Choosing Renaissance And Medieval Boots
One area that's often neglected when it comes to historical reenactment is footwear. While many of us are capable of making our own clothing, and there are many vendors offering costumes for reenactment and Renaissance faires, shoes are harder to come by. There are also lots of myths out there about the boots and shoes worn during the medieval and Renaissance periods. Here are some basics about what makes a Renaissance boot, and how to find ones that work for your purposes.
One big myth is that Renaissance shoes and boots have to be uncomfortable and bad for your feet. This causes many people to wear modern shoes, regardless of the situation they're in. That's a shame, because bad footgear can spoil a great look. The important thing about buying Renaissance boots and shoes to fit you is to remember that they don't work like modern ones.
Authentic Renaissance boots are made differently than the ones you'd buy at a conventional shoe store. They'll tend to stretch while you're wearing them, so it can be a good idea to buy them a little smaller than you usually wear. These shoes should also not be worn by themselves. Stockings are a must!
Modern shoes have padding and support built into them, but Renaissance footwear didn't. However, that doesn't mean that people went without any. Examples of shoes from this period have been found containing moss and wool - padding that the wearer put there him or herself. While wool fleece isn't commonly available, there's nothing wrong with using insoles and other padding to make your authentic shoes a lot more comfortable.
Of course, if you have an injury, or your desire for authenticity isn't great enough to wear completely accurate Renaissance boots and shoes, you still have options other than completely modern footgear. A number of individual artisans make modern style shoes that look a lot like authentic types. This will allow you to look great, without sacrificing the comfort you're used to associating with modern shoes.
Just make sure that you check out the construction and style of any pair of Renaissance boots you're thinking about buying. Some examples aren't well made, and others are more fantasy than historical. While there's nothing wrong with wearing a fantasy or Hollywood style shoe, you should know what you're getting. Otherwise, you could find that your footgear doesn't match your costume.
Look for leather over synthetic materials, since it'll tend to allow your feet to breathe more comfortably at a hot event. Any glued areas should be firm and nearly invisible, and stitching should be neat and even. The sole of the shoe should be made of firmer leather than the upper, or of a modern material that doesn't look too obvious.
Renaissance and medieval boots can be found online, or at the booths of vendors at the Renaissance faire or other reenactment events. Be sure that you know what you're getting, and that the shoes you're thinking about buying will fit well before you purchase. For online purchases, find out the vendor's return policy. While most won't take shoes that have been worn back, you may be able to return damaged merchandise or shoes that have only been tried on.