It may come as a surprise that naked people invariably do badly as supervillains. Unclothed monsters, maybe, or the odd henchperson, but almost never as the big headliner. This is partly because of the expectation one’s garb sets up in the mind of potential victims and adversaries, communicating non-verbally the essence of the villainy in question and placing a premium on the ability to dress to dominate, horrify, and intimidate. Partly too it ends up being a measure of the effectiveness of the individual’s beastly activities over time, since the most efficient evildoers can afford the nicest outfits for themselves and for their associates.
If you are looking for the look of power and success, you should start with the question of who you are, getting really deep down at the core of things. Then go on to the one of what you trying to do, and where you are going now, and how do you think you are going to do that, and pretty soon you get to the one about whether you are actually going out there dressed like that. Not good. So let us try to nip this dreadful line of interrogation in the bud right at the outset and lay down some commonsense basics that apply to everyone.
- Know your fit. Start with the basic lines you are seeking to establish as a silhouette, then build up the layers and details going up from there. Should you go with a loose look or one that is formfitting? Much can be said for each, both for males and for females seeking to capture that one diabolic aura that suits their body type and age bracket. Note that there are special fitting problems for shapeshifters, energy beings, and invisible beings which are too specific to address here.
- Outrage and incite. Here is your chance to stir things up with what you put on, challenging the boundaries and social norms in much the same way your dirty deeds transgress societal dictates. Keep an open mind and pay no heed the assumption that your costumes must make you look good so you are able to concentrate upon shock and showmanship. You will need to understand the current fashion trends so as to play off of them yourself and subvert them. So if you are a guy and design a wardrobe based upon frilly shirts like those of a seventeenth century dandy, or a buxom woman and favor the cutaway look in latex, in either case brandishing the means by which you intend to carry out your evil ways, you have communicated your commitment to yourself in a way more powerful than any words on parchment might be able to do. In many cases, the impact will come not from any single wardrobe element but from the edgy juxtaposition of coordinating items as they each pull the look in a particular direction.
- Materials. Balance the desired qualities conveying your message with issues of comfort and practicality. Good: leather, fabric, animal pelts, metal, synthetic materials. Problematic: paper, wax, slime, seawater, fiber optics, smoke. Poor: emery boards, nettles, cotton candy, elemental hydrogen.
- Contrast. A stone golem can get away with a single unified surface treatment. Most others, on the other hand, need to have more variety of color, texture, and weight to keep the eye satisfied. Evil supervillains who tend toward the gaudy end of fashion sense straight into the realm of the shocking actually have all sorts of advantages over the plebeian masses and the do-gooders who suffer when they stray much too far off the conventional standards.
Strokes of genius
- Weatherproofing. Your wardrobe should readily adapt to all the climatic conditions you anticipate encountering. If you plan to carry out all your evil schemes in Victorian drawing rooms, you do not have to have as much versatility built in as if you were planning a rampage across dozens of alien worlds. Material which becomes unpleasant to wear when a bit of rain catches you unaware will tend to sour your mood and can in extreme cases cloud your judgment at a critical moment, ruining what might have been a perfectly effective round of deviltry.
- Rotation. Not the revolving kind, but the proper attention to keeping your look new and fresh looking over a long career. Look to the subtle and sometimes radical changes in the look of the most senior comic book villains to see how a motif can be preserved even though every individual detail of a rogue's look might change. This helps perpetuate interest in your branded image and can confuse and befuddle your antagonists as they try to read what your new look might portend.
- Accessorize. Simple yet significant details which draw attention to themselves yet harmonize with your overall look can clinch the top evildoer's fashion rating. A stunning choker or a compelling pair of boots could be the item that immortalizes your presence in the minds of your viewers. It can be something as dainty as the waft of pheromone that lingers in the wreckage you generate, or as bold as the hideous emblem at the tip of your powered battering ram, but it must say something about what you think about yourself.
- Color coordinate. Black isn't the only color that exists in the villanous spectrum, contrary to what some dreary fiends would have you believe. Maroons, purples, indigos, vermilions, and metallic sheens are often used as complements to a dark palette, with accents provided by screaming neon riot splashes. If you tend to have lots of blinking light gadgetry around your person, try to echo some of those notes in your clothing.
- Stay ahead of the curve. It takes time, proof of menace, and history, not just a armoire full of strange outfits, before a villain can be declared a fashion icon by the world at large. Ideally by the time this happens, you will have moved on to the next outlandish concept in order to maintain your reputation for daring and vision.
Traps for mere fools
- Telltales. Whatever you do with your look, do not allow it to conflict with your main mission. Before you take your costume live, consider having an impartial observer take a look at it and try to assess your threat profile. An embarrassing bulge around the waist revealing a belt of hand grenades is too often the sign of an inexperienced villain.
- Unintended consequences. Similarly, the cape of stainless steel mesh may seem like a fine idea at your tailor's, but prove to be a liability when the jingles and buzzes that come with your every movement foil your attempts at stealth. The old gag that goes "I had an invisibility suit but I set it down someplace and can't tell where" is closer to the truth than you might think. And the crown of lightning really ought to be tested for its compatibility in proximity to computer equipment before you step into your accountant's office. Take a fresh eye to your wardrobe once all the pieces have been assembled and try to see whether they work well in your intended application.
- Obstructed vision. Do be careful with the cheaper grades of mask with the weak elastic that tends to slip out of place. Also keep in mind that a spooky cowl will have an effect on your peripheral vision.
- Hazardous footwear. Insufficiently broken-in, unwieldy, or toxic shoes should be saved for occasions where you can be relatively immobile and sedentary, not in the midst of pitched battle.
Precious and needful
- Measuring tape.
- Brannock device.
- Fitting room with mirrors.
- Comfortable undergarments.
- An evil cobbler, haberdasher, and milliner.
- Money. Or a way to get the trinkets you need to have in the absence of money.
- How to become invulnerable to bullets
- How to cast giant holograms of yourself
- How to sport fangs
- How to rule men's minds through sex
- How to worship an evil god
- How to possess eternal youth
- How to play the bagpipes
- How to reign over love slaves
- How to look frighteningly deranged
- How to walk away from an explosion
- How to entertain zombies
- How to rewrite history
- How to summon spirits of the dead
- How to grow a mighty brain
- How to run a virtual world
- How to stage a show trial
- Fashion for the Evil Doer
- Image credit Southern Steam by Anna Fischer
- Image credit TRF October 2005 by Michael Bird TX
Created by: . Last Modification: Thursday 02 of September, 2010 06:51:20 EDT by .