Appropriate Animal Attire

Adults are dressed, youngsters go bottomless...

Phoenix: I can't walk into court with a ripped suit; I'll look so unprofessional... Pinkie: You could just go naked like me. Phoenix: AGH!! ARE YOU CRAZY!? I'm not gonna show up in court naked! Pinkie: Why not? Everypony else does it!

In Real Life, we humans are basically the only animals uncomfortable with public nudity; other animals in the world don't share this taboo, and spend the entirety of their lives without ever covering themselves in a shred of clothing. So when a work of fiction uses animals for its core cast of thinking, personified characters, what's an author to do about their underlying, well, nudity?

Now is an important time to define the term "nudity": When we say that a person is "naked", we usually use it in a social context, implying that they should Please Put Some Clothes On. Even though the standard for acceptable human attire can vary with each culture, this isn't a standard we hold animals to; we just don't view their nudity as being so objectionable. Maybe it's the coat of fur (or feathers) that partially obscures their genitals already; maybe it's the four-legged posture that makes their unmentionables less visible than those of a bipedal human (especially from the front). So while we may not particularly want to be looking at an animal's family jewels, the omission of them in art is much less noticeable than Barbie Doll Anatomy.

This gets weird with a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal, since they often do have a concept of nudity. But even that is sort of a mock nudity, since it doesn't make the viewers feel uncomfortable the same way as human nudity would in many cultures.

It can also be due to Conservation of Detail by the author, especially in written media where they have more important things to discuss than informing the audience whether there's "something" visible between an animal's hind legs. But visual media needs frequent, consistent depictions of the characters (human or otherwise) so whether or not an animal is "anatomically correct" can be an important stylistic decision for the artist: Executives and Moral Guardians may object to such anatomical features, but on the other hand, an artist may prefer to show their work rather than deal with complaints that their Animals Lack Attributes.

But things start to get weird when throwing anthropomorphism into the mix. A Talking Animal (speech-impaired or otherwise) and their relatives like the Nearly Normal Animal and Partially Civilized Animal can easily get by without their lack of pants or shirt ever getting questioned. The Civilized Animal and Funny Animal can still get away with being naked, but when the animals are depicted in sufficiently human mantle, a lack of clothes may leave them stranded in Uncanny Valley territory.


When it is deemed "necessary" to clothe animals in some form of attire, artists have a wide range of options at their disposal:

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    Actual Articles of Clothing Tropes 

Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal

As the nonhuman equivalent of wearing Diamonds in the Buff, the individual is still essentially 'naked' underneath whatever pelt or plumage they naturally possess; but their Amplified Animal Aptitude is conveyed through the use of jewelry or other worn accessories. (Ring Around the Collar and White Gloves can also count.) Similarly, they may be wearing only the equivalent of a fig-leaf or Loin Cloth — the bare minimum necessary to preserve a sense of modesty for the audience if they are Petting Zoo People or Borderline Little Bit Beastly. (This is also a popular visual motif for depicting characters as 'exotic' or 'native' in origin.)

Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal

One of the most common depictions in Western Animation, the individual is wearing a partial set of clothing — usually just a shirt or coat to cover their upper body while their bottoms, legs, and feet remain bare (unless they wear shoes). Going "topless" with a skirt or pants but no shirt is also an option, like the animal equivalent of a Walking Shirtless Scene.

Barefoot Cartoon Animal

Extending "half-dressed" to "mostly-dressed" results in this: The animal wears a full set of clothing, except retaining their unshod feet. Spat-wearing, but otherwise fully-dressed animals also count as Barefoot Cartoon Animals. When this is the status quo in a setting, the exception becomes known as The One Who Wears Shoes.

Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal

This is an animal who wears a full set of clothing including footwear (socks and/or shoes). Often averted because a full outfit with shoes and/or socks has a high chance of obscuring what species a particular animal character is. Funny Animals who typically have this form of dress, especially the head-to-toe variant, can be a little unsettling when shown completely naked, but it's not as unsettling as a nude Petting Zoo Person.

    Animal Attire Convention Tropes 

The One Who Wears Shoes

When being barefoot (whether otherwise fully-dressed, half-dressed, accessory-wearing, or otherwise completely nude) is the status quo in a setting, wearing shoes or socks becomes the exception. Sometimes, this is inverted by having footwear-wearing be the status quo and being barefoot be an exception.

Pantsless Males, Fully-Dressed Females

Another convention applied largely to anthropomorphized animals (Petting Zoo People, Borderline Petting Zoo People, Funny Animals, and even Civilized Animals) is a gender-based Double Standard regarding who is allowed to wear what kinds clothes; for example, requiring females to adhere to a higher standard of dress than the males.

Sleepwear and Swimwear Paradox

This is the tendency for the sleepwear and swimwear of typically completely naked, mostly naked, or partially dressed Funny Animals and CivilizedAnimals to not follow the rules of their everyday dress (or lack of dress). Instead, they appear more fully dressed in their sleepwear and swimwear than in their normal outfits.

  • Sleepwear: A character's nightgown or pajamas would cover their body more than their typical daywear does. If they're wearing pajamas, they would be wearing pajama bottoms even if they are normally naked below the waist or pajama tops even if they are normally naked above the waist.
  • Swimwear: An animal character who doesn't normally wear pants, shorts, or a skirt would be wearing swim trunks if male or a swimsuit (one-piece or two-piece) if female. Even shirtless half-dressed female characters will wear either a swimsuit or both pieces of their bikini as their swimwear.

Normally Pantsless or Naked Character With a Towel Wrapped Around His/Her Waist

This is a tendency for a typically pantsless, mostly naked, or completely naked animal character to wrap a towel around his/her waist when he/she gets out of the shower or bathtub.

Winter Attire Without Pants, Shoes, or Boots

For winter weather, a naked or partially clothed Funny Animal or Civilized Animal would often dress with a hat, scarf, and jacket, but without pants or shoes/boots. They would seem to be dressed for the weather, but logically, they should still be cold because of the lack of shoes/boots and pants.

Pantsless or Mostly Naked Character Acting Denuded When Naked

This is when a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal or, in a few cases, an Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal reacts to his or her state of undress protect his or her modesty when he or she is spotted nearly or completely naked.

Otherwise Clothed Animal Not Embarrassed by State of Undress

This is when an otherwise clothed animal, whether fully, mostly, or partly clothed or accessory-wearing animal loses part, most, or all his/her clothes or has a wardrobe malfunction, but doesn't act denuded to his/her state of undress or nudity. They might try to find their lost or stolen clothes and get them back, but they don't seem to care about their state of undress.

Naked Animal Legs Colored Pants

A subtrope of Nude-Colored Clothes in which the pants worn by pantsless looking cartoon animals of the Civilized Animal, Funny Animal, or Petting Zoo Person vein that look like naked animal legs. Used as a common subversion of the pantsless side of the Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal trope.

    Natural Body Parts as Articles of Clothing Tropes 

Fur Is Clothing

A manner of playing the subject of an animal's "fur coat," feathers (if a bird), or scales for laughs is to treat it as an actual article of clothing. Expect to see Goofy Print Underwear and/or a reaction from the character (see above point) to protect his or her modesty if he or she should be suddenly denuded.

  • Fur or Skin Used For a Sexy Leg Reveal: An animal lifts the fur or skin on his/her leg, revealing a sexy woman's leg. To put it another way, it's Fur Is Clothing meets Show Some Leg.
  • Physiological Pockets: An animal character has pockets, most commonly placed on his/her thighs, as part of his/her actual physiology.

Removable Shell

The turtle and other shelled or carapaced creature equivalent of Fur Is Clothing.

Eggshell Clothing

One manner of presenting a child-like demeanor for young animals born from eggs is to preserve their modesty using part of their egg's shell.

Ears As a Hat

This is when an animal with pinnae (outer ear flaps) doffs his/her ears as if they were a hat.


Note: Due to the broad nature of this Super Trope, please limit examples to cases regarding the topic as a whole; examples of averting or playing with individual subtropes may be placed on the respective pages.

Examples of The Super Trope as a Whole:

New Media
  • The Furry Fandom's focus on animals and anthropomorphism gives it a diverse range of examples and opinions on to what extent its animals should wear clothes (and/or what kind). Wikifur, the Furry wiki, provides its own discussion of the matter.
  • There is "I Might be a Duck, but I'm Human": An Analysis of Clothing in Disney Cartoons. It talks about the state of dress of various Classic Disney Shorts characters, ranging from completely naked (like Chip and Dale), to accessory wearing (like Pluto and Clara Cluck), to half-dressed (like Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy), to fully clothed (like Minnie and Goofy).
  • The Law of Cartoon Pants on Wolf Gnards website. It talks about Accessory Wearing Cartoon Animals, Half Dressed Cartoon Animals (both shirtless and pantless), Fully Dressed Cartoon Animals, and Fur Is Clothing.
  • The childrens book Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett talks about animals and clothing in general and why they should not wear clothing. It shows that some animals' body parts don't go very well with clothing.
  • Clothes Do Not Make The Toon on The United States of Geekdom website talks about the state of dress of various classic cartoon animal characters, from completely naked, to accessory wearing, to half-dressed.
  • Pants Made Just For Tails by Ask-Stan-And-Xias on deviantART talks about the tail hole design in cartoon animal pants.

Other Examples That Do Not Fit The Subtropes:

Commercials
  • One GEICO commercial depicts the the always-naked gecko mascot happening upon a clothing-optional beach and saying "how convenient." (In no other commerical does anyone percieve him as naked.)

Comics
  • Donald Duck puts a towel around his waist after showering. This is far more commonly seen in the comics than in the animated shorts.
    "You know, Donald Duck never wore pants, but when he comes out of the shower, he puts a towel around his waist. I mean, what's that about?"Chandler, Friends
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Hobbes doesn't wear clothes, although in one storyline he wears "jams" to go swimming. Another time he was forced to wear extensive swimgear to go in a pool, which he viewed as very unnecessary. At least a few times Hobbes has expressed pride in not having to wear clothes like feeble humans do, and Calvin himself has sometimes gone naked claiming to be defying his human nature.
    Calvin: You know, there must be thousands of animal species, and of ALL of them, only humans wear clothes. Isn't that weird? I wonder why other animals don't wear clothes.
    Hobbes: If our naked pink butts showed, we probably would.
    Calvin: Our butts are just fine!

Animated Film

Live Action Film
  • When everybody gets up in Muppets from Space, Kermit wears pyjamas (we even see the pyjama bottoms) and then a bathrobe on top of that. Fozzie takes it Up to Eleven; a character who's normally naked except for a hat and a tie, is wearing a heavy raincoat to take a shower.

Literature
  • Dinoverse features human characters being cast back in time and made to inhabit the bodies of dinosaurs. Only one of them is ever shown to feel bothered by being naked in dinosaur form, with everyone else shrugging and saying there's nothing to cover when she brings it up. She sticks leaves to her borrowed body using sap, for a while, but they fall off. Then another character makes her a kind of cursory Seashell Bikini, the "bottom" being a vine belt with a shell hanging underneath, and for several scenes after that she's furious whenever these get cut off or otherwise removed. Later, after going through some Character Development, she becomes just as unworried about it as the others.
  • The animals in Beatrix Potter stories who often lose their clothes in awkward situations seem not to care to realize their current state of undress, whether it's Peter Rabbit's jacket and shoes in one story, or Tom Kitten and his siblings losing their duds to the Puddleducks in another. Clothing on animals just seems like this superficial, uncomfortable, if not unnecessary requirement in such a world, yet one is trying to abide to a more civilized form of life by doing so.
  • This (in animal form, they're naked) is pointed out several time of both vampires and werewolves in Discworld, with the most common victim being the werewolf Angua of the AM City Watch.

Newspaper Comics
  • Krazy Kat's "collar", which is really more like a necktie, bow, or scarf. Regardless, the Kat feels "nude" without it.

Puppet Shows
  • Kermit the Frog from The Muppets considers his collar clothing; one time when he was without it, he acted as if he were naked (hiding his neck-nudity from Miss Piggy, for one thing).

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • The Classic Disney Shorts feature the swimwear/sleepwear and winter attire paradoxes a lot, especially with Donald Duck and Chip 'n Dale. For example:
    • Donald’s nightgown covered more of his body than his usual outfit did, and sometimes included pants, which aren’t part of his usual outfit.
    • Even though he doesn’t wear pants, he always wears swim trunks in water, whether it was just swim trunks or a two piece with a shirt and shorts.
    • Donald frequently went out in the snow either with his trademark sailor suit and hat or put on a coat, but he wouldn't put on pants or winter shoes/boots.
    • In the short “Two Chips and a Miss,” the normally naked Chip 'n Dale are seen wearing nightgowns and sleeping caps.
    • In some shorts, Chip 'n Dale wear winter outfits with jackets, but not pants or boots.
  • Justified in the Bugs Bunny short "High-Diving Hare". While wayyy up on the high-dive platform, Bugs tells Yosemite Sam to cover his eyes while he puts on a bathing suit. It was really just a trick to avoid diving.
    • In a few other shorts, he tucks his ears into a swim cap before diving. This could have practical purposes as well though (like keeping water out of his ears and speeding his swimming up).
  • Disney's Donald Duck is a prime example of a pantless Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal who acts denuded like a human when he is naked. Not only does he run around with a shirt but no pants, but when said shirt is taken he reacts to protect his modesty despite not having anything to protect.
    • However, in the House of Mouse episode adaptation of The Nutcracker Suite, Donald as the Mouse King doesn't seem to act denuded, despite not wearing a shirt in the episode.
  • The Disney version of Winnie-the-Pooh wears only a shirt that is one size too small, but at night he wears a proper-sized nightgown and night cap. On a sidenote, the original illustrations show Pooh naked most of the time, with the shirt only worn during winter.
  • In The Pink Panther cartoons,the Panther would occasionally "undress" (typically just removing "socks" just before going to bed), only to look exactly the same.
  • In the 1929 Classic Disney Short, "The Karnival Kid," Mickey Mouse doffs his ears as if they were a hat. This inspired the creation of Mickey Mouse ear hats.
  • In episodes of Go, Diego, Go! that show Baby Jaguar and are set in an Arctic setting, Baby Jaguar wears winter attire that includes a jacket, but not pants or boots. It's partly justified because he stays on all fours.
  • From The Oddball Couple we have Neat Freak Spiffy as a Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal, and unkempt Fleabag as a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal.
  • Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants usually wears a shirt and no pants. It doesn't seem to stop him from being embarrassed when he finds himself naked in public.
  • Mrs. Cluck, an otherwise normal hen in the Higglytown Heroes episode "Corn to be Wild" wears a two piece swimming outfit when cannonballing into the lake, but is otherwise naked. Fran the squirrel in contrast only wears a swimming cap to cannonball.
  • Dudley Puppy from T.U.F.F. Puppy was revealed to wear nude animal leg colored pants in one episode.
  • Adventure Time provides an odd example where Jake, a dog, appears naked but is once revealed to be wearing pants that are made out of spider web and thus basically invisible. Why does he bother? In another episode he freaks out at the idea of the Ice King seeing him sleep in the nude, and he's also been seen wearing a Modesty Towel.
  • In The Three Little Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf's pants fall off after the suspenders break apart. While it seems like a gag, the wolf simply continues relentlessly getting into the house without caring to realize his current state of undress. The way it happens to the wolf is something of a transformation of a character who begins aping a very humanly vagabondage attire to become fully a wolf in the process. It's not so much a gag as more of a nonchalance in the way the clothing comes off him.
  • Stitch of Lilo & Stitch wears pajamas that cover his whole body even though he is usually naked otherwise.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball
    • Darwin and Penny wear swimcaps while swimming, despite being a peanut and fish, thus having no hair. Leslie, a potted flower who normally wears no clothing, puts a speedo on over his pot.
    • Darwin, who normally wears only shoes, averts the "sleepwear paradox" by simply changing to a pair of slippers.
    • Darwin, Tobias, and Banana Joe have all worn towels in the locker room despite not wearing pants (not counting Joe's peel, which he wears the towel over). With Tobias, this leads to an odd scene in "The Voice" where he's wearing a towel, has it taken from him, and his fuzzball body/head is higher up on his legs, though he doesn't react as if he's nude.
    • During the Christmas Episode, Accessory Wearing Cartoon Animals like Darwin and Penny put on winter wear like scarves and mittens, but leave most of their bodies uncovered. Gumball also puts on heavier clothes than usual, but leaves his feet uncovered.
    • Depending on the scene, Darwin lacking footwear may or may not be treated as nudity (complete with pixellation for his feet).