Certain activities or professions are associated with recognizable outfits. With Costume Exaggeration, this will be depicted with the most outlandish, extreme, or just plain fetishistic version of said outfit, even if the character otherwise wears a normal outfit most of the time. Sometimes the character will forget and just keep wearing the outfit long after it's needed, or will even seem not to remember putting it on. Often, this is done tongue-in-cheek by artists who really only want an excuse to put characters in fun costumes, but is a very good indicator to the general 'serious' mood and focus of a series. It generally runs:
Mundane -> Stylized -> Noticeable -> Overboard
Ironically, having slightly less-than-maximum Costume Inertia doesn't always work, since it implies designers know just enough about the minor details of an outfit and put just enough time into it that they probably have a personal jones for it. Occasionally the trope is played with in an Unreveal, where the 'normal' outfit appears instead of the predicted one - much to the disappointment of another character. The Chainmail Bikini is essentially a subtrope of this; the Spy Catsuit and the Latex Spacesuit probably also qualify. Compare Impossibly Cool Clothes.
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Anime and Manga
- Occured in Love Hina, where Motoko's breakdown after a fight with her sister persuades her to become the inn's housekeeper (sometimes dubbed as "Miracle Maid Motoko"), wearing a full maid outfit in her size.
- .hack//Legend of the Twilight somehow manages a Beach Episode that subverts this, where Shugo suddenly realizes that Ouka, being a Cool Big Sis, should naturally appear in the slinkiest swimsuit of any of the girls — until she shows up in wolf shape (which, granted, means she's technically naked).
- In He Is My Master, a guest character agrees to have a competition with the show's resident lech. The former excels at designing several costumes with noticeably less Costume Exaggeration than the latter, before the lead girl is convinced there's not enough of a functional difference to bother changing employers. (That and the new employer loves crossdressing, which is a step too far for the girl who gets abused on a daily basis by every other main character.)
- The ending of the Tokyo Mew Mew manga requires a wedding dress anyway... but why a short, frilly, lace-and-ribbon-covered, giant-strawberry-adorned number, especially when supposedly thrown together in a short amount of time? Simply because it's cute.
- Applied in Lyrical Nanoha in the third season, where Nanoha and Fate change their previously more mundane Magical Girl uniforms for slightly more complicated and extravagant versions (though Fate was actually downgraded from her infamous previous outfit). This time, however, it's more indicative of Nanoha and Fate growing up 10 years and thus outgrowing their nine-year-old selves, and ultimately they switch back to the old outfits two thirds of the way in, mostly to indicate they're getting serious.
Live Action Television
- In Doctor Who, the Second Doctor's costume is an exaggerated version of the First Doctor's - it's the same outfit but more gaudily mismatched and much, much baggier, giving him a clownish vibe.
- Reimu of Touhou originally wore a realistic Miko outfit; however, after the Continuity Reboot she switched to a more stylised and less practical version, complete with detached sleeves. Sanae also wears a similar outfit.