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Historic Re-enactment Garb

Updated on September 11, 2014
BlossomSB profile image

Bronwen and her family have enjoyed collecting many things, including fans, clocks, books and shells.

Woman's Dress
Woman's Dress | Source
Man's Cloak
Man's Cloak | Source

Historic Re-enactments

A very popular pursuit these days seems to be historic re-enactments. These may be of famous wars and skirmishes of the past, especially - but not confined to - the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

At our local university there is a group called The SCA, or Society for Chronological Anachronism, and I've found that there are groups, or kingdoms, as they are known, of this society in at least nineteen countries around the world. In fact, there are over 30,000 members.

We're interested in what happened in the past and the way our ancestors lived, fought in battles and died. SCA members dress appropriately and attend events that include feasts, dancing, music groups, tournaments and even classes in how to carry out these activities as close to the original and as authentic as possible (without the bloodshed, of course!).

Most SCA members take on pseudonyms that usually begin with titles such as Lord, Lady, Baron, Baroness, Sir, Lady and so on, and they address each other accordingly. There are special groups for families and young people and some of the members give their time to visit history and social study classes in schools to provide lively demonstrations that are as accurate as possible for the era that is being studied.

With pockets.
With pockets. | Source

Women's Clothing

A number of members, both men and women, take a pride in hand-sewing their own garb, using only natural materials that were available in the time they have chosen to represent.

Women's clothing can vary from the simple to the highly decorated, depending on the status of the personality that they have taken on. Some women who are interested in re-enactment sew their own clothes by hand, while others purchase online and it's surprising the number of outlets available. Women's garments did not include set in pockets until the middle of the nineteenth century; instead they often wore separate pockets that were tied around the waist and hidden under the outer clothing.

Many women like to make their outer garments, but when it comes to underwear, especially corsets, and items such as shoes and accessories, they prefer to purchase them as making such articles can be very time-consuming and requires considerable know-how if they're to be comfortable by today's standards.

Coat with Metal Buttons
Coat with Metal Buttons | Source

Men's Garb

As with the women, some men enjoy making their own garb, while others prefer to purchase their clothing, shoes and accessories.

If the man is interested in re-enactments of tournaments, battles and sword-fights, this will require much more equipment, possibly with the addition of helmets and chain mail. They will spend long hours practising with sword and epee.

Materials used to make the garb include pure linen, hemp, fur and wool, with the addition of silk and cotton, depending on the era. Jerkins were often made of leather and were often worn over a doublet. It's interesting that men's clothes included pockets in the inside garments with a fitchet in the outer garment to give easy access to the pocket.

Some men enjoy taking part in re-enactments from different eras, so they build a collection of clothes to suit the era and this can sometimes amount to quite a wardrobe! Of course, the hats, shoes and other accessories need to be chosen to match the era as well.

Man's Outfit
Man's Outfit | Source
Shirt With Ruffle
Shirt With Ruffle | Source
Men's Jerkins
Men's Jerkins | Source
Tartan Coat
Tartan Coat | Source
Coonskin Hat
Coonskin Hat | Source


Basic materials for headgear may include linen, cotton, straw, fur and felt. These may be purchased or made from start to finish by people interested in trying their hand at producing such things.

The finished products are usually decorated with ribbons, feathers and other trims such as objects fashioned from metal and bone. Again, these decorations may be purchased from businesses that specialise in such things, or they may be produced at home, after researching ancient methods of construction.

Woman's Hat and Other Garb
Woman's Hat and Other Garb | Source
Decorating a Hat
Decorating a Hat | Source
Man's hat
Man's hat | Source
Block of Compressed Tea
Block of Compressed Tea | Source

Food and Utensils

These days, so much of our food and the way we package it comes from other countries and was not known in historic times.

Food: Food then was more simple and, of course, in cold countries various methods had been evolved for preserving it over the long winters. Cereals intended for bread, cakes and for porridge were stored in containers, and by the end of winter, whether kept whole or milled they often included many weevils. Yeast was the only raising used. Wine was stored in wooden casks, fish and meat were sun-dried or salted down, as were most vegetables, although some were stored in piles of sand and became very dry and wrinkled before the next crop was available.

Utensils: Containers and utensils were usually simple, although sometimes the handles of knives and spoons were beautifully decorated. Clay pots were left plain or decorated before firing, according to their intended use. Cooking pots may have been made of iron, other metal or clay.

Re-enactment Foods and Utensils
Re-enactment Foods and Utensils | Source
Leather Bag
Leather Bag | Source


Bling and other accessories are popular today for personal adornment and there were many that were popular in 'the olden days,' as well, but some were different from what we use now.

There were also quite a few games and one of these is represented by the home-made cards in the accessory display below.

Much time was often spent in producing some of these accessories and different materials were used, such as wood, leather and fabric.

Woman's Accessories
Woman's Accessories | Source
Handworked Wallet
Handworked Wallet | Source

© 2014 Bronwen Scott-Branagan


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    • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      LadyFiddler: Thank you so much. It's lovely to hear from you. For a whole month I've had problems with my emails and I'm still not receiving the HubPages daily digest, although I'm hoping that the help from Apple today might have rectified that. I hope you have a lovely day, too, and God bless.

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 

      5 years ago from On Planet Earth

      Hey Blossom how are you ? This is sure a masterpiece you have done here. Its worth a Hub of the day :)

      Thanks for sharing such an informative hub on garbs and how to make them, lovely illustrated pictures too.

      Have a swell day

      God Bless U

      Voted up and Sharing

    • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      FlourishAnyway: Thank you. That must be very interesting living near such an interesting place. I guess that not everyone makes their costumes, as I know that some people make them and others can order and buy them online. It would be fun to watch reenactments in your part of the world.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      I enjoyed this a lot. I live close to historic Williamsburg and Jamestown and Southern plantations where you will often find people dressed in period costumes. There are sometimes local reenactments. I always wondered where their costumes came from.

    • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      WillStarr: That sounds great. Sorry I haven't responded before, my computer's playing up and I'm not receiving most of my emails. Thank you for your vote and comment.

    • WillStarr profile image


      5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      My little sister-in-law creates period clothing like this for costumes, and she's very good at it.

      Good Hub, Blossom! Voted up.

    • BlossomSB profile imageAUTHOR

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Frank Atanacio: I hope you found this entertaining as well. You're first off the rank again - you're amazing! Thank you for your comments.

      Faith Reaper: How lovely of you! Thank you! Yes, my Grandmother was Victorian, through and through and continued to wear her corset and full length dresses and skirt almost until she died. In the winter the bottom petticoat was flannel and in the summer she only wore three lighter ones - she said it kept the cool in! And yes, she did always carry smelling salts with her. I'm glad we live now - and blessings to you!

      tilsontitan: Well, it's sort of first hand knowledge, I'm not a member, but my daughter is and she loves it - and I've been expected to dress appropriately if I visit a re-enactment! Thank you for your vote.

      billybuc: It probably depends on what social status you choose to be in the kingdom, and if you can make your own garb, etc. I agree that it would be too expensive - for me, too, but it is fun and educational, too.

      AudreyHowitt: So glad you enjoyed it - I've had so many lovely comments I'm tempted to write about it again!

      alanaster149: I could have written more, but I think there's a limit. I know that if I find a hub that's a mile long I'm inclined to skip some of it and so I rather think others may do the same thing. Love the bits in your comments about 1066 and all that! And what about those unruly Celts in Scotland, Wales and Ireland - and even in Cornwall and the Isle of Man? At least we can be thankful that the re-enactment societies don't get cut up about it!

      always exploring: Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I've just happened to be in some different countries when they've had re-enactments. I think I like the feasts and the games best, rather than the jousting and sword-fights!

      SANJAY LAKHANPAL: I wonder if we just look with nostalgia at the 'good old days'? I'm not sure that they were always so beyond approach in their behaviour - and I do like my mod cons, especially not having to light a fire when I'm hungry and need to prepare a meal! Perhaps I'm just being a teeny bit cynical - and thank you for your comments.

    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

      Sanjay Sharma 

      5 years ago from Mandi (HP) India

      Very interesting enactment of the life of forefathers. But we should also adopt their truthfulness, sincerity, concern, unselfishness etc. The hub made me nostalgic.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is very interesting to read, the clothing style unique. It must be fun to follow the enactments in different places. Thank you for sharing..

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Enjoyed reading this Blossom. You could've got more mileage out of it, though - such as Civil War (Britain) WotR and before.

      I feel sorry for the ones that wear the chain mail, helmets etc., even if they choose to wear it. Imagine wearing it on a hot summer's day(!?)

      In late September 1066, when Harold fought Harald (and Tostig) at Stamford Bridge east of York, reinforcements for the Norse king Harald led by Eystein 'Orre' ran nine miles in their chain mail, carrying swords, shields, steel helms - and axes - from Riccall near Selby. By the time most of them got to the battle they fell, suffering from heatstroke not English weaponry.

      In sub-zero temperatures, Palm Sunday 1461, during a blizzard, Yorkist forces under the would-be king Edward IV routed Henry VI's army at Towton near Wakefield on Palm Sunday 1461 despite being outnumbered 3-2. Arrows rained down on the Lancastrian army, made up mostly of un-armoured levies. The bloodiest battle on English soil.

      Re-enactment societies are careful not to emulate the deeds of our ancestors - they're just not cut out for it!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      5 years ago from California

      I loved this Blossom--Thank you so much for sharing this--especially the photos!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is a hobby I would love to do, but it just costs too much for this frugal boy. Great information, though, that made me a bit jealous. :)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      Looks like your re-enactment knowledge is first hand. Your knowledge is comprehensive and your pictures are just great! Thanks for sharing.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      5 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, how interesting, Blossom! Here in the deep South we have so many re-enactments and I am always fascinated by the historic garb. You have presented an excellent hub here coupled with your great photos. This should win HOTD.

      I often ponder just how did the women of the day survive the extreme heat here in the South wearing the corsets and long petticoats and such. No wonder they suffered with the "vapors" so often!

      Voted up ++++ tweeting, pinning and sharing

      God bless you and I hope your day is lovely.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      5 years ago from Shelton

      Blossom I still look forward to reading your hubs.. they're fun if not entertaining or educational some what bless you


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