Comic book characters tend to embody the most petrifying of fashion nightmares, from wearing underwear as outerwear to donning full-body, technicolor spandex suits in broad daylight. Since life within the panels of a comic book tends to be only slightly less sartorially inspiring than being stuck in an ’80s workout video, we think residents of Gotham and Radiant City deserve an extra-hard pat on the back when they bust out runway-worthy looks. Browse our look book of the graphic world’s trendiest style icons after the jump.
Archie Comics’ Veronica Lodge is the ultimate comic-book style guru. While not all of her outfits are winners (she went through a shoulder-padded suit phase), she wears each one with confidence and never puts on the same piece twice. A true trend setter, Veronica is always one step ahead of the game, strutting down Riverdale’s hallways with the latest threads before they even make it to store racks. She pays a steep price for her look, but she’s also the center of attention at any gala, benefit, or school dance. Fashionistas aspire to be her, and fashionable men aspire to be with her.
Often overlooked next to the glitz of Batman’s flashy getup, Gotham Police Commissioner James Gordon is the real sartorialist of the crime-ridden city. Forgoing the skintight, costume-y wardrobe of his colleagues for loose-fitting white shirt and black slacks topped with a high-collared trench and wide-brimmed fedora, James Gordon is all about outerwear. To top it all off, he rotates between rectangular, reflective rimlesses and thick, solid-colored frames. Like other fashionable comic book cops, he works hard but never lets duty get in the way of his understated international spy look.
She may be tough, but she sure knows how to accessorize. Everything with which this X-Men star adorns her otherwise minimalist, black, gray, and white outfits is over the top. From her statement headband to her chunky gold jewelry, this color-contrasting minx knows how to create a look made up entirely of details — so it’s no surprise that she even had a stylish punk phase, back in the ’80s.
Thompston and Thompston
The Scottish detective twins who run through the panels of Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin may be Charlie Chaplin in countenance, but they’re nothing short of Don Draper in thread count. The identical fashion idols give the Mad Men look a contemporary twist with chic, tight-fitting skinny pants and throw in a pair of bowler hats for an international touch. This avant-garde time-collage didn’t gain the prescient style forecasters too much recognition back in the ’30s, but we know better than to ignore their influence.
Bleu L. Finnegan
The heroine of Chynna Clugston’s Blue Monday comics, Bleu Finnegan is a California high-school student in the early ’90s. But, although most teens in that era were rocking flannel and listening to Nirvana, Bleu is an anglophile. She loves Brit-pop and the mod movement, and, most of all, Adam Ant. Her shocking blue hair and gender-bending fashions that wouldn’t be out of place in ’60s London give her one of comics’ most distinct looks.
Agent Philip Graves
The stern agent at the center of 100 Bullets‘ plot may be the poster boy of vengeance, but he’d also qualify to be the billboard model for the power suit. Even with blood spots on his sleeves, his pointed-shoulder, perfectly tailored ensemble makes 60 look suaver than 20 could ever hope for.
Iconic, ironic, laconic, and bold, Enid — with her thick-framed glasses, duty-length skirts, awkward bob haircut, and vintage pattern mélange — is, without trying, the ur-hipster that every hipster aspires to be. Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World character is the typical self-aware yet naïve high schooler in the typical 1990s American everytown, and her I-don’t-care wardrobe is her way of showing the world that its style will not define her.
Another member of the Archie Comics troupe, Kevin Keller is the franchise’s first character to come out of the closet; he’s also the only guy in town who knows how to stock one. While the women of Riverdale High have always been trend-obsessed, their male counterparts don’t know a skirt from a skort. If there’s anyone who can usher Archie’s gang into fashion consciousness, it’s Kevin. He introduces pinstripes, V-necks, and the sports jacket, which appear to be altogether new concepts to Riverdale’s residents, and, like a true Esquire man, knows to wear brown shoes with navy pants.
Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez’s lesbian punk rocker may be notorious for her lack of talent on the bass that she refuses to put down, but when it comes to style, she’s a natural born wunderkind. One of the co-protagonists of the Hernandez brothers’ Love and Rockets (the other is her on-and-off lover and best friend Maggie Chascarrillo), Hopey embodies the cutting edge of the proto-grunge ’80s — in all of its moxie and none of its grime.
Millie the Model
Compared to the rest of the icons on this list, this World War II-era blonde bombshell has something of an unfair advantage as a model, with access to the most stylish threads before they even make it into American malls. But c’est la vie. Millie the Model is still one of the best-dressed figures to grace the pages of Marvel’s comic books. With a wardrobe that spans from Jackie O sophisticate to playful beach babe, she’s hardly ever caught in the same outfit twice, changing looks from page to page, if not panel to panel.