How to Dress Renaissance

Why I Dress in Renaissance Clothing

huntress costumes, archer costumes, woodsman costumes

Several years ago, I went on a date that I wasn’t exactly excited about. The guy was a nice guy though, and what he suggested as a date intrigued me a little. He said he was going to take me out to a bow and arrow shooting range, where I could learn to shoot a bow. As a kid, I had learned to shoot a small rifle at summer camp. I figured shooting a bow wouldn’t be too far of a stretch, so I took him up on his offer. This is how my interest in the Renaissance era began, and how I got involved with dressing up in Renaissance clothing.

During our date, I was having a great time. I was shooting a bow that looked like it came straight out of Robin Hood’s hand. It was a simple bow, nothing fancy. But the effort it took to shoot an arrow on that bow was extensive, and I gained a lot of respect for the hobby. The people at the shooting range were extremely nice and welcoming as well, and the whole environment around me was interesting enough; something I was enjoying. I was invited to join as staff at an upcoming Renaissance fair in my area, and I excitedly committed myself. I was told about the manner of dress that was required and what I’d have to do while I was there, so after I went home that day I immediately began thinking of the clothes I’d like to wear to the fair. I didn’t know anything about it before I began my research, but what I found was pretty interesting.

I was shopping online for female renaissance costumes, and what I found myself attracted to in a costume surprised me. The dresses–typical of the time for young women–really left nothing to the imagination. The chance to wear something like that for a while excited me. I also loved the colors and long flow of the dresses I saw, so I picked something. Four hundred dollars later (!) from an online renaissance store, I had a wench costume that pushed my girls up to the sky, with a dress that bared my shoulders and part of my back. The bottom of the dress was long and flowing, but even with a good lining underneath the dress hugged my body seductively as I moved. The dress came with a substantial cloak, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. I had never, ever worn anything like this before, and after trying it on and seeing myself in this dress, it felt sexy and a little liberating. I was taken far back in time, and I looked amazing doing it.

At this time in my life, I was young and attractive. The dress accentuated this fact. The renaissance fair was a lot of fun because I got to look like someone I didn’t look like normally, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly.  Everyone at the fair looked great and was having a great time. Even the worst pirate costume looked like a lot of fun! As one of the best looking wenches at the fair, I can felt like I stole the show!

Anna
Ye Old Renaissance Shop

How to Dress Renaissance

Why We Love Wenches

wench costumes, pirate wench costumes, beer wench costumes

Are you considering going as a wench this Halloween to a party or other Halloween event? Wench costumes have many uses, offering tons of flexibility (beer wench costumes, or pirate costumes, as well as other medieval costumes.) Here’s why the wench costume is so great and why this costume makes an excellent outfit to wear.

Wenches Want Variety

Wench costumes have so much variety that it’s almost endless.  Here are some ideas to get you started. You’re only limited by your imagination when it comes to these costumes. Wenches and peasants tend to land in the following three categories:

  • Beer Wench Costume – Think of tight dresses here or a very short skirt. A beer wench costume can be very sexy. Long boots are ideal and props such as a plastic beer glass or a beer shaped purse. A lower top with some cleavage can also be very attractive. Feel free to make the outfit your own.
  • Pirate Costumes – The pirate wench lets you go wild. Think of fun hats or an eye patch. You can use dresses or a bit of leather and be sure to have some boots too. Lots of color will make you stand out in the crowd. Props like swords can also make this type of outfit great.
  • Medieval Wench – There are tons of wench ideas when it comes to medieval costumes and renaissance clothing. Ideas can include a peasant girl, or damsel in distress. Longer skirts work well here or shorter if you’re m?re daring. Plenty of extras such as hats, stockings, and gloves will also make these types of outfits great. Use capes and cloaks to give the outfit a bit of extra style and use your imagination.

Wenches Want Accessories

The renaissance is one of romance and endless mystery. Think of very colorful hats and makeup as well as fancy hair. Gloves work well and you can have very tight fitting outfits. Make the dress fancy and go with lots of frills. Wigs and other props also work great.

Another thing that makes the wench costume so appealing is that you can customize the outfit will all sorts of extras. Think hats, gloves, stockings, swords, eye patches, fancy wigs, colorful makeup, and whatever else you can come up with. Try to add your own personalized prop to make the outfit your own unique creation.  Aim for plenty of color and variety in the costume for something that looks amazing.

Wenches Are Sexy

The wench costume is a very alluring costume because it’s the fantasy of every rogue to have a beautiful woman by his side. The rogue is also always chasing after the wench he can’t have. Creating a wench costume also allows you a lot of flexibility, allowing you to do what you want with it. If you want a longer skirt you can do that or you can go short. There are many props you can use and the outfit could be a fairy, witch, barmaid, pirate, peasant, queen, fair maiden; or whatever else you can come up with.

We Love Wench Costumes!

We love wench costumes because they have so much variety and you can make them sexy if you want. There are tons of choices and the costume you go with is really all about what type of mood you’re in. Enjoy!

David
Ye Old Renaissance Shop

How to Dress Renaissance

Go Medieval This Halloween

medieval halloween costumes, renaissance halloween costumes

The medieval era has always had a bit of mystery to it. The knight in shining armor and the damsel in distress are images we think of when it comes to the medieval times. The castle with a king and queen and the loyal subjects are other similar images. This Halloween, consider going with a fun medieval costume and celebrate this era.

Medieval Costumes

Whether it’s a renaissance festival, costumed occasion or Halloween a fun medieval costume is an exciting way to celebrate these events. You have many options to choose from such as a pirate, a peasant, or a princess. There are many medieval costumes you can use to create your own themes and you can use props such as hats, gloves, a sword, or other items to make it unique and fun. Capes and cloaks can add a bit of mystery to your costume and you can also replicate the look of those medieval and renaissance times.

Costume Ideas

  • Wench – You have a lot of variety with wench costumes. A lady can make it sexy with long stockings and show some skin or wear a full-length dress. You have fun with hats and make the costume your own. Go a bit daring with a shorter skirt and let your imagination run wild.
  • Pirate – Take to the high seas in pirate renaissance costumes. You have many options here with capes and cloaks. This costume can be worn by both males and females and designed to suit your own tastes. Swords and other props such as an eye patch are essential for the pirate costume.
  • Peasant – Peasant costumes might seem boring but you can make it sexy too with a long dress or a shorter one.  Have the hair done in braids can make for a nice touch. The men can go as medieval farmer. They can wear longer jackets or dress like a castle squire with a pointed hat. Boots can also help to round out this type of costume.
  • Medieval Soldier – This costume is for the guys and they can wear all sorts of armor pieces such as a shield and mail coat and of course have a sword. These are the perfect costumes for rescuing th? damsel in distress and taking her back to your castle.
  • Princess or Queen – The ultimate medieval costume is to dress like a king or queen. Hats are essential here to round out the costume. Think of long flowing robes and the ladies will want to wear colorful and pretty dresses. Cloaks and capes will work very well with these types of costumes.

Many Costumes to Choose From

You’re only limited by your imagination when it comes to medieval costumes and renaissance costumes. This era has so much intrigue and mystery that it makes for a great costume. It’s not just for Halloween anymore as many people recreate the events from these ancient times though festivals and re-enactments. Let your imagination go wild as you browse our renaissance store and have fun with these costumes.

How to Dress Renaissance

5 More Uses for Your Renaissance Costumes

larp costumes, live action role play costumes, cosplay

So, you’ve decided to get a costume and attend renaissance fairs all season, but what do you do with your costume once fair season is over?  Spending all the money and time crafting the perfect and authentic costume doesn’t have to be wasted on a costume that’s only worn once or twice a year!  Here are some other opportunities to indulge your costume bug during the rest of the year.

Halloween

This is an obvious one, but why put the effort into thinking of a good costume when you already have one?  If you really don’t want to wear the exact same costume all the time, you can change up a few accessories or colored tops but when you have the basic dress or men’s wear, might as well use it as much as you can.  You can always make it spookier by taking a non-authentic renaissance piece, ripping it and putting fake blood on it and layering it over your costume. Also this is the perfect time to buy alternative pieces to wear with your costume to renaissance fairs next season!

Live Action Role Playing Games

Most live action role playing games (LARP) are set in the renaissance or have a medieval feel to them.  These types of gatherings are for the serious renaissance dressers with well thought out, accurate costumes.  If you get involved in these gatherings, it requires great commitment so be prepared to make one.  The people involved in these games are also admirers of the period; their clothes and way of life. If you decide to take part in this, you will not only get to reuse your costume many times but you will learn so much about the period you are emulating!

Theater and Choir Productions

Obviously if you enjoy dressing up for renaissance fairs, you enjoy the theatrical side of life.  So why not make it a year-round thing?  If you get involved with a theater or choir company production, you could get paid to wear your costume at work!  This is also a great way to get inspiration and alternate pieces for your costume.  Some theater companies pride themselves on the medieval or renaissance themed productions they put on and would only be too happy to have an amateur professional come on board to help maintain the authenticity of their production.

Public Storytelling

Children respond to characters and appearances, that is no surprise.  You may not think children’s interest is related to your renaissance costume, but it is.  Since most adults don’t relish dressing up as we renaissance folk do, there is a short supply of adults who will willingly dress up and put in the effort.  Even kids can see effort in costumes and appreciate it.  Libraries that host story times would be delighted to have someone come on board that not only loves to dress up, but has the resources and clothes to do it.

Medieval and Renaissance Weddings

Alright, this one isn’t for everyone but if you’re into renaissance fairs, then you know other people that are.  If you know other people that are into that, then chances are you’ll be invited to at least one renaissance themed wedding.  If your costume is of a person lower on the social ladder, you may have to pick up a few pieces suitable for a wedding. Already married? Have that 10 year anniversary coming up? Have fun with it and renew your vows, renaissance style!

 

No matter where you decide to wear your costume outside of the renaissance festival circuit, be proud of what you’ve put together and have fun doing your new found activities during the fair off-season!

Allie
Ye Old Renaissance Shop

How to Dress Renaissance

How to Accessorize, Renaissance Style

renaissance store accessories

Getting or making a costume for a renaissance fair can be complicated enough but that’s only half of it!  After you decide on what costume and what class you would like to go as, you now need to decide what jewelry and accessories to wear to match that your costume. The renaissance brought jewelry in a new style and even new materials.  This time brought a new found appreciation and love of jewelry and for those who created it. For instance, the queen was especially fond of jewelry and would give it as gifts and rewards.  Her adoration of jewelry ensured every person in the court was appropriately decorated; even men were included in the wearing of appropriate accessories.  Every social class has jewelry and accessories that they could afford and it’s important to keep these things in mind when dressing for your renaissance fair, costume party, re-enactment; whatever your event.

Peasants and Paupers

Peasants were the working class of the renaissance.  As it stands to reason, this class of people was generally not rich enough to afford any jewelry or accessories to adorn themselves with. They would have their heads and hair covered with fabric, their clothes made of sturdy natural fabric that would allow for growth yet would be lasting.  Their clothes would be simple and so their level of accessories would match their clothes.  Coin purses would be made from fabric scraps sewn together.  Any jewelry would likely be made out of natural materials: wood, hemp, stone, etc.  There are two different levels of peasants, however.  The upper level peasants would be denoted by the possession of hats.  Not hats of fabric but straw most likely with a hat pin.  Their purse to carry money would likely be made of leather with a matching belt.  These peasants would be slightly wealthier than other peasants and—though they might possess jewelry made of metal—their jewelry would likely not include any precious stones or materials.

Gypsies and Pirates

Gypsies and pirates of the renaissance wore very mismatched accessories in every way.  Often they made accessories with things they found or stole, so the accessories of these types of renaissance figures are  often mismatched and oddly placed.  They wore everything they owned so they would make necklaces into belts or anything else they needed.

Lords and Ladies

The middle class dressed as fancy as they could afford so they could fraternize with nobility.  There is a great difference between the accessories of the peasants and the accessories of the middle class.  The middle class could afford more luxurious fabrics and more elaborate dress cuts and silhouettes.  These people could afford ribbon pieces to adorn their hair with and they would have jewelry that was made of metals and precious stones, though smaller quantities and smaller stones than nobility.  They would be adorned with necklaces made of pearls or possibly pendants and jeweled rings. Their hats would be made of fabric or felt and have brooches or feathers adorning them.  Men would wear swords and decorative chains with gems in them.  Men would also wear rings with jewels in them.  The details of the dress, especially for men, would change based on the kingdom they resided in.

Kings and Queens

The noble class and the royals would dress best of all.  The jewelry and the clothing would be the most ornate here.  The hair of nobility was decorated and dripping with strings of pearls and jewels.  If royals covered their hair, it was a piece of velvet adorned also with jewels and gold.  The sleeves of the dresses and shirts of the nobility would have embroidery on them with black thread most likely and have gems and expensive pieces of metal attached to the shirt as part of the design.  Even the closures on the dresses for the royals were ornate because they had servants to help dress them.  Dresses and shirts would be trimmed with ribbons and in the winter, fur.  Jewelry for the royals was usually matching between necklaces, earrings and brooches.  Necklaces for the nobles were long and accented the jewels all over the body and the sleeves of the dress.  The most notable aspect of the nobility jewelry is that it was all personalized with initials or a distinctive pattern on it.  Rings of nobility were mostly cameos and rather large gemstones, these rings often had secret compartments underneath them.  Bracelets and earrings were also worn by members of court in various settings; earrings were long and geometric usually and long.  Bracelets were mostly made of beaded pearls and gems.

Allie
Ye Old Renaissance Shop

How to Dress Renaissance

Capes and Cloaks; Form and Function

renaissance store cloaks capes

Capes and cloaks can add an air of mystique to any costume or outfit.  While there is an undeniable function and effect that wearing a cape or a cloak can have, it is important to understand the difference in cloaks and capes that make them fundamentally different.

Capes

A cape has no sleeves, and goes around the shoulders and the back of the person wearing it.  The major difference here is that a cape goes only goes partially down the back; usually to the shoulder blades.  Capes fasten at the neck and were made of better, more lavish materials than cloaks and so they were the more fashionable choice.  Capes fasten at the front of the wearer’s neck and generally don’t cover much around the front of the person.  Capes, though seen as more fashionable than a cloak, are of the most basic design allowing someone with basic skills to craft one.  The fashionable aspect of the cape lies in the material used to make it.  Capes can be decorated with trim and collar decorations or even fur.

Cloaks

Cloaks, alternatively, are designed for function.  They are made to fit long, loose and flow around the wearer to protect them from the elements.  A cloak also fastens at the neck but usually has a hood and fasteners down the front of the garment.  Cloaks almost always have a hood attached as this offers better protection from the elements.  Usually, they were made from heavy fabric to repel water and may be lined with something softer than the shell material.  Cloaks needed to be composed of a lot of material so they could cover many layers of fabric underneath.

The Comparison

Cloaks and capes can add an air of authenticity to a medieval costume.  These were what people of that time period used to shield themselves from the elements.  Cloaks and capes, though also denoted the class of person wearing it, as told by the fabrics and variety of cloaks and capes worn.  Lightweight fabrics in the summer and heavier, lined fabrics in the winter and always matched to the clothes of the person underneath.  Capes were meant for warmth, whereas cloaks were intended to keep the wearer warm and dry.

Cloaks and capes may have denoted class but when used in productions like today’s movies and plays, they often mean much more.  They can imply magic; they can give an idea to the personality of the character who is wearing it.  Cloaks that are to appear formal should be made from luxurious fabrics, these cloaks are not for looks but for appearance.  Often these elegant cloaks were made with even more fabric and pleated around the wearer.

Costuming Tip: While cloaks and capes are a popular choice to add to your renaissance costume, you want to ensure the fabric matches your outfit and the season—and most importantly—the class you are dressing for.

Remember: Cloaks add an air of mystery and drama, while also providing warmth and protection from the elements of the weather.  Capes tend to be slightly more refined and fashionable.

Allie
Ye Old Renaissance Shop

How to Dress Renaissance

The Finer Points of Women’s Renaissance Clothing

womens renaissance clothing, gowns, dresses, bodices, chemises

When dressing for a renaissance fair, or attempting to portray a woman from that time, there are some definite key elements that should be observed when putting an outfit together.  For the most part, the Renaissance was a time about displaying wealth through clothing.  The history around the era sees a renovation of the classes of society and with the rise of the merchant class, status was bragged over and displayed through what men and women were wearing.

The Renaissance still had varied clothing that ranged from peasants to elaborate merchants or royals.  Typically, the fabric in the renaissance was vibrant yet dark with long trains of fabrics and always adorned with layers of extravagant jewelry. The  color of dress that a  woman wore was indicative of her social class.  For example, red clothing was worn by nobility.  Because of this, it is important when dressing to observe the role and class you are dressing for and pick an appropriate color.  Women’s clothing was extremely layered, often with more than 5 pieces: underskirt, hoop, skirt, vest, bodice, stomacher (a veering for the bodice) and collar.

Clothing of Renaissance Princesses and Queens

The gowns that women wore over their chemise came in one piece as a dress, or in two pieces and were always worn over a corset.  Dresses were usually pleated or gathered over the bust and then belted.  Two-piece outfits, the skirt of which was completely gathered, were laced up the front or side of the garment.  The necklines of the dresses were another very important part of the renaissance clothing for women.  Mid-renaissance found necklines on dresses rounded but high on the neck.  Near the end of the renaissance, necklines were low and square or v-necked, held together with lacing.

Usually the type of occasion was understood by the amount of jewelry a woman was wearing, the type of fabric used in the dress and the amount of lace detail on the dress.  A more casual outfit for women was an underdress and an outer dress.  The underdress was one piece of fabric, with a semi-fitted silhouette.  The outer dress was sleeveless, often tied right under the bust so the sleeves and hem of the chemise dress were visible.  The neckline of the outer dress was a wider square than the underdress with also wider sleeves.  The important details when choosing a costume, is making sure that the sleeve puff and the neckline match.  In the renaissance, the fashionable neckline and sleeve width changed based on who was ruling and what the time period was.

Clothing of Renaissance Wenches and Peasants

If you are dressing the part of a peasant, that has a specific look too.  Peasants usually wore clothing that was utilitarian and made of wool.   Though the fabric was not as colorful, vibrant or elaborate, peasants wore several layers of clothing also.  The layers of peasants were comparable to that of the women of nobility but substantially different in quality.

Renaissance Accessories

Women wore lots of jewelry, the more layered and ornate the better.  Jewelry was worn at all times but especially for certain occasions or celebrations.  Headdresses were an important part of women’s fashion in the renaissance.  Veils, hoods and pieces were all incorporated into outfits, allowing hair to peek through, and were usually adorned with flowers, lace or jewels.  The most famous headdress of the renaissance is the pointed cone style with the hair pulled out of the point and then braided or bundled.

When choosing a medieval costume for a renaissance fair, be it a princess costume or a wench costume, ensure historical accuracy by paying attention to necklines and sleeve widths.  Keep wench or peasant costumes minimal and utilitarian and ensure that costumes of nobility are opulent and decadent.

Allie
Ye Old Renaissance Shop

How to Dress Renaissance

Why You Should Visit a Renaissance Festival

visit renaissance festival

Renaissance festivals are slowly becoming very popular across America, Canada and Europe. But what are they and what is the appeal? A renaissance festival is like any other festival, but with a twist. A renaissance festival will differ from standard festivals by having a touch of spice or Gothic adventure about them. Renaissance fairs are outdoor festivals where people gather to dress in renaissance clothing, enjoy the medieval atmosphere, buy medieval wares, talk with funny accents and generally have fun mixing, socializing and partying with other like-minded folk—who also happen to be wearing renaissance clothing.

Some of the costumes typical to a renaissance fair are medieval costumes similar in style to those worn by the Prince Regent, Queen Elizabeth I, Henry VIII, Mary, Queen of Scots and William Shakespeare or similar. When you turn up to a renaissance festival you should wear the right clothing. Not all renaissance fairs require you show up in period costume from medieval times.

Additionally, the theme to some renaissance festivals may vary. For instance, some renaissance festivals may have a pirate theme, which would obviously place more emphasis on putting together a pirate costume. (Read How to Dress Like a Pirate) Pirate costume renaissance fairs have sprung up across America following the successful film trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean, starring Johnny Depp.

Dressing up is not mandatory when you attend a renaissance festival but it is recommended! How much more immersive does your visit to a renaissance fair become by playing the part and getting into the attire?

Medieval costumes are easier to come by than you might think. Fancy dress costume shops often stock something from the medieval period. Perhaps a Mary Queen of Scots or a Queen Elizabeth outfit may not be available, but it is always fine to simply turn up at a medieval renaissance fair as a wench or fair maiden.

In attending a renaissance festival, the emphasis is on fun! Simply keeping in period costume is all you need to consider. To get some ideas for renaissance costumes, shop around and see what’s available.

Tip: Remember, the nobility always wore rich fabrics and long dresses and peasants or poorer folk wore plain black and white colors, tending toward shorter hemlines and top lines.

Again, the emphasis is on fun! Attending a renaissance festival is a time to relax and socialize! Enjoy!