Poor Freyja! More than any other goddess, she’s been subjected to the strippers-with-swords treatment in contemporary art. But those deformed creatures with giant implants and chainmail bikinis bear little resemblance to the great Freyja, Lady of the Vanir, chief goddess of the Norse pantheon. Freyja is certainly very beautiful—she is, among other things, the goddess of love—but she’s not naked. She wears a fine gown, the magical necklace Brisingamen, and a cloak of falcon feathers that enables her to shapeshift. She’s also a goddess of warriors, and dons helmet and armor for her forays onto the battlefield. (She gets to choose half the slain for her afterlife world of Fólkvangr, while Odin picks the other half to go live with him in Valhalla.) Amber and gold are sacred to her, and all the wild things of nature are her domain. Her preferred mode of travel is in a chariot drawn by two cats, though she occasionally rides through the air on a golden-bristled boar.
Our costume is sort of a fantasy Viking mash-up of these ideas, though regrettably we are unable to include the cat chariot or flying pig. The pieces we suggest, from left to right:
1. Simple medieval chemise. This is for your base layer. You could also just wear a long sleeved white top from your closet and a white maxi skirt, since your mid-section will be completely covered up by the apron dress (#2). You’ll have some kelly green ribbon left over from trimming your apron dress; use it to trim the cuffs of your chemise or top. You can attach it with Res-Q tape.
2. No-sew Viking “apron dress.” This goes on top of your chemise. It’s nothing more than a yard of fabric wrapped around you like a bath towel, with the straps pinned on. The corset-style breastplate (#3) is what’s going to hold it all together and give you shape, so you don’t have to sew anything. We give you instructions below and a diagram on how to decorate your yard of fabric with faux fur, ribbon, feathers, and amber beads.
3. Breastplate. This corset-style breastplate is wonderful but expensive: 90 bucks. However, don’t despair if this is out of your price range! You can make your own with a longline bra and some metallic spray paint. Seriously, this works. You can get an inexpensive bra like this or recycle an old one. Then cover the whole thing in a coat or two of metallic spray paint like Rust-Oleum Aged Brass.
4. Three sprays of artificial pheasant feathers. Tape these inside your breastplate/corset so that they fan out below like a skirt.
5. Valkyrie helmet. We started with a plastic Thor helmet, and then improved the color with Krylon Fusion Blonde Shimmer spray paint on the wings and Rust-Oleum Aged Brass spray paint on the top. Then we wrapped some black faux fur trim around it (left over from trimming the apron dress) for a fabulous fantasy Viking look. An alternate choice is this beautiful but rather expensive metal winged helmet from the Village Hat Shop.
6. Brisingamen. Freyja’s prize possession is her magnificent necklace Brisingamen, which was forged by dwarves and imbued with all sorts of magical powers. It’s described as being made of fine gold filigree with amber and rubies, so you’ll want to wear something pretty elaborate. The piece we suggest has the right look.
Making the “apron dress”: This is by no means a proper Viking apron dress; it’s just a no-sew imitation. All you need is a big rectangle of fabric, 60 inches wide by 36 inches long. Use adhesive tape or glue to attach ribbon trim, faux fur, and beads to the fabric. Then wrap it around you like a bath towel and pin in place. The two straps are made from metallic ribbon and feather fringe, and then just pinned on. What you need:
- One yard of 60″ wide green taffeta fabric
- Two yards of 4″ wide black faux fur trim
- Two yards of kelly green metallic ribbon trim
- Three yards of 2″ wide metallic ribbon trim (two yards for the bottom of the dress plus another yard to make the shoulder straps)
- One yard of 6″ feather trim
- One package of imitation amber beads
- Res-Q tape, extra wide (1.5 inches) (this is for attaching the faux fur and ribbon trims to the fabric)
- Jewel-It Embellishing Glue (this is for gluing the amber beads on top of the kelly green ribbon)
- Safety pins
Illustration credits: The central image in our main illustration is by Jen Delyth, and depicts Yggdrasil, the cosmic World Tree in Norse mythology. The four rectangular images are all details from larger paintings. Clockwise from top left: 1) detail from a vintage Liebig Company trading card titled Freya, Göttin der Liebe; 2) detail from Freyja and the Necklace (1890) by James Doyle Penrose; 3) detail from the Freyja card in the game Age of Mythology; 4) detail from Valkyrie (1971) by Konstantin Vasiliev.