Riverdale

The timeless style of shearling jackets on Riverdale, Sabrina and Stranger Things

Contributed by
Nov 28, 2018

Venturing out into the woods at all times of the day and night can be dangerous. This is something the teens in Stranger Things, Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina have discovered the hard way. Adolescence is never easy, but in these particular small towns there is added peril thanks to the monsters and murderers lurking in the shadows. There is no set outfit protocol for a Demogorgon or Gargoyle King hunt, but one iconic jacket style will keep them warm while they do so.

Sheepskin as a fabric has been worn since the Stone Age, but now we have synthetic options to mimic the natural warmth and comfort of this material. It is often referred to as borg — right up our alley. As with a lot of contemporary fashion, the legacy of a garment is tied to military attire. In 1934, the shearling-lined B-3 bomber jacket was first introduced as part of a U.S. pilot’s uniform in order to provide warmth at high altitudes. Sometimes clothes that are practical also look cool af, which is why they trickle down to the mainstream.

Riverdale

The CW

Movie stars sporting this kind of attire increases the desirability factor, which aids its transformation from uniform to fashion. In the 1950s, Marlon Brando and James Dean wore shearling-lined jackets in On the Waterfront and Giant, helping cement the "cool guy" status of these garments. Denim was another fabric undergoing a transformation during this period, moving from workman's uniform to casual mainstream attire. Less than 10 years later, Levi’s introduced the denim Trucker Jacket, which was quickly followed by the shearling-lined Sherpa version. It was a fabric marriage of sorts, which gave birth to a new clothing classic from the iconic American brand.  

On Riverdale, there are plenty of leather jackets, but these are reserved for the Southside Serpents in biker style rather than a bomber. Before Jughead (Cole Sprouse) became a Serpent his go-to outerwear was a rotation of plaid and denim Sherpa numbers with Levi’s as his preferred brand. It started with denim, but as with other Levi’s garments, this has expanded beyond that fabric. The number of options only adds to the versatility of the Sherpa jacket, whereas the leather bomber is a symbol of rugged masculinity; this twist on denim, plaid, and corduroy is not striving to make the same overt statement. It is more unassuming, which is part of the appeal.

Riverdale

The CW 

It isn’t just for teens either, as Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) is a keen purveyor of this trend, which costume designer Rebekka Sorensen-Kjelstrup uses to point to Fred's everyman status. He was also wearing one when he got shot at the end of Season 1, but don’t let that put you off.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Netflix 

It is also the perfect fall-to-winter garment. In a town like Riverdale, the temperatures seem to fluctuate from heavy outerwear to barely-there short shorts, so this kind of jacket is the best of both worlds. The weather is more stable over in Greendale as there is a perpetual fall, which makes Harvey Kinkle’s (Ross Lynch) choice of denim is a no-brainer. Again, there is something unassuming about this jacket; it is cool without trying too hard.

Costume designer Angus Strathie has utilized a number of all-American classics for Harvey, including the more traditional leather bomber complete with cozy looking collar for when it gets more dangerous for him on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Netflix 

Both Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has an aesthetic that leans toward the stylized with the latter very much circling a retro ‘60s look. The shearling-lined jacket is perfect for this because it has been a staple since this particular decade. It's also why it doesn’t look out of place in the ‘80s-set Stranger Things. Nancy (Natalia Dyer) wears red in Season 1, first while undertaking some target practice with Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), followed by a hunt in the woods for the monster that took her friend. It is perfect for training and an unplanned trip to the Upside Down. Nancy might be terrified, but at least she will be warm.  

Traditional denim and neutral colors are far from your only choice, so if you want a similar shade to Nancy’s then Levi’s has this one currently available online and for an alternative in canvas look to LF Markey at Urban Outfitters.

Stranger Things

Netflix

Nancy isn’t the only one opting for this style in Stranger Things, as Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) both sport furry collar jackets in Season 2. Eleven’s leans towards the winter end of the faux sheepskin style. Not only is this jacket incredibly versatile, but it works as an outerwear choice for a TV show or movie set in the last 50 years. The future isn’t off limits either, as shearling is still thriving even in a dystopian world if Ryan Gosling as K in Blade Runner 2049 suggests.

Another recent follower of this trend is Jackie Torrance (Jane Levy) on Season 1 of Castle Rock. Jackie is paying homage to her Uncle Jack with her name — much to the chagrin of her parents — and her styling is another a nod to Jack Nicholson’s iconic Shining character without completely copying his look.

Castle Rock
Castle Rock is set in the present day, but as with Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, there is something off-kilter about this small town. The retro garb only adds to this feeling of timelessness.

It isn’t just TV that is embracing this cozy casual look, as Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) also wears a shearling-lined denim jacket in Black Panther. In the museum heist sequence, Killmonger looks unassuming in glasses and this ensemble, but costume designer Ruth E. Carter also chose this garment because it is a classic Americana look “rooted in Oakland.” This immediately establishes where Killmonger grew up and sets him apart from T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman).

Black Panther
My own faux-shearling denim jacket obsession began in 2013 when I went to see The Conjuring. Other than being terrified, I also exited the theater set upon getting a jacket similar to the one worn by dad Roger (Ron Livingston). Sartorial inspiration can come from the most unlikely of places and, five years later, I’m still wearing the Topshop borg-lined jacket I bought after seeing this movie. And while the design I have is no longer available, Topshop does have several takes on this trend including an oversized denim version and cord counterparts. I am very tempted by this forest green corduroy to complete my set — I also already have a red and black Levi's Sherpa jacket similar to Jughead's Season 1 design.

This isn’t just a jacket for one season — as my own denim story demonstrates — and its versatility also applies to its day-to-night potential. It can dress an outfit down and looks just as great with a dress and ankle boots as it does with jeans and sneakers. Plus it is super cozy, which is ideal for fall days when temperatures drop during the evening. There is a reason costume designers keep turning to it time and time again, which also informs why it has been a staple wardrobe item since the mid '60s. You don't need to be hunting monsters or taking part in a museum heist to get in on this trend.  

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