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Learn all about historical pirate clothes and how to recreate the perfect pirate outfit and authentic pirate costumes, perfect for pirate cosplay, or your next festival.
What Did Pirates Wear?
During the Golden Age of Piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries, many pirates would wear clothing that was practical for life at sea, such as loose-fitting cotton or linen shirts, breeches or trousers made of wool or canvas, and sturdy leather boots. To keep the sun off their head and necks, they often wore bandanas or headscarves, hats, or caps and sometimes wore coats or jackets made of leather or wool to fend off the cold. Pirates even wore bright colors and extravagant clothing, such as striped socks, to intimidate their targets.
Overall, a pirate outfit was practical and functional for life at sea, while also reflecting their daring and adventurous lifestyle.
How Do You Dress Like an Authentic Pirate?
If you want to dress like an authentic pirate of the 17th century, here are some tips to help you create an authentic men’s pirate costume ideal for Jack Sparrow Cosplay.
- To complete a full set of pirate clothes, start with a loose-fitting, white, or off-white shirt with billowy sleeves. The shirt should be tucked into your pants or breeches.
- Wear a pair of breeches or pants that reach just below the knee. Choose pants made from natural fabrics like cotton or linen, in earth tones like brown, black, or gray.
- Add a vest or waistcoat in a dark color like black or brown. The vest should be buttoned up and worn over the shirt.
- Choose a long coat or jacket made from a heavy fabric like wool or canvas. The coat should be loose-fitting and reach mid-thigh or knee level. It can be embellished with buttons, braiding, or other details.
- Wear a belt or a baldric (shoulder belt) with a large buckle around your waist, to hold your pants up and to provide a place to hang your weapons.
- Add a bandana or scarf to cover your head. You can tie the bandana in a knot at the back or side of your head. First mates and Captains would sometimes wear a tricorn (bicorn hat) or a wide-brimmed hat.
- Wear a pair of tall leather boots that reach to just below your knee. These should be sturdy and well-worn, with a thick sole and low heel. Add some accessories to complete the look.
Remember, the key to an authentic mens pirate costume is to keep it simple and functional. Choose natural fabrics and dark colors, and focus on practical clothing that can withstand the rigors of life at sea. Add a few key accessories to finish off the look, and you'll be ready to set sail as an authentic pirate of the 17th century!
The Pirate Aesthetic and Pirate Clothing
The pirate aesthetic is typically associated with a rugged, adventurous, and often rebellious look. This style is characterized by a mix of different elements, including loose-fitting and layered clothing, often made of leather, linen or cotton, bandanas or headscarves, tall boots or sandals, and a variety of accessories such as belts, sashes, hats, and jewelry.
Pirate clothing was often colorful, including bright vests or coats, and their garments may have been adorned with intricate patterns, embroidery, or metal studs. They also often wore long coats or cloaks to protect themselves from the weather and carried weapons such as swords, pistols, and knives.
The pirate aesthetic has been romanticized in popular culture, and many people enjoy incorporating pirate-inspired elements into their fashion and style. However, it's worth noting that the actual clothing and accessories worn by historical pirates may have been less flashy and more practical, as these individuals often faced harsh conditions and needed to be able to move and fight effectively.
Pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries would have worn loose-fitting shirts made of lightweight and breathable materials such as cotton or linen. These shirts were designed to be comfortable in hot and humid conditions at sea.
A pirate shirt typically had a loose, flowing fit with a wide collar that could be pulled over the shoulders to provide protection from the sun. They often had a deep V-neck that allowed air to circulate around the neck and chest to keep the wearer cool.
Pirate shirts would sometimes be adorned with ruffles or frills, which were considered fashionable at the time. These details added a touch of flair to their otherwise practical clothing.
Pirate shirts would often be worn open at the front, revealing their bare chests, as this was considered a sign of masculinity and toughness. They would also often wear a vest over their shirt to keep warm during colder weather or as an additional layer of protection during battle.
Pirate pants were designed to be practical and comfortable for life at sea. Common types of pants worn by pirates included:
Breeches: Perhaps the most common of the pirate pants, breeches were short pants that reached just below the knee and were often worn with long socks or stockings. They were typically made of wool or canvas and had a loose, comfortable fit that allowed for ease of movement.
Trousers: Pirate pants also included trousers, which were longer than breeches and reached down to the ankle. They were typically made of cotton or linen and could be rolled up to the knee for added mobility and to keep cool in hot climates.
Knickers (similar to modern Floods): Like breeches, knickers were shorter pirate pants that reached just below the knee. They were often worn by sailors and pirates in colder climates, as they provided some warmth to the legs while still allowing for mobility.
Regardless of the type of pants worn, pirates often paired them with sturdy leather boots that provided good traction on slippery decks and protection from the elements. They also sometimes wore leggings or puttees wrapped around their lower legs for added warmth and protection. Great additions if you’re planning to attend pirate cosplay.
A great pirate outfit should also include a pirate coat. In the 17th century, sailors typically wore coats made of heavy, durable fabrics such as wool or canvas. These coats were designed to protect the wearer from the elements, as well as to withstand the wear and tear of life at sea.
One of the most common types of coats worn by sailors during this time period was the "pea coat," which had a double-breasted front and a wide collar that could be turned up to protect the neck and face from wind and rain. The pea coat was often made of wool, which provided warmth and water resistance.
Another popular type of pirate coat was the "frock coat," which was a long, single-breasted coat with a narrow collar and cuffs. Frock coats were often worn by officers and other high-ranking sailors, and were usually made of finer materials such as silk or velvet. To complete a Jack Sparrow costume, a frock coat is a perfect item to complete your pirate outfit. Frock coats were widely worn by naval officers of the time and are perfect for pirate cosplay and mens pirate costume.
In addition to these standard types of pirate coats, the swashbucklers of old would also wear other types of outerwear depending on the weather and their specific job duties. For example, pirate sailors who worked on deck might wear a waterproof "oilskin" coat to protect themselves from rain and sea spray, while sailors who worked in the rigging might wear a lightweight "monkey jacket" to allow for greater freedom of movement.
Overall, the coats worn by 17th-century pirates were designed to be functional and durable, with an emphasis on protection from the harsh conditions at sea.
What hats did real pirates wear? In reality, a pirate’s outfit might have included a number of different types of pirate hats and headscarves depending on the local climate. These might be made from leather, fur, or cloth. In colder latitudes, pirates wore thrums made from canvas and wool, which resembled a shaggy beanie
Ubiquitous among sailors aboard a pirate ship was the pirate bandana. Pirates who preyed in Caribbean waters sometimes wore pirate bandanas, scarves or turbans, straw hats, or ones with wide, floppy brims. Some decorated their hats with plumes or jewels. The most common pirate hats are the tricorn hat (perfect for a Jack Sparrow costume) and the pirate bandana or headscarf.
The ‘Jack Sparrow hat,’ made famous in the Pirates of the Caribbean series of movies, is actually called the tricorn or tricorne, (and sometimes a bicorn hat), which became popular in the 18th century, although it was commonly known as a "cocked hat" at the time. By the mid-18th century, the tricorn hat had become ubiquitous, varying greatly in style and size. It was worn by the aristocracy, and commoners, and as part of military and naval uniforms. It is because of the tricorn’s prolific use in naval uniforms that the tricorn became associated with pirates, many of whom started life in the service of their country’s navy.
Typically made from animal fiber, the most expensive tricorns (bicorn hats) were made from beaver hair felt and the cheaper, wool felt. Three sides of the hat’s brim were turned up (cocked) and either pinned, laced, or buttoned into place forming a triangle around the crown and the distinguishing characteristic of the tricorn hat.
It is thought that the tricorn hat’s styling allowed the gentlemen of the time to show off their wigs, a good wig being a mark of social status. There was also a practical purpose, since the cocked hat, with its folded brim, was smaller than other hats of the period, and therefore could be more easily tucked under an arm when going inside a building, where social etiquette dictated that a gentleman remove his hat. Another advantage of the tricorn was that the brim could be unbuttoned or unlaced, forming a wide-brimmed hat to provide better protection from the sun and rain.
Tricorns ranged from the very simple and cheap to the extravagant, occasionally incorporating gold or silver lace trimming and feathers. In addition, military and naval versions usually bore a cockade or other national emblem at the front. This style of pirate hat remains in use in several countries to the present day as an item of ceremonial dress. A tricorn is a perfect hat for a Jack Sparrow cosplay or Jack Sparrow costume, the character also wore a pirate bandana under his hat.
Pirates of the 17th century generally wore a type of footwear known as "brogues" or "buccaneer boots." These were sturdy leather boots that came up to the mid-calf, with a wide cuff that could be turned down to protect the leg from chafing or rubbing against the ship's rigging.
Pirate clothes and therefore pirate boots were designed to be practical and durable, with thick soles and sturdy construction that could withstand the harsh conditions at sea. The leather was often treated with oil or wax to make it more resistant to water and salt, and to help it last longer.
In addition to pirate boots, pirates would also wear shoes made from canvas or other lightweight materials for use on board ship. These shoes were designed to be comfortable and provide good traction on wet or slippery surfaces.
Overall, 17th-century pirate boots were designed to be functional and practical, with an emphasis on durability and comfort in the challenging conditions at sea. Pirate boots and pirate clothing: If you’re planning on recreating a Jack Sparrow costume, for a Jack Sparrow cosplay, you will need a pair of hightop boots that turn down at the calf.
There is no definitive evidence to suggest that pirates commonly wore striped socks. However, pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries did wear a wide range of clothing, including various types of stockings, so it is possible that some pirates may have worn striped socks on occasion.
The popular modern image of pirates with striped socks is likely based on artistic interpretations and popular culture rather than historical accuracy, which makes them a great addition to men’s pirate costumes.
Jack Sparrow Cosplay
Jack Sparrow Cosplay refers to dressing up as the character Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. This brand of pirate cosplay typically involves wearing clothing and accessories similar to those worn by the character, such as a Jack Sparrow hat or tricorn hat, dreadlock wig, bandana, shirt with a vest or coat, pants, boots, and various belts and pouches.
To achieve a more authentic look, some cosplayers may add details to their pirate clothes, such as fake tattoos or makeup to replicate Sparrow's distinctive appearance. The popularity of the character and franchise has made Jack Sparrow Cosplay a common choice of mens pirate costume at conventions and other events. Don’t forget to add a Jack Sparrow hat to complete the look.
Let’s set sail….
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