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Choosing a Renaissance Costume - Five Tips To Make It Easier

Jul 4, 2008
For anyone who's attending a Renaissance or Medieval faire, the fun can be increased by having your own costume. Wearing street clothes to a faire is completely acceptable, but it often makes people feel as though they're only tourists, watching what's going on but never participating. A costume, or "garb" of your own can make you really feel like you fit in. If you want to experience a little bit of times gone by, here are some tips on choosing a costume for the faire.

1. Decide what your priority is. Some people really love authenticity when it comes to their historical costumes. They know which elements of common faire clothing, like grommets and modern fabrics, are out of period, and which are truly authentic. That doesn't mean that everyone has to live up to that standard - there are just as many fantasy barbarians and fairies at most faires as there are people who look like they've stepped out of a painting. However, it's a good idea to decide what you want out of your faire costume before you start sewing or before you buy any clothing items.

2. Think about your character. Most people who attend the faire in costume have a specific character they're trying to portray, whether it's a real historical figure, a general type, or a fun fantasy invention. To make sure that you have a costume that looks like it was made to go together, think about the sort of person you're dressing as. Peasants look peculiar in silks and velvets, and their aprons and tankards don't work well with a high court outfit, either. Don't just match colors in a faire costume - match fabric types, styles, and every element of your outfit. No matter what you're dressing as, your whole costume should work with it.

3. Don't be afraid to do research. For people who love history, this is real books and paintings type research. Take a look at the fashions of the past and get some ideas about how to put things together. For those who are just there for fun, the research is a little different. Take a look at what others are wearing to the faire, and get an idea about how to put your costume together.

4. Creativity is okay. Too many people are frightened or intimidated by the historical element of the faire, or by faire culture. This results in costumes that look nearly identical. Don't be afraid to step out of the mold, and come up with something that works well at faire, but isn't the same old thing.

5. Bargain shopping should be done with caution! Like many other things, with Renaissance costumes, you get what you pay for. That doesn't mean you should never look for a good deal, but it does mean taking a good look at the products you're buying. It doesn't matter whether you're purchasing fabric for a costume or a finished piece of clothing. Good quality and (when appropriate) good construction are important. Many bargain items won't hold up for more than a few faire seasons, and worse yet, they'll fit strangely long before then. It's worth it to invest in high quality costume items if you want to look your best.
About the Author
Author regularly attends renaissance festivals, wearing renaissance costumes.
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