Druid Robes
A look at Druid clothing in history, how ceremonial clothing is used by present-day Druids, and ritual clothing tips and resources.

Historical Druid Clothing

Depictions of Druids from the Early Revival Period

There is limited information on what the ancient Druids wore. Greco-Roman, Medieval Irish, and later Irish and Scottish folklore sources indicate Druids wore white garments (not robes- this resulted from a mistranslation from the Roman historian Pliny’s account).

There is more data for what the Celts generally wore, and it is likely Druids would have worn a tunic and cape and/or tunic with a skirt. Regardless, there is little definitive evidence about what Druid clothing specifically consisted of.

Starting in the mid 1600’s CE and in the United Kingdom, Revival Druidry visualized their own romanticized versions of what the ancient Druids looked like. They came up with their own style of Druidic garb, which generally included bleached white, full length robes and sometimes the use of a nemyss (a type of ancient Egyptian head covering). (Some Druid orders and the Golden Dawn tradition still use this ‘traditional’ ceremonial clothing.)

The early Revival Druids also believed in and held public rituals (documented with photos in the early 20th C), and currently there are large cultural Gorsedd festivals where participants wear the ‘standard’ Revival white robes.

The slide show in this section shows images of Druids from over 100 years ago, and they are still in common usage. These images don’t accurately reflect the ceremonial garb of most modern Druids, but do illustrate the stereotypes about what Druids wear.

RESOURCES

Druidic Vestments-Llewellyn Encyclopedia. A quick, to the point overview.

‘Celtic’ Clothing (with Greek and Roman Influence) from the Iron Age-a Realistic View Based on What We Know (29 pages). A very nice survey of recent research, with photos.

War, Women, and Druids- Eyewitness Reports and Early Accounts of the Ancient Celts By Philip Freeman. This book looks like it could be a good general resource on the Celts.

Druid Ritual Clothing Today

Do you have to wear a robe as a Druid or to be in a ceremony? No. Many people wear robes to remind themselves that they are about to enter ritual space and time.  (But Druids will also often tell you that they can perform ritual without external trappings.)

Some groups will encourage wearing ceremonial clothing for special occasions- like Order anniversaries or initiations. Most of the Druids I’ve come across in the United States are fairly casual, and seldom get concerned about wearing the same ‘uniform’.

Here are some examples of modern Druids in their ceremonial wear, mostly from the last decade in Ireland, the UK, and the United States.

OTHER DRUID ROBES INFO

Symbols of Druid Identity– by Isaac Bonewits (on ADF uses).

Druids and Their Robes – by John Beckett. Several Druids talk about the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’ of our robes.

Ritual Clothing Examples

Finding Your Ritual Clothing

Clothing Types

 Some ‘how-to’ articles and pattern suggestions to get you started.

178px-Odin_disguised_as_a_TravellerRobes tend to be fuller in the body, so the drape of your fabric will be important.

Let’s Make a Simple Ritual Robe and How to Make a Robe Without Even Sewing

McCalls 3789– Medieval Wizard Robe / Jedi Tunic

Butterick B5626 – Unisex Robe and Collar

McCalls 4627 – Knights Templar /Monk Robe (Monk’s robe with or w/o hood, capelet, and tabard)

Mcall’s M2339 – Christmas Robe (includes simple men’s tunics & open tunic)

McCall’s M4091 -Misses’ Chemise In 2 Lengths (an interpretation of an Irish leine)

Tunic_Greenland_before_1400Tunics & Tabards tend to be slimmer in the body, so fit is important.

One easy way to make a tunic: use one of your loose t-shirts as a pattern for your tunic.

Echna’s Celtic Re-Enactments Clothing Page – information on leines, cloaks, tunics, etc.

How to Make A Quick & Easy Tabard or T-Tunic– by Vaargard Malorius

McCall’s M5683– Misses’/Men’s Medieval tabard and tunic

Period patterns #16– Tunics

McCalls 2665– Mens Medieval/Reniassance slightly fuller tunic, vest, pants

wizard-145431_smlCloaks are very full, and work best with fabrics that drape well and are heavier in weight.

MoiRandall – 1300 – 1900 Cape Collection

Period Impressions – 1770’s Cloak with hood

McCalls 3339 – Medieval Wizard Robe & Cloak

Simplicity 9887 – Medieval Robe/Cloak

Early_Medieval_woman's_costume_from_behind

Shirts, vests, jerkins (like long fitted vests, some with sleeves), and the like can be layered.

Butterick 4828– Men’s Medieval Doublet & Shirt

Alter Years easy peasant/servant jerkin

A do it yourself open long maxi vest

Using a large pinned shawl for several styles of wrap tunic, etc.

An online search for ‘Druid robes for sale’ now yields many sources of ritual wear.

You can also search for tunics, robes, tabards, etc. Suppliers can also be found on venues like Etsy or Ebay, where they are more likely to make you a custom piece.

A favorite fabric arts store of mine has a simple hooded white poncho that I have seen worn to good effect in ritual: Dharma Trading poncho.

ROBES

178px-Odin_disguised_as_a_TravellerRobes tend to be fuller in the body, so the drape of your fabric will be important.

Let’s Make a Simple Ritual Robe and How to Make a Robe Without Even Sewing

McCalls 3789– Medieval Wizard Robe / Jedi Tunic

Butterick B5626 – Unisex Robe and Collar

McCalls 4627 – Knights Templar /Monk Robe (Monk’s robe with or w/o hood, capelet, and tabard)

Mcall’s M2339 – Christmas Robe (includes simple men’s tunics & open tunic)

McCall’s M4091 -Misses’ Chemise In 2 Lengths (an interpretation of an Irish leine)

TUNICS & TABARDS

Tunic_Greenland_before_1400Tunics & Tabards tend to be slimmer in the body, so fit is important.

One easy way to make a tunic: use one of your loose t-shirts as a pattern for your tunic.

Echna’s Celtic Re-Enactments Clothing Page – information on leines, cloaks, tunics, etc.

How to Make A Quick & Easy Tabard or T-Tunic– by Vaargard Malorius

McCall’s M5683– Misses’/Men’s Medieval tabard and tunic

Period patterns #16– Tunics

McCalls 2665– Mens Medieval/Reniassance slightly fuller tunic, vest, pants

CLOAKS

wizard-145431_smlCloaks are very full, and work best with fabrics that drape well and are heavier in weight.

MoiRandall – 1300 – 1900 Cape Collection

Period Impressions – 1770’s Cloak with hood

McCalls 3339 – Medieval Wizard Robe & Cloak

Simplicity 9887 – Medieval Robe/Cloak

SHIRTS & JERKINS

Early_Medieval_woman's_costume_from_behind

Shirts, vests, jerkins (like long fitted vests, some with sleeves), and the like can be layered.

Butterick 4828– Men’s Medieval Doublet & Shirt

Alter Years easy peasant/servant jerkin

WRAPS

A do it yourself open long maxi vest

Using a large pinned shawl for several styles of wrap tunic, etc.

BUYING

An online search for ‘Druid robes for sale’ now yields many sources of ritual wear.

You can also search for tunics, robes, tabards, etc. Suppliers can also be found on venues like Etsy or Ebay, where they are more likely to make you a custom piece.

A favorite fabric arts store of mine has a simple hooded white poncho that I have seen worn to good effect in ritual: Dharma Trading poncho.

General thoughts on Druid robes and clothing

Consider the environment you will be wearing your garb in. Will it be-

  • Hot, or cold- dry or wet; outside in the brush, or by a fire; sunny or windy?

What are your logistical and practical issues? Ritual clothing doesn’t have to be a long, cumbersome robe – a shirt, tunic, or short robe may be more practical. Do you need-

  • Pockets or a bag for your daily or ritual uses? (A tunic over jeans might work better, if so.)
  • To be able to easily transport the garb? (Perhaps in a friend’s vehicle or on public transportation.)

Are there any cultural or societal issues? Do you need to consider-

  • If you will be in a public place or in a public ritual? (Being subtle may be better if so.)
  • If in North America, could your garb be confused with the regalia of the Ku Klux Klan (a racist organization that wears bleached white robes with pointed head coverings)?
  • If your garb appropriates the cultures of others? (Note: most of the clothing suggestions here happen to be found across cultures.)

Practical Advice

I strongly recommend the use of natural fabrics for ritual clothing. They tend to wear well, are easy to sew and repair, breathe in hot weather and keep you warm in the cold, and are less likely to catch on fire and/or melt on you. This includes – cotton muslin, denim, broadcloth and similar fabrics; silk, especially silk noile (AKA ‘raw’ silk); wool (if you live in a place that is still cool enough to wear it); and linen.

Be creative in finding and using your fabric. Cheap fabric can be found online. Muslin is inexpensive just about everywhere, especially if you can use the heavier unbleached drop cloths at hardware stores.  Large bedsheets (new or used) can be used for fabric, either for your final product or to make a pattern for a test run before you go out and buy expensive material. Be aware that some fabrics- like thin white sheets- will not be opaque and your clothing underneath will show through. (I really recommend doing test runs, especially if you have limited sewing experience, are experimenting with patterns, or trying to figure out what style you want someone to make for you.)

Consider the different ways you can use your chosen clothing. After realizing many of my summer rituals would be out in 90-100+ degree weather, I came up with a cooler method of wearing my long robe- I push the sleeves inside, secure the robe at my neck, and wear it open like a cape with cool clothing underneath. (This has worked out quite well.) To deal with our changing weather, some people just use capes with seasonally appropriate clothing underneath. Kilts can be warm or cold, depending on fabric and on whether they are worn with or without tall socks and/or boots. Some people will use a basic tunic, which they layer with tabards/jerkins, shawls, etc. There are lots of different ways to make your clothing work.

My Robes


Northwest California, US (September 2006).

Northwest California, US (September 2006). This is a full, belted robe. I made it out of off-white raw silk (silk noil), based on a choir robe pattern. ( I started with a pattern similar to this one.) Instead of putting in the sewn in front pleats I left them out and added a hood. I then lap over the two sides and wear it with a belt. I’ve used this robe for over a decade and it is still in excellent shape.

Your author at the Hill of Tara, June 2004.

Your author at the Hill of Tara in Ireland, June 2004. I made this open robe without a pattern. It has pleats at the shoulders, and is made of 1940’s green and rose colored shot silk. The robe was easy to transport, but the antique fabric is weak now.

 
Publication Info

This Druid Robes page was originally published on December 20, 2015.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *