Sunday, July 5, 2015

Preparing for Pennsic

I'm incredibly thrilled to have the opportunity to go to Pennsic this year, for the first time in 11 years. Things aligned just right, and while my husband will be unable to accompany me, I'm relieved to have the break. My life has been on high-octane for a bit too long, so bumming out with a few thousand of my friends for a week sounds absolutely lovely.

If you follow me on Facebook, you can expect another round of #whatedythwore throughout war week. That was really fun to do at Gulf Wars back in March, and I really enjoy having that visual record of the outfits I pulled together each day. The difference this time is that it will be hotter, and I've decided to devote more of my traveling space to my pavilion and less on my garb. It's a challenge I've considered since first thinking about attending Pennsic this year.

If you've been a reader for more than a year, you may have realized that I tend to create pieces rather than outfits. I look at the relative pros and cons of each new garment I make in terms of whether a) I really need it, b) it works with my overall persona/period goals and boundaries, and c) it works within the larger picture of my entire wardrobe. As much as possible, I work toward more pros for each of these considerations than cons, but there are certainly pieces that don't meet all these requirements.

All of this works toward one end goal: a wardrobe with flexibility. Since each piece I create bears some kind of relation to every other piece (for the most part), I'm able to grab out select pieces and combine them in ample variety. If, instead, every garment I create was designed specifically to fit into a specific outfit, the mixing possibilities would be limited. Color combinations would fail, details would clash, cats and dogs living together. You get the idea.

So I looked at what I had available (which is a pretty good amount thanks to an overly-productive winter and spring), and I've decided to see what I can do with just 4 pieces for the week. Here are the pieces I picked:

Red Rose Dress

This is a heavy-weight linen dress with a linen lining in the bodice. It's one of my favorites, though it could use some adjustments at the bust for more long-term support, so I typically wear it with my supportive short cotte. With long sleeves that don't roll up, it only works either under something or by itself- but it looks pretty awesome by itself.

Green Linen Cotte

My newest supportive dress, this one is two layers of linen. It fits great, with great support, so I don't need to wear my supportive short cotte underneath it for extra support. I'm really not overly concerned about wearing it directly against my body, though I know that might bother some people. This dress also has long sleeves that do not open, so other than color it's practically the same as the red one, just a different style.

Blue Wool Middle Layer

The single-layer wool dress I completed this past winter is pretty flexible. Since the sleeves are buttoned, I can wear them down or up, and I can wear this dress in a few different ways (and layer positions). It's also a nice medium weight, and though it's not wonderful in the heat, it's not the worst thing ever, and my body acclimates to it well enough.

Brown Wool Gown

With short, roomy sleeves this single-layer wool gown is incredibly comfortable. It will also only work as a surcotte. Like the blue wool the material isn't heavy, so it's not likely to overly stifle me when Pennsic hits the 90+ temps. Since it's the neutralest of neutral colors, it works with all three of my other picks, so if things get a bit chilly, two layers of wool would be possible with this one in my limited wardrobe. (I also realize that I still owe you a full post on this one.)

I will, of course, not slack on the under-items I need to pull these four dresses into a week's worth of outfits, but there will be a lot of airing out between wearings, and possibly a hand-washing of my supportive short cotte at a certain point in the week. And just to be on the safe side, my single-layer orange linen supportive dress may also make the trip on the chance that I need a lighter option.

You can be sure my entire hat box will also be joining me.

What about you? If you're going to Pennsic, would you accept the challenge of limiting your week's garb to just 4 pieces... or even fewer?


  1. This year, I'm only going to Pennsic for the second week (GenCon moved their event earlier and it overlaps Peace Week this year), but I am taking more than four pieces. I really like what you've done, though - I'd love to pare down the wardrobe. I do it a bit at present - I've got a 16th century Flemish kirtle and overdress that make up the majority of my outfits (I have two identical handkerchief-weight linen smocks, as well as a fairly poofy handkerchief-weight linen Italian camicia, and if it's super warm, I just wear the kirtle without the overdress and one of the smocks/camicia (it has a very Italian feel to it with the camicia and no overdress.) I also have a white linen partlet and a black linen/faux suede partlet to change up the look a bit and give me a bit of added protection from the sun. Other than the Flemish pieces, I've got two medieval kirtles (similar to yours above) - one handkerchief-weight linen, parti-colored blue and green with gold buttons, and one in mid-heavyweight cream linen that laces up the front. I'd love to add an Italian dress (like Campi's "Fruitseller"), and perhaps three more smocks/camicias, and then I'd have a few basic outer layers and several under layers.

    Considering the occasional long wait for washing machines at Pennsic, have you seen this? It doesn't look quite big enough for my dresses, but I think I could wash at least two or three smocks at a time.

    1. Ooh, I love the 16th century Flemish style, and I think that's the perfect kind of outfit for Pennsic. I like seeing when people experiment with what they have to accommodate the weather but still look accurate- even if it's not what the intention of the original pieces were.

      That little washing "machine" would be awesome to have for the small stuff!

    2. I had this non-electric washing machine and it worked really well. I used it all the time when I didn't want to go to town and use a laundrymat. It died when someone crossthreaded the top, but I would get it again if I was camping a lot,