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I've crafted a full set of armor for Lydia, but every now and again she'll revert back to her circular iron starter shield instead of the one I made for her. The only way I've seen to fix this is to trade with her, take the shield, and then give it back.

Is this merely cosmetic? If not, how can I stop it from happening?

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You should remove her shield from her inventory. Honestly, I find companions to be glitchy, and may not use the items you give them. It may also be the fact that her shield is a default item, similar to her bow (which she will always use, but I doubt this is the case) –  Domocus Nov 27 '11 at 1:51
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Do you mean remove the shield I've given her, or her default one? I don't see her default one to be able to remove it, and I'd rather not remove the one I crafted as it has some nice perks. –  Gauzy Nov 27 '11 at 3:08
    
If her shield is still in her inventory, she will still equip it, but some followers have default items that can't be removed. –  Domocus Nov 27 '11 at 5:14
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This may not be the same issue: if you dismissed your follower (I like to dismiss my house carl while in town), she will eventually display her original gear. Soon as you get into a brawl, she'll re-equip whatever she's carrying. I thought this was a nice touch. However since, for example, Lydia's default gear is not really "leisure" gear, it might be considered a bug rather than a role play thing (ie. wearing my non combat clothes during rest). –  faB Dec 2 '11 at 21:08
    
That's good to know, but I'm not sure if that's what's going on, since she retains all her other armor/equipment, just not the shield. So she's not fully reverting to her default gear, except for this one piece. –  Gauzy Dec 5 '11 at 15:40
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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It's a follower bug where they refresh their inventory and re-equip their old gear.

If you have the relevant pickpocket perks, you can pickpocket their old gear out of their inventory.

If you have the console, you can delete their classic items out of their inventory with <refID>.removeitem <item ID> <count>. You can use <refID>.showinventory to list their "true" inventory of items (including the hidden gear).

Further reading:

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Thanks. Playing on 360, but accepted in case any PC folks come here too. –  Gauzy Dec 1 '11 at 2:28
    
@Gauzy You didn't actually accept the answer, I guess you only upvoted it. –  svick Dec 19 '11 at 0:18
    
@svick whoops, that's been corrected. Thanks. –  Gauzy Dec 20 '11 at 1:29
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To add to this answer, if playing on the PC, install the UFO - Ultimate Follower Overhaul mod. It has a feature that can "convert unmovable, invisible outfit follower has to regular gear that can be removed so followers will wear whatever player places in their inventory".

This removes the need for the pickpocket perks or usage of console commands on every follower that may have this glitch.

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Sorry, but it doesn't help to have high Pickpocket levels on console. I raised my Pickpocket to 100 for that reason alone. The moment your follower is stripped of the final part of their default armor, they will duplicate and wear a new set regardless of what you had given them. The best thing I found to do was remove all but their shield in any way (you can pickpocket the gear or give them something better and buy the old armor if they run a store) and replace their clothes with what you want. Unfortunately this means you will have to give them a large 2-handed weapon in order to make the shield vanish. DO NOT take their shield in any way after this or they will wear their original armor once more. You PC guys are lucky with your Console Commands. :(

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