Pirate Lifestyle > Pirate Clothing

Pirate Clothing

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

While some pirates such as Blackbeard and Bartholomew Roberts wore speciality clothing to enhance their terrifying personality, most often pirates simply dressed like normal sailors of the time. This is not really surprising as a sailors clothing as an adaptation to being able to successfully sail a ship, no easy feat at the time.

Pirate Lifestyle - Pirate Clothing

Various Pirate Clothing

Pirate clothing would have been made out of materials such as linen, wool, silk, hemp or fustian. These materials were readily available in the Caribbean at the time and would have also incorporated some tanned leather for armor.

Pirate Clothing - Buccaneer of the Caribbean

Buccaneer of the Caribbean - Book of Pirates (1921)

Even in the Royal Navies at the time there was no standardized uniform or way of dress. This means that pirates often wore clothing that would be suitable for a life at sea. They also would have to be able to blend in with the rest of society when required so fancy or flashy styles of dress may attract unwanted attention in town.

However, others such as pirate captains would often dress in different ways in order to attract attention and create a presence among a ship on the seas. For example Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach often put lit matchsticks in his hat in order to create a smokey effect.

Bartholomew Roberts was quote as wearing the following at his time of death.

"Roberts himself made a gallant figure, at the time of the engagement, being dressed in a rich crimson damask waistcoat and breeches, a red feather in his hat, a gold chain round his neck, with a diamond cross hanging to it, a sword in his hand, and two pairs of pistols slung over his shoulders"

— A General History of the Pyrates (1724), 212

The diamond cross that this quote is most likely referring to was a piece of treasure looted during Bartholomew Roberts Portuguese Treasure Fleet raid. It was one of the largest diamonds ever mined and was intended for the King of Portugal.

'Calico' Jack Rackham even got his nickname from the type of calico shirts that he famously wore while pirating.

In effect while the average pirate dressed no more different than the average sailor at the time, often pirates would accessorize with stolen jewelry and pirate captains were an exception above the rest. Pirate captains often dressed in league with their reputation.

Pirate Lifestyle - Pirate Clothing - Typical Sailor

Typical Sailor - 17th / 18th Century Drawing

Pirate Lifestyle

Lifestyle of Pirates

Pirate Crew

Disease and Injury

Diseases

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources