Costumes for Murder Mystery Games set in the Victorian Era

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Clothes are … the furniture of the mind made visible.
— James Laver

Victorian Icons

Queen Victoria. Sherlock Holmes. Charles Dickens. Florence Nightingale. Mary Seacole. Oscar Wilde. Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Elizabeth Gaskell. The Pre-Raphaelites. Flashman. W.G. Grace. Madame Bovary. Jane Eyre. Heathcliff. Gibson Girls.

For Victorian women, being delicate and ornamental matters more than being able to move. Being able to breath is a luxury. Corsets, of course, are supposed to go with everything. But only because lycra hasn’t been invented yet. Do yourself a big favour – pretend it has!

  • Your hat or bonnet can be small to show off that chignon or those ringlets. Or it can be the size of flowerpots. And easily mistaken for one.
  • Poorer women might wear a calico dress, a petticoat, a woollen shawl, a cotton blouse, a hat and some hobnail boots.
  • Other style choices:
  • Long gloves. Big, feathery fans. Lots of jewellery. Lace. Frills. Puffed-up shoulders and sleeves. Jacket bodices, worn tight.
  • Skirts are as much architecture (crinolines, hoops, bustles) as items of clothing.
  • Ankles are kept covered.
  • Multiple layers and huge swathes of fabric are topped off by shawls the size of small bedspreads

Costumes for Victorian Men

Stick to black or white (or grey). A white shirt with a cravat and black tail-coat or frock coat and waistcoat will do fine. In at the waist is good. With all that on, you certainly won’t get cold…

If you must have a bit of colour, put on a fancy waistcoat.

  • Trousers are tight in all areas and high-waisted.
  • Collars are as stiff as your upper lip should be.
  • Nearly every gentleman will have some connection to some branch of the army, so feel free to wear a uniform.
  • A top hat if you are posh, a bowler or flat cap if you’re not.
  • A mighty beard. Mutton chops.
  • Collarless shirts and sturdy boots (if you’re hard-working and poor).
  • Other style choices:
  • A smoking jacket. A blazer. A three-piece lounge suit, preferably in Harris Tweed (meant for “lounging” in). 

Murder Mystery Games that can be set in the Victorian era

Other Costume Eras