Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, popular high school senior
Indiana, Fall 1984
Series: Stranger Things
– “Chapter Five: Dig Dug” (Episode 2.05, dir. Andrew Stanton)
– “Chapter Six: The Spy” (Episode 2.06, dir. Andrew Stanton)
– “Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer” (Episode 2.08, dir. The Duffer Brothers)
– “Chapter Nine: The Gate” (Episode 2.09, dir. The Duffer Brothers)
Streaming Date: October 27, 2017
Creator: The Duffer Brothers
Costume Designer: Kim Wilcox
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
This Friday, Netflix welcomes viewers back to Stranger Things with the fourth and penultimate season of the streaming phenomenon that blends elements of horror and sci-fi through a nostalgic 1980s lens.
One of my favorite character arcs on Stranger Things has followed Steve Harrington from the prototypical bullying jock he was at the start of the series into an affable ally who eagerly jumps in to assist and protect our young heroes against the series’ otherworldly antagonists.
What’d He Wear?
Usually the word “Harrington” on this blog appears in conjunction with the Baracuta-style windbreaker nicknamed after Ryan O’Neal’s character on the 1960s drama Peyton Place. While Steve Harrington does indeed wear a navy Harrington jacket throughout the first season of Stranger Things, he—like the quintessential high school hero—kept his wardrobe updated to reflect the fads of each season and dressed for action the following year in an ’80s fashion staple: the Members Only jacket.
Like many fashion fads, the Members Only jacket devolved rapidly from must-have to widely mocked… until it was reintroduced into the fashion cycle first as ironic garmenture and, again, mainstream acceptance. The Members Only story begins in 1975, though it wasn’t until Herb Goldsmith discovered, rebadged, and introduced these jackets to the American market five years later that membership took off. “When you put it on, something happens,” the brand advertised… though in the case of famous wearers like “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez, it may have been better if such things didn’t happen. You can read more of the history—and possible future—of Members Only in Jake Rossen’s comprehensive 2016 article for Mental Floss.
It was the narrow cut that initially appealed to Goldsmith, responding to the trends preferred by younger shoppers, who he knew would also resonate toward a variety of colors beyond the traditional khakis, grays, and blues. The name inspired by a sign at a Long Island country club, Members Only jackets were offered in a starting array of 40 of colors that included bright pastels alongside more conventional shades of gray, including the “light gray” polyester shell that our hero Steve wears in the second season of Stranger Things.
The Members Only jacket blends elements of racer jackets with the nylon MA-1 bomber blousons developed in mid-century for military flight crews. Goldsmith had liked the martial implications of the narrow shoulder straps (epaulettes), which belted through a loop at the shoulder seam and folded back to snap to itself midway between neck and shoulder, so he also added a narrow strap around the short standing collar that also ran through a series of loops with a double-snap closure in the front. The cuffs and hem are finished with ribbed knitting that match the jacket’s color, with the same knitting welted along the slanted hand pockets and set-in breast pocket. A small black rectangular patch with “MEMBERS ONLY” embroidered in white is sewn just below the breast pocket ribbing, indicating to the rest of the world that its wearer has indeed joined the special club of “members” who spent $55 on a polyester jacket.
A more enduring piece of Steve’s costume that’s still equally iconic to the era are his black acetate-framed Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses, which our somewhat vain hero was likely inspired to wear after seeing Tom Cruise sporting them on screen in Risky Business. Having introduced the recognizable Wayfarer frame in the early 1950s, Ray-Ban had noticed them falling out of favor during the “disco decade” and invested in an ultimately profitable product placement deal to feature its eyewear on screen by some of the most stylish stars of the ’80s. (It’s likely that Steve would follow Cruise’s example and pick up a pair of aviators after seeing Top Gun… and then a pair of Clubmasters after Cruise wore them in Rain Man two years later.) When not wearing them, Steve tucks his Wayfarers into the breast pocket of his Members Only jacket.
As it’s the weekend, Steve has no need to dress up and layers his Members Only jacket over a plain navy blue cotton crew-neck pullover shirt, though he never removes his jacket to show if it’s short- or long-sleeved. Unlike most T-shirts and sweatshirts, the shirt has a horizontal chest yoke.
By the ’80s, Bruce Springsteen had popularized the concept of the all-American hero in blue jeans, as popularized on screen by characters like those played by Cruise and Tom Selleck in Magnum, P.I., all of whom often wore Levi’s jeans.
As distinguished by the characteristic red tab and arcuate stitch across the two patch-style back pockets, Steve wears Levi’s as well, with his light blue washed denim jeans likely being the classic 501 Original Fit with their straight-fit and button fly. Steve holds them up with a brown leather belt that closes through a gold-toned single-prong buckle.
The red “swoosh” traversing the sides of Steve’s sneakers instantly identify them as Nikes, specifically the game-changing Nike Cortez model that was released during the peak of the 1972 Olympics. The concept for what would become Nike’s first track shoe dates to the previous Summer Olympics, when Nike intended to name Bill Bowerman’s newly designed sneakers the “Mexico” as a nod to the 1968 host country. Four more years of R&D resulted in the Cortez, now named for Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés.
The new sneakers quickly gained traction (so to speak), particularly after they were spotted on American athletes during the ’72 games, and Nike reported more than $800,000 in sales during the Cortez’s first year. Steve may have been again inspired by Tom Cruise’s preferred sneakers in Risky Business, but the Cortez received additional prominent exposure when Tom Hanks’ eponymous character unboxed a “new” pair in Forrest Gump (1994), arranged in the classic red, white, and blue colorway, a style that was re-released in September 2016 as part of Nike’s Athletics West Pack. You can read more about the Nike Cortez at GOAT and Sole Collector.
Given its athletic heritage, the Nike Cortez is appropriate footwear for Steve the quintessential jock, who wears them with white ribbed cotton crew socks. Steve’s sneakers have a white nylon base with off-white overlays for the seven-eyelet lace panels, toe, and heel, conspicuously branded with large red leather swooshes on the sides and Nike’s vintage pinwheel logo printed on the red leather heel tabs. The white rubber herringbone-treaded outsoles are detailed with a royal blue strip around the heel that tapers as they approach the center of each shoe.
In the first two seasons of Stranger Things, Steve wears a plain steel watch with a round white dial that he secures to his left wrist on a tapered brown leather Bund strap, detailed with four ridges that flank each side of the timepiece where the strap overlaps the pad.
The Bund strap—in both its full cuff and tapered bracelet styles—was pioneered in Germany during the early days of military aviation to protect fliers’ wrists from their wristwatches’ metal casebacks reflecting the extreme temperatures encountered in flight. Several decades later later, the Bund strap re-emerged as a ’70s style staple that suggested adventure and ruggedness.
How to Get the Look
Even after crossing over onto the side of the protagonists, Steve Harrington remains as conscious of his image as so many high-schoolers do, conspicuously dressing for the mid-1980s in some of the era’s most popular brands, including Levi’s jeans, Nike sneakers, and—the pièce de résistance—his gray Members Only jacket.
Credit where it’s due, of course, as Steve generally avoids the extremes of ’80s fashion as he dresses for defending against demodogs in this practical and relatively [for the ’80s] timeless weekend fit.
- Gray polyester Members Only racer jacket with narrow double-snap collar strap, narrow shoulder straps (epaulettes), ribbed-welt set-in breast pocket, ribbed-welt hand pockets, ribbed cuffs, and ribbed hem
- Navy blue yoked crew-neck T-shirt
- Light blue denim Levi’s 501 Original Fit jeans
- Brown leather belt with gold-toned single-prong buckle
- White nylon Nike Cortez sneakers with off-white suede overlays, red “swoosh” sides, and blue-accented white rubber ridged outsoles
- White ribbed cotton crew socks
- Black acetate-frayed Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses
- Steel wristwatch with plain white round dial on brown leather ridged Bund strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the series, one of the most successful Netflix original shows.
It’s not about the hair, man.