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An action girl is not afraid to jump into battle – in fact, she welcomes it. With her iconic shaggy bob, industrial-chic outfits and familiarity with a wide range of firearms, Major Motoko from the 1995 Japanese cyberpunk classic Ghost in the Shell is an enduring example. Fierce, independent yet also coolly contemplative, she navigates the ultra-connected, dystopian landscape of 2029’s New Port City as the female field commander of an otherwise all-male public security team, facing down the deadliest of foes without breaking a sweat. Retaining a core of femininity despite towering over her male colleagues, Motoko proves that one can be dressed in full battle gear and still be unquestionably sexy.
Action Girl Style as Interpreted by Major Motoko
One of her most iconic looks features a bulletproof vest layered over a skintight bodysuit in light gray, paired with thigh-high combat boots and black gloves. It’s a look that’s clean, simple and lethal – her go-to uniform when crisis breaks out, as it does in increasing scale throughout the movie. Sensual elements do creep into her largely black-and-gray wardrobe, from a cleavage-baring tank top and a flowing, bat-like black jacket to a garter-and-stockings ensemble that shows off her exquisitely engineered legs. The perfect balance between practicality and stylishness continues into her private life. Off the battlefield, Motoko can be seen in a number of simple but impactful outfits, from loose-fit, distressed tees paired with combat pants to a boxy, oversized jacket in earth tones that exudes androgynous energy. Effortlessly edgy and free from romantic embellishments, Motoko’s take on utilitarian chic is still relevant today, much like her ruminations on the “ghost within the machine.”
(Film stills below taken from Ghost in the Shell)
How to Make Motoko’s Style Your Own
Here, I present two different styles as inspired by Motoko’s dark, moody but also supremely practical wardrobe – a “battle-ready” outfit and a more casual everyday one.
1. Alternative Military
(Style Inspo from Ghost in the Shell)
Motoko herself would approve of this form-fitting black square-neck tee, which provides a blast of street-style energy while showing off all your curves. Pair it with provocative high-waisted short shorts in raw, faded black denim, complete with side cutouts and buckled straps. For extra armor, throw on this black side-button coat with subtle military vibes. Its simple, structured shape and padded fabric echo Motoko’s bulletproof vest. Button up for a turtleneck effect, or wear it open-collar for a softer, more feminine look. To amp up the punkish glamor, cement your look with lace-up combat boots embellished with multiple buckles – a true action girl sprints across distances even in sky-high heels! Finally, counter the dark, chilly vibes with lavender-tinted waves, a peppier alternative to Motoko’s signature bob. Its fairytale punk aesthetic does full justice to Motoko’s mystique while also paying tribute to classic anime hairstyles.
2. Off-Duty Chic
(Style Inspo from Ghost in the Shell)
Anchor your outfit with this boxy, fleece-lined corduroy jacket in a warm biscuit-brown that’s reminiscent of Motoko’s wardrobe staple. Layer it over a tight-fitting V-neck tee with a daring collar cutout, and pair with skinny satin pants that recall Motoko’s trusty bodysuit – they’ll elongate your legs while fitting comfortably around the waist. For footwear, nothing’s more ideal for an action-packed lifestyle than this pair of low-key, chunky-heeled faux leather boots in light brown, which provide a funky update on your favorite hiking boots. Motoko is probably too focused on her mission (and on philosophizing over her cyborg identity) to apply makeup, but I feel that this metallic silver matte lipstick would suit her subtly gothic aesthetics quite well. Head-turning without being remotely garish, it’s the kind of shade that you don’t need to wait till Halloween to bust out, especially if you want to add dark undertones to an otherwise bright, casual outfit. For a final touch, I’ve selected a canvas crossbody in classic camouflage print, a nod to Motoko’s military background. Large enough to fit all your essentials and some more, it’s a must-have for those with on-the-go lifestyles like Motoko, who has to charge from plane to battlefield to safe house.
Rebirth of an Action Girl
There is a price to pay for being an action girl. Motoko suffers horrific injuries as her team falls deeper into a dark web of government conspiracy, but her “ghost” survives to fight another day. With a bounce, she’s back in the game, armed with a new body and that darkly alluring wardrobe!