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Creating a Costume

Costume Design


You don’t need to be rich or a talented designer to come up with your first costume. Seeing the elaborate costumes some players wear might be daunting, but we all start somewhere. Start small, simple, and affordable in your budget and build on it over time.


The first step is to think about your character.

  • What would they wear in this setting? 

  • What job did they have before they decided to go adventuring? A baker/tavern keep/butcher all might have an apron, a scribe might have some writing equipment, and farmer might have some patches on high wear areas etc.

Decide on a color palette and theme you can achieve that will make you feel good in your costume. Putting on the costume is like putting on the identity of your character, leaving behind all the stress and worries of real life for a weekend of fantasy heroism and adventure. Don't feel the need to keep your outfit historically accurate. Underworld is a world of fantasy so feel free to be creative! Look for an accessory or costume piece that will feel like a signature look for your character. It could be a hat, a necklace, a piece of armor, etc. Costumes are a visual language, and including something recognizable that sets your character apart might feel fun and immersive for you. 


Secret tip: a belt really pulls a costume together. Never underestimate the value of an interesting belt. Belts are also great to hang or carry things on. A sturdy, wide belt will be both comfortable and look great.


Consider that most events are played for a full weekend in the summer. You will be hot and sweaty, possibly need changes of clothing, and although that mysterious dark trench coat seems cool - do you really want to wear that in 30 degree heat? You may want to budget for more than one costume eventually so you can change out anything that gets wet or dirty. Your character is a person, and unlike a TV character, they probably have at least a very small wardrobe of varied pieces of clothing in the same overall style, which they would probably wash every once in a

while. Start with an extra shirt, and build up to extra pants, vests, or other pieces that you feel match the character. It’s not only immersive, but practical. Hygiene and being able to change into a dry set of clothes will increase your happiness at LARP.

Footwear is very important. Make sure to incorporate practical, comfortable footwear in your costume. While sneakers might be comfortable on the sidewalk, you should consider a good pair of hiking boots with ankle support and a water resistant finish if you can. You will be spending the weekend walking around in the woods, on uneven ground, rain or shine.

Don’t forget to layer. Crease a base layer, shirt and pants or dress/skirt, with a vest or jacket to add if its cooler and cloak or outer layer that keeps you warm/dry if its wet or cold. Choose varied textures, patterns, and colors to create visual interest. Layering different lengths can also work - for example, a knee length, long sleeved tunic base layer, then a waist length sleeveless vest, and a hip length jacket. 

A throw blanket with a large safety pin can suffice as your first cloak. Layers also help you adapt to fluctuating weather and temperatures. You can remove some layers if you get hot, and put them back on if it cools down at night. 


A pouch or bag is a good idea to carry your water, snacks, and game tags. Anything you can easily access on your belt or a shoulder strap is best.

Should I Buy Costumes From LARP Brands?


It’s absolutely up to you. While commercial brands are offering more products dedicated to LARPers every season, it’s not required for you to empty your wallet on these clothes unless you just really want to. 


Thrift stores and garage sales are great places to look for costumes. You will be running around the forest, so trips and falls are a given; it’s another great reason not to spend all your money on expensive costumes, because there's always the risk of damaging it with rips or stains. Remember when you were a little kid, playing outside, and your mom would get angry at all the sand, dirt, and grass stains on your clothes? LARP is the same way. While you’re running, tumbling in the grass, and having fun, you don’t want to worry about a little dirt on the

hem of your dress, or the possibility of something breaking. If you are a convention cosplayer, you know how fragile some of those costumes can be. The conditions you need to prepare for at LARP are very different from a convention center, so keep that in mind when building your first costume.


It’s not necessary to wear any armor "reps" to your first game. You will have 30 points of invisible armor as a first time player. After your first game, you should think about whether you want to wear armor or not, and do a bit of research into crafting or buying armor. Decide for yourself how much crafting you are willing to learn or have the skills to do, and what your budget is for buying things. On your second game, you will be asked what type of armor reps you have or plan to have, and receive the tags for it even if you don’t have the reps in your possession yet.


Chat in the Mournfall discord for tips and advice about your first armor purchase.


Leather armor tends to be the most expensive to purchase ready-made, but it's the easiest to start learning how to craft. Aluminum chainmail and one size fits most plate are the most cost effective ready-made, but not always the most comfortable. Chainmail is simple to DIY but time consuming and might fatigue your hands and wrists. Fellow players can point you toward reputable websites and craftsmen to buy from.

Advanced Tips


Natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, and wool are favorites among LARPers. These fabrics have innate properties that will help you stay comfortable longer while out in the elements. Cotton is light, breathable, and durable, but it soaks up water and dries slowly. Linen is also light and breathable, and dries faster than cotton, but is less durable, and often more expensive. Wool may seem counterintuitive for the summer, but it's naturally anti-microbial, is water repellant and stays warm even when wet. Wool cloaks are great any time of the year, and merino wool hiking socks are well worth the expense.

Modern synthetic fabrics like polyester are acceptable, but most people don't prefer it. It doesn't breathe like natural fibers and may cause you to sweat a lot more and feel uncomfortable when wet. Check the tags inside the clothing before buying to see what it's made of. The content tag is usually placed either on the back neck, or on the left side just above the hem.


A trick some people use is to wear athletic base layers like a sweat wicking gym shirt hidden under the costume layers. It can help you stay cool and dry even in August, plus it's easier to wash than some costume pieces. Keeping the sweat out of your costume will help it last longer. 


Colorful clothes were actually very popular in medieval times, so you don't need to stick to greens, blacks, and browns to fit into the genre of Underworld. LARP costumes look more impressive and high level when you add bright colors to it. As your character levels up and develops, think about ways to make yourself look unique with your costume.

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