SFW Costumes: Agents and Detectives

This is the fourth in a series of posts about Safe For Work (SFW) costumes.


The Spy or Secret Agent: The most famous spy of them all is probably secret service agent 007 James BondMission Impossible, Men in Black, The Americans, X-Files and Jack Bauer in 24 are a few more easily recognizable pop-culture spies.

The Detective: The X-Files, Carmen Sandiego, Law and OrderHercule Poirot (Agatha Christie novels), Dick Tracy and Sherlock Holmes are among the best-known pop-culture detectives.

The Costume

The most easily recognizable costumes for both Spies and Detectives utilize the following elements:


The Suit

Spy: A proper underworld spy has a classy black suit with clean lines and an expensive label. It is an outfit designed to both impress and intimidate.


Detective: All good detectives wear a passable corporate-style suit. No expensive labels, just a clear I-am-in-control-here image. It may be wrinkled and well-worn, but it never fails to express that in-charge attitude all police officers and detectives have.

Gender: This is the only gender-specific aspect to this costume. Women spies are frequently portrayed wearing suit-dresses with high-fashion heels. Women detectives are frequently more practical, but skirts and heels are sometimes used to portray these characters as well.

In short, any dark-colored suit and matching shoes will work.


The Hat
All spies and detectives know the classic fedora is essential headwear. It covers the eyes while cutting a mysterious, yet classy, silhouette. James Bond and Jack Bauer may choose to forgo the classic spy hat, but Hercule Poirot, Dick Tracy, and Carmen Sandiego are rarely seen without it.

The Coat

Most spies choose to wear a long black trench coat to match the classy black suit. Detectives tend to go with plain, practical brown, gray or tweed (Sherlock Holmes). A few radicals may toss away tradition and go with bright red (Carmen Sandiego) or brilliant yellow (Dick Tracy). Be forewarned! While bright colors are fun, they are impractical for slipping away into a crowd or a thick fog.


The Badge or ID

Tucked into the inside pocket of that trench coat is a badge or ID, proving the holder has the right to ask questions, break into buildings and sneak around dark alleys.

The Sunglasses

What self-respecting spy or detective would even consider leaving the house without a dark pair of shades? They are necessary during those daytime high-speed car chases and absolutely essential when moving through a crowd incognito. Therefore, all detectives and spies have a pair of sunglasses handy – and they must be striking and very VERY dark.


The Office Halloween Party

Now, let’s take a look at this costume within the context of an office party. The necessities:

  1. Suit
  2. Fedora
  3. Trench Coat
  4. ID/Badge
  5. Sunglasses




If you work in a large corporation with a standard business professional dress-code, chances are very good you already wear most of these things to work. In fact, some people may be able to answer the question “what’s your costume?” by simply smiling, turning to a nearby bartender and saying “Martini, shaken, not stirred.” If this reference leaves you confused, I recommend watching an old James Bond film.

Even if these are not a standard part of your own work attire, chances are good you have an old ‘interview suit’ hanging in a closet – add a few more items from the list above and you have a complete costume!


Amazon.com costume lists:

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