My First Costume – Part 2
So you have your basics: shirt and pants or a shirt/blouse and skirt. So what makes you Renaissance-y and not a hippy or a wanna-be?
Accessories make or break the costume of any Renaissance Festival attendee or playtron. You can have the best surcoat in the history of surcoats but, if there is no attention to detail then you are just a cat in a surcoat. The attention to detail, the pieces of your costume that tell your tale, are what changes you from someone in costume to the character you are professing to be. Do you think that Ded Bob is at his best in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt? No, he is just a Bob that happens to be dead!
I am going to use my personal pirate garb as an example. For most fairs I wear a pair of sailors slops, a pirate shirt, the cuffed boots, a long vest and a tricorn. Pretty typical pirate garb. It is the little touches here and there that kick it up a notch. Bronze bangles and knotted jewelry up my left arm, chain maille and/or a rosary on my right arm. One boot has a set of gypsy bells around the ankle and the other leg has a Native American woven strip of cloth around the inside of the cuff. I have a cutlass and a dagger. One or two flintlock pistols, depending on my mood and how much pillaging I intend to do. A stamped bronze medallion and a cross made out of shell pieces hang around my neck. An astrolabe, a spyglass and a set of keys hang from my belt or baldric. This is all part of the costume of someone that does not wear almost any jewelry (save the bronze pirate coin around my neck) in real life. Each one of those pieces was made or picked out to give some character to my ‘character.’
Now, can you have a great costume without the accessories… no. You need to have something that makes the costume your own. If you haven’t taken the time to accessorize than you are just a visitor in a costume. You are certainly not on the play side of cosplay. Spend time figuring out what you are going as. If you are going to be a knight make sure that all your symbolism on your pieces of armor match. Don’t go Templar and the Knights of St Andrew on the same costume. If you are a strolling minstrel make sure that your jewelry fits the motif you are going for. Do something more than simply buying ‘off the rack.’ It is no different than buying a new dress and not buying the right earrings and necklace to go along with it. Of course, this time the earrings are a sword and the necklace is a ring with a wolf’s head on it or maybe the mysterious fuzzy tail.
You will be happy that you spent the time. You will be happy when someone stops you and says “do you work here?” You will be happier when someone stops you and asks if they can take their picture with you; at that point you are the costume… in my case you are the pirate.