Eyeglasses are not commonly seen in period photos, especially not in combat units. For those who must wear eyeglasses, acceptable styles are limited to round wire frames, or alternately, rimless glasses.
Wristwatches began to be common in the first years of the 20th Century; First World War soldiers were more likely to have a pocket watch, however. By the Second World War, wristwatches were becoming universal. Bands were in leather or metal "twist-o-flex" and the dial was a simple one with either Roman or Arabic numerals. Day/date features did not yet exist. Non period watches should not be worn.
Wedding bands may be worn on the right hand by married persons (this is the opposite of North American practice); otherwise it is best not to wear jewellery with re-enactment uniform. Military regulation forbids the wearing of any other jewellery.
Seek to portray the rule, rather than the exception. Document your sources when you adopt a uniform, insignia or piece of equipment. One photo of one man "somewhere in Normandy" from an unspecified unit wearing a rare piece of equipment is generally not sufficient grounds for a re-enactor to adopt the wear of the same piece of gear. Be specific in your research.
Don't be a "Farb"
The term "farb" has gained universal use in the re-enactor community. It is short for "far be it from me", the usual prologue to a detailed criticism of another re-enactor's appearance. It is now a noun meaning "poorly turned out re-enactor" not in terms of dress and deportment, but in historical accuracy and authenticity. Allowances are made in all re-enactment societies and organizations. Nonetheless, the acceptable standard of uniforms has raised considerably since the 1970s. While German re-enactors could once get away with poorly made Swedish conversions, the standard in most groups now is custom made reproductions. All re-enactors should strive to be as authentic as possible in terms of uniforms and equipment, while at the same time striving to preserve and keep safe from harm high quality, irreplaceable original items.
While away from the field, soldiers were obligated to present themselves as disciplined and well organized, to their superiors and to the public at large. Soldiers were ordered (and re-enactors should seek) to follow these guidelines of deportment:
- Outer garments such as greatcoats are either worn completely buttoned up, or else taken off entirely.
- Hands will be kept out of pockets.
- Gum will not be chewed while in uniform.
- Headdress will be taken off when in a mess or eating establishment, or for a church service. It will be worn at all other times, including when driving a vehicle.
- Soldiers will not lean against walls but will instead either sit in an appropriate place or stand erect.
- Uniforms will be kept clean and pressed; shoes and brass will be brought to a high shine with the use of polish.
- Re-enactment uniforms should not be mixed with civilian attire.
- Uniformed re-enactors should wear their uniforms at events, and when in transit to/from those events ONLY. Re-enactment uniforms are not appropriate attire for taverns or restaurants.
- Commissioned officers, whether in period uniform, or currently serving in the Armed Forces, are to be saluted with a salute appropriate to the uniform being worn.
- All NCOs and officers superior in rank, be they re-enactors or currently serving members of the Armed Forces, will be addressed to either by their rank, or (for sergeants-major and officers) as "Sir" or "Ma'am." Public officials will be addressed by the proper form or address as well (ie "Your Worship" for a Mayor, "Your Honour" for a Lieutenant-Governor of a Province, "Your Highness" for a member of the Royal Family, or "Your Majesty" for the reigning Monarch.)
- Members of foreign armed forces (whether re-enacted or currently serving) will also be paid compliments as outlined above.
- When addressing a superior, it is customary for a soldier to stand properly at attention
The main goal of re-enacting is educating people about military history. Some tips on interacting successfully with the public at large (including veterans):
- Thank people who pay compliments on your display or your appearance.
- Don't argue with people who say that you have done something wrong, even if they are incorrect.
- Don't use profanity.
- When talking to veterans, don't ask awkward questions; it is best to stay away from the question of killing people altogether. Do not expect a veteran to be overly interested in you until you have shown an interest in him; ask him when he joined the Army, how long he served, what unit he was in, and questions of that nature. Sometimes they will open up, some will not want to talk much at all. Respect whatever decision they make in that regard. Above all, listen to what they are saying. Do not argue with veterans, even if they appear to be wrong about something. Be sure and thank them for their service; they will not have heard it enough, even if they do act humble and tell you "it was only a job."
- Admit when you don't know the answer to a question. Do NOT make something up; it may well come back to damage your credibility. Some people enjoy asking obscure or trick questions to re-enactors out of a sense of superiority or mischief. Admitting that you do not know everything there is to know only adds to your professionalism. Your research may also be aided by having people tell you things you don't know already. Be open to this.
- In general, be polite, be receptive, and remember that a re-enactor's job is to convey his knowledge to the public, as well as be an ambassador for the unit he is portraying.