This trope is about extremely detailed clothing, either seeing it or (ahem) describing it. Seems to be more as a form of Author Appeal or Fanservice than for any important details to the plot (but not always). Seems to be most common in stuff aimed at girls and women.
This trope is usually written (especially with Purple Prose), but if the clothing is elaborate enough, it can be shown visually. This was especially true when royalty invokes the Ermine Cape Effect, or in period drama films from the Golden Age of Hollywood. With both, the point was in the fanciest, flashiest clothing possible.
Shows up a lot in Mary Sue stories, where it tends to be a pretty blatant display of Author Appeal. Most have at least one scene describing the character's outfit as if the clothes were part of the supporting cast.
A Super Trope to:
Ronin Warriorsloves showing off how complex and intricate the various armors are. A lot of the Stock Footage revels in showing off the heroes suits from every conceivable angle.
Due to the pretty blatant Author Appeal, Ai Yazawa sometimes devotes endless panels and splash pages to showcasing the costumes her fashion designer characters create from every possible angle. Yukari modeling the Pimped-Out Dress from Paradise Kiss is probably the worst offender, but it happens many other times both in that series and Gokinjo Monogatari.
Special points to Xxx HO Li C here because the only times Yuuko ever wears the same outfit twice is once in a dream sequence and once in real life, and it is in-universe memorable enough that Watanuki comments on it... and even gets worried because of it. His fear is justified.
Since Yuuko's death, Watanuki has taken over not only her role as shopkeeper, but also as CLAMP's mannequin for unique and frequent Costume Porn.
Glass Fleet could be considered hardcore costume porn, with some of the most off the wall outfits of any show.
Mihara Mitsukazu's mangas (Dokuhime, The Embalmer) are filled with this, which is unsurprising since she's published in a Gothic Lolita magazine.
The works of Miyabi Fujieda tend to run into this fairly frequently. But it's so worth it.
The Storas of Amuri in Star Ocean are essentially personalized space-suits that look like very elaborate (and rather revealing) Magical Girl costumes. They also enhance and control the powers of their wearers, generate blunt projectiles seemingly out of thin air, as well as undress their users and neatly store their clothes away before covering them up again.
AKB49 - Renai Kinshi Jourei features intricate costumes for idol group members performing on stage, and a single performance will involve multiple costume changes as well.
Girl Friends is an interesting example - it focuses very heavily on all the different kinds of make-up and clothing the main characters play around with in luxurious detail...but since the girls are just normal middle-class Japanese high schoolers, the clothes involved are the sort that you'd expect girls in real life to be wearing, being pretty mainstream and relatively affordable. This article explains in a little more detail.
The Amawakuni clothing in Arata Kangatari are all beautifully designed and detailed in the Oriental fashion.
This isn't new for someone like Yuu Watase, as she often drew Miaka Yuuki from Fushigi Yuugi wearing really pretty Chinese-styled robes. Yui Hongou's Belly Dancer-like outfits were very easy in the eyes as well.
The best the description of the "Black Leather Pajamas".
Pfff, "black leather bar."
The Zelda fanfiction "My Inner Life" has loads of this when describing the lovely new dress and hairstyle Jenna currently has. Bonus points for the fact that some of the things she wears would look just horrid if drawn or worn in real life.
I went to the wardrobe closet and selected a low cut pink dress with long selves and the Triforce symbol over my right breast.A pink feathery lace ran underneath my breasts. And a crisscross pattern held the back together. I pulled my hair into a bun and went downstairs.
The Yu-Gi-Oh fanfic, Decks Fall Everyone Dies, tries to hide the clothing descriptions by breaking them up, but they're still detailed descriptions:
"Joey lounged on a couch that had been spray-painted gold, wearing a blue leopard print tunic with a pink bobbed wig. With all the reflective objects and Joey's second skin of body glitter, the downstage area seemed to be bathed in light....All the audience would be able to see was the glow-in-the dark face and body paint worn by Joey....Glittering sparks shot out of holographic badges behind the two birthday hats on Joey's pectorals."
The main portion of Hinata's gown was a shimmering, medium-weight, pure white silk mikado. The edges of the fabric were all stitched with a golden filigree of small, overlapping triangles. The bride's dress was strapless like those of her attendants. But the pale beauty's bodice was so perfectly fitted it almost appeared to be paint instead of fabric. It clung tightly to every curve of her exquisite breasts, dipping slightly between her cleavage. The gown wrapped around her toned stomach, revealing the slight indent of her navel. The upper portion of the dress also had short sleeves connected under her arms, covering from the middle of her biceps to just above Hinata's elbows. Unlike her friends, the young woman wore no gloves, and her engagement ring shone brightly on her finger. The ivory material split just below the waist, creating a wide slit in front while the rest of the dress flared out dramatically, flowing around her in vertical pleats. A cape-like extension off the back of the bodice and sleeves added an additional layer to the back of the gown. The silk ended a full six-inches above the floor. Underneath there was an underskirt of pale lavender, but unlike the white silk this part of the dress had a matte finish. The second layer went all the way to the floor, and as was also visible through the gap in the front. The bride wore a simple silver circlet on her head, with a veil of lace hanging out of the headpiece down to just below her chin.
In Homestuck fandom, redesigning the characters' simple outfits, either for cosplay purposes or fashion purposes, is absurdly common. Rumminov's Fancy Dreamers and Fancy Tier designs are extremely popular, as well as Mookie's various J-fashion designs, but there are many more popular ones as well. Some of these popular designs, such as Meenah's various custom God Tier outfits, Porrim's "party dress" (based on Asian fashion) and Equius's fetishistic maid costume (which the artist apparently never sent to Hussie, but which he put in anyway) were canonised in the "Ministrife" flash.
The Bollywood epic Devdas was an amazing example of this, and at the time broke records for the sheer amount spent on costume and design.
Queen Amidala of Star Wars. Each of those dresses is based on a Real Life cultural dress, by the way. One of the most iconic outfits is based on a Mongolian wedding dress.
There was a point to this, but All There in the Manual. As Queen, she's not supposed to be a person but a living symbol of her people's culture and traditions. They went over the top on traditional designs and makeup so people would first think Queen of the Naboo, not Padme Naberrie. Even the neat little mark on her lower lip was symbolic. It's the Mark of Remembrance to serve as a constant reminder of Naboo's bloody past.
It did have a plot purpose because she is supposed to be in disguise as a handmaiden on Tatooine and not revealed to be the same person until later in the movie.
When Padme's "just" a senator (and even in private) her clothes continue to be elaborate and beautiful; I recall a tie-in website written as a Corruscant news site where a fashion critic gushed over her outfit.
Also averted. While Padme's (massive) wardrobe gets plenty of time onscreen, the costume department also dedicated tremendous effort to outfitting extras that only got about 3 seconds of screentime during a crowd scene. Case in point: Opula Deget.
Curse Of The Golden Flower pays special attention to the ridiculously opulent costumes and stylized armor worn by every character in the film. At one point, the king beats someone to death with his solid-gold belt.
Averted in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. According to Bernard Hill (King Theoden), many of his costumes had elaborate golden embroidery that was too detailed to ever be appreciated (or even noticed) on the camera. The meticulous costume designers added it anyway in order to help him get into character. The armorers even added an elaborate gold design to the inside of his breastplate, which they justified as a protective thing.
The above can be seen in the appendices included in the DVD release of Return of the King, where the costume designers show some of their work, including Gandalf the White's undershirt which has elaborate gold embroidery despite being completely concealed by the rest of his clothes in every scene, and a dress that Arwen wears for a single sequence lasting no more than a minute, yet the dress itself is so beautifully stitched and made of such exotic materials (including silk shipped in from India) that it seems like a tremendous waste of money.
This is true for almost all the costumes and props made for the films; Jackson could frame his shots ad lib and not accidentally capture someone whose sword was made of cardboard wrapped in tinfoil.
The Mordor Orcs in the third movie have very elaborate armor and banners, but you will hardly notice it.
Since the Bagginses are relatively wealthy, Frodo's clothing is made from richer materials, though of the same style as that of the other Hobbits.
This doesn't quite make sense, since the Tooks are richer than Bagginses, and Brandybucks at around the same level, yet Merry and Pippin still wear simpler materials than Frodo.
Both of those families are quite large; there is only one Baggins at Bag End, at that point in the story.
The armour that Aragorn wore when Gondor and Rohan marched to Mordor was beautiful, featuring silver threaded embroidery in the shape of the Tree of Gondor. Let that sink in. They embroidered boiled leather with silver thread. There is not an appropriate metaphor to convey how difficult that is to do.
The armour that Sauron wore in the beginning of the film was only onscreen for about 45 seconds, but the whole thing was covered in an extremely subtle poison ivy motif engraved and acid etched into the steel.
Zeffirelli's 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet. The Renaissance costumes are absolutely breathtaking and absolutely period-accurate, with hundreds of yards of elaborately pleated cotton velvet on the women and raunchy, colourful tights and codpieces on the men. It deservedly won an Oscar for Best Costume Design that year.
Special mention must go to that damn gorgeous green dress she wore in Atonement. It outranked Audrey Hepburn's Little Black Dress and Marilyn Monroe's iconic white number on a list of most beautiful dresses ever used in film!
Marie Antoinette films. The Sofia Coppola one in particular set out to deliberately invoke the trope.
The Lana Turner vehicle Love Has Many Faces is less well-remembered for its paper-thin plot than for its exorbitant “million dollar wardrobe” (courtesy of legendary Hollywood costumer Edith Head, no less). Some have jokingly referred to the film as Love Has Many Costume Changes.
Played to the max is Snow White & the Huntsman, especially with Ravenna who wears a new dress in almost every scene. Also everyone during King Magnus and Ravenna's wedding and later at Snow White's coronation.
The Wheel of Time. Suffice to say that if one removes all the gratuitous clothing descriptions from the novels, the total page count would likely go down at least 40%.
Occasionally the more elaborate outfits worn by the Hawkbrothers in the Heralds of Valdemar series will get this treatment. One particular example of this was during the many ceremonies held toward the beginning of Owlknight, with each of the participants wearing a separate costume for each one, all described in detail.
Mercedes Lackey also goes into enough detail on Tudor and Elven attire in the four-novel series about the young (Queen) Elizabeth that reproducing the outfits for a costuming competition would be child's play.
The short story The Eye Of Argon would periodically skid to a halt to describe a character's clothing in elaborate Purple Prose. This would happen whether the character in question was a Main or merely a Mook who would be killed off seconds after being introduced.
While it can of course be overdone costume description, if done well can contribute to characterization and atmosphere. A writer that tends to use it very well is Barbara Hambly.
In every single Gossip Girl book (and all of its copycats) the author spends paragraphs discussing what each character is wearing down to the shoes and the lingerie, so much so that if a character is wearing a jeans and t-shirt it begins to sound opulent.
Twilight often gets into this, especially when Bella is whining about some spectacular designer outfit Alice forced her to wear and of course whatever beige ensemble Edward is wearing at the moment. Admittedly, Meyer manages to tone it down by the last book by staggering the descriptions instead of creating walls of text.
This is done in the book version of American Psycho, but partially in a subversion: while the narration makes it sound like the '80s businessmen are clad in the most powerful of power suits, if one were to actually look at the items in question, they'd realize they look absolutely ridiculous.
At the end of The Man Who Was ThursdayChesterton places each character in ceremonial garb meant to personify the days of the week. They are all described, though not in excruciating detail - it only takes up a few pages.
Comes up a lot in the Earth's Children series. Ayla was raised by a Clan who did not decorate their clothing, and is impressed by and eager to learn other groups' methods for beading and embroidery. Because Jean Auel did lots of research, this is one way she shows her work.
Laurell K. Hamilton abuses this no end, especially when Jean-Claude and his sexed-up get-ups make an entrance. Parodied excellently here.
Jerry B. Jenkins, 'co-author' and actual writer of the Left Behind books, spends more time in Tribulation Force describing Hattie and Steve's new Antichrist-approved outfits than he ever spent describing the scenes of horror that surely must have been unfolding in the first book following the disappearance of a third of the world's population in the Rapture.
The Mabinogion brings us the early-medieval Dream of Macsen Wledig, which is stuffed full of characters who turn up only to get the beautiful colors and magnificent materials of their clothes, armor, and horses described. Oh, and drop off messages.
This is theorized to have happened mainly because the story was composed when 'writing stuff down' was just making a comeback in the British Isles. Somebody thought it was orgasmically awesome to be able to put in this many details and be able to get them right next time without killing your brain. An amazing memory was an important necessity to the job, but remembering many long stories was much more important than getting one right after days of wandering around madly muttering, 'green...blue...red...sable...no, yellow, then sable...'
In his Diogenes Club series, Kim Newman writes what can only be described as costume gorn. Occult detective Richard Jeperson wears only the most eye-searingly hideous of '70s fashions, and Newman describes his outfits in detail every story.
Much of the elaborate description of costume is left out of modern translations of The Tale of Genji as modern readers are unable to interpret the delicate social nuances, key to characterization, that would have been obvious to Murasaki' Shikibu's contemporaries.
Older Than Feudalism: The description of the staggeringly elaborate decorations on the Shield of Achilles in The Iliad goes on for several pages.
The Bible has lovingly exact specifications for the garments of the priests in the Book of Exodus.
Salome was clad in the barbaric splendor of a woman of Shushan. Jewels glittered in the torchlight on her gilded sandals, on her gold breast-plates and the slender chains that held them in place. Gold anklets clashed as she moved, jeweled bracelets weighted her bare arms. Her tall coiffure was that of a Shemitish woman, and jade pendants hung from gold hoops in her ears, flashing and sparkling with each impatient movement of her haughty head. A gem-crusted girdle supported a silk shirt so transparent that it was in the nature of a cynical mockery of convention
The descriptions of the kimonos in Memoirs of a Geisha have been described as the best part of the book.
Judy from Daddy-Long-Legs often describes dresses she bought with allowances from the titular character in detail.
In the Time Scout series, small mistakes in costume downtime can be deadly. For some reason, the characters never end up in a place where drab, simple clothes are the norm. Instead they end up mingling with high society in Victorian London. Coincidence. Yeah.
George R.R. Martin can spend paragraphs describing the clothing and heraldry of his characters. The greater the detail, the greater the chance the wearer will be/do/experience something significant by the end of the chapter.
Stargate SG-1 has its fair share of this, with the different clothing styles on the various planets they visit. This is especially true in the early seasons, when they were trying to show off, and in the later seasons, when they had a huge budget.
Doctor Who had an episode of this in the form of "The Girl in the Fireplace". Not just Reinette's gorgeous period dresses, but the outfits the clockwork robots were wearing.
Doctor Who has done this from the start. Tom Baker's famous bohemian outfit and the Time Lords' exuisitely layered robes and headdresses were designed by James Acheson, who later went on to win three Oscars for his stupendous costumes for Hollywood movies. Check out The Masque of Mandragora and The Deadly Assassin for his best work on the series. Also, Amy Roberts designed some rather gorgeous pieces for the stories she worked on (Image of the Fendahl, State of Decay, The Keeper of Traken, Mawdryn Undead and the Ainley Master's velvet costume).
About half the costumes on Merlin probably qualify. Gwen's purple dress◊ is probably the best example, but Merlin's every◊ day clothes◊ manage to be impressive just by how natural they look. The detailing◊ on Arthur's armor is also pretty much invisible in everything except high-res promo shots. And that's not even touching on what Morgana wears...
Alias has a lot of this, partly justified by Sydney's need to blend in. Costumes involved range from traditional style kimono to outrageous party outfits.
Black Adder The second and third series in particular had very detailed costumes. Queenie's dress from the second series, Prince George's clothes (especially the trousers) and all of Blackadder's clothes were exquisitely detailed.
Noah's Arc: The fashion show, which has some wildly elaborate outfits even by fashion show standards.
Dr Lucy Worsley in her history documentaries just loves dressing up in period costumes and will get through at least half a dozen in a typical episode, along with a similar number of natty modern-day outfits in between.
JAG features full display of uniforms from the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps worn by mostly good looking people.
Ironic though is that the episode ("Gypsy Eyes") for which they won an Emmy for costumes featured no naval uniforms at all.
Girls' Generation. They have a never ending variety of themed costumes that still manage to be unique for all 9 members. This includes 60's mod inspired outfits for Hoot, Biker Punk for Bad Girl, the various military themed uniforms from Genie, the yellow and black combinations for Mr Taxi, the flashy gold sparkly dresses for Twinkle and on and on.
"Weird Al" Yankovic does this on tour; his Jedi costume, the Fat suit, and more recently the purple peacock.
One Direction's "This Kiss" video dresses the band up in various co-ordinated, Fanservice outfits. Sailors! Skiiers! Surfers! Prisoners! Naked! (?)
Online Role Playing Games
In text-based chat rooms used for online role-playing, many players adopt the habit of using a cut-and-paste "description drop" for their character, either upon entering a room, or if a new player arrives and requests a quick description of who is already there. While most players will keep it to a short summary of what a casual appraisal would reveal, a significant portion indulge in extreme Costume Porn. Not only are the outfit and physical attributes described in excruciating detail, but often bits that are completely unseen (such as tattoos and piercings in areas not available for public consumption) are included, as are historical notes that no casual observer could know. In extreme cases, these will even go so far as to exceed the chat-room's character limit, forcing the player to split it into two or more posts.
Rey Mysterio is famous for all his unique outfits and masks that we wonder who comes up with them. He has a tradition of wearing a unique costume every Wrestle Mania. XIX he wore a Dare Devil costume, XX he dressed as The Flash etc. His most recent addition was a Na'vi inspired costume from Avatar.
Macho Man Randy Savage was known for his flamboyant clothes and hats.
Ric Flair had a thing for frilly, sparkly and flamboyant robes which he wore during his entrances.
Most of the WWE divas tend to wear fancy and extravagant wrestling attire so that when WWE has as many divas in the ring as they can fit, the overall effect is a bunch of multi-colored outfits bouncing around that could probably cause a few TVs to explode.
The entrance attire of Japanese legend Keiji Mutoh's alter ego, The Great Muta, is this in spades.
Even though The Undertaker dresses mostly in black, his more elaborate outfits, especially those for Wrestle Mania, definitely qualify for this trope.
Christian Cage used to wear an assortment of shiny hooded jumpsuits from 2004-2009 (although he did usually keep the hood off his head for the jumpsuits he started wearing as the Instant Classic in '07).
Depending on how skilled you are with a paintbrush, the Bling of War in Warhammer and Warhammer 40000 can get downright ridiculous. Most of the signature characters have incredibly detailed models that are an amateur painter's nightmare.
Of course, you can just paint on a few basic colors, use something different for the bling, and slap on some DEVLAN MUD.
Takarazuka Revue productions. The costuming budget on those things must be higher than the gross domestic product of many third-world countries.
Galadriel in the Toronto production of Lord of the Rings. It was the headdress that did it. Notably, they changed her costume for the London production, but it was still quite opulent.
Cirque du Soleil shows, to the point that the company's 25th anniversary book (2009) was a retrospective of costumes from all the shows over the years! Especially costume-riffic shows include Alegria, "O", and KA.
Most productions of The Phantom of the Opera turn out like this (including the film), particularly during the "Masquerade" song.
Virtually every Final Fantasy character, at least going by their original designs.
In terms of on-screen Costume Porn, Final Fantasy XII probably takes the cake with Balthier's vest/cuirass alone. Every main character (and many side characters) has a substantial amount of intricate filigree and lace-like patterns in their outfits - even if they're supposed to be dirt-poor street rats.
On that subject, Ayami Kojima's art for Symphony of the Night features some very detailed clothing. Let's take Alucard for example. The inside of his coat (not his cape) has an extreme amount of detail.
Dwarf Fortress allows you to create this trope through decoration, randomly determined between menacing spikes, hanging rings, encircling bands, and images, with no regard to practicality. Entirely described through text, no less.
Artifacts have many diverse materials as decoration, usually covering all the above decorations. Some even have images of themselves on them.
In Pokemon Diamond And Pearl, the outfits worn by Team Galactic are otherworldly and elaborate. Gym Leaders and other major bosses in general may also fall into this category.
The Dynasty Warriors series by Koei, the eastern version of Satoshi Urushihara's works in terms of extreme pornography. Even when someone has a plain and basic outfit there's an 80% chance of Nice Hat after Nice Hat after... It seems the only place they skimped on the clothing was for the create-a-character 'edit generals'. See also: Kessen and Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but DW is where they save the most fantastical designs for.
Assassins Creed II goes its way to show off the opulent outfits of the Renaissance period, unusually focusing mainly on the male wardrobe. The Assassin's uniform is of course the most notable example, and a major departure from the simple robes of the first game.
That costume is loosely based on the Renaissance fashions, and should accommodate walking and possibly even semi-formal duelling. However, there's no way that anyone could run or climb in it without the loose cloth sticking to every nook imaginable.
In Lusternia, trademasters can periodically submit a number of cartel designs. The result is extreme customization of everything from robes to platemail to furniture. Your character can be as richly (or as drably) attired as you desire. And - like the Dwarf Fortress example above - this is achieved entirely through text!
The Barbie films are full of this. Good Lord are they ever.
The Anastasia movie is full of this. Most notable examples would have to be Anya's yellow silk Dream Sequence dress, the svelte navy and sparkly Parisian Opera dress, her blue court dress at the beginning of the movie, and her yellow court dress at the end of the movie.
Marie Antoinette gets associated with this, when she actually tried to make dress at Versailles more modest (although she was still required to wear the most elaborate dresses). Other Queens and Empresses have fit this trope far better, owning up to thousands of dresses.