The Gilded Aesthetic

The Gilded Aesthetic : September 2008

The Gilded Aesthetic

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


She's smart, she's feisty, and she knows how to slink through the night! Catwoman is inarguably one of the more interesting denizens of Gotham City, as well as being Batman's most beguiling associate. With lithe movements, a love of sexually-charged jokes, and with a pinch of corruption to her soul, Catwoman rivets us. Catwoman may not always be right, but she sure doesn't cave to fear or timidity in pursuit of what she wants. If she sees a pretty bauble in a store window, she'll damn well purloin it. If her alter ego (or true identity? who is she really?) Selina Kyle gets sick of being dogged around by The Man, Catwoman will gladly step in to deliver justice. If a bum tries to rape a woman in an alleyway, Catwoman will kick his teeth in. All while looking fantastic!

As well as appearing in ink, Catwoman has had many celluloid incarnations:

Julie Newmar

For beauty and style alone, Julie Newmar wins as The Gilded Aesthetic's favorite. Sure, the dialogue of the 1966 television show was campy and silly, but who cares? Just check out her costume!

I mean, come on. She LOOKS like a trouble-making bad ass, does she not?

Interestingly, Newmar marketed her own brand of underwear/panty hose called "Nudemar."

To channel Newmar's Catwoman:

If you're wide of hip, this look will emphasize that. In fact, it's purr-fect for a womanly shape. This Catwoman was meant to look full and womanly, so go for the tight fabrics and a low-slung belt to emphasize your waist and hips. If you really want to go the whole nine yards, invest in a corset to tuck your gut in.

Wear your hair full and loose. Your Cat Ears will sit on your head like a crown, poking charmingly up out of your curls.
Rim your eyes, top and bottom, with a charcoal gray or a dark blue eyeliner. You could go with black, but the contrast between the more neutral gray or dark blue and the black of your outfit will look better. Add some "layers" to your look.
Define your eyebrows with a brow pencil. I think her wild eyebrows not only made a nice "frame" for her eyes, but lent a feral quality to her. Let those suckers grow, then brush them upwards with a small brush. Keep them in disarray by using a bit of hair spray on them.

As for your lips, a touch of pink never hurt. You don't want your lips competing with your eyes, so keep it neutral or delicate.

Michelle Pfieffer

As far as being the toughest, more interesting Catwoman, Michelle Pfieffer takes the cake. Not only did she look beautifully lithe, but she had a good back story. An unkempt, inhibited secretary before her transformation, Catwoman indulges herself by stealing jewelry and aiding Batman's enemies. She is not, however, without conscience. She has mixed feelings about her life and loathes taking innocent lives, yet her inner CAT is just too strong. After being disrespected and mistreated by the people around her, she finds it difficult to temper her wild side. Even so, she has the tenderest feelings for Bruce Wayne AND Batman.

While her dialogue bordered on ridiculous, Pfieffer's Catwoman moved and looked like a true villain. Her black, slick catsuit hugged her body, showcasing her bad ass angularity to purr-fection. Whether punching Batman in the gut or jumping rope with her whip, she looked damned good.

To Channel Pfieffer's Catwoman:

Go for the dramatic. Think tight and slick. This is a Burton movie we're talking about.
Follow the same rules that you would with Julie Newmar, but remember that this look is less about looking "feminine" or "pretty" and about looking like you can throw some roundhouse kicks. This Catwoman stitches her own suit together from an ugly old vinyl coat. She is a perfect mix of tattered and polished.

For makeup, slide the red lipstick on and line the eyes with the darkest kohl you can find. This Catwoman was dramatic because she was breaking out of her shell.

Whether you're hoping to impress on Halloween or are pursuing a career in vigilantism, I hope this little exploration of Gotham's reigning mistress satisfies.