The-Look4Less-art - 5/21/18
"The Look for Less: Achieving an Authentic Look Using Simple Tunics" by Lady Rosalie Langmod. (class handout)
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Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
The Look for Less:
Achieving an Authentic Look Using Simple Tunics
by Lady Rosalie Langmod
The goal of this class and handout is to give a general overview of how geometric tunics can be used to give an authentic-look for pre-1320s clothing without a lot of fuss. I encourage you to research ways to embellish your garments to make them more specific to the period and culture you wish to emulate, but will refrain, for the sake of timeliness, from going into such detail. (Trust me: I could go on for pages.)
The tips in this class are specific to geometric tunics and how they can morph from one period/culture to the next, and the handout will omit garments that are specific to certain time periods and cultures, such as the peplos/chiton and Hangerrock etc, for the sake of cohesion.
Before we begin, I should briefly go over what I mean by "geometric tunic." A geometric tunic, in this context, is a tunic patterned using rectangular panels, square gussets, and triangular gores. This pattern differs from the T-tunic in that it is easier to fit and I personally love this method because it makes efficient use of fabric. The only close tailoring you will have to do to achieve an authentic look based on the period images provided is to fit the sleeves along the forearm. Also, I would like to point out that linen and wool tunics in this style can easily be purchased online or from vendors at SCA events.
Auntie Rosalie's Tips for An Authentic Look:
1.) Don't wear blatantly modern clothes or accessories. No wrist watches, no sneakers, and avoid sunglasses. With the exception of undergarments, avoid wearing modern clothes under your SCA clothes, especially if the modern clothes are visible. Try to wear contacts if you need glasses.
2.) Wear period shoes. They're not as expensive as you think and if you take care of them, they will last you years. (Remember, you'll only wear them on weekends and at war.). Start with a pair of simple turn shoes, like the Jorvik shoes, which can be paired with a variety of clothing styles.
3.) Layer your clothing. You should have a minimum of two layers of clothing depending on your time period. (In period, one usually wears three layers of clothing, not including mantles and cloaks.) Also, you should have at least one layer with long sleeves.
4.) Wear period or period-look fabrics. Leave cotton for lining things you want to be warm and inexpensive, your tunics should be made of linen (or linen-look fabrics) and wool/wool-look fabric.
5.) Accessorize according to the time period of your outfit. Don't dress like a time traveler and mix/match garments and accessories.
6.) Wear appropriate headwear.
7.) Avoid modern hair styles while in garb or cover your hair with appropriate headwear.
I honestly feel it is better to have a few, well made, and authentic looking garments than to have a wardrobe full of inauthentic, unattractive, and cheaply made pieces that draw away from the period aesthetic. After all, why invest energy or money into clothing that doesn't make you feel like you're rocking these Middle Ages when you look in the mirror? So, take the time to really research and invest in or make your clothing well. This doesn't mean you have to hand-sew everything, by any means, just remember the adage, "A stitch at a time saves nine."
In every period between the 11th century and 14th century, one can achieve the core "look" with an inner tunic that has fitted sleeves and an outer tunic with loose sleeves, but in some cases (especially for male garb or later period garments), you will need both garments to have fitted sleeves.
Inner tunic with fitted sleeves, full sleeves on the outer tunic. Women and kings should wear floor length inner tunics with calf-length outer tunics. Men, knee length tunics and closer-fitting trousers. Tunics are usually depicted as having key-hole necklines. These garments can be embellished with tablet woven, embroidered, or fingerloop braided trim. You can also embroider directly onto the garment.
Belts: Tablet Woven or leather. (Avoid O-rings please.)
Women: rectangle veils that wrap like scarves with a circlet.
Men: hoods or go without headwear.
(966 AD -Anglo Saxon)
(970 AD -Benediction of St Athelwold)
(10th-11th Century: Junius Manuscripts: Keyhole neckline. Sleeves are either wrapped or long with a tight cuff, causing them to gather.)
(Also from the Junius Manuscripts. Notice the facing on the king's tunic.)
Inner tunic with fitted sleeves, full sleeves on the outer tunic. Use wide contrasting facing around keyhole neckline and at sleeve cuffs. (Brocades or embroidered trim.)
Women's outer gowns can be floor length or calf length.
Men's garments can be floor length or knee length.
Belts: Tablet-woven or leather (men), or thick fabric belts (women). For women, you can cross-wrap them like you're wearing a bliaut. Women: rectangle veils with barbette and fillet, wimples were made popular in this period by Eleanor of Aquitaine.
(Hunterian Psalter, 1170 AD. Note: no bell sleeves.)
(12th Century, Fecamp Psalter, France.)
(12th Century, Fecamp Psalter. Work-a-day dress.)
(12th Century, Oxford.)
(12th Century, Switzerland.)
13th/Early 14th Century:
Inner tunic should have fitted sleeves. Outer tunic can have either fitted or full sleeves for women, fitted sleeves for men. Outer tunic should be floor length for women, can range from knee-length to ankle-length for men.
Embellishments should be more subtle. Necklines appear to be closed. In this century it was popular to blouse the outer tunic slightly over thin belts. In the 14th century, smocked aprons come into vogue.
Belts: Tablet-woven or leather.
Men: coifs, hoods, and straw hats.
Women: rectangle veils with or without wimples. It is also popular to wrap a rectangle veil so that it covers the neck like a wimple. Crespines (hair nets) become popular in the late 13th century and remain popular throughout the 14th century. Fillets, plain and goffered, are popular during the 13th century and early 14th century. In the 13th century, they're worn with coifs in addition to veils and fillets. The Birgitta Huva became popular as a workday garment and continued to be worn into the 15th century.
(13th Century, Maciejowski Bible.)
(Luttrell Psalter, 1320s-1340s.)
(14th Century Brass, Woman.)
(14th Century Brass, man.)
(Mannesse Codex, 1300 Germany. Don't freak out: she's cutting his hair to weave into the trim.)
I hope these examples have shown you that medieval garments don't have to be closely fitted or elaborately patterned in order to look authentic. The easiest way to look like you walked out of a manuscript is simply to wear a tunic and accessorize it according to the period you're looking to emulate, and you can do this using purchased tunics, hoods, and veils, you just have to utilize a keen eye in selecting your pieces. I hope this handout has helped with that.
Copyright 2018 by Kali Jackson. <rosaliethecelt at hotmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.