This blog was supposed to be about how all our favorite kick-ass urban fantasy heroines wear skintight black leather while still managing to wield heavy weaponry, outrun demons, and avoid unsightly leather-sweats. It was supposed to offer a few options on quick urban fantasy heroines you could emulate for Halloween costumes that didn’t involve leather. It was supposed to poke a little gentle fun at what is a huge genre cliché.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the leather shop. I discovered that while tight leather clothing is very popular among urban fantasy cover artists, the heroines of those novels don’t wear the stuff all that often. In fact, the heroines of today’s most popular UF series can be firmly divided into the jeans crowd, the leather crowd, and Sookie.
Still looking for that Halloween costume and want to avoid leather or (worse) pleather? Try these sartorial seductresses:
Sookie Stackhouse. Never mind that it’s late October. To dress like Sookie, slather on the spray tan and pull out a nice cotton sundress and some strappy sandals. Be sure to throw a tasteful scarf in your bag to cover any unsightly fang marks, and carry a casserole to your Halloween party.
Anita Blake. Sure, crack the jokes. You could go naked as Anita if you wanted, trailing male shapeshifters behind you. But while Anita might don a leather jacket, she’s most often found in polo shirts, jeans, and her signature Nikes. Well, except for the ardeur-feeding bits.
Chess. Pick up some religious-looking temporary tats and a Ziploc bag full of pills (Benadryl capsules have an interesting look), throw on a tank top and some jeans and boots, and you’re good to go as the heroine of Stacia Kane’s Chess Putnam series. Find a kind of unsavory date to trick-or-treat with you.
Mercy Thompson. You’ll need a black wig to pull off the Native American angle, but ignore the (admittedly gorgeous) covers featuring Patricia Briggs’s heroine in leather sports bras. She’s is a mechanic, so dab a little motor oil behind your ears and under your nails, throw on some jeans and a t-shirt, and you’ll be good to go. Remember to pretend to cower and wag your tail a little if approached by an alpha werewolf Coyote paw midriff tattoo optional.
Kate Daniels. Ilona Andrews’s heroine can definitely kick some magical assets, but all you need for a Kate costume are a loose-fitting pair of jeans (you can fight better that way), a button-front shirt, and some athletic shoes. Easy-peasy. Carrying a bottle of Boone’s Farm is a nice touch.
Kitty Norville. Carrie Vaughn’s shapeshifting radio host might be dressing a little better these days, but she’s still not a leather girl. Ubiquitous jeans, a sweatshirt, and you’re good to go. To accessorize, try a microphone but avoid silver.
Never let it be said, however, that there are no leather-clad heroines left in urban fantasy. If you have some leather on hand, you can do your trick-or-treating as:
Rachel Morgan. Kim Harrison’s Hollows witch likes some leather when she’s fending off Algaliarept and scarier demons. Accessorize your red leather pants with a few spell pots, a couple of tomatoes, and a paintball/splat gun.
Jane Yellowrock. Leather for the heroine of Faith Hunter’s series is more for function than style. She rides a motorcycle; leather is protective. A leather jacket also hides a lot of clever weaponry. Off the bike, and Jane’s as likely to be in jeans and a tank, a slinky little nightclub dress, or Beast. And the big cat Beast would make a great Halloween costume.
Just to show a little parity, I offer you:
Harry Dresden. Jim Butcher’s iconic wizard hero is fond of jeans and not-so-stylish western-style shirts, but he tops it off with a very chic black leather duster, mantle and all. And he carries a big stick.
Who are your UF favorites, and do they wear leather? Who you like to dress like for Halloween? I’m stocking up on the motor oil myself.
Suzanne Johnson, who writes urban fantasy with a heroine much too lazy to pour herself into a pair of leather pants, is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series. Book two, River Road, will be released November 13 from Tor Books. You can find Suzanne writing about speculative fiction, with and without romance, at her daily Preternatura blog, as well as hanging around on Twitter.