Clothing

Your clothing is one of the most important parts of re-enactment. Without any medieval clothes, you won’t be able to participate in our events (including our summer camping shows), so you miss out on the most fun part of being in the group!

Buying a set of medieval clothing can easily cost in excess of £200, even for low-quality, off-the-rack lower class clothes. Therefore, we advise that you sew your own clothes. This may sound a bit daunting, but don’t worry: we have experienced members on-hand who can guide you through every aspect of it, from buying the supplies to actually constructing the garments. No prior sewing experience is necessary (however, we always advise you buy pre-made shoes).

Two outfits, each made by their wearer (neither of whom had any experience of sewing medieval clothes prior to joining the Garrison).

We have a detailed clothing guide which gives full explanations of our clothing requirements, available to download here. However, below is some basic information to get you started.

 

General clothing requirements

Gender* Men Women
Basic clothing
(essential to participate)
Underwear: shirt, braies.
Outerwear: hose, tunic.
Footwear: shoes or boots.
Misc.: belt.
Underwear: shift, headdress.
Outerwear: middle-layer
dress (aka kirtle/cote).
Footwear: shoes or boots.
Additional clothing
(for added comfort especially in cold/hot weather)
Outerwear: surcote, hood, hat. Extras of the essentials/basics.
Misc.: pouch, knife.
Outerwear: surcote, hood, hose. Extras of the essentials/basics.
Misc.: belt, pouch, knife.

*the gender you identify with in everyday life or your closest / most comfortable binary gender

 

Illustrations of clothing
The best way to figure out what your clothes should look like is to go to the source. Luckily for us, there are lots of 14th Century medieval manuscripts that show clothing (as well as other resources, e.g. archaeology). Here are two of our favourite manuscripts, showing lower and upper class clothing for men and women in the mid-14th Century. This should give you an idea of roughly what your clothing should look like.

L-r: lower class woman, upper class woman, lower class man, upper class man. (Bodl. MS Selden Supra 57, f. 2r, 95r, 102r & 4v. 1348, France.
L-r: lower class woman, upper class woman, lower class man, upper class man. (University of Chicago Library, MS 1380, f. 2r, 5v, 20v & 27r. c. 1365, France.)

 

How much will clothes cost?
You may buy pre-made clothes from specialist traders, providing it follows the requirements set out in our Authenticity Guide. However, this will easily cost in excess of £200, even for low-quality, off-the-rack clothing. Fabric for your clothing will generally cost around £80 for an average-sized person and group members will teach you how to turn it into clothing free of charge. No prior sewing experience is necessary.

In all cases, we advise you buy your footwear. Boots or shoes generally cost a minimum of £50.

 

When can I make my clothes?
Kit-making sessions will be organised throughout the year on the basis of need and demand. These sessions will be focused on measuring, cutting and making the patterns for your kit, plus trouble-shooting for any problems. Don’t worry if you’ve never sewn anything before – we can teach you everything and anything, from how to thread a needle to the stitches you will need to use. You may use a sewing machine for all non-visible stitching on your clothing or may opt to sew your clothes by hand.

If you can’t make the kit-making sessions, or if you are getting behind, many older members are happy to organise informal meetings at their houses – just ask them at a social or on Facebook. Finally, if you really are in a pickle, just bring your question (or your problematic kit) to a social – someone will usually be able to help you.

For those with a severe sewing phobia, ask older members: a few are generally willing to sew clothes for people (for a fee).

For information about where to source fabric and footwear, please visit our trader information post.

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