SCA Clothing | Renaissance Clothing and Medieval Costumes

Renaissance Costuming For The SCA

The SCA, or Society for Creating Anachronism, is a group dedicated to reenacting the period between the Fall of Rome and the 17th century.  That means that it covers quite a lot of ground, including the Dark Ages, High Medieval and Renaissance periods.  You've got a lot to choose from when it comes to creating a costume, or garb, for use in this organization.  On top of that, strict accuracy is not required - all the SCA demands is that you make an earnest attempt.  That means that you won't get in trouble for an inaccurate set of clothing, but it also means that there's not a lot of guidance if  you don't know where to start!

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First, you have to decide who your persona will be.  You don't have to come up with names and personal histories right off the bat, or even stick with a particular persona.  However, to get a costume that "agrees with itself", you'll need to know what time period and location, as well as general social and economic class, the person wearing it would be from. 

While the T-tunic may be the most popular piece of clothing in the SCA, it's not appropriate for every time period or location.  For instance, if you're interested in the Renaissance, the period spanning the 15th and 16th centuries, the T-tunic is well out of date.

The best way to decide what you want to wear for the SCA is to look at what was worn in the Renaissance.  There are lots of attractive art books out there, showing fashions of the upper class.  That makes deciding on a type of fashion easy if you want to be a lord or lady.

In fact, everyone in the SCA is assumed to be nobility.  However, not everyone wants to play the upper class.  If a merchant, artisan, or even a servant's or fieldworker's persona appeals to you more, research can get a little more difficult.  However, if you look at enough art and talk to people, you'll find out a lot about your options.

Once you have a rough idea who you want to be, you can start finding individual costuming pieces.  There are a few options here: you can buy costumes from merchants, make your own, or pay or barter with someone else to make your garb for you.  All of these are great choices, depending on your budget, available time, and personal sewing skill. 

If making an entire outfit isn't something you're willing to do, but off the rack clothes don't appeal, think about buying from a merchant, then altering the garment to your tastes.  It can make a big difference in the appearance of a mass produced piece of clothing.

Pay attention to the rules about belts and certain types of clothing.  In the SCA, plain red, yellow, white, and green belts are all reserved for people of specific ranks or their apprentices/protégés.  If you want to wear a belt of these colors, make sure that it matches your clothing well, and that it's patterned.  Likewise, don't wear an unornamented gold or silver chain, and some emblems, like laurel wreaths and pelicans, are reserved for these ranks, too.  Fortunately, there's a wide range of other options that this leaves open, and if you make a mistake, all you have to do is change.