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When I reached level 41 (don't know if that had anything to do with it or not), I was thinking of giving Lydia some different armor, and when I went into her inventory list all her steel armor was gone: gauntlets, boots, chest armor, everything! She had all the ebony stuff I had given her, but not the steel. Anyone else have this happen?

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related, possible duplicate:… – Ender Dec 27 '12 at 15:32
pretty sure the default character gear is usually hidden (and unremovable). – l I Dec 27 '12 at 23:19

Default NPC gear is not viewable without mods.

You can transfer gear and equipment to followers and they will automatically upgrade if it is better for them to use.

A related topic is here companions and armour

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