Let the most iconic images of 26th U.S. president, Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (1858-1919), inspire your costume: Choose from Roosevelt the wilderness conservationist and leader of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War. Create the costume with a mixture of everyday clothing, crafting and a few thrift or specialty store items, depending on the level of authenticity desired.
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Roosevelt's Rough Riders Costume
Wear a solid printed, dark blue flannel shirt. Loosely tie a white polka-dotted, dark blue bandanna around you neck. A symbol of Roosevelt's Rough Riders, you can make your own: Start with a real bandanna or a square piece of blue cloth of equal size. Using a sewing machine, create a 1/8-inch hem around the square. Add the white polka dots using white fabric paint and a stamp -- or a pencil eraser substituting for one. Wear khaki pants with your shirt and bandanna.
Top off your costume with a slouch hat to suggest the one worn by Roosevelt's Rough Riders in the Spanish-American war. Turn the brim up on one side, and secure with a plastic toy store version of the pin Roosevelt wore: the U.S. Cavalry's crossed sabers. Or if the costume is for a special event honoring Roosevelt, you may want to purchase a metal replica of the pin.
Roosevelt -- Conservationist
During Roosevelt's presidency (1901 -1908), he created the U.S. Forest Service, 150 National Forests, five National Parks, 18 National Monuments and several preserves, thus protecting approximately 230 million acres of public land. He is known as as the nation's "Conservationist President," and has a national park named after him.
“I would take the memory of my life on the ranch, with its experiences close to Nature and among the men who lived nearest her." This was spoken by Roosevelt when contemplating which memory he would keep if he could only keep one.
If you have jodhpurs or buckskin breeches, perfect. If not, wear a comfortable pair of khaki slacks or tan jeans. After you pull on your boots, your pants -- unless too tight - will bunch up above the knee, creating a similar look to Roosevelt's jodhpurs. The top of the costume provides a few options -- wear a pullover woolen sweater, khaki shirt or buckskin top with fringed sleeves.
You will find buckskin along with period patterns befitting of Roosevelt at many stores that specialize in supplying participants of Mountain Man Rendezvous and Powwows.
Wear a bandanna around your neck, tied in the front. Add a felt slouch hat. That is what Roosevelt often wore when he rode around the West, seeing things, such as decimated bison herds, that ignited his passion for conservation.
Necessities for Either Costume
If your hair is short, wave it, and part it slightly off-center like Roosevelt's hair. If it's not short, wear a wig styled as such or pin it up in a bun that can remain comfortably hidden under either the Rough Riders or wilderness hat, depending on your costume.
Roosevelt rocked the walrus mustache, his thick, mustache dropping down around the corners of his mouth. It's impossible to draw one of these with makeup, so head to a costume store and purchase one to wear with your costume. You can't dress up like Roosevelt without it.
Wear knee-high brown riding boots if you have them, but otherwise save lots of money by purchasing a pair of low-heeled, plain, fashion boots on brown or black. In a pinch, wear ankle boots and pull on leg warmers in a perfectly matching color. Tuck the bottom of the leg warmers into the boots snugly, and pull the tops up to your knees. Sometimes you can find inexpensive, gently worn, rubber riding boots at tack stores and thrift stores. Now you'll be ready for horseback riding too!
Roosevelt's Rough Riders, the volunteer cavalry unit comprised of Western men, including ranchers and Native Americans. Whether you're putting together a Rough Rider or Wilderness Conservation costume, cowboy gloves work. You'll find cowboy gloves in Western stores.
DIY Rancher/Calvary Gloves
Begin with buckskin or buckskin colored suede or faux suede gloves. Match the color and fabric of the gloves with a swath of material. Cut the material so that it widens slightly from the wrist to a few inches below the elbow. Sew or hot glue the side seams. Turn it inside out, and sew or hot glue to the top of the gloves. For Roosevelt's Western ranch gloves, use hot glue to attach a strip of buckskin or faux leather fringe to the outer edge of each glove.
Wear eye glass frames or costume glasses fashioned after Roosevelt's iconic pince-nez eyeglasses, for which the Nobel Prize laureate and Harvard grad with the tenor voice was called "four-eyes" by Dakota Territory residents where Roosevelt was a new kid in town, eager to ranch on the range. For best fit, purchase pince-nez costume glasses that have the adjustable component on the nose piece. Or purchase toy round shaped glasses, remove the handles, and adhere to the bridge of your nose with spirit gum.
Attach a chain or narrow dark ribbon to one of the handles and pin the other end inside a front pocket. Some wore these glasses with a necklace to prevent losing them, but Roosevelt drew the line there.
Roosevelt said after camping in Yosemite National Park: "It was like lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man."
Teddy Bear Prop
Carry or wear a backpack to hold a light brown Teddy bear. Roosevelt didn't. But as a skilled outdoorsman who refused to shoot a bear that had been tied up by a guide, he inspired the first Teddy bear, originally named Teddy's Bear by the candy store owners who created it. Check thrift stores and children's second-hand stores for a Teddy to carry.