Let’s take a look at what it takes to cosplay a plague doctor.
Plague Doctor Cosplay Costumes of 2021
You want to get creepy and give people a bit of a scare with your cosplay? You want to get topical and cosplay a character archetype that touches upon current events while also drawing from history? Look no further than the plague doctor, a role and look from the distant past that still looks quite striking in the modern day. Let’s take a look at what it takes to cosplay a plague doctor.
What is a Plague Doctor?
The plague doctor was a physician in Europe who treated patients infected by the bubonic plague during epidemics, especially during the 14th to 17th centuries. While they were supposed to give hope to the sick with their presence, the horror brought on by the appearance of their dress has endured and is now seen as both historical curiosity and pop culture phenomenon.
Most plague doctors treated patients of all social classes, but especially the poor who could not afford conventional medical treatment. The clothes and implements, including the unique crow mask, are a result of medical knowledge of that time, especially the miasma theory which states that disease is spread through bad smells. As we know now through modern science, this association was made through correlation, which doesn’t necessarily establish causation.
Their medical treatments included blood-letting and other remedies that are meant to “rebalance the humors.” Aside from treating plague patients, their job was also to record plague deaths. This is why we know a good bit about past plague epidemics, including the Black Death.
Plague doctors in that form became ultimately obsolete once the true cause of bubonic plague and germ theory became understood and widely proliferated. Nowadays, the recognizable silhouette of the plague doctor is closely associated with both horror and history.
How to Look Like a Plague Doctor
The plague doctor’s most distinct features were their crow mask, ankle-length overcoat, and wide-brimmed hat, mostly in black. Gloves and boots are also worn to make sure that no part of the doctor’s body is exposed. The outfit was designed to function like the hazmat suits of today.
The mask was usually in white with glass opening for the eyes and a “beak” made to look like a bird’s beak. The beak was meant to be filled with sweet or strong-smelling substances like lavender, camphor, herbs, and so on to stave off the miasma that was thought to cause disease.
Plague Doctor Cosplay Variations
The plague doctor cosplay is meant to evoke a quiet menace with its alien appearance, familiar through its history while also somewhat inhuman with its bird-like appearance. When making or searching for a plague doctor costume, it is advised to have fabrics that are breathable whenever possible to prevent overheating. After all, you likely won’t be wearing this to keep the plague out like the original plague doctors.
Find The Best Plague Doctor Dostumes of 2021
The Plague Doctor Costume
As mentioned, the plague doctor wears a black overcoat that goes from the head all the way down to the ankles, thus covering the whole body. On the head is a black wide-brimmed hat that may have a strap or some other mechanism for keeping it on the head.
The mask usually comes in white, with glass over the eyeholes. To make it more menacing, you may use tinted circular lenses so your eyes won’t be visible. The beak is styled to look like a bird’s beak, thus adding to the anthropomorphic look of the costume.
For better period accuracy, you may want to wear dress shoes in similar style to what traditional puritans wear. You may also carry a caduceus staff (or a rod of Asclepius) to further evoke the historical drawings of plague doctors, further denoting the status of the plague doctor as a medical practitioner of old.