Fashion Emergency, Supergirl!

Starting today, Project: Rooftop is teaming up with Super. Girl., a project, to bring you a week-long Supergirl appreciation event! Here at P:R, we’re going to be reviewing our top picks from last month’s Draw Supergirl meme throughout the week, and on Friday, S.G. will be posting a comprehensive article on Supergirl’s costume history.

Our reviewers for this event include Project: Rooftop regulars Chris Arrant, Dean Trippe, Joel Priddy, and Vito Delsante, and special guest reviewer, Jessica Plummer from Super. Girl. Alright, let’s get this going!

Luc Latulippe, Vancouver, BC

Dean Trippe: Luc took a nod from the palette of my old Supergirl pic, but the sweet costume design is all his own. I really dig the lighter top, the low riding belt, the matching gloves and boots, and the addition of glasses. Sure a character with an arsenal of super vision capabilities probably doesn’t need prescription specs, but they do add a much needed touch of personality.

Joel Priddy: The glasses are great. I like the idea of a Supergirl with a dollop of Clark Kent’s nerdiness. This costume works very well in Luc’s beautiful graphic style, but I don’t think the flared-out gloves and boots would translate well to another style. Fun S-shield, and, yes, a delightful color scheme.

Vito Delsante: There’s a certain feel of nostalgia here that I really enjoy. It reminds me of these ads that Jet Blue used not too long ago. She’s a little leggy for my tastes, but I think, design wise, this is a really good one. The background reminds me of your original Supergirl, Dean.

Chris Arrant: I love this piece, but as Joel said earlier — alot of this would be lost in translation by another artist. The two elements I think would carry over well are the glasses, and the “S” as a brooch and not a chest emblem.

Jessica Plummer: I’m with Joel and Chris on this one – the piece is lovely, but I can’t picture this costume in action or drawn by another artist. The glasses might work better in civilian gear, like a certain other Superperson – together with the loose, low-riding skirt, the flared gloves, and the flared boots, they just look like another thing that will fall off if she moves.

Joel Priddy, Memphis, TN

Dean: Joel’s design has a ton of good stuff going for it. It’s got classic superhero elements like the cape and symbol, as well as neat modern bits like the store-bought shoes and the Kryptonian bracelet. Adding Streaky the Quantum Cat puts it over the top! Though the idea of a superhero in a skort is just something I haven’t yet accepted.

Joel: I approached this design by thinking about how high school girls actually dress when being physically active. Thinking back to Marc Swayze’s Golden Age Mary Marvel, I started out with a dancer-motif, tried out a few other notions, but eventually settled on an athletic look. I thought I had to retain most of the design elements inherited from Superman—such as color scheme, emblem-placement, and the cape—in order to maintain character identity. But many of the other pieces in this meme have shown me how wrong I was.

Vito: Joel, you had me until I got to the shoes. I’m not sure if I like sneakers with that outfit. I heard that record scratching sound when I saw them. I think if the whole outfit was a little more sporty (headband anyone?) then it would make a lot more sense…or, instead of yellow trim on the shoes, try red!

Dean: You gotta hear Joel’s cool explanation about the shoes, though!

Chris: I like this, but like Vito I have one problem — but it’s not the shoes. The cape looks out of place for me here, as the rest of her ensemble as a sporty after school feel that I love. I’m not the artist of Joel’s caliber by far, but maybe a red hoodie instead?

Joel: My thinking on the shoes is that she does have a pair of indestructible super-booties, but that she just plain doesn’t like them. The sneakers wear out pretty quickly—or burn up on re-entry—so she probably ends most battles barefoot. But that just gives her an opportunity to try out new pairs.

Dean: Brilliant.

Jessica: But wouldn’t her Super-aura protect her sneakers the way Clark’s protects his costume? I love this costume from the waist up, especially the sleevelessness and the way the cape connects, but like Dean I’m stuck on the skort. If she’s going to be sporty, why not just give her panties that match her skirt, like cheerleaders or tennis players? I love the sneakers, indestructible or not, but I’m not crazy about the socks. I don’t think she needs them, anyway – do Superfeet get stinky?

Joel: Hmm, good point. It is surely best not to contemplate the strength of Kryptonian sweat glands.

Nerdy McNerdface (Dean): I’m pretty sure Clark’s Super-aura only affects things that are very close to his skin. Plus, it’s worth noting that different writers have tackled this idea in different ways. Some explain his uniform’s durability with the aura power, while others note that his uniform is actually made from Kryptonian fabrics from his rocketship.

Adora Spintriae, Brisbane, Australia

Dean: Adora’s design plays up the alien aspects of Kara’s Kryptonian heritage, and that’s pretty cool. I also like that she’s managed to not have the character be embarrassingly naked.

Chris: I really enjoy this costume — it harkens back to the space suits of Battle of the Planets.

Joel: Although this design reminds me a bit of footy-pajamas, I like the idea of Kara showing more of her heritage. As a newcomer, she might try more actively to assimilate than Kansas-raised Clark would need to, but she spent some pretty formative years growing up in Argo City. Basic cultural assumptions and aesthetics would sneak into just about everything she would do. The problem is trying to figure out which Krypton she would be harkening back to: Curt Swan’s retro-futurism? John Byrne’s sci-fi sterility? Richard Donner’s cinematic freezer burn?

Vito: I think the design is fun, but it looks more like a guy’s costume than a teenage girl’s. I’d take away the sleeves and give her a longer cape. I agree with everyone that it has a little more Krypton than other costumes, and that’s why I have no problem with the overall design.

Chris: I want to reiterate how much I like this costume. Much like Superman is head-to-toe covered except for his hands and head, so is this costume. With Supergirl, according to most origins, having spent most of her time on Krypton, I would say she would dress more Kryptonian in nature. For Superman, his outfit is a hand-me-down heirloom, but for Supergirl it’s what her people wore — and what she wore for her formative years before coming to earth.

Jessica: I like the design a lot, and it does make sense for a girl raised on Krypton. My only quibble is that it doesn’t feel very accessible to girls raised on Earth – it makes her more alien than she maybe should be to be relatable. I could see this as an outfit for formal events like intergalactic peace treaty signings, when the presence of a Kryptonian is needed, but not for saving the kids at Smallville High.

7 comments to “Fashion Emergency, Supergirl!”
  1. Yes, I like Adora’s one very much. I didn’t think it was possible to portray Supergirl without her having to look like a prostitute. Goes to show.

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  3. The first two are AWESOME! Luc’s inclusion of glasses is a really neat idea, and Joel’s concept of socks and store bought shoes is perfect… they both have an indie comic feel, and I can just imagine the unique storylines these versions of Supergirl would take!

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  7. I don’t know why there’s critique about how Adora’s design would be “inaccessible” for younger Earthlings (girls in particular) or that it doesn’t reflect the thoughts of younger women. For starters, you’re running over your own feet. On the one hand, you think it’s right that she take from her own heritage, because that’s what she’s familiar with. But on the other, you’re critiquing her for not relating to younger people on EARTH.

    Here’s the thing. I moved from Texas to Virginia when I was six. Yeah, I didn’t switch planets, but it was a sea change for me. I didn’t know how to read, and all the kids in my class were already reading chapter books. They could also use computers – something I’d never used before. Everyone in my grade knew each other from Kindergarten, Preschool, or before. I was an outsider for years. Yes, I adapted. I had opportunities I wouldn’t have had if I’d stayed in Dallas. But I still love country. I still have something of a southern accent. I’m very proud to have been born there.

    Why would Kara give up what was from her home? I recall one comment someone made on Kara’s outfit in another blog: considering Clark’s uniform, why did she get the Kryptonian cheerleader squad uniform? Is Superman’s outfit strictly for men? Because I don’t remember seeing his mother or other women on Krypton dressed like Supergirl/Superwoman in most of her cheerleader outfits (although I don’t remember seeing them dressed like Clark, either; but hey, if the underwear fits). Otherwise, I don’t see another reason for why she wouldn’t simply fashion her outfit after his (especially if we’re talking about a sibling relationship where younger sibling -Kara- idolizes older sibling -Clark-; it’s in books, and I know I copied my older sister all the time when I was younger). If she knew more about her home, which she occasionally does, depending on which story is being written, she might even simply incorporate some of Clark’s costume design into a more Kryptonian design (if you’re shooting for a more stereotypically female approach here, a story about Kara looking through some of Clark’s files for Kryptonian fashion for inspiration makes sense to me – it could even be Clark’s suggestion, because “that’s what I see Earth girls do”). I imagine her fitting into her adopted homeland more when she’s older and learned more about her homeland, or else adapting slowly. Kids are rebellious. Forcing them to adapt is only asking for trouble. Yeah, she’ll want to fit in… maybe. Maybe she’ll wake up, realize that her parents and all her family and people (save for Clark and Krypto) are dead, and cling to whatever’s left of them – her heritage. Maybe she’ll try a bunch of different outfits to experiment (sticking to the stereotype for young women, since that seems to be the idea here for the critiques) and see what she likes best or what the Earthlings she’s trying to impress like best. Maybe she’ll have a rebellious stage and go as full-on alien as possible because she dislikes something about humans.

    Why do you think this wouldn’t appeal to young women? Or young girls? And what do you mean by “young”? Do you mean Elementary School kids or Middle/High School kids or women in their 20s? I happen to be 20 at the moment, and female, and I like this design. Personally, I think I would have liked this design as a kid. What’s the old saying – “Well, you have to have guts to run around in neon-colored pajamas all day, fighting crime”? I was in love with one-piece pajamas when I was little. I still like them, and only gave mine up because I got too tall. When I find one that’s Spider-man themed and my size, I’ll jump on it. If I found one like Adora’s design, I’d love it, especially since it’s blue, which has been my favorite color since I was about seven or eight (thank you Frank Herbert). I’ve also loved gloves for ages, so I love the way her sleeves/gloves look. This also has a sort of “Toward the Terra” or “Cyborg 009” feel, and I love those costume designs.

    Yeah, I’m not everyone. Maybe no one else but me would be in love with this. Here’s the thing: Kara’s first outfit was a leotard/miniskirt. Is the miniskirt supposed to appeal to Elementary School students? I don’t recall wearing or liking them as a little kid, or any of my peers doing that. We all wore cute little sweaters, dresses, jeans with flowers on them, shiny shoes, flip-flops, sporty sneakers, boots, or jean shorts. Yeah, a lot of us took gymnastics or ballet, but I don’t recall many of us parading around in our leotards outside of class. Even though some do (I know some do – they love running around in their Halloween princess outfits and tutus), that doesn’t mean EVERYONE who reads comics or likes Supergirl/Superwoman likes to do that or cannot appreciate a woman wearing a costume that isn’t a leotard/bathing suit. Heck, Jasmine wore pants, and TONS of little girls love her.

    As for the middle school/high school group, those are a mix of “I love miniskirts” and “I love pants and hate skirts” and “I could care less either way” and so on. One female character wearing a miniskirt or a leotard is not going to automatically kill off all or necessarily most of the readership.

    And how does that outfit make her too alien? People are reading comics with characters that run around in their underwear already. We’ve got the Martian Manhunter, who, oh wait, HAPPENS TO BE GREEN. We’ve got Hawkgirl, who happens to have wings coming out of her back. Personally, I don’t see many angels running around. Plastic Man and Mr. Fantastic stretch their bodies almost constantly in rather non-human fashion, unless “human” is now synonymous with “elastic octopus”. There’s Batman, the filthy rich, dark detective who dresses like a bat. How many filthy rich people do you know who like to live in caves, and what percentage of the world’s population fit this description, and make up the comic readership? There’s Iron Man, who walks around in a tin can. Just how exactly is wearing a glorified giant one-piece pajama set and otherwise appearing human “too alien to relate to”? People might as well not relate to the Green Lanterns, who basically do the same, sans cape and in black/green/white. They might as well not relate to Spider-man, who is one of the more popular superheroes (and who has himself referred to his costume as PJs).

    Marvel and DC heroes are about outsiders trying to fit in. Adora’s design helps her fit this, rather than her being a glorified sex toy. Not all little girls or teenage girls dress like classic Kara. Even if they do, assuming that they’ll hate her or not connect to her because she’s not dressed how they are, when women have been relating just fine to people who are different genders, ethnicities, and personalities for ages, is ridiculous. You’re not going to get a design that fits everyone on a planet with over seven billion people, with maybe 3.5+ billion women (even ignoring which women you’re talking about – just Americans, just Westerners, just people on the East Coast, and why you’re only appealing to whoever they are). And heck, maybe fighting the idea that women and girls only like people in dresses or x, y, or z is a nice experiment to see how people actually react to it.

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