The notorious pirate Blackbeard, played by Ian McShane in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, has that “Three Musketeers meets Rip Van Winkle” fashion sensibility that is perfect for Halloween. Dressing as the pirate that all pirates fear embodies the true Halloween spirit. Better yet, this costume is pretty easy to put together with a few simple items.
The most recognizable elements of a Blackbeard Halloween costume are his three cornered hat and sword. Fortunately, these are both easily available as pieces from many different costumes: a tricorn hat is part of any colonial period costume, like George Washington, or of course, a pirate costume. Swords are found at toy stores or in the gift shops of many museums. For historical accuracy, you can select one with a hilt that covers the hand, but in a pinch, any sword will do. Adding a replica single-barrel pistol is a nice touch and will most likely be available with the tricorn hat.
The other elements of the costume may include:
a large, dark overcoat with wide lapels
wide belt and buckle
folded leather boots
dark shirt and pants
coin or cross medallion
Replicating Blackbeard’s beard may be more difficult. Beards are available from theatrical supply stores and online. Those that attach with spirit gum look much more convincing, but also cost much more. You can xpect to pay around $65 for a Blackbeard-style full beard that glues on, instead of around $16 for one that attaches with elastic. Plan ahead in ordering or buying, these items go quickly in the weeks before Halloween. Buying a full black beard and twisting it and powdering it to a convincing Blackbeard style will probably be more cost effective than trying to find one specifically for your character.
The vest, shirt and pants provide the background for the costume and may already be found in your own closet. A button-down dark colored vest, such as those found in three-piece suits, and dark colored shirt and pants will be fine.
Wide leather (or simply brown) belts with buckles are inexpensive and easily found at chain stores like Forever 21, Ross, and TJ Maxx. Shiny silver buckles can be tarnished by placing them in a ziplock bag with the yolk from a hard boiled egg in the refrigerator overnight. Any silver crosses, antique coins or other necklaces will give the outfit flair.
Blackbeard’s coat is a major part of the costume, so it may be worth it to purchase one at a costume shop. A “frock coat” may be part of a Civil War costume and looks very similar. Other choices could be to use an overcoat from a secondhand store or to dye a lab coat black and embellish it with fasteners.
Boots and gauntlets take the costume up a level, but are certainly optional. If you have leather boots, a top fold can be added by creating a bell shape out of canvas or leather and attaching with elastic. Gauntlets can be found at costume stores or homemade in a similar manner to the boot flaps. Remember the dark esthetic you seek with the costume and don’t be afraid to go grimy.
Because of the popularity of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies and pirates in general, many specialty stores for pirate costuming exist online. Renaissance fairs can be another excellent resource for pirate duds.