Created By: Kingofwackyland on July 17, 2013 Last Edited By: Alucard on September 14, 2013
Troped

Wardrobe Wound

A character reacts with horror when their clothes get stained, wet or otherwise damaged.

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For many people, fashion is a big part of their lives. Sometimes its a love for the aesthetics of clothing that attracts them, other times its a desire for a status symbol to advertise one's wealth and influence to others, or maybe they just hold some piece of clothing in a higher sentimental light than expected. Whatever the reason for their obsession is, those who love fashion are bound to spend a great deal of time working on their wardrobe. Thus, its not surprising that people often get frustrated and upset when their clothes get stained, wet, or otherwise damaged while they're in public. All that work just to get humiliated! When this situation plays out in fiction, however, characters tend to react as if they'd been violently wounded, going way past mere frustration and embarrassment. They'll scream, cry, throw fits, sometimes even mourn the "death" of the garment. Essentially, this trope is when Minor Injury Overreaction is applied to clothes.

Because such characters are defined by their love of fashion, The Fashionista is a likely victim of this trope. Non-Fashionista characters can react this way as well, however. After all, just because a character isn't defined by their love of fashion doesn't mean they don't care about it at all. The Fashionista or not, teenage girls tend to provide examples of this trope since ruined clothes make them easy targets for the Alpha Bitch and this trope would probably be the worst nightmare of the Alpha Bitch herself.

There are two forms of this trope:

Intentional

In this version the character's outfit is ruined intentionally by another character as a form of non-violent "attack". This variant is usually done either by the Alpha Bitch to her victims, or by the victims as a form of retaliation against the alpha bitch.

Accidental

In this version the character's outfit is ruined accidentally: the poor character is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It may come up as a result of Giving Them the Strip, if the surviving escapee complains about the garment's loss.

Either way, they will be devastated. A common way for the character to visually convey their "trauma" is to spread their arms out slightly to the side, open their mouth in shock, and slowly tilt their head downward as they "survey the damage". Also see My Favorite Shirt, a super-trope, and Hat Damage, a specific sub-trope.


Examples

Anime & Manga
  • A less serious example happens in K-On!'s college arc when Ayame is using Mio as a dress-up doll. She finds out while getting Mio to try her t-shirt, being a far curvier girl, thart Mio stretched it out completely (particularly around the chest-area). Mio apologizes about this immediately. Overlaps with A-Cup Angst
  • In Highschool of the Dead, Saeko performs a forced Action Dress Rip on Shizuka, annoying her because it was a Prada skirt. Saeko replies "Which is more important, a brand or your life?" Saeko has something of a habit for tearing skirts, thinking it's just easier to move that way.
  • One Piece: One of Luffy's Berserk Buttons is harming his straw hat, as Buggy found the hard way.
  • In Hana Yori Dango, Tsukushi's fellow students at the prestigious high school she attends use Produce Pelting to humiliate her in retaliation for the time she stood up to one of the beloved popular boys.

Film
  • Mia in The Princess Diaries strikes back at Alpha Bitch Lana by getting chocolate ice cream all over Lana's cheerleader uniform during school lunch. This leads to all bystanders mocking Lana by chanting, "Lana got coned!"
  • Parodied in Not Another Teen Movie, where Janey (already soaked from jumping in the pool fully clothed) gets a bottle of water "accidentally" spilled on her by the Alpha Bitch, which leaves Janey in tears.
  • In the movie Thoroughly Modern Millie, a well-meaning Millie tries an unconventional remedy for a spot on the white dress of a Rich Bitch at Muzzy's party. The guest's anguished howls of "SOY SAUCE!" can be heard throughout the whole mansion.
  • In a Deleted Scene from Mean Girls, Cady, the protagonist, has a friend rig the cafeteria table that Regina, the Alpha Bitch sits at so that when Regina puts down her tray, the table tilts towards her, causing the food to fall into her lap. At least, that's what Cady intends. Instead, Regina is distracted by her boyfriend and a member of her Girl Posse sits where Regina was supposed to, thus becoming the prank's victim.
  • This trope is used twice in Bratz
    • First, there's a Food Fight scene in which the titular characters treat the mess made of their clothes and hair as Serious Business and the ultimate insult.
    • Second, as part of the Alpha Bitch's Humiliation Conga, she gets covered in cake then knocked into a fountain, publicly humiliating her at her birthday party.
  • In Pay Back, gangster Fairfax complains and acts visibly annoyed when Porter shoots through one of his expensive alligator hide suitcases cotaining his precious suits which, as he he claims, cost more than the 70,000 dollars Porter is after.

Literature
  • In Carpe Jugulum, Vlad (a vampire) screams in agony when doused by holy water, then winks and complains that his attacker just ruined a lovely silk waistcoat.
  • In Lonely Werewolf Girl this is the sum totality of the plan of one of the book's Big Bad's, to destroy Fire Queen Malveria's reputation by destroying her wardrobe. Since The Fashionista is her race's Hat and Serious Business this would be the Fire Demon equivalent of a nuclear strike. Malveria does suffer through a variety of of non-intentional wardrobe wounds in the series too.
  • In the Georgette Heyer novel Sylvester a dandy goes into fits after a dog bites the tassels off his boots.

Live Action Tv
  • Glory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer often seems more upset about her outfit being ruined than say, the fact that a teleporting spell was being put on her.
    Glory: Look what you did to my dress!
    • Also a variation where she was hit on the head by a crowbar.
    Glory: Hey! Beat Watch the hair!
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Barney gets a stain on his tie and suddenly acts as if the tie was alive and had been mortally wounded, even going so far as to attempt CPR on it.
  • In Glee unpopular students regularly have slushies thrown on them as a form of bullying.
  • The Cat in Red Dwarf - a humanoid creature evolved from the common housecat, whose genes have elevated feline vanity and compulsive self-grooming into something Up to Eleven. his reaction to damage to his clothing is sometimes a Berserk Button.
  • Happens in the episode "Vandalism" of Barney Miller. In the midst of all the considerable damage to the squadroom (upturned trash cans, spraypaint, files thrown across the floor), The Dandy Harris is most outraged that the vandal cut up his alpaca sweater.
    "There was no need for this!"
    • In another episode Harris chases a suspect into the sewer and trips, falling into the waste.
    Harris: This will never come out!
    Yemana: It's not supposed to!
As often as it happened to him you'd think he'd figure out not to dress to the nines while on the job.
  • In an episode of Edgemont one of the girls thinks Laurel has spread rumors about her, so she confronts Laurel at the local hangout and dumps a basket of greasy fries on her, ruining Laurel's dress.

Video Games
  • In Devil May Cry 3, Lady shoots some holes in Dante's coat. He then gestures at them while looking annoyed at her.

Western Animation
  • Daphne from A Pup Named Scooby-Doo often reacted with disgust if her clothes or her go-go boots got even the least bit dirty.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Rarity becomes a nervous wreck at the luncheon for Princess Celestia, afraid anything's going to spill on her pretty party dress, in "A Bird in the Hoof".
    • Rarity becomes upset when giant Spike ruins her cape in "The Secret of my Excess"
  • In the Teen Titans episode A Date with Destiny, Starfire gets into a brawl with Kitten, the Bratty Teenage Daughter of a super-villain, because Kitten blackmailed Robin into being her prom date with threats of unleashing her father's giant killer moths on the city. This trope comes into play when Starfire throws Kitten into a cake, leading Kitten to furiously shout " You ruined my dress!".
Community Feedback Replies: 43
  • July 17, 2013
    CaveCat
    • Daphne from A Pup Named Scooby Doo often reacted with disgust if her clothes or her go-go boots got even the least bit dirty.
  • July 17, 2013
    DAN004
    How is this different from Clothing Damage or Defeat By Modesty?
  • July 17, 2013
    Mexichu
    Could broaden the definition to include any instance of a character who is overly vain or obsessive about appearances/clothing. Reaction is also important: does the character become impotent, leading to Defeat By Modesty? Or does the damage press their Berserk Button?
  • July 17, 2013
    RandomSurfer
    Parodied in Not Another Teen Movie, where Janey (already soaked from jumping in the pool fully clothed) gets a bottle of water "accidentally" spilled on her by the Alpha Bitch, which leaves Janey in tears.
  • July 18, 2013
    Kingofwackyland
    This is different from clothing damage and defeat by modesty in that the clothes get stained or wet rather than ripped apart, no flesh needs to be exposed. Also, this tends to happen in works aimed at a young female audience, meaning that it's not necessarily intended for fanservice. Finally, this trope is used with the assumption that ruining clothes is one of the more common bullying/revenge techniques to use against a teenage girl.
  • July 18, 2013
    Mexichu
    Wet Clothes Revenge then? Wound implies damage.
  • July 18, 2013
    m8e
    It doesn't need to be wet or a revenge.
  • July 18, 2013
    Kingofwackyland
    I chose the word "wound" because the character often reacts with such horror you'd swear she was wounded in a more literal sense.
  • July 18, 2013
    surgoshan
    This doesn't have to be a teenaged girl. In Carpe Jugulum, Vlad (a vampire) screams in agony when doused by holy water, then winks and complains that his attacker just ruined a lovely silk waistcoat.
  • July 18, 2013
    DAN004
  • July 19, 2013
    jayoungr
    I'd like to expand this beyond teenage girls as well. I was just looking for a trope to describe a scene in the Georgette Heyer novel Sylvester where a dandy goes into fits after a dog bites the tassels off his boots, and this would be perfect.
  • July 19, 2013
    Kingofwackyland
    I'll rewrite the description so as to include characters that aren't teenage girls soon. I still think the trope should mention that it happens frequently in stories with them though.
  • July 19, 2013
    jayoungr
    For another example of a Type 1 situation that does involve a teenage girl, Mia in The Princess Diaries strikes back at Alpha Bitch Lana by getting chocolate ice cream all over Lana's cheerleader uniform during school lunch. This leads to all bystanders mocking Lana by chanting, "Lana got coned!"
  • July 20, 2013
    samitv
    • Glory in Buffy The Vampire Slayer often seems more upset about her outfit being ruined than say, the fact that a teleporting spell was being put on her.
      Glory: Look what you did to my dress!
      • Also a variation where she was hit on the head by a crowbar.
      Glory: Hey! Beat Watch the hair!

    (edit: thanks for the tip NES Boy)
  • July 20, 2013
    samitv
    Compare and contrast All Women Love Shoes?
  • July 20, 2013
    DAN004
    Why the bold on The Fashionista, btw?
  • July 20, 2013
    NESBoy
    Hey, samitv! Don't format a trope link as an external link. Do it like this: {{Beat}}
  • July 21, 2013
    Kingofwackyland
    No reason for the bold. It was a mistake and I think it's fixed now.
  • July 21, 2013
    jayoungr
    BTW, I think this could be exapanded to any sort of wardrobe damage beyond wetting or staining, although those are the most frequent. Also, I like the comment about how the person involved reacts as if she had actually been physically wounded. I think that should be added to the description.

    A Type 2 example:

    In the movie Thoroughly Modern Millie, a well-meaning Millie tries an unconventional remedy for a spot on the white dress of a Rich Bitch at Muzzy's party. The guest's anguished howls of "SOY SAUCE!" can be heard throughout the whole mansion.
  • July 21, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    "How is this different from Clothing Damage or Defeat By Modesty?"

    1. Clothing Damage is a fanservice trope, so it doesn't really cover this.

    2. Defeat By Modesty requires a contest, but does not require clothes, while this ykttw inverts that.

    This ykttw is also a Sister Trope to I Broke A Nail.
  • July 22, 2013
    Arivne
    We're getting examples that violate Type Labels Are Not Examples ("Type 1" and "Type 2"), so I'm changing the "type", "first" and "second" wording in the OP to names: Intentional and Accidental.

    Also Namespaced and italicized the work titles and divided the examples by media.
  • July 24, 2013
    jayoungr
    I found out that the "ice cream on cheerleading uniform" incident also appears in the book version of The Princess Diaries. The circumstances are slightly different, but Mia is still using it to get revenge on the Alpha Bitch.
  • July 24, 2013
    Skylite
    • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic:
      • Rarity becomes a nervous wreck at the luncheon for Princess Celestia, afraid anything's going to spill on her pretty party dress, in "A Bird in the Hoof".
      • Rarity becomes upset when giant Spike ruins her cape in "The Secret of my Excess"
  • July 24, 2013
    Kingofwackyland
    I've broadened the trope description to include other forms of damage besides stains and getting wet.
  • July 26, 2013
    spacemarine50
    Got an example if the victim wants the "attacker" dead and sics someone else to do that. Does that count?

    Edit: What does Minor Injury Overreaction and Law Of Disproportionate Response relate to this
  • July 27, 2013
    CrypticMirror
    In Lonely Werewolf Girl this is the sum totality of the plan of one of the book's Big Bad's, to destroy Fire Queen Malveria's reputation by destroying her wardrobe. Since The Fashionista is her race's Hat and Serious Business this would be the Fire Demon equivalent of a nuclear strike. Malveria does suffer through a variety of of non-intentional wardrobe wounds in the series too.
  • August 20, 2013
    TwoGunAngel
    For the more aggressive fashionistas, an attack on their wardrobe could very well be a Berserk Button.
  • August 20, 2013
    TonyG
    On How I Met Your Mother, Barney gets a stain on his tie and suddenly acts as if the tie was alive and had been mortally wounded, even going so far as to attempt CPR on it.
  • August 20, 2013
    Elbruno
    This seems a tad too specific. What about cases where someone who's not The Fashionista reacts with the same horror when this happens, for whatever reason? Or when the fashionista reacts with horror at someone else's damaged clothes?
  • August 21, 2013
    AgProv
    The Cat in Red Dwarf - a humanoid creature evolved from the common housecat, whose genes have elevated feline vanity and compulsive self-grooming into something Up To Eleven. his reaction to damage to his clothing is sometimes a Berserk Button.
  • August 21, 2013
    DAN004
    ^^ I agree that this doesn't have to be limited to fashionistas.

    BTW compare Number One Dime when it happens to be a clothing.
  • August 21, 2013
    eowynjedi
    • Happens in the episode "Vandalism" of Barney Miller. In the midst of all the considerable damage to the squadroom (upturned trash cans, spraypaint, files thrown across the floor), The Dandy Harris is most outraged that the vandal cut up his alpaca sweater.
      "There was no need for this!"
  • September 2, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In another episode Harris chases a suspect into the sewer and trips, falling into the waste.
    Harris: This will never come out!
    Yemana: It's not supposed to!
    As often as it happened to him you'd think he'd figure out not to dress to the nines while on the job.
  • September 4, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of Edgemont one of the girls thinks Laurel has spread rumors about her, so she confronts Laurel at the local hangout and dumps a basket of greasy fries on her, ruining Laurel's dress.

    [This is literally the only scene of the show I've ever seen, so I don't know any more context or who the other girl is.]
  • September 4, 2013
    Chernoskill
    • In Pay Back, gangster Fairfax complains and acts visibly annoyed when Porter shoots through one of his expensive alligator hide suitcases cotaining his precious suits which, as he he claims, cost more than the 70,000 dollars Porter is after.
  • September 4, 2013
    Alucard
    • A less serious example happens in K On's college arc when Ayame is using Mio as a dress-up doll. She finds out that while trying on Ayame's t-shirt, being a far curvier girl, Mio stretched it out completely (particularly around the chest-area). Overlaps with A Cup Angst. Mio apologized immediately.
    • In Highschool Of The Dead, Saeko performs a forced Action Dress Rip on Shizuka, annoying her because it was a Prada skirt. Saeko replies "Which is more important, a brand or your life?" Saeko has something of a habit for tearing skirts, thinking it's just easier to move that way.
  • September 6, 2013
    DAN004
  • September 6, 2013
    dalek955
    • In the spaceship game Dead Metal, one of the Player Character's lines is an outraged shout of "Hey! You ripped one of my decals! I'll kill you for that!"
  • September 7, 2013
    Grade0
    • In Devil May Cry 3, Lady shoots some holes in Dante's coat. He then gestures at them while looking annoyed at her.
  • September 12, 2013
    QuestionMarker
    Hat Damage is a related trope, seeing how people with Nice Hats are usually quite attached to them.
  • September 14, 2013
    DAN004
    Launch plz.

    Supertrope to Hat Damage.
  • September 14, 2013
    CrypticMirror
  • September 14, 2013
    SharleeD
    Sometimes a follow-up to Giving Them The Strip, if the surviving escapee complains about the garment's loss.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=5oyjgpi1njonka95stxdup9r&trope=WardrobeWound