How to Make a Pirate Wench Costume

Written by robert vaux
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Historically, piracy was never exclusively the realm of men. Female pirates like Anne Bonny and Mary Read terrorised the Spanish Main just like their male counterparts did, and the success of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films--featuring Keira Knightley and Naomi Harris as prominent female pirates--raise the profile even further. So why should the boys have all the fun at the costume party? Here's how to put together a pirate wench costume using clothes found at the local thrift store.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Skirt
  • Corset (optional)
  • Coloured scarf
  • White blouse
  • Black or brown leather boots
  • Hose
  • Tri-corner hat
  • Bandanna
  • Accessories (optional)
  • Plastic pirate weapon (optional)

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  1. 1

    Choose a simple white blouse, something loose and billowy without a lot of frills for the base of your pirate wench costume. Add a corset, in an appropriately flashy colour like red.

  2. 2

    Decide between trousers and a skirt. Pirate wenches typically wear skirts, but you can wear trousers if it suits you. The trousers should either be extremely tight or loose and billowy. The skirt should come up to your knees or perhaps a little higher. Black makes the best colour, but you can wear a striped skirt or trousers if you can find them. Make sure the colour coordinates with your corset.

  3. 3

    Find a good pair of boots. Calf-high black or brown leather is ideal, but you can go shorter or taller if you wish. Female pirates can be flashier than their male counterparts, so don't be afraid to add gold buckles. Panty hose--especially fishnet hose--make a great addition to the boots. If boots aren't available, wear a pair of black or brown loafers.

  4. 4

    Find a good hat---ideally, a black tri-corner hat, but you can improvise by tying a bandanna around your head. Bandannas should be one colour if possible and match the colours of the rest of the outfit. Avoid modern designs.

  5. 5

    Accessorise with spangly jewellery with a gold or silver finish. Buy an eye-patch from any costume shop. If you aren't wearing a corset, wrap a black or red scarf around your waist to act as a sash. Complete the pirate wench look with a weapon: a sword, a dagger or a flintlock pistol tucked into your sash.

Tips and warnings

  • Pirate wenches led tough lives, so don't worry if your outfit is a little scuffed. Torn skirts and rips in the hems fit in well with the look.
  • Period clothing is generally preferable to modern clothing. If you can find a skirt or a blouse cut in a Victorian or Elizabethan style, go with them over any 20th century alternatives.
  • Real weapons can be dangerous, so use safe plastic ones with your costume. They're available in most costume shops.

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