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Classic Medieval Shoppe

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There is a practical difference between Medieval and Renaissance (Medieval covers approximately from 4th to 14th Century CE, Renaissance approximately from the 15th to 17th century), with of course some overlapping occurring.

Medieval dress runs from skirts, blouses and bodices for ‘wench’ type costuming, to elaborate gowns with draped sleeves and veiled  hats. For men, woodsman-style vests, shirts and pants to richly brocaded tunics and hose.

Renaissance tends to more flowing gowns for women and elaborate coats and breeches for the men.


What we’re calling the “medieval era” is huge, stretching from 450 to 1600 A.D. The period includes:

The borderline ancient/medieval period (mid- to late 400s A.D.), when Attila the Hun ruled.

The early medieval period (500 to 1050 A.D.), when knights sat at the round table, Prince Valiant was valiant, and Excalibur was lodged in that big stone.

The Middle Ages (1050 to 1450 A.D.), when the Crusades were in progress, William Wallace (a.k.a. Mel Gibson in Braveheart) was taking back Scotland, and Robin Hood was taking from the rich to give to the poor.

The Renaissance (1450 to 1600 A.D.), when Columbus sailed to the New World and Henry VIII reigned in England.


Basic medieval attire can consist of:

Royalty: the era’s most over-the-top, formal clothes

Merchant: pretty but not showy, indicating modest prosperity

Peasant: casual, carefree, outdoorsy, and largely unembellished

Classic medieval: women in long, slim-fitting gowns; men in tights and tunics

Classic renaissance: women in tight bodices and full skirts; men in tights, breeches, pirate shirts, and lace vests

Remember that simple styles will be most comfortable — some formal medieval clothes are heavy and confining. Where to find the  clothes? Order them from catalogs, have them custom-made, or rent them from local costume shops.