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The Eye Patch: One Accessory, Endless Possibilities

Updated on July 8, 2013


Yes, we all know this one so we might as well get it out of the way first.

It's a classic image of a salty seafaring rogue with a patch over one eye, a parrot on his shoulder, an often at lest one limb missing. Of course, most of us have trouble faking a peg leg and parrots tend to be expensive, messy diva birds, but the eye patch remains a piece of the costume we can arrange easily enough.

From there, it can be as simple as a dollar store sword with a Grateful Dead bandana to a period- accurate frock coat and real leather calf- high boots. It depends entirely on your taste, and the occasion that you're wearing the costume for. Either way, some sort of brown or black bottle is not required but highly recommended.

Rooster Cogburn

Whether it's the Duke (John Wayne, for you young whippersnappers!), or the Dude (Jeff Bridges), Rooster Cogburn is an awesome character who has somehow managed to remain cool down through the generations. He's a rough, tough, sharp-eyed old cowboy with a shady past and over a dozen criminal deaths on his conscience. But he also has a heart, watching over and ultimately saving the life of a girl hell-bent on bringing her father's killer to justice. Mysterious yet goofy, bitter but likeable, Rooster is the perfect badass cowboy!

As such, most of what makes a good Rooster Cogburn costume is a good cowboy outfit with an eye patch added. This requires a few essentials: First, of course, you need a good cowboy hat. Next, you need some sort of button- up flannel or worn dress shirt worn under a vest, as was the style in the old west. Since Cogburn was a US Marshal as well as an expert (more or less) gunfighter, this costume must include some sort of cowboy pistols. This can be done very cheaply or very expensively, using a harness- grade leather belt and solid metal guns or just sticking a few cheap plastic guns into one's pockets. Then of course Rooster's big heroic scene involves a big faceoff on horseback, but good luck navigating around the annual Halloween party on a horse!

Number Two

"Finally, we come to my number two man. His name? ...Number Two.

Dr. Evil's cycloptic colleague, operator of his multi-billion dollar corporate empire, and at the butt of several of Dr. Evil's jokes, Number Two is a rip- off of the classic Bond villain and the stereotypical second-in-command villain all at once.

His is an especially easy costume to make, since he wears a basic business suit with the normal corporate- approved hairstyle. I think he has a facial scar in one of the films, which you could get for $5 at a costume store around Halloween. This costume is perfect for the man who has a costume party to go to, very little time, and a limited budget. Just wear your work suit, grab the eye patch, and go take over the world!! Who knows; you might just get a cover story in Forbes!

Herr Drosselmeyer

Ah yes, who can think of the holiday season (the other holiday season) without thinking of the Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, with its enchanting music and gorgeous imagery? Personally I was always intrigued by the character of Drosselmeyer, Clara (the protagonist)'s mysterious uncle. He is a toymaker and magician who it is strongly implied may be behind the magical events which transpire throughout the tale.

I have had the good fortune to see Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker several times in my life, and it seems the producers just cannot agree whether or not Drosselmeyer wears an eye patch. Personally, I prefer it when he does. The eye patch, so commonly used in literature for villains and scoundrels, adds a touch of real mystery to this strange fellow. Is he really a good person? Was all this done for Clara's good, or is it possible it was all a sick game concocted by a madman with magical powers? Who knows? But he has an air of magic and mystery, possibly touched with menace but not without mercy (Ha! Four "m" words in one sentence!) and maybe even some divine plan whereby Clara finds herself caught in a war between mice and toy soldiers (seriously, was there cocaine inside the toys?), the apparent lover of some enchanted prince(how old was she, again?), and the guest of honor in a culinary fairy party before she wakes up and wonders what the bloody hell just happened.

Now, Drosselmeyer is another very easy costume. The only two absolutely essential pieces are a long, flowing black cape and of course the eye patch. From there, it would be a good idea to pair it with a suit as that's all people wore back in the time this story came out. This can be as elaborate as a vintage Victorian tailcoat with vest and pocket watch, or as contemporary as a modern blazer and matching slacks. You probably want to mess up your hair or purchase some sort of crazy wig, as Drosselmeyer usually looks rather eccentric if not absolutely mad. For added emphasis, accessorize with a prop nutcracker!

Mad- Eye Moody

My favorite character from the Harry Potter franchise, and (spoiler) the most unjustifiably screwed by the author, Mad Eye Moody is the crazy, tough old bastard with the magic eye patch and the demon slayer style. He was the only redeeming quality of Goblet of Fire, and provided a strong warrior leader until his untimely end in the last film.

Now, the Mad Eye costume is a bit more elaborate than the rest of the people on this list. His eye patch has to be modified a bit, adding either a fake eyeball or a rolling eye like those often found in craft stores. I once saw a very creative gentleman who attached a small cabinet handle to an eye patch to create the illusion of an eyeball. There is a licensed "Mad Eye" eye patch which can be bought at most stores, but my understanding is that it's modest quality at best. His outfit is a pair of heavy boots, combat pants, a basic undershirt with a combat or leather biker vest over it, and a heavy trench coat of some kind. A staff is also required, and a shaggy mess of hair helps.

You will need "CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!!!!" to find these supplies affordably, but I get the feeling that if you're halfway serious about costuming you probably already have one or two of the pieces needed.

Snake Plissken

Among the kings of cheesy action heroes, Snake Plissken holds a place of distinction. He is sent into two different prison states, first New York City then Los Angeles, to retrieve important people for an authoritarian state who hold his own life for ransom. It always takes time, sweat, and lots of bodies, but Snake always manages to accomplish his mission and still screw over the manipulative jerks who put him up to it. Escape from New York and Escape from Los Angeles are two of the cheesiest, stupidest, most ridiculous movies of all time, but God help us we still love them! Much like Conan the Barbarian, these movies are so awesomely goofy that we have to respect them, and Snake Plissken has gained a huge underground following as one of Hollywood's premier second-rate tough guys.

Now, dressing as Snake Plissken is pretty easy for the physically fit. Starting from the bottom, Snake wears combat boots, gray camouflage pants, guns at his hips, a black muscle shirt, and of course his eye patch. In both films he begins his mission with a coat, a brown leather bomber in the first and a black leather trench coat in the second. It would also help to have shaggy, long dirty blond hair.

It you want to dress as a badass for badassity's sake, try dressing as Snake Plissken at your next Halloween or themed costume party.

And there are many, many others...

Of course, I have only listed a few of the easily recognizable costumes which can be built with an eye patch. Here are a few others:

  • Odin, the Norse god
  • Emilio Largo, James Bond villain
  • Nick Fury, as played by Samuel L. Jackson
  • Phil Ken Sebben, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
  • General Chang, Star Trek
  • Captain Rochefort, The Three Musketeers
  • Claus von Stauffenberg, Valkyrie

Please do forgive me ladies; I am aware that there are many female characters out there who wear the eye patch, and quite well I might add. Alas, being male it is easier for me to relate male costumes and characters. But there are so many of those fair one-eyed femme fetales out there, I could never fit them in this one article!

Well, there it is! Several premium examples of the great costumes which can be made just by throwing on a few basic garments and adding a eye patch!

Vote ye swabs!!!

When do you wear your eyepatch?

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