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Cardiff Rose Swordsmen Guild
Costume Guidelines -


These are to provide goals and direction for Guild costuming, and have been designed to give our group a distinctive and authentic appearance. New purchases must be made in accordance with Guild requirements, but older costume elements that don't meet these guidelines may be "grandfathered" if acceptable - so don't panic! Existing costume should gradually change to meet these new standards, depending on the guildmember's rank, finances, and interests.

We portray a Tudor era local militia or Trained Band from the Welsh Border/Cardiff area. Militia members would gather for training at the local "Artillery Garden", where they would practice swordplay, shooting muskets and cannon, and drilling with pikes. Trained Bands would sometimes go on manuevers and practice battles with other militia units.

Men's costume is that of English civilians, swordsmen and militia from 1580-1600, unless an earlier (1540's) look is required. Period militia did NOT wear uniforms, but did carry somewhat standardized weapons like muskets and pikes. Material should be natural - cotton, linen or wool, in browns, greys, tans, burgundys and greens for non-Officers. Costume quality and color should match rank or position in society -- militiamen's clothing and weapons are simpler than Officer's. Leather should be natural brown rather than black if at all possible.

We also portray non-Militia characters including members of the Baggage Trayne such as suttlers, ostlers, drovers, waggoneers and the many other people needed to transport, support, clothe and feed a Militia company in the field. Costume for these characters consists of basic shirts and breeches, plus rough jerkins or lower-class doublets. Tools include those for cooking, carpentry, animal control, etc.

Militia clothing consists of (as below): white shirt, button-front doublet, breeches gathered below the knee, boots or shoes, a hat and a plain serviceable sword. Tankards should be wood, leather or ceramic, pouches relatively plain. Officers are wealthy men, wearing fancy doublets and breeches in richer colors like black and crimson, higher-quality swords, gorgets for highest ranks like Captain, Ensign and Lieutenant, and sashes for all officers down to Sgt.

Arms of the Militia include: Pikemen, Musketeers, Swordsmen and Artillerymen.

Illustrations from John Speed's famous map book printed in 1611

The Pesants of Netherwallow carving the roast


Non-Militia or Baggage Trayne costume is English countryman or pesant except for more middle-class craftsmen and suttlers. Jerkins have no collars, usually lace up the front, have no tabs on the bottom seam, and are often long enough to have a belt over the waist. Shirts can be white or other colors.

Singlet by Sally Green

Doublets & Shirts

Doublets and singlets (sleeveless doublets) should button up the front to the neck. Doublets have short upright collars, the front seam meets all the way from the neck to the waist, and have tabs on the bottom seam/waist. Shirts should be white and have either a small ruff or large falling band (collar), and reasonably full sleeves. Sewing Central has a great collection of Elizabethan patterns!
Approved clothing (ONLY these are approved) from Age of Chivalry: Quilted Jerkin (actually a singlet), Brass-Studded Doublet, Muslin shirt in creme or white, Boatman shirt in creme or white, and the not-period-but-functional as fencing armor "Fencing Vest" which is actually more of a Victorian heavy cotton sleeveless jacket. Renstore.com also has an approved doublet they call their "Twill Deluxe Jerkin", OK in blue, burgundy, green and tan -- and consider getting the matching Twill tie-on sleeves.

Breeches & Slops

Breeches should be full-cut and fasten below the knees - long "pants" were not worn until the late 1700's. Age Of Chivalry's Knee Breeches are approved in brown only, avoid the modern "Fencing Pants". Renstore.com also has some Knee Breeches approved only in blue, green and tan. Slops and hose are period (but not required!) for events set in early Tudor and Elizabethan times.


Hats should be flat-caps (fabric or leather), wide-brimmed felt hats (not side-pinned "Cavalier" style), smaller-brimmed fedoras, or other period hat types like wool caps, either knitted or felted. A great source is the Berkeley Hat Company (2510 Telegraph Ave, 510 549-2955), the Indian Joe, Pilgrim and some fedora models are good, try to find 'em in tan, brown or black felt.. Baggage Trayne / non-Militia hats can be the traditional pesant's muffin cap or straw hat.

Leather accesories

Belts, gauntlets, sword baldrics, and other leather items should be natural brown rather than black if possible. Berlin Glove company's brown deerskin Fringeless Gauntlet Gloves are available for $40 by request from Ravenswood Leather. Baldrics are difficult to find in simple period styles without hokey rivets, buckles and straps. Super-authentic but expensive baldrics and rapier hangers are available from Lutel in the Cezch Republic. Best commercial price is $40 for the brown "European" model from By The Sword , prices double for baldrics from Swords N Stuff, as well as Ravenswood. The baldric from Medieval Mayhem is passable without the ridiculous "D-ring" ties - specify one without.

Shoes & Boots

Shoes should be low-cut 'latchet' types, boots should be bucket-top style, in either round or square-toed styles. Renstore.com has a latchet-style "17th Century Shoe" that is approved. Sarah Juniper in the UK makes extremely well-regarded period footware.
Here's directions for making your own "economy" latchet shoes from modern footware. Recommended oxford-style shoes include the Humter's Bay at Payless Shoe Source, and the Venturini "Comfort Line" at Shoe Pavilion. Get them wide & large if you can, be sure to get smooth-soles instead of lug soles, and leather in natural colors rather than black.

Stockings & Hose

Stockings should be white or natural colours, and cover all bare skin between footware and breeches. Jason Townsend & Sons carries a great selection of tall cotton and wool stockings. For hose try dance suppliers andcostume houses, specify cotton, linen or wool in natural colors. An extra outer pair of thicker wool socks is very authentic, usually worn turned down over the tops of the shoes.

Swords & Daggers

Three "classes" of swords:

COSTUME SWORDS - Rapiers and parrying daggers/main gauches, or soldier's swords. Designed to look period for your rank, not for combat or fencing use!

STAGE-COMBAT SWORDS - Rapiers and parrying daggers/main gauches, or soldier's swords. Designed to fit rank, can be used in full-contact battles or bouts.

FENCING SWORDS - Rapiers and parrying daggers/main gauches, probably no soldier's swords. Designed for competitive fencing, may not fit rank.

Swords and daggers, unless used for stage combat, should also match rank. Black-iron hilted swords with broad blades are best for suttlers and soldiers. Only officers should carry fancy weapons and firearms -- avoid the brass and chrome-hilted 'fantasy' weapons sold online and by Faire merchants. The Guild recommends specific weapons, not everything by the following merchants!

Recommended Daggers for Swordsmen - Age of Chivalry's Side Ring Main Gauche, Left Hand Parrying Dagger, and Classical Main Gauche; Armour Class' Sail Guard Dagger.

Recommended Rapiers for Swordsmen - Age of Chivalry's Hanwei Black Iron Swept Hilt Rapier, Pappenheimer Cup Rapier, Swept Hilt Rapier, Wood Handled Renaissance Rapier, German Rapier ; Armour Class' Pappenheimer and Swept Hilt; Bailiff Forge's Swept Hilt, Papenheimer & French Pappenheimer .

Recommended Swords for Musketeers, Pikemen, Artillery & Middle-class Civilians - By The Sword's Practical Mortuary Hilt Sword #2076-GT is a very affordable black-iron-look Morturary hilted soldier's sword, Lutel's Cavalry Sword #12006, Museum Replicas' Schiavona #1-034 and Scottish Backsword #1525, Age of Chivalry also carries the Schiavona, and their German Sword Rapier works for either Swordsman or Soldier; Armour Class' Tower Hanger (shown on left), Shell & Ring Guard, andMortuary Hilt; Bailiff Forge's Walloon, Pikeman's Hanger, Lightweight Tuck & Tower Pattern Hanger.

Armour by Derek Cole


Armour was worn primarily by Pikemen and Officers, although some Musketeers wore helmets. Only officers and fully-armoured Pikemen wore Gorgets. Recommended armourers are Derek Cole in the UK and Valentine in Canada. Age of Chivalry has several passable helmets which need dulling or blacking, the Cabasset and Combed Morrion.

Recommended Online Merchants

Age Of Chivalry has a few approved singlets, doublets, shirts and swords
-- see "Doublets & Shirts" and "Swords" above.
Renstore.com also carries some approved costume pieces
- see Doublets and Shoes above.
American Fencing Supply in SF.
Hatcrafters - an ASTOUNDING selection of hats -
the Charles, Salem, Puritan & Quaker models are recommended
Swordsmiths (UK) carries Armour Class weapons,
both 17th C "Hangers" are PERFECT Ren Faire soldier's swords.
Syke's Suttlery has good musketry supplies and costume
Tentsmiths - US makers of period tents
Panther Primitives - US makers of period tents
Jas. Townsend - US tents, barrels, tall stockings, spectacles & more!
Loyalist Arms - Canadian Dealer, Matchlock & Doglock muskets on p. 2
Thorne's page on converting Desert Boots / Hushpuppies to period Latchet Shoes
Great Northern Trade Co - hand-forged gun and cooking tools
Albion Small Arms - matchlocks, wheelocks, and doglocks from the UK

To read our character histories and Pyrate stories,
visit The Book Of The Rose pages

The Cardiff Rose Calendar -- Crew Parties, Faires, Etc.