Betty Felon is an outfit blogger of superheroine proportions. When not photographing her own outfits and costumes, she documents her favourite Fashion Tips from Comic Strips. Plus, one time she made this really wicked Pokemon dress, forever securing a place in my heart.
If you were a superhero, what would your costume look like?
First and foremost, a domino mask is mandatory, as are bow-shaped Batarangs, since I wear bows with almost every one of my outfits. The rest of my dream costume would include a long-sleeved leotard, matching tights, patent combat boots, a streamlined utility belt, and an optional cape that falls mid-thigh. As for the color palette, I think that I’d stick with a more retro colourway — light aqua body, cherry red cape and mask, and lemon yellow accents.
Do you think there is a difference between costume and fashion?
I think it really depends on the role that fashion plays in your life. In a general sense, there really is no essential difference between costume and fashion when you recognize both as a means of visual identity. While costumes often seem a bit audacious and inappropriate in normal settings, you really have to consider the significance of a costume to a superhero or supervillain, serving as an iconic identifier; even after years of redesigns, most characters can be identified simply by their synonymous symbol, theme, or style. Similarly, civilian characters also have a symbol in the form of a signature look, which allows us to identify Lois Lane by her impeccable sense of business-casual or Jim Gordon by his browline glasses within even the most intricately dense splash page. In relation to the fashion world, I think that virtually everyone has a signature style or item that they wear that personalizes their daily ensembles.
However, I think that the similarities between costume and fashion are actually more apparent when heroes and villains assume their civilian identities. As civilians, they wear “normal” inconspicuous outfits to blend in with their surroundings, not unlike how less-than-super individuals will abide by a dress code at work or this season’s popular-yet-overdone fashion trends on a daily basis, usually for the primary purpose of fitting in. Their civilian wear in turn serves as their Average Man and Normal Woman costumes, giving them the power to hide their actual powers and identities.
What comic book’s costumes outdo its plot?
Chynna Clugston’s Scooter Girl. I read this back in high school, and while I did enjoy the story, I found Margaret Sheldon’s neo-mod wardrobe incredibly memorable and visually compelling. I’ve been hooked on Chynna Clugston’s work ever since. Another honorable mention is Batgirl’s costume in Frank Miller & Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman and Robin; I wasn’t crazy about the comic, but I really loved the gold JLA charms on Barbara’s earrings and belt.
Which came first: your love of comics, or of clothing? Has one influenced the other?
I think that my respective interests in comics and fashion started when I was about six or seven years old, though my fondness for these two realms were pretty disconnected from each other at first. As I got older, I started realizing how connected these two visual narratives were, which have since allowed me to enjoy my two passions in a new way. While I’m reading, I love picking up on small visual cues and details, especially in costumes and apparel, and I enjoy creating redesigns of some of my favorite characters. Similarly, I really can’t think of the last time I’ve gone shopping without being reminded of my favorite fictional fashion icons.
Do you have a dress code at work? Have you ever been forced to limit what you can wear?
Yes, I do have a standard professional dress code, however limitations actually push me to be more creative with my coordinates, such as playing around with layers to lengthen short hemlines or dressing up my work outfits with jewelry and pins. Almost every outfit that I’ve documented on Lookbook or on my Flickr during the weekdays were in fact worn to work as well.
Would you say that in general comic book fandoms tend to be more receptive to creative and experimental clothing?
Yes and no. For the most part, I’ve gotten positive reception from people who love fashion and/or comics, however like most fandoms, there will always be people who are stylistically conservative, disinterested, or just simply dislike my style aesthetic. For years now, it’s incredibly apparent that the majority of comic fans are incredibly fashion conscious, as comic fans will naturally react to costume changes and fashionable translations of their beloved characters. From the rants and ravings that erupt when a beloved character gets a costume makeover, to the scrutiny over what female heroes and villains are (and aren’t) wearing, fashion will inevitably intrigue fans, be it positive or negative.
Another thing that may have affected this connection between fashion and comics is that the classic stigma surrounding geeks and their fashion sense (or a supposed lack thereof) has transcended into popular culture to the point where it is in itself a style, and likewise, there has definitely been an increase in the variety and quality of fashion aimed at fandoms that provide more ways to wear your nerdy heart on your sleeve beyond unflattering “babydoll t-shirts.”
You make a lot of your own outfits. How long have you been crafting and sewing, and how did you get into it?
I’ve been crafting ever since I was about five years old; my mom does a lot of arts and crafts, so I picked up a lot of it from her. However, I didn’t start sewing until about high school, where I learned the basics from my mom and beginner courses in fashion design. Since then, I’ve been relying primarily on online tutorials and tips from other designers for more advanced sewing and crafting techniques.
What are some of your favourite ensembles that you’ve worn?
I really love wearing bold colors, especially coordinating red and yellow together, like my striped red dress and my Firestorm-inspired outfit; I’m planning to create similar ensembles inspired by Plastic Man and The Flash. I also wear a ton of grey, black and blue, such as my Zatanna outfit, my Blackest Night Wonder Woman outfit, my Batwoman outfit, and my Blackest Night outfit. I love outfits that include items that I’ve made or altered, such as the dress in my Batgirl outfit and my modified vintage dress in my Ultimate Spider-Man outfit. I also enjoy pulling inspiration from both music-based comics which allows me to channel some of my favorite musical fashion icons, as seen in my Phonogram outfit (also inspired by Kate Jackson of The Long Blondes) and my Blue Monday outfit that also pulls from Kate Nash’s “Do-Wah-Doo” video.
Betty or Veronica?
I am often a tad bit biased toward Veronica, solely for the fact that most people seem to favor Betty and are quick to write off Ronnie as a bitch. However, I don’t think that it would be fair to choose in terms of having one without the other. You can’t have a Betty without a Veronica, and you can’t have a Veronica without a Betty, and I think that everyone is at least a little bit of both.
But if you really want me to choose, I’ll have to go with Jughead.
Betty Felon’s top ten best-dressed comic book characters (in no particular order):
Barbara Gordon / Batgirl / Oracle
Dick Grayson / Robin / Nightwing / Batman
Selina Kyle / Catwoman
Go-Go (of Tippy Teen)
The cast of Blue Monday
Ramona Flowers (from Scott Pilgrim)
Denny Colt/The Spirit
- Interview by Anna Fitzpatrick