Buying clothing that fits your avatar


Jeremy Linden

As Second Life has evolved, so have the avatars that inhabit the Second Life world.  With the introduction of fitted mesh technology for avatars, it has become more complicated to determine whether or not a piece of clothing will display properly on your own avatar.  This article will help you to determine whether your avatar is a Classic avatarStandard mesh avatar, or a custom/branded avatar, and which types of clothing will fit each.

Avatar types

For the purposes of fitting clothing, avatars can be classified into three categories:

  • Classic - Classic avatars are the original default Second Life avatars.  They have a modifiable humanoid shape, and can wear clothing in the form of textures and attachments added to that shape. Most of a classic avatar's appearance and clothing can be modified by pressing the Appearance button in the Second Life Viewer, but cannot take advantage of newer graphical features such as normal and specular maps.
  • Standard mesh - A standard mesh avatar is a classic avatar that is wearing a rigged mesh attachment, usually a full-body avatar, and whose classic body is hidden by a full body alpha mask.  It is classified as "standard" if it was created using the standard fitted mesh model available on the Second Life wiki.
  • Custom/branded - A custom avatar is a classic avatar that is hidden by a full body alpha mask and is wearing a customized rigged mesh attachment or attachments that otherwise replace the classic avatar body.  These avatars can come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and each model typically requires clothing specifically designed to work with such an avatar.

Which clothing fits which avatar types?

Clothing may be labeled in one of the following ways to indicate which types of avatars it is most likely to be compatible with:

  • Classic only - The "layer-based" textured clothing applied directly to classic avatars.  This clothing type only displays properly on classic avatars and is rendered completely invisible by the alpha mask worn by most mesh avatars.
  • Mesh only - An attachment that is designed to appear as clothing on a standard mesh avatar.  It may appear to be a layer-based texture, but does not work properly on classic avatars.  Mesh only clothing must be created outside Second Life in a 3D modeling tool.
  • Classic/Mesh - Attachments primarily designed for standard mesh avatars that can be made to work on a classic avatar.  In order to be classified as classic/mesh, the clothing must include an appropriate alpha mask designed to hide the affected parts of a classic avatar.
  • Branded - A catch-all term meant to encompass the many possible custom avatar designs.  Such avatars can typically only wear clothing specifically designed for that specific avatar; therefore each custom designed avatar and its compatible clothing may be considered a "brand".  Likewise, clothing designed for a custom avatar shape should not be expected to work properly with classic or standard mesh avatars, or even other custom avatars.

Determining your avatar type

If you are new to Second Life or rigged mesh avatars, you may have a difficult time trying to determine which type of avatar you are currently using.  Here are some tips on determining whether you have a classic, standard mesh, or custom mesh avatar:

General tips:

  • Check the name of your avatar or any notecards delivered with the avatar for details on how it was created and what type of clothing may be compatible with it.
  • Ask the merchant who sold the avatar which type of clothing works best with it.

Try on a piece of classic avatar clothing and see if it appears correctly

When all else fails, there are a few procedures you can try in order to determine which type of avatar you have.  Every avatar in Second Life has access to a shared library of items, some of which are outfits composed of clothing for classic avatars.  By trying on some classic clothing and observing the results, you can find out whether you have a classic avatar:

  1. Log into Second Life and open your inventory by clicking the Inventory button.
  2. Find the Library folder in the Inventory window and expand it by clicking the triangular arrow next to it.
  3. Expand the Clothing folder in the library.
  4. Expand the Male Shape & Outfit folder inside the Clothing folder.
  5. Click the item called Boy Next Door Shirt and then press the Wear button at the bottom of the Inventory window.
  6. The shirt is then applied to your classic avatar shape. If you have a classic avatar, a gray shirt with blue stripes should appear on your avatar; if you have a mesh or custom avatar, the shirt will not appear on your avatar or may be partially obscured by the avatar's mesh body.

Determining whether you have either a mesh or custom avatar can be more difficult, since both are composed of 3D models created outside Second Life and use similar techniques for hiding the default classic avatar.  When standard mesh avatars become available in the inventory library, you may use clothing from those outfits in a technique similar to the method described above for determining whether you have a classic avatar.

Information for merchants

How to label your clothing for sale

In order to help shoppers find clothing that properly fits their avatars, merchants can label their merchandise as described above in Which clothing fits which avatar types?  To help with this, we provide label images for Classic and Mesh avatars, to be used with associated advertising.  Clothing for custom avatars should be similarly labeled by the seller as being compatible with a particular avatar brand.

To download these images using your web browser, click them to retrieve the full size image, then right-click the full sized image and select Save image as... from the right-click menu.
Badges-3-Mesh.pngBadges-3-Mesh.png

Marketplace instructions

 The Second Life Marketplace also provides fields for merchants to mark their clothing as compatible with classic, mesh, or branded avatars.  To edit these fields as a Marketplace merchant:

  1. Click My Marketplace and choose Merchant Home.
  2. On the left side of the page, click Manage listings.
  3. For each clothing or accessory item you sell under Manage listings, click Actions and choose Edit.
  4. On the Edit Item Listing page, you may check boxes under Clothing Works With for clothing that is compatible with Classic Avatars or Mesh Avatars.
  5. If you are selling a custom avatar, or clothing that works with a specific custom avatar, you can provide that avatar's brand name under Custom Avatar Brand and provide a URL with brand information under Brand URL.

Why create a brand to support clothing fit for your custom avatar?

Mesh avatars that are not built using the standard mesh model provided by Linden Lab can usually only wear clothing specifically designed for that custom avatar.  By creating a recognizable brand for each custom avatar you sell, you can help your customers identify which clothing and accessories will work with your products.  Branding could be described as a way to group together custom avatars and their compatible accessories in order to prevent customer confusion about what clothing will fit their avatars.

For example, if a merchant sells a custom avatar called Paper Panda, customers should look for clothing and accessories marked as compatible with the Paper Panda brand.  Attempts to wear clothing designed for classic, standard mesh, or other custom avatars would most likely yield disappointing results and wasted Linden dollars (L$).

Example situations for clothing merchants

The following examples cover some of the possible situations merchants may face when selling an item of clothing in Second Life, and provide suggestions on how to handle communicating what type of avatars each clothing item will fit.

If the clothing was developed inworld by clicking Edit my Outfit:

  1. On the Marketplace, mark this clothing as Classic avatars only.
  2. Inworld, convey that this clothing item only works on Classic avatars.
  3. In the clothing folder name, include the words "Classic avatars only" or similar. Linden Lab recommends this practice to help customers find compatible items in their inventories.

If the clothing was designed to fit the standard fitted mesh shape and you do not wish to make the clothing work on classic avatars or create the necessary alpha masks:

  1. On the Second Life Marketplace, mark the clothing as Mesh avatars only.
  2. Inworld, convey that this clothing only works on mesh avatars
  3. In the folder name, include the words "Mesh avatars only". LL recommends this practice to help customers find compatible items in their inventories.

If the clothing was designed to fit the standard fitted mesh shape, and has also been tested on a classic avatar with appropriate alpha masks to make the clothing look correct:

  1. On the Second Life Marketplace, mark this clothing as Classic and Mesh avatars.
  2. Inworld, convey that this clothing works with both mesh and classic avatars, provided that classic avatars use the included alpha masks.
  3. In the folder name, include the words "Classic and mesh avatars". LL recommends this practice to help customers find compatible items in their inventories. We do not recommend using the words "all avatars" because this clothing will not necessarily work with custom avatars, and may not work with avatar types introduced by Linden Lab in the future.

If the clothing is mesh but was not designed to fit the standard mesh shape, and comes in preset sizes to match the variable size of classic avatars, including alpha masks where necessary:

  1. Some rigged mesh clothing pre-dates the fitted mesh feature in Second Life and has special sizing considerations. Merchants should take any steps they feel necessary to communicate proper fit for this type of clothing. Often, this type of clothing has been designed to fit classic avatars only.
  2. On the Second Life Marketplace, mark this clothing as Classic avatars only.
  3. Inworld, convey that this clothing only works on classic avatars.
  4. In the folder name, include the words "Classic avatars only". Linden Lab recommends this practice to help customers find compatible items in their inventories.

If the clothing was created for a specific custom avatar:

  1. On the Second Life marketplace, mark this clothing as Custom and convey which brand the clothing is intended for.
  2. Inworld, convey which brand the clothing is for.
  3. In the clothing folder name, and/or in a notecard, include information the customer needs in order to locate the branded avatar.




User Feedback


There are no comments to display.