Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Pirates! A motley crew.

The pirates who operated during the Age of Exploration have become synonymous with a definitive style.  The legendary apparel of a pirate has created a pirate stereotype, but much of it was developed through necessity and befitted the style of a pirate seaman.   Elizabethan Sumptuary Laws dictated what colour of clothing and the materials and fabrics which could be used for each social level.  these laws also 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 Elizabethan Sumptuary Laws.  Anything went - fine velvets and silks and such fabrics which had been previously banned to anyone than those in the Upper Classes. 

The fabrics used in pirate clothing depended on how wealthy they were and what clothing had been stolen!  Pirate clothing for ordinary seamen was therefore often ill-fitting! Many of the tasks performed by the pirates were arduous, loose fighting clothes would be dangerous when performing tasks like climbing the rigging - clothing could be easily ripped, tattered and torn.  Clothing worn aboard ship was by necessity tight fitting, however the clothing of the captain or ordinary pirate worn on land did not need to follow such requirements.  Flamboyant, expensive and adorned with gold jewellery and adornments, there was no clothing affectation that could not be appropriated. Motley was a multi-coloured woolen fabric woven with mixed threads in 14th to 17th century England.  Since the mismatched clothes of pirate seamen were also multi-coloured - the expression 'Motley Crew' evolved.

Photo by: Magda Wunsche & Samsel
Editorial for K-Mag
Hair stylist: Kacper Raczkowski

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