Making that matching outfit doesn’t have to difficult or impossible expensive, but it does take a fair bit of planning: before. Yes, I know it is the most boring part, but thinking before shopping is what makes the thing. So I put together a list of my best tips for making an outfit that makes everyone go “Wow” when they see it.
1. Decide on a colour scheme that you like, and follow it. You should have 2 base colours, with additional tones to match. In my case, orange and warm yellow is my main colours, as you can see on the amber necklace, the woven belt, the shawl and the apron dress. The hair band have a darker orange colour, but it is warm and intense to match the other tones. The red coat and the middle woolen dress brings in the additional colours to make the outfit interesting but have likewise a warm toned base.
2. Add some contrast or mismatch to intensify your matching outfit (yes, it works like that) it could be the opposite colour (red-green or yellow-blue) or a really dark detail to an otherwise light outfit. In my case, the green glass beads does match the yellow tones, but breaks nicely with the red ones. Still, they are in the same warm tone as the rest of the outfit. The uncoloured beige dress is another example; it doesn’t follow the main theme but have a warmer undertone so it works fine with the other warmer shades.
3. Patterns or texture adds interest and depth to any colour. My apron dress is woven in a herringbone twill, and the coat is a bit uneven in its colour due to different dyes in the fabric, which is barely visible but adds texture and interest to the finished garment.
4. Darker and lighter shades; when choosing your colours make sure you have different shades and not only different colours. For example; yellow-orange-red make for a change in both colour and shade, but a light blue paired with a similar light green makes the outfit a bit flat. Add a darker green or blue-green tone and you will make the outfit more interesting!
5. Layers; plan for all the layers at once, and make sure they have different tones, shades or textures if they follow the same colour theme. In this case, you won’t end up having two orange dresses on top of each other, and can make sure that details will be visible.
6. Details; don’t we all love a well put together outfit? Making details lifts an outfit, and it can be both jewelry, accessories as well as useful tools, a knife, a jug or something like. Match it in colour, tone, shade or shape to your outfit. In my case, I chose to make a tablet weave to reinforce the apron dress, make the straps, and a matching headband. Having the same colour/pattern appear in different places adds interest and makes the outfit look well planned and matching.
7. Consider your own colours; colour schemes and matching is a whole science on its own, and there is plenty to read or check out on YouTube. Matching colours, creating interesting outfits and the like works the same way on historical clothing as on modern outfits or make up. Consider your own colours, if you have a warm or cold undertone in your skin, and consider what you like to wear. Using those kinds of colours will both make you more comfortable and happy during historical events. But also consider the historical finds; if you love to wear black and dark blue maybe that is not the best choise for your farmer viking outfit. But as these are considered as neutral colours in our modern eyes, maybe a dark grey with soft, plant dyed blues will do great for your viking outfit?
Got inspired? Did you find this guide useful? Please let me know by liking my FB page or leaving a comment on the blog!
29/03/2018 at 10:26
This is a wonderful guide to some of the things to consider when planning costume kit / garb. Thanks for sharing your planning process!
29/03/2018 at 14:51
29/03/2018 at 17:10
I don’t think I have seen anything you have made without loving it! I love the planning process, and while the medieval mind didn’t seem to have the same esthetic as ours, I still have fun putting things together. Thanks for a great blog.
29/03/2018 at 18:27
Oh, thanks! =D No, the historical person for sure had different taste and estethic than we have, for one thing; the need to make everything even and symmetrical seems to be a rather modern idea. I think that the most historical accurate with this outfit is the fact that the least expensive fabric (from a histrorical point of view) is at the bottom, barely visible, while the dyed fabrics are more visible =)
01/04/2022 at 10:21
This is hugely useful, thank you so much! Using this as the backbone for a larp outfit I’m currently making.
A question though, what shape does the shawl you’re wearing here, have? Not certain whether to go for a triangle or half circle cloak.
04/04/2022 at 12:02
Thank you for sharing your thoughts! This is a rectangular shawl, to see more shapes please check out: https://handcraftedhistory.blog/2021/06/30/the-ultimate-cloak-guide/ for more cloak inspiration and options! =)