Parties with a Twist of Murder!
Parties with a Twist of Murder!
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Pirate Murder Mystery Party Costumes

Ideas for Buying & DIY

Pirate costumes from two different customer parites
Group photo for our pirate murder mystery test party

Hosting a Pirate Murder Mystery - Other Helpful Ideas

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Costume ideas for each of the characters in our pirate murder mystery: Pirates, Plunder and Murder. Ideas include buying ready-made outfits and DIY outfits. Many ideas could also be useful for other pirating parties. Enjoy me hearties!

You and your guests don't have to dress up to enjoy the murder mystery. Some guests just adapt what they can find at home. (See a few general tips for adapting items you already have; more DIY tips are given for each individual character.). Other guests raid charity shops or make or buy an entire costume; the choice is yours.

But Yo Ho Ho, me hearties. There IS a Best Costume award - and many find that fancy dress helps transport you all back into those swashbuckling times and hugely adds to the fun of the murder mystery party. Some hosts even buy an assortment of pirate party accessories for their guests to wear - for example, bandanas, eye patches, hooks, toy weapons etc.


Costume Ideas for Each Character:

   Fearsome male pirate - Ruthless Ragin' Redd

   Fearsome female pirate - Cutthroat Kat

   First Mate - Crazy Karl

   Drunk pirates turned tavern owners - One-eyed Shark and Eye-patch Snake

   Swashbuckling pirate - Handsome Hugh

   Glamorous, sassy female pirate - Maroon-'em Mary

   Serving wench - Flirty Gertie

   Governer's daughter and niece - Lady Dorothy and Lady Desiree

   Guardians of the Seas - Tempest and Torrent

   Admiral - Rear Admiral Percy FitzGeorge

   English Parson - Parson Perry FitzGeorge


A Few General Tips 

Costume Ideas for Each Character

"Fearsome" Male Pirate Costume Ideas

Game character = Ruthless Ragin' Redd. Redd is one of the most ruthless and bloodthirsty pirates your guests would prefer not to meet! His outfit should reflect his name. He was Billy Blood's First Mate but has now assumed the role of captain following Billy's sad demise. He can therefore dress as a Captain or as a First Mate.

Ruthless male pirate costumes
Ruthless Ragin' Redd character outfits: left two photos are actual parties and right two photos are possible alternative looks

If purchasing:

Blackbeard, Cutthroat, Ruthless or Plundering pirate costume. Alternatively, reflect Redd's previous or new position with a First Mate or Captain outfit. A TOY (for safety) sword or cutlass is suggested for an optional (no contact) fight.


Blacks, blood reds and greys are ideal colors to reflect Redd's ruthless, fearsome image. Stripes are also great.

Alternatively, take inspiration from Jean Leon Gerome Ferris's illustration of the capture of one of the most fearsome pirates ever to sail the Caribbean: Blackbeard (aka Edward Teach). Unlike the black outfits sold by many fancy dress companies, this shows Blackbeard wearing a blood-red coat over loose cream trousers. The illustration doesn't show this, but Blackbeard would also strike fear into the heart of his foes by setting lit pieces of fuse into his long hair and beard so that the smoke would give him a demonic appearance. (For safety reasons, this is not recommended for a party!)

The 1718 capture of Blackbeard; illustrated by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

"Fearsome" Female Pirate Costume Ideas

Game character = Cutthroat Kat. Cutthroat Kat prides herself on being as vicious as any man. She is also the captain of her own pirate sloop: The Scurvy Skull. Beyond that, guests are free to make their outfit as glamorous or as practical as they choose.

Possible fancy dress for Cutthroat Kat
Cutthroat Kat outfits from 3 different parties

Cutthroat Kat has a TOY (for safety) cutlass for an optional (no contact) fight in Round 3.

If purchasing:

Choose a female pirate, pirate captain or swashbuckling costume. Then add multiple TOY (for safety) weapons and an optional fake scar or two to transform your character into a fearsome fighter worthy of the name Cutthroat Kat.


Alternatively, you may wish to take inspiration from two notorious female pirates who operated in the Caribbean: Anne Bonny and Mary Reid. This colorized engraved print by Benjamin Cole shows that these two women chose clothes that were appropriate for a male-dominated world. Their outfits were functional rather than glamorous.

Anne Bonny and Mary Reid: a colourised engraved print by Benjami Cole

First Mate

Character = Crazy Karl. Karl is an optional game character in the larger game versions; Karl can be played by a male or female. Crazy Karl is the First Mate of The Scurvy Skull and is as dangerous as the name suggests.

If purchasing:

Pirate First Mate costume.


Drunk Pirate (Tavern-Keeper) Fancy Dress Ideas

Game characters: One-eyed Shark and Eye-Patch Snake. Both Shark and Snake are former privateers who lost an eye while raiding a ship. They have "retired" to run a tavern in the fictional pirate haven of Port Plunder. They are former "fierce" fighters who are now rather too fond of rum and are frequently drunk. They can be played by male or female guests.

Drunken pirate fancy dress outfits; from left: Shark, Snake, Shark
Three costumes for Shark and Snake taken from parties.

As the names suggest, both characters have lost an eye so an eye-patch is a recommended prop.

If purchasing:

Most forms of pirate fancy dress would be appropriate, including deckhand. (Shark and Snake never became captains.) An optional rum bottle or tankard shows their liking for drink. If played by females, a tavern wench outfit could be great.


"Handsome" Pirate Fancy Dress Ideas

Game character: Handsome Hugh is a dashing, swashbuckling captain who believes he is irresistible to womenfolk. He is the captain of the Buccaneer Bounty. He also owns Squawks the parrot.

Swashbuckling/ handsome pirate fancy dress
Three costumes for Handsome Hugh taken from parties.

Hugh has an optional toy parrot and a bandage around an arm due to a previous duel fought with Rear Admiral. A TOY (for safety) sword or cutlass is suggested for an optional (no contact) fight during the game.

If buying:

Try a swashbuckling or pirate captain outfit.


Glamorous, Sassy Female Pirate Fancy Dress Ideas

Game character: Maroon-'em Mary. Mary is Billy's not-so-grieving widow who is currently wanting to marry Husband Number 6. Menfolk beware: Mary may be devastatingly attractive, but her heart is made of pure flint.

If buying:

Choose a sassy, sexy or elegant pirate outfit. A tavern wench outfit would also be great.


Serving Wench Fancy Dress Ideas

Game character: Flirty Gertie. As her name suggests, Gertie flirts with anyone and everyone.

Tavern wench outfits (Flirty Gertie and Maroon-'em Mary)
Flirty Gertie and Maroon-'em Mary pose in front of ship (left photo) and as part of a group photo (middle photo)

If purchasing:

Choose a tavern wench outfit. Alternatively, choosea sassy, sexy or elegant pirate outfit.


Governer's Daughter and Niece Fancy Dress Ideas

Game characters = Lady Dorothy Howard-Herbert and Lady Desiree

In the early 18th century, aristocratic women wore a mantua gown: a loose-fitting long underdress over which was draped a long embroidered “coat” with elbow-length cuffed sleeves and a long overskirt and train.

Outfits for the governor's daughter
Left four photos are taken from actual parties; right two photos show illustrations of possible outfits

If purchasing:

A Baroque costume is ideal although they tend to be expensive and hard to source. Rococo and Victorian ballgowns are not quite the right era but are easier to source and can be cheaper. For example, Bukine offer a Victorian ball gown which is available via Amazon. A Marie Antoinette outfit is from a slightly earlier era but it is often a mantua gown.  Alternatively, Fun Shack offer a gold medieval queen outfit that is similar to a mantua gown.  


Guardians of the Seas

Game characters: Tempest and Torrent. They claim to have magical powers over the wind and the waves and they also claim to have the ability to see the past and to foretell the future. Tempest and Torrent can be played by males or females.

Guardians of the Seas costumes
Outfits worn by Torrent (left) and by Tempest (right two photos)

If purchasing:

Choose an outfit with a suggestion of magic: gypsy, mystic, fortune teller, Voodoo, witch doctor or pirate ghost. A "Day of the Dead" costume might also work. In addition, Tempest has a seashell and Torrent has a sea stone (or ordinary stone) to help with their "magic"; both have a toy monkey.


Admiral Fancy Dress Ideas

Game character = Rear Admiral Percy FitzGeorge

Four superb versions of a Rear Admiral costume
Four superb versions of a Rear Admiral costume; in two parties, the Rear Admiral won Best Costume Award!

Admiral needs a TOY (for safety) sword for optional (contact-free) "fights" in Round 4 and the Whodunnit round. He also has a bandage around arm due to a previous duel fought with Handsome Hugh.

If purchasing:

Admiral costume. A Lord Nelson outfit is from a slightly later period but it would also be possible. A Pirate Commander Costume (available via Amazon) gives an approximate version of the jacket and cravat. 


English Parson Fancy Dress Ideas

Game character = Parson Perry FitzGeorge

Parson outfit

In the 18th century, English parsons wore similar clothes to (poor) gentlemen. Colours tended to be dark. However, as Parson had been sent to the Caribbean by Lady Amelia Russell, some guests prefer to add a touch of glamour to the outfit.

If buying:

18th-century male costume in dark colours.  Rococo and Victorian costumes are not quite the right era but are acceptable.


If you wish to take inspiration from photos of an 18th-century parson, then there are various photos of Parson Woodforde online. For example:

Parson Woodforde - given as an example of how an English Parson dressed

Mr Collins (Pride and Prejudice) is an example of a clergyman from a slightly later period.


It's fun to give pets their own costume too.

Pirate costume for Rosa the dog
Rosa the dog

General: Some Simple Ideas to Adapt Items You Already Have for DIY Pirate Outfits

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Important Disclaimers

These ideas are provided for your inspiration only. Any recipes or recipe ideas should be tested before your party. Ideas for party recipes, decorations or costumes should be adapted as you wish. It is YOUR responsibility to follow any necessary safety precautions.