Dress to Kill: Attire Etiquette for Murder Mystery Dinners


    A murder mystery dinner is a type of interactive event where guests come together for an evening of intrigue, deception, and deliciousness. Combining the elements of a dinner party and interactive theater, guests are usually assigned roles of various characters involved in a fictional murder case. They then work together throughout the evening to uncover clues, question each other, and try to resolve who amongst them is the ‘murderer’. The event is often a thrilling blend of lighthearted fun and engaging mystery, providing a unique, memorable experience for all involved.

    One aspect that truly brings a murder mystery dinner to life is the attire. Guests are typically requested or encouraged to dress according to the theme or time period of the event. Just like the setting in a play or a movie, the costumes add a layer of authenticity and help set the stage for the unfolding narrative. Not only do they add to the visual aesthetics, but they also help guests get into character, fully immersing themselves in their roles. This done right, the attire can greatly enhance the overall experience of a murder mystery dinner, making it all the more captivating and unforgettable.

    Dressing Up for Murder Mystery Dinners 

    Dressing up for a murder mystery dinner takes the fun and intrigue of the event to another level. When guests show up in character-specific costumes, it enhances the atmosphere and brings the story to life. Wearing a costume aligned to your character not only allows guests to fully immerse themselves in their roles but also adds to the visual appeal and theatrical flair of the evening. It promotes an increased level of engagement and interaction, making the event more enjoyable and memorable for all involved.

    How to Decide on a Costume Related to Your Character

    Begin with understanding your character’s background, their social status and their personality traits. These insights can inform the type of clothing and accessories your character might typically wear. Factor in the event’s theme or time period, and look for costumes that align with both your character and the setting of the mystery. Don’t shy away from creativity and have fun with your outfit choices.

    How to Incorporate Props and Accessories

    Props and accessories not only enhance your costume but can also serve as conversation starters, helping drive the storyline forward. When incorporating props into your outfit, consider things directly linked with your character. For example, a detective character might carry a magnifying glass, or a wealthy heiress might grace the party with a faux diamond necklace. These additions can provide visual clues to other guests and make the overall murder mystery experience more immersive and entertaining.


    Dressing Down for Murder Mystery Dinners

    Some events might lean towards a more casual ambiance, or you might be playing a character which isn’t explicitly ostentatious. If you feel uncomfortable in a complete costume or if you’re just not a fan of dressing up, it’s perfectly okay to opt for a more subdued look. The goal of a murder mystery dinner is for everyone to have a good time, and that includes feeling at ease in your attire. 


    Consider integrating a few elements of your character into your outfit. For example, if your character is an artist, you could wear a bohemian style shirt or carry a sketchbook as a prop. If you’re a doctor in the plot, a subtle hint could be a medical lapel pin. By using these ‘hints’ in your attire, you register your participation in the theme without appearing out of place or overly casual. 

    Tips for Subtly Expressing your Character 

    If you decide to dress down, here are a few tips to subtly express your character: Choose everyday clothing that aligns with the colors, patterns, or general style of your character. For instance, if you’re playing a character from the ’60s, wearing a tie-dye shirt or a peace-symbol pendant can adequately reflect the era. Another tip could be to use appropriate props that can become conversation starters; and give clues as to who you might be in the mystery plot. 


    The Middle Ground: Business Casual Attire

    For those who may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of developing a complex costume, or are hesitant about dressing down too much, business casual can be a perfect middle ground. This dress code strikes a balance between formal and casual, and it can be easily tailored to suit most themes with the right accessories. Wearing business casual is also a safe bet as it ensures that you are neither underdressed or overdressed for the occasion, allowing for comfort and appropriateness.

    Choosing Pieces that Can Adapt to Any Murder Mystery Theme

    When opting for business casual attire, simplicity and versatility are key. Choose neutral, versatile pieces such as black slacks, pencil skirts, and plain-colored shirts or blouses. These can then be accessorized or paired with theme-specific items to align with the story’s setting. For example, a classic business suit can be adapted to a ’20s theme with the addition of a fedora for men or a string of pearls for women. For a ’70s theme, consider adding a colorful scarf or a peace symbol pendant. Always remember, your attire should be an extension of your character, so even the simplest outfits can be made to work with creative accessories and thematic touches.


    Your attire at a murder mystery dinner plays an integral role in enhancing the overall experience, making the storyline more engaging and memorable for everyone involved. Whether you choose to go all out with a detailed costume, prefer to remain subtle with a dressed-down look, or find a balance with business casual attire, the key lies in aligning your outfit with your character and the event’s theme. The goal of these dinners lies in the fun of the mystery, so let your attire be a comfortable extension of your character that adds to the intrigue.