I've got fitting and sizing tips to help you find the perfect plus size Renaissance costume. Or, tricks for altering a plus size Renaissance costume you already own.
Plus size Renaissance costumes are wardrobe staple for anyone who likes to cosplay now and then. You can wear one to a Renaissance faire or a Medieval faire. You can also wear one to a Renaissance costume party. If you're participating in a reenactment from a certain period in history, you'll need one that's a little more authentic and detailed.
Custom-made dresses are always going to fit better than anything else. Etsy has wonderful makers who specialize in Renaissance or Medieval gowns. Search Etsy for “plus size Renaissance dress” or “plus size Medieval dress.” Two of my favorites are Krafty Mistress and Calypso's Caravan.
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No matter what you're doing with your plus size Renaissance costume, it's important that fits comfortably and looks flattering. Wearing Renaissance costumes is fun and exciting, but only if the costume allows you to move and breathe freely. How else will you hawk your wares or get naughty with a squire? These tips on fitting and sizing will help you find just the right plus size Renaissance costume for whatever the occasion may be.
When You Buy Online
Lots of women buy plus size Renaissance costumes or Medieval garb online, simply because there are so many choices. But proper fitting is extremely important.
I try to order far in advance of any event — a little more than a month — in case it doesn't fit properly. That means checking the store's shipping schedule to find out how long it will take to get my costume. If it doesn't fit, and I ordered it in plenty of time, I can exchange the costume or find someone to alter it a bit.
Pay attention to the sizing chart provided by the online store. Sizing varies from one store or brand to the next. Some Medieval or Renaissance costume pieces may be designed to fit loosely, like a shift, while others may have a snug fit, like a corset (obviously). Look for words like “tight or close fit” or “generous fit” and take into consideration your body shape, height, if you are short waisted (short torso, like me), have long or short legs, etc. Which leads me to…
How to Take Accurate Measurements
You should always take your measurements in inches with a tape measure. The bust area should be measured under your arms and around the fullest part of your chest, with your arms at your sides. The waist should be measured around the natural waistline, usually at your belly button, with the measuring tape a bit loose. For hips, measure the fullest part of the hips. For skirt length, measure from the back part of your waist to the floor.
You might find it easier to have a friend or family member take your measurements so they're accurate.
Are you cross-dressing for your plus size Renaissance costume? In that case, you'll need pants measurements. For the inseam, measure from the crotch to the desired length of the trousers. Do this with your shoes on so you can see wear the hem will fall (usually just touching the top of your shoes). The outseam measurement should be taken from the natural waistline (just below the belly button) to the desired length of your pants leg (again, with shoes on).
For a shirt, you should measure your neck around the base at the full circumference.
Critical Measurements for Plus Size Renaissance Costumes
For plus size women, it is critical that the measurements for the bust, waist, hips, height and skirt length are accurate. Plus size Renaissance costume sizes usually range from small to 3X. (Avoid “one size fits most!”) For leather bodices, the bust and waist measurements are needed, but the waist measurement is the most important: too loose and it won't be flattering; too tight and you won't be able to breathe.
Try to shop at a brick and mortar store or online store where you can buy all your costume items and accessories together. That way you can save on shipping, and if you have to return more than one item, you're not sending more than one package or making more than one trip.
Look for fun accessories, like Medieval swords or other weapons, armor, head bands or scarves, jewelry, tights, boots or shoes. An eye patch is always fun, too!
With the right fit, you'll be able to enjoy your plus size Renaissance costume event to the fullest! (Pun intended!)