Garb Building: Color Pallet #1 - Pirate Wench

In house consultations are one of my favorite things to do. As I noted with a client this week, you start with a blank slate and build the look together in this fantastic, creative process, eliminating options until you narrow it down to the garb of their dreams.

One of the hardest things to do, is to build a color pallet from scratch when you can't come visit me in my studio and can't compare colors side by side. If you're a woman, the focal point of your outfit is probably your bodice, so that's where I start. The bodice is also your most expensive piece, so it's good to spend extra time on it.
Bodice Color with Black Trim
I have often said that if you pair a jewel tone (Sapphire, Emerald, Ruby) with black, you've made yourself a good piratical color pallet. Just take a look around faire the next time you go and see what the pirates are wearing. Lots of red and black, blue and black, green and black, etc. Black is not necessary for a pirate look, but it definitely makes it easier.

However, that's not the only thing you can wear. In this example, we used gold as our main neutral tone, as opposed to black, and paired it up with a rich burgundy/wine color. Black is an accent, but not the main focal point. We also had to remember to pick fabrics that would work with an existing green satin waist cincher.

We chose redtap39 - Wine/Gold Scroll for our Wench bodice and added black bias tape for trim to be able to tie in other black elements. The bodice will also be getting black laces and gold grommets. While the fabric itself isn't terribly piratey, almost any fabric can be explained away with a good story.

A bodice is one of your most expensive purchases, so it's wise to pick something that will be versatile, that you love, and that looks amazing on you.

Angel Chemise

Next up was choosing the colors for the Angel Chemise. We chose taupe, which was a fantastic match for the gold tones in the bodice fabric, and added wine/gold celtic knot trim, wine bias tape and gold venetian lace.

Pirates are flamboyant creatures, so when building your garb, make sure to include something with flair, even if you are a lowly cabin boy.

Circle Skirt

The plan was always to include a black Circle Skirt that could be tucked up high on the hips and show the bloomers and thigh high boots beneath, so that was probably our easiest choice.

When building your wardrobe, include some simple mix and match pieces that you can pair up with other items down the road.


Our final piece to add were the Bloomers. We chose a vibrant wine color along with gold venetian lace to really tie the whole outfit together.

With Green Satin

We also had to make sure that all of our pieces would go well with the existing green satin Waist Cincher and they do!

When building your new garb wardrobe, take into account items that are already in your closet and try to incorporate them or match them if you can.

Tips for Pirate Garb:

  • Pick a neutral base like black, gold or silver and pair it with a strong jewel tone.
  • If you choose an unusual fabric or color, have a good story to go with it.
  • Start with your most expensive piece, usually the bodice or doublet.
  • Include at least one flamboyant conversation piece to your wardrobe.
  • Include some simple pieces that you'll be able to use with various outfits.
  • Try to incorporate the things you already have(and love!) or re-purpose them.
Remember, pirates existed all over the world, so have fun with it! Incorporating Mediterranean, Asian and Carribean influences can always result in a new story about your travels on the Seven Seas!


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