There are many places where you may borrow garb, for a fee, a small fee, or nothing at all, save a good story of the event, or perhaps a picture or two. They fall into the following categories:

Costume Shops

Costume shops are a good quick beginning to finding medieval clothing. Most shops carry at least Maid Marian and Robin Hood sorts of costumes; with the popularity of certain Disney movies, gowns for heroines and tunics and doublets for villains have found their way onto the rack as well. More fully stocked costume shops will have a broader range of women's wear, from tavern wench gear to the more elaborate gowns of a Tudor or Elizabethan lady, and a larger selection of men's wear, expanding into cavalier outfits and foppish court wear.

Costume shops may be best suited to a bit of preliminary research and trying on of clothes. Since their clothes are most often rented for parties and to casual wearers, check the condition of the clothing very carefully. If it is simply a problem of cleanliness, most reputable stores will clean the costume at your request. If you plan to rent a costume from them, be sure to ask if they have different rental policies for the month of October. We're still three weeks away from Hallowe'en, but that may be close enough for some shops to treat it differently.

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Community Theatres

The costume resources of community theatres runs the gamut from well-funded storehouses to spare walk-in closets full of donations and clever sewing. Many of these organizations are willing to part with costumes for a short period of time, with some sort of guarantee on your part. (Of course, costumes that are currently needed for a production are off-limits.)

Local phonebooks or theatrically-inclined friends can usually point you toward the theatres in question. Who you will want to speak with will vary with the size of the theatre, certainly; who ever you speak with, be sure to be very clear about the duration of the potential loan, and your willingness to comply with their requirements. Sadly, some theatres have had bad luck with loaning costumes, and it may have made them leery of doing it again.

Happily, if you are working directly with the costume mistress/master, you will have the chance to speak with someone who works not only with costuming, but with actors, training them to move correctly and easily within unfamiliar clothes. If you decide to wear something quite different from your everyday clothes, this knowledge can be very useful!

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Academic Theatres

Like community theatres, academic theatres run the gamut in the breadth and quality of their costuming wardrobes. Often, though, academic theatres, especially those in colleges with a strong performing arts department, reap the benefit of being part of a fully funded department, and may have the luxury of multiple full-time staff and plenty of resources.

Shakespeare is a mainstay of many theatres closely tied to academia, and although productions are not infrequently in some innovative design, there are still quite a few productions that are put on in full Elizabethan regalia. If you want to wear something in a late Renaissance style, you may find some excellent options here. In addition, pirates populate many a Gilbert and Sullivan stage, and wenches, nobles, and peasants fill out the casts of revels and madrigal feasts.

As with a community theatre, you will want to be quite clear about your intents. Some departments will class their resources as college property, which usually carries quite strict restrictions on its use. Again, though, should you have a chance to work with the costume shop, you will be dealing with enthusiastic and well-informed people, who will be an excellent resource.

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The Society for Creative Anachronism

The SCA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and recreation of history from about 400-1600 C.E., largely focusing on the cultural history of Europe. Its members create alternae personae and do all manner of things, from teaching and taking classes to recreating martial styles to living in a period manner for days at a time - and most importantly for this resource, they do it all in medieval garb!

Below, I have listed contacts for the SCA groups local to many of your areas. Like the other resources in this list, I cannot guarantee that they will have garb to lend, but many groups maintain a closet of loaner garb so that new people can come to an event without having to spend a lot of time sewing first. Many of the SCA members are quite skilled in recreating clothing of their chosen time period; think of it as a chance to show off their skills.

The listings are in the following format: The name of the group is first; if they have a web page, I have included a link, in case you'd like to explore. The group's Seneschal (essentially the primary contact point) is listed next, with their persona name followed by their 20th-century, or "mundane," name. (Hence the format AEtheldreda of Tamworth, mundanely known as (mka) Molly Harbaugh.) Email addresses are listed if available, and postal and telephonic contact points.

East Kingdom Contacts (Northeast USA)

Barony of StoneMarche (New Hampshire)
The Seneschal is Iain Gunn, mka Tom Gunn
174 South Road, Candia, NH 03134
(603) 483-9806

Barony of Carolingia (Boston, MA)
The Seneschal is Lord Gideon Alexander, mka Charles Sumner
(617) 629-4867

Shire of Iron Bog (Camden, NJ)

Middle Kingdom Contacts (Midwest USA and Middle Canada)

Shire of Cynnabar (Ann Arbor, MI)
The Seneschal is Lord Midair MacCormaic, mka Charles Cohen
3353 Landings Dr., Ann Arbor, MI 48103
(313) 913-0245

Barony of Red Spears (Toledo)
The Seneschal is Lord Erik Viligisl, mka Eric Naujock
4000 Sylvania #107, Toledo, OH 43623
(419) 472-4452

Unicorn, March of Flaming Gryphon (Miami University, Oxford)
The Seneschal is Ian Farrar, mka Ian Baby
201 E. Chestnut St. #117, Oxford, OH 45056
(513) 524-4336

Trimarian Contacts (Florida)

Shire of Southkeep (Miami/Dade County)
The Seneschal is Branwen ferch Madoc, mka Melissa Good
1160 NE 176th Street, N.Miami Beach, FL 33162
(305) 651-5414

Shire of Starhaven (Brevard County)
The Seneschal is Lord Stephen Greyhawkes, mka Steve Pierce
901 Pine Baugh Street, Rockledge, FL 32955
(407) 636-2930 until 11pm

Meridean Contacts (GA, AL, MS, AK, LA)

Barony of South Downs (Atlanta)
The Seneschal is Mistress Erina Shanahan, mka Tonya Stapleton

If you have any questions about this pages or the materials contained therein, please contact Carla Emmons, my most gracious maid of honour.

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