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Become Theodore Roosevelt for a Day

Updated on October 27, 2015
Virginia Allain profile image

Halloween - fun for children and adults. I was noted for my annual Halloween parties and creative costumes.

What You Need to Transform Yourself into Teddy Roosevelt

First you must decide which image of the former president, conservationist, adventurer and soldier you wish to portray. Theodore Roosevelt exuded a vigor and confidence that makes him much admired even after all these years.

What I'm providing here are tips for creating each of his personas in a costume. There are photos and videos to help you choose the look you want. Some parts can be assembled from clothing you have on hand or ones you find at a thrift store. Others are more difficult to find, so I'm including those here.

For further authenticity, I recommend viewing the videos to see his manner of walking and talking. I've even included some quotations that you can throw into the conversation. Bully for you, wanting to become Teddy Roosevelt even if it is only for a day.

Now, "speak softly, but carry a big stick."


Theodore Roosevelt Words Deeds Post Card from Zazzle

Teddy Roosevelt - The Explorer and Conservationist


The look varies, but here are some components to put together for an outfit.

  1. Khaki pants
  2. Khaki shirt, long-sleeved or a sweater
  3. Knee high boots or shoes with puttees or leggings made of leather or canvas.
  4. A kerchief for the neck (look at the variations in the photos)

Most Crucial Part of the Costume - Pince Nez Glasses

No matter what pictures you see of Theodore Roosevelt, the glasses are there. They are a strong identifier that will clue others in to what character you are portraying.

The name of the glasses, in case anyone asks you, translates into English as "pinch nose." That's how the glasses stay on is by gripping the nose.

Rubie's Costume Co Pinz Nez Specs Costume
Rubie's Costume Co Pinz Nez Specs Costume

No matter which look you go for, you'll need these glasses.

 

Teddy Roosevelt - The Rough Rider of the Spanish-American War

Photo Credit:
Colonel Theodore Roosevelt Poster from Zazzle


Teddy was the Assistant Secretary for the Navy, but left this important government office to volunteer for the cavalry. He wasn't about to miss out on the action in Cuba.


  1. Hat - khaki colored with one side folded up and pinned with crossed sabers emblem. This emblem was for the cavalry.
  2. Kerchief around the neck
  3. Khaki shirt with front patch pockets
  4. Leather gloves with a wide cuff called gauntlets.
  5. Shoulder straps
  6. Belt with brass buckle - Here's a photo and description of the buckle with the eagle on it and the belt.
  7. Khaki slacks - you can see the various parts of a Spanish American War uniform on this site.
  8. Leggings - These pulled the lower part of the trousers close to the legs.

Here's an Excellent Home-Grown T.R. Costume

Shaunna tells how this costume came together: "He had the khakis and I found a jacket at a thrift store, that I embellished with buttons and brown felt."  Outfit for son, Henry.
Shaunna tells how this costume came together: "He had the khakis and I found a jacket at a thrift store, that I embellished with buttons and brown felt." Outfit for son, Henry. | Source

You'll Need a Walrus Mustache

Most of the ones I saw on Amazon were black or grey. There were even some that were temporary tattoos. I've settled on this one as being the most representative of Teddy's iconic mustache.

See Teddy Roosevelt in His Many Looks

Pin the Brim of Your Hat with This Crossed Sabers Insignia

You'll see this pin on T.R.'s hat in the video footage about the Rough Riders.

A Hat for the Rough Rider - Pin the brim up on One Side

How They Made This Costume

Shaunna found the spats, glasses, and hat in the backroom of a costume store that has great used vintage pieces. "The gloves are Darth Vader costume gloves." A very creative adaptation
Shaunna found the spats, glasses, and hat in the backroom of a costume store that has great used vintage pieces. "The gloves are Darth Vader costume gloves." A very creative adaptation | Source

What You Need for T.R. - The President

  1. The coat should be longer than what is worn now. This is called a frock coat. I found a marvelous site where you can see examples of historical clothing.
  2. Note the gold chain across the vest. This is his pocket watch chain.
  3. In photos of him as president, you'll see that his mustache is grey.
  4. Hat - on ceremonial occasions it was a black top hat and at other times a more casual hat.
  5. Vest with a pocket for his watch. The vest can be light colored or dark.
  6. Tie - this can be plain or patterned. He wears it tucked inside the vest.

Painting Showing Teddy Roosevelt as President

1903 painting by John Singer Sargent - (public domain photo from Wikipedia) Notice that the photo at the top of this page shows a light-colored vest and a different tie.
1903 painting by John Singer Sargent - (public domain photo from Wikipedia) Notice that the photo at the top of this page shows a light-colored vest and a different tie. | Source

Black Top Hat for President Roosevelt

If you opt for the formal look like the inauguration, go with a felt black top hat. This one is costume quality. There are cheaper ones available, but this one is more realistic and sturdier.

For theater use or performing, you may want to go with one of a higher quality than this.

An American Lion - A Documentary - This is long, but quite informative and entertaining

Narrated by Richard Dreyfuss and with brief interviews of historians, this brings you many clips of Roosevelt in different times of his life. Lots of old film footage is included.

See the Many Facets of Roosevelt's Life in This Video

What Interests You in Theodore Roosevelt?

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    • JimHofman profile image

      JimHofman 

      4 years ago

      I'm a big presidential history buff and have a lens on the vice presidents. I agree with the below comment that a "come as a President" themed party would be a fun idea!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      4 years ago

      I love the old photos, this would make a good idea for a themed party, come as a President.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      School kids are always having to dress up like one of the Presidents and I have never thought of dressing like Teddy Roosevelt. Great idea.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      If I ever wish to dress up like Teddy Roosevelt I'll know just what to wear - and how to wear it.

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