On-screen live-action costumes for DC Comics' the Joker have been as varied as his backstories and the actors who have played him. But certain sartorial and style aspects of Batman's nemesis are unmistakable: the wild hair (usually green), the pasty painted white face, the bright-colored suit (from Cesar Romero's 1960s original Joker costume in slick purple, to Joaquin Phoenix's 2019 red duds), and the ruby lips distorted into a demented smile.
A lot of thought went into these live-action Clown Prince of Crime ensembles. Lindy Hemming, for example, who designed the costumes for Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, including the look for Heath Ledger's Joker, told Dark Knight News: "A joker or jester is a medieval character. An entertainer for the courts, and for the masses. I tried to base our Joker on a rock star, who is probably our modern-day equivalent."
Mark Bridges, costume designer for Phoenix's 2019 red-jacket Joker, told Inverse: "I think it was written in the script that [the color for the suit] was terracotta. But I felt like a more 1980s color was maroon and terracotta is more typical '70s. And it’s not as strong. I think that reds are always more expressive. I think reds always communicate more emotion."
And although not everyone was thrilled about Jared Leto's brief stint as the character in Suicide Squad, a non-clothing part of his ensemble perhaps encapsulated the Joker's essence most perfectly: the word tattooed on his forehead, "Damaged."