selected in your inventory you can use the Edit>Attach Object menu to attach it as well.

Peering under the bonnet

This is probably all quite confusing, talking about skin, shapes, hair layers and attachments, and so on. So, an explanation is in order.

Your avatar in Second Life starts as Ruth, we all do. Either by editing your shape, buying a shape and wearing it, or using a different shape in the library you apply a change to that base Ruth shape which gives you your current shape. Be that male, female, non-human, tall, short, slim, overweight, whatever, your shape is a transformation of the Ruth shape. For this reason you must always wear a shape.

Similarly, in order to know how to render your appearance you must wear a skin, eyes and hair. You arrive in Second Life wearing these, and may have modified them in your orientation phase, or you can, again, buy and wear new hair, skin and eyes. A bald base hair is still hair, it is just hair that can't be seen, but your avatar is still wearing hair and satisfies the system's requirements. The shape, hair, skin and eyes form the base appearance of your avatar. To this you can add things. If you buy a new skin be prepared for them to be rather anatomically correct in nature. It is possible, if you are worried about this, to find skin with included underwear if you search for it.

The most obvious things that are added to this base are clothes layers. Clothes layers are created from textures applied to a clothes layer. You can try this in a simple way by creating a new clothes item, for example a jacket Create>New Clothes>Jacket from the top of the inventory window, applying a texture from the library and seeing what happens. You can play with the sliders to change the appearance somewhat. Professional clothes (and skin) designers use tools such as Photoshop® and the clothing templates to create much more detailed clothes than you will manage by this method but the principle is the same. NOTE: If you are not used to American English, Pants are Trousers and Underpants are pants in British English. If you want to wear tattoos in Second Life (which is surprisingly common even in those that would not consider it in Real Life, you must either find someone that will modify their skins for you (this service is available but not cheap), learn how to make your own skins, or wear tattoos on a clothes layer - usually underpants or undershirt. This has implications for other layers that you can wear, but you can still be entirely decent despite this.

Second Life uses some very smart processing to look at your skin, hair and clothes and combine them into 4 or 5 streamed textures, hair, head, upper body, lower body and skirt id you are wearing one. Clothes in Second Life layer, more or less as you would expect - so a jacket covers a shirt, a shirt covers an undershirt etc. Skirts are, perhaps, the exception to this. The skirt layer is always outside the other clothes layers - including jackets, which can cause some fun and games for clothes designers.

In addition to all this, you can wear attachments. Obvious things could include rings, necklaces, earrings etc. but in Second Life this will often also include hair (particularly for more interesting styles) and may include skirts, cuffs, collars etc. and other things which don't lie flush to the body normally. These are created by building objects and texturing them (Photoshop® again) and then wearing them as attachments.

Clothes (as in the layers) in Second Life are nice in some ways: as textures they are transformed and applied directly to your avatar so they always fit! However, there are ‘stretch points’ where there are not many pixels to cover the avatar (creases under the arms and in the groin region in particular) which can cause problems.

Attachments have the opposite problem: they can be high detail regardless of location, but they may well need to be resized to fit you. Most creators of attachments size them to fit themselves. If you are appreciably bigger or smaller than that size, you have to work on your attachments to size them to yourself. I own a set of strappy clothes that is all attachments. 11 attachments (different objects) in total, and about 1,500 prims. The builder was appreciably smaller than me and it took me about 5 hours to resize it to fit. However, attachments do form the only way to make hats, convincing jewelry, flared skirts and the like and so many people persevere with them.


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