Ren Faire season is upon us! If you are a Renaissance Faire first timer or seasoned veteran you may asking the same question; what should I wear? There are tons of medieval clothing apparel options for men, women, and children. But where do you start? We’ve compiled information on the basic components of authentic medieval outfits to lend a hand in your costuming process.
Gambeson: If you are wearing steel armor or heavy chainmail, then wearing a gambeson or padded under armor is a must. Gambesons help protect the wearer from being pinched by armor or chainmail when you move. The gambesons found at SwordNArmory are of the best quality and include heavy duty cotton with three layers of wool felt linings for the utmost protection. If you want to be truly authentic grab our Gambeson Type I Medieval Padded Armor SCA WMA Arming Jacket which is fully functional and can be used for combat such as an SCA competition.
Brigandine: The most innovative form of armor is the brigandine. Composed of small steel plates place between two sheets of cloth or canvas, brigandines are an extremely functional form of armor. It is worn around the upper body without the cumbersome weight and limited movement of full plate armor. If you are going for a high societal look, choose the Brigandine Medieval Steel Plates Armor Overcoat.
Tunics: Medieval tunics are more casual and were worn very commonly during this time period. The color and amount of embroidery or detail would be a strong determinant of your social status or which family you belonged to. Tunics are slightly heavier and are perfect to keep you warm during fall Ren Faires.
Jerkins: Loose fitting vests are commonly called Jerkins. They are often sleeveless and worn over longer sleeve, full bodied shirts with types of drawstrings, high and drop collars.
Bodices and Corsets: When first created, the bodice was a fitted vest-like garment. As years progressed, they became tighter and tighter turning into what we now know as the corset. Bodices were typically worn over flow-y long sleeve shirts and paired with a long skirt. Sometimes they were worn over the upper part of a medieval dress to differentiate the skirt from the sleeves. Bodice’s are a must for the Renaissance woman.
Medieval Dresses or Gowns: Luxurious and decidedly intricate, medieval dresses are always in deep, dramatic colors of blood red, olive green or golden hues. They typically run to the floor and are adorned with jeweled belts or intricately beaded necklines. The sleeves are always long and tight around the upper arm with a slight flow-y fabric as it moves toward the hand. They are perfect for any Ren Faire, SCA, LARP or even renaissance wedding.
Pants, Breeches: Often known as trousers, men’s medieval pants were tight around the waist and ankles while being loose fitting through the rest of the pant leg. While knights were in armor, pirates and other renaissance men were in breeches or hosen.
Accessories: There is nothing worse than being challenged to a duel only to have forgotten your weapon. Remember to add little touches to your ensemble like a coin bag, belt or sword or all three!There are so many options when it comes to dressing for your first Ren Faire. Try to keep it historically accurate and make sure to wear all of your components. Above all else, have fun and be safe! No matter how you decide to dress up, you’ll be transformed back into a whole new time period of honor and chivalry.