Capsule Costume Collections

German Renaissance style costume hat

My German Renaissance costume.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about capsule wardrobes. Partially for my mundane clothing, but even more so for my costumes! It doesn’t work for everything, but I’d like to be able to shift up some of my “looks” by interchanging pieces, layers, or accessories to be able to get a little more use out of my sewing rather than relying solely on “outfits”.

Now, there are outfits that really don’t lend themselves super well to the capsule wardrobe concept as far as I’d like to explore it… and others that do super-well.

Excellent contenders

Viking Age

Drab grey - green wool Norse underdress

Drab grey – green wool Norse underdress

My Viking Age outfits lend themselves super-well to the capsule wardrobe concept. I already have a strong colour scheme for this ‘wardrobe’, and already have numerous pieces that work together.

There is a nearly endless combination of underdress (serk) and apron dress (hängerock) and then the hanging panels (which I don’t entirely agree with, but definitely open up some possibilities for bling) and over garments.

I’ve found the garments in this ‘collection’ to be easily portable, and wearable for both warm and cool weather events.

More posts from my Viking wardrobe!

Finnish Iron Age

rown wool peplos-style Finnish Iron/Viking Age worn with an embellished white apron

Finnish Iron Age outfit

My Finnish Iron Age wardrobe would be another strong contender, but I have very few pieces here so far, so it’s a place for development, not for current tweaking.

The colour story here is mostly dull, but not a strong story… since there are so few pieces in this wardrobe. I want to stay as close to commonly anticipated natural dye colours, and reference real historic finds as much as possible as my research piece.

Due to the delicate nature of so many elements of this costume, it’s not something I’d travel with much, though replacing some elements with more portable items might be an option.

Read more posts in my “Finnish” category!


Lifting my hems to show off the Shalwar of my Ottoman Empire costume

Lifting my hems to show off the Shalwar of my Ottoman Empire costume

Likewise, my Ottoman Empire ‘wardrobe’ would be a strong contender, as all of the pieces are highly interchangeable. Like the Finnish costume, I have limited pieces here so far. This again is an area for further development.

I don’t have a strong colour story here, other than BRIGHT, but I think that intermingling other bold, bright colours into this would work while staying on-theme.

All of these items are super-packable, which makes them great contenders for out-of-town events, and since there are multiple layers, I’d consider this for warm and cooler weather events.

More information about all the different layers are in the Ottoman category.

Italian Renaissance

The complete "Celebration" Italian outfit from the front, holding the over-dress open to show the silk skirt under it.

The complete “Celebration” Italian outfit

I feel like my Italian Renaissance ‘wardrobe’ is a fairly good contender for the capsule wardrobe area, however of my two outfits, one is far too big for me right now. That means I am mostly starting with just one outfit.

The colour story of one outfit is red/black/gold… while the second is green/teal. If I add new pieces to this wardrobe I would want to explore how to coordinate new pieces with existing pieces.

The newest hat for this is only moderately packable, and because these garments are very full, they take up a lot of space. I don’t know if I have the time/interest/storage space for these pieces which can be worn at so few events.

All of my 1480s Italian costumes are indexed within this link.

Moderate contenders

German Renaissance

German Renaissance Cranach gown costume

German Renaissance Cranach gown

My existing German Renaissance costume really only works to swap out accessories, as the gown’s skirt, bodice, and sleeves are all attached. While I could make more accessories for this costume wardrobe, I don’t know that I want to make that a priority.

Due to the feathers on this hat, it’s not a particularly packable costume, so I wouldn’t want to take it to out-of-town events.

My German costumes are indexed here.

Poor contenders


11th Century Byzantine costume (without the cloak)

11th Century Byzantine costume (without the cloak)

I feel like my Byzantine ‘wardrobe’ will best remain a single-outfit costume. All pieces of this costume are highly integrated, and I don’t think that adding new accessories will help create a different story.

A new dress may be an option to get more versatility out of the existing accessories in fact, but that’s as far as I can see this plan going.

This may be worth exploring in the future, because the outfit, although it has many elements, is very packable for out of town events, and in my opinion, is very visually impressive.

Read all the posts about my Byzantine outfit!


I really need to get a better photo of my red and gold linen Roman garb!

Roman garb

My single-outfit Roman ‘wardrobe’ would also lend itself well to the capsule concept, but I’m not going to focus here at all since I constantly forget this outfit, and think I’ve only worn it once.

Here are my posts about this outfit and other Roman costume elements.

14th Century

Green sideless surcote worn over my navy linen underdress, with my horned headdress

Green sideless surcote

My 14th century sideless surcoats would also be good contenders for a capsule wardrobe… to an extent. Basically I team each of the surcoats with under dresses from much earlier periods, so they’re kind of already asking another piece to play double-duty.

Other than making MORE surcoats to accompany more under-dresses…. I don’t really see the point in working on a capsule wardrobe in this area…

The other consideration, is that the hats for these costumes (so far) aren’t especially portable, which limits these costumes to mostly events here in Calgary.

I have a few sideless surcoats – read about them here.

Where next?

Next I’ll be looking at the different areas and figuring out each more in detail. Stay tuned, or follow the “Capsule Costume Collection” tag to read more if you’re coming to my blog well after the original publication date.

You can also follow my page on Facebook, where I’ll share updates from this project, as well as interesting stories I find online around costuming, sewing, and crafting… along with lots of Viking Age stories too!

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