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Looks from Books: Fashion Inspired by Ender’s Game


Welcome to the latest edition of Looks from Books, which aims to prove that you can look smart, while still being book-smart, too. Fashion inspiration can be found between the pages of your favorite stories, on well-designed book covers, and in your favorite characters… if you read closely enough.

It’s been one of the most hyped movie releases this fall, and not just because it’s an adaptation of one of the most enduring works of science fiction in history. In fact, CF readers had been requesting a review of this book even before the movie had a release date! Read on to find out why everyone’s talking about Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game:

Enders game book cover
Ender’s Game book cover via Amazon

Inside Cover

Ender’s Game is a classic work of science fiction, first published in 1985 by Orson Scott Card.

The story follows a young boy named Andrew (commonly called Ender) Wiggin, who has been monitored and selected by the government to be, essentially, the savior of mankind by becoming the commander who will finally beat the Buggers, humankind’s intergalactic enemy. Alienated by his teachers in Battle School and ostracized from the company of his peers, all Ender can do to win the esteem of his fellow students is to beat them… every single time.

The book won both the Hugo and Nebula awards the year it was released, and spawned several novels continuing in the series. The first of these sequels, Speaker for the Dead, also won the Hugo and Nebula awards.

A Fashionable Literacy

Enders game movie poster
Official Promotional Material via IMDB

The Ender’s Game movie adaptation debuted on November 1st, but the hype for the movie itself is of little notice in comparison to the media firestorm response to the book’s author, Orson Scott Card, and his status as a vocal opponent to gay rights. Card was essentially stricken from any means of promotion for the movie – be they television interviews or even the Comic Con panel – in an attempt to distance the adaptation of his work from association with his own inflammatory viewpoints.

The revelation about Card was understandably upsetting to fans of the novel, and many groups – including the organization, Geeks OUT, which seeks to promote the LGBT voice within the geek community – have vowed to boycott the film due to Card’s statements.

However, stars of the film, like Harrison Ford, have defended the story. At the movie’s Comic Con panel this past year, Ford said that Card’s remarks weren’t an issue for him. He stated that while he disagreed with Card’s opinion, the views weren’t a part of the film (or novel) at all, and in fact, the story itself contains important and positive messages. (To learn more, check out this video from the panel: Ford’s answer comes up at around 8:14!)

In fact, the values present within the novel have been widely commended, and are one of the reasons the book is so popularly taught in schools across America. (My own high school included the novel in its freshman year curriculum.) The themes of social responsibility, alienation, empathy and understanding have been deemed important for students, and the book has also been commended for its integration of multi-ethnic characters, a strong female main character, and its stance on warfare.

Whether you choose to see the movie or not, both sides of the discussion have merit, and the debate itself will most likely hold just as much importance to the legacy of the film (and the novel), as the works themselves.

How to Add Ender to Your Wardrobe

By integrating key elements from the novel into your own wardrobe decisions, you too, can dress like a member of the Battle School, flashsuits NOT provided.

Make it Military

Enders game make it military outfit
Product Information: Necklace – Asos, Jacket – Forever 21, Shirt – H&M, Sunglasses – Asos, Leggings – Urban Outfitters, Shoes – Charlotte Russe.

While the novel is heavily oriented around the idea of the military and extensive warfare, the idea for the book originated around the idea of one specific battleground in particular: the Battle Room, home to the zero-gravity war games the students of the Battle School play. The book’s various military tactics and strategies – mostly oriented around this room – are one of the reasons Ender’s Game is classified under the unique subcategory of martial fiction.

Utilize military and futuristic-inspired pieces to draw reference to the battle-born origins of the story, like a mixed-media coat, sleek paneled leggings, combat boots, and sporty sunglasses. Work in colors of Ender’s various battle armies, including green from Salamander, and grey and orange from Dragon. The dog tags represent more than just Ender’s status as a fighter: they serve as a reminder of his attempt to understand who he’s supposed to be… the protector, or the killer?

Battle Lines

Enders game battle lines outfit
Jacket – Aeropostale, Headband – J.C. Penney, Rings – Nordstrom, Shirt – Charlotte Russe, Pants – Forever 21, Shoes – Forever 21.

In a novel that revolves around warfare and military decision-making, it follows that the main conflict stems from the friction of opposing forces. However, in Ender’s Game, the Us-versus-Them mentality permeates every single relation involving Ender. It’s not just the Humans against the Buggers here, but also the competing teams of the Battle Room.

The book makes clear that divisions are more important than allies, and enemies are better than friends. Even in the beginning of the novel, it is noted that regardless of whether anyone likes Ender, they’re going to make everyone his enemy if they have to.

Emphasize this distinct brand of alienation by integrating sharp divisions into your own ensemble, in the form of color choices, and distinct lines and stripes. Striped jeans and a striped top showcase the look directly, while the quilted leather in the jacket and boots is a little more subtle. A headband and a series of banded rings are the perfect accessories to break things up, and a stark color choice of black and white couldn’t be any more distinct.

For the Children

Enders game for the children outfit
Product Information: Shirt – Forever 21, Cardigan – J.Crew, Earrings – Icing, Bracelet – Forever 21, Skirt – H&M, Shoes – Keds.

Throughout the novel, there’s a unique tension in the writing style: the diction and overall conventional elements are easy to comprehend, but the plot detailed within is surprisingly stark and bleak. The basic words and diction juxtaposed against the complex ideology of the novel is one of the most interesting aspects of the stylized storytelling.

Utilize this juxtaposition by creating the same tension in your outfit. Combine typically childlike and simplistic elements, like a Peter Pan collared blouse, a pastel cardigan, and canvas sneakers, with more sophisticated and elaborate pieces, such as a leather skirt, a dangling ear piece, and a heavy chain bracelet.

What Do You Think?

Have you ever read Ender’s Game, or any of its sequels? Are you excited to see the new adaptation? What do you think of the novel, and the elements at play? What do you think of Card’s opinions, and are they affecting your desire to see the movie? What do you think of the outfits and styling tips? Let me know, in the comments below! 

Posted on on November 6, 2013 / Filed Under: Inspiration / Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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15 Responses to “Looks from Books: Fashion Inspired by Ender’s Game”

  1. 1
    November 6th, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    I don’t agree with Card’s views on gay rights. However, the fact remains that Ender’s Game is one of the best books I have ever read. Thanks for doing a post on it!

  2. 2
    November 6th, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Card’s views on gay rights are foul and totally ruin the book and movie for me. I’m boycotting the movie and I’m horrified that a website I love so much would publish an article with fashion ideas from it. You know that Card actively participates and donates to anti-gay foundations? If you see that movie, you are contributing money to a man who will use it to push back against rights for gay men and women. Disgusting.

  3. 3
    November 6th, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I think it’s sad that “the debate itself will most likely hold just as much importance to the legacy of the film (and the novel), as the works themselves”. A debate over the author’s personal views on a subject wholly unrelated to the plots of the novels should not be considered essential to discussion of the novels, or their film adaptation(s). The books are not about gay rights or gay marriage. Whether or not you agree with an author on his personal opinion (one not related to the books) should not have any bearing on whether you enjoy that author’s works. Ender’s Game is a great story (as is Ender’s Shadow), my second favorite science fiction novel (Dune!). I’d hate to think someone would give up a chance to read the book or see the movie because of the author’s views on another subject.

  4. 4
    November 6th, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    This “debate” is ridiculous. Card’s comments have nothing to do with the plot of the book nor the overarching themes. People seem to overreact to everything nowadays – are people no longer entitled to opinions anymore? While I commend this article for the fashion, I don’t see why Card’s comments are relevant here.

  5. 5
    November 6th, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    This country has freedom of press. I’m sorry but if someone does not agree with gay rights they should be able to vocalize it. You have to accept that not everyone has the same views and are free to express those views. The author should not be slammed for his personal opinion. In my personal opinion Miley Cyrus acts pretty disgusting and yet I’m not boycotting her whenever she appears on fashion inspiration. Or other fashion icons who wore/wear fur-I don’t see animal activists disgusted by cf articles on them. CF has freedom of expression too. So stop being so sensitive about it sheesh it’s like being politically incorrect is a crime

  6. 6
    November 7th, 2013 at 12:43 am

    I absolutely love this book, and just recently reread it again for the sixish time…It’s one of those books that just leaves you with something after you finish it.

  7. 7
    November 7th, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Kate and Caroline, you both perfectly stated exactly what I was thinking. The books are excellent. I don’t see why Collegefashion even felt the need to point it out in their article. They are only furthering a debate that shouldn’t exist. Card’s personal decisions have no basis on the fact that the novels are excellent. I’ve never seen anti-gay sentiments in his books (though admittedly, I haven’t read them all) and I think a good book shouldn’t be boycotted just because of the author’s beliefs. It’s the same mindset that has gotten books burned in the past. Intolerance goes both ways. By stating that his beliefs are disgusting you are creating more hate, not lessening.

  8. 8
    November 7th, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Caroline this is a college blog, shouldn’t debates be encouraged (not only here but anywhere)? I understand this is a fashion article but this is a controversial book therefore debate will usually follow. I know there are other places to debate this but it came up here and like I said what’s wrong with a little debate-it is a college website after all

  9. 9
    November 7th, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Kate, Caroline, and Abbi: If Card only held views I disagree with and did not act on them, I wouldn’t care about his views and I would happily enjoy the series. I read the books before I knew about his opinions and loved them. But let me reiterate something: HE DONATES TIME AND MONEY TO ANTI-GAY FOUNDATIONS. SOME OF THE MONEY YOU SPEND SEEING THE MOVIE WILL GO TOWARD ANTI-GAY ORGANIZATIONS. WHEN YOU SPEND MONEY ON ENDER’S GAME, YOU GIVE MONEY TO PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SEE GAY MEN AND WOMEN LOSE THEIR RIGHTS.

    THAT is why I will continue to be adamant about boycotting Ender’s Game and why I’m so disappointed to see it here. I am unwilling to participate in Card’s bigotry and I’m saddened that you’re all willing to let it slide just so you can see a good movie.

  10. 10
    November 7th, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Anna, maybe we just don’t care. I for one agree with Card’s views so call me bigot but that is my personal belief. I enjoyed the book and will watch the movie. There are plenty of shows and movies with gay characters out there. Just because one movie doesn’t agree with your beliefs doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it. It’s a diverse world with diverse cultures and views. You should expose yourself to everything, isn’t this why we ended censorship?

  11. 11
    November 7th, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Hi guys! Just a reminder to keep the discussion respectful – I know topics like this can lead to heated arguments so I appreciate you all keeping our comment rules in mind when chatting!

    I also wanted to note that we grappled with whether or not to mention the controversy in our post. The article’s focus is on the book, however we thought we would be remiss to talk about the movie adaptation and not mention the widespread controversy surrounding it. We want to keep you guys informed – and we knew it would appear in the comments anyway – so the decision was made to explain it in the post. Hope that helps clear things up!

  12. 12
    November 7th, 2013 at 12:15 pm


    First things first, there’s no need to shout.

    Second, the fact of our economic system is that people have the ability to spend their money however they please (within broad limits). You cannot justly force people to spend money how you wish, any more than I could force you to spend your money how I wish. The people who have spent or will spend money to see this movie or read his books do so to support the work Card has created, not to affirm Card’s personal views on subjects unrelated to the works. You yourself acknowledge the merit of his works, yet how should he continue writing if no one would support him for writing?

    When you pay to see a movie adaptation of a boo (or to buy the book itself), you are supporting the author. It is a thanks to the author for writing something good. The minute the money changes hands, it is no longer yours to dictate its purpose. The author could spend it on groceries, or the electric bill, or anything. It’s his money. You are not paying for any of those; you are simply paying the author for the work that author has created.

  13. 13
    November 7th, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    While I think it’s unfortunate that he donates to those groups, it’s ultimately his decision and right to do what he wants with his money. I highly disagree with his views, but he has a right to express them if he wants to. I’ve never read the book, nor do I want to see the movie (for reasons that have nothing to do with his views), but as long as his personal views don’t affect the quality of the book, it shouldn’t be an issue.

  14. 14
    November 11th, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Despite the controversy in this post, I would still love to see an article based on the movie adaptation, especially with a character-inspired theme, like Valentine in the video game, and even Buggers.

    The military outfit would be the most wearable for me, but I am in love with the battle lines outfit. The mix of stripes would be very slimming, especially with an open jacket over the shirt. I have an Ender’s Game dog tag that my friend got me from Comic Con so that’d totally work with the military outfit.

    I’m not sure about the last outfit. It reminds me more specifically of Valentine, especially where it involves her relationship with Peter. She may be softer than her brothers but she is not completely naive, and that’s where the leather skirt comes in. I’m feeling ambivalent about the white sneakers.

    Thanks for the post! I look forward to seeing the guide based on the movie adaptation.

  15. 15
    November 20th, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Orson Scott Card doesn’t receive money from ticket sales. He received money initially from selling writes to make the movie but did not help creatively with the making and since his initial deal didn’t entail profit from ticket sales, boycotting the movie does nothing to take money from him.

    I read Ender’s Game first when I was 9, way before I knew anything about his views and have read it since probably over 10 times. I went to see the movie with my husband. Do I disagree with his views and actions? Very much, as a person I highly dislike him, but I don’t think it right to take it out on a movie that MANY other people had a hand in, MANY other people did that hard work.

    I know things like this upset people, but honestly boycotting a great movie, based of a really good book, will not change anyone’s views on gay rights.

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