I played Lotro and Rift, both of which had appearance functionality. I've enjoyed them, but I find that an appearance tab waters down the idea of stat-based armor in a way that feels cheap. Here I am, wearing my titan-smashing gauntlets and fireproof beastplate. I wear them, and they give me the power to defeat my foes. But with an appearance tab, I'm not really wearing them. I am actually wearing overalls and a straw hat, but somehow siphoning off the power of my mighty helm of infinite destruction.
It just feels lame. With an appearance tab, why have stat based armor at all?
The mod system allows you to customize your look while retaining the idea that what you wear is actually helping you.
This should be the OP because this is the best thought in this entire thread