Each member of the Company is responsible for their own period-appropriate outfits, or “garb”. Your character’s outfit should be uniquely yours, not a “cosplay” of someone else. Excepting the information below, a basic outfit should consist of: headwear, a blouse or tunic, appropriate footwear, and leggings/breeches for men and a skirt/dress for women.

On the other hand: costumes such as those sold in Halloween shops, or those depicting trademarked characters such as those worn by popular media characters, are not acceptable for Company members working at the Faire.

There are some great online sites that offer complete outfits for men and women for under or around $100 (not including footwear), or you can purchase from our wonderful merchants along Spendepenny Lane within Sterlingshire itself. If you’re uncertain, reach out to the Company members and leadership and we’ll be happy to help you find the best outfit for your character and style (psst, we all love to shop even if it’s for others!)

How you dress identifies your “class.” The main classes were: the noble class (those holding a title, either hereditary or honorary), the middle class (merchants, lawyers, other “professionals”), and the peasant class (known today as the “working poor”). At the Faire, your station in life will be known mainly by your clothing. For example, a merchant is in the middle class so he and his family will dress according to that station. Food sellers, on the other hand, are part of the peasant class. Entertainers may be either, depending on how they are cast.

If you want some more detailed descriptions and explanations, continue reading below!

The accession to the throne of England of a monarch possessing a strong individuality has always resulted in that particular peculiarity being stamped upon the nation, and Elizabeth decidedly established herself as one such individual. Her force of will, her strong business qualities, her intense love of pleasure, her passion for display, her love and encouragement of everything that added to the greatness of England, are all marked upon the progress of the nation during her reign, and especially upon costume. It was not to be expected that a woman of her force of character would be content with the same garments her grandmother affected, and consequently at an early period in her reign we find those changes inaugurated which resulted in a complete upheaval and entire revolution of the dress of the English nation. 



A peasant man would wear at least a tunic or shirt, and breeches of some kind. He would also wear a laced-up or buttoned jerkin (vest) with or without sleeves over this, and some kind of hat with a biggins (coif) underneath to keep his shaggy hair out of his eyes. All but the poorest would have cloth hosen (stockings) and shoes, or if he wore no hose, he would have long breeches similar to pajama pants, cross gartered from ankle to knee. Cross gartered breeches were commonly worn by the lower classes since before the Conquest in 1066. He would have a cape in cold weather. 

At his belt would be a pouch to carry oddments and a small knife for eating purposes. He would be carrying on or about his person objects pertaining to his profession, whatever it might be. His clothing would probably have holes or patches on it. 
Fabrics were coarsely woven, or at least had that appearance. The lower classes mostly spun their own yarn and wove their own cloth, and just because they had to do it does not mean that they were good at it! They wore wool, linen and combinations of the two fibers, such as linsey-woolsey. They also wore leather when they could get it from hunting, and they lined their winter clothes and capes with the skins of rabbit and squirrel. 

Colors for dying the fabrics were obtained from vegetable sources available in the vicinity and were mainly earth colors and muted tones. Trim on peasant clothes was kept simple, and usually embroidery or plain strips of contrasting fabric was sewn to edges to set them off. More often, there was no trim or edge decoration at all. 

Since there was seldom enough money or time to buy or make a lot of cloth at one time, the color of one garment hardly ever matched the color of another. Also, since a peasant usually only had one outfit, it did not get washed very often, so it would be well worn, dirty, and patched. These were working clothes, so not much time was given to upkeep. 

Worn out clothes were not thrown away, but combined with others and recycled in one form or another until the fibers fell apart. Even then, the remains might have been shredded and carded with fresh wool to fill it out and be rewoven into a whole new piece of fabric. 



A peasant woman wore a long-sleeved shift under everything and at least two skirts over that, with the upper skirt, usually newer than the underskirts, tucked up out of the dirt. She had an apron on over the skirts to keep them clean if she was doing work, which was most of the time. She wore a tight fitting bodice or vest (scoop or square necked), which usually came to a point in front, and laced or buttoned on over the shift. It had removable sleeves which were worn or not, depending on the weather. 

Any woman over the age of thirteen had her hair covered by some sort of headgear, such as a biggins, garland or muffin cap, and the hair itself was usually braided or bundled up out of the way. There was no such thing as having short hair “for comfort.” (If you have short hair, cover your head or wear a wig or hairpiece.) 

Women sometimes wore knee-length cloth hosen held up by garter ties and they had some kind of shoes if they were lucky. 
She had a belt pouch and a small eating knife of her own. She had a basket to carry things gathered in the fields or bought at morning market. 

In cold weather she would wear a cape or shawl wrapped around her. 
She wore no lace. It was much too expensive. 


Rust Iron, earth 
Red Berry, Rose, Beet, Apple 
Yellow Daffodil, Marigold, Onion, Wheat, Ocher 
Blue Blueberry, Heather, Cornflower 
Brown Bark, Earth, Cocoa, Walnut 
Orange Autumnal, Carrot, Pumpkin, Squash, Peach 
Green Forest, Hunter, Evergreen, Moss, Pea-green, Spring Green, Apple-green 
Grey Charcoal, Dove, Barnboard 
Off White is preferable to pure white for peasant chemises. 


The middle class men would quite often be gentry or petty nobility, with his own horse and lands. He might also be a high-ranking servant in a nobleman’s household, a rich merchant or highly skilled craftsman of some kind. He would have his own servants, among whom would be a valet, a personal body servant whose sole task was to see to his master’s clothing and personal appearance. Therefore, the middle class man would dress quite well, if he could afford it. He might choose to pay the sumptuary tax on some item of his apparel so that he could be even more richly dressed. 
Over the shirt, he wore a close-fitting doublet with long or short skirting that ended somewhere between his upper thigh and the knee, depending on his age and respectability. He wore breeches or slops, also called truck-hose or upper-stocks on his lower half and they were decorated to some degree. 

His hosen, also called nether-stocks, now reached all the way up his legs and were sometimes knitted instead of sewn from bias cut fabric, as was most commonly done. Knitted hosen, however, were fabulously expensive, because they were always hand-knitted, usually out of silk, and cost upwards of five pounds a pair. That was a princely sum for those days, perhaps the equivalent of $200.00 today. His fine shoes were decorated with buckles or ribbon and his garter ties were sometimes embroidered or fringed on the ends. 

He wore either a flat cap or a tall crowned, small brimmed hat with feathers and a fancy hatband. His hair was short and older men and conservative types covered their heads with a coif or biggins under their hats. Men of this class were likely to go clean shaven, or if they had whiskers, they were well trimmed. 

Many of the older or more conservative gentlemen wore knee-length coats called “surcoates” or “great coats,” and if worn long, were called “gowns.” These coats were worn over doublets and slops as an outer garment, instead of a cape. The surcoate resembled a modern choir robe with a deep collar or “rever” of velvet or fur. 

Pouch and dagger hung from his belt and he might have a fine gold chain around his neck to denote wealth, rank or position. His clothes were trimmed, embroidered, and jeweled as much as he could afford and the sumptuary laws would allow, and his appearance was sometimes little different from that of a noble gentlemen. 

Fabrics were still the practical wool and linen, but they were much finer quality than before. Added to this were cotton for undergarments, and silk, satins, and velvets in modest quantities. Those who could afford to dress especially well were always skirting the edges of the sumptuary laws, trying to get away with just a little bit more than their neighbors. 



Ladies of this class were wives or daughters of knights, country squires, or wealthy merchants or artisans, with their own servants. Or they might be high ranking servants in a noble household with a lot of authority and power of their own. Wives and daughters were under the control of their male relatives, having few rights. Like their male equivalents, they dressed as well as they could afford. 

The middle class lady’s chemise was almost always high-necked and made out of some delicate fabric, such as fine linen, imported cotton lawn or even silk. It might be embroidered and had neck and wrist ruffs, which were lace-edged, budget permitting. A married lady or conservative spinster wore her chemise closed down the front and a single lady wore hers open. In the coldest weather, everybody probably closed their chemises just to keep out the cold. 

Over the chemise, she wore a busk or corset, bum-roll or farthingale (hoopskirt), and petticoats, just like the noble ladies but in a less exaggerated style. Her corset was less tight, maybe her bum-roll was smaller, and her farthingale was less wide around the hem. 
Her underskirt, richly decorated, was cut to fit closely over the farthingale, so the effect was that of a stiff A-line, long skirt. The bodice was high-necked, with a tall collar. The overskirt was full and pleated or gathered into the waistband. The bodice and overskirt matched. The overskirt might be split up the front to display the fancy underskirt. Her lace-in sleeves sometimes matched the more ornate underskirt. She sometimes wore an open Spanish surcoate as an extra layer of clothing over her gown. 

Her hair was dressed to imitate the styles of the Court ladies and she wore a variety of wigs, hats and headdresses, just as they did. She might have knitted hosen with pretty ribbon garters and her shoes would have low heels, or be more like dancing slippers. Out of doors, she wore chopines, similar to wooden clogs, over her slippers to keep the mud of the streets off of them. 

She had embroidery or other trim decorating the garment edges, and they might also be beaded or jeweled if she were rich enough. Her hat or cap, pouch, and shoes could also be decorated like the rest. She still wore the household keys at her belt, but probably not a knife anymore. She would eat with a table knife and fork instead. Depending on her pretensions, she might also have a fine feather fan or pomander. She wore whatever jewelry she could afford and the sumptuary laws would allow. Jewelry would include gold and silver chains, strings of glass beads, semi-precious stones, or small pearls. She may have worn rings, brooches, earrings and pins as well. 

Everything mentioned in Peasant, including: Black, in small amounts (unless you are a Puritan) White Turquoise Saffron More jewel toned: Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Garnet, Topaz, Lapis, Citron, Malachite                                 

Purple; Neons; Excess of Silver or Gold; Excess of Turquoise; Pink; Fuschia 

Under Elizabethan law, every person over the age of thirteen (13) was required to wear a hat in public. Hats not only were a sign of class and rank, but were also functional. Fashionable men and women wore high crown hats with medium to broad brims. Women of fashion kept their hair in snoods. There were several kinds of headgear for middle class and peasant class women. These included wrapping the head with a cloth, like a turban, small caps, and other head coverings. Wide brimmed straw hats were worn alone or over the aforementioned headgear. It was English women who popularized the wearing of straw. On festival days it was common for young unmarried girls to wear flower garlands in their hair. 

Middle class men and peasants wore broad brimmed felt hats, straw hats, and cloth caps. The most common type of cloth cap was the “muffin cap.” 

Feathers added a great touch to any hat. Lower classes wore plain feathers such as: goose, duck, chicken, or grouse. Pheasants were considered a delicacy and were protected as game for the local nobility. Any commoner caught wearing a pheasant feather was labeled a “poacher” and could be put to death. The middle classes wore more expensive feathers such as: hackel, peacock, ostrich, egret, and swan. Remember to use feathers sparingly; they were extremely costly then as they are now. 

Headwear to avoid are: baseball caps, robin hood hats, steeple henans (tall pointed style hats worn by women), mob caps, Panama hats, Fedoras, sombreros and bandannas. 

Elizabethan footwear by modern standards is almost impossible to duplicate without going through great expense; therefore, you must think of substituting modern counterparts, and in some cases, sacrifice what is correct for what is practical. 

Peasant Class – Sandals, clogs, or plain slippers work well for women. Mid-calf or knee-high boots for men. 
Middle Class – Plain slipper or flat heeled, lace-up shoes (such as a Jazz shoe) work well for women. Plain lace-up shoes such as a character shoe, plain Oxfords, or mid-calf to knee-high boots are acceptable for men. 
Tai Chi shoes are small slipper-type shoes which are acceptable for all classes to wear. If you wear them, you will need to use insoles for support. 

Avoid bare feet, tennis shoes, army boots, biker boots, and anything with a high heel. If wearing moccasins or tall moccasin-like boots, they must NOT exhibit fringe. 

Remember to keep it plain, simple, and comfortable. 

agglet -small metal tip on the ends of lacings 
biggins cap -a small muslin cap that ties under the chin and is used to keep your ears warm 
breeches -large knicker-like pants ending just below the knee, same as slops 
bum-roll -a crescent shaped, stuffed, pad-type bolster worn on top of a woman’s petticoat, resting on her derriere to support the weight of the skirt, see farthingale 
busk -a woman’s corset 
chemise -a long-sleeved shirt-like undergarment worn under clothing, (comparable to a modern T-shirt), men’s – waist to mid-thigh length, women’s – mid-calf to floor length 
coif -general term for head covering, men – a flat hat or biggins hat worn under a felt or hard body hat; women – consisted of a veil-like covering for a woman’s head, usually a small cap with a veil attached 
doublet -jacket style outer garment worn by men 
forepart -the decorative underskirt of a woman’s clothing revealed by the center front split of her overskirt 
farthingale -the boned, hooped, or padded underskirt support (see bum-roll) 
jerkin -man’s sleeveless vest 
muffin cap -a small cap of circular fabric gathered into a band 
partlet -a woman’s shirt-like covering, mostly worn under a bodice 
picadil -the skirt-like piece of fabric on the bottom of peplum bodices, doublets, and jerkins, consisting of tabs, scallops, or skirting 
rever -the triangular area of fabric formed by folding back a front edge below a neck line; the rever may have a collar above it, may be above a buttoned opening, above a slit or just a seam 
ruff -a large circular collar of stiffened frills worn by both men and women 
shift -constructed similar to a modern day woman’s nightgown and usually worn for sleeping purposes 
slops -large knicker-like pants ending just below the knee, worn by men, same as breeches 
surcoate -a robe-like outer garment worn by men and women, same as a great coat 
trunk hose -very full, slashed, short pants worn by men, known as pumpkin pants 
tunic -a simple slip-on garment made with or without sleeves and usually knee-length or longer, belted at the waist, and worn as an outer garment by men and women 
venetians -very similar to slops or breeches; however, these pants are narrow at the knee and very full at the top