My Late-Viking-Era Norse Outfit for the 2020s


Alec standing in the outfit described in this post, with a bright red tunic with silk trimmings, a blue cloak, and white hose with red cross-garters
Photo credit Piglet Evans, used with permission.  Not released under cc-by-sa.

I've been gradually making tweaks to my best-dress reenacting kit, and thought it was worth taking time to post an overview before diving into the individual parts.  Most of the thinking in this outfit is covered in my earlier post surveying Viking male clothing, and I lean heavily on Thor Ewing's Viking Clothing, along with checking out specific finds and some experiments.

This outfit is the first thing I've made with entirely hand-sewing, and the first outfit I've made entirely myself.  I'm quite proud of it, despite some flaws!  I've been really enjoying exploring the various costuming choices and the limitations of our knowledge.

Let's walk through the outfit tip-to-toe.  I hope to come back and add links to follow-up posts as I add more detail, so I'll keep each segment brief.  Subscribe to the blog if you want to get updates automatically :)

Feedback is welcome!  Please leave a comment below.


I don't have one in this photo!  It was quite hot.  I have a lovely nalbound cap, and a four-panel rabbit fur hat that I wear in winter and hope to add a lighter-weight pillbox cap or something like it soon.


This is a rectangular feldr made out of a loom-width 2/2 indigo/white broken diamond twill wool from  One end is fringed as it came shipped, and the other I manually fringed and tablet-wove on a band out of some hand-spun, hand-dyed wool.  It's probably my favorite piece of this kit, and is light enough to wear in the summer but still provides some warmth and rain protection.

The brooch is a solid silver pennanular with bossed ends, like this find - these are found across the North Sea but probably came from Ireland.  We are blessed with a local silversmith, Strongford Arts, who makes these and other things with great skill.


This tunic, using a pleated skirt for fullness, is an exploration of a conjecture from Ewing - that we do not see firm evidence for skirt gores until after 1025 or so, and that we do have evidence for pleats in other Norse contexts so perhaps we should be using pleats for fullness in knee-length tunics.

I like the effect quite a bit, although I'm not so enamored that I'm convinced Ewing is right, especially with some of the Hedeby finds supporting gores.  Since my reenacting context (SCA) has, er, no specific standards, I don't mind being a little unusual to explore an idea, and the tunic is attractive and easy to construct.

Key fit decisions on the tunic are an attempt to match ~1000 CE manuscript images that pretty consistently show rucking of the sleeves and at the waist, while still being fairly tight.  The waist seam is quite a bit (4-6") below where it "should" be to support this rucking, and the armscyes are also high and tight, while still being a simple near-rectilinear construction.  To accommodate my particular body, I wound up angling the shoulders down 15 or so degrees, and the arms a similar amount, which reduced bunching around the shoulder without being much out of line with the straight line, rectangular construction I wanted to stay close to.

The fabric is a medium-weight wool 2/2 red/orange herringbone twill from Royal Blue Traders.  I really like two-color twills, although I think I need to pull back a little since I'm seeing more evidence nowadays that they're a bit of a reenactorism.

The silk trim is also applied to match manuscript images, and is cut from a "Sogdian Silk with Winged Horses" reproduction of an 8th century Sogdian silk made by Sartor.  In the spirit of Silk for the Vikings, and my friend Aethelflied's exhortation that in the medieval aesthetic, "all silk colors match, all silk patterns are aligned" (regardless of the actual reality), I've applied it trying to be extremely conservative on fabric used, intentionally leaving patterns misaligned.


This photo does not show off the belt well, but you can see an attractive reproduction bronze buckle.

I'm wearing a leather tarsoly-style pouch from Feed The Ravens with an indigo silk front panel and reproduction brass hardware.  I've since upgraded the belt to one also from Feed the Ravens but with a more appropriate length (shorter) and weight of leather.


These are knee-length trousers made after a set of 6th century Egyptian finds, but which are also similar in construction to the late iron-age bog finds from Northern Europe.  I hope to make ankle-length trousers out of both linen and wool soon, since I don't love the look of my knees peeking out when it is not so hot to demand it.  I'm grateful to my friend Abu Darzin for his help with fitting the pattern.

This pattern (well, pattern-strategy) is economical of fabric and quite comfortable, and given that we have no other good options to follow I think it's a great choice.


These are simple hose made out of a white twill linen (it feels wonderful) also from Sartor.  Notably, I cut these on the straight grain because when looking for extants, all I could find were ecclesiastical buskins (for example, those from Pope Clement II) which are all on the straight grain.  The earliest bias-cut hose seem to be quite a bit later, so this felt like a reasonable choice.  They're fitted to the extent possible, but not that much.


For a bit of color, and based on written descriptions of Carolingians wearing red cross-garters over white hose, I wove these two tapes out of silk and dyed them with madder.  This was partly an exercise to figure out how to do inkle weaving using tablets, and also to see how varying tension affected the product.  They help keep the hose in place and look jaunty, although I do want to experiment more with different wrapping methods.


My previous shoes died at Pennsic, with one wearing a hole through the sole, and then both of them getting aggressively moldy.  These new ones are based on the Vlaardingen find and are made by Bohemond.
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