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Getting Started in Authenticity-Focused Civilian Reenacting:

Whether you're "coming over to the dark side" from the mainstream end of the hobby, or new to reenacting altogether, we hope that the following information will be of use to you. In joining AGSAS, we DON'T require that you have the right gear to start out with -- the most important thing is having the right ATTITUDE. This doesn't mean you can wear any old thing to our events. Rather, we will help and advise you in getting your gear together and if one of our members is the same size, possibly arrange loaner gear. We DO have a mentoring program for members and prospective members of AGSAS, so don't be afraid to ask questions.

The Core AGSAS Impression:

Although many of our members portray a variety of social classes, we ask that in joining AGSAS you first focus on what we call the "Core AGSAS Impression" -- portraying the average middle to working class folk of rural Virginia.

The main items of clothing you will need for this core portrayal will then give you a base from which to build other impressions, for portraying wealthier or poorer people.

Follow these links for information on what to get first for your core impression and optional extras for upgrading and expanding your impression later:

Men's ClothingWomen's ClothingChildren's Clothing

Further information is contained in our Standards Section. Recommended suppliers can be found on our Vendors lists. The men's, women's and children's sections above contain links to various helpful online resources, including free patterns online.

Non-Clothing Items You Will Need:

  • Something to Carry Things In: Many of the events we attend involve being in a town or in a rural setting that is fairly spread out, not just one location such as a historic house. For events of this kind, you will need something to carry your things in. Market baskets are the cheapest and easiest option, although they are over-represented at events, probably for this reason. A better option would be a carpet bag or period-styled valise of some type. Reproduction cloth duffle bags are underrepresented and we'd like to see these reproduced more as a cheaper option to carpet bags. We do NOT want to see military styled haversacks carried by civilians, particularly women, as these were military issued items.
  • A Water Container: At events that are fairly spread out geographically, you might find yourself away from any sort of water source and it is smart from a health standpoint to have some kind of water container. We do NOT want to see military-style canteens carried by civilians unless there is a specific scenario-related reason for you to have military equipment on your person. Good options include glass or stoneware bottles or jugs, wicker covered bottles, water gourds. This is particularly necessary for refugee impressions. When portaying a refugee, a pre-Civil War styled canteen, such as an ancestor might have carried in the Revolutionary War, might be acceptable as you might have elected to bring such an item knowing you'd be on the road.
  • Something to Drink From: Soldiers' tin cups were largerly a military item although they did exist in a civilian context. A better option would be a ceramic mug or cup for hot liquids or a period-patterned glass (you can get modern ones that are the right style) if you will only be drinking cold beverages.
  • Something to Eat From: A plate in a period appropriate pattern (white ironstone, transferware, etc), plus a knife, fork and spoon are needed for events where we will be eating.
  • Bedding: For overnight events, bedding of some kind will be needed. Standards for bedding vary from event to event. If you don't already have bedding, your best option is to get gear that will meet authenticity standards at ALL events. As the very basic, you will need one, preferably two period-plausible blankets, and for your own comfort a pillow is recommended, although if portraying a refugee on the road, it might not be possible to carry one of these. Unless you are sleeping indoors, quilts are not the best option as they soak up moisture from the air and ground. For indoor events, or for "camp of convenience" tents, a mattress tick will be useful and empty ticks can be filled with straw at events where straw is provided.
  • Floorcloth(s): For a refugee impression, we also recommend one or two painted floorcloths, as these can keep you dry in the same fashion as a soldiers gum or tarred blanket when used as a groundcloth, and a second one can be used as a roof for a makeshift shebang. Increasingly, we are doing events where we get to sleep in period or reproduction buildings.

Getting Beyond the Gear:

OK. So you're all dressed up in the right stuff. You've got the basic items of gear you need to be able to eat, sleep and function at an event. Now what do you do? Visit out "How To" section for information on first person interpretation techniques (it's okay to be shy!), society and culture in the 19th century and period crafts and occupations to round out your impression, so that you can aim to be authentic inside as well as out.