Formal Renaissance Dresses | Renaissance Clothing and Medieval Costumes

Formal Dresses For Renaissance Faires and Weddings

While it can be fun to dress as a wench, you'll feel a lot more elegant at the faire when dressed formally.  However, a formal gown from the sixteenth century can be complicated to wear if you don't know what to expect.  There are lots of pieces, and moving in a dress that takes up this much space can take some practice.  Here are some tips on finding and wearing formal Renaissance gowns.

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1. Get the right underpinnings.  In the modern era, we're not used to wearing corsets, hoops, and other rigid or inconvenient under things.  However, without the right underpinnings, you won't get the right look, and your formal dress can even be more difficult to wear.  Make sure that you purchase or make a good corset for wearing under any formal gown from the sixteenth century.  Most dresses will also require the use of a farthingale, or conical hoop skirt, and may need to be worn with one or more petticoats.

2. Practice wearing your dress in advance.  Since most of us aren't used to this kind of clothing, it's a good idea to put things on before you go to the faire or other special event.  Spend some time wearing the entire gown, correctly arranged and fastened, and doing daily tasks.  If you've never worn a hoop before, something as simple as a trip to the restroom can be a complicated and awkward experience!  Fortunately, with a little practice, you'll be able to wear your formal gown like an old pro.

3. Don't forget accessories.  A beautiful gown can be spoiled by modern shoes and makeup, or the wrong hairstyle.  Take a look at period portraits and come up with accessories and hairstyles that match them.  That way, you'll get a perfect effect, as though you've just stepped out of a painting.  If you ordinarily wear glasses, consider wearing contact lenses for the day.  If your haircut is extremely modern, there are a number of headdresses that'll disguise this, and allow you to experience wearing a Renaissance formal gown to the fullest.

4. Look for clothing that breathes!  Many luxury fabrics are made of synthetic materials.  This makes them more durable and easier to care for, as well as cheaper to produce.  However, on a hot day in the summer, wearing multiple layers of a natural material like linen, cotton, silk, or even wool will be a lot cooler and more comfortable than the same number of layers in nylon, polyester, or acrylic.  Whether you're buying a gown or making your own, shop for fabrics that will feel comfortable against your skin.  Also, don't forget to drink lots of water to make up for the extra heat your body is dealing with.

5. Make sure everything fits.  This is an important tip when it comes to just about any type of clothing, but it's an even bigger concern with Renaissance gowns.  A good fit can make the difference between a sloppy gown and one that's spectacular.  Avoid a bodice that's too tight, overly short or narrow skirts, or short and tight sleeves.  Overly large clothing can be a problem, too.  Modern clothes have a lot of ease in them, while Renaissance clothing can fit like a second skin over your corset and other underpinnings.  This can take some getting used to, but buying or making the right size can do a lot for your look in a formal Renaissance dress.