Happy Tuesday, friends! I posted a special editorial last week about the value of cultivating personas and roleplay, but today, we’re all about constructive positivity in action! Today, let’s GET HYPE about showing your persona through your garb! We’ll start with some theory, then move on to some borrowed ideas, and then end with some examples. ❤

I must also recommend this excellent article. I found it when researching costuming for Dystopia Rising, but it’s applicable to any situation where you’re trying to create a character.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when tailoring your garb to your persona.

1) Have a cohesive idea.
This personally has been my struggle in demonstrating my persona through my garb. I’ve had many ideas over my Amtgard lifetime, and they don’t all coincide.

Ideally, you should be able to encapsulate your persona in 3-4 words. My current persona garb goal is “Valkyrie Sailor Moon”.

How is your persona similar to you? How is it different? What are your persona’s ideals, hopes, and dislikes? (If you need some help fleshing out your persona, check out this survey by Lady Dahlia Aed of the Wetlands.)

2) Have a focal or statement piece.
I think a key to defining a persona is to have a signature garb piece. This is something that when other players are asked to quickly describe you, this piece comes to mind.

For Amtgard, this can be tricky–we all have lots of garb that we want to wear!–but I think Lisael’s defining statement piece is a sluff coat with black rus pants. This is kind of how I see myself mentally when I envision my persona.

Identifying my signature garb piece is much easier for my Dystopia Rising persona. Filly wears a distinctive off-white infinity scarf. Practically, the scarf makes me identifiable in the dark, but persona-wise, the scarf is practical and multi-purpose: I can use it to wipe sweat, as a sling for a broken arm, to help filter dusty air, or to staunch blood or apply pressure.


3) Focus on the details.
One of the best ways to elevate your garb from “costume you wear” to “clothes your persona wears” is to focus on the littlest of details.

For example, if your persona is historically based, do a little research regarding the crafting techniques and technology of the time. You don’t have to create everything authentically, but for example, how did people of your persona’s culture fasten their garments? What colors of dye were available in the time period and region, and would they be available to someone of your persona’s socioeconomic status?

You can also display important parts of your persona’s character and personality through minor details.

  • Does your persona follow a faith? Would they display this, and how? They might wear a religious symbol or embroider their garb with runes of power. They might have a religious tattoo. They might carry faith beads on their belt. They might have scrolls with prayers hanging from their tassets.
  • Is your persona frugal, or do they come from a poor background? They might wear patched or “upcycled” garments. Their garb might be mismatched because it’s comprised of what they have scrounged. They might have limited accoutrements, or they might have a treasured, tarnished, gaudy bauble.
  • Is/was your persona a part of the military, or did they receive military training? Their garb might be precisely fitted and pressed, or it might incorporate military-style elements, like epaulets or blazoned emblems. They might look very orderly, with limited doodads.
  • Is your persona a traveler? They might have extra pockets for storing supplies on their person, or they might have extra water containers. If they traverse the wilds, they may incorporate more natural decorations in their everyday apparel, which could change with the seasons.
  • Is your costume practical wear for your persona’s daily activities? Long, billowy sleeves get in the way of bowstrings. Dresses can be hard to move in. Corsets make it difficult to breathe, which is necessary for athletic activity.

These are just a few ideas. Most or all of these can be incorporated into field garb without hindering your ability to be battlefield effective, and these ideas can also be incorporated in ways from free to fancy.

A few borrowed ideas:
I definitely feel there are a few key concepts we as Amtgarders can borrow from Dystopia Rising and other full-immersion LARPs. Just a highlight:

  • Distressing clothing. Surely not all of us would have immaculate garb in this fantasy world. Tea-staining, strategic fraying at points of stress, and visible repairs are easy ways to distress garb and show that your persona lives in a realistic world.
  • Form over fashion. Would your character and their clothing really be able to survive the field of battle? Will you (the player) hurt or endanger yourself or others because of your costume?
  • Convert pre-existing garments. One way to make your garb realistic is to use real clothing as a base. Sometimes off-the-rack items (like scrub pants or a flowy blouse) can be converted into good, immersive garb. Thrift store finds are great.


Suki (Asuka Nosaka, for Amtgard). Suki has a strong Norse flavor in her garb. One of the things I love about this ensemble is that all the pieces complement each other, but they don’t all have to be worn together to make sense.
Another shot of Suki showing the layers. Suki also uses her hair to add to her garb and persona.
Suki showing the undertunic and her hairstyle from a different angle.
Another shot of Suki showing the layers of the caftan and undertunic. The garb pieces all complement one another. The undertunic has gray and turquoise at the sleeves, creating a smooth transition where the white of the undertunic peeking through might have been jarring.
Aidan (Kristoffer Harrington, for Dystopia Rising). Note the fraying and discoloration detail, the pauldron made out of reclaimed material, the patches and hanging pieces, the cup and canteen, and the kneepad on the knee that he kneels on when he shoots.
Aidan (Kristoffer Harrington, for Dystopia Rising). Another shot of Aidan from a different angle showing other parts of his ensemble.
Boudreaux Percival Oilspill/BP (Julian Cearley, for Dystopia Rising). Note the fraying and discoloration on his garb. The details are nice, too–the netting and bucket hat are because he plays a Baywalker, which is someone from one of the coastal communities. His vest is beautifully pocketed and discolored with black for ink stains, because he plays a printer. (Photo courtesy of Heather Halstead, for Dystopia Rising: Texas)
BP and Dr. Centex Washbourne/Doc Fancypants (Julian Cearley and Kiara Everlen, for Dystopia Rising). Note the contrast between the two characters: Doc Fancypants is, well, very fancy, with jewelry and garments made of fine fabrics. BP is dirty, but obviously put together. These minor details help accentuate the differences in the strains of humanity that they play. (Photo courtesy of Heather Halstead, for Dystopia Rising: Texas)
Jameson Wattson “Sparky” Sparks (Brandon Brashier, for Dystopia Rising). Sparky is also a Baywalker, but he lives on a boat, unlike BP. He has a more piratey flair. Note the pauldron made of a leather electrician’s toolbelt and reclaimed license plates. (Photo courtesy of Andy Goth, for Dystopia Rising: Arkansas)
Sparky and Myrtle Clearwater the 4th (Brandon Brashier and Maggie Brashier, for Dystopia Rising). Note the detailing and the grunge work, as well as the practical items like bags, pockets, and sturdy boots. (Photo courtesy of Andy Goth, for Dystopia Rising: Arkansas)
Another shot of Sparky and Myrtle. (Photo courtesy of Andy Goth, for Dystopia Rising: Arkansas)
Roscoe Kuykendahl (Cory Maughmer, for Dystopia Rising). Roscoe is another Baywalker in our crew. He is a scrounger trying to build his family’s salvage business in what remains of sunken Houston. His clothes are patched with found/scavenged fabric, he has plenty of sturdy pockets for stashing away his finds, and he’s armed to protect himself from thieves.
More detail of Roscoe’s getup.
More details of Roscoe’s getup. Note the layers–each layer is individually distressed, detailed, and functional. He has rope and a hammer for his salvage equipment. His vest lettering is stenciled and utilitarian, with both new and mended rips. Baywalkers are known for being practical people who are good at surviving in an even harsher than normal environment, and his clothing reflects that.
Cory Maughmer in his Mandalorian Merc armor. Note the character that he has included in the armor with the strategic scuffing.
Goblin peasant and Juju Hex Mojo (Vickie Roos and Julian Cearley, for Amtgard). Juju was a dwarven king for a reign in the Kingdom of the Wetlands. Aside from the awesome beards, he made a special dwarven hammer with excellent details. Even weapons can help demonstrate your persona! (Really cool side note–Julian made the little gold and silver beard rings out of parts of hair accessories that he found at the dollar store!)
A larger group of dwarves!
Juju Hex Mojo and Voodoo Hocus Mojo (Julian Cearley and Chelsea Dacus) with their more detailed beards.
All the dwarves!
Flotsam and Jetsam group (for Dystopia Rising). Each of the characters has a ton of detail put into their costumes that helps express exactly who they are.
Groch Weir (for Amtgard). Groch is clearly recognizable as a barbarian with a Highland flair. He has many accessories and details from head to toe that accentuate and demonstrate his persona.
Lady Guineviere Godmoney (Lind Shanin, for Dystopia Rising). Guin is a drug-addicted, bestial person who is terrifying to face in battle. She does an excellent job of demonstrating this in her costume using heavy, smeared makeup, animal antlers and bones and teeth, and a majestic feathered headdress. I’m always super impressed with Guin’s kit. (Photo courtesy of Heather Halstead, for Dystopia Rising: Texas)
Early Guin.
Jaguar King (Julian Cearley, for Amtgard). Check out the awesome painted mask and furs! You can tell immediately that this guy is something different.
Jaguar King and his entourage. Note the beads and body paint.
Jaguar King with his entourage carrying his palanquin.
Lisael Darkmorn (Jenna Vaughan, for Amtgard). When I get dressed up like a barbarian, I like to wear red face paint and heavy eye makeup, as well as a rune of power on my forehead. I also tend to do fancy things with my hair, like braids and twists. Barely visible in this picture, you can see a simple running stitch embroidery at the neckline of my undertunic. This embellishment is used to signify my first Order of the Warrior. My barbarian sash is also trimmed in zebra-stripe fleece. (Sash made by Battilde of Granite Spyre)
Sir Ozymandias de Mandaloria (Oz Wainerdi, for Amtgard). Oz in his painted paladin armor. Beyond just the armor, he has a circlet, a shemagh, and more.
Oz (Oz Wainerdi, for Amtgard). Even dressed down, Oz wears lots of necklaces and baubles, like a proper pirate. He also has a bit of a mixture of clothing styles, which suggests that he might have picked it up in his voyages to different places.
Lord Master Pickles (Chris Jacobe, for Amtgard). Pickles is always well dressed, and his attention to detail is fantastic. He is completely bedecked in his spoils of voyage, making it obvious that he is definitely a pirate.
The Pirates of Stormwall (for Amtgard). The Pirates as a group have some of the best garb/persona depictions in the Kingdom of the Wetlands. They don’t have to match to be visible as a group–in fact, it’s a little better that way.
Sir Slyddur Rahbet (Sly Symmank, for Amtgard). Sly is a neat case to study because he has several themes that he portrays in his different sets of garb. This is a picture of him with more piratey flair. He has a tricorn hat, a Jolly Roger necklace, and several other bits and bobs. Perhaps the most iconic of his pieces of garb here is the pirate coat.
Sly Symmank and Say Moore, for Amtgard/SCA. This photo was technically taken at the Texas Renaissance Festival, but I have seen Sly and Say wear similar outfits for large SCA gatherings. One of Sly’s signature garb pieces is that he is usually wearing a shemagh on his head, which is both practical and fashionable. Sly’s garb tends more toward Norse/Viking these days, typically. Say is wearing jewelry that resembles jewelry worn by Norse women.
Say Moore and Sly Symmank, for Amtgard/SCA. Even dressed down, Sly outdresses most Amtgarders. Here, he’s wearing a pouch he made out of leather he shot, skinned, and tanned himself.
Sly in his barbarian getup.
Another detailed photo of Sly in his pirate getup. (Photo courtesy of Robert Sell)

There are so many options for showing your persona through your garb. Don’t be afraid to try things! Happy crafting!–<3 Lisael