What Do Women Pirates Wear?

by Beverley Burgess Bell

Women pirates were few but not unheard of.

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Females were a rarity among pirates, though there were a few noteworthy ones: Anne Bonny and Mary Read who plagued the Caribbean, and Grace O'Malley who commanded three ships and 200 men. According to the Pirate Code, which was implemented by the infamous pirate Black Bart, boys and women were not allowed on pirate ships. However, some women boarded ships anyway by impersonating men.

Fabric and Clothing

Women pirates concealed their sexuality by wearing the same type of clothing as men. Depending on how much wealth the woman pirate had, she would wear breeches or trousers of leather, wool or linen with a waistcoat of rich velvet. Sometimes, the pantaloons were of velvet as well. Satin or leather sashes were tied around the waist or diagonally around the torso. Pirates often stole the clothing they wore so if the pirated ship had wealthy owners, the pirates would be so-bedecked.

Colors and Weapons

Sumptuous reds and crimsons, deep violets and blues were some of the colors that women pirates sported, similar to their male counterparts. According to Elizabethan Sumptuary Laws only the aristocracy were allowed to wear these bright colors so pirates appropriated these colors for themselves. No worthy pirate, including women pirates, would be seen without weapons, as they were part of their outfits. Pirates carried cutlasses which were heavy and curved and daggers and pistols that were stashed in their belts.

Other Pieces of Clothing

Women pirates, just like the male pirates, also dressed themselves in coats that were called doublets which were brocaded and decorated with braiding. Under the coats, they wore the typical puffy sleeved shirt that is associated with pirates. Bandannas covered up long hair and a tri-cornered hat was perched on the head. Since trousers or breeches were usually knee-length, the woman pirate also wore woolen or silk stockings with leather boots, covered with a large buckle.

Accessories

No woman pirate, like the male pirates, would be seen without her accessories. These included large hoop earrings that were made of gold; they also wore chains and necklaces with jewels to show how wealthy they were. Belt sashes were used to store daggers and pistols and scarves and wigs which could also have been stolen, were also part of the pirate style.

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About the Author

Beverley Burgess Bell has been a professional freelance writer since 1986. She has worked for Medigram, a medical poster and Rodar Publications. She also was editor of "Epilepsy," Canada's national newsletter and wrote for various publications including "Future Health." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Concordia University in Montreal.