I’ve written a popular post about Your First Renaissance Faire Costume but there is so much more to say about Renaissance Faire outfits.
We’ll be talking about 10 different clothing and accessory items: dresses, blouses, skirts, vests, bodices, and women’s hooded cloaks, as well as renaissance belts, shoes, boots, hats, wreaths, jewelry, skirt hikes (I’ll explain), and swords. And we’ll definitely talk about things that hang off of belts!
A huge slice of the fun of Ren Faires is styling your Renaissance Faire outfit! I also plan to write a similar post about Renaissance Faire Costume, Masculine Style, so stay tuned for that in the near future.
I follow several engaging Instagram accounts about dressing for Renaissance Faires, Cottagecore, Hobbitcore, Knightcore, and more. The Renaissance Faire outfits I’m talking about are FUN, Renaissancey, and affordable. They aren’t authentic.
Did I say they are fun? Yup, I guarantee you’ll feel fun. Costuming can be an amazing source of pleasure and diversion. But you probably agree with me, as that’s why you are here.
1. Renaissancey Dresses
Many women start their costume off with a dress…you probably guessed this but I want to start from the beginning! Often these are contemporary dresses that are flowy or boho in style…These kinds of boho dresses can be found in your closet, your friend’s closet, or your thrift store. Or you can buy one at a Renaissance Faire or online.
Often they’ll add a skirt under the dress or skirt. Two skirts…why?! Well, because they’re going to add a skirt hike on the belt…which lets the under skirt be seen and adds a lot of texture or intrigue. Maybe I’m getting too complicated, too fast. More on this later. I’m going to talk about the blouse now.
YouTube Video Credit: Dress Me Up Scotty; Scroll to 3.5 minutes for Plus Size Dress Suggestions; and 13.5 minutes to see the feminine Renaissance dress styling ideas. And please give Dress Me Up Scotty a follow on YouTube…you’ll be glad you did.
2. Renaissance Blouse or Dress Top with Flowy or Blousy Sleeves
In my humble opinion, its’ the blousy or flowy sleeves on the dress or top that is going to make this outfit look Renaissancey. So focus on that.
Look for a top that has an open neckline (or you can cut an open neckline) and big flowy, blousy sleeves! Often these tops are white or cream, but really it can be a bright top like coral, orange, light green, blue or purple OR it can be a dark color like black, dark blue, crimson red, or rich purple. It all depends on your color preference.
3. Vest, Bodice, as well as Bodice-like
Nearly all the Renaissance Faire outfits I’ve admired have a vest or a bodice and this is one of key elements to get that Renaissancey look. 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 and bodice’s for sale at the Ren Faire, so perhaps you can make this your first souvenir. You can also look at sites like Poshmark, and Thredup for dresses, blouses, vests (use the terms boho, milkmaid, or peasant in your search. I’d also look at poet’s shirt.)
About the bodice. Sadly, you aren’t likely to find a bodice in a thrift shop, as they aren’t that common and people hold on to them. It’s not impossible, but its’ not very likely.
Get this though, you can create a bodice-like look with a a tank top and some ribbon. (See this idea at the beginning of the video above.) So pick a tank color that contrasts with your dress or top. Simply place the tank over the dress, tuck it into the skirt or fold it over…you want it to end around your waist. Then tie a little ribbon on the straps to mimic a bodice. It you have a belt you’ll place that around your waist to conceal the end of the tank top.
Last note, you want the tank or vest or bodice to contrast with the dress or blouse and skirt. Contrast really makes for an eye-catching Renaissance outfit. For example, Pink and black, Rose and blue, Green and Coral, Purple and Charcoal or Gold. You’ll see many examples of contrast in Renaissance outfits if you watch the video above.
4. Boots and Shoes
Boots are one of my favorite wardrobe items. I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think many people just love how a pair of boots makes them feel confident and transforms their outfit. They just elevate an outfit sooo much.
Most any boot will work well with your Renaissance outfit. You’ll see Doc Martin’s and punk looking boots in some of our photoshoots, for example. If you don’t own boots, any simple, plain shoe should work.
[Word of warning, you’ll be walking a lot at the Ren Faire so be sure to wear comfortable foot gear. If you aren’t sure about the comfort level of your shoes, put a back up pair in the car. Last, don’t wear new shoes…be sure to break in your shoes or boots ahead of time.]
5. Belts and Skirt Hikes
I see belts in the less-essential-but-cool-to-have category for your Ren Faire outfit. If this is your first time attending, you might not know that people hang a lot of stuff off their belts such as pouches, tankards, horn drinking cups, and skirt hikes (I’ll get to those soon.). 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.
So what’s a skirt hike? A skirt hike helps you to hike up your skirt and show off the lower one. To use the skirt hike, you pull up some fabric from the bottom of the top skirt and pull it through the ring. Then pull it tight. Some Renaissance belts come with skirt hikes or if you have a belt, you can buy a skirt hike on its own. Shirt hikes are available from Etsy makers and at your local Renaissance Faire.
6. Women’s Hooded Cloaks
Our company, Raven Fox Capes and Cloaks, sells a lot of high quality cloaks to people going to Renaissance Faires all around the country. The mid-weight cloaks we sell are ideal for Spring, Fall, or Summer Evenings. If its’ hot you can also use the cloak to keep sun off your arms and décolletage.
You can also use a hooded velvet cloak as protection from wind or cold…and still show off your Renaissance costume. On summer evenings, you can use it for eating outdoors or listening to music. You can even sit on it. It’s certainly a great accessory to have, though I’m very partial.
Additional Renaissance Faire Outfit Items:
7. Renaissance Hats and Flower Head Crowns or Wreaths
Most Renaissance 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. Women of fashion favored a snood to cover their hair. Additionally, there were multiple kinds of hats and coverings for middle class and peasant class women such as a turban-like head wrap, small caps, and more. Wide brimmed straw hats were also very popular, a trend that started with English women.
And this is a sweet festival tradition! Young girls wore flower garlands. Floral head crowns and other headgear are sold at Ren Faires; and, you can also make a floral head wreath at home. You’ll need some wire, floral tape and either live or artificial flowers. You’ll find instructions online.
Hats can be handy to keep the sun off as many Ren Faires can be sunny and hot. I have a liking for large felt hats, but muffin hats, or floppy hats are also options.
8. Renaissance Jewelry
I see some Renaissance outfits, especially the wench kind, include a single small choker or layer a couple of chokers too. Other Renaissance costumes, such as a noble woman might have a large jeweled necklace.
9. Swords and Daggers
SOME Ren Faires allow play or fake weapons. You’ll want to check the website of the Faire you plan to attend. In any case, a fake sword or dagger is definitely a fun accessory and you can hang it from your belt for rakish look.
10. Horn Drinking Cup or Tankard
More practical and fun things to add to your belt! Traditionally, horn drinking cups and tankards are used for ale or mead but you can drink whatever favorite beverage you’ll like. You’ll want to buy a souvenir at the fair, so perhaps a horn drinking cup will tickle your fancy.