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!
Halloween is over, but Sabrina Spellman’s (Kiernan Shipka) glorious fall wardrobe is here to inspire you long after October 31. Before The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina debuted it wasn’t initially clear if the ‘60s aesthetic was simply an homage to the decade in which the Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa comic was set or if seven seasons of Mad Men had been the perfect prep for Shipka's first leading TV role. However, this version of Sabrina takes place in the present day, but with a distinct nod to that era. The early promo images did make it clear that Sabrina would join the long list of super stylish witches on TV and film.
Warning! Spoilers for Episodes 1-3 within.
Cell phones and computers are barely touched; Sabrina prefers to use a landline to talk to her boyfriend, Harvey (Ross Lynch). The movies they watch are old classics like Night of the Living Dead and Carnival of Souls, and the music they listen to could easily come from an old-school diner jukebox. Even when the date title card appears in the pilot it simply reads “Tuesday, October 28th of This Year.” A timeless vibe seeps into every corner. At the start of the pilot, Sabrina also notes the town of Greendale feels like Halloween all year, so the stylized costumes, particularly for the characters who possess magical powers makes sense.
On Riverdale, the weather is reminiscent of the Crowded House song “Four Seasons in One Day” as characters switch from winter attire to short shorts in quick succession. Autumn dominates on Chilling Adventures; Sabrina’s cute knit and mohair sweaters, turtlenecks, high waisted skirts, and an array of outerwear is a reason to celebrate the stable Greendale climate. Netflix is doing an excellent job on the red coat front — first with Lara Jean's (Lana Condor) Gloverall duffle in rom-com hit To All the Boys I Loved Before and now Sabrina’s take on a classic style.Oscar-winning costume designer Angus Strathie has created a strong visual palette for each character while also paying homage to the original Robert Hack artwork — used to great effect in the opening credits. Sabrina’s thick black headband is ever present, as is the white gown Sabrina wears to her “dark baptism.”
The origin of this dress takes on a deeper meaning in the television series as it was her mother’s wedding gown, providing a link to the mortal world on the night she is going to sign her name away. It also doubles as her Halloween costume and is perfect for twirling to the “Monster Mash,” followed by a slow dance to “Sixteen Candles” by Stray Cats. Get you a dress that can do both. I got an extra kick when I first saw this beautiful sweetheart neckline frock, as it also looks a bit like my wedding dress (I ditched the lace sleeves on mine). ELO’s dreamy “Strange Magic” kicks in when Harvey first sees Sabrina in this get-up, his jaw on the floor. In the comic, this gown ends up covered in goat’s blood, but the transformation here is less Carrie and more The Craft.
Sabrina is disrobed for the actual baptism part; her white slip makes her look more vulnerable and this ceremony feels even creepier. Her choice of dress comes back to bite her in the following episode, “The Trial of Sabrina Spellman,” when Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle) suggests that wearing a wedding dress shows she was willingly courting the Dark Lord. Consent and choice is a big part of the discussion Sabrina has regarding her “dark baptism” and Blackwood is using the patented “you asked for it by what you were wearing” BS reasoning. This gown had nothing to do with the Dark Lord; instead, it is Sabrina’s way of feeling a tangible connection to her parents.
In the first half of the season, Sabrina is yet to show any sign of the enviable talent of changing your outfit with the flick of a finger, which Melissa Joan Hart possessed as this same character. But there are plenty of other tricks up her sleeve. When it comes to fall styling with a '60s twist, Sabrina has already mastered this particular sartorial spell.