Every day, I need to be sensible about what I wear and what I do throughout the day. This is a good time of year, before it gets warm and busy, to think ahead about what will help keep you comfortable. Here are some things that help me:
As I spend most of my days going in and out of a house or shop, wearing a fashion bonnet, I find a veil is extremely helpful. An every day veil protects my face from the sun, acting like sunglasses would. (It can also protect against dust as well.) I find white can give some glare on particularly sunny days. Black and green seem to temper the sun quite well. (Though, I have noticed a green veil can play with the light, mimicking what happens when I get a migraine) Some worry about a veil trapping in heat. I have not found this to be the case. Veils, whether silk or net, breath nicely and are light enough to let air pass under it.
Similar to a veil, a parasol lets you bring the shade with you. I find a parasol quite nice for walking from one end of the village to the other. It can shade the face, neck and shoulders as needed.
For working days or days I may be outside more than inside, a sunbonnet is a must. Sunbonnets can be corded or slat. They are practical for the sun and for the budget. They can also be made with a sheer or an opaque fabric. Personally, I prefer a corded sunbonnet as it is light weight and gives me good sun protection for my face.
I find open weave or sheer fabrics help a good deal. Even though most of my body is already covered by my chemise, corset, drawers, etc., having the sheer allows air to reach my neck, shoulders and arms, giving me more comfort. This may or may not be significant. But, I feel as though there is a difference.
Stockings that are not tight. This may seem like something little, but it makes a big difference. To me, the fit of my stockings is far more than whether they are wool or cotton. A properly loose wool stocking gives me less of a heat issue than a too tight cotton stocking. Mind you, when I say “properly loose”, I don’t mean baggy or ballooning. I mean it slides on and off comfortably, there is no constriction, the garter holds them in place without needing to be overly tight.
Meals seem to be important for many reenactors. This isn’t really the case for me. I do better with eating light and fresh food as a grazing through the day and, of course, staying hydrated. Fresh food, preferably local, with lots of water, ginger beer and/or shrub keeps by insides happy. I’m a big fan of cherries, berries, apples, pears, peaches, hard boiled eggs, bits of cheese, molasses cookies, some pickles and soft, moist bread. Some people are particularly fond of pickles as a hydration indicator due to the vinegar content. (A little warning: Don’t eat a whole jar of pickles if you are prone to water retention and will be sitting most of the day. The results are less than pleasant.)
It has been hard, but, I am coming to know my limits. Ten years ago, I would have scoffed at the thought of limits; limits would have been a challenge. Just look at the photo of me trying to help push a wagon. The process to learning my limits has been highlighted with broken bits of me and the occasional emt. Now, I know I can not spend hours in the mid-day sun setting up or hauling heavy boxes down stairs to the car. I also can not trek across an event mid-day to get to an activity or even to lunch with friends. Early morning or late evening set-ups are easier on me, as are later afternoon or evening activities away from ‘home base’.
EDIT: I forgot to mention sunblock. Yes, it is a modern item. Yes, you should be using it. I recommend transferring some to a small tin with a secure lid. For me, a shallow tin 2-3″ in diameter works nicely. If you have multiple tins to carry, remember to label them.
EDIT 2: Here are some photos of one of the veils I use. This is one Bevin made me. The silk gauze breathes nicely. This sorta shows how this is attached. There is a cord run through the top. The ends of the cord are pinned into the bonnet. A couple points are pinned along the top as well.