Tips on Homemade Pocahontas Costumes

Updated April 17, 2017

Homemade costumes are a wonderful opportunity to save money. Although costumes are relatively cheap to mass produce, the novelty of a ready-made, all-inclusive, store-bought costume will cost you big bucks. Pocahontas was born in 1595, the daughter of Powatan the chief of the Alogonquian tribe. Her name means "playful one," and she was her father's favourite. She is best known for saving the life of Captain John Smith, an Englishman from Jamestown. With her rich history, there are many ways to portray Pocahontas in costume.

Know What Pocahontas Actually Wore

Pocahontas was a young girl of 11 when she met John Smith, and as a child would have been naked. At age 12, she would have worn a one-shouldered animal hide dress embellished with drawings of animals and birds. She would have had a fur mantle, a short cape, for the winter. One of Pocahontas's mantles was covered in feathers. She would have had one or more tattoos. The best option for a costume will be a loose one-shouldered dress with a fur stole.

Use Faux Suede Instead of Animal Hide

Suede is made from animal hide, and would have been the closest thing to what Pocahontas would have worn. To be animal-friendly, use faux suede. Faux suede is a wonderfully versatile fabric. It's strong enough to support trims like fur and feathers sewn to it, and you can buy stretchable faux suede for flexibility.

Use Feathers for the Headpiece and Embellishment

Using feathers in natural colours will make the costume look authentic. Look for faux falcon feathers, turkey feathers and swan feathers to add to the costume and headpiece. Feathers can be combined with fur and sewn tinto a mantle with a sewing machine. Add feathers in abundance or a few strategically placed at the shoulder of the mantle.

Go All Out

Consider dyeing your hair black and using face paint to make your skin darker. Make accessories, such as authentic-looking baskets for picking corn or tribal headgear to enrich your costume. Make skin-coloured bootees that simulate being barefooted, as Pocahontas would have been. Apply faux tatoos to your skin. Another option is to make a 17th-century English costume and portray Pocahontas as Rebbecca Rolfe, her adopted English name after her marriage to John Rolfe.

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About the Author

Heather Berkowe is a fashion designer with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design. She has more than five years of experience in the fashion industry, including design work for lingerie brands and owning the inner-wear company Soussuits. Berkowe has been writing since 1997, with work appearing in the "Journal News" and Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibitions.