Costume: the basics, part 1

16 mei 2017 Door Alexandra Hofman

This entry I want to tell you about the first basics of a costume. What do you want and need to pack to keep yourself comfortable in your costume and throughout the LARP-event? And of course I’ll tell you about the reasons why it’s clever to pack these things.
Good luck with collecting! Alexjuh


Undergarment is the first layer of your costume and this is usually out-of-game clothing. Things that are frequently categorized as undergarment are a trouser, a T-shirt (with long sleeves) and shoes. These undergarments are also often used by players although they sometimes add more to these basics such as a belt and gloves.

A frequently used colour for undergarment is black, but this can also be any other dark colour such as blue, brown or green. Black is a popular because it goes with any other colour and it’s less bothersome than, for example, bright yellow.
A good set of undergarment fits with almost any type of character and piece of in-game clothing. Try to avoid obvious synthetic material such as polyester and nylon. Even though these fabrics can be of good use at a sci-fi LARP, they aren’t quite in-game at a low-fantasy/historical LARP. If you do buy synthetic undergarment, try to make sure you don’t see it underneath your costume, unless it befits the type of LARP-event.

Of course it’s an option to have different undergarment sets for different kind of LARP’s, but when you don’t have much money to spend, it’s a lot cheaper to own just one set.

Something often worn underneath a costume is thermal wear. You can buy this throughout the year at an outdoor store, but it can also be found at other stores such as a DIY store (where I bought mine) or at a convenience store. Of course there still is the option to use sports clothing or just a simple T-shirt.

Undergarment can keep you warm but it also absorbs sweat, especially cotton clothing, and can be bought in a variety of colours.

Thermal wear

The type of fabric also has another important role. Undergarment is also supposed to keep you warm and, maybe, dry. Take a good look at the time of year in which the LARP-event takes place and the potential temperature. When its thirty degrees it isn’t necessary to bring a thick sweater and when it’s freezing it can be a very bad idea to bring only a thin T-shirt, especially when you get cold quickly. Also make sure this fits beneath your costume; if you’re wearing a thick sweater underneath your costume, try to make sure your costume doesn’t look weird because of it.

Something that is often forgotten (especially when it’s high summer), is to bring a sweater. Packing a sweater will take space in your pack but it can get very cold at night or in the morning. Someone once said: “better safe than sorry”. And if you don’t use it then maybe you can make someone else happy.

Keep in mind that your clothing can get very dirty, even rip apart, at a LARP-event. Because of this I advise you not to bring your new dress or your suit to a LARP-event. Bring something that can and may get dirty and fall apart.

Sports wear and a simple T-shirt

Good basic shoes can also be very important. It’s recommended to have waterproof shoes because of rain and puddles of water and mud. If the event is at a construction site, for example, where there are lots of nails and other sharp objects, thick soles can prevent your feet from getting wounded. But thick soles can also be a disadvantage on certain other locations. If you want to sneak around in the woods you can easily snap a branch on the ground (especially when it’s very dry) or rustle some leaves. Shoes that are often used are army boots. They are sturdy, black and often made of leather. The downside to these shoes is that they can be too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. When you’ve bought new shoes for a LARP-event, make sure you’ve worn them a couple of times. One of the most common reasons people end up at the first-aid is because of blisters they get from their new shoes.

Spare clothing and back-up costume

Undergarment for the ladies: a tank top

Packing spare clothing can be life safer for yourself or someone else. When you’re going to a LARP-event it’s wise to pack more clothing than you’ll probably need. Why? Because of rain, dirt, a drastic change of weather, something rips, you get cold or too hot, or some other reason.

Some people think it’s overrated to bring more clothing than you need and others don’t have the space to pack spare clothing, but I think it’s worth it to consider this. Wearing wet clothing for three days can be very uncomfortable and even has the possibility of health issues.

It’s often advised to bring a back-up costume in case your character dies or you want to play something else. This isn’t only practical for when you want to start a new character, but also when something rips, breaks or gets very dirty.

Packing a back-up costume sounds like you have to drag along a lot of clothing, but this isn’t quite necessary. A few items such as a different shirt, a different trouser and maybe some spare armour and/or weapons. Something else that is quite popular are scarves, belts and small, long pieces of different colours and types of fabric. This can change your costume’s appearance in many ways, making you look like an entirely different character.

So, to sum things up, good undergarment is half of your costume and it can be very clever to bring spare clothing. This will take space in your pack but you may just need it. And if you don’t need it, then maybe someone else might.
One last piece of advice, make sure everything fits nicely and doesn’t limit you in your movements.

Special mention for this entry: Doomsday General. Thank you for your input on this topic and for helping me with translation, grammar and filtering out little mistakes.

Next entry: Costume, the basics, part 2

Dit artikel is oorspronkelijk gepost op Alexandra’s blog (10 maart 2014) en is opnieuw beschikbaar gesteld voor LARP Platform.

Alexandra is momenteel actief met het organiseren van Dark Union, een unieke bad guy LARP in Nederland. Daarnaast is ze heel creatief meer leerbewerken onder handelsnaam Layers.

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