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Cardiff Rose Swordsmen Guild
Costume Guidelines -

These are to provide goals and direction for Guild costuming, and have been designed to give our group a distinctive and authentic appearance. New purchases must be made in accordance with Guild requirements, but older costume elements that don't meet these guidelines may be "grandfathered" if acceptable - so don't panic! Existing costume should gradually change to meet these new standards, depending on the guildmember's rank, finances, and interests.

Women's costume is English from 1580-1600, unless an earlier (1540's) look is required. Material should be natural - cotton, linen or wool in browns, greys, tans, burgundys and greens. Costume quality should match rank -- soldier wives' and suttlers clothing is simpler than that of upper-class women. Cross-dressing is fine, just be sure to wear full men's costume, including doublets, breeches, and hats.

Women's clothing consists of: white shift, bodice, skirts, stockings and shoes, and a biggins, scarf, coif, and/or a hat. Tankards should be wood, leather or ceramic, and pouches relatively plain. Leather should be natural brown rather than black if at all possible. Officers wives are wealthy women, wearing fancy bodices and skirts in richer colors like black and crimson, higher-quality shifts with lace collars and sleeves, and nicer pouches and shoes.


Shifts (also called a Chemise) should be white and long enough to act as a second skirt, with reasonably full sleeves. Shift, Bodice and Corset patterns and information are available at Margo Anderson's Historic Costume Patterns. Sewing Central has a great collection of Elizabethan patterns. Another excellent site is Caroline Vincent's Working Class Costume of 17th Century Women. Age Of Chivalry carries a lot of fantasy stuff, but approved costume includes: Chemise dress< (meaning long), and Ladie's Chemise.


The most difficult element of women's costume! Should be made from strong material (like cotton canvas), lined and boned to make it fairly rigid. Even if you sew well, get advice from others before attempting a bodice. Patterns at Elizabethan links above, sold by some merchants at Faires. Age Of Chivalry carries a lot of fantasy stuff, but the only approved bodices are: Basic shoulder-lace bodice, or Basic bodice with wings and picadils. As usual, avoid black and purple colors. Renstore.com also has a nice "Deluxe Lady's Bodice" approved in blue, burgundy and green, as well as the "Barmaid's Bodice" approved in the same colors plus tan -- but NOT the tapestry option.


Skirts should be full-cut and worn in layers, often two skirts over a shift, with the top skirt pulled up a bit. Renstore.com has their "Lady's Skirt" approved in blue, burgundy and green, as well as the "Full Circle Skirt" in gold, green and rose. Tienda Ho on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley sometimes carries Middle Eastern skirts in plain colors that will work - check the sale racks.


Women usually wore a snood, biggins or small white cap over their hair at all times, with other hats being worn on top. Hats should be flat-caps (fabric or leather), wide-brimmed felt hats (not side-pinned "Cavalier" style), or other period hat types like muffin hats, wool caps or straw hats.


Shoes should be low-cut 'Mary-Jane ' and Tai-Chi styles, or standard latchet shoes. Sarah Juniper in the UK makes extremely well-regarded period footware. Here's directions on how to make your own "economy" latchet shoes from modern footware. The Shoe Pavilion carries two models that will work, the Simple clog in brown for $30 (smooth sole only) and the Azealea "Fragment" model oxford in brown for $40. Dance shoes and some "organic" type walking shoes will also work. Always try to get smooth-soled shoes (avoid lug soles), and leather in natural colors rather than black.


Stockings should be white or natural colours, and cover all bare skin between footware and skirts. Jason Townsend & Sons carries a great selection of tall cotton and wool stockings.

Recommended Online Merchants

American Fencing Supply in SF.
Age of Chivalry carries some approved costume pieces
- see Chemise and Bodice above.
Renstore.com also carries some approved costume pieces
- see Skirts and Bodice above.
Softspots Moritz shoe (comfy!)
DreamShoes Footwear
By The Sword Footwear (OK but kind of tacky...)
Sally Green Costume (UK) - affordable chemises, skirts and bodices
Hatcrafters - an ASTOUNDING selection of hats -
the Charles, Salem, Puritan & Quaker models are recommended
Swordsmiths (UK) carries Armour Class weapons,
both 17th C "Hangers" are PERFECT Ren Faire soldier's swords.
Syke's Suttlery has good musketry supplies and costume
Tentsmiths - US makers of period tents
Panther Primitives - US makers of period tents
Jas. Townsend - US tents, barrels, tall stockings, spectacles & more!
Loyalist Arms - Canadian Dealer, Matchlock & Doglock muskets on p. 2
Thorne's page on converting Desert Boots / Hushpuppies to period Latchet Shoes
Great Northern Trade Co - hand-forged gun and cooking tools
Albion Small Arms - matchlocks, wheelocks, and doglocks from the UK

To read our character histories and Pyrate stories,
visit The Book Of The Rose pages

The Cardiff Rose Calendar -- Crew Parties, Faires, Etc.