Fashion and Comics: A Brief Primer on Wearing It Well
Let’s be all the way real for a second here: Most comics-related clothes suck. The ones you can find in “Previews” tend to be a hero or villain’s logo on a solid color. And, okay, that’s cool or whatever, I guess. It’s just sort of boring, isn’t it? I mean, great, you’ve got a shirt that looks kinda like Superman’s top. Now what? Where are you going to go with that?
Logos alone are no fun, and any dummy can throw a logo on the center of a t-shirt. You need some actual design to make shirts look good — something that pulls it (and you) above the rabble. Maybe some drawn art, an unusual color scheme, an attractive visual style, or even a logo set off-center is the clincher here. Something that makes your outfit earn a second look.
So, let’s hit the basics:The first step is to go to a site like FreshnessMag or Kicks & Toys. Most of their content isn’t related to comics, but you get to see a nice spectrum of what’s fashionable in general, whether you’re looking for t-shirts, jackets, or shoes. There are trends and popular brands, yes, but good looks good. It doesn’t matter where you got it or how much of a dent it put in your wallet. Pick something you like and wear it like you just got it fresh off the rack.
The next step is to never buy a t-shirt from a comic shop again. C’mon, son. You’ve got to give up Graphitti Designs. You’ve got to put away that Adam Hughes Wonder Woman shirt. No, I know — I love Hughes, too. It’s okay. But, put that shirt away. Broaden your horizons. You’ve got a few options. Some of the dopest comic book looks are going to be of the DIY/homemade variety. DIY or thrifted clothes have some serious style, as Laura’s spotlight on a recent excellent Green Lantern shirt shows.
A custom fit, a lot of love, and a little elbow grease goes a long, long way. If you’re thrift or DIY-inclined, do that! Create something fantastic. I own a couple of DIY shirts. One has the Magneto Was Right emblem from “New X-Men,” and was made from a stencil found online. Another has the hand grenade from “The Invisibles.” If you can’t find someone to hook you up and are afraid of needles, look on eBay or Etsy.
Your other option, and probably the easiest, is to start looking at brands. The best part of comics going Hollywood is that everyone wants a piece of them, even clothing companies. Sometimes you get something like Top Cow producing “Witchblade” perfume, which just seems a little silly. Or, y’know, Diesel putting out Iron Man-branded cologne. Doesn’t his fist look like it’s holding a microphone?
Never underestimate the power of a baseball cap. More specifically: a New Era 59fifty can make or break an outfit. A couple of comic-themed hats were just recently announced. A common scheme is to take panels and covers from the comics themselves and mash them up into a cohesive unit, as seen here. I have mixed feelings on lids in that style. They can be a little too busy, a little too much like an explosion of color crossed with clashing styles. Art by Simone Bianchi and Ed McGuinness side-by-side? Hmmm.
Another method is to produce caps that are inspired by the characters or books, like these. These Death Crests are pretty interesting, and a good example of the way things can look good without being overbearingly comic book-y. A logo, a couple of bold colors, and not a lot that runs the risk of clashing. The black and grey Batman cap is probably the best looking, but all of them are pretty heavy metal, if that’s your thing.
But the fun part, the part most people pay attention to, is the shirt. Tokidoki’s Marvel t-shirts are, in a word, fantastic. A sharp and distinctive style, instantly recognizable, and fun to look at. The range of bright colors and large images make these shirts striking, interesting, and a step above a tee with a generic logo. They have flair, and most of them have funny little touches. Tokidoki has made their money on cute images appropriate for men or women, and it’s not hard to wear these shirts and look good.
But, okay, maybe bright colors aren’t your thing. You want something more subdued. While it isn’t strictly comic-related, Triumvir’s line of “Street Fighter” tees keep it simple, but still manage to be stylish. They put a lot of thought into the designs, too, and it shows. The designs are sketchy drawings of the “Street Fighter” cast on a black or white t-shirt with spot color highlighting specific parts of a character, whether tattoos or bloodstains. It’s hard to go wrong with white or black, since those are two colors that match basically everything. Try black and pink sometime if you don’t believe me. The spot color is what keeps them from being boring. It’s a flash of something different, a dash of “Look at this,” and the key to making a dope shirt.
Now, if you want to join the pros, you’ve got to learn to coordinate. If you’re wearing the blue Tokidoki Spider-Man shirt, for example, try to wear jeans of a complementary color. Pick out a blue New Era or wear a pair of blue sneakers. Don’t over-do it. Pick just one thing that matches another, otherwise you’re gonna look ridiculous. Wearing black or white? Wear a pair of nice black shoes.
Comic fashion doesn’t have to be ugly, overbearing, or simplistic. Something subtle and clever can work just as well as something bright and gaudy, like the Tokidoki shirts. The trick is to find something that works for you, which should also happen to be something fresh, and wear it with confidence. Don’t be the comic fan equivalent of the guy who wears the band’s t-shirt to the concert.