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Home » How to Dress Like a Pirate: Tips and Inspiration

How to Dress Like a Pirate: Tips and Inspiration

Raise the Jolly Roger!

Creating a pirate costume can be a thrilling and creative process, allowing you to delve into the adventurous world of swashbucklers and seafarers. Whether you’re aiming for a general pirate look or embodying specific iconic characters, there’s a spectrum of possibilities, from budget-friendly DIY solutions to more elaborate ensembles. This guide will help you navigate through various ideas, starting with affordable general pirate attire and then progressing to detailed costumes of 15 renowned pirate characters from pop culture.

Get Yourself A Pirate Look, Matey (Budget-Friendly)

Basic Clothing: Start with a loose, white linen shirt – something that looks rugged or slightly worn. Pair this with dark trousers or a skirt, depending on your preference. Roll up the sleeves and trousers for a rough-and-ready appearance.

Vest and Sash: Add a vest or waistcoat over your shirt. It doesn’t have to match; in fact, mismatched clothing often looks more authentic. Wrap a sash or a wide belt around your waist. Bright colors like red or purple add a nice contrast.

Accessories: Pirates are known for their love of accessories. A bandana tied around your head, a wide-brimmed hat, and some chunky, fake gold jewelry (like hoop earrings and bangles) will add flair. Don’t forget a makeshift eyepatch made from black fabric.

Footwear: Ankle boots are ideal. For a more rustic look, wrap strips of brown cloth or leather around the tops of your boots.

Weaponry: A toy sword or a replica flintlock pistol will complete your look. Remember, these should be obviously fake for safety reasons.

For the Little Swashbucklers On Your Ship

Kid’s Ghost Pirate

  • Outfit: Use old, light-colored clothes and shred the edges for a ghostly effect. Paint them with glow-in-the-dark fabric paint to give an eerie glow.
  • Accessories: Create a spooky pirate hat using black cardboard, adding cobwebs made from cotton wool. A foam sword can be painted in silver and grey to look aged and ghostly.
  • Makeup: Pale face paint with darkened eyes and ‘cracks’ drawn on the skin will enhance the spectral look.

Jim Hawkins (Treasure Island)

  • Outfit: Start with a simple white shirt and dark trousers. Add a homemade waistcoat using felt or an old vest.
  • Accessories: A makeshift map of ‘Treasure Island’ rolled up and tied with a string can be a fun prop. Add a simple tricorn hat made from cardboard.
  • Footwear: Comfortable boots or old shoes, wrapped with strips of brown cloth for a rugged look.

Pirate Cabin Boy/Girl

  • Outfit: A striped shirt paired with shorts or a skirt. Use a sash made from a simple strip of fabric.
  • Accessories: A DIY spyglass using a rolled-up piece of paper or cardboard tube. A bandana tied around the head adds to the look.
  • DIY Element: Create a shoulder parrot from colored paper or felt.

Izzy (Jake and the Never Land Pirates)

  • Outfit: A pink blouse, purple pants, and a bandana. A yellow fabric can be used to simulate Izzy’s waistcoat.
  • Accessories: Fashion a ‘pixie dust’ pouch from a small cloth bag filled with glitter (or something similar that’s safe for kids). A toy compass as a prop.
  • Footwear: Simple ballet flats or comfortable shoes.

Pirate Princess

  • Outfit: A frilly blouse, combined with a skirt. Use tulle or netting to create a layered look for the skirt.
  • Accessories: Create a tiara from foil or a headband adorned with plastic jewels. A scepter can be made from a dowel rod painted and decorated with craft jewels.
  • DIY Element: A sash made from shiny fabric, adding a touch of royalty to the pirate theme.

Iconic Pirate Characters From Movies & History

Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)

The epitome of a roguish pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, portrayed by Johnny Depp in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series, is known for his eccentric behavior, slurred speech, and flamboyant dress sense. His iconic look includes a white, loose shirt under a blue vest, a long, brown coat, a red bandana with attached dreadlocks, a braided beard, heavy eye makeup, and a tricorn hat.

Blackbeard

One of the most feared pirates in history, Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, terrorized the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies during the early 18th century. Blackbeard’s intimidating look can be recreated with a long black coat, a large black hat, and a thick, braided black beard adorned with ribbons or beads. A replica cutlass completes his fearsome appearance.

Captain Hook (Peter Pan)

Captain Hook is the main antagonist in J.M. Barrie’s classic play and novel “Peter Pan.” As a stylish and vengeful pirate captain, Hook is famous for his elegant, red coat with gold trim, a white frilly shirt, a large feathered hat, and his iconic hook hand, replacing the hand he lost to a crocodile.

Captain Morgan

Sir Henry Morgan was a Welsh privateer who became a legendary figure thanks to his daring adventures in the Caribbean. Later immortalized as the mascot for Captain Morgan rum, his attire is typically portrayed as regal and commanding, featuring a blue or red coat with gold accents, a ruffled shirt, a captain’s hat, high boots, and a wide belt with a large buckle.

The Flying Dutchman (Pirates of the Caribbean)

In the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, the Flying Dutchman is a ghost ship captained by the cursed Davy Jones. The ship’s namesake, the Flying Dutchman, is a phantom character depicted with a ghostly, maritime appearance. This includes a tattered, greyish-green coat, pale makeup with green tinges, and barnacle-like textures.

The Flying Dutchman (Spongebob Squarepants)

For a slightly less creepy but just as iconic version of the Dutchman, create a tattered tunic by fraying the edges of an oversized green shirt and adding age with fabric paint. Pair it with dark pants, secured with a wide black belt. Craft a ghostly green beard from dyed cotton wool or fabric, and complete the look with a homemade black pirate hat, enhancing the spectral effect with glow-in-the-dark paint.

The Dread Pirate Roberts (The Princess Bride)

The Dread Pirate Roberts is a pivotal character in the film and novel “The Princess Bride.” Known for his dashing and mysterious persona, this character is always masked and dressed entirely in black, symbolizing his secret identity as the legendary pirate.

Long John Silver

From Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel “Treasure Island,” Long John Silver is the cunning and charismatic quartermaster who turns out to be a pirate with his own agenda. He is traditionally depicted with a long coat, a loose shirt, a waist sash, a parrot on his shoulder, and a distinctive wooden leg.

Anne Bonny

Anne Bonny was a real-life female pirate who operated in the Caribbean during the early 18th century. Known for her fierce and independent spirit, Bonny’s typical pirate costume would include a simple white blouse, a corset, a long skirt or trousers, a tricorn hat, and a cutlass.

Calico Jack

Jack Rackham, known as Calico Jack, was a notorious English pirate famous for his calico clothing and for having two famous female pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, in his crew. His costume could include a patterned coat or vest, a loose shirt, knee-length breeches, a tricorn hat, and crossed replica swords.

Captain Barbossa (Pirates of the Caribbean)

Hector Barbossa, from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series, starts as an antagonist but evolves into a complex character. Known for his cunning and ruthlessness, Barbossa’s costume features a long, ornate jacket, a feathered hat, and heavy boots, often accompanied by his pet monkey, Jack.

Mary Read

Mary Read was another infamous female pirate from the Golden Age of Piracy, often sailing alongside Anne Bonny. She disguised herself as a man to join the pirate crew and is remembered for her bold and valiant nature. Her typical costume would be similar to male pirate attire: a basic shirt, a waistcoat, breeches, a tricorn hat, a sash, and a sword.

Edward Kenway (Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag)

A character from the popular video game “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag,” Edward Kenway is a pirate and member of the Assassin Brotherhood. His outfit is a blend of traditional pirate attire and assassin gear, featuring a white shirt, a blue and white vest, a long brown coat, a leather harness, a hood, and replica hidden blades.

Elizabeth Swann (Pirates of the Caribbean)

Initially portrayed as a high-born lady in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, Elizabeth Swann evolves into a brave and skilled pirate, eventually becoming Pirate King. Her pirate look involves a long coat, a loose shirt, dark trousers, a wide belt, a pirate hat, and a sword.

Captain Flint (Black Sails)

A fictional character from the TV series “Black Sails,” Captain Flint is known for his tactical genius and relentless pursuit of a free Nassau. His costume is understated yet authoritative, consisting of a dark coat, a waistcoat, a white shirt, tall boots, and a tricorn hat.

Henry Morgan (Historical Pirate)

A real-life figure, Captain Henry Morgan was a Welsh privateer who became famous for his exploits in the Caribbean and his eventual rise to lieutenant governor of Jamaica. His attire reflects his high status and the fashion of the 17th century, with a long coat, a waistcoat, breeches, a white cravat, a tricorn hat, and a sword to complete the distinguished look

Mr. Smee (Peter Pan)

Mr. Smee, the bumbling yet lovable first mate of Captain Hook in J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” is instantly recognizable with his blue and white horizontally striped shirt and simple blue or white shorts. His signature look is further defined by his round spectacles, a key element that captures his kind-hearted persona. To truly embody Smee, one might consider wearing a bald cap painted to match their skin tone, replicating his bald head, and topping it off with a simple red beanie or stocking cap. The costume is not complete without Smee’s characteristic white beard, which can be a real beard or a fake one attached with skin-safe adhesive.

Yellowbeard (Yellowbeard, 1983)

Yellowbeard, portrayed by Graham Chapman in the 1983 comedy film “Yellowbeard,” stands out as a parody of classic pirate stereotypes, primarily through his outrageous behavior and prominent yellow beard. The key to Yellowbeard’s costume is his unruly and unkempt yellow beard, which can be crafted from dyed wool or sourced as a pre-made piece. A classic black pirate hat complements his long, worn pirate coat, which adds to the ruggedness of the character. Underneath, Yellowbeard would typically wear a loose white or off-white pirate shirt with billowing sleeves. Tall black boots are essential to complete the pirate aesthetic, and accessories such as a sword or a replica pistol can add an extra touch of authenticity. Including a colorful parrot prop can also be a fun nod to the pirate theme.

Don’t Forget, Ye Landlubbers!

When creating these costumes, always remember that pirates were known for their eclectic and often mismatched attire, accumulated from various plunderings and travels. This gives you a lot of creative freedom. Thrift stores can be treasure troves for pieces that can be adapted into pirate wear. The key is to have fun with it and let your imagination set sail!