How to Dress for a Renaissance Fair

If you are in the market for Renaissance faire clothing, you have a lot of options ahead of you. As you can imagine, there was a lot going on in the Renaissance, and there are costumes for every profession and social position. To help you make up your mind about how to dress for the fair, here are a few things to consider.

Queen

Time-Period Commitment

The first thing you need to decide is how committed are you going to be to the time period. If you are passionate about Renaissance fairs, you might want to be authentic right down to your undergarments. If you are a more casual participant, you might get away with wearing more comfortable modern shoes, perhaps with covers over them. As with most historical things, there are no undoubtedly correct versions of Renaissance costumes, but you should still do your research to represent the time, region, and class that you want your costume to reflect. If people don’t even have a guess as to what your costume is supposed to be, you might be a bit far afield in terms of historical representation. Of course, the fair will still accept you if you are in “strange modern attire,” but why deny yourself the fun of a costume?

Costume Budget

The budget for your costume should not just be decided by how much you can spend, but also by how much the Renaissance person you are emulating would have adorned their outfit. If you are a small village tavern owner, you will not have gold chains and a gilded sword. Much like the people of the Renaissance who lived before credit cards, compare your costume to your budget and desires, not to what other people are able to do. You can create your own, or purchase a stunning replica online, but whatever you choose to do remember that you generally get what you pay for. Cheaper clothes and materials will likely only last you one fair, but a high-quality or professionally made costume can last for many years.

Comfort

If you are planning to be at the Renaissance fair all or most of the day, you will want something that allows you to move, sit, stand, etc., without too much hassle. Sure, we all think we would like to be in a royal robe, but remember that monarchs had many attendants, a comfort which you might find yourself lacking. First, have comfortable footwear. You are likely going to be doing a lot of walking, not always on flat surfaces, and may even find yourself running or, if you dare, frolicking. All of these things require shoes that will not give you blisters or other problems. Second, anticipate the weather. When considering Renaissance fair costumes, make sure that they can stand up to either the light showers or 105-degree heat to which you’ll be subjecting them. Finally, decide what and how you will carry things. You will likely need money, keys, allergy medication, or a whole host of other things to help get you through the day. If you plan to use pockets in your costume, a satchel, pouch on a belt, etc., make sure that it won’t allow your possessions to fall out and that it fits with your overall plan for authenticity.

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How to Pick a Costume for the Renaissance Festival

Renaissance fairs are popular for a reason. They allow people to transport themselves to a time in history they never experienced. The fairs are also a chance to show your crafty side by making your own costume. You don’t want to be one of those dressed in modern clothing. The idea is to commit. So, if you’re new to Renaissance period clothing, follow these tips to create your ideal costume.

Woman in armor with a sword holding an owl

Pick a Persona

Before you start crafting your costume, think about what kind of character you’d like to be. There are many possibilities. You can be someone of royal blood or a peasant, a jester or a knight. What matters is that you have fun with it and choose a character that you know you can create. Keep in mind, this all depends on how much time you have. If you can’t think up a character, choose a real life famous person from the Renaissance. You could be Michelangelo, Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, and many more!

Materials

It’s always best to strive for accuracy when creating your Renaissance fair costumes. Corsets, puffy shirts, and robes, among others, are common garments. Again, this depends on the persona you’re adopting. If you want to be a knight, invest in a suit of armor costume to really make an impression on other visitors. On the other hand, most decide to make their costumes themselves rather than buy one. This is where you start to combine different articles of clothing as mentioned before, or putting together a brand new and unique outfit. If you consider yourself a crafty person, take the time to sew together your costume. Patrons will appreciate the effort you put in.

Renaissance fairs are fun for the whole family. Among the best parts are the costumes, so you shouldn’t shy away from trying it yourself. Plan your Renaissance festival costumes accordingly, and don’t forget to do a little research. Once you have it all figured out, go have a merry stroll and eat some mutton!

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Fashion Trends in Renaissance Festival Costumes

If you haven’t been to your local Renaissance festival, you’re missing out. Several new trends are taking center stage at festivals across the country. Before you check out all the action, don’t forget your Renaissance period clothing. Read more about the latest trends from the clothing experts at Historical Clothing Realm

Game of Thrones

Man in Armor

Some of the most prevalent costumes you’ll see at the local Renaissance fair hail from the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones. Believe it or not, the costume designers for the show took a lot of inspiration from the dark ages and the Renaissance. Fans of the show are familiar with characters like the Hound, whose signature dog-face helmet uses the same design as the pig-faced Bascinet from the 13th century. Skilled blacksmiths were able to craft these helmets in the likeness of fearsome animals like wolves and bears.

Other helms like that of Sir Loras of Highgarden are reminiscent of the closed helm from 15th century France. Depending on where your favorite Westeros character hails from, your attire will naturally reflect that. Northmen wore heavy cloaks trimmed in dark furs while Southern ladies prefer colorful silks and short-sleeved bodices. Show pride for your favorite house by dressing the part at the next festival.

British Royalty

Everyone’s still buzzing about the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton as well as the new additions to the royal family. This buzz has raised renewed interest in famous historical figures of the British Royal Family. Among the most popular figures of British history are Anne Boleyn and Henry the Eighth. Up until her beheading, Anne, Henry’s second wife, was recognized by the necklace she wore: a string of pearls with the infamous “B” charm. As king, Henry was always wearing the latest fashions. Henry favored purple velvet, the most expensive fabric of his time, trimmed with gold and encrusted with jewels. Henry and Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, was also a trendsetter. Her most famous gown, however, was the white velvet dress she wore under a silver breastplate on the eve of the Battle of Tilbury.

For more classic renaissance festival costumes and the latest styles, consult the experts at Historical Clothing Realm.

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Choosing Customized Renaissance Festival Costumes for Women

Creating a look for a Renaissance Faire or festival provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the persona of a woman who lived during a period of historical evolution and rebirth. Laws dictated what people could wear, and clothing revealed what class they were identified with. Deciding on what class and social status you want to belong to is the first step in choosing an authentic costume. Look for specialty stores that sell custom Renaissance Faire clothing and unique, high-quality Renaissance costumes. But first, explore the clothing types associated with women from this important period in human history before you decide on a costume type.

Renaissance Fashion

Costume

Although the Renaissance is believed to have started in Italy, the fashion trends of the period were set by those who had power, money, and influence. Elizabeth I, who historians say was a great fan of fashion, owned over 3000 gowns and headpieces. She was also fond of ornaments on her gowns, including jewels, embroidery, ribbons, and lace. Catherine de’ Medici, an Italian noblewoman who served as queen of France with her husband, Henry II, was the mother of three sons who became kings of France. Like other upper class women of her time, she chose gowns made from silk, brocade, velvet, and satin. Silk was in high demand and, at one point, was the same price as gold. Many of these noblewomen invested a large part of their wealth on their wardrobes.

While clothing for wealthy women was heavy, the lower classes generally wore lighter clothing made of linen created from wool, sheepskin, or flax plants that allowed them more freedom of movement for working, and because they had no servants to help them dress.

Throughout the Renaissance, the basic style of gown remained the same—tight bodice, exposed neckline, and a full ankle-length skirt, although style trends changed throughout the period. Underneath the gowns and dresses, upper class and lower class women wore a smock and knee-high stockings, and added petticoats that served a dual purpose: to fill out the gown and to provide added warmth. Corsets were also created and adopted as fashionable during this time period.

Adding authentic, personal touches to customized Renaissance faire costumes increase their uniqueness while keeping them historically accurate. For additional ideas, visit our website.

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A Maintenance Guide for Renaissance Dresses

Renaissance faires are a fun way for people of all ages to go back in time and get caught up in a completely different lifestyle. Buying your own Renaissance costume is one of the easiest ways to take part in the festivities. Learn how to take care of your new costume so it can last you for many faires to come!

Renaissance dressHandle with Care

The most important rule when it comes to your Renaissance dresses is to handle them as carefully as possible. Although you’ll be exposed to dirt, animals, and more at Renaissance fairgrounds, do your best to avoid anything that will tear or stain your clothes. Be especially careful when eating and keep in mind that sweat and perfume can cause damage to the material, especially if they are left there for a long period of time. Clean your costume as soon as you come home from the faire to keep it in the best shape possible.

Cleaning Your Costume

How you clean your costume depends largely on the material it’s made from. Ask anywhere they have Renaissance costumes for sale and someone should be able to give you advice on the proper way to clean your clothes. In general, follow these steps:

  • Remove any jewelry or other additions to the clothes whenever possible–these may get damaged or damage the rest of the garment during cleaning.
  • Basic materials such as cotton that aren’t heavily patterned or ornamented can usually be washed at home. Other materials such as velvet or silk should be brought to a drycleaners or an expert in Renaissance costumes.
  • Iron or reshape your clothing as necessary. Follow any instructions that came with the clothes when you got your Renaissance dresses for sale.

Storing Your Costume

Because you won’t be wearing your Renaissance clothing frequently, proper storage is necessary to ensure it stays in good condition year-round. Make sure the clothes are completely clean and dry before putting them into storage. If jewelry or anything else heavy is sewn into the fabric, store it laying down rather than hanging to avoid stretching the fabric. Otherwise you can hang the garments on hangers wrapped in cloth. Then wrap up the entire garment to prevent it from gathering dust or becoming faded in the sun.

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How to Choose a Costume for a Renaissance Festival

Renaissance faires are a popular way to dive into the colorful world of the Renaissance. Fun for adults and children alike, they give you the chance to experience life as it was in the 1500s by completely immersing you in the shops, games, and other traditions of the time. One way to get involved is by wearing your own Renaissance faire clothing. With so many options to choose from, you’ll soon feel right at home as you develop your own role to play.

Renaissance costumes

Choose Your Profession

Most Renaissance festival costumes are based around a profession–and, more broadly speaking, the class associated with that profession. You might prefer to dress as part of the upper class, or you might prefer a trade such as baker, blacksmith, or tailor. You’ll see plenty of people of all professions in action at the faire itself, but don’t worry–you won’t be expected to ply your trade just yet. Just get into character and enjoy chatting with your fellow workers and admiring all the different goods for sale.

Choose Your Materials

Renaissance clothing was not as colorful or intricate as clothes today, especially for the lower classes. In general, the materials should be fairly simple and usually made from earthy tones like green and brown. Of course, they should also be made from natural materials, since synthetic fibers hadn’t been invented yet.

Noblemen and women can have slightly more elaborate Renaissance fair costumes made out of finer materials such as silk. However, you should still avoid patterns and bright, jarring colors like neon green.

Choose Your Accessories

Most people in the Renaissance didn’t accessorize heavily, but you may want to add one or two items to round out your costume. Women–especially upper-class women–can have a simple piece of jewelry or two, but should avoid obvious makeup. Bonnets and hats make practical accessories, as do leather pouches fastened to a simple belt, which are perfect for carrying all the items you’d usually throw into your purse!

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Guide to Buying Fabrics for Renaissance Era Clothing

When it comes to selecting the right materials for your medieval or Renaissance costumes, historical accuracy is very important. By paying close attention to the history of the time period, the various class systems, and the materials available, you’re sure to find the right garment for your next fair or costume party. Here are a few tips to selecting the right fabrics from the experts at Historical Clothing Realm.

Renaissance clothingFabrics

Very few fabric types were available during the medieval and Renaissance eras. Linen was one of the most common fabrics used during this time period. It’s actually a plant-based fabric derived from flax or linseed in northern Europe. Cotton wasn’t as common during this era and had to be imported into Europe from Africa and India. It was sometimes woven with linen to produce a fabric called fustian that was very dense but at the same time very durable. Wool harvested from sheep was very popular among the Viking clans of the north, although more expensive compared to linen. Prized for its ability to keep the wearer warm and dry, it was commonly used to produce military uniforms and traveling gear. Silk was rare since it was imported from Asia, which also made it very expensive.

Status

Throughout the medieval era and well into the 1900s, a person’s status often dictated the style of clothing they wore. Since silk and wool were more expensive, they were often reserved for those who could afford it, namely royalty, nobility, and wealthy merchants. Peasants, artisans, and members of the church usually wore linen and sometimes cotton. When a shirt or pair of trousers became too worn, it was patched or recycled into blankets and smaller clothes for the children.

Colors

Your status also determined the color of your clothing. Natural linen was usually off-white or dull yellow. Blue, yellow, and brown dyes weren’t uncommon during this era. Deeper colors like hunter green, burgundy red, and royal purple had to be imported and it took longer for these colors to set into fabrics. Naturally, they were more expensive and usually only worn by the upper class.

When you start shopping for Renaissance period clothing, strive for historical accuracy and always check the fabric labels.

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5 Medieval Costumes You’ll Find in Your Nearest Costume Store

Are you looking for the perfect costume to wear to the next big party? Themed costume parties are always in style no matter what time of year it is. Renaissance and medieval clothing are especially popular this year thanks to several major blockbuster movies and television series. Click out this list of the top 5 medieval costumes from the costume professionals at Historical Clothing Realm.

Viking warrior

Her Royal Majesty

Everyone is fawning over the new royal family, but when it comes to extravagant attire, no one wore it better than Queen Elizabeth the 1st. Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England at the age of 25 in the year 1558. She was the standard of fashion and elegance in the late Renaissance era. Designers from across Europe fought for the chance to drape her in fine silks, damask prints, and elaborate embroidery.

Fair Maiden

For a simpler look, consider the fair maiden or common folk costume. The simple folk of this time period typically wore lighter fabrics like linen and cotton. If you’re planning on attending a local fair or outdoor event, this costume style won’t bog you down with extra layers and delicate beadwork.

Modest Monk

Although humble, monks from this time period were an essential part of everyday life. Monks in northern Europe perfected the art of making beer and wine. They also provided valuable medical services in addition to being protectors of literature and historical posterity.

Knight in Shining Armor

Imagine showing up to your next costume party or Renaissance fair in a full suit of armor. Historically accurate sets of armor usually include a cotton tunic, a chainmail shirt, an assortment of metal guards, and a breastplate. If you’re worried about comfort, you can also find sets made of hardened plastic or foam carved and painted with decorative designs.

Viking Warrior

During this time period, the people of northern Europe were under constant threat of a Viking invasion. Unlike the typical medieval knight, these warriors wore leather armor and loose fabrics that made moving easier and combat more deadly. They usually painted their shields and faces with the colors of their clan.

These are just a few of the hottest costumes you’ll find at a medieval clothing store near you.

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How to Look Your Best in a Renaissance Dress

When it comes to finding the perfect dress for your local Renaissance Faire or medieval wedding, it’s important to be historically accurate. This guide to Renaissance dresses from the Historical Clothing Realm will help you look your best.

Renaissance Dress

The Fabrics

It’s important to consider your fabric choices when you’re selecting your costume. The Halloween costumes you find at your local big box store are usually made of cheap, modern fabrics. You’ll want to stay away from these fabrics, especially if you’re going for authenticity. Avoid anything stretchy, bedazzled, metallic, or sequined as well as any modern blends like polyester satin.

The Role

Consider the type of costume you need. Are you going as a peasant girl or a queen? Social stature dictated the kinds of fabrics one could afford during medieval times. Peasants and handmaidens, for example, never wore fine silk or velvet. Deep colors like burgundy red, hunter green, and royal blue were usually reserved for the upper classes. Light, earth tones like brown, beige, and yellow were more common among the middle and lower class.

The Fit

You’ll want to make sure your garb fits properly. Ladies, this means your dress is supposed to be a little snug. Lace up your bodice as tight as you can without being uncomfortable. If there are any gaps in the bodice, go for a size smaller. You shouldn’t be able to see the fabric underneath. Make sure your bust is properly supported and that you can move comfortably. Sitting and standing will take practice but the bodice is actually designed to be very supportive.

The Undergarments

If you’re going for historical accuracy, you might as well go all the way. A proper Renaissance gown just doesn’t look right without the right undergarments. The bodice, for example, relies on the support of the corset to maintain its shape. Otherwise, it’ll sag and you’ll spend all night tugging it up. Petticoats under the skirt are designed to highlight the dress. If you’re going as Catherine the Great, you’re going to need a lot of these. Peasant girls and handmaidens can get away with less but they’re still essential to give the garment a natural flow.

For costume ideas, search online for historically accurate Renaissance dresses and get a better understanding of how garments from that time period looked.

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The Ultimate Guide to Buying Medieval Clothing

Are you searching for the perfect medieval or gothic outfit for an upcoming costume party or period-themed play? The dizzying array of styles, cuts, fabrics, and colors can be confusing, particularly if one has a certain picture in mind. However, a simple guide such as the one below allows shoppers for medieval or Renaissance clothing the ability and peace of mind to choose costumes without the worry of making uninformed decisions. Thanks to these helpful hints, people attempting to purchase medieval clothing will not have to second guess their choices! Rather, they will be able to go straight to an online store and purchase just the right items.

Young girl in medieval attire

  • Men—It can be very difficult to truly understand the clothing of medieval culture when attempting to choose costumes in today’s modern world. For men, the most common articles of clothing seem to have been a wide variety of capes, vests, doublets, boots, tunics, and weaponry. Dark colors were very common, but bright ones were preferable to many. In particular, royalty wore vivid shades to draw attention to themselves and to signify their proper stance and position in society.
  • Women—The dresses and other clothing items worn by women during the Renaissance and medieval periods are the wardrobe pieces most commonly associated with today’s view of this historical time period. Because of this, it is perhaps simpler to delve deeper into this facet of medieval clothing. During Renaissance days, the females of society often wore intricate dresses, heavy makeup, ornate hairstyles, and delicate jewelry pieces. This aspect of women’s wardrobes often depended heavily on their position in society and on the wealth of their family.
  • Children—In the same way that men and women each had a particular clothing style associated with their choice of attire, children followed the trends of their elders to a great extent. In many cases, young boys wore tunics, breeches, robes, hoods, and boots. Many of these articles of clothing were sewn from heavy materials and dark shades. The young girls of the medieval period dressed in a similar manner to their elders: cloaks, petticoats, bodices, and full skirts. Depending on the place of the children in Renaissance culture, bright colors were also coveted. Similar to their mothers and fathers, the clothes worn by the boys and girls of the medieval historical period were largely influenced and dictated by their cultural rank and monetary status. The styles could change depending on the particular area and time period in which a child lived.

Medieval men, women, and children all wore a combination of vivid colors and intricate designs. When finding medieval clothes for sale, the best plan is to confirm that these items look historically accurate. Through research and knowledge of the time period, it is not difficult to find exactly what one is looking for in a medieval clothing store. Although there is a dizzying array of medieval and Renaissance clothing pieces from which to choose, the criteria listed above will allow the shopper the peace of mind knowing they have made the correct decision.

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