Jesters, particularly those who entertained royalty during the Renaissance period, were members of the court who wore outfits steeped in vibrant colors and patterns. Their costumes, like their personalities, were bold and outlandish. Their outfits also had several distinct qualities that made their position instantly recognizable. If you want to play the part of a jester, joker or fool, there are several guidelines that you should keep in mind when putting together a costume.
The most distinguishable part of a jester costume is the unique hat, which has three floppy points representing a donkey’s ears and tail. Make a hat by sewing three curved, pointed tubular shapes and lightly stuffing them. Attach the wide end of the tubes to a tight-fitting cap or hood. Consider using shiny satin fabric in a bold print, or sew each point from a different color fabric.
A jester costume must have bells. The sound of the bells drew attention to the jester no matter what he was doing. Attach inexpensive craft jingle bells or other tiny tinkling bells to the end of each point on the hat and at other places on the costume that will cause the bells to make noise with your movements.
Make a tunic from a short dress or a long shirt, cutting the bottom into V-shapes. A harlequin- or diamond-patterned fabric is ideal. Alternately, wear a brightly colored leotard and make a skirt by sewing several square scarves together diagonally, with the points of the scarves hanging down. Tuck the top of the scarves under a colorful belt. Mix up colors to create an eye-catching combination. The points at the bottom of the skirt or tunic are great places to attach more bells.
Leg and Foot Coverings
Wear tights on your legs. Stay away from tame, subtle colors such as black or navy blue. Opt for bright purple, red, orange or lime green. Ankle-high boots, particularly if they are cuffed, will work well for footwear. Velvet slippers also are appropriate.
A jester almost always carried a scepter, mocking the role as a king or ruler. Spray-paint a wooden dowel with gold or silver paint and top it with glued-on, gaudy fake jewels or streamers of multicolored ribbon. Attach more bells to the ends of the ribbons to make the scepter serve double duty as a musical instrument.
Deborah H. Schreiben is a freelance writer and an editor with more than 15 years experience in the field of journalism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Almeda University. Her writing has appeared on various online sites and in Midwest newspapers.