Netflix has returned with the fourth season of its hit sci-fi series, Stranger Things, in two parts. As we wait for the second part of what could easily be described as the best season so far, two things have become clear—first, Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill song in Episode 4 is just pure brilliance, and second, even Vecna’s curse can’t stop us from admiring the refreshing looks of all characters.
In the current wave of revival fashion, where everything old is chic, this nostalgia-filled thriller is an 80s wardrobe dreamscape. Think chaotic mix-and-match pieces, denim on denim, pastels, maximalist prints, varsity jackets and oversized belts.
The clothes on Stranger Things characters do more than just recall a bygone era. From the retro mop-top haircuts to dramatic silhouettes, each character's costume points towards their personal growth. For instance, Season 4 begins with a back-and-forth glance at Hawkins and California, where few characters have moved to. In a recent interview with Netflix’s Tudum (the streaming platform's global virtual fan event), the show's costume designer Amy Parris described how this transition from Hawkins to California is reflected in the clothes. “There’s a lot more plaid and more autumn colors on the Hawkins people, so they stand out against the sun-bleached, bright colours of California,” Parris said. “Hawkins, Indiana, is a little more drab, a little bit more old-fashioned — in California, you see the surfer style and the skater style.”
Likewise, new characters are introduced and built on the expanse of a single outfit. Like the iconic ‘Scoops Ahoy’ uniform worn by Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) and Robin (by Maya Hawke) throughout Season 3, characters in Season 4 don clothes that complement their growth and life journey. Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) is new to the gang and can be seen in the grunge band T-shirt the whole time, a clothing choice that depicts his nerdy metal-loving teen style.
Similarly, his supposed nemesis Jason Carver (Mason Dye), is yet to wear something other than his team's varsity jacket and Khaki coloured trousers—a cliché high school bully uniform.
As we head into the next half of Season 4, let's look at some characters and decode their character arcs through the clothes they wear.
Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer)
Aspiring reporter Nancy Wheeler has come a long way from her girl-next-door look of Season 1. Biding adieu to her long straight hair, Nancy embraced voluminous curls in Season 3. With sharp waist coats, a pair of glasses and oversized belts, Season 4 Wheeler's closet reflects a more mature and no-nonsense approach to life.
Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown)
The telekinetic teen Eleven underwent a Hopper-sized heartbreak at the end of Season 3. Having suffered loss in all forms, from Hop, Mike and friends in Hawkins, to the loss of her powers, El stuck to simple hands-me-down shirts and mom jeans the third season. In the new season, as Eleven tries to solve issues of her past, she prefers to repeat her clothes from all the previous seasons, including the iconic hospital gown.
Max (Sadie Sink)
Season 4 Max looks like a post-pandemic version of her Season 3 self. Of course, Max is sad with Billy's death and too guilty to talk about it. In braids, denims, a basic tee and zip-up jacket, Max's clothes carry the baggage of her emotions.