How to Create the Ultimate Pirate Costume

First, very Brief History of the Pirate’s apparel...
Since pirates and piracy began in the first century with Vikings and other sea going adventurers the first pirate costume looks a lot like the classic first century man.  Later in Medieval times, they were called “sea thieves” and most sailed from the Middle East.  They looked more like Sinbad.  What followed was the most commonly recognized pirate costume.  From Captain Hook to Long John Silver and Black Beard, the style of the 17th and 18th centuries influenced the look and shape of the costume most associated with the word pirate.  Even female pirates costumes were based on the look of the 18th century gentlemen.

Sea Going adventurers, pirates, sailors and naval officers all wore similar gear.  Since many pirates were probably hired sailors first, most of them adapted their clothing from military uniforms of the day.

The Pirate Coat
In an effort to make our pirate costumes as authentic as possible  we start with the first and primary costume element: the pirate coat, jacket or vest. Lots of pirate coats, cloaks, vests and long vests are included in our collection.   Our pirate coat fabrics include wool, cotton, silks, brocades, and leather.    Some of our pirate costumes have been distressed to appear as though they have been in a sword fight or two.

Pirate costumes of captains usually are less distressed and more elegant.  The costume photos and renderings you will see here are of full frock coats made with ornate braids and opulent fabrics, the standard worn-out leather vest with missing buttons and braid, and the long vest we created for comfort.
The Pirate Shirt
At the very least a pirate costume has to include a pirate shirt.  Pirate shirts are usually made of a draped fabric, little or no collar and big puffy sleeves.  Our pirate or poet shirts come in many colors and sizes and some are even made out of silk.  The pirate shirt has come to be the most popular costume piece in the entire of costumedom.  Probably because of the fabulous pirate movies  of the 1940’s and 50’s movies, it is sometimes even called the Erroll Flynn shirt.

The Sword Belt and Baldric
Since sword fighting was essential in the pirate’s life, a pirate sword belt and sash was absolutely essential.  The diagonal sash (usually made out of leather) usually had a very large front buckle which probably acted as ballast for the heavy sword which hung toward the back of the side of the body.  This kept the pirate’s sword out of the way and easy to reach with the opposite hand.   This diagonal belt across the chest of the pirate may have lent its name to Swashbuckler, one of favorite names given to pirates.  The big pirate belt at the waist held the weight of the sword and kept the somewhat baggie pirate pants from falling down.  Adding this belting to the pirate costume makes it seem totally authentic.  Because of this, all our pirate costumes have what we call the swashbuckler belts.



The Pirate Pants
Pants were less diverse and usually included a large leg opening.  Pirate captains more likely wore tight knickers with leg opening fitted tightly just below the knee or trunks with the lower leg openings revealing lace leg coverings.  Pirate crew members wore shorter pants with wider openings. We supply pants in matching or contrasting fabrics and even distress them for the pirate crew members.

The Pirate Boots
Big pirate boots ranged from gator-like bootcovers to actual boots that could even be thigh high.  Popular Baroque period boots called Bucket Boots were favored by many of the pirate crew.  Lots of pirates and sailors went barefoot, but some also wore a typical colonial style shoe with buckles.  We carry a complete line of men’s and women’s boots and boot covers in many types of materials including leather.  We also carry buckles for shoes if you desire to wear your own shoes.

The Pirate Accessories
Unlike any other period costume, the scallywags and sailors of this century had lots of accessories. Pirate accessories include bandanas or scarves, jabots, wigs, eye patches, hooks, peg legs (sorry, we’re temporarily out of these), scars, mustaches and beards.   In fact pirates have so many accessories that identify them; just wearing some of the accessories says “Pirate costume”.  The striped bandana appears everywhere in the pirate world.  The bandana can be worn without a hat, under a hat or around the neck. The bandana worn under the hat eliminates the need for a wig.  For pirate captain costumes or elegant pirate costumes a jabot or stock was the neck decoration.   Our pirate captain costumes like Captain Hook include long curly wigs or colonial style wigs with side curls and pony tails in the back.

Mustaches were another icon of pirate apparel. Although beards were somewhat typical, they are not as fun to wear as a mustache.  We carry a large line of faux mustaches, but drawing one on with an eyebrow pencil is even funnier.

The Pirate Hat
The final and most important flourish of the classic Pirate Costume is the hat.  Most notable was the tricorn hat (similar to the colonial hat) with large plumes.  The bicorn hat (Napoleon wore one sometimes) was also popular and we have many in jumbo and exaggerated sizes.  The Musketeer hat which was a large brimmed felt hat with big feathers is another popular look for the dashing pirate costume.  We love big feathered hats so some of our hats are oversized.  All come with lots of big ostrich and other feathers.

The Pirate Cape
Finally for the outwear we have many styles of capes.  Our collection includes satins, wools and lightweight velour fabrics and can be worn instead of the pirate coat or with a vest for those pirates who want to arrive in style.  The styles of the pirate capes include full and half circle capes in many lengths and some with hoods.   The costume cape is always an excellent addition to the total pirate look.

The Ultimate Pirate Captain Costume
We are specialists in the Ultimate, over the top, couture pirate costumes.  These pirate costumes are completely accessorized and made from ornate and opulent fabrics and trims.  So, if you want to be the most elegant Pirate, or you are trying to win a costume contest here is the description of that costume.

The ultimate pirate costume is made with ornate fabrics like brocade, silk and velvet.  It is covered with trims, epaulettes and lots of big buttons….some metal, some velvet.  The baldric or sash is decorated with a huge metal buckle and connected to wide leather belt with decorative buckle.  The contrasting knickers have lace at the leg openings which matches the wrist lace and the jabot.  The pirate shirt is white or black.  The lace jabot at the neck is off set by a jeweled pin.   As was the custom for this elegant and wealthy pirate, the hat is full of feathers and usually worn over a long black curly wig.   The Ultimate pirate wears a huge jewel encrusted ring on at least 4 fingers.  The footwear is either tall black boots or high heeled shoes with decorations over arch.  A jeweled dagger at the waist sash and a decorated sword at the hip completes the look for the Ultimate Pirate Costume.

Pirates of the Middle Ages
The not so familiar but equally fun pirate costumes are the Medieval Pirate Costumes that we call the Sinbad costumes.  They are pirates with large baggie pants, shirt or no shirt and short bolero type vests.  They usually have a large colorful sash with a dagger stuffed in the waist line.  If the no shirt part concerns you we have numerous styles of shirts to match.  We also carry skin colored ones if you like the shirtless look but don’t want the chill.

All of the pirate costumes are available for men and women.  The female pirate costumes can be made more sexy with an off the shoulder wench blouse under the vest.  Or we have cinchers and corsets for the ultimate pirate girls gone bad.

The Ultimate Pirate Captain’s Woman Costume
Sometimes ladies of refinement and nobility are attracted to the bad boys of the sea.  For them we have beautiful and elegant gowns of the period.  Please check out the French Baroque category for more of this style of costume.

Some gowns are even distressed to create ravished ladies of the sea.  These are the ladies who have been capture by pirates and probably put up a good fight.  The ravished ladies’ costumes collection is custom made only and will include details specific for each customer.



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