For your first one or two events, if you don’t have medieval style clothes of your own, these can be borrowed from your local Hospitaller. Please contact them well before the event you are planning to attend to arrange this as they may not have appropriate gear with them at the event. This is only a temporary measure and you are expected to get your own gear as soon as possible. When you do start getting your first set of garb together keep the following hints in mind.
Try searching op-shops for long dresses that can be modified easily. Cloaks can be made fairly easily and they hide a multitude of sins. If it is winter and cold, try getting something a bit too big so that you can wear warm mundane clothes underneath. Modern looking slippers, boots and shoes can often hidden under long skirts.
Men:-Plain trousers, karate pants, tracksuit pants all look OK under a short tunic. Plain boots that look medieval-ish are easy to find. Ugh boots have been around for over 1000 years. A tunic looks like a large plain T-shirt and a bit of braid around the collar and sleeves can disguise the modern style of dress. A Surcoat (a big, rectangular, strip of cloth with a hole for the head) can disguise a more mundane item of clothing underneath. Long sleeved skivvies can be worn under tunics and Surcoat for warmth in winter. Get a good plain colour belt to wear around your tunic.
Things to Avoid in Costuming:-
Anything that is uncomfortable or dangerous. Many ladies realise too late that the long trailing dress that looks so nice can trip you up if you aren’t used to it. Men find the same thing wearing swords. If you are uncomfortable in your clothing then you will not enjoy the event you are attending quite as much.
BELTS – Don’t wear anything that looks like a white belt. The white belt is reserved for knights.
JEWELLERY – Don’t wear a plain chain without a pendant hanging off it – these are reserved for knights. Don’t wear spurs for the same reason.
DON’T wear crowns, tiaras, or coronets. These are reserved for royalty and peers. A good guideline is if it is wider than 2cm, it if has decorations that extend above or below the circlet, if it isn’t plain straight circlet which has no points or jewels then don’t wear it. Plain circlets decorate along the band are OK but avoid anything decorated with stones, jewels, or pearls.
When in doubt ask someone who has been in the SCA much longer than you.
SWORDS / KNIVES / BLADES – avoid wearing sharp weapons without scabbards – they are dangerous. Make sure all blades are secured in their scabbards – so they can’t fall out. Be very careful wearing a sword – it can stick out behind you and trip others or damage their clothes.
But I can’t sew… I don’t have a sewing machine … help!
If you can’t sew and have no idea about putting clothing together, ask around as there are people who can help you. Arts and Sciences meetings are a good place to start. Often you can get the difficult bits done for you leaving the easy sewing for you to do. And early period garb is really easy! You don’t need sewing experience to start making garb!
General Garb Links
Hair & Headdress
- Chaperons & How to Make Them – The Costumer’s Manifesto – search “Chaperons”
- How To Make A Quick Hat/Helm – Quick Leather Hat
- Italian Renaissance Hair Taping – Introduction by Margo Farnsworth:
- Medieval Clothing Pages: Hat & Hair articles by Cynthia Virtue
- The Auld Garb Monger’s Free Sewing Projects – free hat projects
- Stefan’s Florilegium – Medieval-Hair-lnks
- Tudor Gable Headdress Illustrated: Step by Step Directions – Hope Hall For The Humanities
- Upbraid Yourself and Others: The Basics of Braiding – A Workshop & Notes by Cynthia Virtue
- Viking Answer Lady on Hair: Viking Age Hairstyles, Haircare, and Personal Grooming
- Footware of the middle ages – I. Marc Carlson
- A Beginner’s Addendum to Making Shoes
- A Shoe from Parliament Street – York Construction notes
- Roman Costume – citizen, matron, curule magistrate, emperor, general, workman, slave
Norse & Viking
- The Renaissance Tailor: Recreating 16th & 17th Century Clothing – research, demonstrations etc
- Hair Taping
- Realm of Venus – excellent resource of images