We would like your costumes to be believable according to the period of the larp (late 10th century) and the social standing of your character. The keyword being believable. We are not asking that you create elaborate hand-sewn costumes dyed with piss in a historically accurate way. Simple costumes bought in shops or sewn on a machine are excellent. We have some of these available to loan.
The styles are guidelines, a starting point, a place to get inspiration. Interpret this to the best of your ability, there are no hard requirements. If you are lost or don't have resources to get a costume, please contact us and we will find a solution. We have some costumes for loan and rent.
Colours and materials
The most common materials used for clothing were wool and linen. The inner garments like undertunics and -serks were primarily linen, while outer layers are made of wool. Alternatively fabric made from nettle could substitute linen, while the most wealthy could add smaller details as decorated ribbons in imported silk to their clothes.
The finer the weave of the fabric, the more expensive it would often be, with nobles wearing the softest and smoothest cloth and slaves (thralls) the more coarse and loosely woven fabric.
Another way of symbolizing status with your choice of fabric within this era, was by colour. The brighter and more colourful your clothing were, the more expensive it would be, while earth tones and muted colours were easier to get. Blue was the most difficult dye to make and it was only worn by the high nobility (Jarls and royalty).
Tip: If looking for other fabric options, as linen is not necessarily easy to come by everywhere, go for fabric made out of other natural fibres. Hemp and cotton works well, the latter especially if you can find a heavier cloth and give it a wash or two before sewing.
Remember, always wash linen before sewing, as it shrinks!
A jarl’s wife showing off her brightly coloured clothes
The families of kings, Jarls and successful merchants of the Viking-age wore coloured clothes and plenty of jewellery. People of wealth and high status like to show it. Ornaments, fine details, and master craftsmanship displays tell those around you that you are a person of awe. Remember blue was the most difficult dye to make and it was only worn by the high nobility (Jarls and royalty).
Mystics (Gyða & vǫlva)
A religious leader must be recognisable. These High Status individuals either wore fine clothes with symbolic jewellery towards the gods and magic, or stood out in other ways. If you are the close confident of a Jarl your cloth will reflect their wealth. However, some mystics have embraced a more primal path and clothes themselves in primitive garments adorned with natural ornaments, such as animal pelts and bones.
The cleric of Christ are humble in the dress. They wear brown or white robes with black hooded capes hoods and simple ropes as belts. This displays a more civilised culture in contrast to the primitive heathens. What they share with their pagan counter-parts are their use of religious jewelry.
Warriors (Shieldmaidens & Hirdmen)
Being someone who has fought, either when going Viking or in local conflicts is something that reflects on how you dress. Practical clothing, and even simple armour, are part of your everyday outfit. The amount and type of your armour has to do with your wealth. Being successful on your Viking journeys often resulted in increased wealth and hence better arms and armour.
Most of the Norse people were plain folk. These landowning free people were farmers, smiths, carpenters, boat-builders and of other menial professions. They wore plain but well kept cloth, reflecting their current state of wealth. If it had been a good year for the harvest you might wear jewellery or fine garments.
Being on bottom of society doesn’t yield the fanciest clothes. Slaves wear simple and cheap clothes, with no colouring, since dye is too expensive to use on their clothes. The quality of the clothes often depends on the wealth of your owner. The slave of a commoner will wear very different garments than one who belongs to a Jarl. Dressing up your slave is one way of putting your wealth on display.
Need to have - The Budget Costume
If you are not up for making it yourself, we have great experience with the brand Burgschneider, they provide quality clothing at a fair price. Here is part of their Viking collection: https://burgschneider.eu/viking-clothing.html
Tunic (man) - The tunic is one of two bases of your costume. The garment covers your upper body from your shoulders to somewhere above your knees. Typical tunics in scandinavina region had long sleeves with a tight neckline and a split down the front.
Serk (woman) - A long tunic to be worn under the dress. Typically ankle length with long sleeves and a tight neckline with a split down the front. It can either be neutral white, acting as an underserk or a coloured serk resembling a normal dress.
Gown (woman) - The gown cover your upper body from your shoulders and down past your knees. Gowns can come in various details and fittings, often pertaining to the wearers wealth and status. A typical viking gown is the apron- or suspender dress, which comes in many forms, all held up with straps and often decorative buckles. Another option is a sleeved dress, resembling a man’s tunic with extra length.
Trousers keeping your legs warm and yourself decent is an important task. Traditionally they had no pockets and no fly, forcing you to carry your items in a pouch. But we appreciate that pockets are very useful and we actually live on 2019. Trousers can be either slim or baggy, the latter often held together under the knee by wrapped winingas.
Simple Belt - A good belt does not only perfect the look of your tunic by dividing your upper and lower body, it is also practical because it can hold small bags, or other items in strings. The people in the viking age wore all their goods in the belt. Knifes, firesteel, cup or drinking horn, comb, and bags.
Belt Pouch - Pouches which can be attached to go are great for carrying coins and other small items. They can also provide a space to keep your off-game items such as a wallet or phone.
Neutral Shoes - Black or brown shoes which are neutral with no apparent brands or flashy logos.
Extra socks - Pack extra socks. At least two pairs.
Nice to have - Layering your kit
When you have covered the basics, there are plenty of options to give your costume some depth.
There are many vendors out there who can help you acquire them, one of which is Armstreet.You can also look to Etsy. If you want something custom made, we have allied ourselves with Linka, a brilliant larp seamstress from Poland who ships internationally https://www.facebook.com/linkacreations/. If you tell her you are going to The Last Song, she will treat you nicely.
Undertunic or underserk (man/woman) - Layers is the key to taking your costume to the next level. Often made of linen, getting some nice underwear beneath your tunic will give your costume depth, you will feel comfortable, stay warm, and if your tunic is made of wool - Helps you avoid the scratchy feeling of it on your bare skin.
As women’s clothes already consists of two layers, an underserk is mainly useful if you opt for a woolen or coloured serk, and want some neutral underwear.
Coat - Coats can go on top of the rest of your costume and will help keep you warm. They differ from the tunic by being open in the front, and are closed by a belt, a penannular, brooch, or a build in closing mechanism. The female version is often long, while the male coat ends above the knee.
Cloak - A cloak will save you from freezing in the dark, a good cloak will shelter you from wind and rain and snow. Unfortunately we happen to be cursed with immersive weather, so a cloak will not just look cool, but also serve you well.
Fancy Belt - Some belts in the viking-age were fancy and decorated with beautiful ornaments. Such a belt can add a lot of character to your costume, either replacing or adding to a simpler item. Rich people are also wearing silver and bronze on their belts, showing off their worth. Wearing multiple belts is not uncommon, each with their own purpose of different tools and weapons.
Bag - Carrying stuff around can be bothersome, getting a good bag will save you a lot of trouble.
Apron - An apron will add a semi-layer on top of your tunic or gown will look great. The Aprons are practical whether you have to cook dinner or forge a blade. Besides aprons have pockets and pockets are where secrets are kept.
Hood - A piece of fabric covering the head and neck, leaving an opening for the face. Often made of wool this simple piece of headwear will keep your ears warm when the cold wind blows.
Hat - Worn on top of the head this garment comes in different styles, either flat resting on the top of the head or with a tail that falls to one side. A hat can be outfitted with a big fur rim, or just a fold.
Brooches - Brooches is a piece of jewelry that sits on top of a garment using a pin. They were in particular used to fasten the straps of the apron- or suspender dress. They often come in pairs with a piece of string, holding amber-, glass pieces and other jewelry, between them.
Penannular - An open metal circle and with a metal pin bended around it makes up this traditional celtic and norse ornament. The penannular’s primary function is making an adjustable fasting of two pieces of textile, such as closing a cape or a coat.
Winingas - A simple length of cloth or wool wrapped around the outside of your trousers, will provide extra isolation and make the upper part of pants get some puff. The wrapping can held together with a well placed penannular or pin.
Arm rings - People who have done right by their liege lord carry silver rings around their arms. The rings are often decorated and shaped. Many rings meant that you had done good work and been rewarded accordingly.
Other Jewelry - Necklace, rings, bracelets, etc. Some ornaments have very specific meanings, and it might be worth looking into the symbolism before making your choices of jewelery.
Leather Footwear - A good pair of boots will serve you for years to end. Make sure they are a good fit. Larping comes with a big amount drama and fighting, both which makes you walk an awful lot. Taking good care of your feet is not just important for your health, it is also good for your soul.
Extra socks - Did you really pack them? Good. Now make it three pairs.
The Last Song Sewing Guide, by Liv Hernø-Toftild
Here are some links to some online shops, which can provide viking equipment.