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.
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.
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.
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.
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.