Stranger Style: Why ‘80s Nostalgia Is Set To Rule Your Wardrobe
Breaking down the style from season two.
Breaking down the style from season two.
Text: Maxwell N. Burnstein
Stranger Things has resurrected 1984 and a fashion movement in the right-side up. At the helm of Netflix’s pop-culture takeover is newly appointed costume designer Kim Wilcox whose social analysis of the ‘80’s has driven the season-two style revolution.
"I had quite a dive back into some of the teen magazines at the time," said Wilcox of her exploration through Tiger Beats, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan to high-school yearbooks to authenticate the allure of the 1980’s. Realized through an extensive budget that let Wilcox and her team build an archive of sourced vintage to new referential items the team was "to trash it or destroy it if we need to for a scene."
The personalities of each character bring an aspect of the era to life through the styling, outfitted to show their evolution in the series, while influencing the stranger style of the viewers.
Wrapped in Chief Jim Hoppers collection of vintage finds like the red plaid of early cabin scenes, our heroine Eleven has matured from the pink blood stained dress of season one with a more relaxed look. "Her clothes for Season 2 are really a reflection of this new person that's taking care of her and where that person would be finding clothes,” said stylist Wilcox of supplementing for Mike’s old winter coat.
Elevated in the seventh episode from denim-overalls and a corduroy jacket while unearthing her counter-part [Sister], El takes on new strength and a badass outfit to confront the upside-down. Slicking back her tight curls, with coal-lined eyes and an oversized blazer felt “more pop culture but still punk," said Wilcox of El’s signature ‘80s style.
A somber color palette is used for Mike in his post-mourning process of Eleven. Wilcox use of color theory is made evident, "Mike is probably a little bit quieter color wise. We wanted to reflect his mood a little bit.” “He's not the same kid in some ways, emotionally, that we met in Season 1," said Wilcox of his relaxed looks, pairing a bomber jacket, some variant of striped polo shirts, and decorative wool sweaters with denim for his journey to stop the upside-down.
From the opening scene in her blue striped cable knit sweater when her brother Mike breaks into her piggy bank, Nancy can be spotted in up to eight sweaters this season. Variations from the purple cardigan in study-hall, her Halloween costume adorned with bow and cuffs in referencing Lana from the ‘80’s hit Risky Business to the bright turquoise argyle for that discreet meet-up in the park to talk about Barb. Wilcox wanted her “ journey to be reflected in the costumes and for that journey to be reflected in the costumers as well.”
Punched with satire and a smart-mouth, Dustin’s toothy grin emerges as a lead this season. His role as the brain of ‘the party’ is marked in style, ”there's a periodic table t-shirt that we thought was fun for him in Episode 1” said Wilcox of his recurring graphic t-shirts, dinosaur hoodie and signature baseball cap, "he's our little science geek, but he is growing up."
The tight fit of heritage brand denim is realized on Billy, a California transplant whose Camero-riding bad attitude pays tribute to Rob Lowe, Johnny Depp and Bruce Springsteen. "We haven't really seen this kind of character come to Hawkins before,” Wilcox said of studying ‘80’s classics like St. Elmo's Fire to Band of Outsiders to fashion the new import. Adorned with an earring, aviators, button-down shirt, denim-on-denim, worn in brown leather jackets and a coifed mullet, we’re feeling Billy just like Nancy’s mom.
Spitfire Mad Max, not to be called Maxine, brings the hang-ten vibe of ‘80’s skater culture from the West Coat. The stepsister of Billy helps “riff off the Ocean Pacific” style set forth by Wilcox for the sibling’s invasion on Hawkins. Max’s outspoken personality was paired with beach-inspired brands in zip-up jackets, bright yellow pullover hoodies, and green vans.
Joe Keery is the breakout star of this season, reviving coiffed gravity-defying ‘80’s hair A gentle coif that anchors the alpha-male turned mentor in skin-tight Levi 501’s, Kerry said “for the most part, the costume that I wore this year I was super into. I wear pretty tight jeans in real life."