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:
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.
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!
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