Just hit play for, dare we say it, killer style.
When it comes to horror movies or TV shows, stylish or fashionable isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind. But nothing sets a creepy or foreboding tone quite like a costume designed to elicit fear, confusion or apprehension. Who can forget the blue nightgown in Rosemary’s Baby or Delia Deetz’s kooky ensembles in Beetlejuice? Read on for our picks of the most fashionable horror movies and shows to binge this Halloween weekend.
This HBO miniseries is set in the segregated United States but thanks to the supernatural premise and plotlines involving time travel, the story weaves from the 1950s to the ’20s to the late 1800s; from Chicago to Tulsa to Korea; from Jim Crow America to Jazz Age Paris. Accordingly, the fashion on the show spans various time periods and influences, resulting in a rich and wide-ranging costume wardrobe.
This British horror-comedy follows a haunted red dress as it torments various owners, like a twisted take on The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Purchased during sale season in London in January 1993, the dress in question comes with a message— “You who wear me will know me” —sewn right into it. “I think clothing is inherently haunted to some degree,” director Peter Strickland said in an interview. “Once it’s been worn by someone it contains its own power, whether it’s the power to disgust you, the power to turn you on, or the power to make you cry.” Watch at your own risk.
This ’90s cult classic centering around the story of four young witches in high school has remained an iconic fashion film for its tartan skirts, leather chokers and chunky boots. 2020 saw the release of a sequel to the hit film, focusing on a new modern-day quartet. Instead of looking back at ’90s fashion, costume designer Avery Plewes created contemporary bold looks of her own. In a recent interview, Plewes tells FASHION how she she built a current, Wiccan-worthy wardrobe. The starting point: “Crystals for each of the four main cast members – ones that connect to the ‘elements of ritual’ each girl symbolizes (earth, fire, air, water).”
Legendary costume designer Eiko Ishioka created the bold looks worn by Jennifer Lopez in this psychological thriller. Lopez plays a child psychologist who, when hooked up to an experimental machine, enters the “dreamscape” of a serial killer, where she appears dressed in ornate head pieces and jewellery, sheer dresses and even a Virgin Mary-esque ensemble in crimson.
Ari Aster’s second horror film (following his breakout hit Hereditary) explores themes of the occult, revolving around the rituals of a pagan cult in a remote Swedish village. Florence Pugh stars as a young American woman caught in the middle of it all, with a nightmare of epic proportions unfolding against picturesque fields and flower-adorned pastoral outfits.
One of David Lynch’s most enduring works, this ’90s-era sci-fi series is packed with memorable outfits: preppy pleated skirts worn with oxfords and socks; oversized cardigans; plaid shirts tucked into high-waisted trousers; and many a leather jacket.
Like Dario Argento’s original 1977 film, Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 remake is set at a prestigious dance academy in Berlin run by a coven of witches. Awash in disquieting shades of red, the film’s 1970s setting is evoked through dramatic caftans, printed pussy-bow blouses, midi skirts and patchwork cloaks. Oh, plus there are some dresses “made out of real human hair extensions.”
This 1968 horror movie sees Mia Farrow dressed in mod frocks and blouses with Peter Pan collars, all in angelic pastel hues. Despite her chic outfits, rounded out with berets and leather satchels, Rosemary Woodhouse’s most iconic look, arguably, is probably her blue nightgown.
Released last year, this psychological thriller follows a neglected pregnant housewife who begins ingesting all manner of inedible objects—from batteries to thumbtacks to marbles. Suffering from a psychological disorder known as pica, the woman nevertheless tries to keep up outward appearances, dressed in tailored separates and surrounded by sleek midcentury-modern furniture.
Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 psychological drama centres around two main characters: a renowned actress, who is sent by her doctor to a cottage by the sea to recover from a strange affliction, and the young nurse tasked with looking after her. Stills from the film are impossibly chic—think black turtlenecks, cat-eye sunglasses and boater hats—but they belie the tensions of identity and self-image swirling underneath.
Queen of the Damned
In her last film role before her death in 2001, R&B singer Aaliyah plays vampire queen Akasha decked out in regal, Cleopatra-inspired outfits. Think ornate head pieces, chunky jewellery, and long skirts worn with a body-armour-like bodice.
Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon star in this 1983 erotic horror film, which went on to inspire Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer 1996 collection. ’80s power shoulders, bold hats, and leather jackets made up Deneuve’s wardrobe, which was provided by Yves Saint Laurent.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
This gothic horror by Francis Ford Coppola won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design in 1993. Spearheaded by Eiko Ishioka, the wardrobe comprised of gilded gowns, tailored suiting, embroidered robes and sculptural accessories.
The most family-friendly pick of the bunch, this 1988 cult hit created several sartorial icons: Catherine O’Hara’s Delia Deetz, dressed in monochrome with whimsical accessories (who can forget the glove-as-headband?); Winona Ryder’s Lydia, outfitted in head-to-toe black; and Michael Keaton’s Betelgeuse, who wore his dandy suits with a darkly comic flair.
Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston spend their screen time in Guillermo del Toro’s gothic romance walking around in elaborate Victorian costumes. Although the world around them is dark and bleak, their costumes are rich and sumptuous—heavy silks and velvets in shades of ochre, midnight blue and of course crimson.
When you’re ready to take a break from binge-watching horror films, check out our other ideas for a safe Halloween at home.