Joe Goldberg Costume Guide

Joe Goldberg is a complex and captivating character known for his obsessive tendencies and chilling charm. This comprehensive guide will help you transform into the iconic Joe Goldberg. We'll cover everything from his signature outfit to embodying his mannerisms. Plus, you'll find ideas for turning your Joe Goldberg costume into a couple or group costume. Over the years, I've prepared hundreds of costume guides, and being one of my personal favorite characters, I'll draw on my experience to ensure your Joe Goldberg costume is both authentic and impressive.

  • Difficulty: 2/10   Joe's aesthetic is intentionally simple. The challenge lies in embodying his mannerisms, not sourcing elaborate costume pieces.
  • Can you build it from your own wardrobe: Most people own the basics (jeans, button-down, etc.). The key pieces– the denim jacket and the backpack – may need to be sourced elsewhere.
  • Scare factor: 0/10 (costume alone), 6/10 (with mannerisms) - Joe's outfit is innocuous. It's his behavior and the knowledge of his actions that create the disturbing atmosphere.
  • Cost: $$$$$ Here's a rough breakdown:
        • Basic (from your wardrobe or thrifted): ~$15- $30 (if you need to purchase a denim jacket or backpack). Thrift stores are excellent for these items.
        • Mid-range (mix of new and pre-owned items): ~$40- $80 (if you need to purchase new elements like the shirt, a specific style of boots, etc.)

        • High-End (replica pieces): ~$150+ (if you want an exact replica denim jacket, a higher-end backpack, etc.). This isn't necessary for the essence of Joe Goldberg.

      • Additional Notes on Cost:
        • Accessories: The baseball cap is optional but adds authenticity.
        • Location: Thrift store availability varies by region.
        • Sales: Look for end-of-season sales on denim jackets and similar items.

Joe Goldberg Costume Essentials

Other "You" Inspired Costume Ideas

Love Quinn
Guinevere Beck

Other Items Worn By Joe

  • Joe Goldberg's Shirts and T-Shirts:

Joe Goldberg's wardrobe consists of mostly basic and simple clothing, including t-shirts and shirts. He tends to stick with neutral colors and avoids bold patterns or prints. Here are some examples of the type of shirts and t-shirts Joe Goldberg wears:

  1. Basic t-shirts: Joe often wears basic t-shirts in neutral colors like white, gray, or black. These t-shirts are usually made of cotton or a soft, comfortable material.
  2. Henley shirts: Joe is also seen wearing long-sleeved Henley shirts in neutral colors. These shirts have a collarless neckline with a button placket, giving them a simple and classic look.
  3. Button-up shirts: Joe wears button-up shirts occasionally, usually in muted colors like navy blue or gray. These shirts are typically slim-fitted and made of lightweight material.
  • Joe Goldberg's Sweaters and Jackets:

Joe Goldberg's wardrobe is characterized by practicality and simplicity, and this extends to his choices of sweaters and jackets as well. Here are some examples of the type of sweaters and jackets he wears in the series:

  1. Simple crew-neck sweaters: Joe often wears simple crew-neck sweaters in muted colors like gray, black, or navy blue. These sweaters are typically made of wool or a wool blend and provide warmth and comfort during colder weather.
  2. Zip-up hoodies: Joe is also seen wearing zip-up hoodies in muted colors like black or dark gray. These hoodies are often made of a soft, comfortable material like cotton and provide a casual and relaxed look.
  3. Bomber jackets: Joe wears bomber jackets occasionally, usually in neutral colors like black or olive green. These jackets have a classic and timeless look and are perfect for layering over a simple t-shirt or sweater.
  4. Leather jackets: Joe wears a leather jacket in some episodes, which is a timeless piece that adds a bit of edge to any outfit. His leather jacket is simple, with a classic design and muted color.
  • Joe Goldberg's Shoes and Accessories:

Here are some examples of the type of shoes and accessories he wears in the series:

  1. Simple sneakers: Joe wears simple sneakers in muted colors like black, gray, or white. These sneakers are comfortable and functional, perfect for his job at the bookstore or for exploring the city.
  2. Leather boots: Joe is also seen wearing leather boots in some episodes, especially during colder weather. These boots are durable and provide warmth and protection from the elements.
  3. Baseball cap or beanie: Joe often wears a baseball cap or beanie, which is a simple accessory that adds a touch of style to his outfits. He tends to stick to muted colors and simple designs.
  4. Backpack or messenger bag: Joe carries a backpack or messenger bag, which is perfect for carrying books, snacks, and other essentials. His bags are simple and functional, with muted colors and minimal branding.
  5. Glasses: Joe wears glasses, which is a functional accessory that also adds to his overall look. His glasses have a classic design and add to his intelligent and bookish persona.

Overall, Joe Goldberg's shoe and accessory choices are practical and functional, perfect for his job at the bookstore or for exploring the city. He tends to stick to simple and classic pieces that can be worn with a variety of outfits.

Books Read By Joe From Netflix's You

How to DIY Joe Goldberg's Iconic Look

Embracing the understated yet captivating style of Joe Goldberg from Netflix's YOU is an exciting venture into the world of costume creation. His signature look combines everyday casualness with a hint of lurking intensity, making it a unique choice for enthusiasts seeking to embody this complex character. If you're inclined towards a hands-on approach or are on the lookout for a more budget-friendly method after browsing our recommended shopping list above, this section will guide you through crafting your own Joe Goldberg costume with precision and creativity.

Joe Goldberg
Joe Goldberg

The Classic Denim Jacket

  • What You Need:

    • A denim jacket in a traditional medium-blue wash
    • Fabric scissors (optional)
    • Sandpaper (optional)
  • How To Do It:

    1. The Perfect Fit: Joe's jacket isn't oversized or boxy like a vintage style. Look for a slightly fitted denim jacket for a more modern, tailored look.
    2. Optional: Add Character: If the jacket is brand new, consider giving it a slightly worn-in appearance. Rubbing sandpaper lightly over areas like the collar and pockets can add subtle distressing.
  • Bonus Tips:

    • I've found vintage and thrift stores are great places to find the perfect denim jacket at a bargain price!
    • If you can't find the exact wash, don't worry – Joe wouldn't be too particular. The key is the style and fit, so prioritize those aspects.

The Light Blue Button-Down

  • What You Need:

    • Light blue button-down shirt (preferably cotton or cotton blend)
    • Iron and ironing board
    • Sewing kit with matching thread (optional)
  • How To Do It:

    1. Crisp and Clean: To nail Joe's preppy element, make sure your shirt is wrinkle-free. A good ironing session is essential!
    2. Roll the Sleeves: Joe often rolls up his sleeves casually to the mid-forearm. Practice achieving a neat roll for that effortless look.
    3. Optional: Tailor the Fit: If the shirt is too boxy, consider taking in the sides slightly at the seam for a more tailored look.
  • Bonus Tips:

    • Joe's look is clean but not overly formal. Avoid shirts with too many details like bold patterns or contrasting stitching.
    • If you're DIY-savvy, thrift a larger shirt and tailor it yourself for the perfect Joe Goldberg fit!

The Simple Leather Belt

  • What You Need:

    • Brown leather belt with a simple, single-prong buckle
    • Leather hole punch (optional)
  • How To Do It:

    1. Classic Style: Joe's belt is functional, so avoid anything with flashy designs or embellishments.
    2. Ensure the Fit: You may need to use a leather hole punch to add extra holes for the perfect fit.
  • Bonus Tips:

    • Look for a real leather belt if possible – the quality will show on camera or in person.
    • I think Joe would definitely frequent thrift shops, so don't discount those when hunting for his accessories!

Relaxed Grey Trousers

  • What You Need:

    • Grey trousers (cotton, chino, or blend) in a relaxed fit
    • Iron and ironing board
  • How To Do It:

    1. Tailored but Casual: Joe's trousers aren't skin-tight, but they're not baggy either. Look for a straight or slightly tapered leg.
    2. Crease is Key: For a slightly dressier vibe, iron a subtle crease down the center of each pant leg.
  • Bonus Tips:

    • Comfort matters to Joe. Ensure the pants are a breathable material suitable for everyday wear.
    • If you need to hem the pants, opt for a simple straight stitch for a clean look.

Now you have the foundation for Joe Goldberg's deceptively simple outfit. Let's move on to capturing his mannerisms and the darker side of his personality!

Joe Goldberg Cosplay

Joe Goldberg is a master manipulator, and his outward appearance is carefully crafted. Mastering his mannerisms will truly elevate your Joe Goldberg costume and make it disturbingly convincing.

How to act like Joe Goldberg at the Halloween Party:

Controlled Posture

  • What To Do: Joe rarely appears fully relaxed. He maintains good posture, conveying a sense of alertness and self-control.

  • How To Do It:

    • Straighten your spine: Imagine a string pulling you upwards from the crown of your head.
    • Shoulders back, not hunched: This projects confidence but avoids appearing tense.
    • Even when seated, avoid slouching: Maintain that inner core of tension.
  • Bonus Tips:

    • Joe's posture is about the illusion of control, even when he's internally panicking. Practice in front of a mirror to master that subtle balance.
    • I suggest researching how predators in the animal kingdom hold themselves – it's similar to Joe's poised intensity!

The Pensive Gaze

  • What To Do: Joe's stare is both intense and calculating. He often observes his surroundings and fixates on his obsessions.

  • How To Do It:

    • Focused eyes: Avoid the urge to blink rapidly. Maintain a steady gaze for slightly longer than is comfortable.
    • Slight furrow of the brow: This adds a layer of intensity without appearing overtly angry.
    • Practice on inanimate objects: Hone your stare before trying it on people, as it can be quite unsettling!
  • Bonus Tips:

    • Think about Joe's fixations. His gaze isn't blank; it's full of obsessive thoughts and calculations.
    • If you're posing for photos, try looking just to the side of the camera for a true Joe Goldberg effect.

Subtle Mirroring

  • What To Do: Joe is a chameleon, subtly mirroring the people around him to gain their trust and appear charming.

  • How To Do It:

    • Master the basics: Observe someone's posture, speech patterns, and gestures. Discreetly mimic these elements.
    • Go slow: Mirroring should be almost imperceptible. Start with minor things – how they tilt their head, for example.
    • Don't overdo it: Overt imitation will make you seem disingenuous, not charming like Joe.
  • Bonus Tips:

    • Joe likely studies how others interact. Practice observing people in public spaces and try subtly mirroring their behaviors.
    • Remember, Joe's goal is to seem relatable and trustworthy. Mirroring should aim for that, not mockery.

The Disarming Smile

  • What To Do: Joe wields a seemingly friendly smile to appear harmless, often when he's hiding darker intentions.

  • How To Do It:

    • It's all in the eyes: Joe's smile rarely reaches his eyes, which remain cool and observant. Practice smiling without crinkling the corners of your eyes.
    • Flash it quickly: Joe's smile is a tool, not a constant state of being. It appears briefly and vanishes the moment it's served its purpose.
    • Less is more: Avoid a wide, toothy grin. Joe's smile is about conveying warmth, not unhinged enthusiasm.
  • Bonus Tips:

    • Think about when Joe smiles in the show. It's often a calculated move to disarm or deceive.
    • Watch yourself smiling in the mirror. It's harder than it seems to make your smile appear genuine without the genuine feeling behind it!

By combining these elements – his posture, gaze, mirroring, and calculated smile – you'll begin to embody Joe Goldberg's deceptively charming essence. Next, let's explore how to incorporate others into your Joe Goldberg themed costume fun!

Couple, Group and Family Costume Ideas

Take your Joe Goldberg costume beyond a solo act! Incorporating others offers exciting opportunities to explore his relationships, rivalries, and the broader themes of the show.

Couple Costume Ideas

  • Idea 1: Joe and Guinevere Beck (Season 1)

    • Why It Works: This pairing captures the initial obsession and twisted romance that kickstarts the series. Guinevere Beck's bohemian-chic style contrasts nicely with Joe's preppy look.
    • Difficulty: Easy
  • Idea 2: Joe and Love Quinn (Season 2/3)

    • Why It Works: This is my favorite couple costume idea. It's ideal for a couple that loves the darker elements of the show. Love's vintage-inspired style, often with pastel colors, stands out against Joe's classic attire.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Idea 3: Joe and Walter White (Breaking Bad)

    • Why It Works: Both are seemingly ordinary men driven by dark obsessions with devastating consequences. While their styles differ, both rock those glasses!
    • Difficulty: Moderate

Group Costume Ideas

  • Idea 1: Joe's Bookstore Crew

    • Why It Works: A fun ensemble with recognizable characters like Peach Salinger, Paco, and Ethan.
    • Difficulty: Moderate (depends on how ambitious you get with character accuracy)
  • Idea 2: Literary Obsessions

    • Why It Works: Dress as iconic fictional characters Joe becomes fixated on – think Beck, Salinger's literary circle, etc. Add a DIY touch by carrying copies of their favorite books.
    • Difficulty: Varies depending on the characters chosen
  • Idea 3: The "Yandere" Squad

    • Why It Works: Delve into the anime trope Joe embodies. Assemble characters like Yuno Gasai (Future Diary) or Lucy (Elfen Lied), known for their obsessive, often violent, love. Tread carefully – avoid offensive stereotypes!
    • Difficulty: Challenging (requires familiarity with the "yandere" trope)

Family Costume Ideas

  • Idea 1: Joe, Love, and Baby Henry

    • Why It Works: Capture their unsettling suburban family façade from Season 3. This includes simple, everyday styles, but with an undercurrent of tension.
    • Difficulty: Easy
  • Idea 2: Bookish Family

    • Why It Works: Dress the family in preppy attire as a bookstore customer family. Each member carries a book with a slightly sinister twist (thrillers, true crime, etc.).
    • Difficulty: Easy
  • Idea 3: Penn Badgley Characters

    • Why It Works: Celebrate the actor behind Joe! Dress as his characters across different projects – Dan Humphrey (Gossip Girl), Easy A's "Woodchuck" Todd, or even yourself as a Penn Badgley superfan.
    • Difficulty: Varies depending on character choice

About Joe Goldberg

Joe Goldberg is far more than a creepy stalker. His complex motivations and the chilling contrast between his inner and outer selves make him a figure of endless discussion and debate.

Character Overview

  • Role in YOU: Protagonist, unreliable narrator; his skewed perspective shapes our entire understanding of events
  • Played By: Penn Badgley

Background and Personality Traits

  • Personality: Obsessive, manipulative, self-justifying, and capable of shocking violence. Joe masks a deep-seated trauma with a veneer of normalcy and romanticism.
  • Appearance: Handsome but unassuming. His clothes are stylish yet unremarkable, helping him blend in. Joe's most distinctive feature is his intense gaze.

Role in the Story

  • Major Plot Points: Joe's obsessive fixations on women (Beck, Love, Marienne, etc.) drive the plot's twists and turns. His willingness to do anything for "love" leads to murder, kidnapping, and framing others.
  • Impact on Narrative: Joe's actions expose the flaws and vulnerabilities of those around him. He forces both supporting characters and the audience to question what we believe about love, obsession, and the stories we tell ourselves.

Cultural Impact

  • Fan Reception: Joe sparked heated debate – some are drawn to his twisted romanticism, while others are rightfully repulsed. The character is frequently cosplayed and generates countless memes.
  • Thematic Significance: Joe embodies toxic masculinity and the dangers of romanticizing obsessive behaviors. The show raises questions about how social media and online personas can create warped perceptions.

With this deeper understanding of Joe Goldberg, you're well-equipped to bring him to life—whether through your costume or by channeling his captivating spirit.

Further Reading


You've got the outfit, you've mastered Joe Goldberg's unsettling mannerisms, and you understand the deeper complexities of his character. With this comprehensive guide and my years of costume experience at your disposal, you're ready for a truly chilling transformation. Now, step out there and embody the captivating darkness of Joe Goldberg – just try not to get too carried away!

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