Since it debuted in 2011, American Horror Story has served up Old Hollywood glam, ‘70s-inspired witches, and boho frocks. No matter how scary, twisted or a bloody, you can guarantee there will be at least one character’s wardrobe worth coveting (even if it ends up covered in blood).
Spanning a number of different time periods, AHS isn’t content with only delivering contemporary couture. The ninth installment (premiering this September) is going full mid-'80s, decking the cast out in short shorts, leopard print, spandex, and enough synthetic fabrics fit for any slasher flick. Another AHS guarantee is that the thirst levels of each season's cast are always high, even when committing various heinous acts. Sure, you might be peeking through your fingers as events unfold on screen, but the stylish aesthetic should help keep those nightmares at bay.
Cult (Season 7)
Every season has some standout sartorial moments, so while Cult is ranked last in the style stakes, Sarah Evelyn's costume design is far from a fashion faux pas. There are just a lot of creepy clown costumes to contend with. As Ally Mayfair-Richards, Sarah Paulson is draped in the finest coats and cashmere sweaters. Sadly, expensive clothes are not a form of protection. Meanwhile, Winter Anderson (Billie Lourd) could easily be a member of the Coven squad, dressed predominantly in hippy-adjacent black and white outfits.
Roanoke (Season 6)
Going boho in Roanoke with a cheesy wedding that could fit in with the Coachella crowd — her husband-to-be pairs a suit with Converse sneakers for the chilled vibe — is British actress Audrey Tindall (Sarah Paulson). Once again, a flower crown is a beautiful accessory, but things don’t always go well for the wearer and this season of AHS has twists and costume changes aplenty. English colonists from the 16th century are not exactly high on our list of trends to emulate, which is why this season lands so far down the list.
Murder House (Season 1)
A house full of ghosts means plenty of different looks across a spectrum of decades. Jessica Lange gets to wear the most glamorous attire, which also pays homage to an icon of the past (a repeat them throughout AHS). As Constance Langdon, she is a woman who never got to fulfill her Hollywood dream — and yet she looks like she could’ve stepped off the A Streetcar Named Desire set in an aesthetic that is pure Blanche DuBois in florals, red silk, and Southern belle frocks. The Harmons appear to be the picture of a perfect family, but expensive clothes can only cover so many cracks.
Asylum (Season 2)
AHS often balances the horrors of the past with the present, showcasing a blend of contemporary and period styles. In Asylum, Sarah Paulson plays journalist Lana Winters, delivering mid-'60s chartreuse jacket and green turtleneck delights — but it is her “L” pin that really makes this an outfit to aspire to. This is another case of really great outerwear for this AHS regular. Jessica Lange makes her Sister Jude Martin get-up look impossibly chic, but it is the Dusty Springfield homage that ticks all the fabulous retro boxes.
Freak Show (Season 4)
What do you get if you cross David Bowie with Marlene Dietrich and Jean Harlow? Jessica Lange singing “Life on Mars” in a tailored-to-perfection powder-blue suit and heavy eyeshadow as Elsa Mars. Freak show owner Elsa might not have the career she dreamed of, but her ruffles, feathers, suits, silk robes, and furs scream 1940s icon (despite the show being set in 1950s Florida). Meanwhile, Emma Roberts as fake fortune teller Maggie Esmerelda has the nipped-in-waist, delicate knits and red lipstick look down. Coming from the James March (Hotel) school of dressing well, but also harboring a violent secret, is ascot-wearing Dandy. He is equal parts dapper and deadly.
Apocalypse (Season 8)
It is dramatic capes aplenty in the eighth season of this anthology series, which saw the return of the Coven witches. Going head-to-head with the son of Satan, the Antichrist himself, Michael Langdon (Cody Fern) involves several fierce face-offs. In a battle to save the world, both sides are pulling out all of the style stops. Langdon’s cape is a sashaying dream (or should that be a nightmare?) with a chain that looks straight out of Westeros. A closet full of leather, and velvet is focus-pulling attire, pairing well with his blonde wavy locks and red eyeshadow. Fern has been an exciting presence on both the red carpet and as a recent addition to the expanding AHS cast. Anticipation is high for his short shorts styling in 1984.
Hotel (Season 5)
Running a close runner-up is the season featuring Lady Gaga in killer couture, Evan Peters as the dashing and dastardly serial killer James March, Denis O’Hare delivering Liz Taylor realness, and creepy kids dressed as if they are heading off to a horror prep school. As the Countess, Lady Gaga is dressed for 1940s Hollywood in silks, fuschia caped gowns, and diamond-encrusted jewels (doubling as a deadly weapon). James March’s double-breasted pinstripe suit, cravat, and pencil-thin mustache give off the air of a gentleman even if his actions do not. In a beret, mini dress, and matching duster coat, Chloe Sevigny is just as stylish on-screen as she is off. Even Sarah Paulson, as Hypodermic Sally, is working the leopard jacket, platform sandals, and super smudgy eye makeup.
Coven (Season 3)
In the supernatural world, witch powers extend to their sartorial prowess and the women of Coven continue this tradition. Fashion has long since looked to Wiccans for inspiration from Alexander McQueen to Vivienne Westwood, so it is no surprise this is the most stylish season of AHS. If any of the characters from this connected universe became influencers, it would be the women of Coven. A mix of vintage Yves Saint Laurent with recent collections from brands like Gucci, Prada, Givenchy, and McQueen gives them the edge. There isn’t a lot of color in these garments, but a ‘70s rockstar vibe works better in monochrome. Whether it is Misty’s Stevie Nicks influence or Myrtle looking like Vogue’s Grace Coddington, the crown for best dressed goes to Coven.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.