Do’s and Don’ts for Your First Renaissance Fair Costume

by | Apr 6, 2024 | Costumes and Cloaks, Renaissance Cloaks | 75 comments

Attending Ren Faire in a Renaissance faire costume is a great way to feel more immersed in the festivities and make friends! Here a few do’s and don’ts to help you create that first Ren Faire costume for the occasion.

Don’t Buy a Chain Store Halloween Costume

Don’t buy a generic Halloween costumes from the big-box stores if you’re gearing up for a Renaissance faire. They’re just not up to snuff with their one-piece designs and subpar fabrics. Seriously, who wants their pants sewn to their shirt and vest in one flimsy layer?

DON’T go bare headed. To look authentic you need something upon your head. Ladies, think headdresses, wreaths, or bonnets; gents, go for a muffin cap, flat cap, or maybe a felt or straw hat. No hat? No problem, the faire’s got you covered.

DON’T bother with tights either. Most men go for full-length pants or breeches with socks tucked into sturdy leather boots. Plus, who wants to be sweating it out in tights during a summer faire?

DON’T dress as a pirate, Trekkie, mermaid, elf, unless it’s that kind of Renaissance Faire.

But hold your horses! Don’t dismiss the idea of a pirate, Trekkie, mermaid, or elf outfit just yet. Renaissance faires have expanded their horizons, embracing a variety of themes. Take the Norcal Renaissance Faire, for example, boasting six diverse themed weekends. From pirates to fantasy, there’s something for everyone. Just be sure to check the website for the scoop!

Now, let’s talk DOs to ensure you’re the star of the faire:

DO refer to your attire as GARB, embracing the faire’s spirit with enthusiasm.

DO raid your own wardrobe or hit up a thrift shop for costume essentials. You’d be surprised what gems you can find.

DO layer up, whether it’s sweltering or chilly. Be prepared for whatever weather comes your way.

DO cloak yourself in elegance during early Spring, Summer or Fall events. Cloaks are so flowy and swooshy. If you are new to cloaks, draping one over your shoulders can make you feel remarkably confident and even powerful. There’s something downright regal about wrapping yourself in a cloak.

And lastly, DO keep your eyes peeled for costume inspiration. You might just find yourself hooked on the Renaissance faire fashion frenzy, dreaming up grand ensembles for future adventures.

 
Women's Cloak

Raven Fox Capes and Cloaks premium hooded cloak for women with POCKETS is ideal for LARPing, Ren Faires, and a variety of costuming events. Available in Noir Black, Riding Hood Red, Ranger Green and Space Wizard Brown and three lengths.

 

BASIC Peasant Renaissance Costume

You could dress as a peasant pretty easily. Here are the items you’ll want to locate either in your closet, the thrift store or from a friend, if you should be so lucky. This post will also talk about more sophisticated or specific Ren Faire costumes below. 


For the male person, dress all in drab colors, except as noted otherwise:

 

Renaissance Writer

Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Irwindale: Shakespearean Writer / Renaissance Costume Male

  • a white or off-white poet’s shirt
  • A simple vest
  • Pants or breeches (end just below the knee)
  • Simple boots or shoes & Renaissance belt
  • You’ll want a muffin top or other kind of cap
  • you can add a drinking horn as well
    Note: the muffin top or other cap and the drinking horn can be bought at the Ren Faire as a souvenir.

 

For the female person, a similar Renaissance Costume:

 

Renaissance Faire

Woman’s Renaissance Outfit, Colorado Renaissance Festival

  • A white or off-white blouse or poet’s shirt
  • A bodice or a vest that can be made into a bodice (avoid bright colors as these are for royalty)
  • Long skirt or two long skirts for layering or a floor length dress.
  • Simple flat leather shoes or sandals
  • Low Necklines: You can change the neckline of your blouse, if you wish by following these instructions.

    Lay it flat, draw a cut line, cut and then stitch with a matching thread or brown thread. If you’ve looked any Renaissance Faire pics or Renaissance art, you know many women wore a low neckline that showed a lot of cleavage! Is that why people go to Renaissance Faires?

    You can create a similar neckline for the vest or overblouse. You want to give the vest a somewhat lower neckline than the blouse, as shown in the picture of the white blouse and purple vest above.

Renaissance Faire Bag Piper

Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Irwindale: Bag pipe player on the main road, playing for tips.

 

Ideas for Other Renaissance Faire Costumes

Perhaps you don’t want to go as a basic peasant.

Or maybe this isn’t your first Renaissance Faire. Or perhaps you’re attending with people who go all the time or you want to impress a certain someone.

Whatever the reason, here are some ideas for creating more unique Renaissance Faire costumes.

    Choose the time period: The majority of Ren Faire’s are set in Elizabethan England. However, the one you will attend might be somewhat different, so visit the event website to be sure. Here’s a list of California Renaissance Faires that we update several times a year.

    Choose a social class: The options include royalty and nobility, the middle class, and the lower class or peasants.

    Add a nationality, if you wish. While most Ren Faires choose to recreate Elizabethan England, the Renaissance epoch occupied all of Europe. You could be French, Italian, Spanish, or another nationality. How’s your french accent?!

    Choose a profession: There are also trades or professions to consider from cleric to blacksmith to baker!

Larping cloak

Raven Fox premium ranger green men’s hooded cloak with POCKETS is ideal for Ren Faires, LARPing, and a variety of costuming events. Available in Ranger Green, Noir Black, Riding Hood Red, and Space Wizard Brown and three lengths.

 

Renaissance Faire Costumes List

Here’s a list of some of the kinds of characters you will come across at a Ren Fair to get your costuming ideas flowing! This list is by writer Holle Abee.

Female

Queen
Tavern Wench
Sorceress
Fortune Teller
Elf
Fairy
Juliet
Lady
Huntress
Scot
Princess
Mother Goose
Mother Nature
Irish Lass
Rapunzel
Snow White
Flower Seller
Shepherdess
Red Riding Hood
Scullery Maid
Queen Elizabeth
Angel

Male

King
Tavern Keeper
Wizard
Court Jester
Elf
Muskateer
Romeo
Nobleman
Robin Hood
Highlander
Prince
Shakespeare
Druid
Irish Lad
Priest
Squire
Farmer
Shepherd
Cardinal
Cook
Henry VIII
Knight

 

Renaissance Faire Costumes Final Thoughts

Most of all have fun! Remember lots of handmade costuming items will be available at the Ren Faire. Items you pick there become souvenirs of the day, let you enjoy checking out the plentiful market booths with a purpose, and supports small makers. Personally, I’m a big believer in building wardrobes and costumes over time. It spreads out the fun and is easier on the pocket book.

Have a question? Please leave it below as many others have. You can expect an answer.

Want more ideas? Go to our blog…where there are nearly a dozen articles on Ren Faire outfits and accessories.

Love cloaks? Take our quiz.
What type of cloak wearer are you?

CLICK TO TAKE THE QUIZ

75 Comments

  1. Say I wanted to dress up as like King Baldwin IV would that be frowned upon or would that fit?

    Reply
  2. i will be going to my first renaissance faire and the theme of the weekend i will be going to is fantasy. i want to be a elven princess but idk how to get or what to wear or how to do my hair and makeup for it. can you help me plz.

    Reply
    • Hi Rachel, Exciting! Elven princesses are ethereal and wear long flowing gowns and cloaks. Their hair is flowy and their make up light and bright as well. This post about Elven Cloaks has some photos from the movies.

      Reply
  3. I want to be a Renaissance fairy, but I don’t have a wreath and I can’t find one. I found a pretty corset and top but I can’t find I good colorful layer skirt. I also don’t want cringy looking wings but that’s all I’ve found. any ideas where to find stuff? (I rlly only looked at amazon) also what sort of hairstyle is right for a fairy?

    Reply
    • hairstyle wise i’d suggest a braid with flowers in it or long waves. for wings i’d recommend etsy or search DIYs on tiktok. For wreaths i’d always recommend handmade items but if you’re on a budget, temu has cute ones 🙂

      Reply
    • Hi Spring Lily Fairy,

      For the wings, wreath, and skirt, you could buy them from a vendor at the Renaissance Faire. Shopping from makers is one of the fun activities. If you want to get them beforehand, there are lots of beautiful “Renaissance wreaths” and fairy wings on Etsy.com. Same for a colorful layer skirt. I don’t know where you are located but the colorful layer skirt might be findable in your local thrift store.

      Seems like anything ethereal or feminine would be great for your hair. What comes to mind is a partly pulled back look or braids. Maybe someone has more hair ideas than I.

      Have a great time at Ren Faire!

      Reply
  4. I’ve been wanting to go to a renaissance fair for quite a while now and I have a plague doctor costume I put together. I’m wondering if that would be an appropriate costume for a renaissance fair or if I should try something else. Does anyone have any advice?

    Reply
    • Yes! It is not common, but I have seen a few these past years.

      Reply
  5. im nonbinary what do i wear?

    Reply
    • You can wear whatever you like! There is no judgement at Ren Faires that I have seen!

      Reply
    • Express yourself as you will. Most people aren’t anywhere near historically accurate in their costuming So I think you have full artistic license to gender bend your costuming all you want. Have fun.

      Reply
    • Hey I am envy as well, I don’t think we should really put genders on the clothing I recommend wearing something flowy and if you wanted to give off an androgynous vibe you could do the male peasant look but add elf ears with a bunch OC jewelry or something :DDD

      Reply
    • Personally I think most elves and magical people are beyond binary genders, so anything like that would be great! Besides, back then many amabs wore skirts and such and afabs would still wear pants/breeches given the right character. More gender fluid back then than we are today.
      I am also nonbinary and will be wearing corsets and long dresses as I will be a dark witch, but I have a neon orange mohawk as well that definitely pulls out a lot of the femininity. Ren Faires are very accepting of all garbs and appearances!

      Reply
    • Im wearing a rouge/assassin outfit, it works perfectly bc Assassins have no gender.

      Reply
    • 4 of my kids are hitting the pirate themed faire this weekend. AUG 27th, 2023. They bought items from thrift stores, online, borrowed items from my closet. Look around; it’s easy to find things to wear.

      Reply
    • Hi Enby,

      Wear what appeals to you and you feel expresses yourself. I wrote about Ren Faire themes — like pirate and fantasy days here. Perhaps that is relevant.

      Reply
  6. I have a knight watch costume from GoT, as I have been invited to come to my 1st Renaissance faire and have limited time to get any other costume, is this appropriate, or should I change to something else?

    Reply
    • Hi David,
      At most Renn Faires people attend in a variety of fantasy and even sci-fi costumes. To be sure, check the weekend you are attending on the Renn Faire website. I recently wrote a post that focuses on the themes common at all the larger Renaissance Festivals.

      And have a great time!

      Reply
  7. I will be attending a wedding with a Medieval theme. I am short (5’1″) so most if the stuff I find is way to long. I don’t want to wear anything too short (or low cut) Any ideas or places to shop?

    Reply
    • Hi Marylou, Our Raven Fox store sells cloaks in S, M, and L. Both our S (42″) and the M (52″) would fit you. Places you could shop by size include Etsy, Holy Clothing, and ThredUp. Hope you find an outfit you love.

      Reply
  8. A few years ago I had a lovely red velvet dress made. I found that by wearing pantyhose bottoms and placing a roll of ahem…. toilet paper at each hip gives me a fantastic look for the exaggerated form of the Renaissance times. I also figured out a nice headpiece that I saw in a BBC film and copied it. You take newspapers and twist them into a crown. Attach together with twine ect….find a long scarf and wrap around…. it is very effective and costs nothing. You may also put a feather or two in it.

    Reply
    • 4 of my kids are hitting the pirate themed faire this weekend. AUG 27th, 2023. They bought items from thrift stores, online, borrowed items from my closet. Look around; it’s easy to find things to wear

      Reply
  9. Hi. I’m attending a wedding at Ren Faire in October. You mentioned something about not wearing certain bright colors because that’s reserved for royalty. Well, I am actually, in real life, descended from King Henry VIII, Mary, Queen of Scots and King James of the House of Stewart. I plan to go as the princess that I am, complete with crown, and wearing a purple dress similar to Mary, Queen of Scots golden dress. What do I need to know to not look out of place??

    Reply
    • We must be related cousin, I too am descended from the forgotten monarchy of Scotland. Fly your colors Princess Janet.

      Reply
    • Thrift stores are the best! Also search online for great items. You can also search Etsy. Have fun with it.

      Reply
    • What? Nobody can answer this question for me? So, upon further reading I know that there IS a King and Queen of the Faire. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, so should I tone down my garb??

      Reply
      • You can be a visiting noble or princess or queen from a different land. I would avoid trying to look like queen Elizabeth, but if you have an era authentic costume, and you flesh out your character idea and can talk about where you are from, you can make it work and have fun. Considering that most faires have Fae creatures and witches, and other magic elements, at most faires, the staff and other Faire goers just want you to get into your character and play with them. The most out of place is the person with an elaborate costume, but they don’t play their character. If you are going to be a noble or royalty, definitely excellent manners, and carry yourself as such. Also,be aware that many ren faires are on build on unpaved areas of parkland on dry dirt and they get dusty! While some are in paved parks, if there is unpaved dirt street that have been dressed up with booths and stages, surrounded by scenery, it’d authentic! Be aware, that unpaved streets, if you have floor-length, skirts and slippers, they can get really messed up with the dust if you have more basic shoes with a small heel, you can keep from ruining a beautiful skirt/dress with dust/mud. What are you dressed as a peasant ir merchant class, boots work well, are you beautiful slippers and silk or satin skirts. Have fun!

        Reply
      • There were many nobles of the day. Hold your head high and have a blast Lady Janet.

        Reply
      • Hi Janet,
        You can attend dressed as a Princess or a Queen. There will be multiple people dressed as nobility and royals. There aren’t rules about dressing up or down for Renaissance Faires, and people dress as they wish.

        Highly recommend looking at the website and reviews for the Renn Faire you are attending for the practical details, such as advance tickets, theme weekends, cash vs. credit cards, parking, etc.

        Have a good weekend, Karen

        Reply
        • Thank you so much for your reply, Karen. I have tried to find everything I can about the Faire I will be attending, and will continue to do so. Your articles are of great help in my learning Renn Faire etiquette and all the fun to be had. I’m so glad to have found your site!

          Reply
          • Wear what makes you happy. No one is going to critique you for not having head garb etc, wear whatever. I’ve seen dragons, pirates, faires, knights etc. Don’t take it too seriously. If people do, they’re being snobs.

  10. Im curious would it be a faux pas to dress as a Northman (not a viking that’s more of a profession I don’t intend to be armored or have a weapon) just a simple Norse person?

    Reply
    • The place I go to therapy has a DND group. The DM said that a Ren Faire would be a great place for all of us to visit together. The question of if we should dress as our DND characters came up, and the DM said it was up to all of us. The thing is, mine is a teifling ranger. Would that kind of character be acceptable at a Ren Faire?

      Reply
      • Hi Asher,

        There are a lot of fantasy characters at Ren Faire’s these days. Which Ren Faire is this? Often there are theme weekends and sometimes there is a fantasy theme weekend. For example, in Los Angeles there is a RennCom weekend. Have a great time with your group.

        Reply
    • Hi Kaleb,

      You can wear what you like to most Ren Faires. Also, a historical-looking costume vs regular street clothes will make you feel apart of what is going on. The larger Ren Faires have multiple theme weekends, so check the website if you wish to attend Viking weekend.

      Reply
  11. so i have dress that haves a goddess look and a pear of leather boots that are white will that work

    Reply
  12. I want to go to a ren fair for my first time,i have a outfit put together. a long brown skirt with lace at the bottom and leaf/cherry designs in white. i have a button up gray shirt with wodden buttons and a pair of laced up leather boots. i have a leather bag but do i need a belt to make it look better, also can you wear skeliton keys and old bottles with safe herbs on a belt? what about head wear, should braids do the trick. can i bring my violin?

    Reply
    • My daughter wants to be a fairy, but we do not have any layered dresses. Her skin is also sensitive, and gets uncomfortable easily (if there are any itchy parts, sharp stitches, tight laces, ex.) . She also wants to wear something fancy. What can she wear?

      Reply
      • Perhaps you could add ribbons to a dress (or top and bottom). Ribbons of different widths and colors would look beautiful. You can also make her a flower wreath for her hair. Look on Youtube for a wreath making tutorial.

        Reply
    • your violin is a good idea but make sure its one you don’t mind if it gets broke

      Reply
    • Hi Evie,

      Your outfit sounds great. Lots of details! Belts are definitely a common Ren Fair costume accessory. Sounds like you really want to add a belt as you have things to hang from it. If you want to save money, check your thrift store or borrow from a friend.

      Braids will look lovely! There will be flower wreaths available from vendors at the fair. If you are worried about sun, wear sunscreen or bring a hat.

      I noticed one website said musical instruments aren’t allowed as they had too many visitors busking at the event.

      Reply
  13. I’m thinking about going as a cute little fox/human hybrid, and I have the ears… but what clothes??? I am in desperate need for a cute little harmless creature by tomorrow!!! Please help for suggestions 😭😭😭🙏🙏🙏🙏

    Reply
    • Hi Gwenavier,

      One quick way to complete an animal costume is to use facepaint! Paint yourself a cute fox face. And then because we are talking quick, look in your closet for a shirt, sweater, and pants in fox colors to coordinate with the color of the ears. (You could also paint the top of your hands and forearms.)

      Reply
  14. hello, i was wondering sense im being an elf if i could bring my mushroom hat—i have a mushroom elf cosplay— if that would be okay. Its a light teal, but a cute costume.. i dont have anything that would be 1558-1603ish

    Reply
    • There were tons of mushroom people at the one I went to a couple of months ago. They were all so cute!

      Reply
  15. Should I buy tickets in advance?

    Reply
  16. Can u bring a dog

    Reply
    • Depends on the faire. Call and adk them.
      I am a 44 yr veteran of yhe faire circuit.

      Reply
  17. Have a question – We attended a Renn Faire Locally (Iowa) there was a beautiful fox in military garb & a tiger also dressed in finery – what is the symbolism of these two characters, please? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Those types of characters are usually just a fantasy beastie

      Reply
  18. DO go to the faire in whatever grade of costume YOU can afford and don’t worry about what other people think.
    And, unless there is a rule against pirate costumes, and you want to wear them, that is perfectly fine.
    More importantly, you don’t have to wear a costume! You can go and take in all the costumes around you.
    MOST importantly, have fun!

    Reply
    • Thank you! Best advice thus far!🙂

      Reply
    • I agree, and I’ve never seen anyone turned away for not wearing an authentic costume. I went as a peasant one year, didn’t dress up other years and am going as a pirate this year. Some of the players in this faire dress as pirates.

      Reply
    • Thank you, Laurie. I totally agree. Don’t feel you have to break the bank to get a costume. You could get/buy/thrift a piece a year to build a costume over time.

      Also, if you want to wear a non-renaissance costume, that’s common at a lot of fairs. Please check the website to get an idea of the costumes at the faire you are going to attend.

      Reply
  19. Heading to PA this Fall. Theme is Oktoberfest. What is the best way to search for German inspired wear.

    Reply
    • There’s probably a Pinterest board for that. If not, check maybe Youtube.

      Unrelated but an Oktoberfest themed Ren Faire-esque event sounds baller.

      Reply
    • Hi Amy,
      Thanks for adding a shout out for Oktoberfest in PA. Have a great time!

      Reply
  20. I see plenty of people dressed as pirates at every Ren faire I’ve attended. I don’t think it’s an issue…

    Reply
    • A lot of Ren Fairs do mix genres! But nevertheless, I recommend people check the website to see if your Ren Fair is traditional or more of a fantasy faire.

      Reply
  21. Great info for Ren Faire newbies! Ladies should carry their must-haves in a basket for peasants or cloth bag. Belts are very impressive so you can hang your purse, tankard, etc. I love thrifting to find things that work. Gypsies are very easy to do. Women can also wear straw hats. I’m always amazed at how alot of the clothing we wear today are appropriate for Faire! Especially the boho and hippy style. Go and engage all of your senses 😊

    Reply
    • Hey Maggie, These are great ideas. I totally agree, you can shop your closet first and the local thrift store for costuming pieces. We just added belts, including a two pouch belt to our site. It is an accessory that greatly increases the historical look of your costume.

      Reply
  22. I am going to one this year and bought a bright white chemise…a dark truffle brown long bodice dress type thing that goes over it and a beautiful deer antler flower crown. What could my character be? Can I be a druid? lol

    Reply
    • hello! i saw this and i had to go looking for an anwser, and i found one! Keepings the druid idea, you could be a druid omikyri (deer person)!

      Also, thank you for making me learn somthing new, i love DnD and this makes it 100X better. Have a nice day!

      Reply
    • I feel like the chemise and bodice are totally peasant…what type of character would wear a deer antler flower crown though?

      Reply
  23. Do you have to dress up?

    Reply
    • Hi Jeff,
      1) The general answer is no, you don’t have to have a costume. All Renaissance Fairs know some attendees will come in regular clothes. 2) Many people have more fun when in costume. If that isn’t you, don’t sweat it. Go and have a good time. 3) I do recommend looking at the website and photos of the Renaissance event you are attending as there are differences from fair to fair. For example, some fairs are in warm areas where a hat and light clothing is a good idea. Some fairs are very traditional and people mostly adhere to the Renaissance era. Others are anything goes costume-wise, and include mermaids, fairies and Trekkies and much more!

      Reply
  24. Cool tips! I want to go to Renaissance Faire in Irwindale this year!

    Reply
    • Hi Scott, I hope you get to go! Send us a picture if you do.
      Best, Karen, Raven Fox Capes and Cloaks

      Reply
  25. I have a inflatable dinasour outsit
    Can i wear it to wizard wk. End.

    Reply
    • Check the Wizard Weekend website. Is this occasion strictly for serious wizards or is more of a playful, anything goes kinda day? Ren Faires and similar events vary a lot, so look at the website.

      Reply
  26. What a great and informative article for those who are new to the Renaissance Faire circuit! Your boiled it down and made it simple for people who have no clue where to start! Love the pictures from CRF, those guys and gals are the best!

    Reply
    • Hi Nicole, So glad you found it informative or think it will help newbies. It’s extra fun to go in costume and be part of the scene.

      Reply
  27. What kind of shoes are acceptable for Renaissance theme engagement party during the 1950

    Reply
    • Hi Denise,

      You are asking about shoes for a Renaissance themed engagement party. The 1950’s part is throwing me off, please explain that if you could.

      To answer the question: For men, usually a boot that buttons or laces closed. For women, a slip-on slipper or short heeled shoe. If you have something leather and plain, it might work. Or look at Renaissance footwear for purchase on Etsy.com.

      Reply
      • Just attended Pittsburgh Renaissance festival.
        Plenty of pirate costumes even though it was Celtic week end.
        The costumes don’t matter having fun is what’s important. Plus pirates were around during the Renaissance?

        Reply

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