What to wear to a midnight Suspiria screening

The drama of the iconic horror movie demands you dress up. Here are eight jumping off points for an ensemble that’s not a costume.

October 19, 2018

Suspiria, Dario Argento’s 1977 technicolor ballet nightmare, is a haunting, unforgettable horror classic. Its malevolent soundtrack, and influential — and very red — color story via groundbreaking lighting techniques, and Jessica Harper as a dancer with feathered hair and a streak of Nancy Drew, meld into an impossibly beautiful, brutal film. Suspiria is regarded today as Argento’s masterpiece and a highlight of the horror canon but it’s also camp as hell. With an often incoherent plot (What happened to Mark? Why does Olga get to live off-campus?), over-the-top dubbing (consistent with Italian filmmaking mores at the time), and an abysmal initial reception followed by eventual critical reverence, Suspiria has all the makings of a camp classic. And when you see a campy cult favorite (or its questionable remake) in a theater, you dress for the occasion.


On October 26, Suspiria is getting a makeover courtesy of director Luca Guadagnino and the stars of his 2015 film Swimming Pool, Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson. It’s debuting right around the time we’re all hyped on the idea of putting on a costume, so take that mood and run with it. Get inspired by 1977 Suspiria and get dressed up to go see 2018 Suspiria, if you’re into that kind of thing. Though if you think we’re suggesting you pull on a tutu and Capezios please do not worry. We came up with eight ideas for what to wear to the Suspiria screening, and while some of them come at the film head-on, most are oblique enough that you’ll look good for any occasion, and just a little scary.

1. Anything but dancewear

For a film that revolves around a prestigious dance academy, 1977’s Suspiria features a real lack of dancing, with the notable exception of Suzy’s possessed shantes. This is fine. If you’d like more dancing with your supernatural we recommend Black Swan. The most concrete indications that the Danz Akademie is an actual dance academy come via the locker room scenes, where the dancers take leg warmers on and off etc. Those scenes, plus Suzy’s excellent hybrid jacket — part denim, part tutu — are about it for dancewear. So don’t wear dancewear to the screening. It’s lazy and insipid, like wearing only cat ears on Halloween. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

2. A wig
What to wear to a midnight <i>Suspiria</i> screening Amazon Studios

Our favorite part of the new Suspiria’s trailer is, hands down, Dakota Johnson’s absolutely atrocious red wig. Molded into a thick braid, it is extremely The Artist Is Present. Worn down and unbraided, it makes her look like the oldest daughter in a TLC reality show about a Mormon family. It makes her look like a witch! She is, emphatically, not supposed to be a witch! Anyway, in honor of this hilarious styling choice, wear a wig. Any wig. It will keep your head warm. Movie theaters are cold.

3. Goblin-worthy gear
What to wear to a midnight <i>Suspiria</i> screening Goblin's <i>Della Paura</i> soundtrack album art.

Goblin is the Italian prog rock outfit behind the impossibly foreboding, synth-leaden Suspiria soundtrack (as well as the music for George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead). Argento commissioned the soundtrack well before the film began shooting, and once filming began, he would actually blast Goblin during shooting (all diegetic sound was dubbed in post-production) in order to freak out the cast. Goblin still tours, playing the soundtrack while screening the film, but when dressing up as a member of the group take inspiration from 1977 Goblin, unless you already have a head start on growing a goatee.

Lock down a printed button-down, a polo shirt, or a band tee and pair it with your favorite suede blazer and high-waisted pants. Comb out those luscious locks and you’re ready to go.

4. Red acrylics

Take a cue from the desiccated husk of Elana Marcos and kit out your demon fingers with severe acrylics finely honed to a sharp point. While Marcos rocked the kind of yellowed ombre you naturally acquire over a century, we suggest paying tribute to the film’s signature color and painting them a bright, unnatural red.

5. All red everything

While we’re at it, just go head to toe. You’re worth it.

6. Something old-fashioned and flouncy

Is there anything that more immediately communicates “this is a prestigious dance academy” than the constant presence of a tiny, ominous child dressed like a 19th century Damien? Albert, the son of the academy’s custodian, is everything. Get the look, as they say, in a collared shirt secured with a length of black ribbon and knee socks. Or even better, anything from Batsheva, the brand 2018 Albert would most certainly be wearing.

7. Knits
What to wear to a midnight <i>Suspiria</i> screening Screenshot via Amazon Studios / IMDB.

For a slightly more toned-down take on Suspiria-core, look to Suzy’s diaphanous and quintessentially ‘70s style. Get yourself some flowy skirts, cable-knit sweaters, close-gauge knit tops, and sparkly knit scarves in a rainbow of pastel. This plush pastel assortment, paired with soft feathered hair, can get very Pollyanna very quick. Combat the saccharine with purple and red eyeshadows, shaded out low enough to take your look from “I love the Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance” palette to “Their footsteps are going to the right, somewhere inside the school.”

8. Fake Blood

This one’s self-explanatory. Fake blood isn’t just for Halloween, it’s for watching Suspiria, always.

What to wear to a midnight Suspiria screening