Q&A #62: Redesign a Favorite Character’s Costume

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

How would you redesign a favorite character’s costume?

For this exercise we each chose a character and submitted our redesign to professional costume designer Christian Milik (Anika’s husband) who sketched our ideas. The finalized designs are presented below.


Take it from someone who, at 34, can still fit comfortably into the Limited Too line — just because you CAN fit into a teen girl’s wardrobe doesn’t mean you SHOULD. If fanboy reaction to the news that Jessica Jones will be a full member of the New Avengers team/title is any indication, Jewel needs an update to prove she is no longer a teen wannabe, she is an adult Avenger.

What I like best about Jessica’s costume is the asymmetry so I want to build on that by adding ribboning to the bodice (like so or so), in effect creating an armored corset which would hold her in, hold her up, hold it on (otherwise, exactly how is that top staying up? Seriously) and protect her torso while creating a faceted look reminiscent of a (whatta ya know) jewel.

What I dislike most about this costume is the booties. I hate the effect on ice skaters, too. On Jess they look stupid (the satin gloves are also dumb, she’s not going to prom). Not to mention uncomfortable. So, no, I’m going to give her real shoes and I’m going to give her real shoes that look like they could do some damage.

Overall, the look I am going for is more tough and punky but still graceful and feminine. Add texture and structure but keep her underlying sense of style. Basically, a ballerina in combat boots, which, take it from me again, is what any working mother really is.



Jean Grey was last seen alive at the end of Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men, ie., the last days of the skintight leather look. If (when!) Jean comes back to the Marvel Universe, she may find herself thrust into the thick of the brightly colored Heroic Age. But say Jean liked the leather. And say she takes a hiatus from her traditional X-team to join the New Avengers. (Why? Because this is my story!) This leather-based costume combines the leather look from new X-Men with a fresh take on the traditional “Phoenix” symbol with the X-mark on the boots as a nod to her history.



The biggest problem I have with Cyclops’ current costume is the fact that his cowl completely covers his head. Without ears or horns or feathers to set it off, like other heroes have, it just winds up looking like a head condom, and it’s ugly and makes his head look tiny. So my number one priority in redesigning his costume was getting rid of the cowl and letting his awesome floppy hair blow around in the breeze.

Other than that major change, the rest of the changes I’d suggest are minor, and in keeping with Scott’s costume history. As the first X-Man, Scott’s been carrying the blue-and-yellow flame the longest, and I wouldn’t want to change that color scheme, but I like the idea of adding red accents to serve as a warning of his powers. I also prefer a costume that’s a combination of a classic superhero look with a more rugged, “actual clothes” feel, so I’d love to see the return of the Morrison-era ribbed turtleneck (which accentuates Scott’s slim torso and long neck) and the sort of boots, gloves, and belt that look functional and utilitarian, even as the overall effect remains that of a skin-tight bodysuit. Finally, as a bonus accent, I thought it would be cool to create an “X” effect over the legs that just looks like diagonal bars when his legs are spread; it’s subtle, but adds to the overall superhero-military hybrid effect.

But mostly I just want him to show off his hair.



Cassandra Cain is Kestrel!

After her hiatus from the Bat-clan, Cass Cain has remade herself — in no-one’s image but her own. Using the name and stylized theme of one of the smaller birds of prey, Cain strikes at criminal organizations with uncanny precision.

Take a moment to welcome Kestrel!


How would you redesign a favorite character’s costume?

  • Anika

    Okay, seriously, Kestrel is aaaaaaaaaaaaaawesome!!!!! I want her bodice and I want it NOW.

  • Well, he hasn’t been seen much and I don’t know where he’ll turn up next, but I’d like Captain Britan to go back to his old uniform, or if an update is needed, at least keep the helmet on. I thought that was a big part of his look, even if he doesn’t need to have a “secret identify”.

    I’d also love it if Marvel completely scratched Noh-Varr’s giant condom look. That thing is ridiculous. Please bring regular Marvel Boy back, thank you.

  • Wally East

    The boots. I love Wally and Barry’s costumes but the boots seem slightly impractical. Extend the tights to the ankle and put them in some cool STAR Labs-designed running shoes.

    Also, I’d undo the recent tweaks to Wally’s uniform. It already looked different than Barry’s.

    Jessee Quick. Oh my. A speedster with a scoop neck? No. No, no, no. No. I don’t know how to do it but I’d love to her combine her Liberty Belle and Jesse Quick costumes into one and just wear that.

  • karibean

    I love all of these. Thank you for getting rid of the head condom, Jennifer. I mean seriously, what the hell is up with that? Did Emma convince him to get an embarrassing haircut?

    Caroline, I love Jean’s redesign. The lines and the phoenix symbol are new but *her*, and the jacket is cute but practical.

    Anika, totally agreed about all the changes you made to Jessica’s costume, though personally I would probably make it a one-shouldered top to give it even more chance of actually staying up. But I do love the ribboned look.

  • I love what everybody came up with —

    Anika, that ballerina in combat boots idea — and how well it fits the ‘Jewel’ motif is amazing. Sigrid, the Kestrel concept and design are awesome — she’s ready to be a bird of prey, indeed. And Jen, any conversation that involves Cyke’s hair is a good conversation.

  • @Karibean — A lot of the best ideas in the Jean costume came from Christian. I wanted the jacket to have the X on it, a la Morrison, but he thought it might be too Xmenish for the Avengers costume, and so worked the X in elsewhere instead. And my original idea didn’t have the Phoenix on the chest, but he figured out how to make it fit with the lines of the costume. Impressive!

  • sigrid

    Who knew that all those hours spent designing the clothes of my Dungeons & Dragons and Shadowrun characters would have any other use? My goodness.

    Thank you, Christian, for taking all of our words and making them into these images! I really appreciate it!

    Jen, was is intentional that your design highlights Scott’s groin? With the big X right under it? Carrie, I love Jean’s jacket! Anika, <3. Those boots are excellent. And, you LIVE with the designer! Get him to make the Kestrel outfit for you!

  • Great post, love the sketches! The Jewel redesign is especially awesome — I didn’t think it was possible to appealingly update that get-up (which I think is on-purpose awful, and therefore should not stick around), but you’ve done it!

  • Oh, these are all awesome! I really like the ballerina-esque look of the Jewel costume and the Kestrel costume is just amazing — and all the design elements of Jean’s costume are totally awesome and exactly what I’d love to see her in.

    And no, Sigrid, that was not CONSCIOUSLY the intent, but it’s not an unwelcome side effect!

  • Anika

    Sigrid, I will certainly try — and I want Jean’s jacket, too. And still think the Classic!Jewel then Redesign!Jewel two day con event would be perfectly perfect.

    @Sarah, I agree it is on purpose awful and I imagine Carol (who we know cares about image) sitting her down and being all, Jess, let’s discuss your costume… BUT, just doing away with it entirely seems wrong on a character level. I am happy it works!

  • I just want to reiterate that the jacket design was all Christian. . .I suggested jacket but was basically parotting the Morrison/Quitely one. This is better. and yeah, I want that jacket now, too. (Though I would also wear one of the Quitely jackets if it existed. Don’t judge me!)

  • One random thing on the Quitely fashion tip (he does do great jackets): I always loved the random hairdos he came up with for Jean and Emma (high ponytails, gigantic Heidi braids). I wish artists would get creative with superheroine hair more often!

  • God, Sarah, I would forgive a LOT of my issues with New X-Men if there was just one scene of Emma and Jean braiding each other’s hair.


  • A

    Love this article.

    But isn’t buying clothes from the Junior’s department a good thing? Guess I should come to terms with that.. :)

  • xenokattz

    These are such excellent ideas! The ideas behind the detailing is a lot of fun. As an artist though, I’m looking at Kestrel’s costume and sweating buckets. The bodice detail & the chainmail for panel after panel– hoooooo man. *L*

    If I had to redesign something, it would be Superman’s underoos. Which is… I get it. I understand the history behind it. I just really dislike it. There’s a ridiculously talented photomanip artist out there that redesigned the suit ever so slightly so the red parts are detailing. [http://fanartexhibit.wordpress.com/characters/]

  • xenokattz

    PS: LOVE the Cyclops redesign. LOVE it with so much love that is only partially related to the X in the vicinity of his crotch.

  • You know, the Phoenix redesign looks a lot like what the guys and gals from X-Factor are wearing.

    Also, completely unrelated, but did you guys see the jacket that X-Man was wearing in Dark X-Men? Leonard Kirk knocked it out of the park with that design.

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  • Dan

    I’ve been thinking about this for days.

    The only costume I came up with was Steph’s current Batgirl costume, and even that isn’t a radical change. The main problem I have with her costume as it stands now is that it looks too textured…too real, I guess, like it was designed for a movie.

    When I heard Steph was taking over the mantle of Batgirl, I think I was kind of hoping she’d have a costume similar to the one Marcos Martin drew in BATGIRL: YEAR ONE. Something kind of classic and/or retro, but in Spoiler purple.

  • I wholeheartedly support the re-designs for Scott and Jean, as well as the idea of getting JG into the New Avengers. With Logan having a new in-canon girlfriend in his own books, I’d be interested to see the Logan/Jean dynamic play out when *she* is the potential other woman.

  • Yeah, like that chick’s gonna last ;).

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