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For some reason, Lydia won't wear her armor when I give it to her. I've tried just your basic steel stuff, Elven boots and gauntlets, and a myriad of other things and none of them equip. When I bring up her inventory, the shield, jewelry, and weapon I've given her has a little arrow next to it to show it's equipped. This arrow doesn't appear on any of the armor items. I've tried taking the items away from her and giving them back; removing everything except armor from her inventory; telling her to leave and then making her follow me again—none of them have worked.

I'm starting to think she just hates me (I do scream expletives at her every time she blocks a doorway or does something else stupid). But seriously, she needs to put on her armor. Help please?

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Is the new stuff better than its default armor? –  M'vy Nov 18 '11 at 13:37
    
@M'vy Yes. I've tried Elven and Dwarven, both of which should be better than her default steel. –  spugsley Nov 18 '11 at 13:42
    
Anyone able to give Lydia a new bow? The Ebon Bow (legendary) I gave her, is unused... –  Holger Nov 21 '11 at 14:48
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11 Answers

up vote 22 down vote accepted

She won't use Elven stuff because it's weaker than her heavy type Steel armor, I guess because she's skilled in Heavy Armor and not in Light Armor. I've given her Dwarven stuff and she equipped it on the spot myself.

As for why she did equip the elven helm, well she doesn't have a helm at all in her default gear so any helm is better than what she has no matter the stats.

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Lydia has a set of default armor that you cannot see in her inventory (unless she's dead). She'll only use stuff that is better than what she currently has. Try giving her something better than steel (higher armor rating). Then you'll see her put it on.

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As I said in the question, I've tried Elven equipment as well as dwarven, which should be better than steel. Maybe this is a bug I'm experiencing :/ –  spugsley Nov 18 '11 at 13:41
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I think she only wears heavy armor... I've tried with some Elven stuff too, which she doesn't wear, but not had any problems with Heavy armor –  Holger Nov 18 '11 at 13:43
    
@Holger Okay - I'll try heavy armor and see if that works. –  spugsley Nov 18 '11 at 13:51
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I've got her wearing both an Elven helm with the rest Dwarven - I don't think the light/heavy aspect makes a difference. –  Ian Pugsley Nov 18 '11 at 14:06
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Have you tried dying after giving her the armor? I was in a Dwemer ruin with Illia, a mage I'd picked up near Riften, and as soon as we left the deepest part of the ruin she took off her Mages robes in between load screens and ran around like an exhibitionist, though she had equipped the necklace and ring I'd given her earlier. I couldn't do anything to get her to put her clothes back on until I died in the next ruin we came upon. The autosave kicks in at the ruin entrance and bam, suddenly she was wearing the new robes.

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Your companion also "takes off" the armor, if sent home/dismissed. To get them to put it on again, trade with them and take 1 thing from them and everything pops back. Remember to give them back whatever you took, if they still need it. –  Holger Nov 21 '11 at 14:47
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Elven is Light armor, thus less armor rating than Steel and Dwarven. As stated above, she wore the elven helm because she does not have a default headgear. Im sure you could even make her wear an ugly leather cap :P

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You can remove all of your companion's default armor by opening console with the ~ key above tab on your keyboard then by clicking on your companion, in which case Lydia, and typing removeallitems and pressing enter. Now you will be able to place what ever you want on him/her. As a warning, if you remove their armor & weapons they will lose their infinite arrows and you will need to replace them every time she/he runs out.

Important: Make sure to remove all items from your companion's inventory before doing this because you will lose them!

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Does this mean that if you give your companion 1 deadric arrow, they will have unlimited of those ? –  Holger Nov 21 '11 at 14:48
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I just discovered how to force Lydia wear light armor on the PC. Open the console by pressing ~ then click on lydia to target her and type: forceav lightarmor 120

That will give her a light armor skill of 100 and she will start wearing any light armor you give her like glass etc... if she still wearing steel then type "removeallitems" on console before giving her the armor you want her to equip.

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If you are on PC, TCG Tradable Companion Gear might help you out.

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I've found that you can equip Serana with about any armor that you want (including custom armor in the Steam workshop)...on the PC it does require some console commands to be used. Usually for a follower to wear items it has to be a higher rating, but from the console you can removeallitems 0 to drop the vampire armor (in the case of Serana). Once that is done you could openactorcontainer 1 and put into the inventory whatever armor you want the follower to wear. I found a good example of Serana with custom armor (along with some other followers):

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After you marry Lydia, she will say that she opens a new shop to make small profit. bring her as your follower, make her wear other heavy armor, such as ebony, then make her leave. immediately after that see what she have for sale, she will still be wearing the ebony and her default steel armors will be available for sale. buy all those and keep it else where. sometimes she have more than 3 similar armors. after that trade back the ebony armors from her. and she will be naked. give her anything you would want her to wear. i gave her vampire lord armor. she looks smexy. this works with console too. providing you have married lydia. good luck. :3

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I've experienced all of the problems the respondants have mentioned...but she is finding that Illia has developed a preference to go around naked. I have this problem too and have tried all the normal tricks that are mentioned above, but it seems to be a bug resulting from a female nude mod. Try removing this mod and I believe the problem will be resolved.

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I don't have the nude-mod installed so that wouldn't be causing the problem. –  spugsley Mar 1 '12 at 21:56
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This is a bug experienced by ALL players, usually after you've been playing a while and have swapped out armor and weapons numerous times. First of all, after a while they will refuse to take anything you try to give them, so you have to throw it on the ground and tell them to pick it up, which often results in the item being considered 'stolen' even though you crafted it yourself, and a guard will run up and take it while it's on the ground and tell you, "don't let that happen again." Then you'll start noticing that even if they're carrying the items you gave them, they will refuse to use them. There are some tricks that will occasionally work but often not, especially with certain items, and this is an ENORMOUS time waster and extremely frustrating.

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This is entirely wrong, AFAIK. –  Ullallulloo May 8 '12 at 3:23
    
Just a note - this isn't wrong at all. It's a well-known bug that if you hire/rehire a follower their "hidden" inventory gets duplicated along with all the weight to go with it. –  Foo Barrigno Apr 11 at 11:16
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