Since we began our journey back in October of 2005 (a bit earlier for me, but that's when you joined me on the road) my feelings on several aspects of this art & craft have changed. The five central tenets of my costuming mantra have not... let us review:
1. Good garb feels natural when you’re wearing it.
2. Good garb won’t kill you to wear in the August heat.
3. Good garb is clothing you won’t hate putting on in the morning.
4. Good garb is just as durable as the other clothes in your closet (or better).
5. Good garb weighs style against wearability and strikes a healthy balance.
Over the years, I've added a few addendae to support and expand-upon the central philosphy...
Nomenclature: I like the word "Garb" and use it in part to differentiate between my everyday street clothes and what I make for reenactment and/or faire. Another period-correct word offered up by the venerable OED is "Duds". I use both, but mostly I call it 'garb' or 'clothing'. I generally shy away from "costume" because I don't like the immediate association with Halloween despite its literal definition.
Handsewing: I made this doublet entirely by hand so it's not a question of ability it's a matter of the best-application of a finite resource: time. I actually like handsewing now that I've accustomed my hand to it. But I lack the time for such efforts. So I will use handsewing when it suits my whims or if it would be too obvious otherwise. Long or turned seams usually go under the frantic needle of the hotrod.
Period Perfection: All of the clothing I make is based upon historical paintings and patterns (where possible). Unlike many who perspire over handsewing and 100% period fabrics, I tend to focus more on the overall “feel” and the correct “look” of a garment. This makes me a heretic in some circles. I am comfortable with that.
Garb Engineering: My wife is an engineer. Certain terms have bled into my sewing vernacular, like "Prototype" and "Beta Test".
All of the clothing I make is Action Garb.
If I could have one overall effect on the historical costuming community, it would be this: The items we are making were the everyday clothing of the people in the historical era we are portraying. (That's tenets #1 & 4 if you're playing along at home.)
People lived in the stuff we're imitating here. The chased lovers (and were chased by lovers if they were lucky), coddled children, fenced, swung from chandeliers, quaffed ales, guffawed hearty guffaws and generally lived full active lives in their clothes... their garb. Sometimes I think we forget that in our blind pursuit of what we allege to be 'period perfection'. It is possible to "be period" and be comfortable at the same time. Even in nobles. What good is garb that looks fabulous, is made of expensive period materials, and is as uncomfortable as the Iron Maiden? If you can't feed yourself, looking pretty won't do you any good. (We lose more nobles that way)
The best advice I can think of is... Don't fret so damn much. This is supposed to be fun. Attain the look. Make it wearable. Make it comfortable. Don't stay up nights worrying about it.
A thousand “Garb Snarks” just began gnashing their teeth as I wrote that, but it’s how I truly feel. (And stop that. It's bad for your teeth!)