Order Robes for the Laurel in Caid

A group of people wearing blue velvet order robes with laurel wreath.

Order of the Laurel of Caid, many wearing their Order Robes.

Why are all those Laurels wearing blue cotton velveteen cloaks?

They are Order Robes, styled after those worn in the 15th and 16th centuries by various Orders of Chivalry.
~Eowyn Amberdrake

The point of the Order Robes was to give us more of a sense of one Order rather than individuals, and for the same reason we encourage everyone to come to the back of the hall when we are asked to attend the Crown and file up as a group.
~Gwendolyn of Amberwood

I am a Laurel. Those velveteen cloaks are Renaissance and my persona is not / I can’t afford to make something that expensive that would be worn only a couple times a year / I’m from another Kingdom and don’t understand your customs / The cloaks are ugly and I don’t want to wear one / Blue is so-o-o-o Not My Color. Am I going to be forced to make or wear one of those cloaks?

The really short answer is that you are entitled to wear whatever you wish, and are not required to wear anything specific.

Over the course of many years and discussion, a majority within the Order decided that it would like to have the option for Order Robes to wear during “official” functions–elevation of a candidate, swearing fealty, and Order presentations to the Crown. There was at no time any attempt or desire to compel members uninterested in the robes to acquire or wear one.

Those interested in robes discussed options (extensively), and decided that we wanted blue doubled white (the colors of Caid) with a large badge of the Order on the right shoulder, as shown in much of the documentation. We deliberately did not define cut or fabric. (We figured that a blue cloak lined in white with a laurel wreath on was enough to look like part of a whole, even if it wasn’t identical. Even kind of nifty to see representations of different periods and cultures.)

When enough of the Order developed enough momentum to actually want to make cloaks, some of us desired to have cloaks of the same fabric and the same, or very similar, cut. Again, we intended no coercion to those who didn’t want velvet or OOP laurel wreath lining fabric or a rather late-period European cut. But those of us who did want similar robes clubbed together to get the fabric at the same time (thanks to Tetchubah and her superior financial and organizational abilities). Further thanks to Louise, who drafted a standard robe pattern in three sizes, to Giles and Louise for turning their house over to the interested parties for several weekends, and the sewing members of the Order who participated in production-line robe cutting and sewing and helped along the non-sewing members. Truthfully, the only reason anyone has a robe is because we made it a group project.

So, a blue robe lined in white with a laurel wreath is a Caidan Order Robe; something else, such as an armorial cloak, is a Peerage Cloak, or perhaps an Order Robe from another kingdom.* Any of these are permissible and entirely welcome.
~Angelina Nicolette de Beaumont

What documentation? Where can I get a copy of it?

Compleat Anachronist #116 “I See By Your Outfit: Order Robes, Historical and Modern” is specifically concerned with the variety of historical forms taken by the Order Robes of the historical Orders of Chivalry. The style we have adopted is quite similar to that of the English Order of the Garter, and styled fairly closely to that used in the reign of Elizabeth.

Like most historical Order Robes, the badge of the Order is large, and placed over the left front, about midway between the collar and the waist — basically over the heart when the robe is closed.
~Éowyn Amberdrake, author of CA #116

How do the most common style of Caidan Order Robes differ from historical ones, and why?

The most commonly used pattern has been adapted from its closest historical analog by:

  • making the cloak a lot less full. It looks like the historical Garter Robes were gathered into the neckline, and modern ones certainly are. We made it less full for two primary reasons:
    • Caid in a time of global warming and an age of central heating is much warmer than England during a mini-ice-age, so we wanted less cloth around us.
    • Less cloth means the robe is less expensive to make
  • Making our order robes shorter than the historical ones. Ours only go to the floor. Elizabeth I’s Garter Robe had a 2 yard train, and the robes of the ordinary members clearly puddled on the floor. We made the robes shorter for the same two reasons as above, and to make them easier to deal with in crowded halls.
  • We don’t have different colored robes for officers of the order, because we do not have permanent officers of the order, and no one volunteered to deal with more colors and more cloaks.
  • Making a stand-up collar. Some Laurels chose to do a simple round neckline, which appears to be more common historically.
  • Adding the symbols of other orders to which they belong onto this Order Robe.
  • Embellishing the button holes at the sides, where the tassel goes through, with a remarkable variety of personal styles and decorations.
  • Choosing cotton velveteen instead of silk velvet, for its more reasonable cost, availability, durability, and easy care.
  • Using polyester Laurel wreath damask for lining, for its usage of our symbol, and again its relatively inexpensive cost and easy care.

~Éowyn Amberdrake

Is the Order Badge available in this large size, or do I have to embroider it myself?

You are welcome to embroider it. However, a laurel wreath was designed by Éowyn Amberdrake and is available from the local merchant who commissioned it, Lady Rouge.

Why did the Order choose blue and white instead of green and gold?

We chose that because a fair proportion of our number are also Companions of the Pelican, Chivalry, or Rose. We felt that by choosing the colors of Caid, the members of other peerages among us stood a fair chance of not needing to make an additional Order Robe in another set of colors. This also has the potential to be a visual unification of the Peers of Caid.

~Éowyn Amberdrake

So, are they worth it?

I know the cloaks are expensive, it takes time to make them, they are hot and heavy and we would wear them all of a handful of times a year. It can hardly seem worth the effort, especially if you feel less than enthused about the entire affair.

When we look at what they cost us as individuals- both financially and as a matter of convenience or comfort, we are missing another part of the picture.

My first experience with the Order cloaks was not as a Laurel. It was as someone sitting in the audience, being bored with a court that was much the same as any other of the hundreds and hundreds of other courts I and all of the rest of us have sat through. Then something very cool happened. I don’t remember if it was the Order swearing fealty to the new Crown, or whether you were elevating someone to the Order, or whether it was something else. What I do remember was a spectacular sight of a long line of Laurels processing up the isle, wrapped in a sea of blue. You guys looked stunning. You looked like what a peerage order looks like in my own fantasies of what the middle ages were like. You weren’t just a big group of people crowding your way to the front of the room to do some trivial bit of business so you could get out and go back to doing what you were doing before you got called to court. You were, in no uncertain terms, the Order of the Laurel of Caid, and Damn Proud of It. The effect on me, as part of a largely disinterested audience, was WOW.

If you are one among us who has decided not to make a cloak, for whatever very good reasons there are for not doing so, please think about the decision you are making. Not just for yourself, and not just for the Order, but for the impact it has for the overall look of the game we play. The Order simply looks remarkable in those cloaks. We add one more bit of what it takes to help those all too rare and magical times where the real world fades, and if even for just a moment, the game is a little more real.

They may be expensive and hot and a pain to lug around, but in my opinion, they are way more than worth it. Even for just a few times a year.

~Tonwen ferch Gruffydd Aur

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