Guide to Renaissance Swag, Part 2

Thy beauty inspires, fair peasant, though thy coin purse does lack.

I shall admire thee as thou shoppest from the clearance rack!

Part 2 is our Ode to the Modern Day Peasant Girl. Whether you’re ordering off the Dollar Menu or haggling over a bracelet at the Renaissance Faire, you know how to keep it real… and thrifty. Sure, those multi-layered renaissance gowns are dazzling, and those bejeweled headdresses are tall and tree-branch-snagging, but you’ve always known that being classy isn’t about social class.

So if you’re looking to rep the proletariat at the next Ren Faire, here are a few suggestions on how to dress peasant-style:

In the Renaissance Age, the class system was as rigid as a whalebone corset. King Henry XIII imposed “sumptuary laws” that dictated how people of different social classes were allowed to dress. These rules, not to mention the lack of finances, put lots of limitations on what peasant women could wear.  Lower classes would have tried to imitate the overall style of upper class dress. However, peasant women’s garments were less restrictive, so they’d be free to move about their daily duties and because they didn’t have servants to help them put on those regal labyrinths of fabric.

Ameline Peasant Dress

Our Ameline Peasant Dress

But the main differences in peasant dress would’ve been their fabric and color. Processed or finely woven fabrics such as velvet, corduroy, and satin were too high up in the price range. Even cotton was expensive and uncommon, partly because in that day it had to be cleaned by hand – talk about Cotton Tunnel Syndrome! (Puns, however, are common and absolutely free J.) Popular fibers for commoners included wool and flax, a plant which could be homespun into linen.

Renaissance Maiden Surcoat

Green Maiden Surcoat

Amah Renaissance Gown

The Amah Renaissance Gown in Bronze/Rust Brown

Dyes were also pricey, meaning that lower classes often dressed in earth tones, such as brown, green, gold, or rust.  Not to mention that by law, some colors were exclusively reserved for royalty – purple, for instance, could only be worn by the Queen! Oh, the lengths some ladies will go to stand out from the crowd… the hand-crafted gold crown wasn’t enough, eh?

Fear not, ye valiant gentlemen – thy advisory column cometh soon

We shall teach thee to select a doublet that shall make the ladies swoon!

Visit Historical Clothing Realm to see some of these products!

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