“If We Don’t Get Better We Don’t Care”
Someone from a fantasy LARP, confronted with a member who wanted to do things accurately, chastised that gentleman by saying that his approach was all too expensive and then gave a number of solutions for a “reasonable” attempt at Early Medieval costume. Her idea of “reasonable” costumer just set me shuddering and explained why you’ll never see me near her group!
She urges the use of cotton pyjamas (although she at least doesn’t urge everyone to make them from cartoon characters like one person from that group lectured new members), anything cheap from a thrift store and, of course, no special footwear. She said nothing about getting better or evolving and, of course, had a grandiose title to back her opinion.
Well, here’s mine. You might already anticipate that her opinion and mine vary a tiny bit…
There is a tendency, without internal regs, not to improve kit when you have acquired some. You might think, “I’ll get better eventually,” but in many groups, they don’t. For example, in one nonjudgmental “historical group.” I knew one person who had been a member for over three decades who wears something that looked as if it was quickly thrown on at his first event (except for the beer bandoleer he is now never without, because I don’t think he was legally old enough to openly drink at his first event). Which is fine if they were to say, “we’re a fantasy LARP with an historical overtone;” I would have no problem with that. But they don’t. Instead, the group loudly crow that it is and represent itself as a reenactment (or re-creation if they perceive the difference) group that is interested in a “reasonable” portrayal.
On the other hand, I can’t agree either with those who say that you must have a hundred percent complete kit before you can even step behind the ropeline. However, there is a medium between these two extremes.
If you look at http://www.micelfolcland.org/p_4.htm, you will see what we have decided are the minimum requirements for kit. Certainly not the maximum. Obviously, new members can show up to a first show without a lot of what is considered normal wear, but they are not allowed to show up behind the line wearing something inappropriate. Someone who is wearing cotton pyjamas, Air Jordans and mirror shades would not be allowed to participate. A person who is barefoot, wearing only a wool tunic of the proper color, weave and cut is welcomed. Heck, there are probably even loaner clothing available that he can borrow, to temporarily fill out things he wants or needs! The important thing is that the impression being set forth does not incorporate anything incorrect!
Of course, the acquisition of further and refined accurate kit is not only encourage but required. If someone wears only a wool tunic to an event and is still wearing it three years later, one can only hope that he has trousers, shoes, etc., and that his appearance has not stood still. If that tunic wears out, it will have been replaced by another that is just as–if not more–accurate. He hopefully fully realizes that he is in the middle of an evolutionary process that does not pause and most especially does not go backwards. Or he can just—as some have—merely gone to a fantasy LARP which values quantity over quality, a philosophy that we adamantly ruled against at one of our earliest board meetings!
For an idea of what is accurate and not farby costuming for our period, one is urged to consult http://regia.org/members/newmemb.htm or http://regia.org/members/basclot.htm. And realize that we may not be many, but by gum, we look good!
Kathleen Smith’s “Introduction to Farb” is at http://www.reenactmenthq.com/farby.asp. It concentrates on ACW living history, but its points go far beyond that era!