Relive the Renaissance: A Beginner’s Guide to Convincing Cosplay

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Do you sometimes feel as though you were born in the wrong era? Or do you just want to escape the dreariness of modern life for a little while?

Then Renaissance faires are the perfect events for you. They’re a great way to travel back in time and immerse yourself in a completely different world. And if you are planning to attend one anytime soon, you also have to dress the part!

Renaissance faires originated back in the 1960s and were intended to serve as an educational event for school children. The first Renaissance faire happened in Southern California. Since then, this cultural event has spread all over the country and even overseas.

Find out how you can put together a convincing, authentic Renaissance cosplay that will turn heads at any faire.

A person riding a horse

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Photo by Gio Bartlett from Unsplash

Do your research

Yes, cosplay is supposed to be fun. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put in some work. If your goal is to achieve a convincing outfit from head to toe, you will need to research and look for reliable references.

Renaissance faires usually recreate the Elizabethan era of England, which lasted from 1558 to 1603. But some faires and festivals can be more relaxed with the periods they cover. Others are open to Viking, pirate, and fantasy themes, where historical accuracy is unnecessary.

For first-timer goers, confirm what specific period your local Renaissance faire is aiming for, and start from there. Then decide what social class you want to cosplay. Do you want to go as a royal, an aristocrat, or a peasant? Things like cloth, headpieces, and footwear vary greatly depending on class back then, so they have to be researched carefully.

Some seasoned cosplayers may prefer to make their outfits from scratch to be as accurate as possible. But that’s not always necessary. If you don’t have any experience with DIY costume making, there’s no problem with opting for ready-made costumes. You can even work with a tailor to have them customized for a more personal touch.

Add extra flair with great hair

Hairstyles are one of the most distinctive features of various eras. They can be very elaborate, so you may need additional time to study how to style your hair for your cosplay.

And if your hair isn’t at the right length for the hairstyle you want, wigs are perfectly viable alternatives. And let’s face it, not everyone has the time and energy to grow waist-length hair just for cosplay. Also, Elizabethan men used to have longer hair at the time, so even male cosplayers will also benefit from wigs.

Wigs made from real human hair would be your best bet. They are more comfortable to wear and safe for heat styling, unlike synthetic wigs. You’ll find that premium real hair wigs come in various colors, textures, lengths, and parts to help you achieve the convincing Renaissance hairstyle you want.

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Photo by Matheus Frade from Unsplash

Complete the look with accessories

Even if your clothes, hair, and makeup are good to go, you may still feel that something is missing. That’s where accessories come in. They can complete your look and make it feel more realistic.

Some accessories you can consider are headpieces, jewelry, musical instruments, shields, and armors. If you’re dressing up as a peasant, you can also bring along your tools of the trade, like a pitchfork or ax. Just make sure they’re replicas to avoid any potential injuries! And don’t forget to get a nice crown or scepter if you’re dressing up as a queen or king.

Swords are always a crowd-pleaser, and there is a vast selection available at local hobby stores or online. These gorgeous hand-crafted sword replicas cover all sorts of periods and cultures. You can even display them at home after the festivities are over. They can make for a good conversation starter.

And while they’re not exactly accessories, horses also make regular appearances at Renaissance faires. They might even be the best way to get in character if you’re going for a knight cosplay. But even fair maidens can bring along a horse if they want! It’s all about having the confidence to pull it off. Of course, make sure no one, including the animal, is harmed for cosplay.

Brush up on Renaissance speech and mannerisms

If you want to be authentic, you can work on adopting a Renaissance-appropriate dialect. There are vast resources online that can help you with this. You can even read up on some Shakespeare to get ideas. And remember, people spoke very differently based on their class during this era, so you also have to be particular about that.

You can look into slang or expressions used during that period to use as an amusing catchphrase for your character. Study Elizabethan accents through videos on YouTube and practice them with a friend. You can also research mannerisms, like hand gestures, bows, walking styles, and etiquette.

If you follow these steps, you will be well on your way to achieving a convincing cosplay for your upcoming Renaissance faire. But remember: at the end of the day, cosplay is all about having fun and enjoying yourself. You can always make an effort to be authentic, but don’t get too bogged down by the details. No one will mind if some of your accessories are anachronistic or if you have glitter eyeshadow on. Take lots of photos, make new friends, and immerse yourself in the festivities.

Have you been to a Renaissance faire before? What did you dress up as? If you’re planning to attend one for the first time, what cosplay are you putting together? Let us know in the comments below!

Sarah Miller is an avid cosplayer who also does DIY costume making. Her favorite periods to delve into are the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

We are influencers and brand affiliates.  This post contains affiliate links, most which go to Amazon and are Geo-Affiliate links to nearest Amazon store.