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Look of the Week: Stan's thrifted chic in I Am Not Okay With This
Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!
Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina both have an aesthetic that leans into retro designs. Mid-20th-century style sweaters, mini skirts, and jackets dominate the closets of the characters that originated on the pages of Archie and its spinoffs. Comic books have long been a source for TV and film, which includes new Netflix sci-fi coming-of-age series I Am Not Okay With This. Adapted from Charles Forsman's 2018 series of the same name, it tells the story of 17-year-old Sydney Novak (Sophia Lillis), who has recently discovered she has the power to move objects with her mind.
As with the Archie adaptations, there is a stylized palette, taking fashion cues from '90s grunge with a dash of '70s tailoring. However, it is Sydney's friend Stanley Barber (Wyatt Oleff) who takes the sartorial crown in the captivating first season.
Spoilers for I Am Not Okay With This ahead.
"Where I feel sh***y about basically everything about myself, Stan is the master of zero f***s," Sydney explains via voiceover in the first episode. This introduction sets the oddball style tone, which sees Stan bounding up to his neighbor in comfy slacks, a vintage Philadelphia Eagles football tee, and a mustard cardigan. The grunge chic leaps out before you even notice he is willing to walk down the street barefoot — "Shoes. Who needs 'em?" he responds when Syd asks if he is okay. These kinds of quirky details could place her new friend in the eyeroll category of adorkability, but between Oleff's performance and a closet full of pieces tapping into the playful desire to curate a style identity, this archetype is avoided.
Costume designer Bex Crofton-Atkins told Decider that she ventured to "every thrift store in Pennsylvania" to deliver the vintage sensibility that is most visible in Stan's clothing throughout the seven episodes. Not only does he favor knitwear that wouldn't look out of place in early '90s Seattle, but he adds flair through pattern and bold suit choices. Whether it is a sky-blue V-neck Pringle-adjacent knit, patterned sweater vest worn over a white tee, or even his bowling shirt work uniform with a flannel thrown over the top, Stan's closet is bursting with pieces that look equal parts purposeful and effortless. He has crafted an image that lets his personality shine through fashion. Continuing the trend of the contemporary-set Chilling Adventures, Sex Education, and The End of the F***ing World (also based on a comic series by Charles Forsman), the pop culture and style nostalgia leap off the screen.
The getting-ready montage is a teen TV rite of passage, depicting the very relatable outfit decision-making process when dressing to impress. Typically, these sequences focus on female characters, but Episode 4: "Stan By Me" — ticking so many pun boxes — goes all-in on Stan's getting-ready routine. We have already seen the outfit he settled on to ask Syd to the homecoming dance in the previous episode, but this flashback sequence adds further weight to how he uses clothes like armor.
The baby blue suit with its wide lapels paired with an Enya T-shirt is the perfect balance of irreverence and cool. As he goes to leave the house, his dad directs a homophobic slur toward his son, but Stanley is comfortable with his outfit choice and it does not have the confidence-crushing impact his dad expected. In his basement bedroom, we see him prep for the big party by putting on "The King of Rock 'n' Roll" by Prefab Sprout while fixing himself a martini. This is a dude who prefers to watch movies on VHS — "the sh***y texture is key to the experience," he explains to Syd after she calls BS on his preference — so his getting-ready music is in line with his penchant for retro bops.
Much like fashion, music is a language of its own that informs Stanley's clothing. His favorite band might be Blood Witch, but he cannot deny the power of an Enya tee. And while it might be worn with irony, pairing it with sneakers and this suit is a style statement I can get on board with. If you are after this particular shirt, you are sadly out of luck, as it was custom-made for the series by Crofton-Atkins.
Other alternatives before he settled on this top include graphic print tees, a leafy patterned button-down, and even an olive ruffled tuxedo shirt. The latter he realizes is too grand for a simple high school kegger. For homecoming, the suit is paired with a floral graphic print shirt — Oleff also wore the powder-blue dream to the premiere last week (or at least a near copy). This suit is a keeper.
Stan projects a DGAF attitude that Syd notes in our introduction to him, but he uses clothing as a way to boost his confidence. Adolescence is a time when our style choices are often at their most potent and fluid: Options are seemingly endless when trying to figure out taste and interests. Stan has opted for grunge chic, leaning into the past in everything he consumes, from the obscure bands he favors to the movie format he watches. Hipster branding can be ascribed to some of the pieces in his wardrobe, which resemble an adolescent from another era; however, there is optimism infused in how he wears these garments. Meanwhile, Syd's choice of muted colors, repeat sweaters, and corduroy jacket show her desire to blend into the background. She even wears the same outfit two days in a row, much to her mother's horror. With the power she now possesses, to be seen is incredibly dangerous.
Her bond with Stan adds a new layer of intimacy to her very small social group. Borrowing his sunglasses while they get stoned is a gesture that underscores their growing closeness, culminating in the revolutionary "backne supreme" and thigh pimple sharing scene at the end of Episode 2 — I can't think of another teen show that addresses acne that isn't on the face in this way. But Syd's brewing complex emotions coupled with her newfound skills threaten this burgeoning relationship, as well as her longest friendship.
Syd's powers have manifested as she comes to realize her feelings for best friend Dina (Sofia Bryant) are more than platonic. "Dina makes me feel brave," she observes when getting ready for the same party as Stan. A strappy vest top replaces her striped sweater, even if she initially zips her hoodie all the way up. Clothing is a power of its own that doesn't come with telekinesis, but it can boost confidence, as Syd discovers when she drunkenly smooches Dina.
"Does he dress cooler than me?" is Stanley's first question to his crush when she tells him about this kiss (but not the identity of the person in question). He is attempting to brush off his hurt feelings with a quip that is rooted in an aspect of his personality he holds dear. "No one can dress cooler than you, Stan," is her reassuring response. After bingeing this whole season in an evening, we have to agree with Sydney.