6th Century Kentish Anglo-Saxon

saxobrit“Why don’t you just wear an apron dress?”

As much as I love the SCA I believe that our current method of making/wearing the Viking Apron Dress has sort of become short-hand. We don’t seem to be really concerned with whether it’s “authentic” or not. The evidence I can find for/about the apron dress is very very minimal. It’s hard to justify a tailored fitted apron dress when it’s based on an archeological find of a scrap of fabric ~10 inches square. That’s just a HUGE stretch. Regardless it’s happening.. and it’s common enough that it’s accepted.. but I’m just not sure it’s “right”.

So okay, fine. I’m tired of dressing up like viking barbie.. and rather than fighting the good fight.. and attempting to do Viking more authentically I’ve decided to go a completely different route and dig into Anglo-Saxon clothing. More specifically the clothing styles that would have been worn in Kent (south eastern England) in the 6th century.

“Ok, well that explains why Anglo-Saxon.. but why Kent specifically?”

I’ve had the two common books about Anglo-Saxon clothing(Dress in Anglo-Saxon England and Cloth And Clothing in Early Anglo-Saxon England, AD 450-700) for a while.. I’ve even skimmed both of them. But once I really knuckled down and started reading through the information I was -stunned- to see first of all how much information there was out there about Anglo-Saxon clothing.. and second of all how much very specific information there was about the peculiarities of clothing in 6th century Kent.

Early Anglo-Saxon clothing is nice.. I do kind of envy the Saxons and Anglians for their spiffy wrist cuffs.. but the general consensus is that they were wearing a peplos over a tunic. Now I don’t care what you do.. unless you’re a skinny little thing there -no way- a peplos is going to look attractive. BUT the more I looked the more I noticed that things were a little bit different in 6th century Kent.


Specifically:

From Rogers, Penelope Walton. Cloth and Clothing in Early Anglo-Saxon England (p 190).

A: Kentish Dress Style III – a garment with a vertical front opening clasped by two brooches, one at the throat the other centre-chest, and worn with a buckled belt.
B: Kentish Dress Style IV – the same as Dress Style III but with the addition of a front-opening coat or jacket on top. The coat/jacket was fastened by a pair of crossways bow brooches, either at the waist or immediately below, the jacket being worn outside the belt. The women used both imported and Kentish-made brooches to fasten these garments and bordered the front edges of the jacket with their Jutish-style tablet weaves.
C: Kentish Dress Style IV worn in the Merovingian style

I MEAN COME ON!! Pretty ornate oversized gold pins plus tablet weaving.. plus brocaded tablet weaving.. plus beads.. PLUS you get to wear something tunic shaped.. and honestly tunics are a WAY better shape for me than a peplos.

Add to that.. if you wear a tunic without an apron dress you’re “vaguely early period”. If you wear a tunic with a jacket with 4 uber-spiffy pins you’re documentably 6th century Kentish. The idea absolutly curls my toes. What’s not to love?

Seriously, have you looked at the bling?

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