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15 May 2009 @ 11:56 am
Viking costume  
Viking period garbSo, the weekend after Balticon, I will be back in good ol' Salem "We're so sorry about the 1620 killings, really, waaaaughhh" Massachusetts being the "Man of Honor" for one of my dearest Star Wars nerd, medical geek, and punk rock chick friends, apeyanne. She's marrying Greek, and doing wedding garb in period costumes, so it's "My Big Fat Geek Wedding."

Since the costumes are supposed to be related to your ancestry, I saved up for some Viking period garb, trying to remain close to period true as possible, without giving up modern conveniences. I spent about $200 on a real linen shirt (period cloth and style), drawstring pants (period style), a leather belt, a leather pouch, and some drawstring moccasin boots which are period style... ish. Sadly, because there is no local "renn fest garb store," and I didn't have the money up front until a few weeks ago to pay someone to make me some pants and a shirt (I had offers), and I couldn't wait for a convention... I got my stuff off the Internet.

I feel lackluster about the experience.

From "The Renaissance Store" (renstore.com) I got a 2XL green linen tunic, 2XL gray drawstring pants, size 12 leather boots, and a Viking necklace. First, they said everything was in stock (which I verified when I ordered). A few days later I get a notice that "some items are out of stock, we will let you know in 2-3 weeks" but neglected to tell me what. GAH! I tried to call their customer service, but they always seemed to be closed or no one answered the phone and I got dumped to voicemail which cut me off. Turns out they are a sub-company of a sports company. They also never responded to my e-mails, except once, and that was to give me a UPS shipping number. Well, they under-promised and over-delivered, because I did get everything in about two and a half weeks.

Sadly, the clothes didn't fit properly. The 2XL shirt fits like an XL Tall on me, which is *tolerable* but not ideal (at least it's long). It's linen, with no give (which may be normal for the fabric), and is scratchy, but not intolerably so. The Size 12 boots have the right foot size, but they must think I have slender shins like a supermodel. Once I figured out the trick to get them on, they fit my legs very snugly without lacing them, and when I lace them, the laces only come up halfway. I am not sure how I would put them over my pants, given the little room they have. Well, they are suede, and they may relax a little with wear. The leather soles, however, are slender and I am going to have to be VERY careful not to twist my ankle due to the small footprint under my foot. The 2XL pants? Like huge. Let me tell you, they are so huge, I can fit just one pant leg over both legs. The legs are long, too, I don't know who designed them but what they think 2XL is must be a 6'10" 390lb linebacker with a beer gut. When Anya saw this, she said, "My god, how much did you pay for these? These as scrubs! These are $10 gray medical scrubs you can buy at Target!" She knows, she wears scrubs in her job. Same material and everything. I am definitely going to return these pants. I will wear the rest to Balticon for a day to wear them all in, and get advice from some merchants and friends.

BTW: If you are an SCA or period costumer and have advice, PLEASE feel free to offer it. Please. Especially about the boots. Despite my fannish background, I rarely wear "period clothing" other than 20th/21st century. I have already started getting advice about softening the linen, but I can't afford to have it shrink a millimeter. Does linen shrink?

I got my belt and pouch (with enough room for wallet/iPhone) from mojoleather.com, which apeyanne recommended. The belt width was thinner than I imagined from their picture (which may be my own problem), but the quality is good. The pouch is also nice. I am keeping those.

I am not upset spending $200 on this, because I can wear them to Renn Fests, Fairy Festivals, cons, and the like. Unlike a tux, it can be folder and put away in a small space. I will have pictures of the upper half soon. I know I look like a fool, but I owe apeyanne since I have a picture of her as Princess Leia in a slave girl outfit from years ago.
Internal Locust of Control: Princess Bride -- Storybook Loveapeyanne on May 15th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
Return the shirt and boots. Don't try to make them work. I can get you a good quality poet shirt for $40 with a quick turnaround. Just give me your chest and waist measurements. I'm serious, email it to me today so I can order it.

And it doesn't have to be Viking, that's going to be too much trouble. General Renn is fine. I want you to be comfortable and have a good time.

BTW, oversized pants are not so uncommon for that period; but a nice pair of tan or brown khakis could easily be used instead, for more comfort.
Internal Locust of Control: Princess Bride -- WTF?apeyanne on May 15th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
Oh and yeah, wear comfortable shoes. I can make spats for you in like, three seconds.

Or, Sketchers sells a man's boot in black that is fairly comfortable and totally appropriate, if you want to go there.
rtredrtred on May 15th, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC)
I have a local seamstress who custom makes my Renn Faire garb for about what you paid. And it fits me like it was made for me, because it was!

So far as footwear goes, I will second that comfort is paramount. I have a pair of black motorcycle boots that I had a friend who does leatherwork extend over my knees, and the extra flaps back down over the extension, making for a nice, "piratical" look. They have nice, thick, sturdy soles, perfect for wandering over uneven Renn Faire grounds.

They also double as Jedi knight boots!

When it's hot I just wear a pair of Birkenstocks or other leather sandals.

FWIW, IMHO Viking garb is pretty much the most unflattering on "people of size." I'd recommend a shirt that more more unstructured and "flow-y," with pleats and whatnot in the upper body to draw attention to the shoulders and away from the midriff.

I have three shirts like this:


And it's a style that'd probably work for you as well.

Also, pants is pants. I recommend sleep pants from Wal-Mart or Target. Cheap, stretchy, and comfortable!
Doktor Jessdoktor_jess on May 16th, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
I second the sleep pants thing. All my pants for SCA are stafford pajama pants for the sca. Instead of trying to tuck them into my boots, I use military boot blousers to make them look like they're tucked in. These are free or no more than 2 bucks at surplus store.

The awesome thing about using PJ pants is that they're awesome in hot weather.
patches023 on May 15th, 2009 06:24 pm (UTC)
If you want to try to have authentic viking clothing, the following has some good information:


What stands out for me about your outfit is the drawstring pants. The drawstring strikes me as wrong (but I have no evidence of this). However, no one will know that they are drawstring pants. No harm, no foul. In addition, a modification for your outfit could include trim. That would make it the bomb.

Good luck.
Xale D'Man: TCatsxale_d on May 15th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
Are those the Minnetonka boots? If so, you'll NEVER overcome the fact that the sole is too narrow for you. Send them back. RenStore is kind of the Wal-mart of garb. It's a fine place to start with somethings, but if you have other options, take 'em.

Speaking of "other options" VA RenFest starts this weekend, but it's in Spotsylvania, so they may be a bit too far from you.
Beyond Definitiontheimp79 on May 17th, 2009 01:44 am (UTC)
If you have a hard time getting a new shirt, Dave says you can borrow one of his. He has many colors and some have neat trim on them. He also might be able to lend you pants if you want, I don't know how comparable in size you guys are in that department. Dave generally wears a 2X shirt also.
Two side notes: I can talk to Mysty and she might be able to see about altering the shirt to make it fit better. You'd be amazed what she can work out when you think she can't. Also, if you borrow stuff of Dave's and like it, she made it so she can likely make some for you too, if you ask her nicely.

Edited at 2009-05-17 01:49 am (UTC)