Recreating Medieval fashions

There is a fabulous range of medieval attire on show at any SCA event and to suit all tastes. Whether you prefer a simple tunic that covers a multitude of sins or a magnificent Tudor ensemble complete with all the trimmings you will find help to make it and plenty of appreciation for your achievements. The clothes that we wear - made or bought - are commonly referred to as garb.

Getting started

The first thing is that no one expects you to be perfectly turned out when you first start, but people do appreciate that you make an effort to pass as reasonably medieval. There are huge amounts of resources on the Internet to help get you started. A basic tunic (often called a tee tunic) is a quick sew for even the most sewing allergic amoung us and is an excellent wardrobe staple. If you’re trying to decide what sort of look you want to aim for do some google searches for medieval illuminations, get a feel for the fashions of the sort of time and area you might like to concentrate on.

Practical tips and tricks

Don’t forget the head

Veils, hats, headdresses and hoods all help to recreate the medieval aesthetic we aim for at events. Medieval people wore hats in public for practical and social reasons as well as fashionable ones. It’s also a really easy way to lift your entire outfit to a new level. Every period has a variety of head-covering styles for both genders to choose from: veils, coifs, caps, hoods, turbans, and much more.

Accessories for a quick and effective win!

While you might want to hold off investing in an expensive pair of medieval shoes straight away you can get by with modern shoes if you just keep them simple, in dark leather, with short lacing or a simple buckle. Short pull on boots and slip on shoes work well.

Belts should be long enough to wind up and over the buckle and dangle - belts are often an easy first investment and can really add to the appearance of an otherwise simple tunic or dress.

Make (or buy) a pouch that you loop in your belt. Drawstring bags are a great first sewing project

It’s all about layers

For ladies think chemises (long plain but light material underdress) under heavier dresses, for men a light tunic under a heavier outer tunic, then cloaks or surcoats over those as appropriate. undertunics reduce the need to wash the outer garment quite so much, which you will definitely need to consider if you use hard to wash materials or patterns, have boning or a lot of embroidery. Sleeves were often detachable and interchangeable and hats that could umroll into hoods could also be found.

Natural Fibers

Wool, linen, and silk are accurate to Europe before 1600, cotton is used but is questionable for our period, so it’s up to you how accurate you aspire to be.

Trim and Details

Look at paintings and other people’s garb to see how best to show off beautiful trims or jewels. Upper body will get most attention.