On Halloween, everyone is looking for that standout costume that is both unique and affordable. One of my go-to favorites for a unique Halloween costume is a pirate. By piecing together easy-to-find clothing, accessories, and footwear – including many items you may already have – it is easy to assemble a unique and affordable pirate costume for under $50.
Pirates: A Bit of Background
Pirates have roamed the seas for centuries, going back to ancient times and lasting all the way up to the present. However, when most people think of pirates they are picturing the pirates of the Spanish main who targeted Spanish treasure ships in the Caribbean from from roughly the mid-1500s to the early 1700s. These are the pirates of popular culture: brandishing cutlasses, tattoos, earrings, scraggly clothes, and an insatiable appetite for treasure. While these characterizations are probably flawed, they are what people expect in a good pirate Halloween costume. Pirates lived a hard life for months at sea, engaging in brutal forms of close combat, and splurging when they entered ports.
Clothing: The Core of a Pirate Costume
The pirate aesthetic was cobbled together based on the elements that they were able to acquire from their raiding expeditions against other ships. Consequently, a unique Halloween costume for a pirate will involve assembling your own elements. This will result in a more authentic and affordable Halloween costume than one can be had with pre-assembled pirate costumes.
For a shirt, you have many options. The classic would be a plain white billowy shirt. For men or women, a great place to look is a thrift store where a suitable dress shirt can easily be found for under $10. Another optional accessory is a vest. Look for a leather vest or a vest made of simple material in a brown or neutral tone. If you are male and feeling adventurous, a vest can work without a shirt to give your make your Halloween costume more unique.
For pants, I would recommend picking up a pair of dress pants while you are at the thrift store. These can be found for around $5. When you get home, make the pants into cut-offs at or around knee length. You can do a straight cut or cut them with a series of triangle shaped fringes to give your Halloween costume a unique look.
When it comes to footwear, if authenticity is what you are going for, you will want to go with some leather boots. Unfortunately, that will quickly become cost prohibitive if you are assembling an affordable pirate costume for under $50. If you have a pair of solid black leather boots, I would recommend using those. Otherwise, just go with a pair of solid black shoes. If you want to be very adventurous, consider going without shoes-this will give your costume a unique look.
Accessorize your Pirate Halloween Costume
Because pirates had a lifestyle based on salvaging and plundering from ships, their appearance was based on a hodgepodge of different styles and accessories. For those assembling a pirate Halloween costume, this offers almost infinite opportunities for making a unique costume. After saving money on the base of the costume, I would recommend splurging a bit for accessories.
While you are at the thrift store, look at the jewelry area and pick out some silver jewelry. Think big hoop earrings, necklaces with coin-like pendants, and rings. Adding these accessories are a cheap way to show just how successful of a plunderer your pirate is!
You will also want to consider some type of headgear to complete your pirate Halloween costume. A hat is a good option, although it will cost you a bit more. If you are going that route, choose a tricorn hat in an earth-tone (another option for a pirate hat). To save money, go with a simple bandanna tied around your head. To make it more unique, cut your own bandanna out of fabric. This will further complement the DIY nature of the pirate look.
For a unique pirate costume, some form of weaponry is a must. While many accessories for pirate costumes don’t look very authentic or unique, a great option to take your pirate Halloween costume to the next level is to add an authentic-looking weapon. A great option is to find an affordable wooden toy flintlock pistol (another example). For around $10-$15 you can get an accessory that will stand out amongst the plastic accessories many pirate costumes use. Pirates also used swords for hand-to-hand combat, so a sword is a must. Because metal swords are too expensive, go with a plastic sword. A good option to stand out amidst the shiny pirate accessories is a sword with a weathered look. You can get a realistic looking sword for around $7. These weapons can be tucked into a leather belt or a fabric sash.
In Sum: Go With the Unique
To have an affordable and unique pirate Halloween costume, it is important to piece together a costume yourself. By adding custom elements you not only save money, but you also create a costume that is both unique and more authentic. While there may be plenty of off-the-shelf pirate Halloween costumes to chose from, most tend to look cheesy with plastic parts and simple designs. With a little work and planning, it is easy to both save money and have a unique costume. For under $50, it is easy to make a unique pirate Halloween costume.