Dressing up as a pirate has become popular (though not fashionable) thanks to the rise in the popularity of costume parties for celebrations. But where, you might ask, do those pirate costume staples such as gold earrings, ripped shirts, and wooden legs come from?
Read on to find out…
Many a jobless seaman who found themselves destitute between times of war would come face to face with a pirate recruiter. This meant that the “slops”, or clothes, which sailors were wearing at the time of their recruitment transferred into the lives of pirates. This would include some of the most recognizable “hallmark” items like breeches, caps, and of course linen shirts. Eventually their “uniforms” became mismatched and eclectic as they would increasingly resort to wearing what they could pilfer along the way.
The stereotype of the dirty, shredded shirt comes, no doubt, from how shabby pirates could look after a long voyage; strenuous physical labor was not gentle on the body or clothes of a pirate. Furthermore, the attire of a seaman had to be tight; billowing shirt could get caught whilst climbing the rigging and cause an accident; thus they would tear and fray at the seams quickly when pirates were at work.
Here are some pirate staples (and a handy explanation of why they became so key!):
Bandanas and Earrings
Bandanas were useful for keeping sweat from the eyes of a laboring deckhand; this would have ensured they were comfortable while working, but would also have served the purpose of keeping the sun off of their heads.
Earrings, on the other hand, were used to ease seasickness (as the pressure they applied to the earlobe could alleviate symptoms), but were also status symbols.
Eye patches and hooks
Eye patches, hooks, and wooden legs are both symbols and symptoms of the violence of a pirate’s life; these were used to compensate for, or cover, the scars and injuries sustained while working and fighting alongside their crewmates (or even with them!).
Go for the captain look
If you really want to impress party goers at this year’s costume party opt for the Captain’s look. A typical pirate captain would be well-dressed in good materials with clothes that fit him perfectly. Generally his hat would have the feather of some exotic bird in it, and he would have a little jewelry to show his status. A heavy duty belt and good, reliable weapons, too, would be expected (but the latter are perhaps best left away from the party!).