MARGUERITE SAUVAGE’S WONDER WOMAN AND THE SLOWLY CHANGING FACE OF COMIC BOOK FASHION
By Juliet Kahn
Fashion matters. Your experience with superhero comics might have led you to believe otherwise, but I assure you, fashion matters—and should matter particularly to people who read, write, and/or draw comics. Crazy, right? Who would have guessed that such an omnipresent element of our daily lives, used to communicate everything from our politics to our career goals to the circumstances of our laundry cycle should be of consequence to a visual medium!
Fashion—by which I mean all clothes and all styles, not just what you might find folded in the juniors’ department—is capable of communicating basically anything to the audience. A character’s unemployment might be evidenced through their yoga pants and ponytail; their ambition through their pressed pantsuit; their hobbies through a paint-flecked smock. Generally, American comics get those most basic of rules right, but anything beyond that—anything not strictly tied to a vocation or place—is fumbled. Clothes are bland when they aren’t embarrassingly out of date. Women’s fashion is a bizarre mélange of male fantasies, ranging from obvious fetishwear to….heavily fetishized selections from the 2007 Delia’s catalog. Thong straps are hiked high above brutally low-waisted jeans, high heels are worn with absolutely everything, and crop tops are issued upon the first sign of puberty. I mean, I say this as someone who owns two: they aren’t that popular.