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PIRATE PANTS

Now then my hearties, if you’re going to dress up like a proper pirate, you need to start with a good pair of pants. You’ve dropped your anchor in the right place, let the pirateclothingstore.com tell you all about the legwear for the high seas during The Golden Age of Piracy

Introduction

During the Golden Age of Piracy, which spanned from the late 17th century to the early 18th century, the pants and breeches worn by naval personnel and pirates played an essential role in their daily lives, providing comfort, mobility, and protection from the elements. These garments also reflected broader trends in fashion and culture, as well as the practical demands of life at sea. This essay will explore the various types of pants and breeches worn by naval personnel and pirates during this era, discussing their design, significance, and the cultural influences that shaped their style.

Slops: The Workhorse of Maritime Legwear

Slops, also known as sailors' petticoat breeches, were a common garment worn by both naval personnel and pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy. These loose-fitting pants were made from durable, weather-resistant materials such as canvas or wool, and featured a knee-length cut and a drawstring waist for adjustable comfort. Slops were a practical choice for seafarers, as their wide-legged design allowed for ease of movement and ventilation, while their sturdy construction provided protection from the elements. They were typically worn over stockings or leggings and could be easily rolled up or removed when wading through shallow waters or working in wet conditions.

Knee Breeches: A Staple of 17th and 18th Century Fashion

Knee breeches, a form-fitting garment that extended to just below the knee, were a popular choice among naval officers and some pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy. These breeches, which were influenced by contemporary European fashion trends, were typically made from finer materials such as wool, linen, or silk, and featured a tailored fit, buttoned or buckled closures, and decorative elements such as embroidery or metallic trim. Knee breeches were often worn with stockings and buckle shoes, creating an elegant and polished appearance that conveyed status and authority.

Trousers: The Evolution of Maritime Legwear

As the 18th century progressed, trousers began to replace slops and knee breeches as the preferred legwear for sailors and pirates. Trousers, which extended to the ankle and featured a more streamlined, narrow cut, offered greater mobility and protection than their predecessors. They were often made from sturdy materials like canvas, wool, or cotton and featured a buttoned or drawstring waist for adjustable comfort. Trousers could be worn with stockings or leggings, and their versatile design made them suitable for a variety of tasks and conditions.

Pantaloons: An Exotic Alternative

Pantaloons, a form-fitting garment inspired by the clothing of the Middle East and North Africa, were occasionally adopted by pirates in search of a more exotic and distinctive appearance. These pants, which featured a tight fit from the waist to the calf and a looser, flared cut from the calf to the ankle, were made from lightweight materials such as cotton or silk and were often decorated with vibrant colors and patterns. Pantaloons were a bold and unconventional choice that set pirates apart from their naval counterparts and reflected their adventurous and rebellious nature.

Manufacture

The manufacture of pants in the 17th and 18th centuries was a labor-intensive process that relied on skilled craftsmen, natural materials, and traditional techniques. With advancements in weaving and the expansion of global trade, a variety of fabrics became available, leading to diverse styles and designs of pants. This essay will explore the process of manufacturing pants during this period, focusing on the materials used, the techniques employed, and the factors that influenced their production.

Materials and Textiles

Pants in the 17th and 18th centuries were typically made from natural materials, such as wool, linen, and cotton. These fabrics were chosen for their durability, comfort, and breathability, making them suitable for everyday wear. Wool, which was widely available in Europe, was a popular choice for pants due to its warmth, natural water resistance, and resilience. Linen and cotton, on the other hand, were lighter and more breathable, making them ideal for warmer climates or as undergarments.


As trade routes expanded during this period, other materials, such as silk and exotic cottons, became more accessible, offering a luxurious alternative for the upper class. The introduction of these fabrics also led to the development of more intricate patterns and designs, as well as new dyeing techniques that added color and vibrancy to pants.

Manufacturing Techniques

The process of manufacturing pants during the 17th and 18th centuries was primarily done by hand, utilizing skilled tailors and seamstresses who were trained in the art of cutting, sewing, and finishing garments. These craftsmen would first create a pattern for the pants, either by adapting an existing design or by taking measurements from the wearer. Patterns were then traced onto the chosen fabric, which was cut out using large shears or scissors.


Once the fabric pieces were cut, they were sewn together using a variety of stitches and techniques, including running stitch, backstitch, and whipstitch. Seamstresses would often reinforce seams with additional stitching or by using a felling stitch to create a flat, smooth finish on the inside of the garment. Buttons, buckles, and other fastenings were also sewn onto the pants to provide a secure and adjustable fit.


The construction of pants required attention to detail and precision, as well as an understanding of the wearer's needs and preferences. For example, the tailors would add pockets, gussets, and other functional elements to the pants, as well as decorative elements like embroidery, trim, or lace, depending on the social status and personal taste of the wearer.

Influences on Pants Production

The manufacture of pants in the 17th and 18th centuries was influenced by various factors, including fashion trends, technological advancements, and socio-economic conditions. Changes in fashion, such as the shift from knee breeches to trousers, required tailors to adapt their techniques and patterns to accommodate new styles. Similarly, the invention of the flying shuttle in 1733, which greatly increased the speed of weaving, led to the increased availability of fabrics and a wider range of options for consumers.

A Word on Underwear

During the 17th and 18th centuries, sailors and pirates typically wore simple, functional underwear that provided comfort and ease of movement. The most common type of underwear worn during this period was known as drawers or breeches.


Drawers were knee-length, loose-fitting garments made from lightweight, breathable materials such as linen or cotton. They featured an elastic or drawstring waist and were designed to be worn under outer garments such as slops, trousers, or knee breeches. The choice of linen or cotton was practical, as these materials were not only comfortable against the skin but also absorbed moisture and dried quickly, which was essential in the damp and humid conditions common aboard ships.


Some sailors and pirates may have also worn simple loincloths, especially if they were from warmer climates or were engaged in tasks that required more freedom of movement. Loincloths were typically made from strips of linen or cotton and were tied around the waist to provide minimal coverage.


It is worth noting that, due to the limited access to fresh water and laundry facilities on ships, sailors and pirates often had to wear their underwear for extended periods. As a result, they would prioritize durability and ease of cleaning when choosing their undergarments.

Conclusion

The pants and breeches worn by naval personnel and pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy reveal a fascinating interplay between function, fashion, and culture. From the practical slops and knee breeches to the evolving trousers and exotic pantaloons, these garments not only provided comfort and protection but also communicated aspects of the wearer's identity, status, and cultural influences. By examining the various types of pants and breeches worn during this era, we can gain a deeper understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities faced by seafarers in their daily lives