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Renaissance Festival Accessories

by | Aug 19, 2023 | Costumes and Cloaks, Renaissance Cloaks, Renaissance Faire

A Renaissance festival costume is fun to plan! Here we’ll talk about accessories like Renaissance hats, shoes, belts, jewelry, swords, and cloaks for both men and women. Unlike my other posts on Ren Faire outfits, here I’ll delve into authentic Renaissance Era accessories.

It’s a lot of information, so feel free to scan, skip ahead or just read what you like. For some of you it’ll be interesting to know that there were more than a dozen kinds of hats and you’ll be able to start noticing the different hats at the ren faire.

Ren Faire Outfit

Tudor Bonnet Hat at a historic festival in London. Note the woolen round brim and the soft woolen top on this hat as well as the feathers tied by a cord that wraps around.

First, a caveat about money and perfection: Don’t feel pressured to have everything all at once for your Renaissance festival costumes. Consider adding something big or small to your costume each year, as it spreads out the expense and the fun! Getting off my soap box now.

Renaissance Festival Hats

Both men and women wore hats or headgear in public. My sources say everyone over 13 years of age was required to wear a hat and could be fined for not having one. Hat wearing was both a social custom and a symbol of social status, occupation, or style. In the Renaissance Era social classes were subject tons of rules about what they could and couldn’t wear, which made social classes and certain professions obvious at a glance. Like today business and professional people wear suits or doctors wear a white lab coat that makes them identifiable.

Renaissance Festival Costumes

Renaissance Faire Outfit with the popular muffin cape which features a broad band around the forehead and a soft pillowy top.

Many Renaissance Festivals are all day, sunny events, and so a hat can be both practical and fashionable. At the Renn Faire itself, you’ll find a wide array of hats and headgear to add to your Renaissance Festival outfit.

Here are some popular Renaissance hats, but if you skip ahead, I understand. You can check out the hats people are wearing at the Renn Faire itself:

  1. Muffin Cape: A hat much like a chef’s hat with a soft, muffin like top and a band around the forehead. See above.
  2. Flat Cap or Hat: A simple, rounded cap with a stiff brim in front. Frankly, this hat has many names and comes in a variety of materials.
  3. Tudor Bonnet: A simple, round brim cap made from cloth or wool with a side tassel hanging from a cord. See photo above.
  4. Beret: A round, flat-crowned hat made of soft material like wool, popular among both men and women since early European history.
  5. Straw Hat: A narrow or wide-brimmed straw hat.
  6. Flower Garlands: Young girls wore flower garlands in their hair for festivals. They sell flower garlands and wreaths at Ren Festivals.
  7. Bycocket or Bycoket: A European hat that was fashionable for both men and women. It has a wide brim that is turned up in the back and pointed in the front like a bird’s beak. It was often decorated with feathers, jewels, or other ornaments. Today, it is commonly associated with the character Robin Hood.
Ren Faire Outfit

Renaissance Festival costumes with hats at a Northern California Renaissance Faire, Hollister California. Note the feathered black muffin cap in the foreground and multiple belts with pouches. These men are wearing short breeches with a legging below.

  1. Chaparon: A form of hood or, later, highly versatile hat worn in all parts of Western Europe.
  2. French Hood: An elegant headgear that was popular in Western Europe in the 16th century.
  3. Pirate Hat: Although pirates belong to a later period, you may see lots of pirate-inspired hats at Renaissance Faires, like tricorn hats with feathers or skulls.
  4. Snood: Not exactly a hat, but headgear. Snoods hold up the hair in a net, keeping it off a woman’s face and neck.
  5. The Coif: Similar to a snood, a linen cap that covered the hair and tied under the chin.
Renaissance Festival Costumes

Musicians in Renaissance Festival costumes at the Colorado Renaissance Festival, Larkspur, CO. Also popular are a felt or leather hats with one side pinned up and multiple plumes as the woman in front is wearing. And behind her is a woman in a red muffin cap.Note the man with a Green Tudor Bonnet in the background.

Renaissance Shoes

There were some pretty crazy and impractical shoes during the Renaissance! Most of which you’ll want to avoid!! See the pointed-toe shoes below as an example.

For your Renaissance Faire outfit, you’ll probably want to select some simple shoes or boots. For women dressing as a peasant, look at simple sandals, flats, or clogs.

For middle class women, a plain flat shoe or lace-up shoe will look great. Also, if you want to wear boots with your Ren Faire dress, go right ahead as many women do! Keep in mind there will be a lot of walking. Choose comfortable shoes.

For peasant and middle class men, a mid-calf or knee high boot is the way to go.

Ren Faire Outfit

Poulaines, a very pointed shoe, shown in this hand painted Renaissance manuscript, L’Instruction d’un jeune prince, by Guillebert de Lannoy, c. 1468-70, image in the public domain.

Here are some common styles of Renaissance shoes:

  1. Poulaines: Poulaines were pointed-toe shoes that became popular during the 14th and 15th centuries. The length of the pointed toe could vary greatly, and some poulaines had exaggeratedly long tips. They were popular, but also controversial and often times criticized from multiple quarters.
  2. Chopines or Pattens: Chopines were platform shoes typically worn by women. They originated in Venice; the height of the platform could be extremely high and caused some wearers to tower over others. Chopines were a symbol of wealth and status, and wearers sometimes needed servants to walk with them and keep them from toppling over. While it was hard to walk in chopines, they did keep women’s feet above the muddy and dirty streets.
  3. Slippers: Renaissance slippers were lightweight and comfortable shoes made of soft fabrics like velvet or leather. They were often adorned with embroidery, ribbons, or jewels, making them suitable for formal occasions.
  4. Ankle boots: Ankle boots were common for both men and women. They were usually made of leather and provided better support compared to other shoe styles.
  5. Buskins: Buskins were fashionable high-quality, knee-high boots made of leather or silk and frequently worn by nobility and wealthy individuals.

 

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