Hosting or attending a murder mystery party is always thrilling, and half the fun lies in creating the perfect outfit for your mysterious character. Choosing the right attire can enhance your experience, making you feel part of the story. Whether you’re gearing up for a themed mystery game or a more “Costume Casual” gathering, this guide will help you navigate your outfit options. So, let’s delve into the world of murder mystery party attire so you’ll be the best-dressed detective, sleuth or suspect at the murder mystery party!

Murder Mystery Party Costume Ideas and Tips

Dressing for Specific Mystery Party Themes

Murder mystery parties often revolve around specific themes, and dressing the part can immerse you in the experience. Here are some of our best-selling murder mystery themes and ideas on what guests usually wear:

1920s Gangster and Flapper Mystery Party Game

Roaring 20s Costume Ideas:

Men: Pinstripe suits, fedoras, and two-tone shoes.

Women: Flapper dresses, feathered headbands, and long pearl necklaces.

A flapper and a gangster in a speakeasy during prohibition in the roaring 20s

These are the traditional costumes, and are easily found in any costume store or on Amazon. But keep in mind that not all roaring 20s mystery parties are based in speakeasies. For example, The Mysterious Affair at Stirling Hall has a more Downton Abbey feel, which also takes place in the twenties, but would lead to very different outfits. Another example is The Sly Mr. Foxx – our nod to The Great Gatsby. Those attending a private party at Gatsby’s mansion would dress very differently than a flapper or gangster in a back-alley speakeasy. But don’t worry – we have a whole article on how to choose a 1920s costume to help you with your roaring 20s costume ideas!

Explore our 1920s-themed murder mysteries for parties!

Masquerade Ball Murder Mystery Party

Masquerade Ball Murder Mystery Party Costume Example

Masquerade Costume Ideas:

Men: Formal tuxedos or dark suits with masquerade masks.

Women: Elegant gowns with intricate masquerade masks.

Masquerade party costume ideas will vary, depending on the era and location in which the mystery game is set. For example, Murder in Venice takes place in any era the host chooses, so it could be modern or hundreds of years ago. The distinction will change how you will dress. Also, Murder at Mardi Gras will have very different masks than Murder in Venice!

Discover our Masquerade Ball party theme suggestions!

A Pirate Themed Murder Mystery Party Game

Pirate Costume Ideas:

Men: Pirate hats, eye patches, and rugged shirts.

Women: Corset tops, skirts, and pirate boots.

Pirate theme party costume ideas

Check out our Pirate-themed murder mysteries games!

Western Themed Murder Mystery Party Game

Western Murder Mystery Party Costume Ideas

Old West Costume Ideas:

Men: Cowboy hats, boots, denim and bandanas.

Women: Western dresses or skirts with cowboy boots, corsets and skirts with low heels.

Once again, how you put together your costume for a western murder mystery party game depends on the era, and the amount of creativity you want to put into your costume. Using Murder at the Cherry Creek Saloon as an example, there are a few ways the female characters can go with costumes. The guys have it easy here – cowboys are cowboys, but women could be saloon girls, cowgirls or wear a more conservative dress from the era.

Explore our Wild West theme parties!

Costume Casual Murder Mystery Games

When the theme isn’t obvious, or you’re hosting a “Costume Casual” murder mystery game, the dress code can be more flexible and tailored to your party’s unique vibe. If you’re a guest, ask the host for any specific costume guidelines. Hosts, make sure to communicate your vision clearly to your guests so they know what you would like everyone to wear to your mystery party!

Choose outfits that can be easily adapted with accessories. For instance, a black dress can be styled as a glamorous outfit or a gothic ensemble with the right accessories.

Balancing Time, Effort, and Budget for Your Costume

Creating the perfect murder mystery costume doesn’t have to break the bank or take too much time. Here are some tips to find the right balance:

Budget-Friendly Options: Thrift stores, online marketplaces, and DIY options can be cost-effective. Plus, scouring local vintage shops for the perfect flapper dress or thrift stores for that perfectly-hideous 1980s prom dress for Murder at the 1980s Prom is a lot of fun!

Investment Pieces: For those who love to go all out, investing in a high-quality costume can be worth it, especially if you attend multiple events. We throw a lot of large events and love our cosplay community who throw mysteries a few times a year. We all invest in some great pieces that can work for multiple mystery events. Etsy is a great place to look for investment pieces, as well as your local vintage shops.

Mix and Match: Combine budget pieces with a few high-quality accessories to create a standout look.

For a variety of costume pieces, check out these options on Amazon: Affordable costumes on Amazon.

Additional Tips and Tricks

Personal Touches: Add personal touches to your costume to make it unique. Time and time again we have seen that the element that really makes a costume stand out are the little added touches. Here are some examples:

  • a pocket watch latched to and tucked inside a vest pocket
  • really fantastic era-specific shoes (you have no idea how often we talk about shoes at our mystery parties!)
  • an extravagant hair piece
  • A prop (our Steampunk Murder clients really lead the show in this!)
  • Make-up – this is for all genders, and can really take a costume up a level – for example, eyeliner (GUYliner ;)) for all pirate-themed mystery parties!

Comfort is Key: Ensure your costume is comfortable, especially if you’ll be wearing it for several hours. Think flats, ladies!

Shop Locally and Online: Local costume shops and online stores like Amazon have a wide range of options.

Dressing up for a murder mystery party is all about embracing the theme and having fun. Whether you go all out with an elaborate costume or keep it simple and stylish, the key is to enjoy the process and let your outfit enhance the overall experience. Don’t forget to explore the various themes on for more inspiration and get ready to be the best-dressed detective or suspect at your next night of mystery!