How to Dress Renaissance

How to Shop for Renaissance Clothing

shop for renaissance clothing

Choosing the right renaissance clothing for any occasion can seem overwhelming. With so many different options to choose from, finding the right one can pose a challenge for a novice. Whether preparing for a renaissance fair or medieval-themed party, here are a few tips to consider when you are ready to shop for renaissance attire.

Before you begin shopping you will need to decide what you want to be. Should you dress up as a traditional peasant, go all out as a spectacular knight, or something a little more adventurous like a pirate? An important factor when making your decision is to consider your personality. Choosing a medieval character that matches your personality will help you to pull the ensemble together more easily. After all, you may find it difficult to pose as someone with an audacious spirit if you are typically a shy person. Go for a character you feel most comfortable portraying.

Medieval Costume Options

There are several different options available in renaissance attire. Once you have decided what to dress as, use these guidelines to help you shop for renaissance outfits.


If you have a modest personality and typically shy away from things that draw attention, a peasant may be the ideal choice. One of the key components to building your peasant costume is layering. A traditional peasant outfit consisted of multiple layers for both men and women. Peasant outfits were plain, sensible and undecorated. For the woman, her outfit might start with a chemise with bell-shaped sleeves and an underskirt or petticoat. Wear a skirt made of heavier fabric over the underskirt, followed by an apron and a bodice laced tightly over the blouse. For peasant men, wear a short tunic with a belt at the waist, atop shortened woolen trousers. Add a cowl or hooded cloak over the tunic, especially in cooler seasons.


If you are an outgoing extrovert, a pirate outfit may be more for you. Pirate costumes generally consist of a laced up blouse, buccaneer pants and knee-high boots. A belt that is worn around the waist would be designed to carry a sword. A pirate man or woman may wear a vest or a coat, a sash, a hat or bandana or any combination thereof.


A daring soul with a heart of gold might find a valiant knight to be an appealing choice. A traditional knight would wear a protective chain-mail undergarment. This was heavy and comprised of fine chain that was woven together. A knight’s outerwear consisted of a full plate metal suit of armor. Knights wore helmets that covered the entire head. They carried a sword and shield that displayed his coat of arms. Some knights wore capes or loose jackets that were also adorned with their coat of arms.


Someone who loves to have fun and entertain would make a great wench. In medieval times, a wench was often a servant in a local tavern. A medieval wench costume is quite similar to that of a peasant but with more vibrant colors. Wench costumes typically consist of a puffy-sleeved blouse—usually worn off the shoulders—beneath a tightly laced corset. The skirt would consist of two pieces; a traditional peasant skirt underneath and an additional skirt on top that was often worn in a gathered fashion.

Knowing Where to Shop

A key factor when it comes to acquiring your costume is finding the right place to shop for renaissance clothing. You can likely find a pirate outfit easily at any novelty costume shop but it won’t any true mystique of the renaissance era. For a more genuine costume, you will want to shop from a renaissance store that understands the medieval time period.

P.S.- True medieval clothing didn’t contain glitter and sequins like the modern-day costumes found in Halloween or party supply stores! Gross!

What you really want is a renaissance store specializing in medieval attire sticks to the classic fashions that were typical of the time period (we’re just sayin’.) Regardless of which character you choose to portray, the important thing to have fun while you shop for renaissance attire!

How to Dress Renaissance

Why Authentic Pirate Clothing Beats Your Cheesy Halloween Pirate Costume

authentic pirate clothing

Let’s face it. Buying a new Halloween costume year after year is ridiculous. You end up buying a silly costume every Halloween and are seldom the same character ever again, right? I finally got tired of it and resolved to build up an authentic pirate costume by buying authentic pirate clothing each year. One Halloween, I got it in my head to build up an authentic pirate costume by buying one or two pieces of authentic pirate costumes every year. I’ve never looked back.

Why Buy Authentic Pirate Clothing?

First, let me say boys, girls, men and women of all ages can dress up as pirates and pirate wenches. Everyone can play here. Look to the recent pirate movies and stories for inspiration and examples on how to dress up and act like pirates.

Secondly, there is no end to a good pirate costume. There are many components to creating real pirate costumes and you can keep adding layers to your pirate wardrobe, year after year.

And really, dressing up in real pirate clothing when your friends are in their lame $20 polyester costumes is a high. You already look good; now, next to those gaudy costumes, you look even better.

Getting Started with Your Costume

To begin, focus on clothes and accessories equally. Authentic pirate clothing is the most important part of your pirate costume. It is the foundation of your costume, so set yourself up properly.

First, explore your home, thrift stores, online renaissance stores and any local renaissance fairs for the best looking pirate clothing. For boys and men, start to look like a pirate by selecting black trousers (though gray and brown also can look good.) Tight pirate pants or really baggy ones that you can cut off at the knees can be perfect for your costume. Shred and scuff the edges to make for a ragged, authentic look.

For the ladies, girls and women targeting the pirate wench genre, a black skirt will be perfect, but maroon, gray or brown work well here too. As with the men’s pirate costumes, ragged those edges for skirts for the tattered, unkempt look.

Authentic pirate clothing also includes the simple, white shirt with long sleeves. Avoid buying too formal or dressy shirts for this purpose. Loose baggy shirts will give the perfect impression. Improve the look by leaving a few buttons undone at the top of the shirt. Maybe even cut off the collar if there is one. Real pirate clothing is never clean or tidy. So, use stained shirts with some cuffs or ruffles. Try to find a shirt in the Victorian style, which will be the most authentic pirate costume. Pair this medieval shirt with a black, brown or red vest, with stripes or without.

Pirate Costume Accessories

Pirate Boots

Accessorizing your pirate costume is wonderful way to look authentic. The first accessory that comes to mind while dressing up as a pirate is the boots. Find tall black boots to go with your black pirate pants. The most traditional pirate boots are the knee-high, leather variety that fold over at the top.

If you cannot find boots or they are out of your budget, you can try going for a pair of inexpensive boot covers (you wear them over your shoes.) Boot vendors at the renaissance fairs will shake their heads sadly as they watch you walk by, but chin up.. you’re just getting started, right?

Ladies, you have more flexibility in this department. You can go for high heeled boots, flats or extravagant leather boots to look like the perfect pirate wench.

Pirate Belts and General Bric-a-Brac

Big buckled belts in black or brown are perfectly suitable for authentic pirate costumes.

The sash is another great accessory. A bright red sash or scarf that is tied around the waist is a perfect pirate accessory.

A pirate hat or a bandana is an absolute necessity. A pirate hat—with a bandana under it—is the way of a real pirate clothing ensemble. A red bandana goes well with the entire costume. You can even sport a look with just the bandana and no hat.

Long hair is perfect for a pirate. Get your locks braided or add dreadlocks and add authenticity to your costume. Not that crazy? Do it to a wig. Men, grow some scruff before going out on Halloween or visiting that local renaissance festival. (Pirates don’t shave regularly.)

Jewelry is another accessory that forms a part of authentic pirate clothing. Pierced ears can sport large earrings in gold or silver color. Pirates love to flaunt their style, so add as much bling in the form of earrings, necklaces, beads and rings as you want.

Don’t forget to buy an authentic looking sword. Or, go easy and buy a toy pirate sword to be safe. (Besides, who wants to cart around that heavy thing all day? Just because a real sword looks sweet, it doesn’t mean you want to be tripping on it everywhere you go? Does it? Maybe..)

Where to Find Authentic Pirate Costumes?

Now that you know how to build an authentic pirate costume, begin by searching the local thrift stores, your old clothes and trunks, online renaissance stores, etc., for the perfect pieces to your outfit. Jewelry, hats, bandanas, shoes and clothes can even be found at garage sales. An online renaissance costume store will offer the real deal. From there, simply keep adding to your existing pirate costume each year and say good-bye to wearing cheap Halloween costumes!