There is logic to having a separate outfit for pagan rituals. Having a different set of clothes will put you in a different frame of mind, and when worn around other people it can broadcast your path and who you honor. But a ritual outfit is not essential. Personally I don’t change into a special outfit when doing practice at home. My regular pagan practice simply a part of daily life, so no need to dress up for it. However, a group ritual or other event is the perfect time to wear a different outfit.
Especially for a beginner, you don’t have to go historical. Ren fest wear and Arthurian dresses are popular, but not historically accurate. Also remember the days when polytheistic traditions were dominant in Europe were before you had mass production to make sure everything was made exactly the same and mass media that told everyone they should look a certain way. While trade did happen—silk has been found in bronze age burials, not to mention the Roman Empire—it was slow and often for the elite. Peasants used what materials they had and what dyes they had access to. Textiles are also something that in general does not preserve very well, the exception being Egypt. If you do go the historical route it might take some research.
If you want to pagan style outfit that isn’t historically accurate, have at it. A big part of ritual is how you feel. Just know it isn’t historically accurate, and know what groups to wear it for.
Start Simple, Then Level Up
A solid colored tunic and slacks or a simple dress are the building blocks of many different outfits. See your clothing like your altar: a blank slate you can add to gradually as you find things that fit on your pagan journey. Cultures change details like sleeve length and cut. Look for basic garments that are plain, so they can be versatile.
In a thrift store, look for basic garments or ones that have embellishments that can be removed. Beadwork can be cut off. Sleeves can be shortened. Look at things like the cut, collar, and color and then decide if the rest can be worked on.
If you go for patterns, look for ones with pagan themes. Animals and nature patterns are your best bet.
Paganize through Accessories/Embellishments
Start with a tunic—what kind of belt will you wear with it? A woven cloth belt with colors that have meaning for your practice? A leather belt with pagan symbols? Jewelry provides excellent pagan bling. Then the head—are there traditional hats? Scarves with pagan symbols? A shawl?
Learn the Basics of Sewing…
As someone interested in sewing but who finally had to admit I am never going to sit down and learn how to do it (plus I have no room for a sewing machine) I totally get learning to sew is hard. But being able to do simple tasks like repairing a tear, sewing patches or bands on collars, will be worth the investment.
If you can sew, do it. There are resources for historical patterns, but in general don’t go for costume patterns. If those are beyond your skill set, make your own simple garment out of the best fabric you can afford and add accessories.
…Or Make Friends Who can
Throw a stone at a pagan gathering and you will hit five reenactors, three of whom sew. They at the very least will be able to direct you to local resources.
Make Your Accessories
This is usually not as daunting as sewing an entire garment. An accessory is much easier to make, writes she who just learned how to make Baltic style patterns on her inkle heddle loom. There are plenty of fiber arts patterns that can be useful to pagans. Knitting, crochet, weaving, felting are all traditional crafts from the days when that was how people made clothing. Outside of fiber arts, jewelry making or leather work are also practical. Even a simple friendship bracelet can be a nice pagan touch.
Don’t just stop at things you wear. A braid you clip into your hair, or maybe weave ribbons into your hair. Or scents, or images or symbols drawn with face paint or Henna.
Always remember: step back and ask what this is for. Humans like to make ourselves pretty, and feeling good is a part of having a good time at a ritual. But while clothing is a way to communicate things like social class and values, above all else it should be practical and comfortable.