Sunday, December 17, 2017

Edyth's Doppelgänger Challenge Recap Part One

Back in May, I challenged myself to spend the rest of the year doing what I called "Edyth's Doppelgänger Challenge". For every event, and every day at the event, I would wear an outfit that matched one in a manuscript image as closely as I was able. I limited myself to the early portion of the 15th century, and to using only French or Franco-Flemish manuscript sources (which is the focus of my clothing research.) You can read the original text of my challenge below.

In total, I wore 17 individual outfits over the course of 11 events. This included, as much as I was able, my elevation to the Order of the Laurel (which I discussed here and here.) This also included a handful of Friday nights of camping events (but not the subsequent Sundays, since I don't typically get into garb before breaking down and heading home.)

The Challenge idea came about from one long evening of somewhat stream-of-consciousness writing on the basic topic of "what am I actually doing?" I had been feeling like I had been adding projects to my list mostly willy-nilly, with nothing but my understanding of their appropriateness to my period to guide the way. I wasn't sure that I was actually on the right track with my projects, and I wasn't sure how to figure it out. Then I remembered that for Pennsic in 2016, I had decided to limit my wardrobe for the week to 7 outfits picked from the same criteria as this new challenge. You can read about that here. I hadn't quite done it (I coped out on the last day), but I really enjoyed the idea and the process. As I thought about it more, I decided to give it a go and up the challenge by making the period of time longer.

My general idea was that the challenge would point out to me what my wardrobe was missing, or what needed to be replaced. I had hoped that I'd get to the end of it with new pieces, or at least a pretty solid project list to work on. This is not how it actually played out, however. Despite my concern that I wasn't really doing justice to the period, it turned out that I actually had been doing a pretty decent job.

In the end, I can say that the Challenge was a success, but not for the initial reasons I thought it would be. It was also a success in the that I did my best to wear an image-matching outfit for the entire duration (a bit of fudging for my elevation aside.)

I'm going to split this recap up into two posts. Today, below, I want to talk about some of the outfits I created, particularly my favorites and least favorites (and why). Next week, I'll talk about the take-aways that the Challenge has given me and my plans moving forward from it.

I'd like to just start with the first Doppelganger, which wasn't particularly a favorite or one that I wasn't thrilled with. I was instead highly encouraged when my first choice ended up being a very good match to the image I'd selected. I was motivated that day mostly by a desire to be comfortable, so to have ended up with a good match AND good comfort was a total win-win.

This outfit, based on one of the most recognizable figures in the period, is likely my favorite. I wasn't able to do a full match, since I needed my more supportive brown shoes, instead of black shoes that would match the image. However, I was very happy to discover that this close of a match was possible. I had finished the oatmeal colored hose the week before.

My least favorite outfit had come from the Friday of that same event.

The sloppiness of the linen dresses bothered me. For the past few years, I've tried to shift my wardrobe to wool dresses, but the Challenge required that I use some of my linen options. While the colors couldn't have been a better match without specifically sourcing cloth for it, the unpolished and frumpy look wasn't enjoyable. I was glad for this to have been just a Friday evening outfit.

Another favorite was with pink and blue combo. I had to add some items to account for a cold day outside, but I didn't at all feel that they ruined or detracted from the base match. I had originally intended to wear the pink girl rolled up to show that my pink dress also sports a cream-colored lining, but I was happier to have that skirt layer down on my legs. I liked the look of this outfit, and felt that it was one example I had done that was the closest the my "base" style- deeply colored pieces layered to created a visually stunning but easy to wear style.

I can't say that this was an outfit I disliked, so much as I feel it was a pretty striking outlier from the group. I have the orange dress. This image gave me the chance to use it. It is, however, a not the best representation of this period- it's an outdated fashion style and my persona would likely not have worn it. It was nice, however, to put this outfit in the mix to solidify that for myself.

For my last outfit, I wore a horned veil. There are lots of examples of this headdress and dress combination, and while it's not a style I wear often, unlike the orange example, it IS appropriate for my persona as the "best" outfit she would wear. I was glad to not have let the Challenge go by without having used one of these images.

I also want to mention that a side effect of the way I documented the Challenge was by looking into the corresponding manuscript text to see if I would identify the woman and get a sense of her context. (This information can be found on the more in-depth Facebook post for each.) I feel a greater sense of connection to the images I choice through this step, and I learned a great deal more about the types of story telling and themes from this period.

I need to give a shout-out to all the folks who helped me out with getting pictures taken of all my outfits. I only had to rely on the self-time for one, and there's one selfie in the mix. I'd like to thank, especially, Dame Marissa von Atzinger for the several professional-looking shots she took.

There are a few ways you can see all the Doppelgängers if you missed them. You can head over to Facebook and scroll through my posts to see them all, or you can go over to Instagram to see them all there.

Next week, I'll go into greater detail about what I learned, and what I plan to do with that info.


  1. What a splendid idea! Your outfits are close matches (except the red dress at the top should have somewhat longer sleeves). But that's still a minor point. Well done!

    1. Thanks! Since I wanted to use what I had and find the "gaps" in my wardrobe by using the manuscript images as a guide, I was good with some things like details or color not quite being there. ;) One thing I did notice, though, is exactly what you pointed out- some of my dress sleeves are a little shorter than ideal. Definitely something to improve moving forward! :)

  2. I think that you always look absolutely splendid and I admire your dress-making skills very much.