Welcome back to our monthly-ish series where we exhaustively critique the costume choices of some of the boldest (and bravest) servers of looks in the DC Universe. Last time in our Kryptonian Fashion Council, we examined Supergirl’s wardrobe from her modest debut in 1959, and through her manic fashion crisis of the 1970s. This time, we’ll complete the rest of the journey, taking Kara Zor-El through the rest of the Bronze Age to today… and perhaps even beyond. Cue the lights!
SUPERGIRL #13-17 (1983-1984)
7/10. We can't decide if we necessarily like the way the cape leads into the S symbol, but we respect it. At least it’s back on the center of her chest where it belongs.
SUPERGIRL #18 (1984-1986)
6/10. It’s an outfit we’re already conflicted on, but there’s no dispute that the headband and ‘80s hair simply do not work. Save the Flashdance for Barry Allen.
5/10. The nod to Superman’s outfit is appreciated, and there’s nothing wrong with that cape. But, I'm sorry, it's time for artists to admit that this outfit just does not work without the red briefs, whether it's on Superman or Supergirl.
6/10. The white top is an era defining look, and no disrespect to its fans, but let’s get real: particularly for female superheroes, the crop top stuck around way past its welcome in late ‘90s comics, and into the 2000s. Poor Kara wouldn’t get to wear a full-sized shirt with a sensible skirt attached to it for another 20 years after this.
3/10. We like the gold trim, but who thought "the original Supergirl outfit, except a belly shirt" was an improvement on the original?
25: 0/10. No.
2/10. Well, it's technically an improvement over the last one, but… when Kara goes dark, it’s really too much effort or no effort at all, huh.
4/10. We were ready to give it a 6 on boldness until we realized that that wasn't a mouth, but a smaller, third glowing S shield. Between that and the helmet, we just can't take it seriously. Sorry, Flamebird.
8/10. "Hey, Conner, can I borrow your old jacket and goggles? Why? No reason." Kara’s kind of adopted this one-off look thievery for the current iteration of DC Super Hero Girls, and in all honesty we’re kinda here for it.
SUPERMAN/SUPERGIRL: MAELSTROM (2009)
9/10. Okay, this is actually a really good look, though? We've mocked generic jumpsuits before, but it actually all works for some reason. Simple and understated, and the S shield is a good piece of flair that sets it all off. Maybe we're just suckers for Phil Noto?
5/10. We like a tall boot, but the knee cutouts are just... weird. At least make them gold knee pads or something. The bodysuit, meanwhile, looks like an attempt to do a more "serious" version of the Superman briefs. It did not work. ...We like the cape, though. +1 for dat cape.
4/10. The segments on the skirt are cute but need more material to actually work. That shirt also needs to be way longer. We actually almost like the gloves, though? We shouldn't, but we do.
8/10. You know what? Actually into this. The whole "vaguely Medieval, but also vaguely spacey?" aesthetic is pure Krypton, and that’s Kara’s heritage, baby. The goggles are just a bit too tall to take seriously here, but later appearances of this outfit would improve on that.
5/10. It's hard to get a good look at the details here under all the blood, but it just doesn't have a lot going for it. The color combination is all right, we guess, but it could stand to pop a little more, and the bikini bottom with the long sleeves and boots still just makes us wonder why she doesn't just do pants at this point. The shoulders on the cape are great, though.
And that's all we have to say about this one. Period.
10/10. After years of misguided reinventions, the original Melissa Benoist costume brings us blessedly back to basics. The only real change they made from the most iconic Silver Age Supergirl is to lengthen the sleeves so the thumbs tuck through them, and that’s actually a pretty good addition. So good, they stuck to it completely for the line-wide “Rebirth” relaunch, and we can’t say we blame anyone for a second.
6/10. Okay, I understand the time period we're going for here, and there's a lot about this outfit that works. The scarf is great, the gloves and boots are cute, and I like the little dress. But it's just... I don’t know. It feels WEIRD to have the S-symbol around the waist! It’s not right, okay!
8/10. That having been said, these are pretty cute swim shorts.
7/10. Actually not bad... the little v over the legs does a decent job at breaking up the bodysuit without panties, and we like the symbol and the sleeves. Kind of an updated take on her ‘80s look at the very top of this article.
Okay, 10/10, actually. If the outfit from Season 1 of the show is her best "classic" style outfit, this is probably the best alternate universe outfit. The jacket, the boots and the Super-Shield knee pads are perfect for the post-apocalyptic gearhead setting, and just look great all together. Steal this look.
8/10. Similar to her outfit from JUSTICE LEAGUE 3001, but with a slight change to how the cape connects to the S-Shield, and the elimination of that gold trail from her crest to her navel. That’s worth bumping it up a point.
6/10. This one got a lot of press when it first showed up, just because it’s so different from the costumes we’re used to. And yet, we didn’t actually see Kara wear this outfit too often after the debut, like so many 70s ensembles in the distant past. We get the Epic Questing vibe they're going for, but it’s not quite there. The cape over one shoulder is a neat look, but the way it connects as a kind of loincloth that hangs down between her knees just looks weird. Cool axe, though. Kinda wish Supergirl still had that axe.
8/10. The “real” costume Kara wore during this period. Shiny belt pretty, but the red skirt will still always look better than the blue.
INFECTED SUPERGIRL (2020)
1/10. Kara, just because you've gone evil doesn't mean you lost the power to look in a mirror.
10/10. In LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: MILLENNIUM, Brian Michael Bendis and Jim Lee came together to show us a not-too-distant-future where Supergirl is a leader of worlds and an intergalactic icon. For a look we’ve only seen so far for a couple of pages, it’s really a Lee design at the top of his game, with a ton of great embellishments that don’t feel extraneous, but add to the overall design. We love the cape and how it clasps around the neck, and the little two-piece pantsuit outfit plus gold-trimmed boots are just great. It also doesn't hide the S-shield as a little afterthought like a lot of variations of this outfit do. This is the look of a Kara Zor-El who has truly grown into a Woman of Steel.