The Best-Dressed Ladies of Genre Fiction

Syfy Wire wrote a piece listing who they think are the best-dressed ladies of sci-fi and fantasy. While I appreciate the (fangirl) writers of this article for making Padme Amidala #1 in the fantastic fashion department, the other choices were, meh, to say the least. So to remedy that, I put together my list of the best dressed ladies of genre fiction. The only criteria is this: they must make at least two costume changes over the course of their story.

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1. Padme Amidala, Star Wars

When we first met Padme in The Phantom Menace, she was the 14-year-old Queen of Naboo and went by her middle name Amidala. She wore huge robes that covered her entire body, elaborate headdresses and white face paint. Why? Protection! Thanks to this queenly facade, whenever Amidala was in danger she could switch places with her low-key but equally fabulous handmaidens and no one would be the wiser. When I was a high school freshman, my female classmates and I would gab enthusiastically about which Amidala dress was our favorite. Then came Attack of the Clones and Amidala was now a senator. No more heavy dresses, no more elaborate hairstyles, now her wardrobe was more flowing and romantic. But the fashion sense was still there. If anything, being senator of Naboo meant…more dresses! Then in Revenge of the Sith Padme had to fall back on her queenly roots again as she used full bodied gowns to cover her pregnancy. But hey, the movies weren’t the only ones to showcase Padme’s unique style. Who can forget that fur-lined “snow bunny” outfit she wore when she went to Illum with Yoda in Clone Wars?

Number of Costume Changes (counting films and television only): 50

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2. The Ladies of The Avengers

No I’m not talking about the 2012 film or the Marvel comic. I’m talking about the hipper British TV show that ran from 1961 to 1969. For nine years John Steed – played by the sophisticated Patrick Macnee – would fight diabolical, dastardly villains with wit, a smile, a derby and an umbrella. Along side him was always an equally competent lady partner. From 1962-1964 it was Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman). From 1965-1968, when the series switched from black and white to color, it was Emma Peel (That’s Dame Diana Rigg to you). Then in the final season (1968/1969) it was Tara King (Linda Thorson). Each woman had her own personal style and if there was one thing The Avengers had in abundance, it was style! Whether it was Cathy’s black leather catsuits (and “kinky boots”), Emma’s Mod ensembles or Tara’s youthful miniskirt’s, these ladies brought new meaning to the phrase: “dressed to kill”. Watch all 161 episodes to see them all.

3. Altaira Morbius, Forbidden Planet (1956)

The first big budget science fiction film ever made, this 1956 smash hit influenced every sf creator, from Gene Roddenberry and Irwin Allen to George R. R. Martin. So it shouldn’t surprise us that costumes were a part of the budget, the most memorable being Altaira’s (Anne Francis) self-designed dresses and jewelry. When we first meet Altaira, she’s wearing no shoes, amber/ruby jewelry and – gasp! – a minidress. This was before Mary Quant made waves with her mini skirt design. In fact Altaira’s hemline was so ahead of its time, the film wasn’t shown in Spain until 1967. To impress Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen. Yes, that Leslie Nielsen), she switches to longer dresses with emeralds around her neck. But by the end of the movie she’s back to her short skirts. Good thing she has Robby the Robot to provide the materials.

Number of Costume Changes: 4

4. Wonder Woman

Throughout her 76 years as The First Lady of Comics, Wonder Woman has gone through many wardrobe changes, from culottes to skirts, and eagle to W breastplates. What’s never changed is the color scheme of her armor: red, blue and gold. But let’s not forget her other wardrobe choices: on Themyscira she wears a loose, short athletic tunic for freedom of movement. When going about her daily business in Man’s World as Diana Prince, she chooses an elegant, classy style (mostly pantsuits). When acting as Ambassador for the Amazons, she wears a classical toga. If we were to discuss every outfit Diana has worn – from comics to cartoons to live action – we’d be here all day.

5. Marsha, Queen of Diamonds, Batman (1966)

Former Addams Family matriarch, Carolyn Jones, committed her first crime in Gotham City as the glamorous Marsha, Queen of Diamonds. This diva loves diamonds. She loves diamonds so much that she’ll cast a spell (using her Aunt Hilda’s love potion) on any man to make him steal a diamond for her. But the one diamond she wants more than anything is the Bat Diamond, which generates power for the Batcave. Marsha appeared in five episodes of Batman wearing – what else – diamond jewelry but also some memorable outfits to go with that ice. What other woman would make giraffe print look so good?

Number of Costume Changes: 9

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6. Dale Arden, Flash Gordon (1980)

From one comic book wardrobe to another: Both ’60s Batman and ’80s Flash Gordon were scripted by the same writer: Lorenzo Semple Jr. so it makes sense that the projects were full of camp, colors and great costumes. It’s no surprise that the beautiful Dale Arden (Melody Anderson) would catch the eye of wholesome quarterback Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) while wearing a coral colored dress with a white jacket. As she (unwillingly) becomes Ming’s prisoner/bride to be, she’s dressed in glittery orientalist-inspired gowns (pointed shoulder pads!) and intricate diadems. But no flashy (no pun intended) apparel can stop her from helping Flash save the universe!

Number of costume changes: 6

7. Peggy Carter, Agent Carter (2015-2016)

Agent Carter, we hardly knew ye. If your show had stayed on the air, who knows how many more fashions we’d see on this secret agent as the world moved on from World War 2 to the early stages of The Cold War (screw you, Disney). One thing’s for sure, we saw a lot of memorable outfits in the two seasons of this beloved show. Peggy proved that you can kick butt in heels and a skirt without smudging your lipstick. Who didn’t want to wear a red hat at a jaunty angle after the first episode? Or go to bed with your hair curled in bobby pins to get that wavy look the next morning? Or work at the office in a pinstripe pattern? Heck, raise your hand if you wished you had a time machine that could take you back to 1946 for a shopping spree and a makeover? View them all in 18 swingin’ episodes.

Agree with my list? Who are your favorite fashion divas of science fiction and fantasy?

 

 

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Filed under female characters, science fiction

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