What is true and what is accurate is always up for debate and historians are always learning new things, but we did want to include some measure of this in the Garb Guide
It would take entire teams a very educated people to even approach being able to state whether all of the garments we have in the SCA are accurate or not. To this end we have gone with is a description of the known source material, the Confidence we have in the information that was provided to us. To us the statement of highest confidence is to say that there is an Extant Example. An example of this is the Saint Louis shirt in France. That is to say a surviving example of this garment exists and has been studied.
Related to this is when an Extant Fragment of an original garment survived. An example of this could be the Thorsberg trousers. This can however refer to a mostly intact garment, a garment with enough intact to decipher the seams and construction, but also very small fragments.
A step below that is that an Image Example or a representation of an example of this garment has survived. Items like the Cotes worn in the Gaston Pheabus hunting book show this. This could include statues, paintings and illuminations. However many of these images are subject to a greater degree of interpretation and are not as reliable as extant examples. Many times artists are trying to communicate deeper meanings and more information with their art and this can distort the interpretation of the garments represented in the artworks.
Beyond this are items where there is little or no evidence for their existence. One of these positions is a Speculative Reconstruction. This commonly happens on undergarments which are rarely described and rarely survive. We may know through descriptions, references in literature or even inventories of household items that they existed but we aren’t 100% sure of how they were made.
Other theorized garments include items of clothing where very little of the extant example has survived. Examples such as the very popular Norse Hangeroc or the Eura Grave 56 find are based on a few tiny shreds of surviving fabric and some crude sculptures. The scant evidence is one of the reasons you can find a lot of variation in these garments in the SCA.
Another tag that we have used is No Evidence. By this we mean that we were not provided or are not aware of any evidence that supports this reconstruction.
We have included some entries in the Garb Guide that are Fantasy Garment entries. These are things that people have made, often tied with groups outside of the SCA or related to some movies, that are completely made up or simply inspired by history rather than trying to recreate it. One example of this is the Bliaut-like garment used in the Princess Bride. Remember that it does fulfill the idea of an attempt at medieval clothing and so can be worn at events, but it should not be claimed to be based on historic evidence,
Another designation we use is Out Of Period, often abbreviated by members of the SCA as OOP. This is to say that something is from a time after the 1600’s CE (the actual limit is sometimes listed as 1600 CE, 1603 CE, 1633 CE sometimes 1650 CE. We will generally stop at 1600 CE.) An example of one of these garments are some styles of kilts. Although popular among some in the SCA they are Out of Period as most references to the kilt they choose to utilize come from the 1700’s CE or later.
Knowledge of History is Always Changing. All of us continue to learn more and our understanding of the past evolves. Please forgive us if some information that we, or our contributors, have provided is out of date or lacking.
We do hope that everyone can join us on the idea that whatever level of accuracy people strive for, this does not diminish the amazing work done by the crafters and makers within the SCA as they continue to learn and grow as artisans