When it comes to the horror genre, the costuming of its scream queens are often overlooked when compared to its gory makeup and spine-tingling twists.
However, with Ryan Murphy’s new binge-worthy (and true story) crime thriller The Watcher, the characters’ clothing play an integral part in building the eerie world of Westfield, New Jersey.
And leading the charge in this department is none other than the costuming of Naomi Watts’ character Nora Brannock.
Based on a true story, The Watcher serves up an explosive “whodunit” drama that leaves you delightfully disoriented and with less trust for your neighbours than ever before, if you even had any to begin with.
With the Brannock’s house, 657 Boulevard, positioned as the idyllic antithesis to inner-city life, complete with manicured front lawns and a nearby country club, Watts’ understated nouveau riche aesthetic aids in creating a sense of uneasiness and foreboding—but not how you’d expect.
When we first meet Nora, complete with her oversized ecru blazer and perfectly stacked Dinosaur Design-esque jewellery, she’s the embodiment of the American dream.
An art-school graduate, Watts has the seemingly perfect husband, is a step away from owning her dream home and not a single stain on her crisp white ensemble—a detail that any mum of young kids would notice is unrealistic.
She’s the epitome of a reformed Upper East Side style savant who made the switch from visits to The Row’s Maddison Avenue townhouse flagship to a more simpler life out in the suburbs.
Throughout the season, we see textural and tonal dressing come to the forefront, with oversized beige trench coats, relaxed pewter cashmere turtlenecks and undone button downs a mainstay in her ‘pseudo working mother’ repertoire.
Even her perfectly tailored grey tracksuits highlight her privilege—pleated ever so slightly, grazing the ground in a nonchalant way that justifies the expensive laundry bill that comes with dry cleaning your loungewear.
When we don’t see her donning an ensemble that could’ve come straight from Khaite’s runway, she’s sartorially imbuing the clubhouse aesthetic—a trend which takes inspiration from the Ivy League and country club uniforms and sees staples like a chunky cable knit sweater, pleated tennis skirt and loafer high in rotation.
Each piece in Nora’s perfectly manicured costume presents the idealised utopia that her character has created for herself. She’s selling us a fantasy, but also serving as a warning that everything comes with a price.
Which, in Nora’s case, involves an obsessive stalker, or mysterious “watcher”.
However, out of the context of the show, this oversized, soft tailoring aesthetic is one that’s fawned over by millennials around the world—and one that Australian designers have done a good job at harnessing.
We’ve dubbed it the ‘clean palette’ look, thanks for its wash of natural tones and textures that allows the wearer to shine thanks to its polished and always put together appearance.
These elevated essentials prioritise the right fit over print, with the only accessories required a wash of red lipstick.
It’s what’s made the style of Sienna Miller, Lee Radziwell and the Olsen twins so desirable of late.
It’s not unfussy, effortlessly elegant and the perfect trans-seasonal uniform.
High fashion labels like St. Agni, Venroy and bassike offer these minimalistic classics in the arsenal, and with our penchant as Australians to focus on functionality over aesthetic, Watts’ character serves as the perfect inspiration for the upcoming season ahead.
These ensembles, which were styled by Rudy Mance (with assistance from Catherine Crabtree and Marquis Bias), embrace the laid back aesthetic—and considering the tumultuous season we’re leaving behind, Nora’s looks are proving to be the best style to sartorially reference this summer.
Below, we round up all the Nora Brannock style staples to add to your own wardrobe that will have you looking like Naomi Watts from The Watcher.
Low Rise Cotton Chino, $200 at Venroy
Ripstop Utility Trench, $895 at bassike
Curve Seam Blazer, $649 at St. Agni
ARCH4 Knightsbridge Cashmere Sweater, $818.55 at NET-A-PORTER
BY JOHNNY. Kason Knit Pants, $210 at The Iconic
AERE Organic Cotton Linen Vest, $90 at The Iconic
The Upside Louie Knitted Sweater, $119 at David Jones
Open Sprout Rings, $150 at Dinosaur Designs
The Row Giorgix Organic Cotton-jersey Tank, $455.31 at NET-A-PORTER
Dion Lee Drape Merino Sweater, $790 at David Jones