It’s almost my favorite time of year - Renaissance Festival season! There are Renaissance Festivals happening all year long across the country, but here in New York, we’re prepping for the Sterling Renaissance Festival. There are so many costumes to choose from: royalty, wenches, pirates, fairies, fawns, rogues, mages, and more! But no matter what character you choose, these four accessories are essential for any costume.
They say that shoes can make or break an outfit, and that is very true of any time period costume. Nothing ruins a RenFest costume quite like a pair of sneakers. However, you don’t need dedicated RenFest shoes. There are plenty of modern shoes that can work for your costume. Here are some ideas:
Most leather-look sandals will work, but stay away from simple flip flops. You want something with straps that will hold the sandal to your foot - as much for style as for practicality while walking around the festival.
Canvas slip-ons like TOMS or BOBS are a great option. Make sure you wear solid colored shoes, and not any with a crazy print.
Other simple flats or loafers can also maintain the Renaissance look. The more nondescript, the better. Your shoes don’t have to be spot on, but the main goal is to not clash with the feel of your costume.
Boots can complete your look, but make sure you don’t pick anything too modern. Think pirates, Robin Hood, or riding boots.
If you are ready to pick out special shoes just for the Renaissance Festival, there are lots of online vendors offering a variety of styles. Or if you are really ready to splurge, you can get custom boots or shoes made by artisans at the festival. I actually found these shoes at a local consignment shop, so I was able to snag them at a great price.
A belt is used for both function and fashion at the Renaissance Festival. You can usually spot a life-long festival goer by their loaded belt. Their belt will be filled with pouches, a fan, a goblet or tankard, plus a half dozen little accessories that can be bought on the festival grounds. It’s rare to even see their belt under all the trinkets that can be kept on it. At its very base purpose, a good belt can keep you hands-free at the festival by carrying your last two essential accessories. Make sure you pick out something wide and sturdy so that it can support carrying everything you need. I found this vintage belt at a thrift store, but you can also find a beautiful artisan-made belt right at the festival.
Also known as a “bag of holding,” your pouch will act as your purse for the day. There are lots of options for pouches right at the festival. Some are more structured with loops on the back to hold on tight to your belt. Others are simple bags like the one in this picture. I bought this pouch at the festival almost ten years ago and have used the same one ever since. I call it a Mary Poppins pouch because it fits EVERYTHING. Here’s what I can fit in my pouch all at once:
Water bottle (standard plastic bottle size - I don’t bring these anymore.)
A sandwich bag of almonds
A sandwich bag of grapes
I stuff everything into my one big pouch, but you can also buy a few smaller pouches to decorate your belt and reduce the need for digging through your bag.
4. Ceramic Bottle
Hydration is key. You’ll be walking around the festival in the summer sun and need to make sure you stay hydrated. A ceramic bottle gives you a costume-appropriate way to carry water with you and let’s you skip buying a disposable plastic water bottle at the festival. Plus, here’s a cool tip: Fill up your bottle and put it in the fridge overnight. Ceramic is a natural insulator so it’ll stay cold longer throughout the day. I will be selling ceramic bottles in all sorts of costume-matching colors at the Sterling Renaissance Festival. They will be available with long cross-body cords or with shorter loops to hang from your handy belt - you choose!
I hope this article helps you plan your festival costume! Is there anything already in your closet that you will use? What’s on your shopping list?