The Elizabethan Sumptuary Laws therefore enforced what clothing individuals were allowed to own and wear, an easy and immediate way to identify rank and privilege. Pirate clothing, especially that of the successful and wealthy pirates took great delight in flouting the Elizabethan Sumptuary Laws. Anything went - fine velvets and silks and such fabrics which had been previously banned to anyone other than those in the Upper Classes.
Pirate Clothing - The Motley Crew
The fabrics used in pirate clothing depended on how wealthy they were and what clothing had been stolen. Pirate clothing for the ordinary seamen was therefore often ill-fitting. Motley was a multi-colored woollen fabric woven of mixed threads in 14th to 17th century England. The clothes of pirate seamen were mismatched with multi-colors - hence the expression 'Motley Crew'.Many of the tasks performed by the pirates were extremely arduous - clothing could be easily ripped, tattered and torn. The pirate clothing for ordinary seamen, by necessity was tight fitting. Loose fighting clothes would be dangerous when performing tasks like climbing the rigging. The clothing of the captain or pirate clothing worn on land did not need to follow such requirements.
Pirate Clothing - the Fabrics and Materials
The fabrics used in pirate clothing depended on how wealthy they were and what clothing had been stolen. But basically there were no rules. The practical fabrics used for ordinary pirate clothing included canvass, leather, wool, linen, cotton and sheepskin. The fabrics and materials used in pirate clothing when on shore, or by the Pirate Captain, were far more flamboyant and expensive. Velvet, silk, damask, sarcanet, camlet and taffeta were included in the fabrics and materials used for this type of pirate clothing - exotic feathers were also favored.
Pirate Clothing - Colors
The colors of pirate clothing included the colors which had previously banned by the Elizabethan Sumptuary Laws. Crimson, violet, purple and deep blue were typical of the colors which had previously banned for anyone other than the Upper Classes.
Pirate Clothing - The clothes worn by a Pirate Captain
The typical clothes worn by a Pirate Captain are illustrated in a description of the clothing worn by Black Bart (Bartholomew Roberts). He was described as flamboyant dresser. His waistcoat and breeches were made of velvet in a rich crimson color. His hat was decorated with an exotic red feather. An expensive satin and leather sash diagonally decorated the front of his coat and a sash was tied around his waist. The clothes of this pirate captain were adorned with gold jewellery and ornaments.
List of Pirate Clothing
The following list details the items of pirate clothing and some interesting facts and information about various items of Pirate Clothing: