Costume Guide
Table of Contents
General Costuming
General Costuming advice
Costuming for men and NPCing.
Costuming for woman.
Making costumes
Making costumes for men
Making costumes for women
Unisex costuming
Racial Costuming and makeup
Dark Elves
Elves (Arkelian or Twilight)
High Ogres
High Orcs
Mystic Wood Elves
Stone Elves
Wild Elves
General Costuming
General Costuming advice.
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Whether attending an event as a Player Character, or a Non Player Character, it is important that an effort be made to appear as if you belong in a medieval-fantasy world. With that in mind, the staff of Nero Alliance CT has put together this article on costuming, including advice on general appearance, suggestions on what sort of things to wear, where to buy them, and how to make some of your own.
Costuming for Men and NPCing.
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To begin, we will start simply and inexpensively. When you play non-player character player roles at Nero Alliance, you may find yourself portraying a beggar, thief, goblin, wolf, an evil mage, or even perhaps a member of a noble household. While NPC camp (the central location for Non Player Characters) will provide a substantial amount of costuming effects, it is important for the individual players to present themselves in a usable base costume (in essence, something plain, and not out-of-place). These suggestions also work for the starting-out adventurer, and even more seasoned characters.

In general simple, dark clothing works best. Undecorated dark T-shirts, short of long-sleeved work wonderfully. A long shirt worn outside the pants and belted makes for a passable tunic. In cooler weather, a plain sweater or sweatshirt can be used for this same effect. You can also make a nice “monster” shirt by taking an oversized button-down shirt (preferably solid in white or a dark color), cutting off the collar, cuffs, and buttons, then poking paired holes along the front, and lacing it up. With some hemming, this also works well for any highlander-type characters.

Of course, the nicest shirt in the world isn’t going to look right if you are wearing blue jeans or shorts. While not the greatest solution, black or brown jeans are acceptable if the tops (belt loops, buttons, pockets) are covered by a long shirt. A good alternative is to wear light (or heavy if it is cold) sweatpants in a dark solid color. Additionally, solid-color pajama bottoms, or “lounge pants” work for simple costuming as well. For the confident, there are also solid-color tights. Should you be averse to wearing long pants in hot weather, please do your best to avoid wearing shorts. A loincloth (with some sort of reasonable covering underneath) works, as do kilts and other skirts. There are also wraparound style pants, and slashed pants that allow plenty of air to cool the legs.

Of course, once you set yourself up with a costume that looks good and in period, you don’t want to run around in athletic shoes. There are fewer things that ruin a good costume than seeing the pants end, and a few inches of white sock before the footwear. Black work boots, military style boots, moccasins, sandals… all these are better than sneakers. Now, it is not expected that everyone is going to go out and buy a pair of knee-high cavalier boots, but white sneakers just look horrible. If you wear hiking boots, try to avoid those styles with colorful designs. If you must wear sneakers, at least try to have them be all black, or as simple and inconspicuous as possible. Moggans, or leg wraps do well to cover the discrepancy between the end of the pant, and the beginning of a short boot or black sneaker.

Now that you have the basics taken care of, it’s time for the finishing touches. Add a tabard, or a surcoat, and you are ready. This fine ensemble works for a peasant, soldier, many monster races, or the beginner adventurer.

As a player character, you may wish to dress as simply as this, or as elegant as you are able to afford. Add a hood and mantle to the above, in tones of green and brown, and you have a ranger. Try military colors for a soldier, or earth tones for a peasant-turned-adventurer. Or, if you look for a fancier dress, you may try your hand at creating garb. Many fabric stores sell patterns for medieval and renaissance clothing. The internet is also a fantastic source for patterns and how-to articles. If you are not gifted with a needle and scissors, perhaps you will find you have some skill that may be used to barter with those who do.

Should you have the disposable income, and desire, you may simply purchase your garb. Renaissance Faires are an accessible, if somewhat costly place to purchase garb. A less expensive alternative is mail order. There are many costumes who sell their wares online, as well as some larger retailers who sell a variety of useful LARP items, including armor and garb. From sources such as The NERO Emporium, The Renaissance Store(Also known as Chivalry Sports), Silvermane, and By The Sword you can find everything from boots, breeches, tights, shirts, gauntlets, pouches, and armor.

For those who wish a little bit of protection, there is also the concern of armor. For looks, leather armor can be highly regarded, but it is among the most expensive, and is not recommended for those who have the tendency to sweat a great deal, as leather will sweat through, and begin to smell, unless kept up. Among the cheapest of armor to make is vinyl armor, which will be rated as light leather, but will not look as good. Also inexpensive is chain mail, if you make it yourself. The cost of chain mail comes in the time of construction. A veteran armorer will spend roughly 40 hours linking a medium shirt, made with 7/16” links. You can make plate armor from sheet metal, if you can find a source, but you must take care to blunt all edges and ensure no protrusions, as a safety measure. Additionally, it takes no small amount of skill to make plate mail that is wearable in NERO Alliance-style combat, and looks good. You may try edging or even covering metal plates with leather of vinyl. Remember, the most important attribute of armor is safety: make sure you will not hurt yourself wearing it, and you will not hurt others running around in it. You can, of course, purchase armor. With the internet, and renaissance faires, you can find a nearly limitless source of armor sales.

With the investiture of some time and money, you can put together any costume imaginable; warrior, sorcerer, thief, beggar, pirate, soldier, merchant, or assassin. The amount of effort you put into your costume is up to you, but the more you look the part you chose to play, the more you will be that character. The staff if NERO Alliance CT highly encourages all if the players to dress as appropriately to their character as is possible.
Costuming for Women.
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Always start simply. Is your character one who would wear pants or one who would prefer a skirt or dress? If they are the pants type, follow the men’s guide to costuming, as they are very similar. Often, a pair of well-made period pants goes well with a simple bodice. If you are choosing to wear a skirt, the easiest and most in period for your money are ‘broomstick’ skirts. They are also sometimes called ‘Gypsy’ skirts, or ‘Witch’ skirts. They are usually solid, multi-color, or printed patterns, and appear crinkly or wrinkled. These look good, and are perfect for the summer heat, as they are lightweight. They range in price from $5-$20.

You can also get what is called a full-circle skirt, which means that if you lay it out flat, it should form a complete circle without being stretched. They are usually made from heavier fabric, and if you wear an underskirt, these are great for the colder winter months. Full-circle skirts can cost anywhere from $25-$50. Patchwork skirts also work very well for gypsies or other more colorful races. These are skirts that are usually full or ¾ circle skirts that are made from a variety of fabrics, sewn together like a quilt. They can range from $15-$35. Kerchief skirts also look great on their own, or over a full circle skirt. They are square in shape, worn with the points directly ahead, and to your sides. They are usually a solid color, and a heavier fabric than the broomstick skirt, a medium weight. They are great for playing gypsies, and look great if your character dances. These are generally around $15-$25.

Dresses can be expensive, but are usually well worth it. A very basic dress, bought off of the Internet can range from $50-$90. The best finds are usually ones from the bargain basements of the world. If you can find a dress made from the same crinkly and lightweight material as a broomstick skirt, you can have a good lightweight summer dress for under $30. You can take a simple, empire-waisted dress (the waist of the dress falls just below the bust), and, by inserting fabric between the seams to flare the sleeves, you can make a period-looking dress in a matter of a half an hour. If you want to make your period costume complete, buy a chemise. They are considered underdresses, and add layers to your costume.

A good-looking shirt combined with a skirt, and maybe a bodice, make perfect outfits for any character from commoner up to nobility. To buy a simple, short chemise, is will cost you anywhere from $25-$50 depending on weight, fabric, and store. They can be worn on, or off the shoulder, and can be elastic or drawstring. They are very roomy and look good on just about anyone. Men’s style shirts can also be worn, and they also tend to fit loosely and look good, and in period. Bodices and corsets really make a woman’s costume. They can come over or directly under the bust. They are the medieval way of giving a woman’s bust support, and cinching her waist. They can be made of everything from leather to tapestry and range in price from the most basic at $30, to the elaborate $100+. See the section on making costumes to see how you can make a simple bodice for yourself for just the cost of fabric!

Some women choose to have caps, snoods, or other headwear. This can range in price from $10-$40 depending on how intricate the design is. Those going for a Scottish look often wear tams, or berets. Others, going for a peasant look, wear simple bonnets. Most are made of lightweight fabric (excepting berets), and are good to keep your hair out of your face.
Making Costumes.
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Making a costume yourself can not only save you lots of money, but it can be extremely rewarding and relatively easy.
Making costumes for men.
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The easiest parts of a man’s costume to make are vests and kilts. Vests are a simple three-piece design: the front two flaps, and a single piece going across the back. You can make measurements for the back piece and cut a pattern, then splitting that design in half for the front two flaps. To make a very simple kilt, get several yards of tartan. Gather in the front with several pleats, wrap around the body, securing it to itself near your side. Then throw the excess fabric up and over your shoulder, letting it drape in the back.

Patterns for other men’s clothing, such as doublets, pants, and capes can be found at most fabric/craft stores and are easy to make. Patterns can cost you anywhere from $5-$30 depending on the maker and where you find it.
Making costumes for women.
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The easiest parts of a woman’s costume to make are bodices, side less gowns, and skirts. Bodices are similar to a man’s vest in making. The simplest are made from three pieces of fabric. One piece is to cover the back, and the other two pieces to be laced up in the front. Make sure to measure the distance from your shoulder to where you’d like your neckline to be! The neckline in the back should be at the same level or higher up than the one in the front. Side less gowns are usually one piece, folded into a front and a back. They work almost like a tabard that is connected from the waist down. These should be worn over an underdress, as the arm-holes can be very wide depending on how you sew them. Skirts can be as simple as enough fabric to wrap around your waist. To get your skirt to look more in period, you can use 150% of your waist size (in inches), and gather it either in pleats, or with a drawstring or elastic.

There are many patterns available for women’s costumes and can range from $5 to $30 depending on complexity. Most require a sewing machine, and some require boning and lacing.
Unisex costuming.
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Capes and cloaks are the easiest costume piece to make. Buy enough fabric to cover your arm-span (if you wish it to become arm length), measure from your shoulders to your ankles for an ankle-length cloak. Measure from your shoulders to the desired length and double that measurement for other desired lengths of a cloak. Keep the straight edge at your shoulders, and cut a semicircle, making sure to keep it even. Now, you can lay the straight edge of the fabric across your shoulders, and viola! An instant cloak/cape! Attach near the neckline, or make a hood. To make a hood, take a piece of fabric about 2.5 times the height of your head, fold it in half, sew along one edge and attach it to your cloak.
Racial Costuming and Makeup.
Your specific racial makeup requirements should be covered in your race packet, but this is a general guide.
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Remember, not all humans are boring! Humans can all have unique ways of dressing, and might even have family symbols, tattoos or other such unique qualities. If you are feeling too plain, add a scar or tattoo.
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Remember to include a symbol of your clan or family. All clans have a symbol (usually the animal/creature the clan is named for), so don’t be afraid to display it. Wear furs and leather (or stuff that looks like it).
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Although the rules allow you to have makeup represent your feathery eyebrows, nothing looks better than the real thing! You can purchase different color feathers from just about any fabric or craft store. Apply them over your real eyebrows with spirit gum or eyelash glue.
Dark Elves.
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You will need latex elf ears and, in addition, full black pancake makeup and white hair. You can wear a wig, or use theatrical white hairspray to achieve the white hair. Don’t forget to cover all of your exposed skin with makeup, and don’t forget to make all of your facial hair white as well.
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Remember both Male and Female Dwarves must wear beards! Dwarves are also fond of fine craftsmanship, especially in their weapons and armor.
Elves (Arkelian or Twilight).
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You will need latex elf ears. Not all elves are boring. Don’t be afraid to spice up your costume with a forest theme, or finely crafted metal.
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Color! You can include facial designs, gems, jewels, and lots of various things into your costume. Never forget that one of the greatest parts about playing a gypsy is the right to mix almost any colors together! There is usually a lot of costuming that is involved in making a gypsy.
High Ogres.
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You will need full yellow pancake makeup for this race. Don’t forget to paint any exposed skin yellow! Tusks should be worn, and can be made at home using friendly plastic. If your character is a member of a clan, don’t forget to include that into your costume.
High Orcs.
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You will obviously need green pancake makeup for this race. Don’t forget to paint your hands, and any other exposed skin. Tusks should also be worn, and can be made at home using friendly plastic. If your character is a member of a clan, don’t forget to include that into your costume!
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The main makeup/costuming thing to remember is the sideburns. Sometimes these can be painted on, but they tend to look horrible. Try finding some theater hair, and spirit gum it to your sideburns. In addition don't forget that you are supposed to have bushy eyebrows and tufts of hair on the back of your hands too.
Mystic Wood Elves.
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You must wear horns, and elf ears to play this race. Horns can be made from latex and spirit gummed, or made from horn or ceramic and tied to the head. There should be two horns, protruding from the forehead, one about each eye, near the hairline. Don’t be afraid to include symbols of your house/clan and the forest into your costume.
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You will most likely need full pancake makeup unless you choose to use a latex appliance for your face. Try modifying elf ears to look more cat-like by adding fur. Don’t be afraid to wear whiskers, and paint most of your skin to look like the kind of Sarr you are. Fangs are also a great touch.
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Depending on what type of scavenger you choose to play, you might want to opt for a latex facial appliance over makeup. Don’t forget to cover any exposed skin with “fur” - either with makeup or otherwise. You might need fangs or special ears. You might also want to consider how you’d like to wear your hair, and what color you’d like it to be or whether you’d prefer to use a wig. In addition, you MUST ensure that your scavenger actually looks like the animal you are portraying. It must be clear that you are actually a scavenger and not simply someone under a fey or gypsy curse, or a member of any other race.
Stone Elves.
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You will need latex elf ears and, in addition, full white pancake makeup. Also a black makeup pencil to draw in your upturned eybrows. Don’t forget to cover all of your exposed skin with makeup. In additon because of their refined nature Stone Elves tend to dress in very tasteful and elegant clothes.
Wild Elves
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You will need latex elf ears as well. Don’t forget to include your colors into your costume. Most wild elves have facial paint as well.
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