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How to Make a Homemade Renaissance Outfit on a Budget

Chrissie is an educator, freelance writer, and mother of two children and three dogs.

Renaissance Fashion for Under $10

Shirts found at a yard sale for $3 each

Shirts found at a yard sale for $3 each

Creating a Renaissance Outfit on a Budget

Long before we were married, my husband and I attended a Renaissance fair on a date. Over a decade later, we decided to attend the festival again, only this time with our two children. Our kids had gone to Disney World a few months prior to the fair and actually told us that the Renaissance fair was better than Disney World! Se have made going to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Fair a yearly outing for our family ever since.

The fair can be a little pricey for a family on a tight budget, so you may not have the money to buy detailed renaissance outfits. It is very easy to make your own outfits. The first year that we took our children, we bought our children used Halloween-type costumes online and they wore the costumes to the fair and again for trick or treating that year.

The second year, we frequented the Goodwill store all year looking for clothing that could be used for a good outfit to wear to our new favorite festival. We have continued to search out clothing at yard sales every summer to make new and unique costumes every year.

Great fashion accessories found for under $1 at a yard sale

Great fashion accessories found for under $1 at a yard sale

They also sell outfits and accessories at the festival. My son bought a wooden sword at the fair one year and then took it as an accessory the other years. We help our children save money for several months before the fair so that they can buy the more authentic items that they might want. Even if you don't buy any clothing or accessory items at the fair, be sure to still browse the merchants to get ideas.

Last year, it rained the day we went to the fair, and my daughter really liked some of the capes that people were wearing. When we looked at the capes the merchants had for sale, they were very expensive, so my daughter decided that she could make a cape at home from felt.

She made notes of what she liked about the capes that the merchants had. When she got home, she had a year to work on making herself a cape for a more reasonable price. She also found a really nice large pin at a yard sale that she could use for her cape closure.

Homemade Renaissance Outfits

We gathered our pieces to our outfits from yard sales and secondhand stores.

We gathered our pieces to our outfits from yard sales and secondhand stores.

Women's Renaissance Fashion

When looking at yard sales and secondhand stores for women's Renaissance fashion items, here are some things to search for.

  • Clothing that is dark or neutral in color (greens, browns, tans, and white)
  • Shirts that can be layered
  • Plain brown or black boots that have a worn in look
  • Long skirts
  • Ribbons that can be braided into your hair

Some people choose to dress like a pirate when attending a Renaissance fair. Here are items to look for if you are going to dress like a female pirate.

  • Old costume jewelry with large stones and dangling bracelets
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Shirts with puffy-type sleeves
  • Large belt
  • Shorter plaid skirt
  • High boots, ones that fold over at the top are perfect

Scottish Themed Outfit for Under $50

Shirt found at a thrift store, skirt bought used from Ebay, and corset bought on sale on Amazon all for under $50!

Shirt found at a thrift store, skirt bought used from Ebay, and corset bought on sale on Amazon all for under $50!

Men's Renaissance Fashion

To be honest, most people are looking at the women at the Renaissance fair since most women have quite a bit of Renaissance cleavage going on, but men should still make an attempt to dress for the festival as well. Here are items to look for.

  • Loose dark pants that can be frayed or ripped at the bottom
  • Large belts
  • Kilt (depending on the theme for the weekend you are attending)
  • Over-sized white dress shirt
  • Vest
  • Black or brown boots

Children's Renaissance Fashion

The easiest way to get Renaissance clothing for your children is to go to stores right after Halloween and buy a princess, pirate, or knight costume and accessories on clearance. Or go to the thrift stores around Halloween and you might find some there. I suggest buying the costume one size larger than your child needs so that you can put play clothes under the costume. The festival lasts all day and many times the kids can get uncomfortable and everyone will have a much more pleasant experience if you can easily take the costume off. See the picture where my son is doing the rope climb to ring the bell; by that time of the day, he was in jeans but still had his sword to carry around. He felt comfortable but still felt like part of the festival. Here are some other accessories to look for.

  • Velvet dresses
  • Vests
  • Over-sized dress shirts
  • Rope or ribbon belts
  • Pants or skirts that can easily be frayed or torn
It is a good idea to have "regular" clothes to change into since some kids will get uncomfortable

It is a good idea to have "regular" clothes to change into since some kids will get uncomfortable

How to Prepare for the Pennsylvania Renaissance Fair

If you want to keep your family on a budget at the festival, follow these tips.

  1. Make sure you have play clothes on under the costumes and you have extra clothes in the car in case it rains or gets cold.
  2. Take a bag with you that has an umbrella, wet wipes or hand sanitizer, tissues, small bag of snacks. Make sure the bag you take has extra room to carry the items you buy.
  3. If you have a daughter consider braiding her hair the night before and adding ribbons. It will give you more time in the morning to do your hair in a braid or twist.
  4. Give your child a budget and discuss it before you attend the festival. Also, tell your child that you will not purchase anything until after a certain time in the day, that way they can see everything the festival has to offer.
  5. Consider keeping a cooler of water bottles and snacks in your car and go to your car in the afternoon for a snack. Doing this will help defray the cost of food for the day and give you a chance to grab sweatshirts if needed for the rest of the day. You may also want to have a blanket to take back for sitting on while watching the joust.

Fun Activities For Kids to Do at a Renaissance Fair

All Renaissance festivals and faires are a little different but these are things my children have enjoyed doing at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.

  • Rope climbing
  • Throwing knives
  • Shooting arrows
  • Tossing frogs
  • Going through the maze
  • Petting a baby dragon
  • Potato race
  • Watching the human chess match
  • Watching the live joust

Sword Fighting With Your Friends

The red sticks act as swords and you and your friends try to pop each other's balloons

The red sticks act as swords and you and your friends try to pop each other's balloons

Renaissance Fair Activities

More Information About the Reniassance


dte018 on January 28, 2015:

If you ever get a chance go to the texas renissance festival, its the largest in the world. Its really a sight to see, its literally the size of a small town.

summerberrie on November 03, 2012:

I love your outfits! Those Renaissance fairs look like so much fun. Great ideas.

chrissieklinger (author) from Pennsylvania on November 03, 2012:

Thanks Marcy! I love wearing a different costume every year. The turkey legs are soooooo yummy!

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on November 03, 2012:

FYI - shared with my followers - this hub is so timely right now. I feel a turkey leg craving coming on!

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on November 03, 2012:

You really created some great costumes! This is the season for the Rennaissance Faire in Texas - I may have to go again; your hub sure brings back memories! I love the tongue-in-cheek character actors; I always wanted to go as a wench, but I might opt for Queen instead.

Love the photos! Voted up!

chrissieklinger (author) from Pennsylvania on June 15, 2012:

It is located very close to Hershey, PA. Another great place to take your family!!!

Janis Goad on June 15, 2012:

I never knew there was a Renaissance Faire in Pennsylvania! It looks like fun. Years ago I went to events hosted by the Society for Creative Anachronism at my university, which looks similar--jousting, Morris dancing, heraldic displays, and barbecued food. It was fun.

chrissieklinger (author) from Pennsylvania on June 08, 2012:

Lizam and Brainy Bunny...once you go I bet you will be hooked. We go every year is so much fun to act like you are back in time for the day. When my kids ate that big turkey leg they wanted me to start making it for dinner...too funny!

Lizam1 on June 07, 2012:

Thanks - the fair looks fun. One day when we visit Penn. we'll know how to dress!

LauraGSpeaks from Raleigh, NC on June 07, 2012:

Nice detailed info on what to expect at a Reniassance Fair.

Brainy Bunny from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on June 07, 2012:

I've never been to a ren fair, but I've always wanted to try one. If I ever find one near me, now I'll know how to dress -- thanks!