Women’s Renaissance Faire Outfits

by | Apr 20, 2024 | Costumes and Cloaks, Renaissance Cloaks

We’ll be talking about 10 different clothing and accessory items for Women’s Renaissance Faire Outfits:

  • dresses
  • chemises
  • blouses
  • skirts
  • vests and bodices
  • hooded women’s cloaks
  • renaissance belts and skirt hikes (I’ll explain)
  • shoes and boots,
  • hats and wreaths,
  • jewelry
  • swords
  • And we’ll definitely talk about things that hang off of belts!

Costuming is an amazing source of pleasure and diversion. For so many people, dressing and styling Renaissance Faire outfits can be a huge percentage of the fun of the whole day! But you probably agree with me, as that’s why you are here.

The Renaissance Faire outfits I’m talking about are FUN, Renaissancey, and affordable. They aren’t authentic per se.

Did I say they are fun? Yup, I guarantee you’ll feel fun.

1. Renaissancey Dresses

Many women start their Renaissance Faire outfits off with a dress…you probably guessed this but I want to start from the beginning!

If you want to be more historically accurate, you’ll want a white or cream colored chemise which is a simple dress with an attractive neckline worn under the bodice or dress. You can buy an elegant chemise at a Renaissance Faire or on Etsy.

However, its also popular for women to choose 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.

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 make this style of Ren Faire 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 violet OR it can be a dark color like black, dark blue, crimson red, or rich purple. It all depends on your color preference.

Women's Cloak

Credit: Cosplay by @thewooddweller (IG/FB/YouTube) Raven Fox Signature Women’s Cloak in Ranger Green, Medium; available in four colors and 3 lengths

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 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.

If you learn nothing else from this article, it’s that contrast really makes for an eye-catching Renaissance outfit.

Make the top layer, tank or vest or bodice contrast with the dress or blouse and skirt! 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 faire outfits if you watch the video above.

Renaissance Faires CA

@dressmeupscotty from Instagram in a Raven Fox Capes Signature Cloak in Riding Hood Red, Medium.

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 style of boots will work well with Renaissance Faire outfits. 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. I recently added a post about Renaissance Faire costume accessories that delves more into authentic Renaissance hats, belts, shoes and more.

[Word of warning, you’ll be walking a lot at the Renaissance Festival so be sure to wear comfortable foot gear. If you aren’t sure about the comfort level of your shoes, then 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.]

green hooded cloak

Sometimes fairies want cloaks too. Especially fun, swooshy cloaks. Raven Fox Signature women’s Cloak with Pockets in Ranger Green.

5. Belts and Skirt Hikes

I see belts in the less-essential-but-cool-to-have category for your Ren Faire outfit. And 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 trend at first. These are items you can buy as souvenirs at the Renaissance Fair itself. On our site, (this site) we do carry both beautiful vegan belts with double pouches as well as real leather Renaissance style belts.

So what’s a skirt hike? A skirt hike, skirt lifter, or skirt garter, helps you to hike up your skirt and show off the lower one. During the Renaissance Era, women’s clothing typically consisted of layers including a chemise (a loose undergarment), a corset or bodice, and a skirt. Skirt hikes lifted the skirts for dancing or walking and preventing them from dragging on the ground.

Many of the skirt hikes I’ve seen are leather and incorporated into a leather belt. You can see the skirt hike on the belt below, though it isn’t being used. And they don’t have to be leather.

To use the skirt hike, you pull up some fabric from the bottom of the top skirt and pull it through a 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.

Renaissance Faire Belts

Double pouch vegan Renaissance Belt with skirt hike. Can be used for other genres too.

6. Women’s Cloaks

Our company, Raven Fox Capes and Cloaks, sells high quality cloaks to people going to Renaissance Faires all around the country. The mid-weight women’s cloaks we sell are ideal for Spring, Fall, Winter, or Summer Evenings. If its’ hot you can also use the cloak to keep sun off your arms and décolletage. 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.

You can also use a hooded velvet cloak as protection from wind or cold…and still show off your Renaissance Faire outfit.

Additional Renaissance Faire Outfit Items:

Renaissance Fair Outfits

@deadwrathandbeyond in a Raven Fox Signature Women’s Cloak in Ranger Green, Medium; available in four colors and 3 lengths

7. Renaissance Hats and Flower Head Crowns or Wreaths

Most Renaissance Festivals take place during Elizabethan times. At that time in history, by law everyone over the age of thirteen 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. I’ve shared more about hats, belts, shoes, in a post called Renaissance Faire Costume Accessories, which talks about what hats, belts, and shoes looked like in the Renaissance Era.

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.

Renaissance Faires California

A flower crown as well as other headgear at a Renaissance Faire.

8. Renaissance Jewelry

Jewelry was another way that Renaissance people showcased their wealth and social status! Other Renaissance Faire outfits, such as a noble woman might have a large jeweled necklace. For example, the noble woman in this photo has a pearl choker with a large jeweled cross. And the bodice of her dress is adorned with embroidery and jewels.

People wore necklaces featuring pendants, cameos, or gemstones. Pearls, coral, and semi-precious stones were commonly used. Designs ranged from delicate chains to more intricate pieces with multiple strands. Earrings included hoops, drops, and dangles with pearls, gemstones, or intricate metalwork. Rings were worn on various fingers, including multiple rings on one hand. Gemstone rings, signet rings, and intricate metalwork were common.

Brooches and pins were decorative and used to secure clothing and capes, and they could also serve as decorative pieces. Bracelets and armlets were worn on the wrist and upper arm. They could be simple metal bands or more elaborate pieces with gemstones and intricate detailing. Renaissance hairstyles were also often adorned with jewels and accessories. Hairpins, combs, and tiaras embellished with pearls, gemstones, and enamel were commonly worn. Lastly, chains with medallions or pendants were worn around the neck or as part of a belt. These could feature religious symbols, personal emblems, or family crests.

Renaissance Festival Outfits for Women

@diadem.maiden in a Renaissance Faire outfit with chemise, bodice, belt and skirt. Topped with a Raven Fox Cloak in Ranger Green.

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. Weapons sold at faires typically are authentic looking but designed for costumes.

In any case, a fake sword or dagger is definitely a fun accessory that you can hang from your belt for rakish look.

 

Renaissance Faire Outfits

Raven Fox Hooded Women’s Cloak with POCKETS in Robin Hood Red / Available in Black, Red, Green and Brown

10. Horn Drinking Cup or Tankard

More practical and fun things to add to your belt! Traditionally, horn drinking cups and tankards were 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 an artisan-made horn drinking cup or tankard will tickle your fancy.

Horn drinking cups are made from cattle, sheep, or goat horns. The horns are cleaned, polished, and treated so they can hold liquids. You can buy a rustic looking drinking horn or one with intricate carvings, engravings, or metal accents in different sizes and with a leather strap to attach it to a belt.

Tankards are crafted from wood, metal (like pewter) or ceramic. Most have a handle and sometimes a lid. Tankards often feature ornate designs and engravings. These decorations can depict scenes from mythology, chivalry, heraldry, history, nature, or everyday life during the Renaissance. They definitely make a great conversation piece.

As a final word on costumes, don’t feel pressure to acquire the whole outfit all at once. It’s perfectly fine to start with 1-2 pieces and add to your outfit each year. At the Renaissance Faire itself there are many vendors with handmade items such as belts, bodices, tankards, jewelry, and more. So plan on getting a souvenir to remember the event by and add to your outfit.

Have more Renaissance Faire outfit ideas or questions?! Please add them in the comments.

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