i believe you have the idea of adaptable armor and regular orange gear mixed up.
Adaptable armor which is social gear used to be categorized as light armor, which meant that only Consulars and Inquisitors could use it without hindering their stats. They then changed it so social armor was adaptable, meaning depending on your class the social gear will change its category. so if you are a light armor wearer the social gear stays light armor, but if you are a medium armor user the social gear is considered to be medium armor; if you use heavy armor the social gear is considered to be heavy armor.
Regular orange gear will have the armor class stay permanent, a heavy armor piece will never be usable by a class that uses light or medium.
Regarding the stats of orange gear, the amount of armor displayed is based ONLY on the armoring (or barrel/hilt if it is a weapon) you put in the orange piece. the rating which is determined by the armoring/barrel/hilt will change the amount of armoring/damage you get
Oh ok, so the orange gear are basically shells?