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Sherlock Holmes costume for Halloween

Updated on March 1, 2015

Sherlock Holmes Costume

Sherlock Holmes is arguably the most famous fictional detective in the world. Created by Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and first published in 1887, Holmes appeared in 4 novels and 56 short stories and has since appeared in numerous films and television series played by such actors as Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett (my favourite), Robert Downey Jr and the fantastic Benedict Cumberbatch.

Being such an instantly recognisable character, Holmes makes a great costume for Halloween. On this lens I have put together some ideas to help you put your costume together.

Photo of Basil Rathbone courtesy of wikimedia commons



So what is it that makes Sherlock Holmes' appearance so memorable? For many people it has to be the deerstalker. The deerstalker is a type of hat with brims at the front and back, and slide flaps that can be fastened on top if desired. As the name suggests, the deerstalker is a hat made for hunting, especially stalking deer, and the twill material is primarily used as camouflage. The brims are designed for protection from the sun, with the flaps being there to give protection to the ears from the cold and wind.

Photo of Sherlock Holmes' deerstalker courtesy of Cyrillic.- wikimedia commons


Did you know Sherlock Holmes is never actually described as wearing a deerstalker by Arthur Conan Doyle in any of the original stories? He is however occasionally mentioned as wearing a 'cloth cap' or an 'ear-flapped travelling cap'.

Sherlock Holmes pipe and deerstalker
Sherlock Holmes pipe and deerstalker

Detective's pipe

Almost as recognisable as the Deerstalker, the pipe is another vital piece of the costume, with Holmes regularly being seen smoking it as he arranges the clues in his head. According to the books, Holmes can identify over 140 different types of tobacco from the ash alone.

Photo of deerstalker and pipe courtesy of Alterego - wikimedia commons

Magnifying glass
Magnifying glass

Magnifying glass

A staple part of most detective costumes, the magnifying glass adds the finishing touch to your costume. Sherlock often uses forensic science when solving crimes and regularly studies the crime scene with his magnifying glass to find clues the naked eye might miss.

Photo of magnifying glass courtesy of Julo - wikimedia commons

Magnifying glasses on Amazon

Jacobson Hat Company Magnifying Glass, 7.5"
Jacobson Hat Company Magnifying Glass, 7.5"

A great costume magnifying glass for your Halloween detective costume.


Favourite Sherlock Holmes prop

What is your favourite part of the Sherlock Holmes costume?

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Sherlock Holmes films and tv series

Try out some of these great films and TV shows to get you in the mood.

Sherlock: Season 1
Sherlock: Season 1

The BBC series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Except for the odd appearance of the deer stalker, this Sherlock doesn't dress in the traditional Holmes way, but who cares? This series is fantastic. A definite must see.

Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes

The recent Hollywood movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law


Notable actors to play Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the 'most portrayed movie character' having been played by more than 70 actors in more than 200 films. Here are some of the more notable ones:

1. The name of the first actor to play Holmes is unknown. He appeared in a short, 30 second silent film entitled 'Sherlock Holmes Baffled' in 1900.

2. Clive Brook was the first actor to play Holmes in a sound film, 'The Return of Sherlock Holmes' in 1929.

3. Basil Rathbone appeared in 14 Hollywood Holmes films between 1939 and 1946.

4. Peter Cushing was the first Holmes to be filmed in colour in Hammer's 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' in 1959.

5. Roger Moore starred in 'Sherlock Holmes in New York' in 1976.

6. Nicholas Rowe played a youthful Holmes in Steven Spielberg's 'Young Sherlock Holmes' in 1985.

7. Jeremy Brett, my favourite Holmes, played the detective over four series for ITV in the late 80s and early 90s.

8. Benedict Cumberbatch plays a modern day version of Holmes in BBC's 'Sherlock'.

9. Jonny Lee Miller plays Sherlock Holmes in New York alongside a female Dr Watson (Lucy Liu) in the TV series 'Elementary'.

10. The latest film reincarnation is Robert Downey Jr. alongside Jude Law as Dr Watson.

Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series

Jeremy Brett stars in this great TV series. Brett is probably my favourite traditional Holmes and the person I picture when reading the books.


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