I use this term a lot. I felt it was finally time to define it.
Garb – 1. a type of dress or clothing, 2. fashion, style of dressing oneself up, 3. a guise, external appearance
Those are all nouns but you can also use it as a verb: to garb, or to dress up. Apparently, it is from German (garbe) and since it from olde German, it has been around for a while. I personally like definition three – a guise or external appearance but I think for the purpose of the Renaissance Festival maybe definition one is the best – a type of dress. When people go in garb or refer to garb at the Ren Faire, they are playing dress up.
A brief retelling of my first Ren Faire experience…
I went to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival in the mid-2000s. The entire group I went with, except for one guy were in garb (you will notice him in the pic to the left, at the back with the bunny-fingers and the batman shirt. I was taking the picture so i am not there). I thought they were insane. We traveled in garb and even ate at Cracker Barrel in garb. I wouldn’t say I was embarrassed by them, it takes a lot to embarrass me, but the number of stares that we were receiving were certainly numerous. To me, being in no garb, they were playing dress-up and I just didn’t get it. After a day of having a blast, roaming through the shops, I got the idea that I might want to play dress-up too.
I am at my second faire… the Carolina Renaissance Festival that same year. I am in full costume. It was not as accessorized as it is now, but I was in costume. I had just gotten my boots (from Dress Like a Pirate) in a few days before, the only thing I was not sporting was my tricorne (from Captain Jack’s Pirate Hats). I am not saying that I had more fun but it was certainly as much fun and the first kid that wanted a picture with me in costume, well it made a pirate happy (check the smile on my face in the picture to the right – damn I am pretty as a pirate).
If you are a frequent attender of Renaissance Festivals, try it once. You have been browsing through racks of garb, you have probably bought enough jewelry to accessorize a costume already anyway. Put some of the pieces you have to good use.
Garb it up! Get your garb on!
You see where I am going with this… go play dress-up.