Wintermark Kit - getting started and improving

some of the admins have asked me to cross post this on the forum so it’s saved for posterity, I hope it’s of help to Wintermarkers new and old alike!

So as some of you may know my job in real life is in making and designing costumes for films. Putting together a character costume can be super daunting at first so I thought I’d put together a breakdown of how I do it at work, within the context of Wintermark Costumes.

Why am I doing this? I noticed at e3, what with the influx of 300-odd new players that there were a lot of lines blurring - when Empire kit is good you can tell a lot about that character at a glance, people will ask you questions and pass along plot because they recognise you as one of us or one of them. Someone looking for a Marcher Landskeeper or a Brass Coast Hakima and being able, very quickly, to identify that archetype means they’ll likely get involved in more stuff. This is in no way a criticism of any of our new (or old!) folk, I just think we can all improve bit by bit. It took me three events to work out what Kiira’s wardrobe is, and I’m still adapting and improving things before each event!

  • consider your character’s origins. Are they Steinr, Suaq or Kallavesi? if you’re not sure, there’s a link here about them. There are separate kit briefs for each of the three people of Wintermark, and it’s really important you know which of them you belong to before you consider anything else.

  • what’s your character’s backstory and job? Are you a Suaq hunter who’s been nomadic most of your life, travelling with a small group, miles and miles away from the nearest settlement? Are you a Suaq innkeeper who’s lived their whole life comfortably in a well-fortified town? are you a Suaq messenger-scout who’s seen towns burned by the Jotun and locals enslaved by the Thule? All three are from the same Region and People of Wintermark but their clothes would be very different. Perhaps all three would wear the iconically Suaq sheepskin or suede coats, painted with animals, but the hunter’s would be patched from a life spent too far away to buy replacements, the innkeeper’s would be newer and more luxurious, the messenger’s more tightly fitted to allow for fast movement. Perhaps they’d all prefer different animals too?

Obviously these considerations would be different for the Steinr and Kallavesi!

  • simple, decent quality base kit is pretty much essential. Tunics, and tunic-dresses are easy to make, comfy to wear and easy to style to mark you out as a 'Marker.
    Traditional viking and saxon tunic patterns are the best to use when making something for yourself as they were designed by people who had to weave the cloth themselves, so didn’t want to waste fabric. As a result the tunics etc are made entirely out of rectangles, or triangles made from half rectangles, and are relatively easy to put together. There are a few pattern sketches on the wintermark costume page here.

  • Having more than one top to wear over the weekend is really good, because it will inevitably rain and soak you through. Consider one short sleeved, shorter length tunic layered over a long sleeved, longer length one in a complimentary colour. It looks rad as hell and you can wear them separately too.

  • one thing that helps A LOT with making your outfit look like clothes rather costume is breakdown. I say this as someone who gets paid to make things look scruffy on camera - doing something as simple as washing your kit a couple of times before you wear it can make a big difference. Pay attention to washing instructions though and be careful with strong colours; if you’re making kit yourself make sure to wash the fabric you use first to stop colours running later, either when you wash your clothes after an event or in the rain AT the event, staining skin and clothes beneath. Want to look especially grubby? mix a blob of brown and/or black acrylic paint with a little water in a spray bottle and spray it in the air above your kit. It’ll fall and look like rainwater, or sprayed on the bottom of your skirts/trousers it’ll look like you’ve waded through a bog. Experiment with dilution to achieve different looks.

  • for a cheap fix for trousers, I highly recommend men’s flannel pajama trousers. I’ve got a pair from Tesco that go with my costume’s colour scheme, they’re hard wearing and warm and best of all HAVE POCKETS! They tuck into my boots so can go with long dresses and with shorter tunics. I wear thermal leggings underneath if it’s cold and they’re the comfiest things ever.

  • on that note - COLOUR SCHEME. work out what palette your character prefers, considering the points above. Three is a good number. Rich Steinr who likes to show off? maybe crimson, dark grey and gold. (yes this is basically my Thane Agnarr…) Cheeky Steinr scop? maybe fox-orange, dark green and a pale blue. Frayed Steinr who’s been turned out of their hall for maggoting? consider looking poorer, using colours that traditionally were cheaper like creams and browns. We don’t all have to wear brown! Ashenhall are a really good example of character kit done right, they all wear different colours but tonally it all works nicely together.

  • Once you have base kit, consider outer layers. Blankets made of decent wool can be found in many charity shops, and with a bit of trim sewn on and a nice cloak pin, can look the height of Steinr or Kallavesi fashion while keeping the rain off. Especially with some furs stitched around the shoulders as a mantle. Sheepskin and leather gloves are handy too (pardon the pun).

  • Accessories! you’ll probably want a good quality leather belt (again, all mine are from charity shops) because inevitably you’ll end up needing to carry around some or most of the following: a small bag for coins and resources, a tankard holder, a weapon loop, some random nick-nacks that are meaningful to your character, a separate pouch for OC items. Faux leather might be cheaper but every primark belt I’ve ever bought has broken within two events.

  • I recommend Get Dressed For Battle for other accessories such as cloak pins, brooches, and fancier belts. They also do these really great horn toggles I’ve wanted to put on something for years but never have the right project. They’re carved with little angry faces, they’re pretty great. All GDFB’s stuff is reasonably priced and I’ve never had any issues with it.

  • Shoes! Ok so it’s generally known that kit stops at the ankle… But Kitty doesn’t when it comes to advice!
    Boots with a lot of ankle support are best, with an attached tongue so the Anvil mud doesn’t seep through, but if you find you always have wet feet no matter what shoes you wear I highly recommend Sealskinz socks. They’re like dry suit socks and they’ll last a few years if you treat them right (no tumble drying!) wear cotton socks underneath and at night turn them inside out to air, your feet will never be cold and wet at larp again.

  • if you’re thinking of making kit, stay away from crushed velvets, polyester lining fabrics and other 100% synthetic fabrics - aside from them tending to look like fancy dress, stand too close to a fire and they’ll melt. Cotton/linen blends are ideal for tunics, although 100% cotton with enough weight can work beautifully too. There are some really nice wool blend fabrics out there recently i hear too. The Costume Froth FB group is great for seeing other people’s costume projects and getting inspired to work on something for yourself.

And if in doubt - put on what you have. could you see this person in the background of a scene in Vikings or chilling with some Wildlings in Winterfell? if no - stitch some trim on and add some more fur or feathers, come to an event and get some inspiration from all the other fab larpers who are improving and changing things bit by bit between events.

I hope to see you on the field!


Any tips for a character with a backstory (bwim, this bit happened in play) of “I only just got here from Dawn how do I Wintermark”?

Thanks for the Get Dressed For Battle link, they actually have decent female kit!

ahh sorry, only just saw this! apologies if it all happened at e4 already.

I’d take your time with it. Don’t worry about transitioning all in one event and you can get a lot of role-play out of the change, especially with clothing! You have a great reason to go up to players wearing kit you think looks interesting and ask them about who their tailor is, where they bought the fabric and ask for tips as a new wintermarker. I love the idea of culture shock between nations - where did you get your clothes before when you were Dawnish? what connections did you have that you can’t use anymore?

Obviously once you’ve been recognised by the Egregore you’re 100% Wintermark, and will have to look the part but there’s still room for character preferences - there’s a group called Mafaraxas who’ve moved to Wintermark from the Brass Coast so as a result love colour and have kept that element in their Steinr kit with purple wool tunics and flame colour trims. They are now wealthy Steinr and to them as ex-freeborn, wealth is displayed through clothing and dyes, which doesn’t contradict the Steinr brief if interpreted through natural fabrics and appropriate trims.

Perhaps invest in/make new kit bit by bit over the next couple of events and cycle it into your existing base kit until you have an appropriately WM outfit that you’re happy with. If your character has a long dress, perhaps it could be cut down and worn over trousers? (or make a tunic-dress in identical fabric so it looks like you’ve adapted your dawnish clothes if you’re attached to them in their original state!) A fancy dawnish cloak could be steinr-ified with a fur mantle attached on top and a nice big cloakpin to close it. Armour’s a little more difficult to adapt, but ditching the plate and getting a rohirrim helmet and leather breastplate to go over chain is a good place to start.

I hope that helps!

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