Exploring The Themes and Threads Of ‘Agent Carter’

From ForGloryandBeauty.org: The story themes and fashion threads of Marvel’s “Agent Carter” both inspire intentional beauty.
on Feb 6, 2015 · 2 comments


Note: Today’s guest article is by Lacy R. Burnett (who happens to be SpecFaith editor E. Stephen Burnett’s wife). On Feb. 1, Lacy and her sister, Beatrice Jones, launched ForGloryandBeauty.org. This new web ministry’s mission is to explore the glories of God in art, fashion and life — not that much different from SpecFaith’s mission.

And on Fridays the two sites’ missions will coincide even closer, such as today’s article Fandom Friday: Agent Carter that explores the heroic ideals and ideal-reflecting fashion style of the Marvel miniseries.

The article is cross-posted here with permission.

We here at 4GAB are mostly normal, sane human beings. But we have our crazy fangirl moments, and we like dressing up nearly as much as your four-year-old niece. So on Fandom Fridays we will celebrate the beauty, art and storytelling of our favorite stories—in novels, film and television shows—as well as fantastic cosplay and our own projects in that direction.

Peggy is demure as can be while apartment-hunting.

Peggy is demure as can be while apartment-hunting.

Lately one of my favorite shows has been the “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”/Captain America spinoff series “Agent Carter.” It airs Tuesday nights and follows Peggy Carter’s adventures as an agent of the Strategic Scientific Reserve after World War II.

Agent Carter could have gone so wrong in so many ways. It could have been a soap opera, a girls-are-awesome-boys-are-dumb travesty, or even just a run-of-the-mill costume mystery.

But somehow it has managed to avoid all of the above and become something really special.

“Agent Carter” was initially promoted as a show about a woman battling her way through the ranks of insensitive brutish men. But that’s not how it’s turned out. Yes, every day Peggy must fight nasty pervasive misogyny in her office. Her coworkers are serving their country, but their refusal to trust her abilities is their biggest weakness. But both Peggy and her male colleagues still display competency, loyalty, and intelligence, and that’s truly refreshing.

agentcarter_peggyandsousaThose are some of the story’s key themes. How do the creators show these in the story’s style?

One thing that has impressed me most about this show is that Peggy is deeply practical about what she wears. Yet “practical” doesn’t necessarily mean “frumpy.”

You may have seen posters and promo shots that emphasize Peggy’s wardrobe. Heels and a pinstripe dress for the office? Oh yes! In fact, her flawless office style is one of her most efficient disguises. She knows her co-workers see her as “just a girl” and she flaunts it, all the while picking up information while pouring the coffee, filing papers, and taking lunch orders.

No skintight leather for this lady!

No skintight leather for this lady!

But she’s no fool. When she’s on mission she doesn’t mess around with eyeliner. Also, you’ll look in vain for sex-appealing black-leather catsuits. (We’re looking at you, Black Widow.) Instead, Peggy suits up in regulation tactical gear just like the boys, pulls her curls into a pony tail and goes in. Another favorite ensemble is the brown jumpsuit she uses for spelunking sewers and some light piracy in an earlier episode.

And she never, ever loses her class. So far the show has not included one moment where I had to worry about what my husband saw.

Her intentionality is inspiring. Peggy makes me want to be more purposeful about what healthy messages, life goals, and moral ideals my own clothes are reflecting. Sure, we may not be fighting misogyny at work or infiltrating enemy bases. But all of us can find plenty of situations in which what we wear makes statements about who we are and what we believe.

How do stories like “Agent Carter” inspire you?


Firstborn of four siblings, Lacy Burnett began discovering the benefits of communication and humor from an early age. Tempered to graceful maturity by God's work in her life, she is now also a master of diplomacy. Lacy has been involved in a range of creative work including her time in a flower shop, instructing ballet, molding the future of America through her child/parent outreach, and occasionally writing critical book reviews for Speculative Faith. In her free time she designs terrariums, reads books, pulls her sisters down out of their trees, and seeks out ways to shed a little more light on the beauty that surrounds her.
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  1. Julie D says:

    I’m so glad to see Agent Carter get some recognition. It could really use it. And yes, full kudos to the costuming department (in related news, Bobbi Morse’s first outfit in Agents of Shield? That made me so happy because it was tailored for tall women. It took her height and made it look great).

  2. I love Agent Carter. She’s a smart, sensible woman who struggles but is imminently capable. She’s more than just a “strong female character,” she’s a strong, real character. Everyone in her office is interesting, she’s interesting, the story’s interesting. I really wish the show were to last longer than eight episodes. Fingers crossed we’ll get a new series eventually.

    I review episodes over at my blog the day after they air, for anyone interested.

What do you think?