Since there’s a relevant Silver Jews quote for everything, let us begin there: in “Black and Brown Blues,” the apostle David Berman states, “When I go downtown, I always wear a corduroy suit / ’cause it’s made of a hundred gutters that the rain can run right through.”
Wise words from a wise man, and just one example of many proving that corduroy is the chosen garment. Sure, it can run hot, and sure, it can be bulky, but if you don’t like it, you’re wrong, and also, fine, that’s more cords for me. And better yet, that’s more cords for Malgosia Turzanska and Kimberly Adams-Galligan, the costume designers on Stranger Things, who have just shot themselves into the Wes Anderson dimension of fine corduroy usage with the impeccable period piece looks featured in the show’s first season.
Taking a note from All the President’s Men and multiplying it by ten, you can actually trace a lineage of our protagonists in the show by keeping an eye out for it—and I’m really not exaggerating here. I went through each scene and spent far too much time looking at everything worn by every character—including the many outfits of that super fabulous monster—and the only ones who wear corduroy are the good guys (and gals). Need I say it again? Chosen. Garment.
Let us take a visual tour, then, of Hawkins, Indiana, circa 1983, and dive into the undeniably clear logic behind the corduroy within it. You might want to put on some pants for this. I think you already know which kind.
SPOILER WARNING: In as much as stills of the characters standing around could spoil anything, the following does spoil some situations from the first season. Proceed with caution!
Obviously we have to start with the show’s matriarch: Joyce Byers. This is the lead piece of corduroy featured right off the bat, and man oh man, does it really set the bar high. If I ever have to start my day by chain smoking inside the sheriff’s office for an hour, I want it to be in that thing.
Like mother like son, sorta. Naturally, given Jonathan’s penchant for listening to Joy Division and taking backwoods photography, black is more his color, but that touch of corduroy in the collar is important! It’s like a little reminder that though he may be a little twisted, he’s still pretty chill.
Speaking of corduroy on the collar… Like Jonathan, Mike only needs a touch for us to get the memo. Could it also be a little bit of foreshadowing for the way the season ends? Yeah, probably not. But maybe.
See that? On Dustin, in the back? Those, y’all, are cargo corduroys. I know, I know! You didn’t even know they made those! Me either. Welp, they do, and I’m going to assume that they came from whatever the ’80s equivalent of Old Navy was.
The Wikipedia character description of Lucas describes him as “bold, independent, and charismatic.” Even if he never said a line in the show, I would still agree with that assessment based solely on his impeccable, corduroy-based sense of style.
OK, so I’m not 100 percent sure that Nancy is wearing cords here, but it totally looks like it and that’s good enough for me. More importantly, though, shout out to that guitar-toting extra really making the most of his big moment.
Chief Jim Hopper
Oh yeah, now this is the good stuff—this is that fine “attempted murder corduroy.” Hop held out on this jacket for a while, but once shit started to get real he knew exactly where to go in his closet. Because if you’re gonna do a quick B&E on a government facility, you gotta look your best.
Wait, you didn’t think we were done with Lucas, did you? This kid is the fucking corduroy king!
If you don’t believe me, just take a closer look at that backpack. That’s right, chump. Do you believe now?
Like, this is the type of kid who leaves a scene wearing corduroy only to reappear in the next scene wearing new corduroy…
…which is just part of his transition into becoming the great corduroy warrior. Netflix, the necessary spinoff is in your hands now.
Read our interview with Chief Hopper himself, David Harbour.