Wardrobe Theory: The Bayonetta Style Guide

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Sometimes when I wake up there’s only one thing I know for sure: I want to look hot, and I want people to be afraid of me a little. I don’t want to apologize for who I am, what I am, what I believe in. I want Earth to curve to meet my feet, I want to own my life, I want to completely crush it at this being alive thing. I’ve collected a series of role models for those days: among others, Beyonce, Winona Ryder and Bayonetta.

The movie It’s a Wonderful Life posits that being a librarian is the worst thing that could happen to a woman, but Bayonetta 2, a game where you play a seven foot tall librarian witch with guns in her shoes, has rocked Game of the Year lists across the internet. The titular character, Bayonetta, has been divisive, and although I tend to find the way the camera treats her body a little gross, I do appreciate, support and agree with opinions like those of Paste’s own Maddy Myers. I’m not here to rehash the controversy—it’s likely you know where you stand—but instead to celebrate the things Bayonetta celebrates.

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When speaking on their Pre-Fall 2012 collection, Viktor Horsting and Rolph Sneoren of Viktor + Rolph said, “There’s a lack of mystery in fashion now… We imagined a modern Victorian woman, discreet, moody, rich, and luxurious.” While this mystery has, in some ways, returned—see Jean Paul Gautier’s Fall 2014/15 show—I understand the interest in making a woman who can contain supposedly opposing ideas. A woman who is sexy and intelligent. A woman who is both aloof and revealing. Bayonetta is a character that has it all, effortlessly, and never apologizes for it. She’s fun, she’s deadly, she’s untouchable even when you control her as an avatar.

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Bayonetta’s style is about being uncovered while you’re covered up—a sexiness that is predicated on making you unnerved. To this end, I’d like to mention that capes have made a comeback. Not ponchos or boleros—honest to god, spooky witch capes. They’re going to be a little pricey if you want something of good quality, but coats, like shoes and bags, are things that you wear every day. I think it’s really important to splurge on those things—you’ll end up spending less in the long run. My mom still has an incredible cape she bought in college (and yes, I did use it as a part of my Hermione Granger Halloween costume). 1&clr=Navy&totalstyles=44&gridsize=3">This cape from Sister Jane has the ornate detailing in line with Bayonetta’s style, and in an oversize fit, should complement a rage of body types. I also love /buttoned-cape-coat-c706655p2338548.html">this understated cape from Zara, which is slightly severe, giving off a little more of a “bow down, peasant,” vibe.

Despite being decried as oversexualized, Bayonetta’s overall look is quite trendy for women, and it’s not exactly hard to tone it down if you’re not into enormous cut outs or bodycon. For example, Zara also sells a navy blue jumpsuit, and it’s something you could wear to places other than the club. With its low back and chain strap detail, it’s still a little S&M without being over the top. If you’re okay with a little more skin, this. jumpsuit from ASOS should do the trick. If you’re on a budget, this jumpsuit from Forever 21 should do in a pinch. While I think it’s worthwhile to buy clothes that are well made, we don’t all have that option—I certainly don’t. A jumpsuit isn’t every day wear, in any case, and with proper attention to care, you can make even the rattiest polyester and the loosest stitching last.

But I feel like what really makes Bayonetta is her accessories—it’s the key to her contradictions. While her actual clothing is understated for a videogame—really!—she has jewels dripping from every possible place imaginable. Jewels hanging from her cape, jewels hanging from her hair, jewels in her ears and around her neck and on her wrists. The bitch is opulent. There isn’t a shortage of occult-y jewelry IRL either—while you can probably find some in major chains and boutiques, I love that Etsy sellers really understand the vibe on what feels like a more personal level. Shops like TaxilHoax and OppulentOdities custom make jewelry out of raw stones, set into chains and hanging from bronze—the kind of stuff that really makes feel like you can shape reality with the power of your will. While there’s a lot to choose from in either shop, I really love the Seeker necklace and the High Priestess necklace—but I think your best bet is to get a lot of little things and layer them until you’re soaking in crystals. If you’re not up to it, or don’t think your neck can handle the weight, there’s also this adorable Fortune Teller bracelet from CustomRebelRocks. And while you can’t smell a video game, I don’t really think Bayonetta would leave the house without perfume, and I’d like to recommend Nic Cage Raking Leaves On A Brisk October Day from One Hand Washes The Other. While its label has a horrifying Cage face, it smells like a worn leather jacket, whiskey and musk, and it’s one of my favorite scents of all time.

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Of course, there are the shoes. Bayonetta’s always in ultra high, ultra chunky heels—all the better to shoot someone with. Lucky for all of us, these are very much in style right now, so much so you could probably walk to a DSW and find some right away. Now, you can be relatively safe and go with these Leather Heeled Sandals from ASOS—but why bother? Being Bayonetta means not caring about human notions of taste. Take this platform pump from Privileged Twee—is it tacky? Yes. Is it gonna hurt to wear them? Oh yeah. Could you disarm a burglar with them? Absolutely, either by blinding them, chucking them at their head, or threatening to stab their jugular, and that makes them worth the price of admission alone.

In fact, it’s worth remembering that taste is something other people made up, and those are rules we don’t always have to pay attention to. There are times, of course, to internalize not wearing a mini skirt to work, but otherwise? Don’t let anyone else make you ashamed of what you wear. Dressing in some ways might get a little more attention than others, but sometimes I really want attention—it’s natural. And if you take all the right lessons from Bayonetta, hopefully that attention can come with a side order of begrudging respect. Walk out the door like you have guns in your shoes. You deserve it.

Gita Jackson has dedicated her entire adult life to wading through the marginalia of popular culture and finding gold. As much as she’d like to be called a “fashion expert,” she is more likely a niche fashion enthusiast. She would probably love to talk to you on Twitter @xoxogossipgita.

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