ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to make the perfect John Shaft costume

Updated on May 30, 2015

John Shaft is a complicated man

When Richard Roundtree stepped into the role of John Shaft, a private investigator roaming Harlem and the Italian parts of New York City in search of the missing daughter of a black mobster, he instantly changed American culture. The movie, released in 1971, was the pinnacle of the Blaxploitation genre.

John Shaft had a sense of style that was just perfect for his era. Those drab clothes of the 1960's were all given to Goodwill, the 1970's were all about showing off. I'm going to show you what key items you need to make the perfect Shaft costume.  

Shaft's hair

If you are not able to grow black, nappy hair, you'll have to get yourself a wig. Just search for a black afro wig, there should be plenty available at costume shops or online. Also, Shaft had short muttochops and a black mustache, so you should look for those while you're at it.  

The turtleneck

John Shaft is almost always seen wearing a turtleneck. I know he had a blue one, and he also wore a white one. He probably had a few others as well, such as black. These turtlenecks, like all turtlenecks, should cling to the body. You do not want them to be loose and wrinkly. They should show off your chest and biceps. Steve McQueen also wore a turtleneck in Bullit. Still think turtlenecks are uncool?

The jacket

This is the part a lot of people get wrong when they try to be Shaft for Halloween. He didn't just wear any ol' black leather jacket. It was a leather trench coat, with the collar turned upward and with huge peaks. You probably will have difficulty finding one of these new, since peaks like those went out of style over 30 years ago and haven't come back. I suggest eBay or Salvation Army. Good luck.  

Alternative Shaft jacket - The blazer

Shaft sometimes wore a blazer instead of a leather jacket. This can often be seen when he's indoors. I'm not sure if people will recognize you as Shaft if you just wear the blazer and turtleneck, but you can try it out.

Shaft pants

Just in case you thought John Shaft might have had timeless style, I should remind you that he did wear skin-tight polyester pants, and they were usually plaid. This is perhaps his greatest fashion blunder, although it was quite popular at the time. You can buy polyester pants at some costume stores or perhaps at Salvation Army or stores that cater to certain "adult" needs. 

Shaft boots

Shaft's boots are rather rare today as well. They were zip up boots with a great big heel (the better to stomp you with, my dear). If you can find them, along with the other apparel I've mentioned, then congratulations, you've got yourself the perfect John Shaft Halloween costume. 


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)