20 Costumes to Rule Them All: The Two Towers

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read part one of this exciting series! I received so many kind messages and comments about the first part, so thank you. As you can see, I am a huge nerd for The Lord of the Rings so this series really does mean a lot to me! If you missed part one, follow this link and catch up!

Last week, we covered the first film of the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring. Which brings us to the next film, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. I am not shy when it comes to my clear favoritism towards the second film. It’s so good! We meet some new characters, new lands, comedic orcs, and one of the greatest war scenes in all of film, Battle of the Hornburg. I am so excited, let’s get to it! Behold part two of 20 Costumes to Rule Them All: The Costumes of Middle-Earth.


9. Saruman The White

Saruman (Played by Christopher Lee)  is an interesting character whose costume has a lot to say. The Lord of the Rings uses color a lot in this story to speak to the character and where they stand in the fight of good versus evil. White is traditionally a color that resembles purity, goodness, and hope. Take, for example, Gandalf the White, Galadriel, Arwen, or even that white mithril shirt that Bilbo passes down to Frodo. So, then why does Saruman wear white, when he is such an evil character? Saruman deceives the characters and the audience as someone who first presents as a force of good, but then takes a hard shift toward the dark side. When you first see Saruman in costume, you think “Oh, another friendly wizard type, just like Gandalf”. That is the genius of this costume. Plus, I don’t necessarily think that Saruman considers himself a “bad guy”, I think he sees himself MAYBE doing the right thing by aligning himself with the dark lord, Sauron. So the white robe still holds up to this idea of good, even if a character is conflicted.

10. Éowyn – The Two Towers

I’ve been excited to talk about the costumes of Éowyn (played by Miranda Otto)! I’ve seen people point to Éowyn as an example of wearing lackluster costumes. Are you kidding me? 

Let’s get this story straight. When we meet Éowyn, she is struggling to try to keep things running in the Kingdom of Rohan. Her uncle, King Théoden, has fallen very ill at the hands of Saruman. Throughout the film, Éowyn is trying to do everything she can to protect her people, by using her voice with an obvious willingness to lend her sword. But because she is a woman, she is severely looked down upon – which is a big contrast to the other leading ladies of the films such as Arwen and Galadriel.

To Rohan, Éowyn is a noblewoman, niece to the King, so I believe there is this expectation that she dress as though she is a part of the royalty. I think people expect to see her in long flowy, feminine dresses. Perhaps there is not a lot of flair to her dresses, because Éowyn doesn’t care about wearing the fanciest dress. Rohan is at war, villages are being slaughtered, her uncle is sick, and society expects her to sit down and just be a noblewoman of the court. Get real! Éowyn finds these expectations to be ridiculous and her costumes reflect that, and that is why I love her costumes so much. Éowyn has one of the greatest arcs of the story, her costume story progresses along with her character, so we will be revisiting Éowyn in part three. I just got chills thinking about it, I can’t wait! 

11. Gandalf The White – The Two Towers

As the story unfolds, Gandalf the Grey (played by Sir Ian McKellen) dies in his battle to defeat the Balrog during the fellowship’s journey into the Mines of Moria. It’s a devastating blow to the characters and the audience. It still gets me every time, even though I have seen these movies more times than I care to share with you. Thankfully, Gandalf is sent back to Middle-Earth in the second film, as Gandalf the White.

This new costume says so much of the story, and who this new form of Gandalf is. Obviously, Gandalf the White is wearing… all white. He is a clean, pure, bright version of the character he once was. So what does this new look mean? Well, it is said that author J. R. R. Tolkien once called Gandalf the White an “angel incarnate”.  There you go, Gandalf the White comes to us now, to finish his work on Middle-Earth and see to it that the forces of evil are defeated, and peace is brought to Middle-Earth once again.

Another fascinating fact, it is said that this character is actually in part inspired by the Norse-God, Odin. 

it was specific attributes that Gandalf and Odin share that suggested a link between the wizard and the god. They saw that the most distinctive features of Gandalf — his hat, beard, staff, and penchant for wandering — were, as well, the key characteristics that Odin displays when he leaves Asgard and travels in disguise through the plane of human existence, the middle-earth of Norse mythology. During these earthly journeys, Odin does not appear as a stern and forbidding deity or a bloodthirsty god of battle — but rather as a grey-bearded old man who carries a staff and wears a hood or a cloak (usually blue) and a wide-brimmed, floppy hat.

Verlyn Flieger, and Carl E. Hostetter, eds., Tolkien’s Legendarium Essays on the History of Middle-Earth

12. Gríma Wormtongue- The Two Towers

Originally I was not going to include Gríma Wormtongue (played by Brad Dourif) because who really cares about this guy. For lack of a better word, he sucks! But as I started analyzing costumes, I realized that his character and costumes serve as a bigger metaphor and deserve a mention. Gríma is poison. His costume is as dark as can be, almost as though he is a vampire. His costume wields a black fur and a long black cape. His long black hair almost blends into the costume, showing he is quite literally dripping in darkness. Gríma’s costume tells me he is a physical, human embodiment of a shadow. That same type of darkness that eats away at your mind, body, and soul. A shadow that many of us are unfortunately very familiar with… Depression, anxiety, PTSD. It’s an incredible use of costume, combined with a decaying King Théoden who sits next to Grima in a ratted costume, drained of all color. 

13. King Théoden – The Two Towers

King Théoden (played by Bernard Hill) had some of the grandest costumes once he recovered from his sickness. I wouldn’t characterize his costumes as pivotal to the story, but I do find them quite beautiful. They are very typical of a king, wearing rich textiles, draped in colors of red and gold. I do think that his costumes are also practical though. Rohan is known as a kingdom of horsemen, so the costumes cannot be too on the nose for a king. Meaning you won’t see any big furs or long trains that trailed down flights of golden stairs. The king had to constantly hop onto a horse, and you can tell costume designer, Ngila Dickson kept that in mind.

14. Faramir – The Two Towers

We have another compare and contrast costume on our hands! Faramir (played by David Wenham) has a pretty cool costume and one of my personal favorites. We discussed earlier in part one, that Aragorn and Boromir’s costumes were designed to be opposites to each other. I believe that same concept works here for Faramir and his brother, Boromir (played by Sean Bean). Unlike Boromir, Faramir has a quiet, under the radar, Robin Hood type look to his costume. He wields a dark green cloak and earthy toned leathers to camouflage himself in the woods. Faramir is a man of duty and loyalty to the realm. He wants to do what he can to protect the people of his kingdom, and I feel his practical costume lends to that notion. Faramir prefers not to be seen, and his armor and costume would therefore be similar to those of the men that follow him.

Boromir on the other hand had a more flashy costume. He was a great warrior and did care for his kingdom, but the glory of being Gondor’s favorite hero mattered to him just as much and that led to his eventual downfall. Faramir is also grossly looked down upon by his father, who favorites Boromir. In the end, Faramir survives the war and is known as one of the great heroes of the story, proving that dedication and putting others before yourself leads to a greater, more fulfilling life.


Join me again next week as we come to an end of this journey with more costumes from

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King


WORKS CITED:

–  Verlyn Flieger, and Carl E. Hostetter, eds., Tolkien’s Legendarium Essays on the History of Middle-Earth (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000) 220, Questia, Web, 2 Mar. 2012.

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After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising with a degree in Fashion Design, Spencer realized that his love for fashion was not entirely found on a runway, but seen on screen through film and television. As a Los Angeles event planner, Spencer began to organize panels of costume designers benefiting students who were fascinated by costume design. As Spencer’s connections within the costume design field began to grow, so did his love for the craft. Then in 2019, Spencer decided it was time to share his love for costume design on an international level and launched The Art of Costume.

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