Age-Inappropriate Dress

"She manages to dress like a grandmother and a toddler at the same time."
Kurt Hummel on the fashions of Rachel Berry, Glee

Basically a character dressing in a manner that just doesn't fit the cultural norm for the character's age. It could be in clothing, hairstyle, makeup, or something else.

The reasons can vary, although dressing up or costumes wouldn't count for this. This is more a character either not realizing how they look dressed like that, or maybe even trying to pretend they are a different age (either as a disguise, or as a denial about one's age).

This can be justified when characters are Older Than They Look or Younger Than They Look, and dressing their actual age would look like this trope even though it isn't.

A Super Trope to Adults Dressed as Children.

Compare Mistaken Age, Improbable Age, Dawson Casting. See also No Dress Code.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Evangeline from Mahou Sensei Negima!, who constantly dresses in a Stripperiffic Goth loli manner. She is considerably older than ten, but she does not look it. While Eva is the most obvious example, pick an outfit for the other girls apart from their school uniform or a casual after-school outfit of their own choosing and it's almost certain to be seen as "inappropriate" by someone in real life, considering that the vast majority of the cast are girls under the age of 16. And later on, a handful of boys under the age of 12 end up wearing elaborate tuxedos or business suits.
  • Kokoto-01, from Divergence Eve, wears a very Stripperiffic combat outfit when on active duty; her new one in the second season is even more extreme.
  • Misao from Rurouni Kenshin and her very short shorts, which are also very out of place in the late 19th century setting.
  • Dr. Kureha from One Piece is going on 140 years old, but dresses like a teenager.
    • 140 years YOUNG. She won't let you forget it.
    • Though you have to admit, Kureha still has the body for the clothing, which is amazing all things considering.
  • Fate of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, whose Barrier Jacket when she was nine can best be described as Stripperiffic black leather. Interestingly, while she keeps the look for the first movie, Fate's costuming shifts more closer to her adult's look in the second.
  • Pokémon:
    • Crystal from Pokemon Special switched outfits to match her game counterpart in the remakes...Well that's fine, except that the protagonist is an eleven year old girl who wears a overalls and a giant hat. Crys is a rather mature girl who is now at age sixteen, so the style really doesn't fit her. It was forced upon her by her mom, who is an Man Child and is also a prime example of this.
    • At the beginning of Dawn's journey in Pokémon Diamond & Pearl, her mother Johanna forbids her from carrying too much luggage. One of the dresses Johanna pulled out is this...
  • The outfit that Bra/Bulla wears in Dragon Ball GT is definitely not appropriate for her age. In the Japanese version, she is not older than 10.
    • Before, at begins of Dragon Ball, we have Chichi. Her outfit, at age twelve is a blue bikini with pink gloves and boots.
  • Mii from Popotan wears an outfit for a Beauty Contest that looks like her normal Magical Girl costume if half of it was cut off.
  • Ubel Blatt has a Running Gag where Peepi, who looks about eight or nine (due only in part to being an elf), gets stuck in Stripperiffic clothing for chapters on end...and nobody cares. Something along the lines of "What's wrong, Peepi?" is the typical reaction. Ato's clothes, especially once she joins up with the main character full-time, cover a similar amount of skin. She's not that much older than Peepi.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Lucy Steel from Part 7. She's only 14, and she shows a lot of cleavage. In one volume cover, she's even topless! Justified as the important bits are covered, and Steel Ball Run is set in 1890, where in most states of the USA, the age of consent was around 10-16.
  • Doronjo in Yatterman Night keeps her usual Baroness garb, which wouldn't be a problem if she wasn't 9 years old in that continuity.
  • Yoko from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann dresses in a very Stripperiffic manner, including a bikini top and hot pants—and in the first half of the series, she's 14.
  • To begin with, the Lucky Star girls are already childlike themselves for high school girls, but there are times when at least one of them will also be wearing something below their age. Yutaka, for example, wears a sweatshirt depicting a carrot at one point. (To say nothing about a cute, yellow ribbon that Tsukasa wears regularly.)

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men's X-23 almost never dresses appropriately for a teenage girl. It could be the fact that she was never raised to know what was appropriate, a call back to her time as a prostitute, or just fanservice
  • Evey dressing up as a little girl in V for Vendetta to trap a pedophile. She was pretending to be just a year younger than her actual age, but her dress really was meant to sell it.
  • In The Sandman, Delirium's clothes would fall into this by default. Since she's been around since the earliest sentient life in the universe, she's really too old for pretty much anything she wears. She is also the youngest of the Endless, so anytime she dresses like a little kid is a subtle nod to what she used to be.
    • In The Wake, she wears a fairy princess costume that looks like it's meant for a much younger kid; the skirt's very short on her.

     Fan Works 

  • Aunt Ida in John Waters's Female Trouble is probably the Trope Codifier.
  • In The Major and the Minor, Ginger Rogers pretends to be 12 years old to get a child fare on a train.
  • In Too Young to Kiss (1951), June Allyson is a pianist pretending to be 12 to impress a concert promoter.
  • How the two protagonists of Thirteen dress, although since they're played by teenagers it's not quite as jarring as it could have been. Still, "no bra, no panties, Mum."
  • Little Miss Sunshine during the titular pageant. Even more disturbing, this pageant was portrayed realistically by real pageant girls.
  • Played straight in Mystery Team, where the characters dress up like little kids.
  • The German boy costume worn by Mugatu during the brainwashing sequence in Zoolander.
  • In the final third of They Might Be Giants, forty-something Mildred Watson wears a poofy white party dress that would look much better on someone a couple of decades younger. Likely justified, as she is having Justin/Holmes over to her apartment for dinner, and it is pointed out earlier in the film that she has virtually no social life.
  • Alex's mother in A Clockwork Orange dresses like a Carnaby Street mod.

    Live Action TV 
  • In an early episode of The Drew Carey Show one of "the most difficult customers" Winfred-Louder had was an old woman who dressed herself in pre-teen clothes.
  • Jordan putting her hair in pigtails and dressing childishly to persuade her gyno that she's younger than she really is on Scrubs.
  • In Glee one character says of Rachel "She manages to dress like a grandmother and a kindergartner at the same time."
  • Nearly every drama, and some comedies, that are set in a high school feature female students in outfits that would never fly in a real high school, no matter where they supposedly take place. The students are usually played by women in their early 20's, and they look like they're headed to a rave. Buffy the Vampire Slayer might count as the worst example, as Buffy's school garb included micro-minis, cropped tops and strapless tops that no school would allow.
    Joyce: You're just too young to wear that.
    Buffy: Yeah, and I'm gonna be too young to wear it until I'm too old to wear it.
    Joyce: That's the idea.
  • Several episodes of What Not to Wear feature a woman who, in her late 40s, continued to wear the same kind of clothing she wore as a young teen and only that clothing; because she could not buy the fashions and styles she was comfortable with she made all her own outfits from scratch and looked somewhat like a demented circus clown.
  • UK television: Mini-Pops was a 1983 show on -where else?- Channel 4, in which small kids would dress up like grown-up pop stars and perform their singles... without much editing of the lyrics, or consideration of whether an adult performer's stage costume would be appropriate for a preteen. It was on air for about six weeks before viewer complaints reached critical mass. Of course, with hindsight we should've been more worried about Jim'll Fix It...
  • Toddlers & Tiaras is a reality show about beauty pageants for little girls, which shows them in outfits like bikinis, and them even getting spray tans. Already seen as more than a little unsettling, criticism of the show spiked noticeably when it featured a girl dressed in Julia Robert's prostitute outfit from Pretty Woman. The mother defended it by claiming it wasn't as revealing as some of the other outfits in the competition, an argument that helps no one.
    • Said little girl was on again, the mother complaining about the backlash she'd gotten over the costume. What's the girl wearing this time? A crop top and a tulle, poofy black skirt, okay. Sure, the boots and stockings are a bit risque but it's not that bad...and then she rips the skirt off during the routine to showcase her underwear-like bottoms (that match the top) and garters. Yes, that was scripted, they practiced a lot. And she won.
  • The Wayans Bros..: In the episode "Hip-Hop Pops", Pops is depressed about turning 50. Shawn and Marlon take him out to a nightclub and gets a female acquaintance of theirs to dance with Pops in an effort to cheer him up. It works a little too well: Pops starts dressing (and acting) like someone in his 20's, basically the age range of his sons.
  • On The Steve Harvey Show Regina (who is in her mid to late 30's) is accused of not being in touch with the students. Her solution? Dressing like them. She resorts to wearing shirts that show her belly button and wearing her hair in Girlish Pigtails with loud, colorful accessories. She goes back to normal when Cedric reminds her of how embarrasing her parents were when they tried to act and dress young when she was a teenager.
    • This is played with when it comes to Lovita. She dresses inappropriately for her job but not necessarily her age as she is portrayed as younger and more hip than Steve, Cedric, and Regina. No one really calls her out on it, except Steve (when he wants to make fun of her) and Regina (when Lovita takes it too far).
  • One episode of Married... with Children gives us a flashback of Kelly wearing roughly the same slutty outfit since grade school.
  • One episode of 30 Rock has a new cast member on Liz's show doing the baby stripper act in both dress and action and honestly seems to be her real personality. Turns out she's been trying to get close to other men and take on a new identity in order to avoid her insane husband who wants to kill her. Liz trying to help her backfires INCREDIBLY BAD.
  • An episode of The Bob Newhart Show had Emily getting very upset about getting middle-aged as her birthday approached. She starts dressing in faddish youth clothes, and only snaps out of it when Carol innocently buys her an identical a gag gift.
  • The original character description for Marina from Last of the Summer Wine described her as wearing a skirt "at least ten years too short". This was faithfully depicted on screen.
  • Joe Besser as Stinky on ''The Abbott and Costello Show'' wore a Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit as a bratty man-child character.
  • 44-year old Shirley Henderson's character in the comedy-drama May Contain Nuts dresses as an 11-year old girl in order to take a school entrance exam in her daughter's place. Although she eventually goes for a lank-haired, dowdy appearance on the grounds that 'nobody notices ugly children' she had previously tried a colourful short-skirted, crop-topped, pigtailed look that only succeeded in weirding out her husband.
  • In Popular Emory Dick's twin sisters Emily and Emma show up at the high school asking Nichole and Mary Cherry to train them to be the alpha bitches at their junior high. The girls also wear tight tops and short skirts, and their age is roughly 12 to 13. Their least provocative clothes are their black mink jackets.

     Tabletop Games 
  • All three Traptrixes have revealing clothing in the Yugioh OCG even though they look prepubescent.

  • In The Glass Menagerie, when Jim comes for dinner, Amanda wears an old-fashioned dress from her youth, much more appropriate for a younger woman, as if he were calling on her instead of her daughter.
  • At the beginning of Spring Awakening Wendla tries to convince her mother to let her continue to wear a dress that's too small for her as she's too innocent to realize why this is inappropriate for a pubescent girl in 1891 (her reasoning for wanting it is more of the clinging to your childhood variety, as she says it "makes [her] feel like a little faerie-queen").

    Video Games 

  • This Bogleech comic has hellish Halloween punishments for crimes such as making "sexy children's costumes" for that day.
  • Yuki Oyama in Ménage ŕ 3 has a fondness for a "little girl" look that might just make her a fashion victim in her native Japan, while looking a little odd in Canada, where the comic is set.
  • Ruby Larose, in Sticky Dilly Buns, suffers from this bad, at least until someone points out to her how unwise her chosen short skirts are. She also wears a granny nightdress for sleeping. Her switch to smart business suits or jeans by day, and outsize T-shirts by night, is a symbol of her rapid Character Development.
  • In this JL8 comic, Power Girl dresses up to impress Supes using what she learnt from a magazine. Her mother isn't particularly thrilled.
  • Shay from Between the Lines is only thirteen and her parents are concerned her clothing is too revealing for her age. Also that she wears girl's clothes but that's a different issue.

    Western Animation 
  • The Chipettes from Alvin and the Chipmunks are often accused of this, two particular occasions that stand out are the episode "Goin' Down to Dixie" from the 80s series and the movie The Chipmunk Adventure. In the former, The Chipettes entertain on a riverboat that's also a floating hotel, where they sing Creedence Clearwater Revival's, "Proud Mary," while wearing New Orleans-inspired dresses. In the latter, The Chipettes find themselves in Egypt, where the Prince wants to marry Brittany, and they are later dressed in harem attire for the rest of the movie; the fact that they also charmed snakes by singing a song called "Gettin' Lucky" didn't help matters either.
  • An episode of Daria featured the 40ish editor of a teen magazine who dressed like a teenager.
  • Downplayed by Pacifica Northwest in Gravity Falls, who is 12-13 but dresses like a highschool-aged valley girl.
    Grunkle Stan: "Is it legal for a child to wear that much makeup?"
  • The South Park treatment of the "trend" of little girls dressing like skanky teenagers in "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset."
  • 14-year-old Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars wears a very tiny tube top—on a battlefield, no less. George Lucas specifically requested that her original outfit be redesigned to show more skin. (And incidentally, George also intended her to be eleven in The Movie, although canon puts her official age at fourteen.) A Time Skip in the third season finally changes this; the older Ahsoka wears a more modest outfit that still features an open back and a Cleavage Window.
  • Similar to Ahsoka Tano, Wily Kit in ThunderCats (2011) wears a shirt that is little more than a tube top.