Created By: TheNinth on September 14, 2012 Last Edited By: TheNinth on September 30, 2012
Troped

Unplanned Crossdressing

Crossdressing through desperation or ignorance.

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Trope
When I awoke next mornin', I had an achin' head.
My gold watch and my pocketbook and the lady friend had fled.
Now looking round this little room, nothin' could I see
but a woman's shoes and apron, which now belonged to me.
Now dressed in the lady's apron, I wandered most forlorn
Till Martin Churchill took me in and he sent me round Cape Horn.
--New York Girls, folk song

Under ordinary circumstances, Adam wouldn't opt for women's clothing, but through a series of misadventures or a matter of misunderstanding, he puts on an outfit intended for Eve. In some instances, he might not even realize he's wearing women's clothing until someone else points it out to him.

It's obviously Played for Laughs -- he's not intending to pass as female, the goal isn't to disguise himself, and it's not a habit, wholesome or otherwise. The viewer can assume that after the incident Adam won't be delving back into ladies wear any time soon.

Compare Dragged into Drag when the guy is forced into it. Contrast Disguised in Drag when the guy does it to hide (or to sneak into a women's only area).

Related to Gravity Is a Harsh Seamstress.

No Real Life Examples, Please - it's impossible to tell if they were actually accidental.


Anime

In Super Dimension Fortress Macross a group of Zentradi spies sneak aboard the Macross and find human clothing to wear as disguises. Unknown to them, they had stolen women's clothing and walked around town that way until people got upset with them.

Film - Animated
  • One scene in Robots: while Bender was trying to escape the chop shop, his legs fell off. He tried carrying on without them until he found some legs that fit him. Said legs are female.

Film - Live Action
  • In Bringing Up Baby, David Huxley ends up wrestling a leopard in the middle of a pond. Soaking wet and filthy, he returns to Susan Vance's home where she loans him her very girly robe while his clothes dry out. Susan's aunt, Elizabeth, is less than impressed with his wardrobe choices.
    Mrs. Random: Well who are you?
    David Huxley: I don't know. I'm not quite myself today.
    Mrs. Random: Well, you look perfectly idiotic in those clothes.
    David Huxley: These aren't my clothes.
    Mrs. Random: Well, where are your clothes?
    David Huxley: I've lost my clothes!
  • Knock On Wood features Danny Kaye as a ventriloquist who has a few embarrassing run-ins with a woman. He ends up putting on her robe and slippers several times in his confusion. Each time, she has to stop him before he leaves.
  • In Weird Science, Wyatt absentmindedly puts on a pair of Lisa's panties after they spend the night together.

Live-Action TV
  • In an episode of The Office, someone tells Michael he's wearing a woman's suit. Michael denies it vehemently, but eventually admits that he bought the suit from a sale bin. Later -- as he's complaining about his day -- he says "Also, I accidentally crossdressed."
  • Friends has a similar example. Phoebe and Rachel take Ross clothes shopping. Ross buys an ensemble that he adores. No one can convince him that it's actually women's wear. No one except his date who shows up wearing the exact same outfit.
  • The pilot episode of Being Human (UK) finds George, the werewolf, waking up the morning after a full moon. He's naked, so he grabs the first clothes he can find -- from a clothesline. The style isn't exactly flattering.
    Mitchell: Nice blouse.
  • A recurring joke in How I Met Your Mother is Ted's red cowboy boots, which are apparently women's. This is never discussed around him so he doesn't know.
  • In an epsiode of Frasier Martin has to start wering glasses. He finds a pair he really likes, and no one has the heart to tell him they're women's frames.
  • In The Young Ones, Neil ends up in a dress after he fell out the bathroom window and his room was nailed shut. He raided Rick's room and found only a dress with Rick's nametag on it.
Music
  • There's an old sea shanty from the late 1800's called "New York Girls", in which a sailor spends the night with a hooker, only to find out in the morning that she's robbed him of everything he owns including his clothes. He's forced to don her clothes to return to his ship.

Western Animation
  • In The Jetsons the automatic grooming device(s) would occasionally dress George in Jane's clothes and/or give him her hairstyle.

Please note when adding examples -- Grabbing the girlfriend's clothes while running to the door fits (as long as he doesn't know he grabbed her things). Waking up naked in the middle of a field and stealing ladies clothes from a clothesline fits. Losing a bet and ending up in drag isn't this trope. That's not accidental.
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • September 14, 2012
    JohnnyCache
    Related to Gravity Is A Harsh Seamstress.

    • In The Jetsons, the automatic grooming device(s) would occasionally dress George in Jane's clothes and/or give him her hairstyle.
  • September 14, 2012
    KarjamP
    In Robots, While Bender was trying to escape the chop shop, his legs fell off. He tried carrying on without them until he found some legs that can fit him. Said legs are female.
  • September 15, 2012
    Rognik
    In Green Green, the hero ((I forget all their names)) is knocked out and dressed up in drag while unconscious. He wanders around for a good, long while before someone points out he looks girly. (Those three guys aren't quite as innocent. Or as pretty.)
  • September 15, 2012
    TheNinth
    Name Change to Comedic Crossdressing, since "Accidental" doesn't exactly fit. In the Robots, Being Human, and Bringing up Baby examples it's not an accident -- it's desperation. Better name suggestions are welcome.

    Rognik: not sure that counts... that sounds more like Dragged Into Drag. He didn't realise he was crossdressing, but it's not clothing he put on himself.
  • September 16, 2012
    Rognik
    ^Perhaps, but the three friends who dressed him up did decide to dress themselves in drag to sneak into the girls' side, after seeing how good/convincing the hero looked, but they were obviously in drag. I think that counts here, and I should've written it that way from the start.
  • September 16, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Not sure if it fits, but in many shows pictures of a lead male character's female relatives are just the guy in women's clothing.

    In How I Met Your Mother, Ted puts on a dress and gets a girl's phone number in order to get even with Barney (it is explained that Barney has done this before). The end of this episode, where Ted walks into the pub wearing the dress, is shown in a previous episode. In that episode it is completely random (Future Ted does not tell us anything about the incident) and so that fits the trope, the audience having no clue as to why Ted is in a dress. A recurring joke is Ted's red cowboy boots, which are apparently women's but this is never discussed around him so he doesn't know. The gang later leave him alone when a gay couple tell him he pulls them off well. Another joke is the number of female characters played by Jason Segel (Marshall) and how feminine Marshall is.
  • September 17, 2012
    TheNinth
    ^^ Rognik, in that case, it's Disguised In Drag, since they do it for the purpose of sneaking in somewhere men wouldn't be allowed. This isn't about disguise.

    Ted's cowboy boots, on the other hand. Totally fits.
  • September 17, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In an epsiode of Frasier Martin has to start wering glasses. He finds a pair he really likes, and no one has the heart to tell him they're women's frames.
  • September 19, 2012
    TheNinth
    Bumping for examples, feedback, and/or hats.
  • September 19, 2012
    Khantalas
    In an episode of Friends, Phoebe and Rachel take Ross out to clothes shopping (possibly to break his dry spell). After several suggestions, Ross buys an ensemble that he adores... and no one can convince him they are actually women's wear. No one, that is, except her date who shows up wearing the exact same outfit.
  • September 21, 2012
    JonnyB
    Bad title. Most crossdressing in films is done for comedy effect (Milton Berle, Curly Howard, etc.). Perhaps Accidental Crossdressing would be a better name for this.
  • September 21, 2012
    TheNinth
    It was originally Accidental Crossdressing, but that doesn't entirely work either, since in a few cases it's not accidental -- it's because there's no other choice. I honestly keep going back and forth between the two names.
  • September 21, 2012
    JohnnyCache
    OK, so it's not necessarily comedic, and not necessarily accidental. The point was that nobody wanted the crossdressing to happen, correct? I suggest one of the following:
  • September 21, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Real Life: An anecdote I recall Danny Bonaduce talking about on his radio show. He was appearing at an event and offered to show the crowd his underwear. It turns out he was wearing his wife's underwear, accidentally. He had had to get up very early that morning and, so as not to disturb his (then-pregnant) wife, went into a dark closet to dress. He just grabbed a pair of underwear and assumed it was his. Or so he claimed.
  • September 21, 2012
    JonnyB
    There's an old sea shanty from the late 1800's called "New York Girls", in which a sailor spends the night with a hooker, only to find out in the morning that she's robbed him of everything he owned including his clothes, and he's forced to don her clothes to return to his ship.
  • September 23, 2012
    polarbear2217
    There was a wizard at the Quiddich World Cup in Goblet of Fire who wore a dress because it was what Muggles wore. Another wizard tried to tell him that only Muggle women wore dresses, but he refuses to be convinced,

    I don't have the book with me so I can't think of the names.
  • September 25, 2012
    TheNinth
    bumping
  • September 27, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    In the second series of Arrested Development George Sr is on the run from the law and hides in the Bluth family's attic. He ends up dressing in Michael's dead wife's maternity clothes.
  • September 27, 2012
    sgamer82
    • In Super Dimension Fortress Macross a group of Zentradi spies sneak aboard the Macross and find human clothing as disguises. Unknown to them, they had stolen women's clothing and walked around town that way until people got upset with them.
  • September 28, 2012
    TheNinth
    ^^ Heart Of An Astronaut -- why does he put on the maternity clothes, though?
  • September 28, 2012
    oztrickster
    In The Young Ones Neil ends up in a dress since he fell out the bathroom window and his room was nailed shut so he raided Rick's room and found only a dress with Rick's name tag on it.
  • September 30, 2012
    TheNinth
    Hat bump?
  • September 30, 2012
    JonnyB
    I see a version of "New York Girls" has become the page quote, so I'll toss a hat at it. (Btw a version of "New York Girls" can be heard in the movie, Gangs Of New York.)
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