1. My NUMBER ONE, ALL TIME MOST IMPORTANT SUGGESTION: Wear clothing made from natural fibers, whether you’re wearing garb or contemporary clothing. Take my word for it–natural linen, cotton, and/or summer weight wool is MUCH cooler than any polyester fabric, even the lightest weight. Fabrics-store.com has a wonderful selection of pure linen and linen-cotton blends available for extremely reasonable prices. A piece of advice: roll over the raw edges of your linen fabric to keep them from fraying. And, of course, pre-wash/pre-shrink before cutting out your pattern.
2. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Wouldn’t you agree?
3. Organize your day so that you do/attend activities that expose you to full sun early in the day or much later in the evening. You’ll never catch me sitting in the audience of a 2:00pm joust at the Michigan Renaissance Festival. That sun is a killer.
4. Eat light meals to keep your internal body temperature down (and keep that corset from feeling like an overly-friendly boa constrictor). Also, avoid the temptation to over-imbibe. That ale might taste good going down, but alcohol increases your risk of dehydration.
5. Chose your day wisely. The ideal day to attend a historical reenactment is overcast and cool. I’d much rather deal with a little drizzle than full sun and 90+ degree heat.
6. Bring your own shade. Buy and carry a parasol. It’ll make a fashion statement and help you stay cooler. Inexpensive paper parasols can be purchased for an extremely reasonable price at many Renaissance festivals.
7. Tuck a bodice chiller, filled with ice, in your corset.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of ice-cold pewter against your skin when it’s really hot. If you can’t find one, a linen rag soaked in cold water and wrapped around your neck will help you cool down in a pinch.