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Based on Aragorn’s battle outfit from ROTK, I designed my own Gondorian Soldier’s outfit.
I decided early on that I wanted the surcoat to be in red, to match my vambraces. A lucky find in my local discount fabric store was two meters of red wool broadcloth, in exactly the right shade, for £6. I snapped it up.
The design is a simplified version of Aragorn’s white tree design; I left off the stars and just embroidered the tree on in white cotton.
Constructing the surcoat itself was actually pretty easy; the front and back pieces were rectangles with a little shaping at the shoulders and a neckline cut away. I added a standing mandarin collar and sleeve caps on either side (both constructed with an inner of black velvet and sewed in together) and then decided I wanted to line it.
Taking out the last of my beloved stash of black velvet, there was just enough left. I lined the whole thing by hand, and when it was done it STILL didn’t look finished. I’d flirted with the idea of gold trim on the collar and sleeve caps, and now it was nearly done it looked like it needed the trim all the way round.
Using a reel of gold crochet cotton, I made my own trim using finger braiding. After making miles of the stuff, I sewed it down by hand onto the edges of the surcoat, adding more around the inside of the sleeve caps and the lower edge of the collar.
I tried it on. It looked pretty good, but still wasn’t fancy enough.
The next bit took some thought, and some input from my friend Catherine. Eventually we decided that what it needed was a ‘Boromir Suit’ – a variant on the wine-red silk tunic that he wears in FOTR – but probably in gold.
I bought a meter and a half of gold/amber two tone silk dupion (£15 a meter! Eeek!) and very hastily started making the sleeves. They’re elbow length tube sleeves, beaded with silver seed and bugle beads, sewn into star patterns around the lower edge and studded all over the upper parts of the sleeve. When they were done I made a very simple open fronted tunic with what was left of the silk, and sewed the sleeves in. There’s a mandarin collar with little silver stars along it.
Wearing the Outfit
I started with my blue cotton shirt and grey trousers; I may get round to making some kit-specific ones at some point, but I actually quite like the colour with this outfit. I added a pair of what I suppose are technically spats – they started life as a pair of long green boots, but then the soles fell off and I cut off the feet, making them into green studded leather leg-warmers (mmm…).
Then the mail went on. Rather than my usual scabby ring-mail, I borrowed a set of shiny silver chain, which while much heavier than mine is smoother and comfier to wear, even without an arming jacket. That belted around the middle to keep some of the weight off my shoulders.
The silk undercoat went over that. The sleeves were about an inch shorter than I’d thought they would be, so the mail shows underneath, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Then the red surcoat went over the top of that, and it got pretty hot all of a sudden.
My leather accessories were made by my friend Mike, and consist of pretty much a straight copy of Boromir’s vambraces with a belt to match. The helm was inspired by the early Gondorian stuff at the beginning of FOTR, and is surprisingly comfortable.
I love this kit. It took a long time, but it was worth it in the end.
Check out more of Jude's work
See even more of Jude's costumes <here>