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The Funny Story Behind Eleven's Battle Outfit Pants On 'Stranger Things'

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When it comes to Netflix series, the only thing more entertaining than the plot is the costumes, especially when shows draw inspiration from decades past. Such is the case for three addictive series currently streaming on Netflix: Stranger Things, Hollywood, and Glow.

A hit sci-fi/horror show, Stranger Things looks to the '80s for sartorial direction, says costume designer Amy Parris. Think "the tight T-shirts tucked into short shorts with striped crew socks worn up high [by the boys] and bright-colored, high cut '80s bathing suits like Karen Wheeler's," she explained, the latter still a mainstay in many summer wardrobes today.

Ryan Murphy's latest Netflix series Hollywood references '40s Old Hollywood glamour for both the setting and the fashion. The period drama reimagines Tinseltown as a place where marginalized groups get their due, with stars like Darren Criss and Laura Herrier dressed in their 1940s best.

Costume designers Lou Eyrich and Sarah Evelyn created several decade-specific looks for Hollywood, including "high-waisted wide-legged pants, big strong shoulders, womenswear influenced by menswear" and "long collars," the latter which they note were "on the runway recently."

Finally, Glow, a drama/comedy about the true story of the “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling" delivers a delightful take on '80s fashion. “The fit of the jeans in the ‘80s was part of the quintessential look," the show's costume designer Beth Morgan tells Bustle, pointing out that they are coming back today as 'Mom jeans.' "Also, shoulder pads," she continues. "They were everywhere in T-shirts, dresses, jackets, blouses — everything from casual to formal wear had shoulder pads.”

Bustle caught up with the Netflix costume designers to discuss all things fashion for their decade-specific shows. From giant puff sleeve gowns to mom jeans to the story behind Eleven's famous 'Battle Outfit' costume, they shared it all.

Read on for everything you ever wanted to know about the retro-inspired fashion from your favorite series — and how you can integrate the look into your wardrobe today.

Stranger Things

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What are some of the signature '80s looks you wanted to include on the show?

Amy Parris: “For the boys, it was definitely the tight T-shirts tucked into short shorts with striped crew socks worn up high, bright colored high cut '80s bathing suits like Karen Wheeler's, and lots of accessories for girls and lots of color and pattern for the mall shoppers."

Which costume most embodied '80s fashion?

Parris: “Hopper's Magnum PI Date night outfit. This one is extra special because we found vintage fabric that we were able to make into his Hawaiian-inspired shirt, worn with light wash Wrangler jeans and Top Siders, all which are still being sold today.”

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Did you make any tweaks to the costumes so they'd feel modern?

Parris: “Not many at all. We really wanted to keep it all as true to the period as possible. We did slim the legs of Eleven's ‘battle outfit’ pants. We made them a little bit slimmer, which is crazy because they are already very full. The original pants were even baggier and swallowed her petite frame too much.”

Did you source vintage or recreate '80s looks using current pieces?

Parris: “We chose to use vintage any chance we had. Since the show requires many photo doubles, stunt doubles, blood, and goop, we often have to build clothes from scratch to have multiples at the ready.

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Which character was most fun to create a period-specific wardrobe for?

Parris: “I think Steve and Robin in their Scoops Uniforms was my favorite. I was inspired by the uniforms from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The outfit was super cute on them, but you can imagine it would be embarrassing for high school kids in the ‘80s, especially the pleated-front shorts.”

Hollywood

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What are some of the signature '40s looks you wanted to include on the show?

Lou Eyrich and Sarah Evelyn: “Great hats, big shoulders, high waisted wide-legged pants, big lapels, long pointy collars, brooches, seamed stockings, clever tailoring, houndstooth, glen plaid, pencil skirts with nipped in belted waists, and glamour glamour glamour.”

Which costume most embodied '40s fashion?

Eyrich and Evelyn: “The pump jockey uniforms were pretty special to us. It was a real challenge to create an effortless looking, professional, period-correct uniform that fit our guys with modern bodies and be cool and sexy."

"We worked closely with Ryan Murphy on developing the right feel and the right silhouette. We did a lot of fittings to perfect all the fabrics, the pants style, the cut of the shirt, length of tie, and the vibe of the hat. We ended up custom making the tie bars, belts, and belt buckles."

"When we finally saw the uniforms on our guys with their hair done, on the set of the Golden Tip, we felt that all our hard work was worth it.”

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Which trends from the '40s do you see resurfacing today?

Eyrich and Evelyn: “Lots of them: High-waisted wide-legged pants, long collars — which have been on the runway recently — big strong shoulders, a classic beret and wider lapels. Also, womenswear influenced by menswear is a classic that was big influence in the ‘40s and more."

Are there any '40s-inspired items that you now incorporate into your wardrobe after immersing yourself in the period for such a long time?

Eyrich and Evelyn: “We are both very menswear-inspired and love the big collars and high-waisted pants. Sarah loves a good striped boatneck, ¾-length sleeve T-shirt, which we saw in the ‘30s and ‘40s, and a wide lapel, but we loved all this before we did the show, too."

Did you make any tweaks to the costumes so they'd feel modern?

Eyrich and Evelyn: “It was important to us to be true to the 1940s silhouette, but in a way that would read as sexy and cool and sophisticated to a modern audience. We would sometimes tweak the mens’ pants a little, slimming them down a bit, and same with the jackets, still allowing for the bagginess of the mens’ suiting from the 1940s but making sure the proportion worked on our modern bodies and could be read by an audience with modern sensibilities.”

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Did you source vintage or recreate '40s looks using current pieces?

Eyrich and Evelyn: “All of the above. There are amazing industry costume houses that we pulled from, and there are so many amazing vintage vendors out there, but there were also so many period shows and movies shooting at the same time as us that it was a real hunt to find 1940s clothing, especially garments that could withstand the demands of TV."

"We had a really fantastic workroom led by Joanne Mills and an incredible ACD Tiger Curran so we knew we could pull it off, and we designed and made probably about 70 percent of the principle costumes."

Which character was most fun to create a period-specific wardrobe for?

Eyrich and Evelyn: “We had a great time with Dylan McDermott, his character Ernie was inspired by Fred Astaire and Cary Grant — someone with his own sense of style. Dylan was a big risk-taker and walked into all the costumes that we custom made for him and brought them to life. David Corenswet’s enthusiasm was contagious. He truly morphed into a 1940s golden age movie star in the fittings.”

Glow

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What are some of the signature '80s looks you wanted to include on the show?

Beth Morgan: “The fit of the jeans in the ‘80s was part of the quintessential look. Also, shoulder pads. They were everywhere in T-shirts, dresses, jackets, blouses — everything from casual to formal wear had shoulder pads.”

Which costume most embodied '80s fashion?

Morgan: “For Season 3, it is definitely all the cocktail dresses on the lead and background characters in the Vegas sets. We really got to show those amazing beaded gowns with cutouts at the neck and attached chokers and dangling beads at the neckline — the ones Dynasty made famous. It was the quintessential '80s formal wear.

Which trends from the '80s do you see resurfacing today?

Morgan: “That would have to be the fit of the jeans. They’ve come back as ‘mom jeans.’ And there is a hint of shoulder pad now, too. We also see a lot of those couture blouses with huge puffed sleeves — that was the height of '80s fashion. At that time, it was a throwback to Victorian fashion and now it’s a throwback to the ‘80s.”

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Are there any '80s-inspired items that you now incorporate into your wardrobe after immersing yourself in the period for such a long time?

Morgan: “Yes! Vintage T-shirts. Growing up, I used to only wear weird vintage T-shirts. This season on Glow, we tried to get as many of those shirts around in the Vegas scenes to show people had traveled from all over to visit Vegas. We were buying every hair metal vintage shirt we could find and that really reminded me how much I love those."

"Also, jumpsuits. They were my uniform last season. And the gowns. For any event we had to go to, we all pulled from the stock of Glow. There were so many universal trends in the ‘80s: statement pieces like oversized cardigans with appliqués that transcend time. We all wear the rejects from Glow as part of our own wardrobes.”

Did you make any tweaks to the costumes so they'd feel modern?

Morgan: “The only thing that is different is that we have to use modern-day Capezios, which are a little different in terms of weight: they’re not as thick or shiny as the ‘80s versions."

"We couldn’t really reproduce those, and we go through so many we couldn’t use vintage — we’d go through those in a day. They are still authentic Capezios, but they’re a different weight.”

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Did you source vintage or recreate '80s looks using current pieces?

Morgan: “We do both. We source as much as we can, and we love to support the vintage world. We enjoy those treasure hunts for each of the characters. We do make all of their wrestling looks: those wedding leotards were all made."

"We made Betty Gilpin’s Christmas outfit. Their casual-wear really needs the fabrics from the ‘80s. We don’t have enough budget to weave our own fabrics so if we can’t get vintage, we try to get vintage fabrics to make them from. We keep it as authentic as possible.”

Which character was most fun to create a period-specific wardrobe for?

Morgan: “While it’s not one character, creating all of the Glow wrestling looks and athletic wear was the most rewarding. We had to make sure it was period-correct, then worked within our needs: how they would have to move their bodies, creating multiples of everything, rubberizing certain parts to be safe for stunts. So, many elements went into getting them perfect. It was just so much fun.”