Costume Ideas for the Renaissance Faire Friday June 10, 2011

Costume Ideas
for the
Renaissance Faire
Friday June 10, 2011
Dear Parents,
Here are some easy costume ideas for the Renaissance
Faire. After years of Renaissance Faires at Wolftrap there
are many wonderful costumes in the neighborhoods.
Check with former Wolftrap students to see if you could
borrow one.
Some of the local party stores do stock costumes
(Economy Party Supplies in Falls Church is one that has
costumes year round for purchase or rental). Additionally,
there are many sites on the internet where costumes can
be ordered or used for inspiration to create a homemade
costume. A few sites are:
~ make “garb” from things at home ~
Good sources: Mom’s closet
Pants, belts
shoes – boots,
Simple weaves and
colors. Remember
everything was
natural . . . no wild
Girls – Remember to cover your head!
Boys and Girls – embroidery ribbon is a great thing to use for decoration
Collar up
Surcoat or tunic
(Mom’s shirt,
Dad’s T-shirt . . .
should come to the
Linen shirt (loose
shirt – mom’s or
yours) (Girls . . .
may be top of dress /
i h
Wool or linen
pants (Cotton
Long ribbon
pajama bottoms?)
Cross gartering
(strips of
material or rope
– about 1 – 3
l !)
n or long
Male Clothing
Early Years
800 – 1100 AD
Short braies
secured by
running a
sting at waist
Cloak [Saxon word
(chape)] or mantle
(wool) shown here
Undertunic (linen) worn over a
“shirt” of linen [Saxon – sherte]
– the shirt was worn day and
i h (linen or wool)
Braies (knee length or longer)
linen or wool
Leg bindings (wool)
Hose or
socks (linen)
Braies are made
from 3
Check out
for more information
Shaved head of Norman
fighting man - circa
Shoes (leather or canvas)
Early 11th Century
Later years
1100 – 1400
Long hair
As the years went by, cloths began
to hug the body and became
eccentrically ornate among the
Super tunic,
open at the
Men of
Dragged edge
Dalmatic - made to
fit you with back
14th Century
Female Clothing
Coverchief or veil
made from linen
Tight sleeves
Tunic (male and female)
made from 4 rectangles gussets may be added for
f ll
The keys to the household
were hung from a belt
Super-tunic or kirtle (linen or
Shoes of leather
or canvas
Circlet to hold
Veil (fine
Hair braded and
bound with ribbons
Close fitting gown
with wide sleeves
(Laced in back)
Long cloak
Back lacing for
snug fit
more form
fitting over
13th Century
Line bar …
hair under
Sideless surcoat
(open to hip level)
worn over the
chemise (see
People of the Middle Ages
People of the Middle Ages
People of the Middle Ages
Plain and Fancy Renaissance Fashion
Wealthy women wore elaborate clothing.
A rich gentlemen dressed fashionably.
Children from wealthy families dressed well.
They made clothes from homespun materials such as brown wool. Women
often wore white aprons and bonnets. Men wore short or long tunics over
their pants. Hats shaded their eyes.
Their clothes might be made of green silk trimmed in white fur. A headdress
held with wire was a hat. Elegant but flimsy shoes of velvet or soft leather
matched their dresses. They put white powder on their faces and red rouge
on their lips.
Both boys and girls wore dressed until they were six. Then a boy was
breeched – put into breeches, or pants. He might wear brown tights under a
blue velvet tunic. His tunic fit over a yellow jerkin, or shirt. His sister might
wear a yellow hooped-frame or farthingale under a purple dress.
He might wear a blue silk cape over a green doublet, or vest. His highpleated white collar was called a ruff. His slashed, blue knee leather shoes
matched his brown hat which had a red plume.
Women wore big head-dresses and robes with long sleeves. They wore their
belts high up above their waists.
Houses and castles were cold and drafty, so clothes were often lined with fur.
This helped people to keep warm.
Peasant’s clothes were made of rough linen or woll. They were looser than
the rich people’s clothing and better for working in.
Nearly everyone wore a hat.
Shoes with long toes were fashionable for many years. A law made in 1420
said that poor men were not allowed to wear them. A prince could wear
shoes 24 inches long if he wanted. Shoe toes were tied to the leg so that
people did not trip over them.
Farthingales: Skirts were held bout by frames called farthingales. The
frames were made of whalebone, wood, wire or padding covered by linen.
Make a medieval pouch
How to make a ruff
Clothes did not have pockets so
people kept things in pouches
(little bags) tied around their
Ruffs were very popular.
Some were so large that
people needed spoons with
very long handles to reach
their mouths to eat.
To make a pouch you need: a
circle of strong cloth (such as
felt) 8 inches across, scissors
and a long piece of string. Cut
slits 1 (one) inch apart near the
edge of the circle. Do not cut
through the edge
Weave the sting in and out
through the slits.
Pull the ends of the string to
gather the cloth into a pouch.
You can now put tings in the
pouch and tie it around your
To make a ruff you need:
two large pieces of paper,
cellophane tape, scissors and
two paper clips.
Suggestions for Costumes
Tights, turtleneck, long colorful tunic in brocade or shiny
material, contrasting cape with fur trim around hem, neck, and
cuffs, lots of jewelry, gold crown with jewels, if desired;
leather boots; and a shiny belt.
Long, fancy dress; long cape in a complementary color,
accented with gold chains and other jewelry; tiara with jewels
- - or other crown - - but smaller than the King’s; stockings;
and pretty shoes
Tights and turtlenecks: long tunics; fancy vests over tunics, if
desired; a fancy rope belt or gold chain; jewelry; boots; large,
floppy hats with feathers or jewels; and a cape over tunic
Long, fancy dress, but not to overpower the Queen; necklace,
rings, etc; bright-colored cape over gown (does not have to be
Hats of a cone-type with a long, satin scarf flowing from point;
visors covered and worn backwards on head, draping a piece
of material from the top and extending to the shoulders; a
frame made from a coat hanger or other pliable material
covered and attached to a headband, with material draped
over this frame for a high, squared look; flowers; and ribbons.
Rolled-up pants (solid color) or knickers over tights; a man’s
white; long-sleeved shirt worn outside of pants; belts, in a
colorful material or rope; hats such as berets with braid
hanging from one side; boots dark shoes or ballet shoes; and
ribbons around sleeves to “blouse” the sleeve and keep it in
Dark tights and leotards (bright colors - - possibly two
different colored legs) shorts under tunic for comfort (tunic
should be very colorful with fringed or scalloped edging and
bells on the edges of the points); soft ballet shoes or custommade shoes with points at the ends. Curled up; ankle bracelets
with bells; and big puffy hats with pointed ends in bright
Peasants’ Costumes
Choose any of these suggestions for your costumes, and combine any that
sound interesting. Also, add your own touches - - like ribbons on sleeves or
at the knees.
1. Tights or high knee socks (most important)
2. Dark or light pants rolled up to the knee
3. Knickers
4. Tunic tops over the thighs (with shorts underneath)
5. Rope or leather belts, with a pouch hanging from belt
6. Blousy shirt with large sleeves rolled up, or turtleneck top under tunic
7. Vests worn open over shirts
8. Leather or suede boots, especially those that fold over ballet slippers,
or dark shoes
9. Camps, berets, puffy caps, “Robin Hood” type hats or caps with
Choose any of these suggestions for your costumes, and combine any that
sound interesting. Also, add your own touches.
1. Tights – any color, except bright colors
2. Long, simple peasant dresses with puffy sleeves - - if sleeves are
short, try to find a leotard to wear underneath to cover arms
3. Peasant skirts and blouses - - try to find a belt in leather, suede, rope,
or chain to contrast with clothing (NO BRIGHT COLORS)
4. Aprons of a brighter color; worn over dresses or skirts
5. Vests worn open or laced over blouses
6. Simple jewelry, perhaps gold chains or metal belts
Costumes for Nuns and Friars
1. A long robe.
2. A dark skirt underneath (will be hidden)
3. White blouse if it shows at the top of robe, it will be a nice contrast to
the color of the robe)
4. A hood (if it is on robe, that is fine), or white scarf for head
5. Dark shoes, ballet slippers, or sandals
6. Dark tights
7. A gold chain or a medallion over rope
Costumes for Nobility
Choose any of these suggests for your costumes, and combine any that
sound interesting.
A fancy dress (not too fancy as to overshadow a king or queen)
below knee or floor length, of any color is fine
A delicate shawl or cape over dress in any contrasting color, or a
matching jacket with dress
A leotard under a sleeveless dress
Long capes or robes over skirts or dresses, perhaps of brocade or
fancy material (wide sleeves were popular)
Trim of a fancy material on dresses or robes, gold cloth anywhere, or
fur trim on robes
Belts of satin, velvet or chain around robes or dresses
Head coverings of flowers for the hair
Fancy shoes, sandals, or ballet skippers
Tights or stockings
Jewelry anywhere you want
How to Make a Hennin
No one knows exactly where the word hennin came
from of how it got its meaning. Some scholars think
that it may have been a term shouted as an insult
at the women who wore these tall hats by other
women who could not afford them. As time went on
the term came to mean a tall cone-shaped hat.
These hats were worn by noblewomen during the
late Middle Ages.
Hennins became the fashion rage of the late
fifteenth century. They often had veils or scarves
attached to them and were sometimes referred to
as steeple hats. It was said that castle doorways had to be made taller in
order that women wearing these headdresses could pass through without
losing them.
Materials: cardboard paper or sheet of poster board about 22 inches tall
and 26 inches wide, scissors, tape and stapler.
Procedure: Follow the steps below.
Step #1
Step #2
1. Make a pattern as shown above
Step #3
2. Cut out the shape of the hat
and twist into a cone. Try out
base for head size. Staple or tape
Step #4
Jester Directions and Hat Pattern
Cut out the jester hat pattern below and on
the following page
Trace the head pattern on two 6 inch by 6 inch
squares of muslin-like material. Cut-out.
Trace the hat pattern on two 4 inch by 8 inch
pieces of fabric and cut out. Lay the collar
pattern on a piece of fabric that measures 5
inches by 10 inches when folded. Make sure
that marked lines are along the fold.
Step 4
Lay the right side of one hat piece
upside down on the right side of
one head piece between the dotted
lines as shown. Stitch the bottom
of the hat to the head. Repeat
with the other hat and head pieces.
Step 5
With each hat piece folded up, lay
and pin the right sides of both fabric
pieces together.
Step 6
Stitch ¼ inch away from the edge of
the hat and head. DO NOT stitch
across the bottom of the neck. Turn
inside out and stuff the hat, head and
Step 7
Step 8
Using a narrow piece of ribbon or string make large stitches around the
inside of the collar. Gently pull both ends to gather the collar. Slip the
collar around the neck of the jester. Tie the ends of the ribbon to secure
the collar. Add a face, bells, ribbons or other details to your jester.
Hat pattern
(Cut Two)
Jester Head
and Collar
Stitch hat between
these lines
Head pattern
(Cut Two)
Place along the
Collar Pattern
Cut One
Place along the
Fine Renaissance clothing materials and accessories quickly became the foundation for a new era of
Renaissance fashion. Unlike anything previous, Renaissance clothing was characterized by short upper
garments among men, and an overall trend towards tight–fitting clothes. There are countless pictorial
examples found in books, tapestries, and archeological sources.
Wealth and social rank was easily distinguished with the help of precious garments (just as it is today).
Renaissance clothing was a public display and would validate your status. Even if you did not have much
money, you would be accepted into society if you wore the right clothes and carried yourself in a refined
The church played an active role
in Renaissance clothing by
condemning those who focused
too heavily on fashion trends for
being guilty of the sin of vanity.
This label was easily applied to
anyone who was wearing "the
latest fashion" because it clearly
separated them for people who
were wearing the older designs
(out of fashion).
Moralists and preachers felt there
was danger in the fact that
"trend setters" were able to
manipulate the systems of
distinction originally developed by a given society. This ideology can be detected in the Late Middle Ages
and into The Renaissance as 14th and 15th century laws were created to control Renaissance clothing.
These judgments started after the Black Plague when nobility and aristocracy tried to stabilize their
positions. New laws dictated rigid regulations of Renaissance clothing cuts, colors and materials. In
reality, these laws were in fact "luxury legislations" and heavily influenced by the church. One example
comes from England. In 1363, English law restricted the amount of money servants, grooms, and
employees of urban craftsmen could spend on clothes. It also prohibited them from wearing silk or any
other precious textiles.
Colors of Renaissance clothing were given meanings as shown by the following:
Green = love
Gray = sorrow
Yellow = hostility
Blue = fidelity (except in the Low Countries where it represented adulterous wives)
Red = nobility
Black & Gray = lower status people
(It is ironic to note that by the 15th century the black and grey colors were worn by the high aristocracy
and royalty.)
Noble ladies were often the leading trend setters in Renaissance fashion. Their dress would include
precious jewels, fur cloaks and other elaborate decorations as a sign of their aristocracy and high social
rank. However, since fashion items were available to anyone with money, the distinctive meaning for
aristocratic Renaissance clothing could be mimicked by the lower classes.