300, armor, clothing, Fairy Tail, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy XIII, impractical, Kingdom Hearts, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, One Piece, overdressed, Soul Caliber, Star Wars, The Incredibles, The Legend of Zelda, The Slayers Try, The Snow Queen, trope, trope suggestions, tropes, underdressed, Wardrobe Malfunction, Xenosaga
In the world of fiction, attire must be fashionable, stylish, mobile, comfortable, and practical…in that order of importance.
Coining the famous term used by Janet Jackson following her clothing fail at the Super Bowl that sanitized Super Bowl commercials forever, a “Wardrobe Malfunction” refers to the tendency of concept artists for anime, manga, video games, and comics to emphasize attire that is clearly there simply to look neat and colorful and big and, in real life, would be the last thing you would wear out to a battlefield, into a harsh climate, or even for practical use. The designs are something that a person would find cumbersome and uncomfortable just standing around at a photo shoot at a convention. Naturally no one would go about wearing it.
Armor is the big sinner here. Pretty much the pauldrons and tassets (or shoulder armor and hip armor) are always large, gaudy, and overdone, while the rest of the armor or covering is light or even non-existent. Especially in the case of women, who may have huge pieces over their shoulders and hips but leave their chests unexposed and usually with breast cleavage hanging out, making it an easy target. One would assume everyone only ever goes for those parts of the body. There may also be gauntlets, vambraces, or grieves (armor for the forearm, hand, and shins), but never do they come into play. The main areas with the most vitals, the head, neck, and chest, are always exposed or lightly shielded. Even worse is there’s been a tendency for armor to start being “asymetrical”, and anyone who’s ever worn armor knows it’s hard enough to move around in when it’s balanced. Unbalanced and you’ll start really hurting your back and shoulders within an hour.
Even when armor is a full suit, it usually is so thick and bulky that you can hardly imagine how it would be practical in combat. Often the person wearing the armor pokes a rather tiny head out of a massive suit, accenting how big it is. Occasionally this is to highlight how strong the wearer must be, but usually it’s simply impractical. Even when it isn’t, attachments are usually made to the armor suit that make it unbalanced and highly awkward, such that realistically if the person was to shift one way or another they would fall over.
– The judges in “Final Fantasy XII”.
– Pretty much anything Lightning wears that’s armored in the Final Fantasy XIII subseries.
– The SOLDIER armor in the Final Fantasy VII subseries.
– Ganondorf in several games in the Zelda series.
– Xemnas’ middle form and Aqua’s adult armor in the Kingdom Hearts series.
– Nightmare in the Soul Caliber series.
– What Ezra Scarlet is usually wearing in “Fairy Tail”.
– KOS-MOS’ armor from “Xenosaga” (Really, anime/manga in general).
When it comes to the elements, desert is more accurate than tundra. A series usually picks up pretty quick that characters running around a desert would overheat wearing thicker clothing. However, in a purely desert environment, they usually ignore the fact that you still have to be fairly covered to keep from being baked to death by the sun and have them running around not dying of sunstroke or burns in swimsuits or t-shirts and shorts.
Snow and ice environments, on the other hand, are usually abominations. Characters are usually underdressed, wearing single layers, or showing off far too much bare skin. The dominant idea seems to be: “Either give them a cape that looks to be cotton rather than wool or slap a fur trim on their existing clothes and they’re ready to go to the North Pole.” In video games it’s more forgivable as it means an entirely new sprite has to be used. In comics it’s ridiculous, again especially with women. There are countless pictures of “barbarian women” perfectly fine with the polar bears and penguins so long as they’re wearing a cape that doesn’t cover them and a fur bikini. On the flip side, characters who are clearly built to be immune to cold (like white witches and snow queens) still incorporate fur or thick robes into their design although, being temperature immune, they’re the ones who logically could run around with nothing on and be fine.
– Link in “Majora’s Mask” (standing around in weather cold enough to freeze a Goron solid while he’s looking at him…and he only wearing a Kokiri shirt and miniskirt).
– In “The Slayers Try”, the gang is fine to go somewhere cold just throwing on capes.
– The Snow Queen in “Fables”.
Lastly, some items of clothing are just plain odd. They’d be hard to move around in to begin with, highly uncomfortable, highly unbalanced, highly dangling with lots of opportunities to rip and tear, and, if there’s a special medical problem, highly unlikely.
– A lot of the characters in “300”. Spartans were tough, but they’d still wear a linen cuirass into battle, not dare their opponents to stab their chistled abs. Xerxes is pretty much running as many danglely pieces of jewelry as possible on him to get hooked and ripped out…and nothing else.
– Padme Amidala’s wardrobe in the Star Wars movies. Episode II was passable, but her clothing was terrible for maternity in Episode III, and in Episode I…even her outfit she wore out into the battlefield (or at least she was expected to wear) screamed “please shoot me after I trip on this”.
– “Final Fantasy X” and “X-2” are tributes to stupid fashion. Not one character wears a single thing that’s practical, easy-fitting, not capable of being ripped or caught up on things, all-terrain, or even easy to put on, yet they wear it all everywhere in every environment on Spira.
– The first half of “One Piece” didn’t violate this too much. They usually change clothes depending on which island they land on, and part of the joke with Frankie was that the speedo he insists on wearing everywhere IS completely impractical. But Nami started wearing a bikini top full-time after the timeskip made her over 18, in spite of the fact she spends most of her time on the deck under sunny skies in the middle of the ocean. Hope she wears lots of sunscreen.
– In the first season of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, some of the characters wore saddles although no one rides them. Early concept art featured bridles as well.
– As Edna Mode points out in “The Incredibles”, capes are almost always impractical.