A few nights ago, I slept over at a friend’s house and we watched one of my favorite scary movies of all time, A Nightmare on Elm Street. I make it a point to watch this movie every October, but this was the first time I made a particular observation about the main character, Nancy Thompson: her clothes are god-awful.
In Nancy’s defense, A Nightmare on Elm Street was released in 1984, so of course trends have changed significantly since then. But Nancy’s horrible clothes got me thinking about the costumes worn by the characters in some of my other favorite scary movies, which lead me to this conclusion: Nancy is the odd woman out in the horror genre. Characters in scary movies are usually dressed to the freaking nines. There is some incredible fashion in scary movies, and I’m about to prove it to you.
The following are 10 of the most fashionable scary movie icons of all time. Let me know what you think of my picks, and leave me the names of your favorites in the comment section below.
No roundup of fashion icons is ever complete without Grace Kelly. She played socialite Lisa Fremont in Alfred Hitchcock‘s timeless thriller Rear Window, and her wardrobe was spectacular. I love her skirt and wrapped top combo in the GIF above—it wouldn’t look at all out of place at a party in the Hamptons today. You should know that this outfit is just the tip of the iceberg, though. Check out Grace’s most famous costume from this film, this stunning white and black dress, which Lisa described as being “fresh from the Paris plane.”
Chris MacNeil in The Exorcist (1973)
Ellen Burstyn played actress Chris MacNeil in the “scariest movie ever made,” The Exorcist. If you haven’t see this one, you should add it to your bucket list, if only to check out Chris’s wardrobe. In the film, Chris MacNeil is an actress shooting a movie in Washington D.C., when suddenly her 12-year-old daughter Regan begins displaying signs of demonic possession. At the beginning of The Exorcist, Chris looks like she just stepped out of the pages of a 1970s Vogue. As her daughter’s condition worsens, so does Chris’s clothing. If you can’t handle the stomach-churning special effects, you’ll want to turn off The Exorcist somewhere around the 30 minute mark. After that, shit gets scary.
Don’t even try to tell me that The Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t a scary movie, because I almost peed my pants the first time I saw it. Fine, I was four years old, but that’s beside the point. What’s really important here is Jack and Sally’s impeccable (if macabre) taste in clothing. Let’s start with Jack, the protagonist of the film, who runs around Halloween Town in a dapper slim-fitting pinstripe suit and a bat bow tie. His friend Sally is a shy and sweet rag doll whose patchwork dress would be totally at home on the Fall 2015 runways: both Chloé and Valentino‘s Fall 2015 collections featured patchwork pieces.
Oh man, is that GIF not the saddest thing you’ve ever seen? Sissy Spacek played Carrie White, a teenage misfit and abuse victim, in the film adaptation of Stephen King‘s classic horror novel Carrie. Watching Carrie get doused in pigs’ blood as part of a cruel joke at her prom is heart-wrenching. Then Carrie gets revenge by killing everyone in the room, so, uh, yeah. Anyway, at one point, Carrie’s prom dress was total perfection in pale pink: it was a floor-length satin sheath, which she paired with gorgeous strappy sandals.
You could argue that The Addams Family films don’t qualify as scary movies, and yeah, you’d probably be right. But I think Gomez and Morticia, played by Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston, deserve a spot on this list because they’re truly fashion icons. These two are totally obsessed with each other and with all things creepy (Morticia describes herself as being “just like any modern woman trying to have it all” who only wishes she had more time to “seek out the dark forces and join their hellish crusade”). I love Gomez’s gothic prince vibes—he’s almost always in some sort of over-the-top grey or black suit—and Morticia’s black floor-length gowns are jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
Hello, iconic ’90s screen queens wearing iconic ’90s looks! If you’ve forgotten what real ’90s fashion looked like, simply dust off your old VHS of I Know What You Did Last Summer and check out Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jennifer Love Hewitt as Helen Shivers and Julie James. As beauty queen Helen, Sarah Michelle pushed the envelope, wearing super sassy baby doll dresses (and glittery armbands, evidently). Jennifer played Julie, who was the Joey Potter-esque girl next door in overalls and spaghetti strap tops.
And rounding out this list is the beautiful Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse in Rosemary’s Baby. I’ll be honest with you, I thought 95% of this movie was boring as hell, but there was no way I could leave old Rosemary off of the list—she’s just so impeccably dressed in every scene she appears in. One of my favorite looks from the film is this blue and white pinstripe number, which Rosemary wore prior to getting the haircut that would launch 1,000 trips to the salon.