Starting Garb

Alliance is a live action role playing game that takes place in a high-fantasy medieval environment and all of your costuming (commonly referred to as “garb”) should keep that time period in mind. For your first event you’re going to want to make sure you have a basic form of garb so you look the part that you are trying to represent.

Things to avoid:
  1. Tennis shoes - these shoes have a very modern look and do not do much to support your ankles. You will find alternative suggestions further down in this article.
  2. Blue jeans - blue jeans are very modern look and will break immersion for a lot of the players around you.
  3. T-shirts - most are cotton and do not whisk moisture away from the body well. While they are okay as an under layer in hot weather, I recommend avoiding them. Especially if your chapter frequently plays in the cold.
  4. Wristwatches - time pieces are completely fine, but they were not worn on the wrist as the mechanisms were very large. Instead, look for a pocket watch.
Resources:
  1. Thrift stores - these can be excellent for finding leather pouches, jewelry, belts, even boots, shirts or pants if you are lucky. You will have to spend some time scouring if you are not a seasoned thrifter, but you can find all kinds of items that'll fit the bill and be easy on the wallet.
  2. Amazon - especially if you have Prime, or know someone who does, Amazon can be an excellent place to find all kinds of garb pieces.
  3. eBay - kind of like the thrift store of online shopping, you can definitely get some killer deals on all kinds of equipment and garb on eBay if you have the patience to hunt around.
  4. Other LARPers - even if you are new to the hobby, our community is very friendly and willing to help out. We have all kinds of skillsets around from seamstresses and tailors to leatherworkers and even a couple of smiths. If you have any questions at all or wish to commission someone to help, pop on over to our Arts, Costuming and Props subforum and ask away.
A Special Note About Socks:

Bring plenty of socks. If you are going for a two-day event, which is the standard for Alliance, make sure you have at least four pairs of socks. That way if it is pouring or otherwise gross out you have spare sets to change into. This will help prevent trench foot, blisters and other nasty aliments from forming.

Try to stay away from cotton as it will not keep your feet warm if you get them wet. Wool or synthetic materials are your best best.

If you are seasoned at being in the outdoors for multiple days at a time, you know the value of clean and dry socks. If you are new to the idea of camping for a multi-day event, however, you might not realize that your biggest ally is your feet. They can also be your biggest opponent if you do not take care of them.

Tops:


When starting out, the t-tunic is a great piece because they are simple to make or relatively cheap to purchase. They also look great and are very versatile.

For the crafting types out there, you might want to try your hand at making a t-tunic. Click here for a pattern.

If you wish to purchase one instead, eBay can be a great resource. Click here for a search query.

If the tunic doesn't do it for you or doesn't fit your character concept, a simple medieval shirt probably will.



Bottoms:

An inexpensive first pair of pants to buy are uni-sex draw-string scrub pants. They look great, they are durable and they are fairly cheap.

If you are handy with a sewing machine than perhaps making a pair of wrap pants is in your future?

Another inexpensive pair of pants that have an Asian-style are the Thai fisherman pants. If you search around a little you can find them in almost every color imaginable.

Skirts are a good option as well, and are simple to make. Here is a YouTube video on making your own.

Boots:

Good hiking boots or combat boots are highly recommended as they are going to provide the best traction and support for your feet and ankles. The downside with those options is, of course, that they are very modern-looking. Fear not, as you can hide them most of the way with either armor like greaves or a nice cheap set of leather Swiss gaiters. You could also do a wrap of the boots with rope or furs. If you have greaves, you can use those to cover the boots as well.

Please remember that when it comes to footwear, support and comfort are going to be top priority over in-genre looks. Most injuries in LARPing are things like turned ankles or falls, and a quality set of boots will help prevent that.

There are plenty of options available for in-genre boots, but they are either cheap and going to fail quickly or they are very expensive. We will cover high quality expensive boots in another guide.

Accessories:
  • Belts - you will likely want to pick up a belt to hold pouches. Belts can be found inexpensively at all kinds of thrift stores for very little. If you have any leatherworking experience they can be made very in-genre for not very much money.
  • Pouches and/or bags - you will always want something to carry your stuff in. Always. You will be carrying an awful lot of equipment as you start your adventuring career and pouches or bags are key at carrying all of that stuff easily.
Thrift Stores
Special thank you to B. Barber for their help with this section.

Thrift stores first and foremost will be your best friend, especially around the middle of September when many major thrift store chains are putting out the stock of more interesting stuff they save for Halloween. For the rest of the year though there’s usually a lot that can be worked with, sometimes with only a little modification.

What to look for:
  • Single-color, breathable fabrics. Cottons, linens, wools, and materials like them.
  • Beading, Embroidery and other embellishment that look handmade. Earthy and natural colors.
  • Interesting textures or handmade-looking stuff.
  • Fake and real fur and leather (to cut up).
  • Peasant blouses, hospital scrub pants, bests, skirts.
  • Draperies, curtains, and cotton and linen sheets in the domestics section!
  • Scarves, Belts, Bags.
  • Stuff that will layer
What to avoid:
  • Prints, neon colors, nylon, plastic.
  • Zippers, parachute clasps, snaps.
  • Lace, sequins, glitter.
  • Overly shiny fabrics (There are exceptions to this, but if you are just starting out, stick with it).
On Leather Trench-Coats:

This is both a to-look-for and an avoid. You shouldn’t get one and plan on using it as-is, but you can make a fine piece by cutting the collar, separating the sleeves, removing buttons, and completely reworking the design to basically end up with a surcoat.

Further Reading
  1. "Really Simple Costume" - What the title says; a very quick tutorial about how to put together a simple LARP outfit of a tabard, tunic and pants.
  2. "No Excuses" - A great guide detailing how to make excellent costumes for under five Euros. That's about six bucks for a starting garb!
  3. "Odyssey £30 Kit Challenge" - These two have a competition where they make themed garb kits for as little as ten Euros and as much as thirty Euros. They explain their thought processes and show that you can look great at LARP without having to break the bank.
Videos:

Here is a comical video for making quick and dirty garb in under four minutes! You’ll want to eventually graduate into something much period-looking if you decide to stick with the hobby but this will get you started for sure!

Here's a walk-through of a thrift store with a LARPer explaining why she thinks things can work or be modified to use in our game:
 
Top