The Complete Guide to Buying Medieval and Gothic Costumes

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The Complete Guide to Buying Medieval and Gothic Costumes

Whether it is a costume-play event, a dramatic performance, or a themed party, the right medieval and gothic costumes help their wearers achieve a desired look. Authenticity and style are important considerations when choosing a costume, and there is a broad range of choices and large amount of details to cover in order to successfully look the part. The average person tends to put a good deal of consideration into what he or she wears, but this amount of thought pales in comparison to how much goes into assembling a good medieval or gothic costume.

It is possible to buy medieval and gothic costumes at costume and period clothing stores, with online product shops, such as eBay, offering a particularly broad selection. This guide provides readers with an overview of medieval and gothic costumes. It describes the typical elements of dress and examples of costumes and accessories for each style.

Medieval Costumes

England’s rich history during the Middle Ages, and the prominence of this period, is reflected in the medieval costumes in which many adherents to this branch of period clothing enjoy dressing. This section describes the features and historical significance of medieval dress. It also presents numerous medieval costume ideas and lists a few important accessories that are important to various medieval costumes.

Medieval Dress

The medieval period is significant in English history. From AD 449-1500, the Roman Empire’s rule in English territory collapsed and new identities emerged. A new English society slowly formed over the thousand-year medieval period and certain societal norms took hold. One of the most important of these was the manner in which medieval English society dressed. Regulated by the Sumptuary Laws, the dress of people was meant to be a reflection of their social status. Those in the lower classes were restricted to certain modes of dress, while those in the upper class could dress how they please, with exclusive rights to wear certain articles of clothing.

The upper classes of medieval English society typically wore bright and elaborate clothing that signified their status. This included decorative headdresses that could feature draping fabric and pointed caps. Red and purple colours were reserved for royalty, a longer jacket pointed to wealth, and fine wool was a hallmark of the elite. Members of the lower classes wore darker clothing, coarser wool, and a simpler cloth headdress, called a wimple, that covered the head and neck and went up to the chin.

Today’s medieval costumes replicate the fashions of the time, making those who wear these costumes feel as though they are in the role of a noble, prince, princess, or legendary medieval character.

Medieval Costume Ideas

The dress code that created the boundaries between the levels and layers of medieval society has given rise to a multitude of great costume ideas. Costume-bearers can choose to dress like a member of the highest level of medieval society, such as a king or a prince. These costumes tend to be elaborate and colourful, much like the dress of medieval royalty. There are also a variety of costume options available for the next rung down from royalty, which included noblemen and knights.. Costumes for the latter usually include a few fun accessories. There are also monk costumes for those who would like to represent members of the holy order that held so much esteem in medieval times. Black magic and mysticism held an important antithetical position to the medieval Church and costume-bearers may choose to celebrate this aspect of medieval society by dressing as a sorcerer.. Executioner costumes represent one of the darker elements of medieval authority, while many costume-bearers enjoy paying tribute to one of history’s great ethical outlaws, Robin Hood. These medieval costumes represent the aesthetics of a time when aesthetics were of paramount importance in determining the shape of society.

Medieval Costume Accessories

One of the great features of many medieval costumes is the accessories that come with them. Weaponry, such as swords, daggers, and axes and protective gear like helmetsarmour, and shields are important additions to knights’ costumes. A belt is a nice extra touch for a knight and helps hold that sword in place. Fanciful hats complete the look for medieval nobles, kings must have their crowns, and capes evince distinguishment. Few medieval costumes are complete without at least one accessory; accessories are, after all, part of the fun of dressing in medieval costume.

Gothic Costumes

Gothic costumes be an expression of dark fantasy or a tribute to history’s gothic period. This section describes the elements of gothic dress, including the historical roots of the style. It also presents a few gothic costume ideas and lists a number of gothic accessories that can enhance a costume.

Gothic Dress

Gothic dress, as it relates to gothic costumes, is more rooted in a subculture of fantasy than it is in history. Nevertheless, there is a historical foundation for gothic dress. Its combination of horror and romance comes from Gothic literature, a genre developed from English author Horace Walpole’s 1764 novel, "The Castle of Otranto".

Dark clothing features prominently in gothic dress. Fishnet shirts, leather vests, and leather pants add a suggestive air to the romantic side of gothic dress. Black tends to be the most common colour because it is the darkest, but violet and blue can incorporate an element of fantasy into the overall look. Black boots are de rigeur for modern and Victorian gothic dress, with the latter’s footwear generally tending towards the more fanciful.

Makeup is also an important part of gothic dress. Those in goth costume often add a white base to their skin to lighten their complexion, along with black or dark red lipstick and black eyeliner to create contrast. They may also use black makeup to create a design around their eyes.

Gothic Costume Ideas

Because it blends elements of horror and romance together so well, vampire is one of the most popular gothic costumes. There are numerous other ideas for gothic costumes, though. Simple pirate costumes can incorporate gothic styles. Victorian-influenced steampunk fashion has a great deal of crossover with gothic dress and the combination of the two makes for eye-catching gothic costumes. Other ideas can come from cinema, with gothic-influenced films such as "Beetlejuice", "The Addams Family", and "Edward Scissorhands" providing plenty of inspiration.

Gothic Costume Accessories

For those that prefer to dress in gothic costume occasionally rather than daily, it makes sense to add certain accessories to their gothic dress instead of altering their personal features. Wigs are an alternative to dying hair and artificial fingernails save a trip to the manicurist. There are also accessories to add that make gothic costumes more dramatic. Vampire teeth and fangs are practically a requirement for vampire costumes, top hats, capes, and wings all draw attention, and various types of jewellery can also enhance a gothic costume. Creativity is an important element of gothic costumes and accessories help expand the realm of possibilities.

How to Buy Medieval and Gothic Costumes on eBay

Medieval and gothic costumes are available at costume and secondhand clothing stores, both brick-and-mortar and online. Those that prefer to shop online can also check eBay. There is a large selection of medieval and gothic costumes available there and it is easy to navigate to find the costume that suits you. To search the site, go to eBay and enter either "men's medieval costume" or "men's gothic costume" into the search bar and click Search. You get an extensive listing of costumes for each of these terms which you can filter for your size or favourite colour. For a more targeted search, you can use a term, such as "mens vampire costume". You can also search for accessories, such as "men's medieval costume armour". Additionally, eBay allows you to narrow your search to local sellers so that shipping takes less time. You should be able to assemble striking medieval and gothic costumes and have them in your hands quickly when you shop on eBay.


Assembling a good medieval or gothic costume can be challenging considering the range of options available to buyers. Medieval costumes are meant to be reproductions of the way men dressed during the Middle Ages, so it helps to know the significance of dress in medieval society. Armed with this information, buyers can accurately reproduce the look they aim to achieve. The challenge with gothic costumes is successfully combining horror and romance, with the right blend of colours in clothing and makeup being necessary to pull off this combination. This guide has explained the important elements of medieval and gothic dress and provided numerous examples of how these elements manifest themselves in costumes. It has also pointed out the importance of accessorising these costumes in order to complete them. Putting together a good medieval or gothic costume may require thought and taste, but it is possible to find everything necessary for these costumes on eBay.

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