When Stranger Things hit screens in the summer of 2016, it stole the hearts of millions and became one of Netflix’s best series of all time with its nostalgic ’80s movie feel, touching moments, and horror-inspired storylines. One of the key elements of the show is the realistic ’80s America aesthetic, and the clothes are arguably the most important aspect of setting the tone. With season 4 rapidly approaching and to be released on May 27th, fans are anticipating many more iconic style moments from their favorite characters.
Tom Fordy for FashionBeans commented that “The retro costumes on-screen turned the show’s young stars into pre-teen style icons” and this is probably because so many of the styles represented are still popular today. High-waisted jeans, varsity jackets, and neon colors have all made a comeback in the last few years – spurred on by the obsession with ’80s aesthetics that Stranger Things is partially responsible for. From puffed sleeves to bouffant hair, these are some of the best looks from the series.
Eleven’s Mall Playsuit
In season 3 Eleven – played by Millie Bobby Brown in her breakthrough role – finally gets to participate in the teenage experience she’s been missing out on. Whilst out shopping with Max, she picks out this peak ’80s black playsuit with geometric neon details and pairs it with socks and white trainers – something that is still on trend today. It’s a bold choice for Eleven who before now has never had a sense of personal style.
She’s usually seen in more muted colors and ill-fitting borrowed clothes, but this is the first time viewers see Eleven showing off her personal style and the bold theme continues throughout the season as we see more of her personality. Let’s not forget this is the outfit she’s wearing when she dumps Mike. Cold as ice.
Dustin’s Snow Ball Suit
This is an unforgettable outfit from an unforgettable episode. In the season 2 finale the kids scrub up for the Snow Ball at school, and Dustin’s look is the standout. He wears a navy blue jacket, blue shirt, and bow tie with brown trousers and sneakers – but the most important detail is his hair.
In an adorable scene earlier in the season Steve gives Dustin the secret to his bouffant hairdo – “Use the shampoo and conditioner, and when your hair’s damp – it’s not wet, okay? When it’s damp, you do four puffs of the Farrah Fawcett spray” – and it’s clear Dustin uses this guidance when putting together his look for the dance. Unbelievably sweet, and a little nod to the blossoming friendship between the unlikely pair.
Billy’s Double Denim
The first time we see the bad boy and unexpected fan-favourite Billy in the season 2 opener he is wearing this iconic double denim look reminiscent of heavy rockers and bikers. Double denim was a huge trend in the ’80s, but Billy manages to make this look edgy with the classic unbuttoned white shirt, necklace, and black combat boots.
His mullet hairstyle also takes cues from the 1970s, with rockers like Rod Stewart and Keith Richards sporting the hairstyle as part of their signature looks. It’s a dramatic look that gives us a good indication of Billy’s personality: his adherence to the edgier biker and rocker trends of the time shows his desire to appear tough.
Mrs. Wheeler’s Swimsuit
Mrs. Wheeler sports this extremely ’80s swimsuit whilst hanging out at the local pool in the season 3 opener. It’s somehow equal parts glamorous and “mumsy.” The swimsuit is a blue and pink color block number – playing into the ’80s trend of bright neon colors – and she wears chunky white jewelry which was very much in fashion at the time. The bouffant updo and matching blue eyeshadow complete the outfit.
It’s a very coherent look that works perfectly for a busy, slightly uptight mom but it also adds a sense of fun to the character who has one of the best character arcs in Stranger Thingswhilst also hinting at her boredom in her marriage and subsequent flirtation with Billy.
Steve’s Scoops Ahoy Uniform
Fans were delighted to see the usually slick Steve – played by the excellent Joe Keery – in his dorky work uniform in the season 3 opener – but somehow, he pulls it off. Steve, Stranger Things’ most likable main character, retains his signature bouffant hairstyle but otherwise, this is a complete departure from the trendy ensembles he’s usually seen wearing.
The “Scoops Ahoy” sailor costume with matching shorts and hat are kitschy and capture the novelty of the thriving 1980s mall scene perfectly. The fact that Steve is pretty much only seen in this outfit for the entirety of the season adds to its memorability as one of the best outfits from the show.
Nancy’s Red Jacket
This outfit from episode 5 of season 1 is Nancy’s first departure from her cute girl-next-door aesthetic, and it’s the outfit she wears when she and Jonathon attempt to take on the creature who took Will. She pairs a red trucker jacket, blue sweater and shirt, and brown cords with brown boots. She also sports a practical updo.
It’s a tougher and bolder look for Nancy and along with other hidden details throughout Stranger Things signals her growth as a character – from prissy older sister to badass monster hunter. Not to mention this outfit would still be on-trend today.
Dustin’s Roast Beef T Shirt
Dustin’s fun sense of personal style makes a lot of his outfits more memorable than those of the other kids, and this is one of his best from season 3, episode 6. He wears a bright yellow t-shirt featuring a cow cartoon with a funny pun along with a denim waistcoat and his Camp Know Where baseball cap.
It’s delightfully dorky but also encapsulates Dustin’s personality. His sense of humor shows up in the funny t-shirt, and he proudly wears the cap from his summer escapade to camp. Add to that some peak ’80s denim and this is the quintessential Dustin outfit – colorful, quirky, and a little funny.
The Core Four’s Ghostbusters Outfits
Whilst this is technically four outfits, they’re essentially the same. It’s Halloween in Hawkins in the season 2 opener and Mike, Lucas, Will, and Dustin dress up as the characters from one of the funniest ’80s comedies, Ghostbusters, for school – only to get there and realize all the other kids are now too cool to for Halloween costumes. Not only are the outfits adorable, but they also symbolize the boys’ desire to hold onto childhood for just a little longer and single them out as outsiders at school.
Another detail that makes these outfits so good is that they’re highly personalized depending on the resources each kid has access to. Whilst Mike, Lucas, and Dustin’s costumes all look pretty similar with the same beige color, custom fit, and legit-looking proton packs, Will’s looks to be a completely DIY job – a bittersweet detail that indicates his struggle to keep up with his friends due to his single mother’s low income.
Eleven’s Punk Makeover
In season 2, episode 7 Eleven gets the makeover of a lifetime that makes for her best outfit yet. Up until now, she has only had access to baggy, boring clothes that probably belonged to Hopper at some point. When she goes to visit her “sister” Eight, Eleven gets more than just a fashion revamp, ending up on a perilous personal journey that makes her realize she wants to use her powers for good.
It’s a step forward for her fashion-wise though. Her short hair is slicked back and she wears an oversized blazer and jeans with dark eye makeup. This fits in perfectly with the dramatic punk looks of the other characters in this standalone episode and shows a more rebellious and edgy side to Eleven’s personality.
Eleven’s Snow Ball Dress
In a moment that warmed the hearts of viewers in the season 2 finale, Eleven attends the Snow Ball and has her first kiss with Mike on the dancefloor. It is a truly adorable scene between the young lovebirds, and the directors pulled out all the stops to ensure this was an unforgettable moment, using the iconic Cydni Lauper’s “Time After Time” for the couples to dance to.
It’s a very sweet caterpillar-turned-butterfly moment. Eleven wears a denim puff sleeve dress with polka dots, ruffles, and a purple belt with matching eyeshadow and has her hair slicked back in much the same way as she did after her makeover from Eight. It’s quintessential ’80s and signals Eleven’s approaching teenagehood to perfection.
NEXT: Ranking Every Main Character Introduced After Season 1 Of Stranger Things
Why Tom Welling Can’t Be Superman (But Was Perfect For Smallville)