Renaissance Costumes for Men


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Peasants wear colors but the fabrics from which their clothes are made is much less luxurious to the touch than that of nobility. You may have a velvet (or something that looks velvety), satin, or brocaded vest, jacket that you could wear with a nobleman's costume.

Shirts, jerkins, doublets, capes

"Shirts should be long-sleeved and full-bodied. Drawstrings, high collars, drop collars, and no-collared shirts are appropriate. No zippers (that show) or pockets if you can help it! A jerkin is a loose-fitting vest, usually sleeveless. A doublet is a tight-fitting vest." In a pinch, you can'st adapt a loose-fitting shirt of your father, propping up the loose collar with a piece of matching toned yarn or string to hold it in place for a high-collared shirt. Do you have an old shirt that could be altered? Cut off the collar for a no-collar look. Drop-collared shirts may be done by tacking men's handkerchiefs at the shoulder to 'drop' 1/3 down the front of the shirt; one on both sides. Remember to wear the correct color!
Capes? What tablecloths do you have a home that are the right colors for the Renaissance? Tack on a ribbon of a matching color for a tie to hold it closed. Capes in our time were, sometimes, black on the outside and deep red or orangish-brown inside. Quite dapper!

Breeches, pants, and hose
I notice that the pants you have on are way too tight! "Pants or breeches should be full with lots of volume, not form-fitting! Length can be thigh-high, above the knee, or below the knee. Ankle-length pants are quite inappropriate. No zippers or pockets showing. Loose-fitting appropriately colored 'sweats' would work fine for breeches! Hike them up over your hose and hold them in place below the knees with a rubberband (that isn't too tight) of even with dull-colored masking tape that will look like a fabric band around the bottom edge of each pant leg!

Wear hose (Men do wear hose in our time - keeps the legs warm and protected from the elements!) or woolen socks if your legs aren't covered by pant legs. "Only Scots and the Irish show bare legs!" Hose - I hear you sniggering - could be long white athletic socks, covered at the knee with the pants you are going to wear.
Soon you will be or already have adoped a name from our time! Accessories make the man! For your 'character' , think of what little additions to your costume would indicate your station in life or your occupation that you will be apprenticing. "You should at least have a belt and a purse." Don't be a clumperton! a purse is really a leather pouch with a drawstring and loop that is to be hung from your belt. How else would a man carry his money and most important belongings?
Hats and hair

"Everyone wear hats except the Irish and the Scots. Proper hats include the muffin cap (It does look like a muffin! Poofy at the top with a wide, tight headband.), biggins (a close-fitting cap worn by children), flat caps, felt and straw hats. Women wore hair pinned up or braided under their hats."
Shoes and hose

"Bare feet and legs are inappropriate - unless you're an Irishman or a Scot! Most earth-toned shoes will work: wallabies, Minetonka mocassins, closed-toe Birkenstocks. In a pinch, use black kung fu slippers" or even brocaded slippers. If you only have those althletic shoes I see on your feet - whoever thought of those? They look so cumbersome! - take a remnant of cloth that is earth-toned and cover the tops of your shoes, taping or pinning each around your ankle.

Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office, Friends of Fermilab, United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, and North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL).
Authors: Bonnie Panagakis, Chris Marszalek, Linda Mazanek
School: Twin Groves Junior High School, Buffalo Grove, Illinois 60089
Created: December 3, 1997