It has been another big year for genre in both film and television, as Marvel continues its domination and Game of Thrones came to an end. Covering a pantheon of styles and periods across a spectrum of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, SYFY FANGRRLS is closing out the decade with the 10 best-dressed film and TV characters of 2019.
This year continued the love affair between fashion and genre, including innovative technological twists on the runway, body modifications (with no surgery required), high fantasy couture, playful expression via clothing, and method-dressing on the red carpet. The 10 looks featured within (and presented in no particular order) incorporate different aspects of costume design — including how it links to fashion and the influence these clothes have already had. However, this discipline is much more than what is on-trend; it is a visual language that informs character.
Before we reveal the Top 10 costumes, there are some honorable mentions that need to be dished out. Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck delivered a new style interpretation of an iconic character that leaned into a strong ‘70s aesthetic and works the colorful suit trend. In another comic book adaptation, sartorial highs Nebula (Karen Gillan) looked cool af in leather and Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) demonstrated how '90s fashion is in again in Captain Marvel. Quirky headwear is hard to pull off, but Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) wasn't afraid of taking a risk in Doctor Sleep. And in another big accessories moment, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) showed just how swoon-worthy a scarf can be. For the thirstiest look of the year, it was a double-win for Chris Evans in Knives Out knitwear and America's Ass in Avengers: Endgame.
Notable TV style highs included Joan Watson’s (Lucy Liu) impeccable crime-solving attire, Tulip O’Hare's (Ruth Negga) mix of soft and hard edges on Preacher, and the whimsical delights of Esmé Squalor’s (Lucy Punch) Series of Unfortunate Events attire, as well as the stylized suits and fighting costumes of The Umbrella Academy.
John Wick (John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum) - The “If it Ain’t Broke” Award
Keanu Reeves has worn a lot of suits throughout his 30-year movie career, but none have had the impact that his John Wick closet has. The tailored garments are a definitive part of the killer-for-hire brand (that John is desperately trying to shed) and the simplicity of Luca Mosca’s costume design is hard to beat. The suits have been modified for John in order to provide him with some much-needed protection, and he glides through violent situations with an unflappable sense of who he is. Plus, wearing a suit on horseback riding through New York City looks cool as hell.
Grace (Ready or Not) - Bridal but Make it Final Girl
A wedding dress is not standard Final Girl attire, but Ready or Not's Grace (Samara Weaving) doesn’t experience a typical introduction into her new husband’s family. Her delicate lace floor-length gown is inspired by Grace Kelly and Kate Middleton’s lavish royal ceremonies, but costume designer Avery Plewes had to make sure this frock could be transformed into bridal armor. Grace is quick to adapt, including ripping the hem and switching out heels for Converse. It might not end up on the cover of a bridal magazine by the end of the movie, but this is a wedding gown to remember.
The Tethered (Us) - Most Durable
Boiler suits are incredibly versatile and are no longer only associated with manual labor, war, or flight. Us costume designer Kym Barrett proved that the most memorable looks are often the simplest with this hardier fashion cousin to the jumpsuit. The red tone is menacing, particularly when every character is wearing the same garment. It manages to be functional, utilitarian, and stylish as hell.
Queen Ingrith (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) - Best Use of Pearls
How do you rival Maleficent’s high-fashion goth vibes? With an ocean's worth of pearls — if you’re going by the Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) playbook in the Maleficent sequel, that is. Serving up ice queen regalness, Pfeiffer looked ready to host a lavish affair before going to war. That is what you call a multitasking ensemble, courtesy of costume designer legend Ellen Mirojnick.
Dani (Midsommar) - Most Organic
There are different stages of the Midsommar cult look, beginning with cute breathable frocks and flower crowns straight out of boho weddings and music festivals before Dani (Florence Pugh) ends up fully committing to the theme of the midsummer celebration in her friend's ancestral Swedish Hårga commune. Coachella and Glastonbury have nothing on this when it comes to going all out. Andrea Flesch’s costume design team used 10,000 fake flowers to make the stunning robe for the intense climax. Fashion isn’t always comfortable, and the final floral robe appears weighty and unwieldy, but Dani definitely stands out from the crowd.
Sister Night (Watchmen) - Best Superhero
The costumes of HBO's Watchmen go beyond the source material, which has led to some amazing new disguises. The Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) mask is mesmerizing, but it is Angela Abar’s (Regina King) alter ego, Sister Night, that takes superhero style to new heights in a leather hooded cape — the way it moves when she is fighting — spray-on eye mask, boots, and rosary beads that makes us want to pledge allegiance to whatever cause she is fighting. Conceived by Sharen Davis in the pilot, this is an iconic look worthy of any superhero franchise.
Nadia (Russian Doll) - Best Time-loop Outfits
Reliving the same two days is not something Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) relishes, but it does give the viewer the chance to relive her two excellent repeat outfits on numerous occasions. Nadia is very much a no BS character, which is matched by her penchant for suits, large overcoats, and ribbon ties. Unlike Alan, she doesn’t deviate from the clothes she wears and who could blame her when she looks this good. It is no surprise that costume designer Jenn Rogien won Best Contemporary Costume Design at the Emmys this year.
Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones) - Battle-ready Couture
Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) finally became queen (though she deserved a bigger crown) and her coronation gown was a highlight of the Game of Thrones series finale. Michele Clapton deservedly won her sixth Emmy for designing the fantasy garments and for all the grumbles about this final season, the costume design was always out-of-this-world. Sansa’s regal Winterfell robes are a contender for best, but her leather woven bodice worn for the forthcoming big battle still has us wondering if any designer wants to take this armor and make a ready-to-wear version.
Scoop Troop (Stranger Things) - Uniform to Aspire To
The dorky Scoops Ahoy uniform shouldn’t be this stylish and yet, Robin (Maya Hawke) turns the corporate threads into an outfit to aspire to. Nautical is a classic clothing theme for a reason and the high-waisted shorts are something Harry Styles might wear on his next tour — if Gucci made them. This is another case of Chucks making an outfit (and Hawke’s boob doodling elevates the pair of sneakers). The whole squad is the unlikeliest of heroes, and yet this is exactly what they are. Special mention goes to how costume designer Amy Parris utilized the mall to showcase Eleven’s (Millie Bobby Brown) growth, via a makeover she gets to dictate for once.
Montana Duke (American Horror Story: 1984) - Best Vintage
American Horror Story fully commits to theme and each season has given us plenty to talk about, whether the witchy sartorial highs of Coven or the super glamorous Old Hollywood aesthetic in Hotel. From the first character introduction, it was clear Paula Bradley meant business with the short shorts and spandex '80s overload — and it is perfect. Billie Lourd as the hip-thrusting aerobics fanatic Montana Duke takes the title for Best Dressed thanks to her penchant for leopard print and fringe.