We’ll discuss how to put together a Ren Faire costume and 10 different men’s costume items and accessories, including: shirts, breeches or pants, vests, hooded men’s cloaks, as well as renaissance belts, shoes, boots, hats, jewelry, and swords. And we’ll definitely talk about hanging items on your belt like drinking horns and tankards!
I follow a number of interesting Instagram accounts about Ren Faires, Royalcore, Hobbitcore, Knightcore, and more. The Renaissance Faire outfits I’m talking about are FUN, Renaissancey, and affordable.
1. Renaissance Shirts and Poet’s Shirts
Many masculine style or men’s costumes for Ren Faire start with a billowy white shirt known as a poet’s shirt. I’m talking about a loose-fitting shirt with full sleeves, known as bishop’s sleeves. Often a poet’s shirt it has a V-neck and laces up, as in these photos. Or it might have ruffles, frills or lace on the front and sometimes the sleeves as well. These shirts often come in linen or cotton, and sometimes satin. You may already own one of these shirts, or be able to borrow one. I was able to find a couple in a thrift store, so try that source as well. And they do sell Poet’s Shirts at Renaissance Faires.
The poet’s shirt has a fascinating history. It was popular during age of Romanticism in the late 19th Century. In the 20th Century, the poet’s shirt was worn by Hollywood actors playing swordsmen or pirates. In the late 1960’s, a tailored version of the shirt known as a Byron shirt (for the great poet, Lord Byron) was popular in London. From there, the shirts were adopted by both New Wave bands and the romantic side of Goth subculture.
And depending on how old you are, you may remember “The Puffy Shirt” episode of Seinfeld from 1993. Hopefully, you enjoyed my digression into the history of the poet’s shirt.
While I’m emphasizing white shirts, you could go with a different color. Black, tan, grey, red, dark blue, and more are all available, depending on your color preferences.
2. Renaissance Pants or Breeches
What did Renaissance men wear for pants? They wore breeches which came down to the knees or just below the knee and were neither loose or tight. Breeches had a button fly, pockets, and often buttoned at the knee.
Men did not wear long pants. However, if this is your first Ren Faire, and you don’t want to invest a lot, you can definitely wear pants. You will not be alone. As you see in these photos…many men are wearing long pants with their Ren Faire costume.
[I, for one, had the misconception that men wore “hose” in the Renaissance, like what we call tights today. However, there was no nylon or spandex in the Renaissance!
Men did wear cloth leggings, called chausses or hose. These were like stripes of fabric (picture an ankle wrap for sprained ankles) that wrapped around the legs and were often worn with a tunic. During this period, beginning with the middle and upper classes, hose became longer and more fitting, and they reached above the knees.]
Many of the men’s Ren Faire costumes I’ve admired have a vest. They do add a lot of polish to your Renaissancey costume. Again, perhaps you have a vest, or you may be able to source one from a friend, or a thrift shop. Oh, and there will be vests for sale at the Ren Faire. You can also search clothing resale sites like Ebay, Poshmark, Thredup, and Depop, for vests and poet’s shirt.
4. Boots and Shoes
What shoes would you wear to Ren Faire? Most any boot or plain shoe will work well with your Ren Faire outfit. You’ll even see Doc Martin’s and goth-looking boots in some of our Raven Fox photoshoots, for example. If you don’t own boots, any simple, plain shoe can work.
Boots are one of my favorite wardrobe items! If you like costumes and fancy dress, in general, I think you’ll find owning a pair of boots valuable as they add a great deal of polish to the final look.
[Reminder, be sure to wear comfortable shoes to the Ren Faire, because you’ll walk miles in a day. Be sure to break in any new shoes or boots by wearing them at home first.]
5. Renaissance Belts
You don’t have to have a belt for your first Ren Faire costume. Also, you’ll be entertained to hear people hang a lot of stuff off their belts such as pouches, tankards, horn drinking cups, and swords or daggers. Don’t worry about getting in on this at first. These are items you can buy as souvenirs at the Renaissance Fair itself. On our site, (this site) we do carry both vegan belts with double pouches as well as real leather Renaissance style belts, if you want to check those out.
6. Renaissance Cloaks
Our family business Raven Fox Capes and Cloaks sells cloaks with pockets to people for Renaissance Faires all around the country. The mid-weight cloaks are ideal for Spring, Fall, or Summer Evenings. We designed them especially for fantasy costumes and cosplay in the warm seasons or warmer parts of the country. You can also use the cloak to keep sun off!
On summer evenings, a cloak can be perfect for sitting on while picnicking or at a concert. It’s certainly a truly great accessory to have, though I’m very partial.
And if you are attending an event in a cold setting, check out our black velvet hooded cloaks as protection from wind or cold.
7. Renaissance Hats
Most Ren Faires take place during Elizabethan times. At that time in history, everyone over the age of thirteen by law had to wear a hat in public. These hats kept off the sun, but also signified class and rank. The fashionable wore high crown hats with brims.
If you are dressing as a nobleman you might have a large jeweled ring or necklace to show your wealth and status.
9. Swords and daggers
Swords or fake swords can be a fabulous Renaissance Faire accessory.
I’ve looked at the rules on weapons on many Renaissance Faire websites. SOME say no weapons whatsoever. SOME Ren Faires allow play or fake weapons. SOME allow real swords, but they must be tied closed. You’ll want to check the website of the Faire you plan to attend. In any case, a fake sword is definitely a fun accessory and you can hang it from your belt for rakish look. And someone will probably comment that a sword is not an ACCESSORY, but a sword!
10. Horn Drinking Cup or Tankard
More practical and fun things to add to your belt! Traditionally used for ale or mead but you can drink whatever your favorite beverage is from a drinking cup or tankard.
Help others with their Renaissance Faire Costume
Listen — help others by leaving your Ren Faire costume ideas in the comments below. Or ask questions, and I or other readers will answer you. If you want to read more about Ren Faire outfits or costumes, see our popular article The Do’s and Don’ts of your first Renaissance Faire Costume.