Costumes for Murder Mystery Games set in the 1930s

Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.
— Epictetus
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1930s Icons

Greta Garbo. Marlene Dietrich. Bette Davis. Clark Gable. Vivien Leigh. Katherine Hepburn. Joan Crawford. Biggles. Wallis Simpson. Fred Astaire. Ginger Rogers. Louis Armstrong. Mae West.

After the Twenties, our favourite period for a murder mystery party. Boyish is out, curves are back in. Glamour and romance are in. Shoulders are in again (and pads are being used to enhance them). Sleeves can be puffed, gowns can be backless, dresses can be bias-cut. Women want to look like their Hollywood idols. If a star has done it, so can you – which means pretty much anything goes!

  • Now that costume jewellery is easy to get hold of, sparkling is no longer confined to the rich.
  • Zips make dressing (and undressing) faster. It’s now much easier to try on several different outfits before deciding what to wear. Which leads to more choices.
  • Colours tend to be muted (perhaps matching the monochromes on screen).
  • Cardigans are no longer things you only wear when no-one else can see you. Cardigan chic has arrived.
  • Other style choices:
  • Wide-legged trousers with a jacket or blouse and a belt. Culottes. Pill box hats. Turbans.

Costumes for Men in the 1930s

Suits are for every day, not just Sundays. Materials are getting softer and jackets are meant to drape, not cling. Except for mess jackets, which should be tight. And won’t make you look like a waiter - yet.

  • As usual with men’s fashion, changes are more about shifts in emphasis than a major overhaul. So ties are louder, lapels are wider, jackets are double-breasted and waists are higher. Turn-ups are OK, too.
  • But a few radical departures are now catching on. Wearing a polo shirt when not playing polo. Wearing a sweater in public. Wearing a – steady yourselves! - white dinner jacket with a black bow tie.
  • And, same as women, men are now trying to look like the screen idols they most admire. With some help from shoulder pads.
  • As for chaps from poorer backgrounds, there is another big change to report. Hooray for denim!
  • Blazers. Cravats. And tweeds in every colour and weave and weight imaginable: herringbones, checks, diamonds, chevrons, flecks, stripes, marls, woven, piece-dyed – and more…

Murder Mystery Games that can be set in the Thirties

Other Costume Eras