How to not look like a hobo

I taught a class at King's College a couple months ago with Elizabetta. Master Jovian contributed to the content too.

• Helps us recreate the time/place better
• It is designed to work with the kinds of movement involved in fighting
• It is more comfortable than modern versions
• It will catch the eye and draw attention to you
• It builds your esteem (if Joe fighter looks that good, he probably fights really good too)
• We get a better understanding of how and why they did what they did
• Provides inspiration / competition to other fighters (I want to look as good / better than Joe fighter)
• Chicks will dig it
• Begin with a specific end in mind. The more specific you are the better you’ll be able to capture the look, feel, and function of a medieval suit of armour.
• A helm is a good place to start, since they are quite recognizable and frequently narrow you down to 75 years of use.
o Many Spangenhelm designs clearly derive from Roman designs, but add flourishes which connect them to the society which created them
o Conical helms were very common for a few hundred years after that. Early barrel helms and kettles overlapped with them.
o Early barrel forms became common during the crusades. Bear in mind that there is a lot of variety in these helms, which let you date them to within about 50 years pretty reliably.
o Bacinets became the rage in the 14th century and survived into the 15th century, morphing into the great bascinet.
o In the 15th century, helm styles split by region with barbutes dominating in Italy, sallets dominating in the Germanic countries, and later close helms like the armet becoming popular elsewhere.
• Look at examples of kits with that style of helm (conical, totenkompf, bascinet, sallet, etc.) to get a feel for what things went with it.
o What kind of heraldic display, what kind of arms, legs, shields, weapons, etc?
o Bear in mind that just because things are contemporary doesn’t mean they go together – think of a baseball cap and a business suit, or a sombrero and a fireman’s uniform.
o Early personae or folks on the fringes of Europe are likely to have hidden leg and arm protection. A lot of modern sports gear will fit under armour, but it can disrupt the lines folks see even with baggy garments over them. Spring steel is far less bulky and more protective if it is padded correctly and fits well. Either is better than just wearing exposed late period gear with an early period helm.
• Maile – it’s the t-shirt and jeans of the Middle Ages.
o Up until the last quarter of the 14th century, most kits based their protection on maile.
o It was still used under plate and in sensitive spots for centuries after that in Europe and up through the 1800’s in some parts of the world.
o Full Hauberks, Coifs, and Avantails of riveted maile are getting far cheaper. Hunt around for good deals and you may be surprised.
• Fabric as part of your armour.
o Surcoats, particularly those showing off unit identity or personal heraldry can increase renown. If there is nothing distinctive about your kit, folks will not be able to point you out, and it will be harder for folks to learn who you are.
 The cut and construction of surcoats and tabards are generally simple enough for fighters to make, but the style does shift through time just like street clothes did. Examine extant garments, iconography, and sculpture wherever possible.
 Avoid big hanging sleeves. They were occasionally done in period, but they end up blocking your legs in our game. It’s pretty cheesy. If your lady just made you a beautiful coat that does this, find a way to tie the sleeves out of the way while you are fighting.
o Braies and chausses really are extremely comfortable to fight in, and help complete your look. Since chausses normally have feet on them, it also keeps your pants from riding up and making you look like you are cross dressing.
o Linen rocks.
• Shoes, there are great period shoes on the market now. Smoother soles prevent you from generating injurious torque on your knees and thinner soles reduce turned ankle injuries. Period style shoes are also smaller and lighter than modern shoes, so it is easier to cover them with a sabaton.
• Try to keep armor elements within 50 years of each other. (Earlier styles might have a longer range due to a slower rate of change in styles).
• Try to keep clothing elements within 10 years of each other.
• Keep elements from the same region (Florence and Venice can be very different even though they are both Italian).
• Keep elements from the same class level (foot soldier, knight, royalty, etc.)
• Gather at least five images from the same time, place, and preferably different artists to get consistent information. Try to avoid tertiary sources.
• Armor is a puzzle; try to use only pieces from the same puzzle set.
• Add extra layers in tender spots (such as under the arm, around the neck, etc.) to pad the body from armor pinches or pressure points or to meet armor standards.
• Be careful not to over pad as to restrict circulation or mobility, especially when worn under hard armor.
• Add gussets to center back and under arms if needed to allow for mobility.
• Test drive at practice before competitions.
• Wear at least a shirt. It protects the armor from you, and you from getting pinched or sunburned.
• Seam placement may need to be adjusted so as to not interfere with armor – shoulder-sleeve seams should be inset towards the neckline so that they do not align with the bony part of the top of the shoulder when armor rests on the shoulder.
• Armholes should fit closely; sleeves cut to fit a bent arm allow the greatest mobility.
• Garment should be closely fitted so that it does not bunch up under the armor.
• If padded, pad with natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or wool wadding (batting). Linen and wool handle moisture especially well. Synthetic padding acts as an insulator or an oven and becomes very hot.
• Consider using points (laces) instead of buttons for closure, or if using buttons, make sure they are flat where they will lie under armor to avoid pressure points.
• Garments can go over armor to hide things that are not period or appropriate for your outfit (such as modern kidney belts and cups) – this is especially useful when starting out or in the process of upgrading.
• Add a placket under openings to protect against gapping.
• Do not have any openings that are not essential to prevent blades from being caught and tearing (esp. for rapier armor). Use false sleeve openings, fake cutwork, etc. to get a similar look. This is especially useful for Landsknecht or other later styles.
• Make sure it is big enough to slide over the armor without binding or straining when you move
• Try to find extant garments to use as a guide to style and pattern.
• Use natural fibers whenever possible, as they tend to breathe better, and last longer.
• Try to avoid loose weaves such as gauze or satin. They have a higher tendency to snag and tear. Use plain and twill weaves instead.
• Wash all fabrics before beginning construction to preshrink and remove any finishes. Whatever the fabric is going to do, you want it to be done before you spend time sewing it.
• Make sure all edges are finished (serged, bound, etc.) to prevent fraying or weakened seams.
• Stitch with a narrow zigzag to add some stretch to the seams.
• Remember, it is easier to repair a split seam than ripped fabric. Make note of any repairs as an indication of alterations that might need to be made (e.g. gussets added under the arm).
• If possible, flat line the garment – it makes getting to the repairs easier.
• Add an extra layer where buttonholes, buttons, or eyelets will be sewn for reinforcement.
• If using buttons as closure, make sure to back them with backer buttons to take the stress off the fabric.
• Avoid using Wonder Under to attach appliqués, as it does not wear well. Try adhesive spray to hold the appliqué temporarily until it is permanently sewn to the garment.
• Save some fabric for patches, you will need them.
• Patch/repair as soon as you notice it, before washing if possible as washing can weaken any bad spots. It will be much easier and last much longer.
• Air-dry whenever possible. Dryers can be very hard on fabric.
• Wash whenever necessary. Body oils and dirt can break down fibers and attract pests.
• A solid color T-shirt is better than your modern printed T-shirt under your armor.
• If you wear sweats/leggings make sure they are long enough that they do not get hiked up your shins and show off white socks (also wear matching socks).
• Make/buy a t-tunic in the proper shape (easy) from inexpensive fabric in solid colors. Get as high of a natural fiber content as possible for more comfort.
• Sturdy rigid armor that can be covered with tunics.
• Black shoes / boots.
• Linen shirts and T-tunics over sweats. This can still cover up bad rigid armor.
• Parti-colored sweats / leggings.
• Better armor that will show.
• A proper belt and buckle instead of the SCA 2 ring belt.
• Better armor that will show
• More / better accessories
• More tailored garments
• Good shoes (can be under $100 of leather, designed to be resoled)
• Headwear, outerwear
• Perfect armor from head to toe
• Appropriate clothing for over or under armor, in all the usual pieces, (coif, shirt, hosen, etc.)
• Pattens if appropriate to protect shoes
Levels of improvement
Level 0 – anything to get on the field
May have florescent colors, camouflage, blue plastic, blank shield, tennis shoes, mix of time periods, etc.
1) Solid colored sweats.
2) Spray paint the blue plastic.
3) Kingdom charge on shield.
4) Long surcoat over armor.

Level 1 – Oh, you're a Norman
May have the right idea and even be identifiable, but aluminum armor is visible, as are tennis shoes, kidney belts, ring belts, shield edging hose, etc.
1) Kidney belt on the inside
2) Buy a tongue belt buckle for your belt
3) Cover shield edging hose with cloth or raw hide
4) Upgrade aluminum armor to steel

Level 2 – You're beginning to look like the historical pictures
1) Start with a very specific and well researched picture. The pictures in the Men-at-arms series don’t work very well for this level. Extant armour, effigies, tapestries, and illuminations work well, but try not to replicate the one freak example from your era.
2) Replace one piece of your kit at a time with a better one until you match the picture. The helm is most recognizable, then body armour, then legs, then arms.
3) Look at accessories- weapons, shields, belts, backup weapons, banners, benches, jugs, pouches etc. Consider anything a warrior would have carried.

• Bayeux Tapestry
• Book of Hours duc du Berry
• Lutrell Psalter
• Maciejowski Bible
• Manese Codex
• That nifty polish extant garment site
• Web Gallery of Art
• Armor
• Therion Arms & Armor
• Denver Fabrics - all fabrics
• Dharma Trading Company- white silk and linen fabric and dyes
• - linen
• Fiber/Quilt stores - roving
• – flax roving for stuffing
• Quilt stores – batting
• Tandy Leather Supply - buckles, rivets, leather, etc
• Billie and Charlie’s Pewter
• Fettered Cock Pewter
• Historic Enterprises – finished clothing and accessories (good shoes, accessories, some armor)
• - (good shoes)
• JAS Townsend & Son – civil war reenactment, but some good camp accessories and fabric
• Raymond’s Quiet Press – bronze and pewter bits, belt findings, etc.
• Revival Clothing – finished clothing and accessories (good shoes)
• Wm Booth Draper– civil war reenactment, but some good camp accessories and fabric

• Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight
• Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women c1560-1620. Hollywood: Quite Specific Media Group Ltd., 1985.
• Arnold, Janet. Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'D. Leeds: Maney, 1988.
• Barker, Juliet, Richard Barber., Tournaments: Jousts, Chivalry, and Pageants in the Middle Ages. New York, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989
• Birbari, Elizabeth. Dress in Italian Painting 1460-1500. Chatham: W and J Mackay Limited, 1975.
• Burnham, Dorothy K. Cut My Cote. Royal Ontario Museum, 1973.
• Crowfoot, Elisabeth, Francis Pritchard, and Kay Staniland. Textiles and Clothing c1150 - c1450: Medieval Finds From Excavations in London 3. London: The Stationary Office Ltd.: 1991.
• Dupuis, Tammy. Renaissance Tailor. August 2006.
• Edge, David and John Miles Paddock, Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight
• Egan, Geoff, Francis Pritchard. Dress Accessories c1150 - c1450: Medieval Finds From Excavations in London 4. London: The Stationary Office Ltd., 1991.
• Elliot-Wright, Phillip JC. Brassey’s Master Class, Living History. London, 2000
• Herald, Jacqueline. Renaissance Dress in Italy 1400-1500. London / 1981
• Knives and Scabbards
• Koch, HW. Medieval Warfare, Greenwich CT, Bromtom Books Corp., 1978
• Kren, Emil and Marx. Web Gallery of Art / January 2007
• Leed, Drea. Elizabethan Costume Site. February 2007.
• Malcolm-Davies, Jane, Ninya Michaila. The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing sixteenth - century dress. Singapore: BT Batsford Ltd.: 2006.
• McGann, Tasha Kelly, Grande Assiette Tailoring And The Charles De Blois Cotte,, 2004
• Newton, Stella Mary, Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince: A Study of the Years 1340-1365
• Östergård, Else. Woven into the Earth. Aarhus Universitetsforlag, 2004
• The Medieval Horse and Its Equipment
• The Medieval Soldier (Company of Saint George)
• Thurston, Sarah, The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant
• Young, Alan. Tudor and Jacobean Tournaments. London, George Phillip Pub. 1987
• A Knight’s Tale
• Gladiator
• Kingdom of Heaven
• Monty Python and the Holy Grail
• Romeo and Juliet – Franco Zefferelli version (not the main characters)
• The Lion in Winter

• Bag lining Garment outer layers and garment lining are assembled separately, then sewn together at the edges, making a large bag, like modern coats.
• Batting Sheets of fibers, often of polyester, used to pad quilts and imitate snow in Christmas displays.
• Fashion Fabric Outermost layer of fabric that is visible.
• Flat lining Garment outer layers and garment lining are layered on top of each other then assembled as one. All seam allowances are visible on the inside of the garment.
• Gores Triangles of fabric inserted into seams or slashes to add fullness (e.g. from waist to hem to add fullness to a tunic).
• Gussets Squares or diamonds of fabric inserted where to clothing parts join to add mobility (e.g. under the arm where the sleeve connects to the body).
• Placket A strip of fabric attached to the button side of an opening to prevent gaping or for modesty when the garment is closed.
• Plain Weave Weave in which the weaving thread crosses over and under only one thread at a time (think broadcloth or oxford shirts).
• Points Laces or ties, usually with metal tips (aglets) for tying garment edges together.
• Roving Fiber after it has been washed and combed, prepared for spinning, looks like giant cotton balls.
• Twill Weave Weave in which the weaving thread crosses over and under more than one thread at a time (think denim).


Anonymous said…
venkataiah presidential ripe intentions acronyms formplease domestic stems buckley bphs regions
lolikneri havaqatsu

Popular Posts