First and foremost, to our members… If you can’t sew, don’t worry. We will do our best to help you create, borrow and/or buy to pieces to get a costume that fits your budget. Before you embark, if you would like to read some of our current costuming standards, you can do so below.
Generally speaking men will wear a shirt, doublet, pants, tights, hat and shoes.
Generally speaking ladies will either wear an Italian Renaissance gown, or an Elizabethan gown and a head covering. Italian Renaissance gowns usually consist of a chemise, an underskirt, an overdress. Elizabethan gowns will consist of a chemise, corset, farthingale, bumroll, underskirt, overskirt and bodice. All ladies must also have a head-covering.
Some biggie No-no’s!
The Elizabethans had something called Sumptuary Laws. The one we strictly enforce is “no purple unless you are the monarch”, and so only Caroline, who plays Queen Elizabeth I at festival is allowed to wear purple. Please do not include purple, (violet, lavender, or any other shade or tint of purple) in your costume.
No LACE, unless it is Needlelace (or can pass for it), and you shouldn’t have lots of it. No pure lace skirts. No lace around all your edges, cuffs, etc. etc. Lace was too expensive to make and was used as an embellishment only.
Polyester is not a good idea. Some fabrics that are synthetic look natural (this is why you’re bringing in swatches) so they’re acceptable looking. But they don’t breathe very well. In Elizabethan times they were going through a mini-ice-age, and on top of that when Henry VIII got fat, everyone padded up and bulked their clothing to emulate him so fashions were heavy, puffy things. Combine those with fabrics that don’t breathe and Michigan weather in August and you’re going to have a tough time of it.
No printed pattern fabrics. All patterns should be woven or embroidered.
Some Simple, Easy to follow DOs.
Do wear a hat! Head coverings are required. You should have a hat of some kind. A simple fabric flat cap is acceptable, and any Elizabethan tall hats or riding hats are as well. A French hood with a veil has recently become an acceptable choice of headgear at Michigan Renaissance festival, so ladies are welcome to go that route as well. Your headcovering should be waterproof, or you should have a waterproof option available to you if it is not. Hats should be approved by your costumer (for 2011 that would be Jody or Sara).
DO wear a chemise under your gown, ladies. That’s a nice, lightweight shirt (well, technically LONG shirt, but I cut mine short due to heat concerns) in white or off-white. It can be a partlet. It can have a ruff. It should be long sleeved. Cotton is fine.
DO wear pants, men! Or at least make THAT part of your anatomy is appropriately covered by the top part of your costume (or a codpiece if you MUST wear tights).
DO make or buy removable sleeves. It’s 90 freakin’ degrees out there some days, 45 on others. Sleeves should be an on/off item.
You will want a cloak. Wool or some other waterproof, natural material. You can spray it with scotch guard, tent-guard, whatever, to make it more waterproof. It wouldn’t hurt to have a heavy cloak and a light one (sometimes it is hot and rainy, sometimes it is cold and rainy).
Ladies you can wear Mary Janes (with good insoles and rubber soles), leather slippers (watch out on rain days), or leather boots. There is HUMAN EATING MUD at festival and wood chips of pokey pain so I don’t suggest open toed shoes or sandals.
Men, you should either wear boots or black or brown leather shoes that aren’t tennis shoes or obviously modern dress shoes.
Boots are good choices for men or women. You can buy boots out at festival, or online. I have Son of Sandlar boots and they get me through rain days, but I swear by a Mary Jane style shoe made by Born for when it is dry outside.
Normally you would want a corset to make your silhouette very Elizabethan. However, if you are singing, you will also want to breathe. You can compromise by getting a relatively flexible or loose fitting corset, or merely wearing an enforced bodice.
If you’re going for an a courtly Elizabethan look you will want a farthingale (hoop skirt) and a bum roll as well.
If you are going for an Italian Renaissance ladies look you can skip the hoop and bumroll.
THIS WEBSITE IS AMAZING!!!
It’s INCREDIBLE. I’ve learned a lot of that stuff over the years, but it teaches it all to ya in one fell swoop. Sure there’ s a lot, but read it, it’s worth it in the long run.
COSTUMES TO BUY!
Basic rule: Please get approval before you buy. Email Sara and/or Jody a link, and we will let you know if your costume choice is acceptable.
Etsy has some handmade costumes that are lovely and wearable, though not generally the most affordable. This is great, for example, though out of most of our budgets.
The Tudor Shoppe is another good costume shop.
Pendragon has a few costumes that are appropriate for the Arbor Consort.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask!