I've looked at some of the best costumes out there, so let's look at those we'd rather forget about. Not everyone gets the sleek, stylish look they deserve.
Black Canary (80's version)
She's never really had a costume that didn't look make her look like a...ahem...loose woman, but for a little while they tried to give her some respectability in the 80's and early 90's. Of course, like those yearbook pictures of you in your Members-Only jacket, we have to cringe at how the "contemporary" look she had then is so horribly laughable now.
Where to start? Well, the headband was an awesome idea...if she were appearing in a music video with Whitesnake or Warrant. And those wings poking out from the front? Yeah, I'll bet those never got in the way of fighting or anything.
Unfortunately, she's hasn't been treated much better. DC seems destined to just tart her up whenever they get the chance. Even her recent stint on Smallville didn't help. My wife's pantyhose can get a run from just walking out of the house to the car, and yet Black Canary's fishnets have never seen a tear even when fighting Darkseid. She should give up the hero business and open a website selling those things!
I don't think he's ever really been taken seriously as a villain, and it's not hard to see why. He doesn't exactly look masculine with his choice of colors. He sort of just picked them all and went with it.
Yes, I understand he couldn't see colors without his special googles, but surely some of his fellow villains would have given him a little advice about how his costume really looked to those with normal vision. And the poor man never had a clue as to why he wasn't taken seriously in a fight.
His main claim to crime was an art thief, but he looked better suited to be the arch-enemy of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.
Storm (mohawk version)
You could call it her "Grace Slick" period, but the years were not kind for Ororo Munroe when she decided to try and change her look.
For no reason, she shows up one day in this tough leather biker chick look with a mohawk. The sad thing was that mohawks were already out of style by the time Marvel moved her into one. A short haircut I could have understood, but a mohawk isn't even functional, let alone practical for fighting villains. I guess if she used Superglue in it to spike it up she could have used it for some serious head-butting, but otherwise it made no sense.
Ororo never got the casting call for the next Mad Max movie, so she eventually decided to let go of the 80's and let the hair grow back out. The black leather is still a part of her costume (in a different form), but none of this worked in any way.
Between Vibe, Vixen, and Gypsy, DC found a way to insult just about every ethnic group during that weird "Denver JLA" period. Again, DC showed itself way behind the times by introducing a hero who looked like one of MC Hammer's backup dancers. His powerset wasn't bad, but show me one single Hispanic who wore anything remotely approaching that during the 90's. You can't do it. As a matter of fact, if he'd shown up wearing something like that, he'd have been laughed out of the neighborhood.
Unfortunately Vibe will never get the chance to get an updated look since he's dead now, but being forced to wear a costume like that, one can only wonder if he might have been driven to it...
Sue Richards (The "Reed's Dead" years)
So her husband is supposedly dead and she's about to step into the leadership role of arguably the most popular super-team ever...time for a costume change! Most wives who loved their husbands would choose to go for a subdued look, but Sue decided it was time to bring out a few "secret weapons" she'd never showed off before during a fight. Taking a few hints from the "Black Canary School of Dirty Girl Fashion", Sue grabbed some Jessica Rabbit gloves, hooker boots, and did the Power Girl chest flash for her emblem. Yep, this was the picture of a girl in mourning all right.
Oddly enough, super-villains poured in by the bucketload. Even Doctor Doom showed up to turn himself in. The one unanimous condition of their surrender was that they be frisked and spanked by Sue.
And sure enough, as soon as Reed shows up Sue's back in the "cover everything" outfit again. Poor Reed never got to enjoy the show, while I'm sure Sue's brother the Human Torch was just glad that incredibly awkward time was over ("Um, sis, could you please cover up or something?").
The Angel (The Champions years)
While I consider "The Champions" one of the single greatest team books ever written during the 70's, even as a child I knew this costume didn't get it.
Looking more like he should be called "Condiment Man" for his ketchup and mustard color scheme going on here, the headband didn't help matters. And there's nothing wrong with being proud of your pecs and abs, but even John Travolta had at least a few buttons working on his shirts in the 70's.
Fortunately this wasn't a style that stuck around forever, and Angel stepped into some of his coolest costumes ever. His follow-up outfits are the famous blue-and-white, and another take on red and yellow--but this time with some white thrown in and the chest covered up.
Try as I may, I just can't find the words to properly express how I feel about this suit. It's like a sensory overload of "Holy cow!". But let's try...
The color scheme. More precisely, what color scheme? If you can't decide on a color for your costume, choose them all! Sure, some may say the colors clash, but it's also a great weapon to stop villains. You either send them into chromatic coma or have them hit the floor laughing. Even Rainbow Raider at least has the common sense to use black for a central color, for goodness sake!
And what exactly were his powers? No idea, and the costume gives you no clue. I wonder how many times he was stopped by the police before he could get to the crime scene to help the other heroes ("No, I'm a superhero, I swear!")? I'd be willing to bet he's seen the inside of more than one asylum in his career.
There are many others that didn't make this list (they'll appear in the follow up later), but these were my tops. So who did I miss?