Costumes make a character memorable. No matter how good of an actor or role-player you are, trying to portray a knight while wearing jeans and a t-shirt strains credibility. Even if you can't afford the shining armor, a tunic, breeches, and a tabard will fit the bill nicely.
Weapons and armor deserve their own categories, and are covered in previous sections. We'll focus on regular clothing and makeup here.
Like many aspects of KR, there are parts of costuming that need to be practical and safety-minded as well as appealing to the eye.
The biggest practical concern for costuming is heat - keeping cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Dealing with hot weather simply requires that you wear lighter clothes, and less of them. But during the cold months, you'll want to make sure that your costume - while still looking good on the outside - leaves you room to layer some thermals underneath.
It may not seem that safety could have much to do with the clothes you wear, but you should make sure that any clothing or accessories you are wearing are not going to get caught or tangled while moving about in the woods, or fighting in a battle. Make sure loose ends are secure, and that you have plenty of room to move your arms and legs. Shoulders and armpits are key stress points on shirts, and knees and crotch on pants - usually, getting them a size larger helps you move more easily.
The best part is, of course, appearance. While this page won't go into a lesson on costume history, it will give the basics on how to make a good outfit that will serve you well for many events.
A Guideline for a successful costume includes:
- Choose a look for your character - colors, symbols, shape and cut of garments. Does he or she wear long, flowing robes, or a short, tight outfit? Are the colors flashy, or muted? Even if you are not an artist, try doodling a quick outline of your character, using color pencils or crayons, so you know the general look.
- Decide on some outfit basics. Will he or she wear the same outfit year round, or have one for cold and one for warm weather? This is partly an Out-Of-Game decision, considering how much money you want to spend.
- How practical is your character? Which is more important - form or function? Will he or she be in a lot of battles? Select clothes that will accommodate your activity level.
- Storing stuff - everyone needs a pouch, purse, or packet for their character card, pen, and Out-Of-Game stuff like wallet and keys. Plan accordingly for your costume, so you can keep them handy and without spoiling the authenticity of your costume. Consider how you will carry In-Game items like weapons, spell packets, or other items your character might have on his or her person all the time.
- Accessories: Darth Vader had his black cape, and the Jedi had their brown robes. The Man in Black from the Princess Bride had a mask and a bandana. Think about what accessories your character will wear. The little details you add to your costume could very well be the defining elements of his or her look.
Most outfits consist of the following:
- Shirt - something to cover your upper body. It can be a simple tunic, or a more elaborate shirt and vest combination. Women have the choice of dresses or other feminine clothing to wear.
- Pants - Something to cover your lower body. These are usually simple, and can be a basic wrap or a full set of trousers or pants. Kilts are common for Celts, and of course there are dresses and skirts for the women. Bear in mind you may be moving in the woods, and in mud, snow, and other outdoor conditions.
- Footwear - Do not wear logo-branded sneakers to KR. Not only are the unsafe for the kinds of terrain you will be encountering, they look bad. Get yourself good pair of boots if you plan on being active at all. You can get medieval styled boots from most catalogs and vendors of Renaissance Faire products, or you can simply get a good pair of natural toned hiking boots or work boots. Make sure you have proper foot support and a thick sole for the woods, and that you can wear the boots comfortably enough for 48 hours and in combat. If you're playing a character that isn't very active, and the boots would just spoil the look of the silk robes you bought, try sandals or moccasins. If you see a pair of medieval styled shoes or boots that you simply must have, then by all means indulge yourself.
- Hats - while not everyone will wear a hat, a lot of people do. It keeps the sun from your eyes, the rain off your head, your hair in place, and adds a bit of distinction to your outfit Whether it's a simple bandana, a Bedouin head wrap, an armored helmet, or a fancy headband, it's a part of your outfit.
- Cloak - Again, not everyone has one of these, but many people do. A cloak is a way to keep warm, and a way to show something about yourself such as a symbol or crest. Cloaks also provide a good way to cover and hide things - like shiny armor and weapons, and they may even have pockets.