How to Dress Renaissance

6 Steps to Crafting a Pirate Costume for Women

Dressing up like a pirate is probably the most fun a girl can have. What’s better: being a princess or being a tough chick with a sword and your own boat? Think about it: you can drink rum, you can swordfight foes, and OH YEAH YOU GET TO PRETEND YOU HAVE A PIRATE SHIP. We’re over shiny dresses and glass slippers; let’s assemble a pirate costume for women.

Step One: Make A Solid Basepirate-clothing-for-women

A pirate costume for women comes down to two basic parts: a top and a bottom. For the top, get something fluffy and old. Find something that looked like it was formal at one time but then got left at the bottom of the ocean. Try getting one of our Grace O’Malley Shirts and roughing it up a bit. Put some coffee stains on it and tears around the edges. Who cares? You’re a pirate now.

On top of your top, throw on some color. Red, browns, and dark greys are appropriate and fashionable. Put on a vest, like our Mary Read Pirate Vest, or wrap a sash around your waist to show off your dramatic flair. Then swing on a rope across your ship and demand more rum.

Now to the legs. A pirate costume for women can incorporate either a raggedy skirt or pirate pants. The Ashaki Skirt is perfect for this, as it already looks used up. Plus it’s red, which is the pirate’s all-time second favorite color. Their first favorite color being, of course, rum. If a skirt’s not your thing, then go for some red, gray, or brown pants. The John Silver Striped Pants are a great choice because they’re big and fluffy but also striped, which is a pirate’s second favorite pattern type. Their first favorite pattern type being, of course, rum.

BONUS: For a pirate costume for women, you can get literally neither of the above things and just go with a super cool long blouse, like the McGreedy Blouse. Long pirate blouses are a fantastic way to look good and keep control over your crew. Both of those things are extremely important if you want to rule the high seas.

Step Two: Gotta Put Something On Those Feet

One of the coolest parts about a pirate costume for women is epic footwear. A pirate lady can wear anything she wants on her feet, as long as their comfortable and look good. Some pirates will go for a great pair of high heels, asserting their dominance and standing tall above their crew. Others will get a nice pair of leather boots, like the Jolly Rogers, and stand toe-to-toe with friend and foe alike.

Either way, your color choices for a pirate costume for women are pretty basic: dark brown or black. Both colors go great with the other classic pirate colors of grey, red, and white. That being said, you’re a pirate, and you can do whatever you want.

Step Three: Head Fixin’s

Your hair says a lot about who you are. If you’re a princess, it’s nice and brushed and shiny. It’s probably clean. People probably write stories about it and men come from far away lands to tell you how pretty your hair is.

Pirate hair is the opposite of that. It’s unbrushed, unwashed, and all over the place. When you’re dressing up like a pirate, don’t comb your hair. Put it in a sloppy braid or ponytail and just let it hang. Add different colored and textured beads to the braids to make it stand out. To capture the real pirate hair look, you should look like you’ve been on a boat drinking rum for no less than 3 months.

You can also go above and beyond just throwing your hair in a braid. The best of the best lady pirates wore bandanas and hats upon their noggins. Put your hair in a ponytail, and then wrap a bandana around your head. To add even more authenticity to a pirate costume for women, plop a hat on top of that bandana. Use a leather tri-corner hat like the Jack Sparrow Leather Pirate Hat. You are now ready to command a crew of smelly people into uncertain waters to obtain glory on the high seas.

To give yourself a real pirate look, add some dark makeup to your face. A lot of eyeshadow and dark blotches on your skin make it look like you’ve been on the seas for quite some time, and will add to your pirate mystique.

Step Four: Accessorize

There are literally tons of pirate accessories. A great looking pirate costume is often defined by the quality and quantity of its accessories. The thing that made the Jack Sparrow costume so amazing were the beads in his hair, the sword he carried, the belts he had on, and the sashes around his waist. With a pirate costume for women, you can almost never stop accessorizing.


Great pirates have great belts. Get a big thick belt to wrap around your waist. Better yet, get two that are different colors and put them both on. You’ll have more room to hang the rest of your accessories and look better than everyone that just put on only one belt. The best belt colors are usually black and any kind of brown, with a large, show-off belt buckle.


Pirates love jewelry. Sure you already have big hoop earrings in your ears, but don’t stop there. Throw a brown leather wristband or a thick gold bracelet around one of your wrists. Both of these things will show off your pirate style and let everyone know you’re the girl that owns the place. Add a gold chain around your neck and a few gold rings on your fingers for a rich lady-pirate look.

Pirates also usually wore big hoop earrings made of gold and silver. If your ears are pierced, find big hoops earrings and throw them in there. If they’re not pierced, you can get costume jewelry that just clips on to gain that authentic pirate look. While you’re at it, pop in a nose ring! Pirates loved to show off, so any added jewelry is just added fun.

Pouches and Things

Go crazy with this. Anything you add past this point is just more fun for you. A pirate costume for women doesn’t stop at the clothing and jewelry. Hang several leather pouches and velvet bags from one of your two belts and fill them with pirate goodies. A Nautical Pocket Telescope, a Pirate Doubloon Set, or a Compass In A Leather Pouch. Make it a surprise for anyone who comes in contact with you. What could you possibly pull out of that pouch? Why not a Small Glass Potion Bottle full of rum? Anything you can think that would be fun for a pirate to play around with, put it in a pouch.


Let’s run down some safety issues here. If you’re scared that there’s a possibility that someone could get hurt with a real sword, get a fake sword. No one will look at your any differently or think that you’re not a sea-worthy pirate. A pirate is defined by her character, not by how real her sword is.

If you’re going to get a real metal sword, go with a Pirate Cutlass. The pirate cutlass was the sword favored by many, many pirates in the golden age of pirating. The gold handle and leather scabbard will blend extremely well with the rest of your costume, bringing the whole thing together. When getting a sword, you can tuck it into your belt, or get a frog that attaches to your belt. A great frog for a pirate costume for women is the black LARP Kings Sword Frog. It’s black leather and will match your outfit perfectly.

If you’re not going to get a real sword, try to get one that at least looks like the real thing. Just remember: shiny and plastic is a lot safer than hard and sharp.

Pirates didn’t just carry swords though. They had a hefty arsenal. Most pirates kept a loaded pistol tucked into their belt. For a pirate costume for women, try out the Pirate Replica Brass Flintlock Non-Firing Gun. This gun is a replica of the same ones used in pirate warfare, and as an added bonus, cannot possibly harm someone. This is no way this gun can fire, so it just sits there and looks great.

A pirate also carried small daggers in case they lost their main weapon. A great dagger for your pirate costume for women is the Damascus Boarding Dagger. Boarding daggers were used when pirates would attack other ships and steal from them. Hopefully you won’t be doing that, but by sporting a nice looking dagger, you’ll let everyone know that you totally could.

Finishing Touches

This is a little over the top, but you could also get a stuffed bird that perches on your shoulder. These are great for making you feel like a real pirate. There are even some battery powered ones that talk too! These birds will drive the point home that you are in fact a real pirate, and should be respected and given copious amounts of rum.

Step Five: Act Like A Pirate

The key to tying any pirate costume for women together is to actually act like a pirate. Pirates are loud, cocky, confident, brash creatures. Pirates aren’t afraid of anything, and now neither are you. Pirates face danger every day of their lives chasing the fame and fortune of life on the high seas.

Walk with your back straight, your chin up, and your chest out. This will present to the rest of the crew that you are confident and can take anything anyone can throw at you. The rest of your crew will follow you into any situation as long as you walk with confidence.

When pirates talk, they’re very particular about using their hands. When on the high seas, cannon fire and rough waters can create a lot of noise, so pirates developed hand signals to communicate with their crewmates. Come up with a few of your own to use with your crew!

Not only do they use their hands, pirates also like to tell large, outlandish stories. It was never just a “run-in with a whale.” It was a “near death experience with a whale of a whale, the mother of all whales, a sea monster of epic strength!”

Pirates also have a very particular language. First, they never refer to themselves as “I,” only “me.” Second, they “ye” instead of “you,” and “yer” instead of “you’re.” Pirates use a lot of pirate slang, just Dave Jones’ locker, meaning the bottom of the ocean, or booty, meaning gold or treasure. Combine these words with a rough attitude and little gusto and you’ll fool everyone into thinking you’re a real pirate.

For fun on their down time, pirates loved to sing sea shanties. Pirates would make up great songs about living on the water, lost loves, and fantastic creatures living in the deep ocean. Write down a few songs with your crew and memorize them, and sing them on your next adventure.

Step 6: Have Fun

Most pirates made their livings by stealing for other ships. We don’t do that anymore. So when you’re designing a pirate costume for women, leave the competition and violence out of it. Dressing like a pirate means accessorizing yourself until you can’t move and generally doing whatever you want.

Have fun with it!

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How to Dress Renaissance

The Evolution of Medieval Gauntlets


Gauntlets are pieces of armor that protect the hands and wrists. The word “gauntlet” is derived from the ancient French word, “gant,” meaning glove.

Medieval gauntlets were the most sophisticated parts of the full plate of metal armor that evolved by the late medieval time period in the 15th and 16th centuries. By this time, gauntlets had evolved to be highly complex and fully articulated. Each finger had an assemblage of small gutter-shaped metal plates called lames that allowed for free movement of the fingers. These late medieval gauntlets were nothing less than a technological marvel. However, they did not start out this way. This post will summarize the fascinating evolution of medieval gauntlets.

There is evidence that Greek warriors wore some protection for the back and sides of their hands. However, this Greek armor was never developed into full gauntlets and there is a period of several centuries, including most of the early medieval time period, where soldiers wore no protection on their hands. It is believed by most historians that this type of protective equipment was deemed unnecessary as long as a shield was carried in the non-dominant hand. However, this began to change when the shield fell out of favor as two-handed swords became popular.

The extra force of using a two-handed sword had many advantages over a one-handed sword, as armor was rapidly improving during this period and it took a lot more force to penetrate it. However, eliminating the shield left the hands particularly vulnerable and opponents often seized on this weakness. A solution had to be found. During this period, some men simply wore leather wrapped around their hands. Others wore more skillfully crafted leather gauntlets.

Most early medieval infantry wore a tunic made of small interlocking metal rings called mail. Starting in the last three decades of the 12th century, the sleeves of the hauberk were elongated into a mitten to protect the hands. A leather glove was worn beneath this mail mitten to protect the skin from injury from the metal. This style of hand protection took a while to catch on fully, as many infantry simply wore leather gauntlets. However, once it caught on, the extension of the hauberk into a mail mitten with a leather glove worn beneath it was the prevalent hand protection for more than a century and a half.

At the end of the 13th century, a slit in the palm of the attached mail mitten began appearing, so the hand could pass through and leave the mail mitten dangling at the wrist. During this same period, mail gloves with separate fingers started appearing, still an extension of the sleeve. During the first half of the 14th century, separate mitten gauntlets and glove gauntlets start appearing for the first time. This was in part due to the fact that mail hauberks were being replaced by plate armor. Some of these early separate gauntlets were made of mail but many are made of leather with metal pieces attached. These were the earliest examples of metallic plates being used on gauntlets but they were not yet articulated. In essence, these were the prototypes of the articulated metal gauntlets so common in the 16th century.

Metal plated gauntlets lined with leather were considered a huge improvement over mail mittens and mail gloves. Therefore, they caught on very quickly and within just a few decades, they had replaced almost all the mail mittens and mail gloves. Like other parts of the coat of plate armor, the metallic plates used on gauntlets were riveted to leather. At first, the lames were cut in strips to cover all the fingers, like a mitten made with plate. Each lame was individually riveted to the leather beneath so that articulation could occur and the hand could wrap around a sword. During the second half of the 14th century, the style was for the metal on the back of the hand and the palm of the hand to taper in around the wrist and then flair out over the lower forearm. This style was called the hour glass gauntlet and it remained very popular for more than 50 years. The cuff was often decorated.

Plated mitten style gauntlets did offer more protection than early glove style gauntlets that allowed the articulation of each finger separately. However, they also offered less dexterity so individual finger articulation was preferred as it was developed. Eventually, the process of articulating each finger, not just the thumb, was fine-tuned to the point that the plate fingered gauntlets became as good at protecting the hands as the plate mitten gauntlets were.

The individual lames for each finger on fingered gauntlets were made by first cutting out the metal and then pounding it into a gutter shape against a mould. Then small holes were drilled into each lame and they were then separately riveted to the leather through these holes. The piece of metal that covers the back part of the thumb was attached to the back plate of the gauntlet with a hinge, allowing for the opposable thumb to abduct.
It should be noted that even though the technology to make full body suits of articulated metal plate armor existed in the 14th and 15th centuries, most infantry could not afford it. Moreover, the countries for which they fought could not afford to outfit most of their infantry men with full body armor. When they could afford it, chest plates and fully articulated metal gauntlets were the most sought after pieces of equipment during this time period. Hands had to be protected above almost all other parts of the body since they were so easily injured and were also very important in the efficiency of a soldier. Also, noble knights, who fought mostly on horseback, wore full suits of armor during this time, so there was quite a demand for exceptionally skilled artisans who could master the trade of fine-tuned articulation in making gauntlets.

Modern day groups interested in medieval history, like the Society For Creative Anachronisms (SCA), reenact historic medieval battles. These groups make their own armor and their own weapons. They strive for as accurate a replication as possible. However, even with modern tools plus a great deal of experience and skill, it can still be difficult to build a pair of fully-articulated plate gauntlets that work properly. The difficulty lies in getting the articulation of each lame and the thumb to work in perfect synchrony. If the holes drilled on each lame for the purpose of riveting them to the leather are off by even a millimeter, they may not articulate in perfect synchrony when the hand is clenched around the sword or other tools. In a real battle, this could mean the difference between life and death.

Full plate late medieval gauntlets were a technological marvel at the time and they still are today when you think about the tools and materials those medieval artisans had to work with. It took a great deal of skill to create a fully functioning pair that were perfectly articulated. Those that have tried to re-create these period pieces understand this best. The next time you see late medieval armor in a museum or a medieval painting showing men in armor, take the time to look closely at the medieval gauntlets as they are truly a mechanical work of art.

Ye Old Renaissance Shop

How to Dress Renaissance

Games of the Renaissance: Pastimes of the Courtly Classes

During Renaissance times, it was the courtly class who had time and circumstance on their hands to enjoy a life away from working in the fields or doing other types of menial labor to meet the demands of everyday life. Royalty developed a number of ways to entertain themselves. Dancing, sports and other games of the renaissance all flourished as a part of Renaissance life.


A look at the young French King Francois I, who was born in 1494, shows that he and his acquaintances hunted, fenced, wrestled and played tennis together in order to while away the hours. Other beloved sports included jousting, a sport carried over from the Middle Ages in which men in armor on horseback participated in mock battles, often carrying sharp lances in attempt to unseat a rival from his horse.

Evenings would find the young king and his courtly circle of friends relaxing after dinner as they listened to musicians playing instruments such as the flute, the lute, and viols.

Frenchman and Master of the Dance Thoinot Arbeau, who was born in 1519, wrote a manual of dance instructions for wealthy patrons. He instructed fashionable clients in dances such as:

  • Pavans: Often paired with the Galliards, the pavans were slow, processional dances in which many couples paraded wearing elegant, decorative clothing. Couples often did creative movements in tandem with smaller groups within the larger procession.
  • Basse dances: A slow, gliding couples dance wherein the participants’ feet never leave the floor as they do in livelier types of dances.
  • Galliards: A favorite dance of Queen Elizabeth I, the Galliard featured a five-step rhythm and was a rather athletic dance. It contained leaps, jumps, hops and other athletic moves.
  • Lavoltas: Similar to the Galliard, a Volta involved a type of turning and lifting of the female in a rather closed position.
  • Gavottes: Based on an old French folk dance, the Gavotte was often a collection of double branles danced in a line or circle, including small springs in the steps.
  • Various types of Branles: A type of couples dance in which partners would move from side to side, the Branle often marked the beginning of a fancy dress ball.

Arbeau’s famous book, Orchesography, is often used today to teach Renaissance dances as well as to teach manners of the court.

Other games of the Renaissance included card games, which were highly popular among the women of the courts. Women also enjoyed challenging men to a game of chess or even joining them in the hunt. They participated in falconing and hare hunting while on horseback. One popular after-dinner game enjoyed by courtiers was the game of croquet.

How to Dress Renaissance

Renaissance Games and Entertainment: Not Just for the Aristocrats

Many Renaissance games and entertainment, because of their timeless appeal, have remained similar to those of today. Children played with spinning tops. They made up games using balls, following their own whims or rules they made up to suit their group of players. They played hide-and-seek, blind-man’s buff, and wrestled according to their size and strengths.


Children and teens alike enjoyed various types of fighting with their feet. Lawn bowling was particularly popular during the Renaissance.

For the common, working masses of people, games and entertainment turned to the outdoors since their homes were seldom conducive to most types of activities. They enjoyed participating in and being spectators at events such as boxing, football games, bullfights, horse racing, and bear baiting. These events often went through complex staging to attract the general public.

Processions were hugely popular during the Renaissance era. People loved any opportunity to show off their clothing and accessories. Such entertainments included parades through the cities and towns to mark special occasions or religious holidays. Such events were held by wealthier, more prominent families to celebrate weddings and key dates within the family. Public displays of fireworks and lavish feasts were also incorporated into the celebrations.

At all such events, a number of Renaissance games, both planned and impromptu, took place for the crowds’ enjoyment.

Market days and Renaissance fairs were ideal times for people to engage in games of chance and skill. Revelers enjoyed watching traveling tumblers demonstrate their skill. Jugglers, clowns, comics, puppeteers, and widely known masked harlequins all joined the Renaissance panoply of characters. Characters such as Punch and Judy come to us today from their origins during Renaissance times.

Renaissance games and the entertainment they enjoyed provide wonderful opportunities today to revisit and reenact the revelry of those times.

For those who are looking for authentic costumes and accessories, a site such as Ye Old Renaissance Shop can be an excellent resource for young and old, male and female.

How to Dress Renaissance

The Cloak—A Versatile and Elegant Garment Suitable for Any Historical Time Period

Cloaks have a rakish appearance to our modern eyes since we’re generally used to garments that fit more closely to the body.  A cloak may seem like it’s not that useful because it doesn’t wrap closely around the body and just hangs loosely in the back.  However, throughout history, cloaks have actually been used more for their usefulness than for their decorative purpose.

The Earliest Cloaks

Very early on, when human beings didn’t have the means necessary for making fitted clothes, they wore animal skins and furs as cloaks around them.  This didn’t require a great deal of stitching.  You just had to get the skin or fur completely clean and dried and then wrap it around the back and fasten it in the front, around the neck or under one arm so that that arm remained free for hunting.

Greek and Roman Cloaks

When civilization started to take root, the cloak or the cape still continued to be popular among the Greeks and Romans.  The Greek himation and the Roman palla and toga were actually forms of cloaks.  The himation and the palla were rectangular shaped cloaks and the toga was a segment of a circle.

Cloaks in the Early Middle Ages

In the early middle ages, cloaks were quite popular and worn by both men and women over their long Roman-style tunics.  Sometimes, they were tied with a brooch at the neck, and at other times, there were metallic cords holding the two sides together.

Cloaks in the Late Middle Ages

From the 14th century on, cloaks became less popular and were replaced by the surcote.  However, cloaks continued to be worn for riding and traveling.  For traveling, a cloak was a little bit like a blanket attached to your person, and you could just get cozy inside it when forced to spend all those hours in a jolting carriage.  At this time, people also started wearing hoods and capes more often.

Cloaks After the Middle Ages

Towards the end of the middle-ages, after a hiatus of a hundred years or so, cloaks started to become more popular again and this time, many of them were just purely decorative.  It was considered fashionable to just lazily hold your cape with one hand, let it fall over one shoulder and have it decorated with fur or lined with silk.

Famous Cloak Styles

Some cloaks were named after their infamous wearers such as the Nithsdale which was a long, hooded, fur-lined riding cloak named after the Countess Nithsdale who helped her husband escape from the Tower of London in 1716.

So if you decide to wear a cloak with your costume, it’s quite likely that you will be dressing correctly for whatever period you decide to go with because cloaks have been worn since humans started covering their bodies until very recently.  And you have a number of different cloaks to choose from—rectangular cloaks, semicircular cloaks, silk cloaks for evening dress, capes to go over large skirts etc, making them versatile as well as elegant at the same time.

Complete Merc Armour Package
How to Dress Renaissance

Renaissance Armor Was Not Just For Times Of War

Usually, when we think about armor, we think about knights battling each other with swords or jousters dressed in full body metal suits.  When you consider the injuries that could result from being hit with a sword or a jousting lance, you understand the primary reason for wearing suits of armor.  When at war, the protection afforded by these metal “suits” was vital if you wanted to survive for more than a few minutes on the battlefield.  They were however, often heavy and difficult to move about in, which was important if you wanted to avoid falling over, which could be the end of your life when you found it impossible to get back on your feet.

Did you know that armor was also very helpful when hunting animals like wild boar who were know to charge the hunter with razor sharp tusks ready to dispatch them quite effectively?  Armor was also necessary if hunting other aggressive game such as bears.  Once weapons such as the crossbow were invented, and hunters did not need to get so close to their targets, armor became lighter and more specialized with plates that protected specific body parts such the throat, head and heart.  As weapons became more sophisticated body armor became less important.

Eventually, Renaissance armor was used primarily for tournaments and for ceremonial purposes, with specialized design elements incorporated that would, for instance, protect hands during jousting tournaments.  In fact, armor began to be designed for very specific tasks or circumstances and became much more adaptable so it could be used either in battle or in tournaments.  You can still see many of those design elements in sports equipment today such as, helmets, shin guards and shoulder pads.

The armor worn during the Renaissance was being used mostly for ceremonial purposes.  They were often very elaborately decorated and were meant to give the wearer a sense of glory and virtue such as what was bestowed upon successful warriors during medieval times.  Think of those shields that were decorated with gold and jewels and were so heavy they would actually be a hindrance during a real battle situation.  Eventually, armor became more symbolic instead of useful or necessary and was only seen during court processions or for dramatic effect in paintings of important men of the time.

When you are thinking about attending the Renaissance fair this year and want to accompany your princess dressed as her Knight in Shining Armor, count on us to have the perfect costume elements that will bring your look together.

How to Dress Renaissance

Why Wear Monk Robes? A History of Monkhood in Medieval Times

When you see how many renaissance fair-goers dress in relatively simple monk robes with no adornment whatsoever, you may wonder what was so special about monks.  In fantasy movies and games, you often come across monks who play large roles, either as fighters or learned guides.  But when you think about a real monk, the only image that comes to mind is one of someone who has totally given up material things and lives a celibate life in a monastery far from civilization.  There doesn’t seem to be anything very glamorous about this existence and yet, monk robes are quite popular when it comes to Renaissance costumes.  So what is it about monks that attracts the popular imagination?

The First Monk

In the year 270, a young Egyptian man named Anthony entered a church and started the tradition of monkhood.  He gave away all his belongings and went to live a solitary life in the desert, growing anything he needed.  He rarely returned to civilization and soon became respected for his choices.  Rather than choosing martyrdom, many people saw Anthony’s asceticism as a good option to show their devotion to God, and they followed in his footsteps.

The First Monastery

However, living completely alone in a deserted area is not very conducive to mental well-being.  So another monk named Pachomius started the tradition of monks living together and following a set of rules.

The Benedictine Monks

St. Benedict of Nursia was yet another monk who has come down in history as a great contributor to the tradition of monkhood.  St. Benedict was disgusted by the extravagances he saw in the papal city of Rome and decided to take up an ascetic existence.  He attracted followers and set up monasteries at Subiaco and Monte Cassino.  He wrote a text called The Benedictine Rule where he laid down the rules that all monks were supposed to follow.

The Monks’ Achievements in Agriculture and Learning

It was around this time that monks started to be well known for their agricultural practices, lending a dignity to manual labor which they performed themselves in the fields.  Monks were also well read and great scholars in their time.  Each monastery had a writing room or scriptorium where monks copied and illuminated manuscripts.

So although the outward appearance of monks was simple, consisting of a hooded robe called a cowl, monks themselves were greatly respected during medieval times and for good reason, since they represented safety and security in a tumultuous time.  Monks worked hard at what they did without any expectation of reward.

So the next time you put on that monk’s robe, you should know that you have centuries of tradition behind you.  Monks were disciplined, learned and an inspiration to those around them in medieval times.

How to Dress Renaissance

Tunics, Breeches, Corsets and More—The Basic Elements of Middle Ages Clothing

middle-ages-clothingThe Middle Ages lasted from the late fifth century to the late fifteenth century, so they covered quite a long space of time and are usually divided into the early middle ages, the high middle ages and the late middle ages.  Not surprisingly, middle ages clothing changed a lot from the early middle ages to the late middle ages, generally becoming more colorful and more ornate, as new inventions came into being.  Today, we may take buttons and lace for granted, but people didn’t have such things in the early middle ages.  So here is a brief history of what people wore during this time:

Clothing of the Early Middle Ages

In the Early Middle Ages–from around 475 to 1000–men generally dressed in Roman style, with flowing tunics covering their upper body and fitting breeches on the lower body.  Sometimes, the breeches were made to cover the feet as well.  Richer people added furs and jewelry which included necklaces, torques (a stiff kind of necklace made from one continuous metallic band), brooches and rings.  Wool and linen were generally used to make clothes and shoes were very simple, made in turn-shoe style where two pieces of leather were stitched together and turned inside out, drawn together by a piece of string in the front, much as many of our shoes are made today.

High Middle Ages

The High Middle Ages lasted from 1000-1300 and there was a lot more experimentation in clothing during this time.  People started getting silk from oriental countries, and many nobles would use this in their clothing.  Plus, they would wear longer, more ornate tunics with flared sleeves.  At this time, the Sumptuary laws were enacted which meant that only nobles could wear more ornate, rich, colorful clothes, and people of the lower classes were actually barred from wearing them.

Men also tended to dress more flamboyantly than women, arguing that this was the case in the natural world.  Among animals and birds, it’s usually the male who looks more eye-catching because he has to attract a suitable female.  So men felt, in the middle ages, that it was their prerogative to dress better than women did—obviously a fashion trend that did not last.

Late Middle Ages

In the Late Middle Ages, from 1300—1450, we see the emergence of what we now think of as historical women’s clothing, consisting of a large skirt, a low neckline and a corset in the middle which creates an hourglass shape.  During this time, buttons and lace came were invented and cotton came to be used as a fabric for clothing.  People started experimenting more with their clothes, wearing contrasting trousers and jackets, and long shoes where the toes would be stuffed (Freud referred to these as phallic symbols!)

So if you’re looking to put together a middle ages costume, you can either go simple, with a tunic and breeches or you can add all the bells and whistles such as a long coat, long shoes and various pieces of jewelry.  For women, a corset is a necessity as is a long skirt and a peasant blouse.  Whether you plan to dress as a noble or a peasant, just remember to have fun.

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.