What is a Tabard?

A tabard is a two-panel garment that covers both the front and back of the body. Historically, it was emblazoned with the wearer’s coat of arms or other identifying mark. It’s fastened with ties on the side or with waist bands that tie in the back. It is similar to a cobbler apron, and in fact the British use the word ‘tabard’ when they are speaking of a cobbler apron.

Having enjoyed wearing tabards in the past, I’d been futilely searching for one for some time. I finally found a pattern (circa 1973 or so) via eBay (I know it’d be easy to make a pattern but finding a pattern seemed easier!) and had a seamstress sew a reversible tabard for me. (yes, my mom sewed, and yes, she attempted to teach me, but it didn’t take) Anyway, I love it and hereby announce my intention to lead a tabard revival.

The main selling point of tabards is their flexibility — you can wear them over pants or dresses or over skirts. The added layer provides an additional opportunity to play with texture and color and it can also serve as sort of a mega-modesty vest.*

The tabard. A garment for our time.

*What’s a modesty vest, you ask? It’s a vest worn over a blouse or dress, giving the wearer double coverage, thus ensuring modesty.

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