I remember a time when Frodo Baggins was the best-dressed hobbit in the Shire, or so 'twas said by them as know more than Sam Gamgee of such matters. Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin used to tease him for being a dandy. I don't rightly understand what that means; to me, he always looked proper, fitting to his station, you might say. Any road, my master never minded their teasing none. He'd just laugh, his eyes a-twinkle, and tell them they were jealous of his good taste. As they should be, if you ask me.
That seemed to belong to another lifetime on the Quest. Mr. Frodo became wayworn, his fine clothes nearly gone to rags. It hurt to see him like that, hurt to know I was helpless to do aught about it. It hurt most of all to realise that he didn't even notice no more, occupied with his burden.
But that wasn't the worst hurt, not by a long road, not when I was forced to dress my master in orc gear after finding him naked in that tower. He made no complaint, but I could see the very notion disgusted him. It fair broke my heart, and that's a fact, necessary though it were.
And so, when we woke after our long sleep, alive, I asked Mr. Gandalf what we should wear, for I wanted Mr. Frodo to be dressed proper again, as became a gentlehobbit, and all I could see were the rags he'd nearly died in.
'The clothes that you wore on your way to Mordor,' he replied, and his sentiments were fair and true: 'No silks and linens, nor any armour or heraldry could be more honourable.'
But after Gandalf left us to dress, Mr. Frodo picked up the orc tunic and said with a rueful smile, 'Well, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, I should have preferred it if someone had fetched me a set of my clothes from Crickhollow to wear. I will hardly look the dandy my cousins used to call me in these.'
I couldn't help it; I laughed for sheer joy. My dear master was his own self again for certain. And Mr. Frodo laughed with me, a merry sound more beautiful than the sweetest music.
He pulled on the orc rags, washed and mended, and watching him it came to me that I'd got it all wrong, like I usually do. For to my eyes he looked as proper and fitting to his station as he ever had - no, even more so.
Because the plain truth is that it's not the clothes that make the hobbit: it's the hobbit who makes the clothes.