Finnish Costume Capsule

My new Finnish Iron Age outfit, minus the underdress.

My new Finnish Iron Age outfit, minus the underdress.

One of the ‘wardrobes’ I’m examining for my Capsule Costume Collection is my Finnish Iron-Age costume ‘wardrobe’.

Finnish Iron Age capsule wardrobe

Calling my Finnish Iron Age costume items a  “wardrobe” is a bit ambitious really. Right now what I have for this costume amounts to very few garments.

  • I have one peplos-style overdress, and use the under dresses from my Viking Age wardrobe.
  • I also have a small selection of accessories including a hat, two coil-embellished apron panels, and a few pairs of mittens.
  • I also have jewelry like a set of brooches, and two necklaces. There are other accessories I would like to add (or improve upon what I have) like a knife.

However, each layer works well with other layers, and I think it’s another good candidate for a capsule wardrobe.

Current colourway

  • Brown – My current overdress is brown and black herringbone twill wool, which gives an overall ‘brown’ appearance.
  • Pale green – I wear this almost exclusively with the birch linen underdress, as it’s a historically accurate colour for Iron Age Finland. I could also wear it with nearly any of my other underdresses that I typically use for Viking Age costumes – while the “Eura” dress is an interesting cut, the one attempt I made at it was unsuccessful, so I make due with less documentable styles.
  • Soft white – The apron I wear with this is a soft almost-white (natural white wool colour) with golden coils and red yarn, and I typically wear a green tablet woven belt with it, or one that is orange/rust, white, and blue.
Colour palette for my green colourway Viking Age costumes

Green Viking Palette

I want to keep the colourway of this wardrobe as historically-informed as I’m able, so want to add new pieces only if they’re based on extant examples from grave finds/etc.

Luckily, historically-informed colours for this time frame are quite vast, so I’m pretty free to pick and choose any direction for the colour way I am interested in.

As I mentioned in a previous post about the colour palettes I’m trying to use to build a “look and feel” for each of my capsule collections, the website I used to create the small palettes (like the green one above) is down, so instead I was using, which didn’t quite do what I wanted it to do – but did allow me to pull colours directly from photos of my garb – although not all colours were represented accurately because of lighting in the photo.

Photo of my Finnish Iron Age costume with a palette generated from the main colours

Photo of my Finnish Iron Age costume

For instance, the hat is a bright royal blue in person – whereas the generated colour looks more like a dark periwinkle.

Inspiration from others

To try to get an idea of colourways I could explore, I turned to Swan Mervi, in Finland who does a wide variety of medieval costuming, but especially I love her amazing Finnish Iron Age garb.  She dyes, she weaves, she does naalbinding, she sews, she writes… and she posts beautiful photos online like this to inspire others:

Mervi and a friend - photo for educational/research - with a generated palette

Mervi and a friend – photo for educational/research – with a generated palette

Again, the AI of the software doesn’t work perfectly; the pale blue (I presume) of Mervi’s dress is represented as more of a dove grey, and I think her friend (@katjaregevik) is wearing more of a green-tinged apron rather than what the AI has pulled out as a medium tan. Still… this colour way is beautiful, and I think very close to the direction I’d like to go in.

Alternately, Mervi put together a little shoot of a number of her outfits on different people which shows the huge diversity in colours achieved by natural dyeing.

Mervi and friends - photo for educational/research - with a generated palette

Mervi and friends – photo for educational/research – with a generated palette

Again, the AI didn’t pull the colours totally accurately – what shows up here as a dark coral is really more of a maddder red I think. In terms of an inspirational palette, I like this less than the first example, but it still makes me happy seeing so much colour from the Iron Age in one photo!

So… to the planning board

Mervi and a friend - photo for educational/research - with a generated palette

Mervi and a friend – photo for educational/research – with a generated palette

I think I want to follow a theme similar to the first inspirational photo from Mervi, and look for a colour way that involves earthy greens, madder reds, and indigo blues along with natural tans, browns, and off-whites. Also.. maybe I need to add a fringed shawl to my wardrobe!

What I have:

What I’d like to add:

  • Madder red wool peplos over-dress (red wool is so hard to find though!)
  • Indigo blue wool peplos over-dress
  • Earthy green wool peplos over-dress
  • Tan wool apron with coils
  • Tan wool under dress
  • Fringed shawl in any of the colours

What’s next?

I’ll continue with a few more blog posts to look at other costume ‘wardrobes’. 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!

2 comments on “Finnish Costume Capsule

  1. Very intriguing. Lovely Finnish costumes. Thanks for sharing!

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