The Renaissance -- a word meaning "rebirth" -- was a period of rapid advancement in the fields of art, architecture, literature, technology and exploration. Beginning in Italy in the 14th century, the Renaissance spread throughout Europe over the next three centuries, and the era continues to capture our imaginations in Renaissance fairs and in school projects.
What Royalty Wore
There were many famous nobles during the Renaissance period. Boys can emulate Henry VIII or Charles V, for example. Girls can dress as Elizabeth I or Mary I. For dress as kings boys should wear capes of red or purple, wear matching crowns and tunics and carry scepters. Girls should wear long dresses of purple or red and also wear matching crowns.
What Commoners Wore
The Renaissance also included many people who were not famous. There are a variety of day-to-day jobs that children can use as inspiration for their costumes. Boys can be bakers, potters, blacksmiths or farmers. Girls can be fortune tellers, serving wenches, nurses and seamstresses. The clothing can be basic commoner outfits with vests and slacks for boys and bodices and skirts for girls. Accessories will mark the occupation. Blacksmiths need hammers; farmers carry hoes; seamstresses need a basket with needle and thread; fortune tellers carry crystal balls and tarot cards.
What Heroes Wore
The Renaissance had many great thinkers whose names are well-known today. Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Isaac Newton, Christopher Columbus, Johannes Gutenberg and Martin Luther all left their mark upon the world. Costumes for these figures can be the same as a commoner's outfit but with specific accessories. Da Vinci and Michelangelo were artists and should carry painter's tools. Newton discovered gravity when an apple fell on his head, so the apple is a fitting accessory. Columbus discovered the New World and should carry maps or telescopes. Gutenberg invented the printing press and should carry books. Martin Luther was a religious leader so you should dress as a monk and carry a Bible.
What Villains Wore
The Renaissance had a variety of real and mythical villains, the most famous being pirates. After Columbus discovered the New World and trade routes were established, pirates began stealing ships and their goods. Children can wear commoner outfits accessorized with eye patches, muskets, swords and bandannas to recreate the pirate look. Another popular villain during the Renaissance was the dragon. Children can get a dragon costume or one can be made from green clothing and cardboard wings.