For the most part, the clothing I wear at SCA events tends to lots of layers, a great deal of wool, and all kinds of veils and hats. This is because I live in the UK and it’s bloody cold most of the time, even in summer.
However, I do on occasion travel to events in parts of the Kingdom that are decidedly hotter, and it’s high time I had some clothing that’s suitable for highs of 40C rather than 25C. To that end, a quick and dirty Roman gap-sleeved tunic.
This is not high-level research by any stretch of the imagination. I have acquired a copy of Croom’s Roman Clothing and Fashion and am working directly from her notes, with the desired end result of a piece of clothing I can wear in the summer and look acceptable when accessorized properly.
The tunic is nothing more than two very wide rectangles with seams most of the way up the sides and pins holding the shoulders together. (The pins are what create the gaps that give this style of tunic its name. No-one is entirely sure exactly how the pins work, since the sculptures and other artworks depicting this style just show round knobbly things at the places where the fabric is held together.)
As luck would have it, I had in my stash a couple of metres of this gorgeous dark green silk that was woven to a period width. (Modern fabric tends to be 60 inches wide. Historically, 45 inches or even narrower was much more common.) And not only was it the appropriate widths, it had selvedges that matched the rest of the fabric AND happened to be exactly the right length to drape to the floor properly. Bonus – I had matching silk thread.
Forty-eight hours later, I have a new frock. And not long after that, a three and a half metre band of linen to go under it to corral my bosoms. (I’m wearing the linen in the photo below, but no photos of just the linen. There are limits to what I’ll post online.)
It needs a twisted cord to serve as a belt/girdle. At the moment I’ve just got it tied up with the band of inkle-weaving I use underneath my fourteenth-century stuff.
This style of tunic is seen up to the middle of the third century. I’m styling it as early third century, because I recently acquired this reproduction third century necklace.
All that really means is that I’ll need to practice some funky hairstyling before I wear this at an event.
I still need to find some tropical-weight wool to turn into a mantle to go over the whole thing, but I’m pretty happy with how it has turned out!