Okay, can we talk about this jacket for a minute? It’s the infamous “spiky coat” that makes regular appearances in the FTL!Rumbelle fanfic.
I’ve watched Skin Deep literally ALL THE TIMES and never paid a whole lot of attention to the coat itself. I had no plans to recreate it for cosplay purposes, so the coat never really drew my attention to it. I don’t know why, but the last time I finally caught a brilliant piece of costume design I had never noticed before. Rumple’s clothing can be used to determine his mental state at almost any given time, and the spikes on the jacket serve a pretty interesting purpose when taken in the context of all his OTHER clothes.
You can roughly date when things are happening in OUAT based on Rumplestiltskin’s outfits.
Peasant!Rumple can be easily dated as being the first incarnation, and in his early Dark One days, Rumple wears an outfit similar to his peasant clothes, rough hewn wizard robes, specifically. In this incarnation, he’s very wild. The peasant clothes indicate his connection to his son and his past, he still lives in the same house in the same village that he did with his wife. He’s trying VERY hard not to make too many changes (which we now know is because he’s afraid of “starting over” because the last time he did it his father abandoned him).
After Bae leaves and he’s gone completely off the deep end because he has literally nothing left to lose, he swaps out out for what I’m going to call Evil!Rumple. This is the outfit he tends to wear when he’s truly acting unhinged. He wore it to kill Milah, about midway through his affair with Cora, and then once Belle is gone when he gets himself locked in prison this is what he wears. It’s not really that he’s ALWAYS necessarily evil when he wears it (in fact, in the scene this screen capture is from he’s actually discussing true love with the Prince and delivers his “brief flicker of light” line) but this is what he wears when he wants people to think that he’s evil. It was chosen specifically to confront Hook about taking Milah, to discuss murdering a king with Cora, and to bargain for a baby and get locked up by the good guys.
After killing Milah, Rumple begins wearing what I’m going to call Dealer!Rumple. This is what he chooses to wear about 75% of the time. He may change the neckcloth, shirt, and vest, but they’re all generally similar. A high collar, a cravat, and a poofy shirt over leather pants with a wide lapelled crocodile jacket in varying shades of brown and black. He generally wears this outfit to make deals, specifically he wears it to meet new “clients” with one notable exception: This is not the jacket he wears to meet with Maurice and Belle. This is Rumple when he’s in control of himself and when he has a plan. He wears it to meet Ella, he wears it to meet Cora, and he wears it once or twice with Charming. This is him wanting to put on a good face — he still “others” himself with the use of leathers and the odd proportions, but it’s loosely based on what appear to be the fashions of the time. It’s Rumple when he’s feeling powerful.
Which brings me to the image up top. That’s his Dealer outfit, but it’s the one he wears to meet Maurice and Belle (please note, he wears a modified version of the jacket as a vest over his Evil!Rumple costume to meet Ella when she offers to sign away her twins to capture him). The last time we saw the Dealer!Rumple costume, he was preparing to run away with Cora when she betrayed him. He’s dressed darker and eviler, but those spikes aren’t spikes. When I looked at them I realized…those are felt. That is felted wool. If you don’t knit or crochet or anything, felt (real, non-plastic felt, anyway) is made by taking lumps of wool and applying heat, moisture, and friction. That’s why you can’t put a wool sweater in the dryer, for example. It’s brilliant. He LOOKS scarier, spikier, more threatening…but if you were to get close you’d realize that it’s all appearances. Those spikes are soft to the touch.
Wool is incredibly important to the character, what with him being a spinner and all. He is literally, in this moment, wearing his old self as armour. After the betrayal of Cora, his abandonment issues are front and center still. This is the “difficult man to love” era. The abandonments of his father, wife, son, and girlfriend are front and center in his mind even as he’s asking for a companion who can literally never leave him on pain of her entire village being eradicated by ogres. Which, brings us to the last outfit he has worth mentioning:
I’ll be brief, here since this has been discussed in length by various official sources: Rumple wears shirtsleeves when he’s comfortable and at home. He is seen in them about three times:
In instance #1, he’s trying to portray a certain level of casualness as part of a game he’s playing to get Regina to continue to be his apprentice. The fact that Jefferson randomly appears and “just so happens” to know Dr. Frankenstein makes it pretty obvious to the viewer that this is a performance being put on for her benefit, the shirtsleeves are designed to make her feel like she’s NOT being manipulated. In #2, the shirtsleeves indicate that he’s becoming relaxed around Belle. He’s literally taken off his armour, after beginning their acquaintanceship literally attempting to look as much like a monster as humanly possible. In instance #3, we can safely assume that Belle is actually in residence when Charming makes his appearance.
The shirtsleeves, then, are related to his growing relaxation around Belle in general. We never see him jacketless again after she leaves. Interestingly, though, in the episode Heart of Darkness, he wears another jacket…
This is what leads me to believe that Belle was in residence during the time of this episode. The weird collars are still there, but nothing else about this screams RUMPLESTILTSKIN, THE DARK ONE. This is him giving Snow White the bow to kill the queen with and it is the most normal he’s ever looked. Note that nothing in this coat is made of leather, even as a wheeler and dealer, at this point in time he’s feeling almost normal and his costume choices reflect that. He looks smaller than ever, and far less intimidating than he does in any other instance.
(Please note, none of these images belong to me. I just happen to have a LOT of Rumplestiltskin images in a folder on my computer.)