There’s been a whole lot of talk about Jessica Jones. And to me, one thing seems awfully clear to me: Jessica Jones is never without her armor.
I know a lot of the coverage around the show has commented specifically at how JJ manages to tip its hat to a lot of the superhero conventions while avoiding them in favor of a more noir action thriller. And one of the ways the show has arguably strayed from the superhero path is avoiding the costume—even holding up the one Jessica “Jewel” Jones wears in the comics and ridiculing it. But Jessica does wear a costume in the show, it’s just her regular clothes.
Jessica, as Netflix imagines her, has never shied away from a fight, and isn’t quick to let people in. But she also has a very permeable sense of self; the season toys with the extent of Kilgrave’s power over her, and how she constructs herself from the opinions of others. As a person, she favored dark jeans, sweaters, and leather and/or military-esque jackets. It’s what she wears every day (to the great delight of the Internet). But as we see in a flashback in episode 5, these choices—like most things in Jessica’s life—are hard fought.
After (what we see to be) her first foray into heroism, she’s spied by Kilgrave, aka future arch-nemesis and big bad for season one. He’s instantly enthralled by her, her powers, her beauty. Right away, he starts sizing her up, presumably using his powers, and making her his. And he specifically comments on her clothing.
As we’ve seen in other flashbacks (so far) Jessica under Kilgrave’s control is much closer to his art-deco style; big fur collared coats, flashy dresses. Before that she was similar to the Jessica we see now, if a bit less rundown. From what we’ve seen of her past (and her youth) Jessica has always dressed with a flair for punk, but it was only once she escaped Kilgrave that her wardrobe became less and expression of self and more of a barrier to it. It’s an effective way to shorthand Jessica’s PTSD, her time under Kilgrave, and demonstrate when (and how) she feels safe.
It may not be stars and stripes, but it’s a battle outfit nonetheless. Jessica Jones is just always ready for a fight.