A Guide to Renaissance Clothing

When people find out that I attend Ren Fairs, and even had a Ren Fair wedding I often get asked about what I wear!  I admit that I do do a lot of make your own costuming for the family – but I also shop online and at the fair itself.   Here are some great options:

Get Dolled up for the Ren Fair!
Online Shopping

By the Sword:  This place has it all.  We have bought basic wares from here and are never disappointed.  They offer many choices in men and women’s costuming and about every other thing you can think of to add on top (even armour!) Wedding appropriate dresses can range from $90-600 dollars.  These are ‘out of the box’ style clothing so you will not be able to order measurement specific sizes – so pay attention to the sizing charts.  When in doubt order by bust size and then use local tailoring as needed.

Armstreet: is one of my absolute favorites.  The materials and craftsmanship is top of the line and they work hard to keep their items unique and beautiful.  I prefer this store for a more luxurious yet authentic feel for clothing.  Natural fabrics make a huge difference in how you look walking out and about at a festival.  Synthetics don’t breath as well and always have a particular sheen that just stands out in the wrong way and don’t  last!  Invest a little upfront and you will have clothing you can wear year after year and look beautiful.   A bonus is you can get any costume custom made to specific measurements if needed! Like By the Sword they carry a huge variety of goods, including accessories, winter wear, and foot wear.

Damsel in this Dress:  I personally have bought several corsets from Damsel.  This is a small business, with a great group of hard working people making top of the line corsets that actually DO THEIR JOB!  She offers a HUGE array of sizes so don’t think that if you are a plus size you are out of luck and won’t look great in corset.  She makes a variety of corset styles, skirts and blouses.    They no longer do custom orders and you are at the mercy of what is in stock in her store, but all her corsets are steel boned and made to last.  She offers many coupons and promotion deals on her Facebook page.

Dress Like a Pirate:  This site is obviously piratical themed.  It carries just about any variation on pirate dress that you can imagine from steampunk to burlesque.  The site is a bit overwhelming and difficult to navigate.  There is a lot of cheesy stuff, but there are some buried treasures on the site.

Do it yourself – Patterns and More

Here is a list of some common patterns that I personally own.  There are so many patterns out there that you won’t have too much trouble finding something you like if sewing is your thing

  • Butterick B4910; Kids sleepwear pattern with pants and tops and gowns.  This is the perfect set to make little peasant tops for your children (boys or girls) to wear to the fair.  Avoid the extra trim options and keep fabrics in simple cotton or linens.
  • Simplicity 3519;  shirts with or without collars.  The collar free version is my preferred go-to for men’s wear.  It can cross a lot of styles and work for pirate, peasant, or noble wear.
  • Simplicity 3758;  A   fluffy shirt pattern.  This one is definitely a little more fancy – lots of ruffles.  Not available on the Simplicity website anymore, but you may have luck with Ebay.
  • Simplicity 8735;  This one is hard to find.  It has a few versions of classic Italian renaissance dresses featuring empire waists – which is nice if you don’t want a corset style dress and want something a little more fancy than a wench dress.  Pricey since the pattern is scarce.
  • Butterick B4377;  This pattern includes a beautifully simple medieval style dress and a gorgeous cloak pattern to go with it.  This would be great for a knock out wedding set.  The dress does use a zipper, but it disguises the zipper with a back lace.
  • Simplicity 4942;  This set has tunics that are based on the LOTR movies.  There is a short and long version and long elvish style dress tunic.  You can dress up or down these to pull them away from the LOTR feel if you don’t like that style – they are a great option to dress up a shirt.  Again this is a discontinued set but has really great pieces.
  • Simplicity 9887; Cloaks!  This again is roughly based off LOTR cloaks, it includes a traditional cloak pattern and a nice cloak pattern with huge bell sleeves AND a basic tunic pattern and wizard hat pattern.  Worth it!
  • Simplicity 4795; This is the ‘nativity’ costume set but if you look beyond the weird shepherd and angel getup’s there are some really nice base tunics and vests that can be mix and matched for a simple and highly versatile costume set.  Great for someone that doesn’t want something too fancy but wants to blend in a bit at the fair or have a pattern that will work with just about any basic Halloween costuming idea.
  • All About Renaissance Fairs – Costuming;  If my list didn’t fit your needs check out this website.  It lists a ton more costumes and links to where to find them.

Crowns: Medieval Bridal Fashions:  These are gorgeous headpieces, tiaras, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.  I wore one of their designs for my wedding.  They recommend ordering pieces at least 6 weeks in advance of weddings – especially during the busy season.

Drinking Vessels:  you will notice the very first time you go to the fair that a lot of people have really fancy drink-ware for their beverage of choice.  It is a really nice touch to have a not plastic cup at the fair.  We have several mugs bought from a few different vendors.  We use them ALL the time, even at home as our daily water cups.  We have mini mugs for the kids which they love also.

  • Wondrous Works in Wood; They sell at fairs and you can purchase online.  We have several sizes of their mugs in a variety of wood types and love them all.  Get a leather lid to keep the bees away from your drink between sips!
  • Mug of the Woods – they don’t have a website and barely use their Facebook page – and are only at a few larger ren fairs in the midwest region, but if you get a chance to purchase a mug from them take it! They feature natural logs carved into a drinking vessel with a custom fitted iron handle.  They keep the unique features of bark and other details of the wood but they finish their products with a cold and hot liquid safe varnish.
  • Grimfrost; If you are a fan of Game of Thrones you may have noticed a lot of mugs made out of horns.  You can get horned mugs and drinking horns and more viking wares from this awesome site.

Leather:  Is a special accent on any costume.  Leather belt?  Leather pouch to hold all the things?  Leather mug strap to hold the new mug? Leather skirt hikes to keep the pretty dress out of the mud? Leather frog for a sword? Leather jewelry? Leather anything!

  • Boars Head Leather: They carry a wide variety of products including leather mugs – which are a little harder to find at run of the mill fairs.  They are particularly good at carrying colored products and embossing leather.
  • Son of Sandlar: Leather boots for the adventurous.  They make great boots that if you are going to really invest $$$ in going to fairs you will eventually want to get a great pair of boots.  My husband and I both have a pair and I admit that I wear mine year round – I am that kinda gal!  They also make leather jerkins and coats.
  • DeRosa’s Leather:  They also make great boots but my favorite product is their leather baldrics and belts featuring unique clasps.  They have a shape and detail that you can not find anywhere else.  I don’t carry a sword but really want one anyways!  He also carries motorcycle leather and adult themed products.  Great guys all around.

You may notice that a lot of my featured websites are mid-west products, I can’t deny it!  I live in Iowa and visit surrounding fairs.  I won’t recommend a product or website that I haven’t actually used or purchased from!   Let me know if you have a favorite shop to check out!