How to Make a Pirate Costume Quickly

Updated March 23, 2017

If you find yourself costumeless on Halloween night or hours before a costume ball or party, fear no more. What you need is simple yet contemporary costume that can be thrown together at a moment's notice. A pirate costume is a brilliant choice when in this predicament. It is easy, fast and cheap to make from items found around the home---and without a trip to the store. So whether you've got 20 minutes or two hours, your very own pirate costume can be ready quicker than you can say "Shiver me timbers."

Find some old, dark brown or black trousers you don't mind destroying. Trim the trousers at a level below the knee. Using scissors, cut the trousers in an uneven pattern to make them appear shredded and destroyed from many weary days out at sea.

Seek out a baggy, button-down, white dress shirt. Any shirt containing ruffles and silk material is a plus. Using your scissors, shred up this item to give it a more authentic "just off the pirate ship" look. Tuck your shirt into your trousers and roll up the sleeves.

Throw on a black, gold or red vest over your white shirt. Most people have one of these laying around the house, leftover from an old prom, wedding or other formal event. If the vest doesn't fit, use your scissors to shred it a bit.

Incorporate pirate-inspired accessories into your costume. Wear black or dark brown boots (boots that fold over on the top look the most authentic) and a solid-colour bandanna around your head.

Paint on some pirate facial hair. To achieve the perfect pirate "scruff" without having to sacrifice days of not shaving, paint on your own beard and moustache with washable black or brown markers.

Apply make-up. As showcased in movies like "Pirates of the Caribbean," even male pirates aren't shy when it comes to eyeliner. Load on black or dark brown eyeliner and smudge it around your eyes for a smoky, pirate-eyed look.

Speak like a pirate. Use phrases like "Walk the plank," "Ahoy, matey" and "Shiver me timbers."


If you are unable to locate a white frilly shirt, wear only the vest if you feel comfortable. Draw scull and crossbones tattoos on your arms using your black marker. To feminise your costume (to be a Pirate Wench), wear boots with heels, lots or fake pearl and gold jewellery and skip the beard. If you can't locate a bandanna, find and old T-shirt, cut it into a large triangle and wear it around your head.

Things You'll Need

  • Black or dark brown, tightly fitting trousers
  • Scissors
  • White dress shirt
  • Black, red or gold vest
  • Solid-coloured bandanna
  • Black or dark brown boots
  • Black or dark brown washable markers
  • Fake pearl and gold jewellery (optional)
  • Black or dark brown eyeliner
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About the Author

Katarina Fitzpatrick has written professionally since 2006. Her work has been published on,, LIVESTRONG and for the newspapers, the "Hanover Mariner" and the "Norwell Mariner" in Boston and the "Jamestown Press" in Jamestown, R.I. She is a 2006 graduate of Emerson College, where she earned her undergraduate degree in print and multimedia journalism.