Disclaimer: I am not a mathematician. I have tested nothing. This post appeals to weapon stats as a basis for assessing equipment. But the short of it is: you can wear whatever you want as long as you have a good weapon for your level.
I'm assuming stats are like FFXI
They are not. Not yet, anyway.
The only two things that matter in FFXIV right now are level difference between yourself and the target, and the weapon in your hands. However, FFXIV does not have a weapon DMG stat like FFXI (or a meaningful fSTR calculation like FFXI, or meaningful battle calculations in general like FFXI). As you can see, weapons are just big pools of ATK/ACC/MATK/MACC plus other effects. It stands to reason that the higher your ATK/ACC stat is the more damage you will do/the more often you will hit in accordance with the stats of higher level weapons.
At launch, there were few (zero?) pieces of equipment outside of accessories that increased these secondary stats. You could equip some combination of rings and chokers and pull off 12 accuracy and 4 attack at most. But these are small increases next to the growth of weapons through the levels. Compare the growth of Bronze Knuckles to Dodoskin Cesti to Brass Knuckles
: in just 10 levels, accuracy grows by 21, and attack by 22. Chokers can't compete. Rings increase accuracy moderately beyond your equipped weapon, so accuracy should be the only choice for rings at any level.
There were no scorpion harnesses, no shura togi, no jujitsu gi, no haubergeon classic--the sorts of things that clue people to the usefulness of ATK/ACC. All proper equipment had +STR and +DEX. As a result, all players could do was stack STR and DEX. And later just STR, since DEX proved itself to be garbage.
Even as we now have an array of gear that improves these secondary stats, I think people are clinging to the old ways. There is also a tendency to snub gear lower than your level, especially in FFXIV's transitional state where level means everything. This does not account for preferences of Alpine War Jacket over Buccaneer, but that's another story.
Let's assume that a player wearing a silver tricorne does so not for fashion reasons or sentiment; let's assume they genuinely believe it's the best item for a DD's head. Does OP's concern hold up? I think so. Consider that most DDs stack STR for damage and VIT for measurable HP gains. DEX is usually 80, to avoid the 3-per-point cost. If we assume VIT is at least 100, we'll give Joe Anydamage here 160 points of STR. That's 14 points away from stat cap. A vintage haubergeon would put Joe 6 points away. With a garnet ring, he has already exceeded the 174 cap. A tricorne would do nothing, and he is better off using poacher's. On the other hand, let's say Joe has a full array of ACC+ rings instead of a garnet ring, but let's add Lone Knight mitts and cavalry sollerets. Joe is now exactly 2 points from STR cap--should he use tricorne now?
Conquistador adds 1 STR and 4 ATK. Joe would be 1 point short of cap with this, but gain an additional 4 ATK. That's like having an extra mythril choker on your head!
A similar argument can be made in favor of Solid Scale mail over vintage haubergeon. +7ACC/ATK exceeds anything you can equip in an accessory slot; the growth in attack is comparable to going from an engraved bhuj
to a barbarian's bardiche
with more ACC overall. It's over two "weapon levels" worth of benefit.
So is there any practical
reason for using tricorne/lone knight over poacher/conquistador? I suppose not. But choosing to equip oneself this way is not necessarily bad: you could fight stark naked with an HQ weapon, delicious meat/fish and a STR-heavy stat spread at R50, and still perform (mathematically, to say nothing of the ability bar and player competence) as well as anyone. "Optimizing" a DD is easy when the system is this kerfuffled and stats are watered down.
So yeah. Let them wear hats.
Correction: bhuj to bardiche is more ACC overall, not ATK. Edited, Aug 23rd 2011 9:42pm by Almalexia