It has been a few weeks since the release of Stranger Things season 3 on Netflix. Many are still marveling over this season, taking in the frightening events and wondering if this truly is the end. The costume design in this season stands out unlike any other, fully composed of 80s relics, nodding to the era of overdramatized fashion. Complete with neons, funky patterns, and high waistlines, the directors and costume designers did not disappoint with a retro 80s feel. The amazing thing about this show is that every single detail has an intended purpose. Without a doubt, the hair, makeup, and clothing have evolved since season 1. The summer of 1985 is full of sunshine and rainbows—but only briefly. This season was fueled with bolder, brighter, and funkier styles, heavily contrasting with its horror.
The creators were able to translate iconic 80s trends into the modern t.v. era, leaving all of us drooling over the execution of style each character possessed. Previous seasons encapsulated soft 80s frills, keeping with the gloom of the plot and the endless trauma the characters faced. The third season stepped away from this softness and ran full speed into 80s pop culture, reflecting an era that pulls older viewers into places of nostalgia.
The show brought in new elements, placing unique personality into each transitioning adolescent, partaking in the kids' last summer before high school. The characters face relational barriers, drifting friendships, and supernatural implications. This season is centered around fashion, for the show's main setting takes place in the Starcourt Mall. Eleven takes a big step into society by engaging in the craze, shopping with max, and getting ice cream—all normal things teenagers do to pass time. Despite these normal interactions we are used to seeing on t.v., character development is essential in this show, as the real actors are growing up before our very eyes. The costume design we see in this season reveals newfound personality as well as vibrancy, much needed in one of Stranger Things' darkest seasons yet.
Each character shined in their own, subtle way. Eleven begins to find and develop her personality, portrayed through the clothes Max helps her pick out. Hopper strives to dress more impressively in a patterned pastel button-down he had specifically delivered to him. Dustin sports his camp attire and funny t-shirts. Max embraces her California roots, wearing bright colors and 70s inspired, beachy outfits.
The most interesting costume choice was that of Will Byers, who was dressed in outdated clothing, clearly out of step with the rest of his friends. The show's costume designer, Amy Parris, states that this was well-intended due to Will's inability to move on from their childhood and accept their transitional course into their teenage years. Because of his trauma in previous seasons, part of his childhood has been stripped from him, explaining a lot. He holds onto that childhood and it is reflected through the tight-fitting, bland fashions he sports.
Other characters take on flashy patterns and bright colors. Nancy and Johnathan dress more professionally, accepting their adulthood. Nancy faces a lot of workplace sexism and eventually has to take down her ex-boss in a hospital. This too was well-intended as the scene takes place while she wears a bright dress and heels, contrasting with her ability to defeat the man that put limits on her journalism work (and tried to kill her and her boyfriend). Steve and newly introduced Robin never really have a costume change, sticking to their work uniforms. When looking at the adorable sailor outfits in detail, you will notice Robin's punk-like accessories and sketched-up red converse. The similar-but-different uniforms create a significant pairing in the new season.
Many stores have copied clothing items from this season, giving consumers the chance to own pieces they see on screen. A series heavily influenced by the pop culture of the 80s is now influencing today's pop culture. H&M released a Stranger Things inspired line, as well as Levi's, Target, and Hot Topic. It will not be a surprise if new trends in the future are also influenced by the styles seen on the show.
Clearly, costume design does more than just make characters look t.v. ready. It communicates their personality and helps create the entire setting of the show. Season 3 of Stranger Things successfully conveyed a summer in the 80s, one that will be remembered by viewers and set the bar high for seasons to (hopefully) come.