Costume guide: Men

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Good clothing is fundamental to living history. Unlike other pieces of equipment, clothing is indispensable – it is the minimum requirement. Before buying shiny armor, the reenactor needs something to wear underneath it … and to live, walk, work and fight in it. Clothing doesn’t serve the same purpose as a theater or cinema costume. It must be worn and used like everyday clothing, and therefore it should be made to fit and feel like normal clothing.

Let’s be honest! Male clothing as shown in 15th-century artworks looks rather odd to our modern eyes: tight trousers attached with multiple strings to a close-fitting jacket. It defies belief that they achieved that close fit without the elastic and synthetic fibers we have today, and that they could actually move in it. But if generations of men wore it, then it must have served its purpose rather well.

After years of walking, running, climbing, rowing, wearing armor and fighting in hose and doublet, we have found that getting a good fit is not only a question of style but also a matter of ease and comfort. It is worth taking the extra effort when making one’s clothing.

This clothing guide is not an essay on 15th-century clothing, nor a study of all regional styles, and it won’t teach you how to sew. But we list all the garments needed by a male company member, and we have tried to explain all the basic principles for making them look and fit as they should.

We welcome feedback, notes and thoughts on this topic and this guide.

The Male Clothing Guide was first published in 2010.