This summer, we’re dressing like horror video game protagonists, like this TikTok with over 100 thousand views recently declared. But not in the sour browns or bloated hoodies you see men wearing in games like Alan Wake or Silent Hill—we need to start dressing like the girls.
The girls, people are noticing, have a definitive style. The most recognizable female horror protagonists—Ashley from Resident Evil 4, Maria from Silent Hill 2, the cast of the Fatal Frame series—were all created at a high point of both Japan and the U.S.’ fascination with horror, in the sunrise hours of the 2000s. As necessitated by this global appreciation for all things morose, whether it be in films like The Grudge (2002), R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books, or the dead fish sighing of post-punk revivalists like Interpol, female horror game protagonists dress like they wanted to be haunted.
They wear spring-tone mini skirts with knee-high boots, as in the case of both Silent Hill 3’s Heather and RE4’s Ashley, so that they can splash in mud while maintaining the intrigue that an exposed thigh affords. They wear milkmaid blouses with sleeves puffed like bluebell flowers on top of pastel skirts, looking sunbleached from sitting too long inside a china cabinet. Lace softens all of their edges, so that if the monster does come to rip their tongue out, dust can collect on their corpse elegantly, like powdered sugar on a strawberry shortcake.
While I disagree with the popular equivalency of womanhood to pain, and the entire concept of a tormented, female horror protagonist inherently makes that comparison, I also think horror protagonist fashion marks resilience.
I like imagining that these women, despite players deliberately putting them in harm’s way, keep their dignity by dressing cute. No matter what prophecy or ghost commands them, they look like they brush their hair and put on lipgloss, maintaining control of their lives in small, but observable, ways.
We can all benefit from finding control in chaos, and luckily, their sartorial cues are easy to imitate. With the help of some iconic characters, I can give you a few tips on how to dress like a horror protagonist.