I’m in the middle of the Carolina Renaissance Festival, and it’s cold. Previously my biggest concern in outdoor performance was staying cool, what with working late spring ren faires, 4th of July events, and summer seasons at theme parks built around gigantic hunks of granite carved with the likenesses of traitors. Occasionally there will be cold days (one time it snowed!), but for the most part frostbite has not been a concern. It’s still not, but it sure feels like it some mornings. Being cold is my kryptonite.
The other day my talented and well-dressed harpist friend Sarah turned me on to her newest purchase: a pair of fleece-lined leggings from Anthropologie. They’re kind of amazing: soft inside, matte and opaque outside, comfortable, warm, and not the least bit bulky. High-waisted me could wish they had a slightly longer crotch seam, but if we got everything we wanted we would have nothing to bitch about. I think I’m going to need to add one more layer of tights or leggings when it gets super cold towards Thanksgiving, but for now they’re the best.
That got me thinking about other ways I’m keeping warm. I’m a little out of my depth here, but fortunately I have friends wit experience who can offer suggestions. And really, it should not be that complicated to adjust a Renaissance Europe-era costume to cold weather. Europe in the 15somethings, as it turns out, was smack in the middle of the Little Ice Age, and they all managed without central heating and insulation and fuzzy socks. This should not be hard.
So far, here in mid-to-late October, I’m getting along with the bare minimum of warm shit. I’ve got the basic costume (I adjusted a few things, more on that later), I just added some things: narrow sleeves (made of an 80/20 silk poly blend that’s heaven under 75 degrees and hell over), fingerless gloves (which also keep my shirt sleeves from riding up when I put on my sleeves), a black velvet scarf I keep forgetting to remove the tag from, and a black, rose-patterned shawl I found under the receptionist desk at my last full-time job. And then, of course, warm socks.
Next week I’m going to put together a new cloak. I have a full-length cloak in dark green wool and black fleece that’s gorgeous and comfy, but a) it’s not terribly character specific, and b) I’m using it as an extra blanket, because we’re camping without power hookups. The pattern is obviously seriously not period, but frankly it’s already 32 degrees outside when I leave the RV and it’s only October don’t judge me. With fewer (which is to say, no) ruffles I think option C will be just fine. Fleece Fest was happening at Hancock, so I got a pretty pale yellow for the lining, and I thought I was going to use my 50% off coupon on a black wool blend that was marked at $14.99/yd, until the lady who was about to cut it told me it was already on sale, it normally retailed for $27something, and so I couldn’t use my coupon. I was like “wtf, that’s the opposite of what it says on the bolt right there,” but it was almost closing and I was desperate for dinner so I let it go. To hell with Hancock Fabrics. I have got to stop going there. I’ve got some velveteen left, so I’ll use that, and the cloak will look like an extension of the costume. Which is what I want anyway. I just hope the velveteen and fleece is warm enough. Maybe I’ll interline it with something?
Anyway, that’s what I’m doing to keep warm so far. I’m going to need a pair of actual gloves at some point, with a water-proof outside and a soft lining and, ya know, fingers and whatnot. I’m also going to make a new pair of sleeves in a black velvety fabric of undetermined content, because options!
Tell me how you keep warm, persons who do historical outdoor events in the cold. This is for science.