No one is more surprised about Jen Walters, J.D. getting a new job than Jen Walters, J.D. In the second episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law when Jen (Tatiana Maslany) is hired to head up the superhero law division at Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway, she hopes it’s for her expert legal skills, not her newly revealed superhero identity. But when she shows up for work she’s blindsided by her boss: He expects her to come to work everyday as She-Hulk, not Ms. Walters.
As someone still getting used to her superhero form, Jen is not stoked about this. It’ll likely mean having to buy a whole new wardrobe, as she tells her friend Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga). And yet, in the first few episodes we see her settle into this new sartorial life: wearing clothes that work for two wildly different professional proportions, even if it means changing shoes a few times a day.
If that seems… difficult to achieve to you, you’re not alone. Buying ready-to-wear clothes is already a bit of a challenge, and the idea that you could buy clothes that would fit the waist, shoulders, and legs of a woman who’s both 5 feet, 4 inches (the height the internet says Maslany is) and 6 feet, 7 inches (She-Hulk’s in-show height, per the creators) tall depending on her mood seems tough to imagine. But She-Hulk director Kat Coiro says while they were certainly aided by some good old-fashioned Marvel CGI, they worked to make sure all of her fashion choices actually had some foundation in reality.
“We absolutely discussed and tested out methods of how you would do that in real life,” Coiro tells Polygon. “6-foot-7 is large, but it’s still very much human scale. And we had a woman on set with us, an actress named Malia [Arrayah] who is our double, and she is 6-foot-7. And what was surprising is that things would actually fit her better than you would think.”
Coiro cites a time they put a pair of leggings that Jen wears on both Maslany and Arrayah, and they still fit. “That was part of the driving force of the creation of her body and her size,” Coiro says. “We weren’t doing something that would be impossible to make real; the show is very grounded in reality. So those suits are based in reality, and we would put the same suit on Tatiana, who’s tiny, that we would put on Malia, who was wearing a muscle suit. And they fit both of them.”
If you’re reading this and thinking: Really?! You are, once again, not alone. Has She-Hulk never had to buy pants and compromise somewhere on the waist-to-hips ratio? Does her bra expand with her? Truly how many cotton T-shirts can she grow into that just happen to fit perfectly?
Watching Jen transform throughout the episodes, I was baffled by how her “I <3 Mexico” shirt could comfortably fit her in both personas, or how her gray pantsuit could swell to hug her She-Hulk body with just a (single!) torn shoulder seam.
As lingerie and fashion history expert and She-Hulk fan Cora Harrington is quick to note, there’s certainly a little bit of Marvel wish fulfillment happening.
“That’s like miracle stretch fabric; she’s still able to wear that jacket and button it? That’s wild,” Harrington says. It’s not just the height that’s a problem, but the way the clothes would fit across the transformation; She-Hulk has a broader chest and shoulders, with more extreme muscle definition in her arms and legs. Things certainly fit She-Hulk a bit shorter in her hulked-out form, but there’d likely be more problems with fit than just taking off her shoes. “The idea that there’s going to [be] a blazer that fits Tatiana and She-Hulk equally well, that they can both button up, is definitely a suspension of [disbelief].”
As Harrington adds, that’s not true of every She-Hulk outfit — T-shirts are often made with some percentage of spandex, and that could allow for Jen to have just enough stretch to work between sizes. Still, despite Bruce’s note about spandex being a Hulk’s “best friend,” even that isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation.
“The important thing about spandex is the recovery. So it’s not just that the clothing can stretch, it also needs to be able to bounce back to what it was before,” Harrington says, noting that spandex is pretty much always mixed with other fibers anyway. Jen could buy garments with higher spandex content, but Harrington cautions that they’re “not very comfortable” (think shapewear, which has a 20-25% range of spandex).
“I’m just thinking about it in pseudo practical terms: If a superhero was wearing spandex, then what would the percentage of spandex be? And if the spandex is being stretched out, could you expect it to bounce back and recover? Of course they’re bending the rules of physical materials, but I think it’s interesting to think about what kind of fabric technology would conceivably exist in a world like this that would allow for magically growing and shrinking people.”
She-Hulk so far has mostly left that discussion in the background. But Harrington points out that Marvel comics had a clear answer for this: Unstable molecules. Invented by Reed Richards to help keep his Fantastic Four family clothed when they used their powers, the synthetic material allowed it to drastically change in heat, cold, pressure, density, dirt, expansion, contraction, and beyond. It became the logical makeup for every superhero costume.
With the MCU having not introduced Reed Richards or the Fantastic Four (at least in the primary universe) yet, Jen is left to don oversized and baggy suit looks, allowing her to look regularly dressed as She-Hulk and fashionably baggy as Jennifer Walters. It’s an aspirational fiction — nailing the perfectly oversized look is dependent on getting the proportions right, even outside of work wear. It’s doubtful that those proportions would translate perfectly to She-Hulk’s form, such that everything hit at the right points on her body without feeling uncomfortable or looking incredibly unflattering.
In the comics, there were certainly a few times She-Hulk just accepted that her transition pieces would become more revealing — even though she’s moved beyond the early portrayals of “sexy Hulk,” a suit skirt might still become a miniskirt on her. The show’s version of Jen is uneasy with how people perceive her as She-Hulk, so it seems unlikely she’d be so cavalier about ill-fitting or too-small clothes. But that’s a break with the character’s manner, historically: With a run spanning decades, She-Hulk’s look has undergone a few iterations, with writer-artist John Byrne allowing her to both break the fourth wall and be decidedly fashion-forward in her costuming. That legacy has stuck with the character to present day, with cover artists like Kevin Wada and Jen Bartel cementing her smart style sense.
Disney Plus’ She-Hulk so far has proved to be a medley of the character’s influences over the years. She’s been breaking the fourth wall from the jump, dealing with the MCU’s (relatively) smaller claims in court, and using the She-Hulk persona to mine deeper territory like body image issues. Whether her fashion sense will become a more active part of that isn’t clear yet, though her stepping out on a red carpet in a gleaming dress in the She-Hulk trailers certainly suggests it might.
But is Jen’s dream of a closet filled with clothes that work for both of her forms even achievable in everyday wear? Harrington says yes — although not the way she’s currently managing it.
“I would maybe look at pieces that can transition or adjust more easily. For example, wrap dresses over three-piece suits,” Harrington says. “She can get away with a slightly more oversized fit, probably, for a wrap dress, that would be a slightly tighter fit for She-Hulk, but something both forms could wear.”
With blazer dresses also being on trend at the moment, Harrington says that could also be a possible transition look, assuming Jen doesn’t mind carrying around some pants or a skirt to go with it for when she transforms. Harrington, who wrote In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie, also advises maybe a stretchy base layer that could work with everything and could grow and stretch with her. Perhaps the thing that most strains the mind, attire-wise, is what happens to her bra and underwear.
“I can see how she would handle the underwear — there are one-size-fits-all panties that work very well and are made out of great stretch materials,” Harrington says. “But the bra bit, I’m like, Hmm, I wonder how that works.”
It’s an issue that might be too granular for Disney Plus, but if your superpowered cousin accidentally bleeds into you tomorrow, wouldn’t you want to know?