Good garb adds to everyone's enjoyment of the game. While some people just want to fit in and not worry about their dress, many enjoy being creative. Don't be scared off from making a good outfit because you can't sew or make your own mail. The key to good LARP garb is resourcefulness. If you start by thinking what you'd like to look like, and then hunt around for some pieces to work with, you can go a long way. Here are some steps to consider in putting a good costume together:
1. Get an idea of how you'd like to look. Consider these things:
- What is the history behind your character? What race and background helps to define this character? This can give you an idea for what general style you would like. Legends racial packages draw mainly from Middle Eastern, Nordic, French Renaissance, Native American, Myan, the Huns and Visigoths, Italian, Romani, English, Russian, Gaelic, Germanic, Asian and some few fantasy sources. Or if you prefer, you could draw from your own imagination.
- Will you wear armor? If so, what kind?
- What sort of footwear will you have?
- What sort of fabrics would work for shirts, blouses, pants, dresses, skirts, etc.?
- Will you wear a hat or a helmet?
- How will you carry things? (In a pouch, in a pack, or on a belt?)
2. What do you have already? If you have anything at home start there, of course. With a new perspective on what it is you're looking for, search through closets, attics and basements for things that could work 'as is' or with some modification.
3. Hit the thrift shops. The Salvation Army and similar thrift stores are very useful, as are flea markets. Remember to look not only for things that are ready to wear, but also for things that, with a little modification, can be made into medieval/fantasy costumes or armor. (Hint: check on belts, handbags, leather coats, blouses, shirts and furs.) Anything made of real or fake leather should get a good looking at; they can be made into leather armor or vests. Even an old suit bag can be cannibalized, and with a few press-on studs, it becomes studded leather armor. Paint or dye can be added to suit your taste.
3a. Tag sales or yard sales and school or church bazaars are some of the big bonanzas. Some amazing things can be found for props and costumes! It's like panning for gold - sometimes it's slow, but you never know when you'll strike it rich! And with all of these, the prices are usually excellent. You can usually talk people down a bit from what they ask too!
4. Try a big fabric store. Big ones often have sales on remnants. Keep an eye out for remnants of fake fur, fake leather, nice wools, etc. going on sale. Also, go through the 'Notions' section; you can find lots of little things to add to your costume, such as buttons, broaches, studs, etc. If you need to cut and hem something, but you don't sew, try some fabric glue or iron-on hem sealers (like Stitch Witchery).
5. Little touches like scarves, feathers, chains, belts, etc. can be found at a wide variety of places; also consider looking in costume shops, hardware stores, boutiques and dollar stores.
6. Some Assembly Required. Work your pieces into the form you want. If you don't know how to get the effect you're looking for, ask around. You can contact Legends if no one else knows how to do it. Keep in mind that you may be running, jumping, climbing hills and rolling back down them in this outfit, so it should be safe and durable. Also remember that you'll probably be outside in rain at some point.
7. Comfort and Length of Wear. If you are considering such accessories as a beard, mustache, or wig: think twice! While these are great ways to make your character distinct from yourself, these can be uncomfortable over the length of a weekend. If you still want to wear one or more of these, try them over a period of hours, not minutes!
8. Never give up, never surrender. The garb you wear to your first event will likely not be the garb you are wearing even a year later. Every character evolves, and every set of costuming follows suit, as better cloaks and pouches are discovered or made, boots are found to be uncomfortable for overland wear, or pants get torn and need replacement. This happens to everyone to varying degrees. So, don't feel your new character needs to look perfect on your very first event with it.