It’s What Makes a Costume

My Buddy Tracy

I am always preaching from the soapbox of accessories so I figured that I would throw in an article about my favorite part of the garb.  (Plus it gives me a link, lol.)

Accessories make or break your costume.  Get the best made shirt and pants, even get the best pair of boots you can find and you are still just a dude in a costume.  Buy the most wonderful princess gown in the world, have it custom made, get a pair of real glass slippers and with out the right bangles and jewelry, you are just a chick in a dress.   This is the reason, my fair Rennies, that you see so many jewelry and accessory booths at the Renaissance Festivals around the country.  Think about the faires you go to, how many booths are costumes and how many are stuff to go along with the costumes.  And costumes shops aren’t leather crafters that make coats and stuff – those are accessories.  For the purpose of this article let’s assume that costumes are those basic pieces that you build a costume from.  And also let us not forget that unless you get those basics right you are just a dude wearing cool accessories over your sweatpants or a Trojan helmet with your shorts.


This is by far the most important accessory you are going to buy and trust me you will end up with a lot of jewelry.  Jewelry is all over the place at the Ren Faire.  Pick your theme for your garb and go to town.  Go crazy.  I don’t wear a whole lot of jewelry in my everyday life.  A wedding band, a simple stamped bronze coin around my neck and a pirate themed ring on my other hand.  At the fair… I wear more jewelry then my wife.  Even if you are going for the warrior look, jewelry can make your costume pop and it gives you the look of playing a character instead of just playing dress-up.

And remember that jewelry can be anything.  I wear an astrolabe around my neck or attached to my baldric or belt at every faire. Not traditional jewelry but it is great pirate bling.

I have covered this in another post but just in case you missed it – hats rule.  Hats were a part of everyday garb for people of the Middle Ages through the Renaissance.  People wore them to protect themselves from the son and at times to identify themselves with a certain trade.  Find a good hat and then guess what – ACCESSORIZE the HAT!  Yes, your hat will need some sprucing up.  Feathers, pins, ribbons, leather bands, all of these things make good additions to your headgear.  Don’t be afraid to try something unusual on your hat.  For instance, I have a table cloth tassel that attaches to the hat band on my tricorne and it looks great.

The hat pictured above is from a company called LeatherHelms – talk about a great hat.

Weapons are in my opinion the best accessory at the faire.  Swords, daggers, mauls, staves and much more make an appearance and can tell a lot about the character you are portraying.   Make sure you think about those weapon purchases.  Find something unique.  Find something unusual.  Make it your own and accessorize your weapons.  Adorn your scabbard with colors from your costume, get creative.

All in all my Rennies, remeber that accessories make you stand out in the crowd.  Instead of somebody saying “do you remember the 80th ranger we saw today?” they are going to say “did you see the ranger that was covered in fur.”  Instead of “do you rememeber that wench?”  They will say “do you remember the wench that had the dagger stuck in her cleavage that had a scabbard that matched her skirts.”

ACCESSORIZE and be happy!