Cosmetic Outfits is a term in Lord of the Rings Online that refers to the way you can individualise the look of your player character, (or toon). They differentiate from armour in that they offer no bonuses to your player stats or armour rating. Cosmetics are, (not too surprisingly), all about the look and aren’t for equipping – it’s inadvisable to go barrelling into battle with a gang of Orcs wearing nothing but a cotton dress.
The best way to explain how cosmetics work, then, is to imagine them sitting on top of your armour. Underneath, and invisible to the world, is your armour that increases your Might or Agility or Fate etc., your Armour Rating and is dependant on your level. Sitting on top of that armour, not affecting those lovely stat bonuses but affecting the visual aspect of your outfit, are your cosmetics which can be worn by a toon of any level. In this way a Guardian who wears Heavy Armour can barrel into battle wearing a cotton dress, or seeming to!
It should also be noted, cosmetics is both a general and specific term. Generally because any armour can be equipped cosmetically, including those with stat bonuses, and so become cosmetic armour. You could be wearing Light Armour that increases your Will and Fate, but seem to be wearing Heavy Armour that increases your Might and Vitality. As before, this won’t change the fact that your Will and Fate are increased by your armour, but to the world it will seem that you’re wearing the Might and Vitality piece.
The other form of cosmetics are pure cosmetics. That is, hats, dresses, cloaks, etc. that are labelled ‘cosmetic’ and offer absolutely no stat bonuses. Even if you equipped them directly they would be pretty much useless in battle. These kinds of cosmetics are mostly available from the LOTRO Store, reputation vendors and from annual festivals and special events. They are designed to be worn on top of your armour, purely for the joy of looking fabulous!
Below is an example of two types of cloaks, one armour for a level 60 toon, the other purely cosmetic.