As far as costume inspiration goes, Catwoman in her various incarnations has been near the top of the list since her first official incarnation in 1947. But how well do you know this feline anti-heroine? Read on to discover the different Catwoman costumes and masks drawn in cartoons and animated series and worn by actresses on the big and small screens. Which Catwoman will you be?
Despite being the seventh incarnation of the Catwoman character, it wasn’t until 1947 that Selina Kyle first took on the name Catwoman, donning as her costume an elegant purple dress (with handy high slits to allow for superhero action), high-heeled boots and a green cape. Capes were a popular fashion choice at the time and this ensemble certainly pinpoints Catwoman as a woman of her era – though this costume would also make a brief comeback between 1983-1986.
This first costume in purple and green was a nod to Catwoman’s villainous side, however, the inclusion of the cape, aligning with other superheros of the time, was perhaps intended to suggest to comic readers that there might be more to our feline friend than met the eye. Brought together, this initial costume might not seem the most practical for a cat burglar, however, it served to give readers an impression of Selina Kyle’s alter-ego for the first time.
The finishing touch to this first costume is a purple cat mask. Covering most of her face, with ears on top, this mask would allow Catwoman’s long hair to flow behind her freely, emphasising her inherently feminine qualities. We love this pretty purple Gatto Fiore mask for a nod to everyone’s favorite anti-heroine – go bold and finish the look with a thigh-splitting purple dress and green accessories for a full-on homage.
Catwoman was banned from comics during this time, but in the 1960s the Batman television series brought this popular character to life on screen for the first time. The most famous representation was when the character was played by Julie Newmar. Slinking across our screens in a glittering black catsuit finished with a gold chain and petite cat ears holding back her auburn hair; the only facial accessories Newmar sported were her perfectly groomed eyebrows.
Glasses wearers can get the same effect with this beautiful Gatto Glass Strass mask with pinprick ears. Teamed with a sparkly top and black jeans, you have a subtle hint of a Catwoman costume. Unless you happen to have a glittery catsuit lying around, of course…
Actresses Lee Meriwether and Earla Kitt also played Selina Kyle during the show, though both chose a facial mask to add to the mystique of the Catwoman character. The Micetto Black mask is an easy way to achieve this look, topping off any all-black ensemble.
Catwoman made a reappearance in the Batman comics in 1967 thanks to the overwhelming popularity of the TV series. To relaunch her character, her costume was given a re-vamp. The resulting green, form-fitting suit is perhaps the least feline-looking of Catwoman’s costumes, but if you want to break away from the crowd of black masks and sequinned catsuits, this Green Macrame mask will help to create an authentic costume.
In 1969, Catwoman’s costume underwent yet another overhaul. This time, Selina Kyle adopted a slightly more feline aspect, with a black shiny leather bodysuit with high collar, long leather gloves and – for the first time – a tail. Teamed with white leggings, go-go boots and a whip, you’d be forgiven for wondering whether this incarnation of Catwoman was more expert burglar or dress-up dominatrix.
However, this was the first time we saw Catwoman with short hair, proving that illustrators had thought more than ever before about the practicalities of Catwoman’s role – no long hair to blow in her face, a tail for balance, long gloves to prevent fingerprint IDs… though admittedly she’s still in towering heels.
The final touch to this Catwoman’s outfit was a bold red mask, adding a touch of fiery passion to the character for the first time. Recreate this more unusual Catwoman costume with the Red Anna Strass mask.
This version of Catwoman represents the one we’re most familiar with today. The black catsuit is back, this time more form-fitting than ever, and accessorised with a tail, black gloves with claws, and a full feline face mask – like the Gatto Fiore Gloss.
Tim Burton’s 1992 movie Batman Returns saw Michelle Pfeiffer bring Selina Kyle to life on the big screen in what is still considered the most iconic representation of Catwoman in the movies. Wearing skintight leather with white stitches and claws that looked like they’d been crafted from the blades of Swiss Army knives, this was Catwoman at her most raw and lethal.
On TV, Batman: The Animated Series changed Kyle’s catsuit from black to grey to ensure she showed up against Gotham’s dark backdrops, accentuating her tiny waist with a gold belt and long legs with knee-high heeled boots. Even in cartoon form, Catwoman still exuded feline grace and oozed femininity.
Over in the comics, artist Jim Balent returned to purple for Catwoman’s mask and suit, with jet black hair and purple lips adding an appropriately villainous touch.
1999 saw the release of what has widely been acknowledged as the worst version of Catwoman ever produced – even by star actress Halle Berry. As the comic book representations of Catwoman got even sexier, with more flesh on show, Berry’s version of Selina Kyle jumped on the bandwagon with pleather trousers and a very revealing bralet, as well as the traditional cowl and clawed gloves.
However, when Anne Hathaway stepped into the role for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, there was hope the character was returning to her cat burglar roots. Never referred to as ‘Catwoman’, Hathaway instead played Selina Kyle, AKA The Cat, harking back to the original comic book character of the 1940’s. Yes, the black catsuit made an appearance – this time teamed with black boots with kick-ass metallic heels, and a feline ability to see in the dark thanks to modern night vision goggles. Hathaway’s mask was simple, leaving her actions to do the talking. Recreate the look with the Black Angelo Strass, Hero or Quadra masks.
Whichever incarnation of Catwoman you choose, there’s a reason this character has always proved popular for costume parties. There’s something inherently sexy, sensual and mysterious about a pair of beautiful eyes behind a dark mask, and dressing up as Catwoman gives us all a chance to play the anti-heroine for just one night.
Thanks for Rei-Doll for her Catwoman Cosplay Image – check out her other work on Facebook @R&RArtgroup @ReiDoll
Image Credit Rei-Doll