by Seamas Mac Daibhid
Part I: How to Dress Mundanely
IN THIS ARTICLE, you will learn how small details and accessories can keep that mundane edge on even the most amazingly period garb. A relatively unimportant item of garb can set an entire royal court on edge, preserving that comfortable margin of mundanity that allows you to pursue attractive members of the opposite sex and eat fantastic meals with a minimum of intellectual and philosophical effort.
Don't try to wear everything here; just pick a few things that suit your spirit. That way you can annoy Laurels and freak mundanes with the same attire. Avoid the obvious, like Levi's or cargo pants or OD greens or old prom dresses. The idea is to satisfy Corpora's requirement of "an attempt at pre-17th century clothing" while still preserving your mundane aura. And always stand ready, when set upon by ravening peers, to plead, "But I couldn't find my ______, Your Excellency!" or, "I left my ______ at Twelfth Night!" No reasonable person could expect you to simply wander around ______-less, now, could they?
Disclaimer: "The Creative Mundane" is written and maintained by the dark side of my persona, a sour-faced, rough-voiced hermit who pesters innocent pilgrims with riddles. I disclaim all responsibility for anyone who takes his ravings seriously or who takes offense at his suggestions.
From the Ground Up
Shoes Try high-top athletic shoes, bright beach flip-flops, or fancy cowboy boots. Look for neon lacings or Velcro straps. Nobody notices things like plain leather boots, simple rope or leather sandals, or simple soft slippers, while dark hiking boots are politely ignored. (People will notice if you go barefoot, but that's definitely period.) If you wear moccasins, be sure to get the kind with lots of beaded fringe.
Socks Athletic socks, especially snow-white with a brand-name woven in. Also argyle socks, especially if you don't have a Scots persona. Most plain socks in subdued colors will escape notice, especially if you are wearing trousers, a long skirt, or high boots.
Belt Something with cows all over it and a Wells Fargo or Skoal buckle, or a military web belt. Ladies can go for a broad sequined belt with fake jewels. Avoid plain leather belts, woven belts, twisted ropes, and cloth sashes, or anything with a reasonably period design painted on or woven in.
Knife Skip over all the plain sewn leather sheaths and the wood-or-leather handled knives. Get a sheath with big shiny rivets that has "BUCK" stamped on it. Find a big Rambo knife with a sawblade on the back and fishhooks and line stored under the pommel (you know, that big chrome knob with the compass in it).
Shirt It's hard to plead that nobody had a tunic they could lend you. Instead, try wearing a very thin light-colored tunic with your favorite old Def Leppard T-shirt under it. Or try a tunic in Dayglo versions of your kingdom colors, or with a big map of the medieval world printed on the back, or a dragon eating a unicorn, or . . .
Watch Surprise! Watches are period. However, a big honkin' digital chronometer that beeps every hour on the hour isn't. Remember to keep your long sleeves rolled up while you wear it. Don't try the tricks of wearing a small watch on a chain around your neck, hidden inside your garb, or of keeping your watch hidden in a belt pouch.
Sunglasses Modern eyeglasses are politely ignored in the Society. But a good pair of mirrored shades can always irritate the forsoothly around you. Look for a really fancy Eurostyled pair, with multicolored lenses.
Hat or Cap All manner of felt and leather and fur hats and caps are period, along with hoods and veils and snoods and things I don't know names for. So you'll have to go for something definite, say a good cowboy hat with a rattlesnake band or a baseball cap with a patch advertising your favorite bait shop. Lord Edrei the Quiet suggests a baseball cap with your personal device embroidered on it.
Cloak Don't wear one! A good cloak can cover a multitude of venial garb sins, like those safety pins you put in the back of your neckline because you haven't got time to take in your bodice.
Other Accessories "I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Plastics." Plastic costume jewelry. Plastic flowers for your hair. A belt pouch made from an old plastic child's toy purse. Some of these can look good from a little distance, so you get to hear people's teeth grinding as they get close enough to make out the material involved. You can actually find good-looking stuff almost anywhere, even at Wal-Mart; the trick is to find things that look like they came from Wal-Mart.
Note: If you want a change sometime, try dressing up as your favorite character from Xena or your old Conan comic books. You won't look mundane, but you're still sure to aggravate every Laurel within spitting distance.