The return of "Stranger Things 3" is imminent, which means mayhem will again descend upon Hawkins — or maybe it never left. This time around, the core teens (and the few aware adults) will face an even more life-altering event in the small Indiana town as school lets out in 1985, because as Mike (Finn Wolfhard) says in the official trailer: "We're not kids anymore."
Two years have passed since Mike, Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown) and co. first faced the Demogorgon in the Upside Down, and even adolescence that doesn't involve otherworldly monsters and evil scientists can be a tumultuous time. But the fun part is that the self-discovery and life change inevitably shows through via wardrobe or, in this case, the costumes, which were created by the new designer on board, Amy Parris.
Unlike the preceding seasons, the third installment of the Duffer Brothers's series ushers in the hot, carefree days of summer. That means bye dark plaids and baggy layers and hello bright colors, crazy prints, bold accessories and a fair amount of skin — namely the hot moms of Hawkins in '80s swimwear at the community pool and Billy (Dacre Montgomery) in his lifeguard trunks.
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The teens of Hawkins congregate at a very mid-'80s, pre-internet mecca: The brand new, shiny Starcourt Mall, featuring thriving retail staples of the era. Claire's, Gap, JCPenney and an off-brand Glamour Shots all make for a fabulous shopping makeover montage, plus really fun people watching in the background.
"Everybody gets a big necklace or a big earring because the accessories were so big," Parris says, over the phone, about dressing the hundreds of extras. "The minute you put a white earring on somebody, they're in the '80s."
From Eleven's new colorful look to Hopper's '80s icon-inspired tropical shirt, the costumes (and fashion nostalgia) in "Stranger Things 3" are next level this season — as we can assume the threat to Hawkins and its denizens will be, too. But no plot spoilers here, just a costume preview from Parris, broken down by character.
Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown)
Although adoptive dad Hopper (David Harbour) did an on-point job accessorizing Eleven for the Snow Ball the year prior, he's mostly dressing the telekinetic teen in what looks to be his old (or thrifted) men's oversize tees and plaid shirts. Thankfully Max (Sadie Sink) is around to introduce her to the retail wonders of the mall.
"You just try things on until you find something that feels like you," says Max, guiding Eleven, who lands on the era's popular colorful, abstract graphic shirts, styled with suspenders worn every which way, little belts and a bright scrunchie. (Presumably Hopper prefers this aesthetic to her season two "MTV punk" phase.)
"The mall rats of the '80s were wearing these criss-cross belts and accessories were a huge thing. She just gets excited to pile it all on and it's colors and prints that she's not worn before," says Parris about the vibrant looks that catch Eleven's eye at Starcourt. The costume designer used a mix of vintage and rented pieces, but custom-built most of Eleven's shirts because of the need for multiples — you know, thanks to nosebleeds, monster goo and all.
"It was a chance for her to choose her own look and guide her own fashion sense," adds Parris.
Max (Sadie Sink)
"She's still got her sun-soaked California vibe," says Parris of last season's new girl, who moved to Hawkins during autumnal layering weather. Now Max gets to bust out her SoCal wardrobe: sunny yellow tanks and shorts, plus a collection of rainbow T-shirts that would make Eleanor Shellstrop jealous. "Her stripes were smaller and more muted [last season]. Now they're a little bolder, a little brighter, a little bigger," explains Parris.
Max also wears the the cutest denim shorts, like mid-length cut-offs (above), a light wash and belted paper-bag-waist pair, which Parris custom-designed — again in multiples — based off a vintage pattern. "I found a pair of shorts in a thrift store that had a great, interesting front yoke with double buttons," she says, about recreating the hard-to-find and specific to the '80s denim detailing custom-fit for Max. "It's summer and this is her prime."
Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Will (Noah Schnapp)
Lucas and Max are now official, and it comes through in the former's wardrobe — not just in his beach-y tanks, tropical prints and summery drawstring shorts. Keep an eye out for a sleeveless graphic T-shirt, covered in characters that read "Karate Kid" in Japanese, which speaks to Max's crush on '80s teen dream Ralph Macchio. "Lucas would probably wear that in front of her to be like, 'look, I can be like him, too,'" says Parris.
The more affluent Mike, now progressing into a coordinated preppy aesthetic, is also one-half of a couple. He's more interested in making out to '80s ballads with Eleven than playing Dungeons & Dragons with his childhood bros — much to the dismay of Will (Noah Schnapp), who's not adjusting well to the change. Their divergent paths show through in their looks.
"We made Mike feel a little more mature," says Parris. "He's got more solid polo shirts — he still has some stripes and patterns — but his outfits are not as juvenile or as young-looking as Will's." She intentionally dressed the latter in more child-like, wider stripes, plus ill-fitting shirts to show that he's growing out of some pieces that mom Joyce doesn't have the budget to replace or hand-me-downs from older brother Jonathan.
"You can see between their clothing that Will hasn't grown as much," adds Parris. "But you can see that Mike is maturing a little bit more in the colors and patterns he's choosing."
Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo)
Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) isn't just the tech visionary of "the party," he's also the fashion pioneer with his layering skills and collection of graphic Ts, which are fire this season. "We still want to keep him feeling like Dustin and just move him a little bit more into the '80s," says Parris. Hence, a notable combo of a pre-iTunes-era-themed short-sleeve button-down (actually an '80s-style, but contemporary Penguin brand piece) over a Weird Al Yankovic concert t-shirt (above).
"In the '80s, that the so-called 'nerds' gravitated toward Weird Al and his music, so it seemed fitting that Dustin would wear that t-shirt," explains Parris. "To complement that, we gave him the cassette tape shirt because he's starting to get into music."
Most of Dustin's Ts are designed by graphic artists based off original prints, but tweaked for copyright reasons. Per the Duffers' vision, his "Camp Know Where" uniform is also custom-designed with fonts and graphics by the art department and his matching yellow, green and orange trucker hat harks back to the signature red, white and blue cap from earlier seasons.
Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke)
Now graduated and single, hair icon of Hawkins Steve (Joe Keery) is spending the summer working at the mall — and not at menswear destination Chess King or even Orange Julius. He's slinging ice cream cones at "Scoops Ahoy." The shop's nautical motif references the 1982 high school-set classic "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," which features the pirate-themed "Captain Hook Fish & Chips" (and related buccaneer uniforms.)
So Steve is mandated to wear an admittedly adorable seafaring 'fit that involves a sailor cap — which musses his Fabergé Organics-conditioned and Farrah Fawcett hairspray styled coif — a flap collar with a floppy tie, high socks and mid-thigh shorts with white nautical stripes at the hems.
"The Duffers wanted [the uniform] to be embarrassing enough that you would be embarrassed wearing that at the mall in the '80s — especially for like a dude like Steve who's trying to pick up women — but appealing enough [for viewers] to be able to watch it the whole season," laughs Parris.
Steve's cool, sardonic colleague Robin (Maya Hawke, who inherited dad Ethan's brand of Gen X ennui) wears a coordinated take on Steve's uniform with a puff-shoulder striped top and chic pleat-front shorts with gold-buttons up the sides. "I feel like we bridged that gap of embarrassing, but also really cute," adds Parris.
Chief Hopper (David Harbour)
Jim Hopper (David Harbour) finally changes out of his law enforcement uniform and his Indiana Jones-inspired hat. Influenced by his favorite TV hero, the Hawkins Police Chief decides to explore "cutting edge stuff," as he tells his fashion skeptical deputy.
"The main inspiration was 'Magnum P.I.,'" says Parris, about Hopper's new Starcourt Mall-procured tropical-print shirt, which proves to be very versatile, since circumstances change quickly in Hawkins. As seen in the trailer, he first wears the shirt out for a special occasion to what looks to be the fanciest establishment in town.
"I found a great image of Tom Selleck in the iconic moment of Magnum in the Hawaiian shirt, the light denim Wrangler jeans, a canvas belt and topsider shoes," explains Parris, put her own twist on that look for Hopper's night out and added a light beige blazer. "But later he loses [the topsiders] and puts on his work boots that he likes and wears that through the rest of [the season]."
To make five multiples of the shirt, Parris bought the last 20 yards of a vintage '80s fabric and custom-printed each one in an original pattern designed by the team. (The graphics even needed to be in the exact same location on each shirt for continuity.) "David liked the idea of being able to roll the sleeves of the shirt up, just so it's a little bit more '80s feeling," she adds.
Nancy (Natalia Dyer)
Now graduated, Nancy (Natalia Dyer) is paying her dues, alongside photographer boyfriend Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) at at the local print daily, The Hawkins Post. Hence she needs a professional wardrobe of authentic '80s-chic short sleeve dresses and coordinated sets. "Nancy has that Molly Ringwald-type vibe, so it was nice to update her look to feel like a young woman in the workforce, who's going to be tough and get stuff done," says Parris, referring to the forever teen icon, who now plays Archie's mom on "Riverdale." The designer sourced lots of one-off dead stock vintage pieces for Nancy on eBay and vendors across the country, including Rue St. Denis. (Her pink and black striped puff-sleeve top was built, however.)
Parris found the purple dress (above) with the square cut-outs on Etsy and added the contrasting teal trim, originally thinking multiples wouldn't be needed. But The Duffers decided that Nancy should wear it during more, erm, intense scenes, so Parris and her team sourced the same weight cotton, dyed custom-dyed the fabric and made three exact copies. The budding journalist also sports a collection of dead stock almond toe pumps from the era.
"There are some moments that we stumble upon an Etsy vendor that will have a size range of dead stock items and we'd just buy up all of them," says Parris.
Billy (Dacre Montgomery)
Max's mullet-ed bad boy brother Billy wears his uniform of the summer: his short Hawkins community pool lifeguard shorts. While he does have this "Baywatch" (meets Taylor Kitsch playing David Koresh) vibe happening, Parris based the swim trunks on real life, not the the iconic 1989 Hoff look.
"We did a lot of research of lifeguards in the '80s and their shorts were so short," laughs Parris. "I almost feel like I could have gone shorter with Billy's because ['80s trunks] were booty shorts, basically." Instead, she custom-made the piece to fit Montgomery's physique, remain as authentic to the era as possible, but not be too distracting to the audience. Because, hey, the hot moms of Hawkins are already distracted enough (ahem, Mrs. Wheeler).
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