Easy Pirate Costume Ideas

Written by k.c. moore
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Easy Pirate Costume Ideas
A striped shirt, eyepatch and bandanna make an easy pirate costume. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Pirates like Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Hook are always impeccably dressed with fancy ruffled coats and intricately beaded hairdos. However, these pirates are also backed by million-dollar Hollywood budgets and have a team of costume designers dressing them. Creating a pirate costume doesn't require a large budget or even experience with a sewing machine -- just a few simple thrift store finds and some easy alterations.

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Finding the Right Clothing

Figure out which type of pirate you would like to be before looking for clothing to create your costume. A pirate captain has a much more flamboyant style than your average swashbuckling rogue. Search in your closets and neighbourhood thrift stores for leather or suede vests, dark-coloured trousers and black leather boots. For a pirate captain, look for frilly blouses and a waistcoat with tails. For a crew member, look for long-sleeved shirts in black-and-white stripes or a solid white or beige.

Making Alterations

Add a few alterations to your clothing to complete the pirate transformation. Cut the trousers just above the ankles and then make small triangular cuts into the trousers to create a jagged pirate look. Do the same to the ends of the vest, waistcoat or shirt. For a pirate captain, use a hot glue gun to affix ruffles to the cuffs of the shirt and gold-coloured piping along the trim of the coat. Add gold-coloured shoulder pads with tassels to be a regal pirate admiral.

Accessories and Props

A good pirate costume is all about the details. Tie a bandanna to your head and around your waist to look like a pirate scoundrel. A pirate captain should wear a pirate hat and a leather belt with a big golden buckle. Pick up two additional buckles to hot glue to your boots. For a truly grizzled pirate, add an eye patch or a plastic hook for a hand. Create a pirate sword out of cardboard and cover it with foil or pick up a cheap toy sword at the dollar store. A stuffed parrot makes a colourful addition.


Use costume make-up to complete the transformation into a salty sea dog. Use a black make-up pencil to add stubble by drawing several small dots over your face. Use the same pencil to add scars, wounds or nautical tattoos. Buy costume make-up to blacken out a tooth or add a fake gold tooth. Go as a ghostly pirate by using white face make-up to create a pale look and adding dark circles under your eyes to look haunting and dead.

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