Doctor Strange’s girlfriend Clea always had a unique sense of style. Not surprising considering she came from another dimension. Created by Steve Ditko, her earliest outfits were as bizarre as the abstract landscapes that she inhabited.
When she first appears in Strange Tales #126, it seems that Clea is dressed to the nines in this elaborate outfit that includes gloves and high-heels. It also introduces the distinctively-patterned leggings that would become her trademark. It’s no wonder Doctor Strange was smitten with her.
Clea is dressed somewhat more conservatively the next time we see her, in Strange Tales #132, wearing this floor-length gown with long, tapering sleeves. Since she is with a man whom she addresses as “father” who doesn’t really look like her actual father, Orini, we might assume that she is in the Dark Dimension equivalent of a church speaking to some sort of priest. Dormammu is something of a self-styled deity, so it would make sense that his own “royal court” would have some sort of organized religious structure about it. And like many churches on Earth, Clea clearly feels it is appropriate to “dress up” to attend.
In the next issue, Clea goes casual in this comfortable-looking long-sleeve red T-shirt and pink tights (again with heels), accessorized with an elaborate ornamental collar. Its yoke-like design might be symbolic of the oppression suffered by Dormammu’s subjects. We might also note that, while living in the Dark Dimension, Clea also seemed partial to layering with horizontally-striped turtlenecks, which might suggest that her native realm is a bit chilly as well as dark.
Clea first opts to wear purple in this ensemble from Strange Tales #134, which features a wide, shiny waist-cinching belt. It is interesting to note that she seemed to favor stiletto heels in her home dimension, but largely abandoned them after taking up residence on Earth. Clearly the laws of physics as we know them do not apply in Dormammu’s realm, and she thus was forced to rethink her footwear choices once she had to start walking on solid ground.
After a period spent lost in one of the numberless nether-realms, Clea adopted her best-known look, which she would sport regularly during the period she served as Doctor Strange’s disciple. It was first seen in Doctor Strange #171 and was apparently designed by Tom Palmer. (Eventually her shirt became more of a bodysuit.) It was both functional and comfortable, while still retaining an alien quality that reminded her of her home world.
After Doctor Strange was captured and tortured by a race of extradimensional demons called the Undying Ones, he gave up the mystic arts for a period of time, until he recovered from the trauma. During this period, Clea was left to fend for herself in the unfamiliar environment of New York City. Worse, the mystic powers she had once possessed, derived from her native Dark Dimension, had faded away during her exile, and she had not yet mastered Earth’s occult forces. Thus she was forced to assimilate somewhat into the local culture, as evidenced by this outfit seen in Marvel Feature #2. It was designed by Ross Andru, and shows that Clea knows how to make a fashion statement in any universe.
After Doctor Strange returned to sorcery, Clea became his disciple, moving in with him in his Sanctum Sanctorum. She would continue to push the envelope of fashion from time to time, as we may see in future posts.