Friday, June 30, 2023

DIY Ren Faire Costume Ideas: How to Create Your 2023 Renaissance Festival Outfit

diy ren faire costume ideas

Huzzah and Happy Friday! The 2023 Ren Faire season is upon us here in Western New York. Taking a trip to the Renaissance Festival is one of my favorite pastimes; I've been going since I was a little girl, and I'm tickled that it's become more popular in recent years.

Whether it's your first time or your thousandth... After you've figured out which Ren Faire you want to attend and decide when you want to go, the question becomes: What to wear to a Ren Faire?

There are a lot of ways you can go here. Some people don't dress up at all, while others opt for something vaguely reminiscent of a bygone era. Still others spend months devising the perfect get-up. Anything goes, really. But unsurprisingly, I tend to go all out!

Personally, I prefer to create my Ren Faire outfits from pieces that I already own and wear in real life or can use in other situations. They aren't strictly costumes! They're items I can and do use in multiple ways for all kinds of occasions. I also love wearing something different each time I visit, which is partially why I don't want to spend $500 on a complete outfit. I love the flexibility and creativity involved in a DIY Ren Faire costume. While I don't consider myself quite crafty enough to make things like shoes and shields, I've made my own flower crowns before and really enjoy figuring out which pieces I want to wear together.

In most cases, I'll take a base dress that's already in my closet and add things like belts, corsets, hair accessories, bags, and period-looking shoes to turn it into something that's at least somewhat Renaissance-y. Personally, I don't care if there are anachronistic elements. That all adds to the fun for me!

There are a lot of examples of what to wear to a Ren Faire online (and I'm planning to post videos of my best Renaissance Festival costumes for this year, so keep an eye on my social media!). But it can sometimes be tough to know where to start sourcing costume pieces. I've created this post to give you a good jumping-off point!

If you're looking for very easy Ren Faire costumes, this may not be the way to go. But if you want the creative satisfaction of putting together unique Ren Faire outfits, you can start with my picks below.

Please note: This post contains some affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of those links, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you!) that helps to run my blog. I appreciate your ongoing support of The Soubrette Brunette!

Best Ren Faire Dresses

When I'm putting together Ren Faire outfits, I'll usually opt for a base dress. Since I already own so many of them, this is usually the easiest route. (If you're the type of person who prefers separates, stay tuned!) I've chosen some dress options that are adorable for daily life and would make an excellent foundation for your DIY Ren Faire costume. Note: Many of these come in multiple colorways!

ren faire dresses

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renaissance festival dress
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FYI: Hill House ("h" and "k") is having a 20% off sale this weekend! Use code 20FORYOU at checkout.

Selkie Dresses for Ren Faire Outfits

Here's my two cents: As much as I love Selkie dresses, I might not spend hundreds of dollars on something I'd wear only to the Renaissance Festival. That being said, if you already own one of these dresses or know that you'll find other occasions for them, I think that they can be great options for Ren Faire costumes. Even some of the shorter, more pastel styles would make a great base for a fairy costume. While some of styles lean more toward the Regency era than the Renaissance, I think the ones I picked out would work beautifully with other pieces. Just note that the longer styles will undoubtedly get dirty unless you layer and use skirt hikes (see the "accessories" section for examples of those)!

It just so happens that Selkie is running a Summer Solstice sale now through July 2nd and some of these dresses are included! (I don't earn any money from this – I'm just sharing so you can save some $$!) Use code 2023-SOLSTICE at checkout for 25% off select items.

selkie ren faire
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Skirts for Ren Faire Costumes

Separates, anyone? If you're the type who loves a swooshy maxi skirt in summertime, this can be a great way to get more for your money. You can even layer a couple of skirts; playing with different hemline lengths or styles will add fullness and textural interest. Note that these may not be the most authentic options, but I think you could create some really cool and relatively cheap Ren Faire outfits with these.

skirts for ren faire

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ren faire maxi skirts

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Renaissance Faire Costume Tops and Blouses

Peasant blouses and other staple tops can come in handy when you're going for separates, but they can also be layered under sleeveless or strapless dresses to give a modern piece a period look in a pinch. I think a lot of these would look cute IRL outside of the shire, too. Keep in mind that even if a blouse looks shapeless, you're going to add more structure to your final Ren Faire costume by adding on other layers!

peasant tops blouses ren faire

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what to wear to a ren faire

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Ren Faire Costume Ideas: Corsets, Belts, and Bodices

My favorite Ren Faire outfits for women usually feature an exaggerated shape (i.e., lots of cleavage and a cinched-in waist). However, I think that wearing an actual corset is a big commitment – especially because it can get sweltering hot during the festival. I like to be comfortable and be able to eat as much as I want, so I often opt for corset belts or bodices that are more forgiving. If you're really dedicated to the bit, just don't lace yourself in too tight. I'd also recommend swapping out flimsy ribbons for stronger laces. You don't want your DIY Ren Faire costume breaking down on you! My picks below span the spectrum of super-stretchy cheats to more restrictive bonafides.

ren faire corsets 
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corset for ren faire

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Ren Faire 2023 Hats, Crowns, and Hair Accessories

I'm picky about the hats and hair accessories I wear, but there are SO many options available when crafting your DIY Ren Faire costumes. There are more traditional hats, hair chains, circlets, flower crowns, snoods, clips, sticks, and much more to choose from. I've included just a sampling below of some of my favorite picks to bring your look together. (Figuring out a hairstyle is a whole other challenge!)
ren faire flower crown hat
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Ren Faire Costume Jewelry

Even a cheap Ren Faire outfit has to have a bit of sparkle and shine. I usually like to layer different necklaces and add some rings, but let your imagination run wild here! If you've got pierced ears, earrings are an excellent way to show off your commitment to the theme. For those who are emulating nobles at court, there are plenty of finer costume jewelry pieces to be found – but I personally enjoy a more whimsical approach, as seen below.
renaissance festival jewelry

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Ren Faire Bags, Pouches, and Purses

Here's a very important addition to your Renaissance Faire costume: A bag to carry around all your treasures in! If you have a belt as part of your costume, you can typically find pounch-style belt bags that can slide right onto it and be on your person all day. Cross-body bags and backpacks are good options, as well. I'd advise against anything that you have to carry in your hands – and avoid anything really heavy and bulky if you can! All that being said... I'm a sucker for a novelty bag! Here are some of my favorite thematic and (somewhat) practical purses.

best bag purse for ren faire

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ren faire bags

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Best Accessories for Ren Faire 2023

When it comes to costume ideas for Renaissance Festivals, the accessories can really make the outfit. Those little details can turn something basic into something awe-worthy. I love looking at all the little trinkets that attendees add to their costumes. The best Renaissance Festival costumes are personal to the wearer and tell a captivating story! I've included some ideas to get your imagination going.

ren faire trinket ideas

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Easy Ren Faire Costume Footwear

Finding the right Ren Faire costume shoes can be tough. Unless you're a pro and have feet of steel, I wouldn't recommend wearing heels or anything too constrictive. Something with good support is best. You'll be doing a fair amount of walking up and down hills at most festivals. Don't forget that there'll be plenty of discarded food and other muck on the ground, so don't wear pristine pumps. All that being said, you'll still want the right shoes to go with your Ren Faire costumes. I've rounded up a variety of options that still fit the theme but that are (hopefully) comfortable enough to get you through the day!

best shoes for ren faire

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General Ren Faire Tips

Now that you know where to buy Ren Faire clothing and what to wear to a Ren Faire in your area, I'll leave you with just a few general tips and tricks for your trip.

  1. Wear Layers: Not only will a layered look at more visual interest, but it'll make it possible to remove pieces throughout the day if you get overheated. Lighter fabrics + layers are preferable to heavy materials that you're stuck in for hours!

  2. Expect to Get Dirty: Ren Faires are usually located on large parcels of land and are meant to look relatively untouched by modern-day technology. You'll walk over lots of hills, cobblestones, and dirt paths to get from one area to the next. Some shows involve water and mud. You'll probably step in discarded food or spill a drink on yourself. You might get caught in the rain or sweat through your blouse. When in doubt, don't wear something you'll be upset to get dirt on.

  3. Bring a Fan: The act of fanning may make you feel warmer, but I bet you'll still be glad you brought a fan along. Whether it's a basic one made of paper or a fancy one of feathers, make room in your bag or on your belt for your cooling apparatus. (If you want to get anachronistic, a battery-powered neck fan or handheld fan might be worthwhile.)

  4. Establish a Meeting Place: Ren Faires are notorious dead zones. Regardless of your cell provider, you'll probably be hard pressed to find service for most of the day. It's fitting, but a bit inconvenient. If you're in a group, establish a meeting place where you'll reconvene if you get separated. You probably won't be able to text or call each other to find out where someone is. (I've heard some folks bring ye olde walkie talkies to combat this problem!) Don't plan on posting much to social media or responding to emails until you're out of the shire.

  5. Be Careful With Fake Weapons: Real weapons are a no-no, but even fake weaponry might be confiscated at the faire due to safety concerns. If you tie it in a way so it's inoperable, you should be okay – but be sure to check out the FAQs for your own Ren Faire if you plan on bringing faux knives, swords, or other items.

  6. Put On Your Fit in the Parking Lot: It's a time-honored Ren Faire tradition to get dressed in the parking lot of the festival. Some folks wait until they arrive to put on everything, while others delay putting on corsets and other restrictive pieces until the last minute. Depending on how far you are from the faire, you won't want to risk wrinkling (or even breaking) your Renaissance festival costume pieces. Err on the side of caution and at least save the uncomfy elements for right before you go through the main gates.

Are you planning to go to a Ren Faire this summer? Be sure to share your outfit with me on social media and let me know about your experience! Happy festival-ing!

1 comment:

  1. What a cute post! I love all the dresses and the cute mushroom bag. X


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