In the previous article, I gave you four questions to use when adding details to your costume. You’re probably wondering just what kinds of details I was talking about. Have no fear, here’s a handy reference list!
Not just to hold up your trousers, belts give you a place to hang important things like your pouch, and can add a little understated flair. The easiest belt to find is a simple ring belt. These are a staple of medieval re-enactors and ren faire goers the world over. They are so common, you can even find them on Amazon! They aren’t buckled like modern belts, so I am including a link to Renaissance Leather’s tutorial on tying one — I promise, it’s actually easy. It just takes a little practice to get it tight. If you will recall our photo of Captain Jack Sparrow, he wore multiple belts. Feel free to mix and match colors and textures. In fact, you don’t even need a leather belt as pictured. If you are playing a poor sailor, some hemp rope from the hardware store works! Or use a scarf as a sash (we’ll talk about scarves next). You can even get a longer-than-normal belt from the men’s wear department and tie it as described in the tutorial.
Feeling a little artistic and want to make one? It is actually pretty simple! If you have a leather store nearby (try Tandy Leather), a belt blank can be had for around $20. You can buy the rings and rivets as well. For the simplest of belts, punch two or three holes on the straight end. Fold the belt over, mark the holes, punch again. Insert the ring onto the leather, fold over, and set the rivets. For more detailed instructions, check out tutorials such as this one on setting leather rivets on YouTube.
Scarves are a staple for a lot of people. They are useful as sashes, baldrics, and head coverings. They add color and texture to any outfit, including costumes. The best part? Scarves can be had for cheap. Seriously cheap even! Head back to your local thrift store or hit up Amazon. You can find any color and texture! Never doubt how a simple scarf wrapped around your head can brighten up your outfit. Tie the ends together and place it over one shoulder and you suddenly have a colorful baldric. Wrap several around your waist for an unique take on belts. You can even find scarves with beads and bells for a seriously over the top accessory. Let your imagination be your guide here – keeping in mind the Four Questions.
No matter who you are, you will have stuff that you need to carry: cell phone, ID, wallet, keys, etc. (If you’re me, add about four different lipglosses to the mix and some headache meds.) Most costumes won’t have integral pockets because pockets were not common in clothing until the 1800’s. If you do have pockets, huzzah and congrats! For those that don’t, you’ll want a pouch. Pouches can come in all shapes and sizes from leather like the one shown on the left to fabric like the one on the right. These are a great way to keep your personal stuff handy but still look like a pirate. Pouches are also a great way to show your individuality because they come in so many different shapes and styles. Find one with an animal or symbol that represents you or the character you are portraying.
And now one of my favorite things: jewelry! Beads, baubles, shinies, whatever you call it, bling is always good. Looking at our ubiquitous Captain Sparrow, you see that he has some jewelry, but it is understated. Instead of being bright and shiny, the designers continued with a grungier look, keeping the jewelry down to a few baubles in his hair. A cleaner pirate who looks more successful (and is less insane) would most likely have brighter and larger baubles. Skull and crossbones are favorite images in jewelry along with anything that is heavy on gems.
Hair, Make Up, Tattoos:
Want to step up to the next level? Add a little physical adornment! Your hair is easy to change with temporary dye, a new styling product, a wig, or (if you’re feeling a little wild) extensions. Have fun with this! Add some eyeliner like Captain Sparrow or a fake beard. You can even get temporary tattoos to give yourself some ink without the pain. Although the real thing is just as cool if you want. Just remember to have fun and keep up your attitude.
And now we come to the biggie…
Everyone knows that pirates use guns and swords. It’s kind of their thing. A gun or sword is a great detail to add to your costume and they are tons of fun! However, there are some things to remember. First and foremost, when wearing a real sword most places will expect that it be “peace-tied,” or tied in such a fashion as to be unable to be drawn. This is not only for your safety but the safety of those around you. If you are wearing a sword and sword belt for the first time, please practice before going to the event so you are not a menace to those around you. If you are transporting a real sword (such as in the case you bought one at the event), please be aware of local laws for both the festival site and your city. There are many stories of people getting their blades confiscated because they didn’t know the local ordinances. The same warning goes double for firearms: be aware of the laws, be smart, and don’t put yourself in a bad situation with law enforcement. If you’re looking to purchase a replica, check online. Places like Museum Replicas have great pieces for not a huge amount of money.
So there you have it! An overview on basic details that you can add to your pirate costume to bring it to life! Remember, each little detail comes together to create an amazing whole. Take some time with the little things and you will be very pleased with the results.