Easy Pirate Costume Ideas

Updated April 17, 2017

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.

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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About the Author

K.C. Moore has been writing professionally since 2008. He has contributed to "Eye on Life," Kingdom Hearts Ultimania and several online publications. Moore has also worked professionally as a game adviser for Blockbuster Video since 2004. Moore is a graduate of Central Michigan University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in English with a concentration in creative writing.