St. Michael's
English Renaissance Clothing

General Costume Books     Excerpts from Costuming Books     Links to On-Line Resources
    History of Accessories       History of Eyeglasses     History of Hats     History of Shoes    

At historically-oriented Renaissance faires, performers do not dress in costumes per se. They attempt to dress in the clothing of the period. The difference is that clothing is to be used on a daily basis, and must stand up to that abuse. However, costuming is not worn daily. A performer's outfit undergoes a lot of stress at a faire, so it is in the performer's best interest to make something that will last.

Most of the history books concentrate on nobility. It's a lot harder to find something about the middle or lower classes. But we can cheat. We use the theory that the middle and lower classes tried to imitate their betters. The differences would be in the type and color of the fabric used (such as wool vs velvet), as well as the amount and type of detail (such as trim or beadwork).

I am a great believer of doing your own research. A lot of costuming information that is passed around at faires is just word of mouth. Rarely does anyone do their own research to prove to themselves that what they hear at faire is indeed historicly accurate. With that in mind, below I present some lists of books about the history of English fashion during the Renaissance.

However, I have a scanner now, and am willing to make available some excerpts from some costuming books. These aren't books you can go out and buy. At least I've never found them in a bookstore. They are out of print. I made copies from a university library.

I'm certainly not the only one with knowledge about costuming. Therefore I also have a list of Web pages (links updated Jan 2011) that deal with costuming. -- Gary Kephart, February 1996

General Costume Books     Excerpts from Costuming Books     Links to On-Line Resources
    History of Accessories       History of Eyeglasses     History of Hats     History of Shoes    

General Costume Books
Arnold, Janet
Patterns of Fashion
[An oft-quoted book. -- GK]
Barton, Lucy
Historic Costume for the Stage
[Note that this is for the stage and may not be well suited for faires. -- GK]
Boucher, Francois
20,000 Years of Fashion
Bradfield, Nancy
Historical Costume of England
Brooke, Iris
A History of Costume
Carman, W.Y.
British Military Uniforms
Cunnington, C. Willet & Phyllis
Handbook of English Costume in the Sixteenth Century
[I consider this the best reference of all. -- GK]
Evans, Mary
Costume Throughout the Ages
Fairholt, F.W.
Costume in England
La Mar, Virginia A.
English Dress in the Age of Shakespeare
Lawson, Cecil C.P.
A History of the Uniforms of the British Army
Sichel, Marion
Costume Reference 2 - Tudor and Elizabethans
Yarwood, Darlene
English Costume
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History of Accessories
Foster, Vanda
Bags and Purses
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History of Eyeglasses
Corson, Richard
Fashions in Eyeglasses
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History of Hats
Harrington, Michael
The History of the Hat
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History of Shoes
(updated Dec 2010)
Brooke, Iris
Footwear: A Short History of European and American Shoes  1972, Theatre Arts Books, New York
Foster, Michael
Walking Through History: A Short History of Shoes  2010, Guild of St. Michael, California    download
Ledger, Florence E.
Put Your Foot Down: A Treatise on the History of Shoes  1985, C. Venton, Melksham, Wiltshire, U.K.
Swann, June
Shoes  1982, B.T. Batsford, London
Wilcox, R. Turner
The Mode in Footwear  1948, Scribners, New York
Wilson, Eunice
A History of Shoe Fashions  1978, Theatre Arts Books, New York
Yue, Charlotte and Yue, David
Shoes: Their History in Words and Pictures  1997, Houghton Mufflin Company, New York
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Book Excerpts
(documents updated Dec 2010)
[Here are a few excepts from some of the books I have. They have been stored in Adobe® Acrobat™ (PDF) format. -- GK]
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Other Costuming Web Pages
(links updated Apr 2011)

Know any other links to costuming resources on the Net? Thanks.

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Originally created 2 February 1996