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.


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.


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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3 Reasons You Should Buy Renaissance Clothing Online

Although Renaissance clothing may not be the most common commodity on the market today, there is definitely a customer base for it as people involved in plays, movies, costume parties, and even simply Halloween celebrations all flock to find this type of product. Of course, these costumes can be somewhat difficult to find in stores, making shopping online the perfect solution. As listed in this article, there are a number of reasons many people choose to shop online for items such as Renaissance faire clothing.

Medieval King

  • Selection—Just like any other product in a competitive market, the ability to choose from a wide variety of items greatly benefits the customer. Obviously, Renaissance clothing is also slightly more challenging to discover in a mall or shopping center than other wardrobe items. Because of this, the additional selection provided by online shopping makes the entire process of finding Renaissance faire clothing much simpler.
  • Price—Nearly every customer pays a great deal of attention to the price tag when they are making a purchase. Thankfully, the benefits of shopping online are not offset by a hefty additional fee. You’ll often find a significant price reduction in the case of many online Renaissance faire clothing industries. This factor contributes to the overall advantage of shopping online for medieval-themed customers or clothing.
  • Convenience—Last of all, and perhaps most important to many shoppers, the ability to view and select clothes from the comfort of their own home is an enormous incentive toward buying online. As with many other purchases, a number of customers prefer the ability to browse from the comfort of their own homes rather than visiting shopping mall after shopping mall as they search for the perfect item. Renaissance clothing can be rather difficult to find as it is definitely not a common product in typical stores.

A number of benefits can be found in shopping online for Renaissance clothing if needed for anything from a costume party to a medieval-themed play. The selection is much vaster, the prices often cheaper, and the convenience of the entire experience increased when purchasing from a Renaissance clothing store rather than through the typical shopping experience. Also, when one has the comfort and ease of using a smart phone or computer to browse, the entire shopping trip is much more positive and less stressful than the alternative of going into a physical store.

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This Weeks Specials on – April 6th-13th Only

Hey there, we’ve updated the homepage of HCR to make it more dynamic in giving out specials sales and promotions updated weekly. We’ve just installed a powerful new system that let’s us run multiple promotions with the flexibility we’ve always wanted! We’ll be posting here to explain the different promotions every week! Here are the main promotions:

Our Main Promotion: 10% Off ALL Men’s Renaissance and Medieval Clothing

Includes all men’s clothing! Renaissance Doublets, Shirts, Tunics, Pants, Footwear, etc.









5% Off All Women’s Dresses and Gowns

renaissance dresses and gowns

Includes our most popular dresses, Country Maid Skirt w/ Bodice






A great offer on all helmets: 10% Off any helmet!

medieval and roman helmets

Get 10% Off All Viking, Roman, Greek, and Medieval Helmets.

Keep in mind all these promotions are automatically applied when you add an item eligible for the sale into the cart. No coupons necessary! Everyone will get the discount when you add the product to the cart.

We also have secondary promotions on other product lines throughout the site, they are:

1) 10% Off all Greek Armor and Breastplates

2) 5% Off all Medieval Weapons

3) 10% Viking Tunics and other Medieval Shirts and Tunics

Go checkout our homepage at or click the “Shop Now” link at the top navigation. Comment with your suggestions for sales next week!

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A Knight’s Wardrobe – What’s Underneath?

When you think of a knight’s attire of the medieval times, you most likely envision one in shining armor galloping in on a white steed to save the day!  But here’s a shocker…knights actually wore more than just armor.  Crazy, huh!?!  As battle was dangerous and armor could be penetrated, knights required layers underneath for protection.  Generally, a knight’s wardrobe was practical, but on occasion left room for a bit of style.

When it came to clothing, the main concern for the knight was protection.  Because these valiant guys fought in the sun, armor could get quite hot and could burn the knight without padding underneath.  In addition, the feel of fabric was no doubt more comfortable than metal armor rubbing against the skin.  Thus, knights wore linen undershirts and linen underpants called gipouns.  The underpants had laces that tightened the garment securely around the body, preventing armor from touching the flesh.



To ensure extra comfort, knights wore a long quilted coat, stuffed with linen or grass.  This garment could be referred to as a doublet, aketon, arming, gambeson, or heketon.  There was also a cheaper, and sometimes more accessible, garment called a fustian for those of lower wealth.  To shield from the rain, knights were sometimes seen in long cloaks as well.

Atop their armor, knights wore long robes called surcoats.  These garments were fastened at the waist and were accompanied by long bands on the sleeves.  To give the knight some breathing room, this attire was open at the bottom.  Surcoats played a huge role in knights’ armor, as they showcased the coat of arms, identifying the knight on the battlefield.  The coat of arms was also seen on a matching shield.

Knights Templar Costume:

Knights Templar Costume

Because the Middle Ages were not like the days of ancient Rome, knights definitely did not wear sandals.  Instead they wore flat closed toed shoes, usually made from tanned leather or tawed skin.  They also wore woolen stockings to insulate their legs and feet.  Other attire of note was hats (which distinguished rank), belts, and pouches.

So, the next time you see a knight, be it on film, in a photograph, or live, remember that there is more than just armor to these guys.  To see our collection of knightly garb, go to

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A Step Inside Scottish Wardrobe

When it comes to the fun fashions of Scottish Highlands, it is hard to imagine that there could be other pieces, aside from the kilt.  While the kilt is indeed a dominant staple of Scottish style, there are other garments to go into the Highland wardrobe.

So, let’s start at the beginning.  While the kilt is the most associated piece of clothing with the Scottish Highlands, the garment that paved the way for it was the liene.  The liene was a long shirt that reached to the ground for women and to the knee for men.  The look was topped off with a plaid blanket or cloak type piece draped over the shoulders or pinned at the chest.

Highlands Shirt:

HIghlands Shirt

Skipping ahead to the late 16th century, kilts splashed on to the scene.  They began being sported only by Highlanders, but their popularity spread quickly and these garments eventually earned the reputation of being the national dress of Scotland.  The kilt was patterned and layered, using several yards of fabric.  As the kilt is traditionally male apparel, female attire consists of pleated skirts with the same materials and pattern as the kilt.  In the 19th century, the kilt got a status bump to formal wear, thanks to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  The style then incorporated the kilt accompanied by a jacket and sportan.

In addition to formal attire, the kilt also served other purposes.  For example, the Scots were involved in the Jacobite Rebellion in Britain during the 18th century where the kilt was viewed as a strong cultural element by the English government, who actually prohibited it for a period of time.  The kilt has also become a geographical indicator which is worn by various British and Scottish military regiments.  In sports, Scottish players and fans tend to wear kilts or at least the tartan pattern to proclaim their loyalty and heritage to their country.

Scottish Man’s Kilt:

Scottish Man's Kilt

Other noteworthy Highland dress components include the ghillie brogues, thick soled, tongueless shoes that are wrapped and tied around the ankle.  Both men and women wear these shoes, but the female version has thinner soles for dancing and indoor activities.  Women also are known to wear patterned dresses and accessorize their look with tartan shawls or sashes.

In all Scottish styles, the one thing that remains is the tartan pattern.  Though the fashions may change to keep up with current times, this distinctive will not go away.  To view our collection of Scottish attire, go to

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Medieval Times – A Bite Of History

So it’s a Friday night and you are looking for that perfect place to take that special someone.  However, you find yourself in a dilemma as McDonalds just doesn’t do the trick and you’ve been to the Olive Garden twice in the last week.  You look at the events calendar in the paper, but the dinner theater is dark tonight.  In that case, what do you do?  Well, there is a winning option you may not be aware of…Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament.  With locations in several major U.S. cities, this interactive dining delight offers a unique experience taking you back to the adventurous era of the Middle Ages.  Featuring fantastic food and a cast of talented actors and live animals, attendees are welcomed into an 11th century castle for a gallant good time.  Authentic medieval games, such as jousts and swordfights, thrill while you enjoy a mighty fine meal!

Long Medieval Tunic:

Long Medieval Tunic

While Medieval Times hasn’t been around a long time, it wasn’t born yesterday.  In fact, the first restaurant attraction was birthed in Spain in 1973 and made its way to the United States ten years later when the first North American Medieval Times opened in Florida to a warm reception.  As its popularity rose, this attraction emerged into a chain and spread to other parts of the U.S., making the exhilaration of knights and castles accessible to many and proving that interest in the Middle Ages is still very much alive and thriving!

In addition to being entertaining, Medieval Times has also been deemed an authentic experience by history buffs and enthusiasts alike. Those who have visited the attraction validate historical accuracy in every aspect – from the costumes to the architecture to the armor and weapons to the games.  A large part of this comes from the six to eight week training intensive that every cast member must undergo to be a performer.  The training process mirrors that of the real medieval period in which one would start as a squire and advance up the ranks and focuses on physical fitness, combat, and horsemanship.  In short, being a Medieval Times knight is no easy feat.

Medieval Princess Dress:

Medieval Princess Dress

What one can expect from their visit to Medieval Times is as follows.  Guests enter, first, into an outer arena where they are welcomed by knights, the princess, and other jovial characters.  They are also crowned with various colors and garb.  Next comes the meal in the inner arena with traditional medieval nourishment like chicken, bread, and dessert, served by wenches.  Then it is game time!  Guests are then treated to exciting acts including jousts in which knights ride in on horses and try to knock each other off, as well as sword fights and perhaps a few surprises.  Brace yourself for rowdy crowds!  And for further appreciation, you should know that the horses used in the show also go through rigorous training following the training knights of old would give their animals.  After the games, guests are ushered out by friendly actors, bidding adieu.

Dresses and Gowns:

And there you have it…your answer to a memorable Friday night date that is sure to impress and enlighten!  And one more thing, it is not uncommon for guests to come to Medieval Times in period costumes to get into the spirit!  That being said, take a look at our medieval clothing collection at

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Renaissance Faire Costume Ideas

Now that summer is in full force, there is no shortage of activities to choose from!  You could go to the beach, grill on the good old barbecue, embark on a hike or bike ride, or enjoy the cool air conditioning of a dark movie theater.  While these are all excellent options, there are also a few events that offer more of a unique experience, one of them being a Renaissance faire.  Remaining at the top of the list of popular attractions, these faires invite attendees to revisit the streets of Renaissance villages with food, festivities, and you guessed it…fashion!  Dressing in character and romping about in period style is one of the most beloved aspects of this event, as it is not every day you got to flaunt such stylish garb!

Fashion…that word tends to evoke either fear or excitement!  For those who live at the mall, there is nothing better than spending hours selecting the perfect outfit!  But for the rest of us, figuring out the right style can cause a freak out!  As you look in your wardrobe, nothing seems to be working like you hoped it would!  The good news, though, is that dressing for a Renaissance faire is very pressure free.  One has the option to go in a historically authentic period garment, but one also has the freedom to mix and match period items with other apparel to create a unique look.  One’s costume could even delve into the fantasy realm bringing to life a fictional character from period literature.  Other ideas include portraying a historical figure, a gypsy, pirate, peasant, or nobility member.  Basically, a character can be whatever you want it to be (within reason) and your attire can be catered and complimented accordingly.

Early Renaissance Shirt:

Early Renaissance Shirt

To play it safe, a common character at a Renaissance faire is a peasant, which falls in line with historical accuracy where peasants made up 90% of the population of the Renaissance period.  So naturally, the next question to ask is “what do peasants wear?”  Well, their clothing was pretty simple and easy to conjure.  Men wore basic shirts and pants while women wore bodices, chemises, blouses, and skirts.  And kids wore miniature versions of the adult styles.  All peasants also wore leather shoes and bag-like hats called “biggins”.  If a peasant is what you are going as, wool and linen would be the authentic fabrics of the day with natural colors and a rugged appearance would be normal, as these people were hard laborers.

If you plan to dress as a member of a higher class, you could always appear as middle class or upper class.  Middle class people of the Renaissance desired to mirror upper class fashion, but had certain clothing restrictions placed upon them.  For men, doublets, ballooned pantaloons, and tights (yes, they were manly!) comprised their wardrobe while women wore corsets or doublets, farthingales (stiffened hoop underskirts), padded hips, and hairnets called cauls.  In dressing as a member of the middle or upper class, stick with rich materials like silk or velvet and deep colors such as red, black, and purple.  Accessories like belts and jewelry are not a bad idea either.

Peasant Blouse:

Peasant Blouse

In addition to the above mentioned ideas, other costume possibilities include a lady in waiting, country aid, wench, lord, merchant, sailor, and so on!  And when it comes to fantasy characters, imagination is the key over authenticity.  Bottom line is that while it can seem challenging to know what to wear to a Renaissance faire, it is not.  All it takes is a little bit of research and a whole lot of creativity, layered with massive amounts of fun!

And to help in growing your Renaissance wardrobe, see our collection at

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