Costume design: Burlesque-style Captain Hook

Captain Hook(er)

My design for a Captain Hook burlesque themed costume.

The story:

A few years back I made a friend who was also very interested in costuming. She told me about MegaCon, which was a huge (one might say…mega) anime/cosplay/whatever convention in Orlando, Florida. We wanted to go. And obviously, we wanted to dress up. She had a themed group for Sunday, which was a Firefly cosplay group. We thought it would be cool if we did another themed group from the Friday.

I had seen a few cool burlesque ones, which were always mislabeled as “steampunk” because they had corsets and sometimes bustles. So one of us came up with the idea to do a Disney themed one. First we were going to do princesses, but that has been done to death. Then we came up with the idea to do villains instead. And some of them would be gender-swapped, because we were going to do it with a group of girls, and some of the best villains were male.

I picked Captain Hook, because yay pirates. In the end, someone called the design Captain Hooker, and it stuck. I didn’t get to go to the convention, but I still intend on making this costume.

The breakdown:

The easiest parts are going to be the ones I don’t have to make myself, obviously. Which means the boots. And because I will end up being on my feet for long periods wherever I wear this, I needed them to be something comfortable, that I’m not going to be tottering around in, worrying I’m going to break my ankle. So I’ll be wearing my Dr. Marten’s knee-high boots that I adore. If I decide to do a short photo shoot, I have high-heeled black boots that are just above the ankle and super cute. I just can’t walk in them, due to a bad ankle.

I already have thigh-high fishnets with an attached garter belt as well, so that easily takes care of that part.

Black ruffled underwear are easy enough to find online, though I would probably also wear something underneath them, just for my comfort.

Belts with an appropriate brass buckle aren’t usually too hard to find, and I actually have one I got from Old Navy that would do in a pinch. Brown faux leather, square brass buckle.

The rest of the costume I would have to make myself.

Black satin corset, drafted specifically to my measurements. I’ve found a nice sweetheart satin that doesn’t fray too much. I know Disney’s version of Captain Hook doesn’t wear black, but it was more suited to the design. Along the top edge will be a waterfall of lace, most likely in white, to replace the jabot Hook wears in the Disney cartoon version of Peter Pan.

I’ve been practicing making corsets for a little while now, and I use a free corset drafting pattern from Foundations Revealed, which is a wonderful resource for corset-making.

Corsets aren’t as difficult as everyone assumes they are, they just require sewing knowledge, a good resource for a pattern or instructions on how to draft one, and some patience with fitting. Always do a mock-up first, to make sure it fits.

Captain Hook’s coat itself will be a bit of a challenge, since I have only ever made one pirate coat before, and that was from a Simplicity pattern. This one will be shorter, and fitted in the back to the waist, then have a ruffled train. At no point will it close entirely, but it will be held snugly around the body by the belt at the waist. It will have lapels, which will be trimmed in gold braid all around. The same trim will be applied at the cuffs, as well as brass buttons. I have these ones which I had found on Etsy, which have anchors on them, well suited for a pirate. The jacket itself will most likely be made from a red velvet, since that is the color of Hook’s coat. And most pirate coats.

Then there is that cute little hat. That will be probably the most difficult part, as I have never tried my hand at millinery before. From what I can tell, they are usually just done with some buckram, or some stiff interfacing even. Then cover it in velvet that matches the coat, the same trim as the coat, and a couple of feathers. It will be a mini tricorn, which I think are adorable.

My hair will be my own, as it is currently very dark brown, and down to my waist. I’ll do it up in small, tight curls, which should probably reach to my shoulder blades. A fake skull and crossbones tattoo on my chest for decoration. And the final accessory, which is not shown here, will be a green crocodile stuffed toy turned purse, for things like phone and keys. What would Hook be without the crocodile that took his (now her) hand?

Possible addition:

I may also make a little tiered skirt, about mid-thigh length, to go with it if I want to wear this somewhere where a little modesty is needed. That will be simple enough to make with squares of black cotton gauze sewn together in multiple tiers in a circle skirt style.


This is one of my favorite designs so far, and I really want to get it done. I will most likely not make it to any conventions where this would be appropriate any time soon, but I could just as easily wear it out for Halloween. It’s perfectly suited for that! Just…not in Canada. At least, not outside.


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