Women's Renaissance Costumes
One of the best things about the Renaissance was the gorgeous clothes women wore--if they were wealthy. Usually, when we think of a princess, we envision her wearing a Renaissance-style gown. And there are portraits of wealthy women wearing jewel-studded garments decorated with elaborate embroidery. Our selection of women's Renaissance costumes lets you step back to that elegant era.
Of course, not all women were wealthy, noble or royal. Most were peasants or bourgeois, the wives or daughters of farm laborers, merchants or tradesmen. They didn't have a lot of choices in life--they got married, had children, and ran their household. The wife of a merchant or tradesman might help out in her husband's business. The daughter of a tradesman might marry one of her father's apprentices. Daughters of nobility or wealthy commoners might become nuns. Or their fathers might marry them off as part of a political or business agreement (love was irrelevant!). Women who had no husband or means of support often had to resort to the "oldest profession"--prostitution.
We have women's Renaissance costumes for any role or occasion you may want, from tavern wench to royalty. Whichever one you choose, HOW you wear it is important. For costumes worn over a chemise, the chemise says a lot about your station in life. Respectable girls and women of any social position wore the chemise with their shoulders covered. Wearing your chemise off-the-shoulders was a signal to men that you wouldn't refuse lewd offers. In short, only prostitutes exposed their shoulders in public. (An occasional wife might entice her husband that way in the privacy of their home.) Respectable women, especially married ones, also covered their hair with a veil or headdress.
Unless you're a queen, you'll need to practice curtsying. That's how polite women showed respect to their "betters." To do a proper curtsy, you don't have to drop all the way to the floor. From a standing position just move one foot behind the other and bend your knees and hips to make a graceful dip. Keep your back straight. If you're wearing a full skirt, hold it out to the sides with your hands as you curtsy. Knowing WHEN to curtsy is a bit more complicated. The basic rule is that you curtsy to anyone whose rank and social position is higher than yours. If you aren't noble or royal, curtsy to anyone who is. Servants curtsy to their employers, even if they're commoners. Where it gets difficult is knowing which nobles and royals have to curtsy to which other nobles and royals. The only person who doesn't have to curtsy is the Queen, and even she might curtsy if she met the Pope.
Enjoy your Renaissance finery, and make the most of any costume event!