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I’ve missed the last few Throwback Thursdays for various reasons, but they’re returning with vengeance today, and this week I’m featuring the most swashbuckling of hats: the pirate hat.

I’ve long had a thing for pirates – I’ve dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow for various competitions (and won once), and I will always appreciate his attachment to his headwear. But what’s the history behind pirate hats? I wanted to find out…

JackSparrowProfile Jack Sparrow’s iconic hat is called a tricorne hat, popular with men in the 17th and 18th centuries, and interestingly was often worn to show political allegiance. Although it gradually became civilian dress, it was introduced as part of naval uniforms, and that’s probably how it became synonymous with pirates.


This can’t have been comfortable.

So is there a reason why these fabulous manly hats have such a distinctive shape? Well from my extensive research, it seems that turning up the ends of a normal, round hat automatically creates the triangular shape, but more importantly the “gutter” effect channels rainwater away from the face: making it particularly handy for seafarers.

Oh, Commodore Norrington. The only man to successfully pull off a feathered hat since the 1700s.

It was “invented” by Spanish soldiers in the 17th century when they were fighting in the cold and rain in Flanders. However, when they later fought with France the French found their attire so fetching that they adopted it (you have no idea how brilliant I find that). The tricorne spread to the court of King Louis XIV, where it became adorned with finery such as gold, silver, brocade and feathers.