I saw this on metafandom, and thought it might be an interesting way to distract myself while trying to avoid all the people talking about an issue of the comic I haven't read yet. :-)
The question being asked was "Does your heroine wear a skirt? Does she perform femininity?" Now, I think we all know what Buffy's attitude to such things is:
Oh. You mean the cammo and stuff? I thought about it but, I mean, it's gonna look all 'Private Benjamin.' Don't worry I've patrolled in this halter many times.
('The 'I' in Team')
Willow, too, once she stops being dressed by her mother, tends to wear fairly conventionally feminine - if quirky - fashion choices. As for my original characters, Hiywan wears an animal skin wrapped around her torso; that doesn't really count as a skirt. :-) She doesn't have the tattoo that the men of her clan wear, and she does bear the scarified cross-symbol of a Guardian. On the other hand, she does carry a spear, which is considered rather a masculine thing to do among her people, and she joins in the men's hunting ceremonies. So she's a liminal character in that way.
However, I got to thinking, what about the other characters from literature that I would consider my "heroines"? The women in the books I grew up with? What sort of clothing do they wear? I have to say, it isn't something that's stuck in my mind; I couldn't really tell you unprompted what sort of clothes they wore. So out of curiosity, I went through my bookshelves and looked for passages of description, and copied them out.
I think it makes for interesting reading. And yes, it also gives away which books made a big impression on me when I was younger. ;-)
Jaelithe of Estcarp:
[Her hair] was coiled rather severely into a silver net, and she was covered primly from throat to ankle by a robe of a similar misty colour. Her only ornament was an oval of the same cloudy crystal such as she had worn then in a wrist band, but this hung from a chain so that the stone rested between the small mounds of her breasts.
As the men of the Guard she wore mail, the scarfed helmet. There was no outward difference between her and the rest, for a sword hung at her hip, and the same sidearm at her belt as Simon carried.
(- Andre Norton)
Lessa of Ruatha Hold:
She shook out the clothing and held one garment against her experimentally. The fabric, a soft green, felt smooth under her water-shrunken fingers, although the nap caught on her roughed hands. She pulled it over her head. It was loose, but the darker-green overtunic had a sash that she pulled in tight at the waist. The unusual sensation of softness against her bare skin made her wriggle with voluptuous pleasure. The skirt, no longer a ragged hem of tatter, swirled heavily around her ankles.
(- Anne McCaffrey)
Morgaine kri Chya:
A pelt of white anomen was the cloak, and the stranger's breath and that of the grey horse made puffs on the frosty air (...) He looked into the tanned woman's face within the fur hood and met hair and brows like the winter sun at noon, and eyes as grey as the clouds in the east.
He realized finally that the person was Morgaine, Morgaine without her cloak, black-clad and slim in men's clothing, and yet with the most incongruous tgiho - overrobe - of silver and black; she had a barbaric bent yet unsuspected; and the blade Changeling was hung over her chair, and her other gear propping her feet - most unwomanly.
(- C J Cherryh)
V I Warshawski:
"Mmph. I don't remember that bra." It was a rose and silver number I rather liked myself. (...) Morrell took my skirt and sweater and hung them in the closet. His extreme tidiness is a big reason I can't imagine our ever living together. He perched on the edge of the tub when I went into the bathroom to take off my makeup. (...) We went back into the bedroom, where I pulled on jeans and a sweatshirt.
I put on the rose silk sweater and sage skirt I'd worn yesterday. It gets complicated spending part of my life at Morrell's - the clothes I want are always in my own apartment when I'm with him, or in his place when I'm home.
(- Sara Paretsky)
Blue was her raiment as the unclouded heaven, but her eyes were grey as the starlit evening; her mantle was sewn with golden flowers, but her hair was dark as the shadows of twilight.
She put forth her arts of enchantment, and caused her hair to grow to great length, and of it she wove a dark robe that wrapped her beauty like a shadow, and it was laden with a spell of sleep. Of the strands that remained she twined a rope, and she let it down from her window; and as the end swayed above the guards that sat beneath the tree they fell into a deep slumber. Then Lúthien climbed from her prison, and shrouded in her shadowy cloak she escaped from all eyes.
(- J R R Tolkien)
Admiral Lady Dame Honor Harrington, Duchess and Steadholder Harringon, PMV, SG & bar:
[She] twitched her Grayson-style gown and vest straight. Over the years, she'd become completely accustomed to the traditional Grayson garments. She still considered them thoroughly useless for anything except looking ornamental, but she'd been forced to admit that looking ornamental wasn't necessarily a bad thing. And there was another reason to wear them almost constantly here in the Star Kingdom, when she wasn't in uniform, at least. They helped remind everyone, including herself, of who else she was... and of how much the Star Kingdom and the entire Manticoran Alliance owed the people of her adopted planet.
(- David Weber)
Guenevere ferch Cador:
I still remember how she looked that day: in white like her father, hair in a single thick braid draped forward over her breast. Her name in the Parisi dialect means yellow-hair; it must have been lighter when she was small, but reddish now and bound by a single strand of gold wire. (...) A large bronze cross hung around her neck and moved with the gentle sway of her breasts under the soft kirtle.
"My jewelry, all but that left by the queen my mother, is casked and ready for sale. Peredur's men will want for nothing."
A patter of polite applause, and Cador said, "Not even an earloop? My daughter will feel positively nude."
"What need of gold?" said the girl who was gold herself. "With such a family, am I not already adorned?"
(- Parke Godwin)
The conclusion seems to be that most of my heroines enjoy wearing conventionally feminine, 'pretty' clothing - whatever that might be for their culture - on certain occasions, but also dress practically when they have to, even if 'practical' clothing in their society codes as masculine and wearing it therefore makes them stand out from the norm. Hmm. This is one of the formative influences on my worldview that I'm looking at here for basically the first time, and it's kind of interesting.
So, how about your heroines? Do they wear skirts?