Cutting-edge stuff - The tropical shirts of Stranger Things 3

2019’s Stranger Things 3 takes us back to Hawkins, Indiana for another go-round with Eleven and the gang. It’s summer 1985, and the only thing hotter than the pavement at Hawkins Community Pool is the eye-searing ‘80s fashion. Hopper’s hi-liter coloring book of a shirt is the star of the show style-wise, but radical tropical-inspired attire is found throughout. Here’s a roundup of the top Hawaiian and patterned shirts in Stranger Things 3, including details on where to get your own Hopper shirt.

Hopper’s shirt

We’ll start with the big one – the neon-pastel pink and lime printed shirt Hopper (David Harbour) wears for most of the season.

It debuts in episode 2; Hopper’s secretary picks it up for him from JCPenney, specially selected for his upcoming date with Joyce (Winona Ryder). We first see it on Hopper as he arrives at the restaurant, resplendent in his complete date night outfit. The shirt peeks out from beneath a pale beige blazer, tucked into stonewash Wrangler jeans. A pair of tan top-siders completes the ensemble.

It’s not all chianti and candlelight for Hopper this summer, though. The supernatural Russian conspiracy action ramps up quickly thereafter, and although he ditches the blazer and trades his boat shoes for boots, the jeans and shirt remain for the rest of the season.

The print itself is quite something. It’s difficult to describe – the phrases “Miami camouflage” and “flamingo mint” come to my mind. I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to wear this one myself, but fans are loving the bold splash of dad fashion.

Close inspection reveals that Hopper’s shirt features a “matched pocket” – the fabric used to construct the breast pocket is cut and sewn carefully such that the pattern on the pocket aligns with the pattern on the chest where it’s attached. In the universe of aloha shirts, a matched pocket is generally considered a mark of quality – such care is not taken in the fabrication of cheap, low-end shirts.

This shirt even appears to be matched across the front buttons!

Note how the print pattern is matched across both the pocket and the front buttons
Note how the print pattern is matched across both the pocket and the front buttons

Vulture and Fashionista talked to Stranger Things 3 costume designer Amy Parris to get further details about the origin of the shirt. I strongly recommend reading their takes if you want to learn more about the production details. A few top takeaways:

  • The shirt was a custom creation by the show’s costume and wardrobe team, not an off-the-rack purchase from a particular store or designer
  • Hopper’s overall look this season was directly inspired by Tom Selleck’s iconic alohaphile detective in Magnum, P.I.
  • Five identical copies of the Hopper shirt were produced, constructed out of vintage ‘80s fabric
  • Actor David Harbour came up with the idea to cuff the sleeves, giving the shirt even more attitude
  • A hidden wire was inserted in the collar during filming in order to achieve a consistent rumpled look, and to prevent the collar and lapel from looking too flat

Tom Selleck as "Magnum, P.I.", inspiration for Hopper's look. It's not hard to see the resemblence.
Tom Selleck as "Magnum, P.I.", inspiration for Hopper's look. It's not hard to see the resemblence.

Wear it

When Stranger Things 3 dropped, fans were immediately clamoring to buy their own Hopper shirt. Well, fans, you’re in luck! Netflix was savvy enough to develop merchandising tie-ins with a few retailers to sell the shirt.

The print on the Spencer’s Gifts version appears to be nearly an exact match to the shirt in the show. The same replica is sold under the Spirit Halloween brand, so you should expect that the fabric and construction quality of this reproduction is on par with “Halloween costume.” There doesn’t appear to be a pocket on this version.

Spencer's take on the Hopper shirt
Spencer's take on the Hopper shirt

The Hot Topic version is unquestionably a Hopper shirt, but the print is slightly re-interpreted. Cotton/rayon blend, with an unmatched breast pocket.

Hot Topic? More like *Hop* Topic.
Hot Topic? More like *Hop* Topic.

Online retailer Carrot Tee is also selling a Hopper shirt reproduction in a spandex/polyester blend. Their print design looks similar to the Hot Topic variation.

Hopper shirt by Carrot Tee
Hopper shirt by Carrot Tee

Dustin’s cassette shirt

Another fun shirt worth noting is Dustin’s (Gaten Matarazzo) cotton cassette tape printed shirt, spotted in episode 3. The shirt is worn unbuttoned, with a “Weird Al” tshirt below and a “Camp Know Where ‘85” trucker hat above.

In close-up shots you can see that the cassettes are hand-labeled as mixtapes.

Wear it

Weird Al himself had a part to play in creating the overall outfit and is now hawking the throwback tshirt:

The patterned shirt is by Original Penguin, available on Amazon.

Ricky’s zip-up 7-Eleven smock

Hopper, Joyce, and new addition Alexei (Alec Utgoff) find themselves at a 7-Eleven store midway through the season, loading up on colorful retro junk food. What caught my eye most about this scene was the retina-scorching orange work smock worn by cashier Ricky (Michael Silvio Fortino).

Netflix displays a notice before every episode of Stranger Things 3 warning that some scenes “may affect photosensitive viewers.” I think they are referring to this shirt. It is admittedly a period-appropriate costume – variations of this design were indeed used as 7-Eleven uniforms in the late 1970s and 1980s – but dang, it’s intense.

The smock is a polyester blend, likely manufactured by Batsco Uniforms of Toronto, who supplied workwear with this print to 7-Eleven at the time. The vivid orange dots are a constant for uniforms of this period, but smocks from different years have minor variations in collar style and number of pockets. Ricky’s shirt features an open collar, zip closure, and 3 front pockets.

Wear it

I’d really recommend against it, but if you must, smocks with this print are circulating today through various vintage and auction sites. Thankfully, most are no longer available to purchase.

Lucas’s tropical-print hat

The last article of clothing I’ll mention individually is not a shirt at all, but rather Lucas’s (Caleb McLaughlin) abstract floral/tropical-print hat.

Paired with a tank top and shorts, Lucas is clearly embracing a relaxed, summertime vibe.

Wear it

A licensed costume version of this hat is for sale from Party City. The color palette matches, but the print is not an exact replica.

Extras in aloha shirts

Hopper’s shirt is getting most of the attention, but Parris and her team outfitted numerous extras with terrific tropical and floral shirts, as well. Here are some of my favorites, found primarily in the background of the Starcourt Mall and 4th of July fair scenes.



Shopping at The Starcourt since 2019