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Animal Crossing’s fashion is unrivaled

Lookin’ good

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An outfit composed in Animal Crossing: New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

I start out every day in Animal Crossing: New Horizons the same way, by going into my wardrobe and picking out the day’s look. It’s an important ritual now, right up there with checking my island for new fossils or opening up my mail. I think of it as setting the tone of the day; if I look fresh, then I’m bound to have a good play session.

Clothes are, by far, my biggest expense. I buy things in multiple colors and variations, just in case. I splurge on accessories, shoes, backpacks. When I visit a friend, I change into an outfit for the occasion. And once I’m there, I beeline to their Able Sisters shop, because I want to see what the hedgehogs have in stock. In fact, I was initially happy to ignore house expansions...

...until I realized that I needed more space for all of my boots. Now getting a mansion is a priority again, but only so I can turn it into a glorified closet. Being able to decorate it is just a nice bonus.

My fashion obsession is not an entirely selfish pursuit. I also dedicate time to trying to improve my islander’s outfit choices, because sometimes, they need a little help. But mostly, it’s fun to see what they’ll wear.

But, there’s only so much I can do. Some villagers will happily wear my gifted threads for about a day before reverting back to their old threads, which are then never to be seen again. My biggest frustration, however, is how the game treats rounder villagers, like Humphrey the gerbil — the game’s clothes look low-res on them, as if they’re being stretched. Still, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of seeing that hand-picked item actually get worn by a favorite villager.

I am not alone in my Animal Crossing fashion fascination: Many fans are creating “lookbooks” which go viral on social media sites like TikTok, sharing outfits under hashtags like #OOTD, or they are holding full-blown fashion shows. There’s even a dedicated fashion mechanic, thanks to wands which let you change between pre-selected outfits.

Despite spending around 80 hours in the game, I’m still perpetually amazed at all the different looks you can pull off. Options feel particularly endless because you can import patterns — which some people use to recreate actual luxury brands — and because the game doesn’t limit your options by gender. Sometimes, my boy character wants to wear an oversized sweater dress ... and that’s OK!

I was not surprised to learn, then, that there’s a reason the fashion in this game is so damn good. As The Verge reported in an interview with New Horizons producer Hisashi Nogami, the Nintendo developer also worked on Splatoon, a series where clothes are literally the source of your power. Incidentally, Splatoon also has some of the best video game fashion around, and it works wonders for giving the ink shooter a palpable sense of tone and place. In the case of New Horizons, sharp clothes make the game feel modern and hip. No wonder brands are releasing entire clothing lines in-game.

I might be biased here, but I’m ready to attribute much of New Horizons’ massive success on its aesthetics, of which fashion forms a massive part. Time and time again, we’ve seen apps, tools, and games ranging from Bitmoji to Black Desert Online blow up because people can recreate themselves or other famous celebrities. Animal Crossing takes this one step further by actually capturing our personalities — you can tell a lot about a person’s vibe by looking at the way they dress. And with hundreds of clothing options, there are endless ways to express your personality here.

But enough about that. This post was all an elaborate excuse to share some of my outfits, which you can peek at below.

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