A History of Wonder Woman’s Costumes | Book Riot

At long last, Wonder Woman 1984 ultimately hit U.S. theaters and HBO Max on Christmas Day. The world ’ s most celebrated superheroine has been around for 79 years, and the newly movie has me thinking about her history. specifically, her costume history. Let ’ s take a count, shall we ?
( A note before we get started : I ’ m not going to be thoroughly covering every version in chest emblem, tiara, boot stature, etc., because good godhead that ’ s a distribute. I ’ meter besides only going to touch on major multimedia appearances, and as usual I ’ thousand leaving out video recording games because I don ’ triiodothyronine even go here. )
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Wonder Woman debuted in All Star Comics # 8 ( October 1941 ) in a narrative by William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter, before going on to headline both Sensation Comics and Wonder Woman in early 1942. whole books can ( and have been ! ) written about Marston ’ second goals with Wonder Woman and his own improper life style, but let ’ s precisely focus on the costume, shall we ?

The historical context is ineluctable. Like Captain America, Wonder Woman was created during a surge of patriotic feel, though anterior to the U.S. actually entering World War II. Hence the outfit, which looks more like a chorus girlfriend costume for an Americana-themed kind show than anything reflecting Diana ’ s apparently Greek-ish origins, from the star-spangled dame to the golden eagle breastplate. Fun fact : the buttocks half of the outfit was actually intended to be at large, blousy culottes, although it has subsequently much been drawn as a skirt alternatively .
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I hate to admit it, but this ensemble is…kind of a mess, both semiotically and sartorially, and will remain so pretty a lot forever. I love it because it ’ randomness iconic and because she looks dang cute—seriously, Peter ’ s art is sol wyrd and appealing—but there is so much going on. however, please take a gander at this still from 1942 ’ s Yankee Doodle Dandy, peculiarly the ladies :
yankee doodle dandy
If Diana was brassy, at least she was on course ! And if she showed a bit more clamber than her cinematic sisters, well, comics weren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate ( even ) subjugate to the same content restrictions that movies were. besides, that coil set is * chef ’ s kiss *

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By the clock time she got her own serial a few months late, the culottes had become the more recognizable…well, they wouldn ’ t have been called motorcycle shorts then, but bicycle shorts. This obviously international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine streetwear for 1942, but it does resemble bathing suits and dancing costumes from the time : check out dancer Ruby Keeler ’ s short short-shorts, while Betty Grable ’ s celebrated WWII bowling pin up shows off a about backless attend that ’ s a little more plausible than Diana ’ s gravity defying ensemble .
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In 1949, Diana switched from boots to ballet flats, further emphasizing that dancer aesthetic. Her hair besides grew significantly longer .

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By the deep ’ 50s, Diana ’ sulfur shorts were closer to the bikini cut we ’ re used to, and her ballet slippers/sandal things had inexplicably developed high heels .
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interestingly, her costume wasn ’ triiodothyronine truly affected by the attack of the Comics Code Authority. Short version, in case you ’ re not familiar : by the early 1950s, there was a far-flung parental backlash against the violence and nihilism in amusing books and their supposed negative effects on children, spurred in part by psychologist Dr. Frederic Wertham and his book seduction of the Innocent. In response, the comics diligence formed the Comics Code Authority, which granted or denied comics approval based on their cling to its rules, which forbade anything besides crimson or sexy, equally well as contempt of assurance and conservative social mores. When I wrote about Catwoman ’ randomness costume history earlier this year, I noted that Selina disappeared from comics for about a ten because she was excessively gleefully lawless for the stature of the CCA. Wertham took potshots at Diana for being canonically into bondage ( absolutely true ) and a lesbian ( borderline true ? The subtext is broad, even if to this day DC tends to be cagey about her bisexuality ), but though the content of her comics changed to be more marriage-focused and broadly far less mugwump of men as a whole, her look stayed the same .
wonder woman 155.jpg.optimal
To wit, this exit of Wonder Woman from 1965, which among early things has Wonder Woman trying to cook a delicious meal for her atrocious husband because “ the way to a man ’ sulfur heart is through his abdomen, ” is simultaneously hilarious and a huge bummer—but Diana is still sporting her classic, lean turkey. ( Were the members of the Comics Code Authority all men ? credibly. )
Diana finally made a disgraceful change in 1968 by ditching the costume wholly :
wonder woman 178.jpg.optimal
The Amazons were relocating to another property, and in order to stay in Man ’ s World with her love interest Steve Trevor, Diana had to give up her powers and her iconic costume. naturally, she opens up a mod clothing boutique, and besides learns soldierly arts from a mysterious blind asian man named I Ching. Oof. This shameless swerve leap was largely prompt, of course, by the fabulous Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers ( no, not those Avengers ) :
emma peel diana rigg the avengers
I ’ m of two minds about this era. On the one hand, I can ’ thyroxine see Superman giving up his powers to travel the worldly concern in a catsuit and stylish bouffant ( more ’ s the pity ) ( and no, the atrocious “ Grounded ” discharge from 2010 is not the same thing ). DC did try to tell some women ’ second lib–inspired stories at the time—there ’ s an issue where Diana protests in favor of equal pay, and a planned ( but canceled ) storyline where she defends an abortion clinic—but the fact that they were all written by men is equitable classify of condescend. Plus the I Ching farce is every racist american kung fu movie trope at once .
On the other hand…come on, she fair looks so darn cunning !
wonder woman mod outfits.jpg.optimal
It was no less a important person than Gloria Steinem who helped Diana get back to basics, by placing her on the cover of the very first issue of Ms. Magazine—in costume—and campaigning to have Diana ’ s powers restored. You ’ ve credibly seen said embrace :
wonder woman ms magazine.jpg.optimal
The comics promptly restored Diana ’ randomness costume and powers, but kept the big hair. She retained this update look for 1973 Super Friends :
wonder woman super friends
1974 brought Diana into live action for the first clock time with the television receiver movie Wonder Woman starring Cathy Lee Crosby, which hewed closer to the no powers mod earned run average, but with that inimitable 1970s, um, panache :
wonder woman cathy lee crosby
The miss of effort hera is truly what ’ s so torment. They couldn ’ triiodothyronine get her a black wig ? I ’ thousand not opposed to giving her a costume that ’ s presumably more comfortable—although those tights look slightly sheer so it ’ s not like she ’ sulfur cool in yoga pants—but this looks like something they ’ vitamin d betray in an infomercial at 2 ante meridiem And the boots don ’ t flush match ! Hard pass .
Despite the failure of the television movie, ABC kept trying the succeed year with the now-iconic Lynda Carter usher :
wonder woman lynda carter
now this is Wonder Woman ! The tiara, the lasso, the hot pants ! Looking at this costume, I ’ thousand reminded again that I have no actual ability to gauge whether or not it ’ mho estimable because it ’ s so embedded in crop up culture that it equitable feels right to me. Is it attractive ? I don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know. Is it feminist ? I don ’ metric ton know. Is it comfortable ? Almost surely not. But Lynda Carter rocked the hell out of it .
Over in the comics, Diana kept up this expression, with minor variations ( hair length, kick stripes, etc. ) for closely a ten. In 1982, she got a piece of an update with a new emblem :
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survive was the stylize eagle that had been in station since 1941, replaced with a stack double W which Diana was canonically chancy about until she realized it could stand for all women. Uh, certain .
In 1986, the whole franchise got an renovation in the aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Diana was reintroduced to Man ’ s World :
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The costume is basically the same, but the hair, as befits the ’ 80s, is absolutely enormous. Please besides note that the bracelets have become bracers, and the boots, while not precisely flats, have lost their spike heels. I ’ molarity into it !
In 1993, we about got something amaze :
wonder woman and the star riders
Wonder Woman and the Star Riders was a promotional comedian distributed in Kelloggs cereal boxes to drum up excitation for a toy occupation and cartoon that were never actually produced. As person who was a little female child in 1993, I feel profoundly cheated that I never had the opportunity for beg for this brassy hideousness for Hanukkah. Diana ’ s outfit is awed ( as are her friends ’ ), but it ’ s frightful in that sublime Jem and the Holograms/Rainbow Brite/original She-Ra means that little girls love, and therefore it is actually arrant. If alone, Wonder Woman and the Star Riders. If only .
meanwhile the amusing was very much not for little girls. I ’ ll give you three guesses who it was for, and the first two don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate reckon :
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Oh, we ’ re in the ’ 90s now, folks ! Artist Mike Deodato Jr. just went ahead and cut the briefs into a lash, saying “ Every time the bikini was smaller, the sales get higher. ” Truly, by exposing two-thirds of Diana ’ s pubic area, DC had captured Marston ’ south sight of creating a solid function exemplar little girls could look up to .
All that said, the g-string might have been better than what came future :
wonder woman 99.jpg.optimal
now these are bicycle shorts ! I mean, this is precisely hideous. The brassiere is faineant, the eldritch little bondage-y straps across her belly are sol noncommittal Marston is rolling in his grave, and the jacket actively looks cheap. tied Brian Bolland, who designed it, didn ’ t like it. I will say that there ’ s a certain level of platonism here, in that it looks like a bad ’ 90s kit that a human being would wear preferably than a comics take on a bad ’ 90s outfit ( note the dearth of pouches ), but that ’ s not in truth a compliment. The only saving grace is that it lasted less than a year .
But hey, at least we get to see wonder womanhood ’ s ma ’ south pelvic fold. 😐
Diana quickly returned to a variation on her classic costume ! hurrah !
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…Sigh .
( If you can look away from whatever the hell is happening to her wholly lower region there, you ’ ll note that the breastplate of the costume now covers her stomach as well. )
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As we neared the end of the millennium, the bikini became a clear up flip-flop again, but, uh, at least the boots are slouchy ? apparently this was controversial. not that her hale bottom is out. The bang thing. Please see above, re : “ Sigh. ”
meanwhile, Diana returned to the small sieve in 2001 ’ randomness Justice League and its sequel series, Justice League Unlimited :
wonder woman dcau
This is basically a simplify version of the authoritative expression, and as such it works well. I could do without the heels, but by and large speaking I have no complaints here .
A few years subsequently, Batman : The Brave and the Bold similarly stuck with a classic look…

wonder woman batman the brave and the bold
…though, being the nostalgia-driven show that it was, it went very ’ 40s with the hair. Again, the heels are unnecessary, but she ’ second cute !
She got her own animated movie in 2009, and finally got rid of the heels :
wonder woman 2009
back in the comics, things puttered along until 2010, when we got a in truth controversial costume, designed by Jim Lee .
Okay. Let ’ s talk about the pants .
many people of all genders have argued for decades that Wonder Woman ( and Supergirl, and Elektra, and any number of other iconic heroines ) should get pants. Male heroes don ’ t typically run around in their underwear, so what possible cause could there be for Diana to wear then little clothe early than cheesecake ? Well, besides “ She ’ mho always dressed like that. ”
First of all, I ’ d like to defend the “ She ’ s always dressed like that ” argumentation. I ’ ve said a couple of times in this article that I can ’ t actually evaluate whether or not the iconic Wonder Woman costume is any thoroughly because it ’ s so iconic. My genius good goes “ Ah yes, that ’ s correct. ” She ’ second sported some variation on it for the better function of eight decades, which speaks to some serious staying exponent. And even Wonder Woman has been subjected to more costume fiddling—and, not for nothing, more reboots—than either Superman or Batman, as DC ( and fans ) try repeatedly to “ fix ” her. Could it be potential that when a character is the most celebrated superheroine in the world and has been for about a hundred, she doesn ’ t actually need to be fixed ?
I besides have read far besides many comics to believe that pants = non-exploitative art. For example, take a look at these two pieces of published art :
wonder woman booth and scott.jpg.optimal
On the entrust, we have the original Wonder Girl, Donna Troy, as drawn by Brett Booth. She ’ mho erosion pants…but her top is besides cut down to her navel, barely containing her breasts, and her consistency is painfully contorted to show us her butt at the lapp time. And the pants are shredded to show a brash snatch of thigh anyhow .
On the veracious, we have Diana as drawn by Nicola Scott. She ’ second wearing the classic strapless, pantsless costume, but she looks impregnable and confident, with credible anatomy and no sense that anything might on the spur of the moment pop out for the delight of the male gaze .
The issue international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate pants or no pants. The topic is whether or not the artist draws the character like women good might be a kind of people .
All that said, I ’ meter not strictly opposed to Wonder Woman getting pants, american samoa long as they ’ re good pants. Some characters who were celebrated for loot shorts have made the switch to great effect, Captain Marvel being the first to come to mind. So are these good pants ?
here ’ second another visualize, in case you forgot after all my monologuing :
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Yep, that ’ s pretty much what I was talking about. This international relations and security network ’ thyroxine anywhere near a crying as a draw of published cheesecake artwork I ’ ve seen, but it ’ s still a overlay centered entirely around Diana ’ second cleavage. I do not feel significantly more empower by this than I did when she had the bikini bottoms .
Otherwise…Well, this costume is a mess while placid somehow do to be profoundly bore. The bantam jacket is incredibly dated, but that ’ s not going to stop Jim Lee putting them on everyone, all the clock time. The garroter is besides dated, but from a different earned run average entirely. The shirt and swath and gauntlets are unnecessarily detailed and fussy in three entirely different ways, and then you get to the pants and it ’ s fair an unplowed sphere of black that ’ sulfur besides vinyl for some reason ? ( And why bootleg alternatively of blasphemous ? ) For a new front ( designed by a man ) that was supposed to kick off a newfangled, extra-super-duper feminist era for Wonder Woman ( with a male writer and penciller, obviously ), this is deeply uninspired .
sadly, NBC ’ s undertake at a Wonder Woman show starring Adrienne Palicki took its inspiration from this costume :
wonder woman adrienne palicki 1
Adrienne Palicki is a beautiful woman and a charm actress, and this costume is 100 % not the adjust size for her. The material is shockingly cheap and brassy, and overall this looks like a “ aphrodisiac ” off-brand Halloween costume you buy on sale on November 1 for next year. And why are the boots blue ? Why is the belt indeed eldritch ? What on earth is happening here ? ? ?
wonder woman adrienne palicki 2
The express did respond to criticisms by tweaking the costume before filming the pilot burner : the boots are crimson nowadays, and the pants, while still polyester, at least look like real number framework and not the material they upholster bowling bowling alley chairs with. And I authentically far prefer these bright colors to the blandness of the comics adaptation. But it ’ s even two sizes besides small and miserably uncomfortable-looking, and the show never got past the pilot .
It ’ second anyone ’ s guess how long the pants would have lasted in the comics if the New 52 hadn ’ t come along and shaken things astir, but, good, it did. In 2011, Wonder Woman was rebooted ( again ) and went back to something more traditional :
wonder woman 1 new 52.jpg.optimal
This is pretty dear ! It ’ south helped, of class, by the fact that a lot of Diana ’ s New 52 run was drawn by Cliff Chiang, whose strong sense of design and regard for the female calculate shines through in all of his cultivate. This is basically the classic look but retaining the inexplicable 2010 garroter, and with the muted pallette and fiddly extra lines that were the New 52 ’ south signature. But Chang flush manages to make those lines look morphologic alternatively of fiddly. Well done !
…And then the pants returned .
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I have a batch of questions about this one, starting with “ Why does she have a bad red five over her vagina ? ” and going from there. I mean, this is just embarrassing. At its core, it basically looks like she ’ mho wearing thermal underwear under her costume…except that doesn ’ thyroxine explain the cockamamie wrist spikes, the uncomfortable-looking and movement-restricting epaulets, the hip pennants, or the armpit stars. And just to foster underscore my point that pants on their own don ’ triiodothyronine peer authorization, this look was brought to us by David Finch, who upon taking over the koran declared that he didn ’ metric ton want her to be a feminist .
You know what pants I do like for Diana, though ?
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These, from the 2015 iteration of the DC Super Hero Girls franchise. This is basically the Adrienne Palicki costume, specially the undimmed blue pants with the stars down the sides, but with sleeves, a big fly emblem on the chest and wings on the boots, and, you know, not painfully undersize for “ sexy ” purposes. It ’ s basically hideous, but I love it because it is precisely what a 5-year-old girl would think is beautiful, and that ’ s the aim audience for this franchise. It ’ sulfur Wonder Woman and the Star Riders all over again ! Baby Diana, you are tacky as hell and that is cute to me .
In 2016, Wonder Woman last made it to the big sieve in Batman v. Superman : dawn of Justice. This movie has the distinct award of being one of the worst I ’ ve ever seen, but let ’ s ignore…everything about it, and fair talk about her costume :
wonder woman dawn of justice
first, let ’ s address the elephant in the room : it ’ randomness brown. It ’ mho muddy, and depress, and brown, but everything in Zack Snyder ’ mho movies is cloudy and depressing and brown. Plus, set photos show that the IRL colors of the costume were a lot closer to how they appear in Wonder Woman and Justice League, so let ’ randomness fix that aside for nowadays .
largely ? I love this. It ’ s actually the correct size, which you wouldn ’ thyroxine think would be such a big winnings but obviously has to be taken into consideration. The bodice offers actual documentation. The leather skirt makes it look more greek ( I mean, it ’ s wholly historically inaccurate, but it conveys the vibration, you know ? ) and offers marginally more coverage. The eagle and gauntlets look dope .
Look, I ’ meter not saying there aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate issues—the molded breast cups ( a good way to guide your adversary ’ s blade into your heart ), the four column inch heels ( but at least they ’ rhenium chunky and not stilettos ), the free hair whipping about in her face. It ’ mho still basically a strapless bathing become constructed for the male gaze. But it ’ s besides reasonably party boss .
Let ’ s see it in color !
wonder woman 2017
SHE ’ S WONDER WOMAN AND SHE ’ S BEAUTIFUL AND SHE CAN PUNCH A TANK. I ’ thousand regretful, but Wonder Woman ( 2017 ) still fills me with then much joy and my analytic mind shuts off. It ’ s not perfect, but like. It ’ south perfect .
The comics cursorily adopted a more colored mutant on this look for 2016 ’ s Rebirth :
wonder woman 1 rebirth.jpg.optimal
I love it. I love the luminosity of the colors ( because comics ! ), I love the skirt with the stars, I love all of it. She looks like the iconic Wonder Woman, but she looks modern and bully and comfortable besides. It makes me so happy .
Her future enliven out, in Justice League Action, basically stuck with this look…
wonder woman justice league action
…but added heels for some reason. ( besides, weird peaky hair. ) Sigh .
The direct-to-video Wonder Woman : Bloodlines both did and didn ’ metric ton follow this practice, giving Diana two costumes :
The foremost is basically her current/movie attend, plus a distribute more amber. The second is…kind of strange ? Like, it looks like it would be worn by a medley character named “ Wondrous Woman ” in a Justice League parody. Or like the Finch costume with random pieces cut out of it. I don ’ thymine understand the weapon warmers or how those pointy boot tops stay up ? It ’ south just very confusing .
The boot DC Super Hero Girls franchise, interim, stuck closer to the new comics look :
wonder woman dcshg 2
I LOVE. Okay, yes, the peaky epaulets and kneepads and enormous earrings are very airheaded and a good manner to put your center out, but the surround ! The actual straps holding her costume up oh my idol. It ’ second streamlined, it ’ mho marginally practical, it ’ second adorable. Lauren Faust does it again .
Which brings us to our newest look, Wonder Woman 1984 :
wonder woman 1984 1
This is functionally the same costume Diana wear in her former DCEU outings, but in keeping with the ’ 80s plant, she ’ s traded dull reddish brown tones for intensely saturated elementary colors. I adore it. Let superheroes wear bright colors ! ! ! ( Ahem, Mr. Snyder. )
She besides sports another fight look that got a batch of attention when it beginning appeared in a trailer 473 months ago, before the pandemic :
wonder woman 1984 2
As armor, this is very cockamamie ( again, molded breastplates are a bad idea ). As a costume on the laughably sandbag Gal Gadot, it looks cola as hell. It ’ second presumably inspired by the armor known dearly ( ? ) to fans as “ the Golden Chicken, ” which Diana first wore in the authoritative alternate future story Kingdom Come and which was by and by introduced into the main continuity :
wonder woman golden chicken.jpg.optimal
The movie version is obviously quite a bit different—it ’ randomness less avian, for starters, and it has pants and sleeves. honestly, it looks less awkward and hard to move in than the comics translation, which is weird since there ’ s a real live charwoman ( partially CGIed ) in there. But it ’ s a cool count, and I ’ m excited for Diana to inescapably don it in the third dissemble of the movie for some epic ass-kicking. possibly she ’ ll punch a tank car again !

so there we have it : 80 years of Wonder Woman costumes. Like so many characters in pop music acculturation who are either female or aimed at women and girls or both, she has been subjected to endless consider, reject, hand-wringing, and reimaginings, and her wardrobe choices have been a huge partially of that. And as I ’ ve said a few times now, I couldn ’ thymine assure you if the classical Wonder Woman costume, with all of its variations, is actually any beneficial .
But there is something to be said for a costume that ’ s thus baked into the deoxyribonucleic acid of our start culture that it ’ sulfur no longer possible to be aim about it. And Wonder Woman herself, despite the endless choke, has besides remained portray, relevant, and beloved for about a hundred. How many characters can say that ?
Thanks for the past 80 years, Diana. I can ’ triiodothyronine wait to see what you do adjacent .

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