What do you want to wear?
The time period that the SCA covers is pre-17th century. It would be impossible to give you an accurate overview of everything that you could wear, even if I restricted it to just one country. Keep in mind that much of the information we have about the clothing of the early Middle Ages is sketchy because there only a few whole garments and lots of fragments of clothing that have survived.
The best suggestion is once you think about different types of garb, go to the library and find a general history of costume, and look at the styles there to see what you like. Some of the books are not particularly careful or reliable with the details of costume. The costumes pictured sometimes combine different elements from more than one drawing. This will give you a starting place, check books with period illustrations before starting construction of a new outfit. Your local Minister of Arts & Sciences will be able to help you find other sources.
What We Wear
In general, the T-tunic is based on what the Europeans wore during the Middle Ages; specifically those items in common use before 1300. As people get more experience with the SCA, they tend to concentrate their interests to a specific country and time period. If you've been to an SCA event, you'll notice many people in tunics that reach to the knee or longer, with long loose sleeves; worn over trousers or hose. Most medieval men wore knee or calf-length tunics over hosen. The Norse wore something similar to trousers; they were wrapped tightly to the lower leg with fabric bands. Medieval women wore a long tunic (ankle length). Both genders wore a white or ecru under-tunic and headwear. SCA people tend to wear boots or slip-on shoes. The clothing is often decorated with trim at the neck, hem, sleeve end, and often biceps (over a seam that falls on the upper arm). In the SCA, there are pieces of apparel that symbolize something about the wearer. Usually they symbolize something the person has earned—a title or office. Most of these items have a basis in the medieval sumptuary laws. If you avoid wearing these things, you can avoid many misunderstandings and hard feelings.
Unadorned chains are reserved for Knights and Squires. Anyone can wear chains with things hanging from them. Unadorned gold chains are worn by the Knights and unadorned silver chains are worn by their Squires.
Crowns, Coronets and Circlets
These are long necklaces that have cast metal squares connected by metal rings worn around the neck at shoulder width. Collars with 2” squares are for Royal Peers and Bestowed Peers. Collars with 1” squares are for a person with a Grant of Arms.
The weaves used, even early in our period are often quite complex. One of the most popular for the upper classes was a diamond patterned twill; the pattern of the weave makes diamond shapes in the fabric. In general, a woven geometric pattern that is symmetrical will look believable. "Don't think that you need to buy the most expensive fabrics such as linen, wool, or silk right away for your first garb. What you want to look for are fabrics that pass the "ten-foot rule". Does it look like a fabric that would have been used in period from ten feet away? When going shopping for the first time for fabric for your first garb take these things into consideration. Take a look at the fabrics you like and then take a look at the fabrics you can afford. Now narrow it down to those you like that you can afford. Happy shopping."
Easy Things You Can Do To Look Good
1. Wear more than one layer. Having extra absorbent fabric, such as linen or cotton, next to your skin in the summer will keep you more comfortable.
2. Use enough fabric. Skirts and tunics should have a fair amount of fullness at the hem; it makes it easier to move, and looks very nice.
3. Enjoy yourself! Garb is festive clothing, we wear it when we are going to spend time with our friends, doing our hobbies and other re-creations. Changing into garb can change your outlook on the world.