How to be a modern day pirate

There’s something about pirates that I’ve always found to be very exciting. Presumably it’s their sense of adventure and freedom that has me magnetised and I really couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the Pirates of the Caribbean series. I confess that I have romanticised about the pirate life and whilst I am quite aware that my childhood notions of pirates and real modern day pirates are very divergent, the fantasy still sails around my head.

Admittedly, I’m much too compassionate and morally inclined to actually be a pirate and there’s also the fact that the world has moved on from savvy scallwag speakers. Despite this, there’s really no harm in being a pirate for the day and seeing how the outcasts of the 1700’s lived. Although piracy is still an issue today, and I would never condone this dangerous lifestyle or the cruelty most pirates approve, indulging into some inspired fashion and setting out for an adventure is perfectly acceptable.

Here’s how to live as a modern day pirate…

Learn the Lingo

If you can’t talk like a pirate then you are seriously failing at the unlawful life of piracy. Surprisingly, speaking as a pirate can become a little complex and learning the tongue of ragtag, parrot wearing sailors is an art one must master.

Start by doubling up on your adjectives and you’ll be stupendously spectacular with your phrasing. You won’t catch a pirate stating the ‘calm seas‘ they’ll say ‘balmy calm seas‘ They also never speak in anything other than the present tense. For instance replace “I am” with “I be” and “they are” with “they be“.  Finally, reach the proper accent and drop your g’s to get the words goin’.

If it be helpin’, start yer sentence wi’ an “Arr, me matey,” and ye’ll find that the rest be comin’ much easier. You can also download a vocabulary sheet I’ve thrown together if you are feeling extra dedicated.

Only travel by ship

Ditch all other modes of transport and only travel by ship or boat. You’d never see a pirate hopping into a taxi- it’s just unheard of and utterly wrong! Start honing your boating skills and learn how to sail, no pirate is going to allow you to hop on a boat if you aren’t a reliable seaman.

Time flies when you’re having rum

Have you ever heard of a pirate that doesn’t love a pint of rum? No? That’s because dear Wildling, they simply don’t exist. I don’t care if you think it tastes like a bottle of extremities. If you’re a pirate, you bloody drink the booze, no questions asked. See if you can sneak into the cellars off of the docks and slip a few bottles up your shirt or better yet, sneak into the captains office and peep into a few of his draws. The risk of being caught followed by potentially being forced to walk the plank and devoured by a giant monstrous kraken will all be worth it. Hello! IT’S RUM! Need I say more?

Take what ye can, give nothing back.

Form a good crew

Where would a pirate be with out his crew? It’s like the pack of gorillas you see on the nature channel. If you’re alone, you’re never going to make it. You must find a good crew that is trustingly untrustworthy. For you can always trust the untrustworthy because you can always trust that they will be untrustworthy. Its the trustworthy you can’t trust. A great lesson from Captain Jack Sparrow.

Hit the docks and see if you can sniff out any rogue pirates that are desperate to belong to a new crew. Offer them some of your rum- I know, it’s difficult to part with it but I promise it’ll work out in your favour. Or you can simply educate them on how wonderful working on your ship will be. Then, all you need to do is steal someone else’s ship and pretend it was yours the whole time.

Dress For Success

If you’re going to play the part, you have to look the part. There are many ways to pull of a modern day pirate outfit and it’s really not as difficult as it may initially seem.

Generally speaking, the attire of a pirate would portray their ranking and success. For instance, the seamen whom often struggled to attain riches would wear scraggly worn-out clothes, whilst a captain would often have several luxurious outfits. An oversized white shirt is a great option for any pirate as it is suitable for the portrayal of any ranking. Therefore, you can convince anyone you are any sort of pirate you wish to be. Pair it with some tight black trousers, faux leather is a suitable choice but any fabric will do and add some long boots to really capture the essence of a pirate. The seas can called at night, so an embroidered long jacket would be wise also.

Accessorising is just as important as the rest of the outfit; a hat is a great way to elevate your look from good to great and provides a wonderful sense of authenticity. More importantly, it provides appropriate protection against crazy, wind blown hair. As I wanted to illustrate some alluring gothic-pirate vibes, I completed my accessories with a victorian cross necklace, passed down to me from my family.

My aim was to create a fashionable-modern day pirate look, so I finished the outfit off with an aubergine bag that brought the dark, gothic look together in a sophisticated manner.


Shirt: ASOS WHITE Off Shoulder Wrap Shirt

Leggings: Ted Baker Leggings

Boots: Public Desire Olivia Tie Back Heeled Thigh High Boots

Necklace: Family Heirloom Gothic Cross

Hat: ASOS Skinny Band Felt Floppy Hat

Bag: Fiorelli Mia Grab Bag in Aubergine

Sea Shanties and Sea Songs

The seas can be difficult to sail at times and when they are calm, it can become fairly tedious quite quickly. Therefore, one must find a way to entertain themselves. With the ship turning against the waves, playing a game of cards can get frustrating at best. Moreover, you only have so much doubloons and rum to gamble on. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to memorise a few songs passed around the pirate community.

Many pirates were out to sea for months at a time, so singing about beautiful women was inevitable. ‘The Maid of Amsterdam’ and ‘Leave her, Johnny’ are good examples. For more general pirate tunes, memorise songs like ‘The Dead Horse’ and ‘The Derelict’.

Just watch where you sing these songs, unbeknownst to you, these seemingly innocent melodies offer harsh and disturbing tales. Many of which provided historical truth.

Living as a pirate for a day can be surprisingly fulfilling, particularly dressing as one. In fact, I loved the outfit so much, it’s become one of my favourite looks and influenced my style quite considerably. On a more important note, being a modern day pirate comes with some great lessons to build ones character. The most significant of which is to become unafraid of the storms that may come your way and to welcome them with open arms. Furthermore, to do so with the confidence that you can handle each one with persistence and determination; for a smooth sea, never makes a skilled sailor.

Whilst piracy is a crime and the true pirate lifestyle is not commendable, there are certainly many things we can learn from them. Happy international talk like a pirate day!

What are your thoughts on the pirate life?