Q&A 38 Which comic book character’s fashion sense do you admire?

In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.

Which comic book character’s fashion sense do you admire?


Anika is on vacation this week. She requested that we submit the following:


Example 1: There’s an issue of Justice League International when Hal Jordan goes to complain to Max Lord to complain about what a jerk Guy Gardner is (oh whatever, Hal; Guy’s reason for existence is to make you look sensible and tolerant in comparison, and you’d be lost in a universe without him but I digress). Hal is wearing a white dress shirt and has a red sweater tied around his neck, like he’s getting ready to play a set of tennis, in 1962. I don’t know what artist Kevin Maguire was thinking there but it’s amazing.

Example 2: I don’t remember the plot of Superman Returns. I probably didn’t remember the plot of Superman Returns five minutes out of the theater. But I can tell you there’s a moment where James Marsden (playing Lois Lane’s boyfriend, Richard White) is in the kitchen with the sleeves rolled up on a white dress shirt.

Basically, ‘disheveled preppie’ is a look I go for. Put a guy in a collared shirt who looks like he (a) knows how to wear it and (b) doesn’t really care that much, and I’ll be happy. My friends know this. They give me movie reviews like, “You’ll dig this film! It has shirts!” and I know exactly what they mean. Dress a superhero as a disheveled preppie and it’s just that much more awesome. (Yeah yeah, Richard wasn’t actually a superhero, but he was totally cooler than Brandon Routh in that movie, and you know it!)


I don’t tend to pay attention to fashion as a rule, and I’m more likely to notice a comic where someone’s wardrobe looks wrong or out of place (or horribly dated — I just read “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” for the first time, and man, Lois’ puffy red sleeves could not be more 1980s) than I am to notice when it looks “right.” But in at least one case — and fairly early in my comics-reading career, at that — I happened to notice an artist who was doing a particularly good job of capturing just the right fashion sense for a group of characters: Adrian Alphona on Runaways.

Just look at those pictures. Not only do the kids look like real 21st century teenagers — an accomplishment in itself — they’re all wearing clothes that tell us something about their personalities. Nico’s goth ensembles are the easiest to point to, but we also have Chase as a cross between preppy and sporty, Gert trying to stand out and hide all at once, Molly being exuberant and youthful, Karolina as a California combination of hippie and hipster, and Alex being completely — perhaps suspiciously — average. All of these clothing styles give clues to the characters’ personalities without looking like exaggerated caricatures, and the artists who have followed Alphona have kept up the trend, giving the Runaways personal styles that are completely believable and completely distinctive — a real challenge in a superhero book that never features superhero costumes.


(Phone rings. Sigrid’s partner, J, picks it up.)

J: Sigrid, it’s for you.

Sigrid: Oh?

J: It’s John Romita, Jr. And Paul Smith.

Sigrid: Really?

J: Yes. They’re calling from 1986, and they need to speak with you.

Sigrid: Ah. Erm . . .

I have no excuse and no defense. I think they way Rachel dresses in Uncanny X-Men in the 1980’s is normal. I think that’s how people dress. (Please note, I do not dress this way. I wear jeans and t-shirts, like the rest of the geek world. But I think other people dress like this.)

Show me a woman in suspenders, or with sleeves rolled up, or with, god help me, a collar that stands up, and I will give her a second look. And let’s not even discuss the Fingerless Glove Effect.

But this, this is my favorite. I watched the movie Just One of the Guys about seventeen times as an adolescent, because I thought the lead — when in drag — kinda looked like Rachel Summers does in drag. But look at that outfit, my god. Are those pants flared? Or wider at the bottom in some way? And look at those collars! Look how they stand up! I just, I have no defense. But I love Rachel Summers’s fashion.

Which comic book character’s fashion sense do you admire?

  • sigrid

    @Caroline I was watching National Treasure last night — does Nic Cage wear dress shirts well, by your estimation? I think he’s Not Doing It Right, personally.

  • BookGnome

    @sigrid How much do you love Tristan in Camelot 3000? The red suit with the popped collar? Yes, please!

  • xenokattz

    AMEN with the dishevelled preppie. Or the deshevelled three-piece suit– something like no jacket, vest buttoned, sleeves rolled up, tie slightly skewed and oh excuse me, is that my drool? Thank you, BTW, for bringing up James Marsden as an excellent example. He wears the look well as can be seen in Superman Returns and X-Men. (Also The Notebook and 27 Dresses but they’re not comics; we can pretend though.)

  • I know I’ve pointed out before how much I love the Nightwing does Vegas outfit, right? Because I do. Dick Grayson’s fashion sense is RIDICULOUS and totally circus influenced, and I love it a lot.

    His last Nightwing costume, while way less flamboyant, is also an amazing costume.

    So yes, I admire Dick Grayson’s wardrobe. At least his superhero wardrobe.

    (… don’t ask me what characters wear in their civilian clothing. I never pay attention to that, unless it is really bad.)

  • @Caroline Also, yes, about the disheveled look. Yum.

    @Anika. I approve of these pictures. Yes.

  • sigrid

    @BookGnome I think in my review of Camelot 3000 I mention how much I LOVE AND ADORE the fashions. LOVE.

  • Cash

    I can’t believe nobody has mentioned the Joker yet.

  • handyhunter

    I have a fondness for this shade of red (not the style of shirt, necessarily, just the colour). I think Scott Summers wears it in X3 under his leather jacket and Matt Murdock has a similar coloured t-shirt towards the end of the Daredevil movie. I like boys in red sunglasses too.

    I feel like Agent Zero should have had more rumpled dress shirt time.

  • Ted Kord dressed like a deranged, color blind newsie. SO MANY NEWSBOY CAPS AND SUSPENDERS. And way too much matching of way too bright colors. I don’t know that I admire it, per se, but I find it incredibly endearing and totally in character – a highly distractable scientist trying desperately to be cool with no real idea of how to go about it. Oh, honey. Monogrammed letterman’s sweaters are not the way.

    In the last few years before his death, he was rocking the disheveled businessman look pretty hard, too.

  • Caroline

    @Sigrid — Without having seen ‘National Treasure’ (I went to Mr. Jefferson’s University; the whole ‘treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence’ thing makes my brain bleed) — I can say with confidence that Nic Cage doesn’t wear anything right.

    @Kattz — James Marsden is absolutely a superhero. We haven’t even gotten into ‘Hairspray’!

    @Poisonivory — Ha ha, ZOMG, Ted Kord <3 <3.

  • Caroline

    @poisonivory Also, holy shit, that Boostle page may actually be the gayest thing I’ve ever seen in a comic book, and that’s saying something.

  • *cue “Sharp Dressed Man”* Yes, I am sadly all about good looking men in suits. Animated Bruce Wayne would mostly be my case in point. (But not the ugly yellow and brown suit he always seems to wearing in “Brucie” mode. Don’t you own anything else, Bruce?)

    Better examples:
    Mystery of Batwoman — nice car too

    And slightly more casual:
    and : Maid of Honor — rolled up sleeves and unbuttoned shirt. *sighs*

  • *points at the pictures requested for posting by Anika*
    *closes eyes*

    Also Jessica Jones’ trench coat/jeans combos. I would wear that. If i were taller.