So you are going to have or be a St. Nicholas—where or how to find a costume? Costumes can be bought, made, or borrowed. Professional costume companies are one option for complete outfits, or just specialized parts like the cope and miter. For church use, basic pieces may be borrowed from a church's basic vestment supply, such as an alb and stole. However, it is important that St. Nicholas be clearly different than a real bishop. So it isn't particularly recommended to use real bishop's vestments. A bit of fantasy is good for St. Nicholas!
Whether you make or purchase a costume, these are the parts you'll need:
• Basic garment (alb, long tunic, or cassock), may be trimmed with wide lace if not using a surplice
• Surplice (loose shorter garment worn over cassock), optional, usually trimmed with wide lace
• Stole (long, narrow scarf)
• Cape, cloak, or cope, may have optional capelet
• Crozier (staff)
• Gloves, ring, pectoral cross, optional
Click for our complete costume pattern
Cloak or cape
Complete instructions with cutting layouts
Tops to make a crozier easily are available in our shop.
Another way to make a costume is to adapt commercial costume patterns to create the basic parts of a St. Nicholas costume. There are usually patterns for capes, with or without a capelet. A basic gown or tunic may be adapted from patterns for nativity figures. Vestment patterns may also be found in vestment pattern books.
Simplicity 5840 includes a cape with a capelet option.
Butterick B5441 includes two miter patterns.
Vestments for All Seasons by Barbara Dee Baumgarten, Morehouse, 2002, with graphed patterns & directions for a dalmatic/tunic (basic garment) & stoles. Purchase from amazon.com, amazon.ca or amazon.uk.
Costume shops sometimes have costumes, or, maybe, bishop's costumes that may be modified to make a St. Nicholas.
Vestments from Poland
For a professional look a number of St. Nicholases have found quality, affordable St. Nicholas vestments from Poland on eBay. One such seller I've heard good reports about is Ackermann Liturgical Vestments. Copes, miters, stoles (often come with the cope), chasubles and albs are all available. You'll probably want to look at red copes and miters.
If you have good experiences with other sources, please to tell us and we'll list them.
A friend has an extra, brand new, red cope and stole from Poland. If you are interested in purchasing them at cost, email for more information.
Suggestions for How to Have a Festival
from the St. Nicholas Society in England