This web site is about pirate costuming.
Most costume events have little or no dress code, so you can wear most anything you want. However, costume events are a lot more fun when most of the attendees are in good costumes. If the character being portrayed is a real historical figure, then “good” means “authentic.” In these pages I will give you my suggestions about how to look authentic. You do not have to follow my suggestions, but I strongly recommend that you do, in order to look a cut above the rest of the crowd.
A long time ago I was invited to a costume party. I had been to costume parties before but had never dressed up in a costume for such a party, so I decided that the time had come for me to do a little extra work in order to make the event more fun for the other attendees. After deciding to dress as a pirate, I went to a few stores, bought some pirate items, brought them home, put them on and stood in front of the mirror to scrutinize my appearance. The outfit looked absolutely terrible! I did not look anything at all like a pirate – I just looked pathetic!
Many years have passed since then. I have created several other costumes for various costuming events, some of which have won awards. Now that I know more about costuming in general, how to do research into the look of particular characters, and how to do research into how to obtain the clothing and accessories commercially, I recently attacked the pirate problem again, this time with satisfactory results. I believe that I now know why I had so much difficulty assembling a convincing pirate outfit the first time and why nowadays I see so many bad approaches to pirate costumes at various pirate costuming events. I decided to consolidate here in this web site what I learned about pirate costuming in order to save you a lot of grief.
I know of three main approaches to creating a costume: 1. If you have a sewing machine, and possibly some other tools, e.g. for leather crafting; know how to use them; are good at using them; have the necessary time and patience; and enjoy sewing, tooling and creating; then you can use the method of making the costume yourself. 2. If you know of someone who has the tools, knowledge and experience, you can have the entire costume custom-made, but this can be considerably more expensive. 3. Finally you can assembly the outfit by purchasing individual commercial off-the-shelf items. I took the third approach, which is what this web site is mostly about. In actuality, taking a hybrid approach, i.e. a little of all three, may work best for some.
First, a warning about what to expect from an internet search engine (or similarly browsing various stores and shops in shopping malls): lots of sites that sell stuff that is either irrelevant or rubbish. To paraphrase what a friend of mine once said about information on the world wide web, “There is a lot of crap out there!” In fact, there is so much unwanted fluff on the web that what you are looking for will likely be “lost in the noise.” For example if you do a search for “pirate shirt,” you will get thousands upon thousands of hits from t-shirt shops, most of whose t-shirts have nothing to do with pirates, and a few of whose t-shirts have a Jolly Roger or a pirate phrase on them. Fortunately I have already waded through most of the muck and I can point you in the right direction. As well as listing what sort of items to wear and what not to wear, I will also direct you to some recommended web sites for: information, clothing, clothing accessories, weapons, jewelry, and to a lesser extent: patterns, tools and custom work.
Characteristic pirate features and clichés
There are several common characteristics of pirates, real or fictitious. Some “features” should be followed either because they are realistic or simply because they look sharp. Some “clichés” should be avoided for the exact opposite reasons. And then there are some clichés which fall into the middleground: they are neither authentic nor bad looking; they are simply “questionable.”
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