How to Dress Renaissance

William Shakespeare Wore Elizabethan Clothing And Wore It Well

When you are imagining the Elizabethan Era you would remember the elegant and beautiful garments that William Shakespeare wore.  Think about those insanely high collars that practically surrounded one’s head.  This was an era when fashion was taken to the extreme.  Remember the padding in various areas that made the body look contorted? That was often the case in both men and women’s clothing.

If you really want to dress up for that costume party or special event, this era will provide the perfect attire.  Remember those old paintings of Queen Elizabeth with her appearance so starched and perfect? That is the norm for this type of clothing.  Think about shoes that required button hooks to fasten, sporting very high heels and that’s for both sexes.

Women wore huge, heavy dresses that remind you of those heavy brocade curtains in the old horror movies.  Heavy red velvet, lots of lace and ribbon and those crazy collars.  The men of the time had it much easier and were often seen in a form of shorts that gave the appearance of really short pantaloons, very puffy and starched.  Under them they wore tights, sometimes very colorful tights at that.  A cape was often around the shoulders and the whole look topped off with a velvet hat with a very large, white ostrich plume attached.

One of the most uncomfortable aspects of Elizabethan clothing were the incredibly tight corsets worn by women of the day.  The idea was to squeeze the woman’s mid-section between fabric laced tightly up the back.  Often great force in pulling the laces and a huge deep breath from the unfortunate wearer were required to achieve the ultimate thin appearance.

You may want to forgo tightening the corset and the avoid the high heels but if you are looking for the perfect William Shakespeare costume or maybe King Henry the 8th or even the ultimate poise of Queen Elizabeth, we can help you find the perfect look for you!

How to Dress Renaissance

Renaissance Clothing for Women: The Right Clothes Make All The Difference

It won’t be long and Renaissance fairs will be popping up all over the place. If you’ve ever been to a Renaissance fair, you know exactly what to expect. Those who attend go all out, wanting to impress everyone else with unique and creative costume ideas. You’ve probably seen people walking around who weren’t in costume too. Do you know what most of those people are thinking?

“Why didn’t I get a costume for the Renaissance fair? This is awesome!”

Maybe you’re guilty of attending one of these great summertime events wearing your jeans. Or maybe you’ve never been to a Renaissance fair and you’re excited to go this year. Either way, we have fantastic renaissance clothing for women, and today we’d like to help you locate your perfect Renaissance fair personality.

Damsel In Distress

Do you tend to live life a bit on the dramatic side? Then our Angmar Overdress will be perfect for you. You can dress it up or down, depending on whether you’re going for a princess look or a peasant look. The drawstring gives it a perfect fit, regardless of where your waist falls, and you’ll look every bit the part of the damsel in distress.

Pirate Princess

Aarrgghh! Who says the role of pirate has to be limited to guys? Ladies can don some authentic-looking pirate gear too, and they look far better than the guys do. Our Alvilda Striped Skirt is just one piece of the puzzle that will come together to making you into a pirate princess. There are a few different color options for you to choose from, and the skirt will help you complete that sexy pirate look you’re after, me hearty!

Her Majesty, The Queen

If you’re looking for a gown that will last you through many seasons of Renaissance fairs, and you love the look of royalty, then our Toledo Gown will be perfect for you. Its incredible design was created to be worn by royalty, and you’ll be the picture-perfect Queen. Unfortunately, you’ll have to find your own royal attendants, however we do have every accessory you’ll need to complete your majestic look.

What’s your favorite look for Renaissance fairs? Opt for something beautiful to ensure you have a wonderful time attending them this year. Choose something that reflects who you are, or pick out something that allows you to become someone completely different. Either way, the most important thing to remember is to have fun wearing your own unique look.

How to Dress Renaissance

Authentic Pirate Clothing: Breaking All the Laws

authentic pirate costumes

Most of us who have seen Pirates of the Caribbean associate pirate clothing with a tricorn hat, a full but ragged coat, earrings, eye patches etc.  To what extent are these stereotypes true?  Do they represent authentic pirate clothing or were pirates generally a more sedate bunch than we imagine?

Motley Crew

This is one of those times when the public imagination actually goes hand in hand with the truth.  Pirates really were a motley bunch.  In fact, the word “motley” refers to a fabric that was made in 14th to 17th century England.  It was a woolen material that included threads of many colors.  As time went by, people started referring to anything that was mismatched as “motley.”

Eye Patches, Stumps and Hooks

Pirates also lived at a time when medicine was not that advanced.  So it was quite possible to lose an eye due to a mild injury.  And pirates were engaged in some pretty dangerous things, attacking other ships, fighting sailors etc.  So the chances of an injury were high and, as a result, many of them did wear eye patches.  Those who lost limbs had wooden stumps or hooks in their place.  Sometimes, eye patches also helped out the pirates who had to go below decks but couldn’t take burning torches with them for fear of fire.  In such cases, the pirate would transfer the eye patch to his good eye and keep it there until the eye adjusted to the dark.  After this, it was much easier to get around below decks.


Next, we come to earrings.  Did pirates really wear them?  The truth is that when pirates are seen wearing earrings, it’s because it was fashionable for anyone to do so.  Around the golden age of piracy (1650-1750), pirates didn’t usually wear earrings because it wasn’t in fashion.  There were also many superstitions back then that wearing earrings could keep away sea devils or other evil spirits.


As far as the general garb of piratical seamen and captains went, it mirrored the clothes worn by regular seamen and captains but was just a lot more varied because pirates were scavengers and stole clothes wherever they went, adding to their closets.  However, short pants, vests, sashes which were occasionally tied around their waists or around their heads were worn by regular seamen whereas captains wore more ornate coats with shiny buttons and tricorn hats.

Elizabethan Sumptuary Laws

In many ways, pirates were ahead of their time because they refused to conform to what the government said they should wear.  Elizabethan Sumptuary laws demanded that each person wear clothing that befit his/her station.  So lower classes couldn’t wear velvets or bright colors like crimson or deep blue.  Pirates flouted these laws and wore whatever they wanted.

So the next time you’re putting together an authentic pirate costume, feel free to go wild because pirates really did break all the laws, including the ones about what you should wear!

How to Dress Renaissance

Complete Your Winter Wedding Ensemble With a Fur Cloak

You’re planning the wedding of your dreams and you’ve chosen a winter theme. Of course, like all brides, you want to select a unique wedding outfit that reflects your style and personality. There are so many possibilities for accessorizing your gown, especially if you want to pursue a medieval theme. Think of luxurious items such as embroidered fabrics, jewel tones, and elaborate patterns. Your wedding day is your chance to indulge your fantasy of dressing like royalty.

Shrugs and wraps have become all the rage in bridal outfits, especially for fall and winter weddings. They look gorgeous and they are practical for keeping you warm when there’s a chill in the air. You can take your look even further than with just a wrap or shrug, completing your outfit with a beautiful long hooded fur cloak. For the ultimate in elegance, consider our Snow Queen Faux Fur Hooded Cape Cloak.

On your special day, all eyes will be on you, who will be looking as if you’ve just emerged from the enchanted forest. Lined with white satin and fastened with a leaf clasp, our fur cloak will keep you warm and leave your wedding guests awestruck by your elegant beauty.

If, perhaps, the Snow Queen is not quite the bridal image you’re going for, see our complete collection of cloaks and capes for more ideas. And if you or your bridal party members aren’t wearing white at all, there are plenty of other cloaks from which to choose. For example, we also offer the Midnight Fantasy velvet cloak, available in six striking colors.

For warmer or more casual occasions, try a hooded cotton cloak instead of one made of velvet or fur.

All of our cloaks are full length and full circle, with a generous hood and easy front closure. Simple yet elegant, our cloaks make the perfect statement at your winter wedding. Let us help you find the ideal cloak to complete your bridal outfit.

How to Dress Renaissance

Renaissance Clothing: More Than an Experiment in Extravagance and Beauty!

As the Renaissance took hold, various countries assumed leadership in the production of fabrics and techniques that found expression in the spectrum of Renaissance clothing.

Italy, particularly Florence, led the world when it came to producing fine woolens. Top guilds such as the Calimala dyed and finished fine woven cloth of high artistic merit. The Arta della Lana processed raw wool and created finished cloth. They also wove silk and turned it into exquisite brocades, satins, taffetas, damasks, velvets, and fine silver and gold “tissues.” These creations were highly sought after by wealthy patrons.

Fabrics were of such quality that, after worn, overly stained brocades and tissues containing these silver and gold could no longer be reused as clothing, they were burned to recover and recycle the metal content.

Not to be left out, other countries became known for their clothing styles. Certain countries grew to be identified in the writing that flourished about their designs: thus followed terms such as “Italian gown,” “French hood,” “German cap,” and “Spanish farthingale.”

While Italian fabrics were fine but simply elegant, other countries tended to become more flamboyant. France, Flanders, Burgandy and England fashions were especially so. Any study of the art from that time period showcases Renaissance clothing trimmed in fur. Waistlines climbed higher while necklines plunged lower and lower. Headdresses were so elaborately designed, starched and folded that the heads sometimes seemed lost in them.

Such extreme designs in fashion occurred that more stringent laws were passed in cities throughout Europe to help curb the extravagance in clothing. On the hit list in Milan and Venice were low necklines, long trains, and pointed shoes. Some cities limited the number a single person could own of individual fabrics such as silk and velvet.

Many of the laws doled out to members of an increasingly affluent society were intended to maintain the power and distinct parameters long held by the upper classes, especially of the nobility. As the Renaissance continued, people who could afford to pay for such extravagance could wear all of it they wanted.

How to Dress Renaissance

Renaissance Outfits Have Their Beginnings in Rome

Rome was the center of the world for seven hundred years. “All roads lead to Rome” is a phrase that resonates with truth in our culture. Every day we see and say remnants of the culture that has done more to influence Western Culture that any other on record. Although the dress of men and women today differs greatly from our ancestors many centuries ago, one area of dress has changed very little, and we can find it easily when we explore the Catholic Church, and the habits of the monks, clergy, and even now a few of the nunneries still in existence.

The English Medieval Monk (those existing in the time period between the fall of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the Renaissance) in the years AD 449–1500 had a very small and simple wardrobe that has changed very little over time, if at all. Clothing worn during this era (and in many cases since) have origins that began during the Roman occupation of Europe. A visit to a monastery today will show small changes have happened even in our times.

Habits, the name given to the medieval monks robe, varied in color according to their order. The earliest Benedictine monks wore clothing consisting of white or grey habits which were simply un-dyed wool. As time went by black became their prevailing color, hence the term “Black Monks” and finally “Benedictine Monks.” The Cistercian and Carthusian orders adhered to even stricter rules than the Benedictines and wore solely undyed wool to proclaim their poverty. Their habits were generally a grayish-white, and sometimes brown. The Cistercian monks were referred to as the “White Monks.”

Each Medieval monk had two tunics and two cowls, a scapular for work, one pair of shoes and a pair of stockings. The extra tunic allowed for washing.  For some the second garment was used as “night-time” wear because the Cistercian monks slept in their habit.

A traditional habit for the Benedictine monk consisted of a tunic, tied around the waist with a cloth or leather belt. Over the tunic was a scapula consisting of a long wide piece of woolen cloth he wore over the shoulders with an opening for the head. The front of the scapula was secured with a small piece of rectangular cloth that snapped the sides together. A cowl or “hood” was attached to the scapula resulting in the phrase hooded cloaks. Simple shirts made from skin-irritating horse hair found their way underneath the most penitent.

During the Renaissance, some of the habits worn by monks became more comfortable and luxurious. The number of cloisters rose and the laxity for tasks relating to clergy increased. Luxury items were not excluded from certain monasteries and vows taken to heart in earlier times were sometimes easily broken. Sterling silver and 14-karat gold rings and crosses were not out of the ordinary in some orders; however “in the open public” these things were seldom mentioned.

Faith is something that cannot be ignored when observing the costumes worn by the clergy. Faith was everything. Simplicity in dress was a sign that poverty was an important virtue that was reflected in the everyday lives led by these highly religious men. They led by example. They faced daily life as a sacrifice given to God, and sought to exemplify purity in thought word and deed for his divine majesty.

Even though some monks began to long for finer monk clothing materials, most of the habits worn during these times are still simplistic in our eyes. They reflected a pious lifestyle; supposedly exemplifying the way Christ would want them to live their lives as his representatives on Earth.

How to Dress Renaissance

Medieval Fashion Was More Than Just Something To Wear

When we imagine medieval times, we think about knights and princesses, dragons and jousting and all the beautiful clothing made of velvet and leather that the people wore.  We have seen medieval-style clothing in movies and on television since we were children.  We remember those knee high boots the men wore and the sleeves that look like angel wings on women’s dresses.  For many, the medieval style is reminiscent of romance and elegance with just a bit of panache’ thrown in for good measure.

When you are putting together your medieval costume for a special party or to fit right in at the renaissance festival, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to achieve that authentic look. After all, clothes were not just something used to keep warm, they were a statement about who we are, our station in life and could even lend some insight to our personalities.


  • Red. The most powerful statement in color choice would have to be red with black being almost as powerful.
  • Black. Today black is a color associated with mourning but in medieval times, it was only available to the wealthy. Black therefore became synonymous with wealth and power.
  • Green. The color green was considered to be a more neutral color.
  • Yellow was considered to be a sign of cowardice. Yellow still has that connotation today with our reference to the “yellow-bellied coward”.
  • White was considered to be the color of purity.
  • Blue. Today we might think of blue as a strong and bold color but in medieval times it was considered to be a passive color.
  • Pink. Since it is just a lighter version of red, pink would have been considered a more powerful color than blue.  This is opposite of how we view pink and blue today.


Today there are very strong differences between men and women’s clothing.  Not so in medieval times.  Almost everyone wore long tunics tied or belted around the waist.  Both sexes wore capes and cloaks and while men preferred a shorter version for freedom of movement, both men and women wore skirts.  Once battle armor was more commonly worn men found the long flowing style did not work well with the confines of body armor.  This is what eventually led to the creation of clothes like pants that more closely fit the body’s contours.

So, you can see how your choice of color and style in your costume could mean more than just something to wear, it can also create the illusion of wealth and power or even lack thereof.  Wear red and black if you dress as royalty and wear green or blue to represent the peasant class.

When you are looking for the medieval fashion for your renaissance festival costume, we at Ye Old Renaissance Shop have all the right choices to help pull your next middle ages look together.

How to Dress Renaissance

Medieval Costumes: Symbolic Meaning in a Knight’s Fighting Equipment

When we think of medieval costumes, one of the first images that come to mind is that of the knight gearing up for battle. People of all ages enjoy donning costumes and strapping on the gear these brave heroes wore. A fair or any even where people are wearing knightly garb provides an excellent opportunity to learn the symbolism behind a knight’s fighting equipment.

Early ceremonies were held in which young men received the equipment they needed in order to become warriors or knights on horseback. These ceremonies, as did knighthood itself, grew out of religious quests whose aim was to defend the Christian faith and the Holy Catholic Church. In early stories, the Lady of the Lake tells the dashing young Lancelot that his duties symbolize the duties of a Christian knight to the Church.

Symbolic meanings of a medieval knight’s costume

In these rituals symbolism was attached to the ceremonies as well as to the fighting equipment knights used.

  • A hauberk, or chain mail tunic, protects the knight’s body just as he should protect and defend the Church.
  • The lance, in whose use he has become an expert, is for combat and in protecting the Church from its enemies.
  • A sword typically has two edges. These sides represent a knight’s duty to serve both God and his people. Swords also have sharp points, signifying that the people must be obedient and follow their leader. The knight, in effect, becomes a “point” man.
  • His shield becomes part of his individual brand. It’s like a medieval logo of sorts, and defines who he is, and to whom he shares his allegiance. It protects him, just as he is protector of the Church and its people.
  • A knight’s horse stands for the people of the Church world who support him and follow his guidance, just as a horse follows his rider’s lead.

Costuming has Educational Value

Wearing medieval costumes can be so much more than simply playing dress-up. The process of pulling together an authentic renaissance costume can provide an engaging, inviting, and highly memorable way to learn about the knight’s place in history!

How to Dress Renaissance

Renaissance Clothes: Advice From The Cap’n For This Year’s Festivals

Aarrgghh! Spring has sprung, me hearties! And with the glorious weather come renaissance festivals of all sorts. Don’t ye worry yer head none ’bout what yer gonna wear this year. The Cap’n is here to point ye in the right direction. After all…I have yet to come across a buried treasure that’s slipped through me fingers!

If yer lookin’ fer renaissance clothes, I daresay, ye have come to the right place! Fer we have clothes of all shapes and sizes. Clothes that will fit yer lads, and clothes that will fit yer lasses. Why, we even have some that will fit those wee tykes ye have around yer house.

The best thing ’bout the renaissance fair is bein’ able to go a little overboard…pardon the expression, matey. What’s yer desire fer yer outfit? Do you fancy yerself a pirate? That might be me favorite of all…but there are many outfits to choose from. So, what’ll it be, me hearty? When ye head out to those renaissance festivals this year, what do you s’pose’ll strike yer fancy?

Fer the lasses, yer gonna love the choices we have for ye. Are ye a damsel in distress? Always dreamed of bein’ a princess? Aarrgghh…the princess outfits always get to me, I admit. No matter what ye have yer heart set on, you’ll find it in our shop, fer sure.

What about ye, lad? Ye might be thinkin’ ye could never pull off a pirate outfit like the Cap’n. I get where ye be comin’ from. A tabard might do ye well, then. Or maybe ye would like to arrive at the fair as a prince? If yer takin’ a princess, I don’t blame ye.

Fer yer wee tykes, the renaissance clothes in our shop arrr second to none. We’ll have ’em fancied up in no time.

So, what’re ye waitin’ fer? Visit Ye Old Renaissance Shop right now. This year’s fairs’ll be a sight to behold! Make sure yer there to experience it all, and make sure ye clothes’re just right!

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!