The Significance of Styling in Squid Game

The Significance of Styling in Squid Game

Katarina Sin (9th), Editor

While it may seem as if styling isn’t all that important when it comes to survival shows like Squid Game, it actually matters more than you think.


If you’re unfamiliar with Squid Game, I recommend watching it first before reading further. However, to sum it up, when people in serious debt are invited to compete in a variety of games with a heavy cash prize, unseen horrors quickly unfold. 


This South Korean drama with dark twists and turns has taken the world by storm. Not to mention it’s broken all streaming records on Netflix, being the first show to reach 111 millions views. 


Squid Game centers around the main character Seong Gi-hun who primarily joins the game to become a better father for his daughter. Other main players include Kang Sae-byeok, Abdul Ali, Sang-woo, and Oh Il-nam. 


Although people might be more interested in talking about characters or plot, the styling and look of these characters is something to bring into the conversation.


To start off, the styling in Squid Game is genius. The way they incorporate playful colors and childish games into a survival show is very interesting. 


An example of these childish factors include the green tracksuits the players wear and the pink tinted jumpsuits the guards wear. Since both these colors are seen as very playful and cheery, it gives the impression that these characters aren’t as scary as we make them out to be, especially the guards. Another thing that makes the guards seem less intimidating are the shapes on their faces.


The shapes on the guards’ masks are their way of representing their hierarchy. Circle masks are at the bottom of the pyramid, triangle being in the middle, and square having the most power. These shapes they wear can be traced back to video game consoles, such as PlayStation, which again brings us back to the childish designs of these characters.


Even though there are factors included in the guards’ looks to make them appear less frightening, they’re not entirely innocent looking. It’s been a known fact that faceless or masked beings are scarier than ones with a sense of identity. 


Tyler Malone says in his article The Terror Behind the Mask, The mask acts as a barrier, a wall not only between us and him, but between us and understanding. Much of our fear comes from the fact that we don’t know—can’t know—who or what hides behind the mask.”


Circling back to the tracksuits, these items of clothing weren’t just made for fashion purposes, but also made to strip away the identity of the players as well. These green tracksuits that were inspired by director Hwang Dong-hyuk’s childhood gym uniforms, are seen to have no names on them, only numbers. These numbers become the player’s new identities and are announced when they die.


As guards are dressed in pink and players in green, both groups were made to wear opposite colors to appear as if they were enemies on opposing teams.


“We paid attention to the clash of colors because both groups wore team uniforms,” Hwang says in an interview with cinema magazine Cine21.


However, it’s not only the clothes that diminish our idea of positive childhood memories, it’s the games they play as well. The show starts out with the game Red Light, Green Light, a game we all know and grew up playing. 


By seeing this childhood game come alive in a survival show where death is inevitable, we’re given the false idea that the games would be easier than suspected. However, these positive memories of running down the street are turned into something horrific when people start getting shot. 


Another game that turns safe memories into danger is the marble game played in episode 6. The goal of this game is to take all the marbles from your partner. Each person starts off with 10 marbles and whoever has all 20 marbles by the end of the game wins. 


The scary thing about this game in particular is that when picking partners, everyone picked someone they loved or thought they’d have a good chance at winning with, not knowing they would end up having to kill each other.


By putting a dark and twisted spin on these childhood games, the watcher becomes extremely intrigued. We see the bright spirit of the youth get altered into something horrifying all throughout the show, creating a very interesting watch.