I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy adult dress up games. I play in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) and I want to get back into LARP (Live Action Roleplay). My husband is a proper geek so I expect to do some cosplay (costume role-play, usually dressing up as a particular character) and I have dressed up as a Vulcan before for a Star Trek convention my sister and I went to. Then, there’s Halloween. I mean, costume opportunities are practically endless!
These hobbies have inherent problems for a Vegan. For example, in the SCA, stress is put on traditional materials for garb and props. These are commonly: leather, fur, wool, silk and linen. Linen is produced from flax and is the easiest swap for us plant-based people. However, I’ve also found it necessary to sew up at least one set of Viking garb in cotton (which is an anachronism for the period of time I portray, but refer back to the name of the club), because a friend of mine is very allergic to flax.
(The ideal here is to look for plain-woven muslin with uneven warp and weft to simulate a more homespun/home-woven appearance, but finding this is tricky. My last cotton purchase I may have to send back because it is too “finely”, that is it looks too machine woven.)
It has been my practice in the past, as a vegetarian, to limit my animal-based clothing to costumes. And so, I have collected items with wool, silk, fur, leather, feathers, horn, and bone. Oh, and a tooth!
Now that I’m making the switch to veganism, I’m uncomfortable with this arrangement. Obviously, I won’t be stocking any new materials made out of these things. With what I already have, I will be looking for replacements and then gifting the replaced items to my large circle of non-vegan friends who, I’m sure, could treasure these items.
My intent here, is to provide the fellow costumer and vegan some ideas for all-vegan costumes.
Polar fleece is actually a pretty good replacement for wool. It’s warm even when damp and has a wool-like appearance. (Watch out for sitting too close to the fire pit though!) Now, polar fleece can release micro-plastics into the ocean so I don’t give this solution without pause, but I find it an acceptable replacement in the few places I really feel wool would be necessary (I expect to use it for cloaks, winter hats, winter hoods, and winter coats.)
Horn and Bone
In many cases where there was a historical use for horn and bone there will also be wood finds for the same objects. Wooden bowls and spoons and needles and hair pins are just as historical, in most cases. Lilac wood also resembles bone if the examiner does not look too closely.
Also, metal, amber or glass can take the place of horn and bone in some cases. An example might be fore jewelry and hair accessories.
The obvious switch here is to use faux fur. I actually have found some faux-fur blankets that make great cloaks and were much cheaper than buying specifically faux-fur fabric. You might also find some in used clothing shops. Since fur in costumes are often just draped, organically cut shapes, it is easy to cut these as you like with a minimum of sewing.
Be careful, sometimes labels can be misleading or false. Brush the “hair” back to see to the surface it is attached. It should look like fabric and not skin.
There is faux-leather, but unless you have the old-fashioned sewing machines, I would caution the do-it-yourself approach. I would buy faux-leather garments with an eye to whether they would work for costumes before trying to sew my own.
I do have an old-fashioned sewing machine and may attempt this, but this remains an untested idea at this point.
There are plenty of fake feathers to use for hair ornamentation, but the problem here is really about my archery gear. I have real feather fletching and do not yet know if there are any feathers available that mimic this look and toughness (the feathers used are only the first few flight feathers). Of course there are rubber vanes for those not too particular.
Anyway, I hope this is useful for you and please write in the comments below if you’ve got vegan costuming experience so that we can learn from each other!
Until next time, keep that talk walking!