Comics, Fashion, Sexuality

Sequential Sartorial: Worst to Best Harley Quinn Outfits (DC Comics)

Harley Quinn has gone through a bit of an identity crisis throughout her years in DC. Since her animated debut, Harley has gone from the sidekick and girlfriend of Joker to her own full-on character, ranging from animated series to comics, video games, and a guest spot in the TV series Arrow–and now she’s on the big screen in Suicide Squad. With her transition from supporting cast member into a full character, I’ve come to the realization that Harley Quinn’s outfits have changed more and more in the past couple of years than anyone else. Even Poison Ivy keeps the same type of outfit, but Harley Quinn is different. The comic book and video game artists seem to give her either one less piece of clothing or one more weapon every time she debuts. What gives? I’ll rate the Harley outfits that have been the most popular so far from the comics to the video games.

Injustice Gods Among Us

12: Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013)

It’s almost hard to imagine that someone thought this was a good idea for a fighting game. Injustice: Gods Among Us is like Mortal Kombat, but with superheroes vs. villains. Sounds cool, right?  The one aspect that bothered me was that Harley’s outfit leaves nothing to the imagination. The good thing about her outfit is that it suits well to her gymnastic training, allowing her to move freely and cartwheel whenever she gets the chance. The bad thing about this outfit, however, had me asking a question as I played and watched her. If this was real life… wouldn’t she be shot in the chest immediately? The answer is yes. I know this is just a game, but hear me out. In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Harley Quinn is a Gadget User, and those gadgets almost come out of nowhere in the game. For safety, there is no padding, no bulletproof vest, and no cushion to soften the fall. There is nothing holding Harley’s outfit together but those four straps in the middle. They put in DLC to give her another outfit after a while, but it doesn’t soften the blow of being given this outfit the first go around.

Suicide Squad 1- Harley-Quinn

11: Suicide Squad

Girl, are you not cold?! It’s snowing! Suicide Squad Harley Quinn almost baffles me as much as Injustice Harley. The littler the clothes, the deadlier she becomes, I suppose? The New 52s introduced us to a new Harley Quinn that’s forcibly a part of the Suicide Squad, but also a stand alone character with her own series. Harley adopts pale skin and her hair is half black and half red–like her original jester cap. In Suicide Squad, she’s equipped with her signature hammer, which has the slimmer and sleeker design of a mallet instead of her larger hammer design. DC kept her core elements inside of the outfit, such as her bubbly, love starved, psychotic personality. But that’s only the psychological elements of Harley. DC has made Harley Quinn an even more sexualized character in the DC Universe, keeping pace with her increased popularity over the years. They kept her deadly as ever, but this outfit again doesn’t leave you much to the imagination.

Harley-Quinn-Arkham-Asylum

10: Arkham Asylum

Even “unrealistic body image” doesn’t cut it with this one. Harley goes back to her doctor days in Arkham Asylum, yet the game depicts her as a nurse type warden, taking over Arkham with the Joker like the BAMF she is. Harley uses her deadly skills to serve the Joker’s needs and wants. This has got to be one of the best games in the Arkham series, in my opinion, but this outfit has got to go. The “skin-tight yet busty” image of Harley Quinn starts to become a routine after a while. We start to see Harley Quinn in tighter corsets and boobs lifted up to her chin. Previous game Arkham City sets out to destroy this image, but Arkham Knight builds this image right back up. This outfit also doesn’t help with her battles because it might be impossible to realistically use your gymnastic skills with those heavy boots. Look at that tiny waist though… Talk about corset training…

Margot-Robbie-Wears-Tiny-Shorts-To-Play-Harley-Quinn-In-Suicide-Squad-

9: Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad

This outfit is a cross between the comic design of Suicide Squad (above) and the game design from Injustice Regime (below), which could be an awesome costume if DC really got it together! Margot Robbie seems like she’d be the perfect Harley Quinn. She has those drop dead gorgeous looks that you’ll swoon for. I want to like this outfit so much, but I just can’t. It fails at so many areas where it can be awesome. Harley Quinn is beautiful, we know this, but does she really need to look like an actual doll?

The pigtails are a great touch to already New 52s idea of Harley and she sports easily recognizable signature colors. The pale skin is matched to Margot Robbie’s already sharp features; she resembles a porcelain doll.  The problem with this outfit is the oversexualization that’s happening within it. Daddy’s Little Monster? Really? It’s bad enough that her shorts are so short that they probably don’t give her space to breathe properly, but when you bring a Daddy t-shirt into the equation it almost shifts the dynamic of the character. She hardly looks like herself anymore. She’s probably going to be the most oversexualized person in the film, which is slightly upsetting. As much as I want to like it, I just can’t give it the approval it’s seeking. Harley Quinn has become this bubbly, oversexualized creation for  the male gaze and it’s really sad to see because she’s so amazing.

ARKHAM-KNIGHT-harley-quinn

8: Arkham Knight

Harley Quinn in a tutu! This is one of the better outfits that Harley has worn throughout the games. This is the outfit that she’s given after Arkham Asylum (1) and Arkham City (2) and she’s wearing a tutu. For all purposes, she does look adorable in the outfit, bringing a lighthearted nature to the game. It slightly makes you remember that she was a gymnast with the ballerina-esque illusion of the outfit, but that’s not enough. She’s equipped with a baseball bat in this round while wearing her corset–that kind of starts becoming a recurring “thing” around now. The one thing I’m very happy about with this outfit is her tights and boots look. They come in her signature diamonds with her colors intact. They also add a bedazzled nature to the style that’s DIY for the character, which brings a much-needed smile to my face.

Harley Quinn and Batman in Batman: Arkham City

7: Arkham City

Harley’s look in Arkham City was the best functional, smart and dope addition to the many outfits in her video game collection. This is very close to what Harley should be wearing within the video games, if not what she should be wearing. It’s highly functional with her gymnastic skills and she’s equipped with whatever is at her disposal. The outfit has been one that’s a favorite among cosplayers (although people seem to enjoy the Arkham Knight outfit these days). The outfit has another corset that has been popularized throughout the games and it leaves much to the imagination while being functional and badass at the same time. The hair definitely gets better after Arkham City and I hope we can all agree on that. It looks straw-like and damaged from the dye job at the ends. I am not an expert in hair, but I assume that is very very bad.

Harley Quinn from Injustice Gods Among Us - Regime

6: Injustice Regime

This outfit is kind of cool. Although the thong strap along her hip is a  very distracting. You can see that  this outfit is a lot more functional for her skills and the function of her gadgets little bit more as well. This outfit comes in the alternative for Injustice: Gods Among Us and I really liked it. There are some amazing touches to this outfit such as: her pigtails in black and red, her great pants which are also her colors and my favorite touch of all is her leather jacket. They bring in her gadget usage, which allows her outfit to actually have them attached to her, rather than them come from out of nowhere. The best touch to this outfit, however, is the t-shirt with a drawing of her puddin’ on it. It gives another bit of that DIY touch realizing that Harley probably did it herself to give a tribute to the Joker, the love of her life.

Arkham Origins

5: Arkham Origins

I didn’t know that this existed until I wrote this article and almost freaked out. I love seeing Harley Quinn in her early doctor days as Dr. Harleen Quinzel, before and right when she meets the Joker. This outfit is everything. In Arkham Origins, she has pinned up blonde hair, signature red shirt and black skirt and a white lab coat. It updates the original Dr. Quinzel outfit from the original animated television series with a sharper design. Her glasses are what got me excited, because I hardly ever see Harley Quinn in her doctor glasses anymore! She’s not only her doctor self, but fans get to see a little bit of the old Harley, before she falls in love with the Joker and steps into the jester outfit we know today.

Harley Quinn in Joker Writers Brian Azzarello Artists Lee Bermejo

4: Joker

Joker is a comic book that not a lot people know about, but very much should be read by those wanting to get behind a little bit about the myth of the Joker. Scripted by Brian Azzarello with art by Lee Bermejo, it’s told through the eyes of one of Joker’s henchman, but it’s a powerful behind-the-scenes look of the Joker as well. Harley Quinn is in it, in a silent role, but her presence is always there, and the art keeps you focused on her as soon as she appears in the panel. She’s the backbone of the Joker. You almost see the need Joker has for Harley, knowing she’ll always be there for him. She’s a dancer at first, but when she snatches on that mask you know shit’s about to go down. Harley’s outfit in this graphic novel goes back to the original outfit, but also has little moments like when Harley is sitting by the bar and her hair is in knots. It’s pretty fantastic. Check it out if you get the chance!

Mia Sara in Bird of Prey

3: Mia Sara in Birds of Prey

I don’t know why this outfit works for me but it does. Birds of Prey was on the WB in 2002 and only lasted for one season, but dear god I loved that season. It was campy, but it was also pretty ahead of its time for featuring Huntress, Oracle, and Black Canary as the top billing female characters. Mia Sara’s portrayal of Harley Quinn was awesome, and her outfit reflected it. Harley’s outfit in this show in particular plays around with the business side of who Harley Quinn can be. The costume designers for Birds of Prey also play around with Harley’s main colors: black, white and red, with her suits and casual clothing. She wants to control New Gotham and it shows the sinister side of her instead of the bubbly side. If you look at the costume closely, the top of the shirt looks like her signature diamonds, but they also look like teeth. Ruthless!

Gotham City Sirens

2: Gotham City Sirens

I can go on and on about how much I love this design of Harley’s outfit in Gotham City Sirens, but I’ll keep it short and sweet. Guillem March does an amazing job sharpening Harley’s classic outfit and bringing it to the forefront. In this comic that centers around Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, herself, it’s almost impossible not to love everything about it. It sticks to the original outfit, but it is also slightly sexier than the original. It gives you the outfit full on, but as tight and right that it can possibly be without showing TOO much in return. March keeps Harley in the outfit that made her legendary in the first place. Gotham City Sirens doesn’t show her in a corset trying to gasp for air, and it’s not giving you Daddy’s Little Monster in Suicide Squad. It sticks to the original design and it’s a perfect redesign.

OG Harley Quinn

1: Batman: The Animated Series

How can you not love her original outfit? It’s not only perfectly expressive of her bubbly, jester self, but it’s the outfit that we recognize the most for Harley Quinn. Introduced in the animated series Batman, this is the first glimpse we see of Harley Quinn and, like many of us, I’ve been hooked on this outfit ever since. It’s simple, clean and leaves a lot to the imagination without showing anything in the process. It’s functional for her gymnastics training and it’s so funny to see her spin in with the jester hat attached. During Comic Con sessions, I’ve seen girls in this cosplay and they are absolutely GENIUS about it. Cosplayers update this version of her outfit by using everything from leather to velvet in order to get their perfect Harley Quinn cosplay down. The original outfit cannot be beat, and hands down has to be the greatest Harley Quinn outfit ever.

OG Harley Quinn (alternative)

Series Navigation<< Sequential Sartorial: Superhero Beat! Off the Rack, On the HighstreetSequential Sartorial: Narrative Chaos! How to Redesign a Character >>
  1. Wendy Browne

    June 22, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Her classic outfit remains the best, but I do like the more utilitarian looks she’s had in Injustice Regime and Arkham, rather than the overly sexualized and useless ones. I expect Harley to be sexy. I like the idea of using her body — because she has brains — on her enemies by recognizing when and where she can use sex as a distraction tool. The Mia Farrow one though? Hmmmm the top, maybe… but those pants needed a pass.

    So as I was saying previously though! I adore Harley. I read Joker specifically because of my friend’s description of her silent and powerful depiction. It’s the first time we got to see a relationship between Harley and Joker that wasn’t ridiculously one sided. The abuse was likely still there, but she had so much power. That scene with him knelt before her, crying against her belly? Oh my feels.

    Also check out the Injustice comics, if you haven’t already. Here she is just heartbreaking. She recognizes that the relationship is horrible and talks about it. That series explored the various characters, and her specifically, in the most impressive ways. I was truly surprised by its depth, considering it was an AU based on a video game. (A good video game, btw. I thought it was just another fighting game and had decided to just watch the YT vids, but I only got through a few of them before deciding I wanted to learn the full story myself.)

  2. Desiree Rodriguez

    June 22, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Injustice is a great comic for Harley. Her relationships with Black Canary and Green Arrow are fantastic. I’m surprised her looks from her solo aren’t included here though. She’s worn some great ones and one really really REALLY terrible one. I actually like her movie look so far, but I get the discontent with it.

  3. Claire Napier

    June 22, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    I actually think the Injustice: Gods Among Us outfit would be pretty terrible for the gymnastics–look at these pinchy buckle straps across her torso! Ouch! And the long sock-boot things would have to fall down… still, you put it dead last, so I’m happy. :3

    Her original costume really is pretty excellent.

  4. Evan Attard

    June 22, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    This list is ridiculous. The author is clearly a major feminist who cares more that Harley doesn’t show any skin than the actual realism or practicality of the outfit. And she hasn’t really done her research either or she would know that Harley Quinn in injustice has taken a pill that makes her invulnerable and therefor a bullet proof vest (which, by the way is a ridiculous thing for Harley to wear) wouldn’t help her any more than her skin. And what’s wrong with a tutu?! She’s a clown for goodness sakes!

    1. Megan Purdy

      June 22, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      A major feminist on a feminist comics site? How did this happen???

      1. Wendy Browne

        June 22, 2015 at 11:28 pm

        OMG should we call someone? Do you have the number for the feminismist police??

    2. Wendy Browne

      June 22, 2015 at 11:35 pm

      The author might have missed the invulnerability pill thing, a small detail within a larger game, but you some how missed reading the post right in front of you where, for example, the author says that the tutu is one of Harley’s better outfits. Reading. So fun.

    3. Claire Napier

      June 23, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      Tutus are for ballet though?

      1. Wendy Browne

        June 24, 2015 at 7:25 pm

        Not according to my clown school uniform order.

    4. dani

      March 16, 2016 at 11:52 am

      You did get that the author didn’t mind the skin revealing outfits as long as they were practical and fit in with Harley’s personality? She likes the Arkham City/ Knight outfits, as well as the Injustice Regime. Have you ever worn a leotard or a full body unitard? There is a reason why gymnasts and dancers wear them, they move with you, they’re flexible. Harley is a gymnast and a jester the original costume is her, it’s both sexy and practical. The point is that Harley’s sex appeal, which she uses as a weapon, has become the most important feature about her, and it’s shown through her outfit rewrites. Harley is a strong female character that has been manipulated into eye candy.

  5. Cyna

    June 23, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I gotta second the person who mentioned that Harley’s had some decent outfits in her current ongoing series. There’s a lot of variety and they’re all pretty cute, and LOADS better than anything else she’s been given to wear in the Nu52.

    Hands down though the worst HQ outfit I’ve ever seen is what Bruce Timm stuck her in for the current Gods and Monsters webisodes. HOLY CRAP is it atrocious.

    1. Desiree Rodriguez

      June 23, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      Oh god that Gods and Monsters outfit should get an honorable mention as her worst outfit ever. Considering his part in creating the character I can’t believe Timm did that.

  6. kimberly clarke

    June 24, 2015 at 12:14 am

    honestly i dont mind her injustice or arkham outfits because her characterization is still somewhat like original harley, unlike ss harley and her current solo series. and in an interview, bruce timm revealed that gods and monsters harley is satire. He was mocking the newer nastier versions of her.

    1. Wendy Browne

      June 24, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      I haven’t seen Gods and Monsters, but looking at the images, I can certainly see what you’re speaking of here.
      The outfit is horrible, but it seems quite intentionally so.

      Must make note to watch this soon…

    2. Sherbetron

      July 25, 2016 at 4:02 am

      I agree, despite still not being too fond of the costumes. I’m also glad to hear that Gods and Monsters Harley is satire because that was just ridiculous.

  7. Tomás O.

    July 21, 2015 at 7:46 am

    I absolutely despise how female comic book characters in mainstream superhero books are always showing skin that men would never show. Of course, I understand that since most comic book creators in superhero books are male and heterosexual, they simply adhere to the sexist sociocultural narrative that tells us that women are ornaments to please the male gaze. However, I still hate it. Because of this, I hate that Harley has been turned into a twisted caricature of a sex bomb. She is still cuckoo and feisty, but now she’s also pure eye candy. I still adore her iconic classic costume.

  8. Simon

    September 15, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Shout out for Birds Of Prey tv show love!

    Loved that show. So good. I’ve even got the unaired pilot that had Sherilynn Fenn in the Harley role.

    1. Wendy Browne

      September 15, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      Yessss Birds of Prey! I remember that pilot! Also, isn’t that how we started listening to t.A.t.u all the time? Or did BoP come before that?

  9. Margot Robbie Jacket

    October 8, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    I love the original one but Margot Robbie’s Suicide Squad costume looks cool, I prefer that one of a great contrast between blue and red, the original have the combination of black and red which is more common. I am planning to get her inspiration costume from Amazon or Ebay

  10. Lily Love

    November 12, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Actually as someone who has cosplayed the Arkham Knight… its one of my favorites and actually fairly comfortable… The new Suicide Squad outfit I’m a huge fan of. (also plan to cosplay it) It’s fun, looks movable, in character and the details on it are amazing. (joker on the gun handle, the shirt actually looks like its worn to hell and back as it has a frankenstein style of stitching which appears to be made to keep it together. (I’m just glad they aren’t using the comic suicide squad outfit. And I don’t think, what looks like leather, the arkham city pants look very movable.

  11. purple dragon

    November 27, 2015 at 1:49 am

    Exactly what I was thinking !! Thank you!

  12. Crystal Rose

    February 17, 2016 at 4:06 am

    Feminism…Sucking the joy out of everyone and everything, one step at a time.

    I mean when do you ever actually see a happy feminist who isn’t complaining or overly opinionated?

    1. Claire Napier

      February 17, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Literally every day, in the mirror!

    2. Lgre

      August 3, 2016 at 2:15 am

      With out feminists you literally would not have the rights that you do now.

      1. Moirai

        August 9, 2016 at 2:41 pm

        Yeah, actual feminists not extremeists that hate all men, and just sit there writting about a comic book character, a fictional character.

  13. andy

    July 7, 2016 at 10:05 am

    her outfit in DC superhero girls is pretty cool. slot this in at number two. http://play.dcsuperherogirls.com/en-US/Images/profile-harley_tcm1249-241030.png

  14. Sherbetron

    July 25, 2016 at 4:00 am

    THANK you. I agree with the majority of this list, though I’d push her Arkham Asylum outfit all the way up to 7, and not really include other versions of her classic look. Otherwise my own personal list would just be a 1 – 10 list of different versions of it, seeing how it’s my all-time favourite/
    I’d also add Ame Comi and rank it near the top seeing how it’s a more out there Harlequin-like costume for her. Every New 52 outfit though (Aside from her newest one in the Rebirth: Suicide Squad comics) is god awful too, I’d rank them below her usual Injustice one even though I think that one just looks stupid.

  15. Alex

    September 14, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    I like all Harley Quinn outfits because I think they’re cool in their own right even though I now have to lock my door every time my grampa comes over because of the 16 Harley Quinn posters and considering most of them are Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy fanart. ♦️

Comments are closed.