Let me just add that I have absolutely no problem with traders who choose to wear costume for any reason, (whether because they're wearing they're product, or because they like to add to the atmosphere).
What I resent is the implication (sometimes more than that) that because I choose to dress in modern clothes, my costumes are bad.
"Dressing" my stall is very important and I see myself as part of the overall effect. In my opinion, if you are reliant on customers who do not know you or the quality of your goods/research, you are selling yourself as well as your goods.
Have you asked yourself what a potential customer (who does not know you or the excellent quality of your goods) thinks about a trader who does not use their own product.
I take considerably more care in presentation than most of my competitors.
I'm not selling myself - I'm selling clothes.
Fortunately, my work speaks for itself - my customers don't need to see me in the costume, because the quality is blatantly obvious when they look at a piece (or so I'm told), and my research is obvious by the pile of books on the table at any given time.
I'm also lucky enough to be able to operate by reputation and recommendation.
The fact that historical clothing is cumbersome, and when I measure people it is extrememly physical, and I spend a good amount of time tripping over skirts if in kit, also plays a large part in my choice against costume where possible.
Besides, what makes you think that me being in modern clothes means that I'm not
wearing my "product"?
On the other hand if you are in civvies you can become your own "crowd" and thus attract people to your stall by "feigning" interest. A customer browsing your stall gives passers by an indication that they can do the same and that there might be someting interesting there.
Good marketing perhaps, but quite dishonest, and unlikely that I'd do it.
That said, I don't really have to, as the friends dropping by for a chat normally cover that area!!
My personal take on this one is that by agreeing with an organiser to take a pitch at their event as a Historic Trader, you are implicitly agreeing to be part of that event, and to provide that event with extra colour and spectacle.
I'm not, (unless a requirement, as stated above), I'm agreeing to turn up and sell stuff.
To be honest, if the organiser wants me for me in kit, and not for my work, then they can pay me as a demonstrator.
And yes, the Battle of Tewkesbury was in the middle of the 15th century. But the Fayre is advertised as generic "Mediaeval" . OK it's important to keep battle dress accurate (it seems that the wearing of woad has finally been outlawed), but the rest of the show is not exactly Living History, is it?
Which is a fine attitude to have, given the poor organisers keep trying to make the event more C15th, and seem to keep hitting brick walls. (Admittedly the hippy fest down the road don't help...)
As I said, I have no problem at all with traders who choose to, or like to work in kit - but just because I prefer not to, doesn't mean my work is substandard, or that I don't care about it (if I didn't care I wouldn't work for 60 hours striaght to get something finished).