Viking costumes for men are dime a dozen in the market these days. If you are in search of an ensemble for the next party or SCA event, you shouldn’t have any issue finding one. Still, it helps to go into such events looking as authentic as possible. This blog is intended to give you a clearer picture of what Viking men wore in their time and which we hope will help you stand out in the crowd, turn heads, ooze rugged Norse charm. (If you want to know about Viking costumes for women or get the general gist of Viking wear of that period, you can read this blog.)
For the upper body, Viking men wore the overtunic known as the Kyrtill. Typically constructed from wool, the patterns were surprisingly complex. Several pieces were cut from the fabric and sewn together, all done in a way that very little was wasted. The upper portion of the tunic was somewhat tight-fitting, with the sleeves (longer than today’s shirts) providing freedom of movement. The length ranged from the thigh to the knee, and a longer tunic meant a richer Viking. On warmer days, the tunic was tucked into the belt.
What about pants? What did Viking men wear? There was apparently no fixed style. Tight. Baggy. The Vikings it seems were no-fuss people. Some trousers were simple in design. Others were relatively more elaborate, with gores around the crotch area for better movement, built-in socks (think children socks) and belt loops round the waist. Pants lacked pockets and flies which meant relieving oneself took a little more effort. With the lack of pockets, everyday items were carried in pouches and around the neck or suspended from belts or brooches.
Cloaks were a necessary part of Viking outfits as they protected from the cold and also the rain. Typically, they were made with dense, thick wool for extra protection. They were worn in such a way that the arm used to wield the weapon was left unrestricted and free. A pin at the shoulder held the cloak in place. A common style was the brooch, which was often highly decorated. These pins were designed quite creatively for its time. Some were made of bone, antler and wood; whereas others were crafted of iron and bronze with some displaying elaborate gold jewelry.
Caps were integral in the cold terrain. They were fashioned of wool, leather, sheepskin, and fur. Some featured ear flaps for extra warmth. The typical way to make a cap was to sew four or more triangular pieces together. Another head covering was the höttr that was worn for protection against harsher weather. This headwear covered the head and shoulders, much like medieval-period hoods.
Shoes were made using the turnshoe technique, in which the uppers were sown to the sole and then turned inside out. This meant that the seam was inside the shoe making it less vulnerable to wear and tear. These shoes probably lasted a few months before being replaced. Most Viking shoes were of ankle height, though longer shoes have also been discovered.