Sunday, 22 March 2009

Devil's in the Details

Here's an example of good medieval costuming gone a little bit wrong in the details, Medieval Rose Productions.

The styles look absolutely fine for roughly 500-1100. The colour choices also work, and they're using the right materials, linen and wool. The quality of the tailoring looks fine, too. They're even brave enough to put actual medieval images up for comparison. So what's wrong?

Well, compare. The medieval images right on the site are from a rather later time period than the costumes, but they show dagged edges, patterned cloth, wide bands of embroidery or contrasting cloth, and clothing lined with a different, complimentary colour. None of them show thin lines of embroidery, or show layering at the neck (except in the case of a low V-neck) as the site's samples do. No layering at the wrist, either.

Also, if you want to stand out, choose your cloth carefully. A lot of these examples look like a very smooth finish, usually the under-layers. They could look better with a slightly rougher texture, like the green layer in the last images on the page, or like this (imagine this material under that green sleeve):

To sum up, I wouldn't hesitate to request a costume from this site if their prices are reasonable. But I'd ask for a wide band of embroidery at the neck, and cloth with a rough finish, if I did. Then I'd be very careful about the accessories I wore, because Kentish in 600, Frankish in 800, or Merovingian in 1100 would all be different.

Let's also look at some medieval images closer to the time period these costumes are aimed at. There's a nice collection here.


  1. You know, I'd give this stuff a pass. The layered sleeves do start to look funny when I've stared at them a bit. And it's not my choice of garb anyway -- I go for later stuff and break the sumptuary laws because I'm just LIKE that. Still, I would wear it proudly in summer and at field events and I think it's good enough as is.

    Could be better, but I've seen enough horrors of migraine inducing proportion that even pixie wings might slip past me now.

  2. The site appears to be gone, which is a pity because your description makes me want to see it. :-)

    Must add though- I'd be VERY interested in seeing a Merovingian c 1100. Or maybe not. Bodies that old are a bit whiffy.