Why Riverdale’s Costumes Inspire Elaborate Conspiracy Theories

Riverdale has a lot of things you wouldn’t normally see on a TV teen soap: a maple-syrup dynasty, a kid named Jughead . . . and a very fashionable 16-year-old wearing sheer panty hose.

It’s safe to say that the fictitious town at the center of the teen-centric Archie reboot is not your typical sleepy hamlet, not in the least because its stylish characters have closets not just unlike those of regular teens but unlike any seen on other TV shows, too.

Costume designer Rebekka Sorensen-Kjelstrup has a background in stage design, which makes her the perfect guide for one of television’s most dramatic shows—a series that takes the preppy 50s aesthetic of the classic Archie comics and adds tons of flair.

“I feel and think that you need to bring what’s current today in a little bit, mix it up with a little bit of vintage fashion and style to what’s in fashion now,” she said. “I love the fashion from different eras, and researching it and trying to bring it back somehow in a modern sense.”
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Sorensen-Kjelstrup joined the show after the pilot episode, where Riverdale firmly established its identity as a dark-and-broody—but knowing and funny—spin on the Americana comic. “When you’re mixing genres, as we do on Riverdale, you can’t really do things in half-measures,” says series creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. “And people had so many preconceived ideas about what the show was going to be—that it would be light and frothy and bubblegum pink—that we knew we needed to take a big swing right out of the gate, to make something that was highly designed, highly curated. And, most importantly, subverted people’s expectations.”

The show’s female teens all carry that bold vibe in their costumes, decked out in silhouettes pulled from the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. (There’s not a piece of athleisure to be found.) Then there are those moody familial color palettes: red for the Blossoms, pastels for the Coopers, luxe grays and purples for the Lodge clan.

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