Embarrassing but Empowering Outfit
Reminds me of this one group I ran with. The barbarian in our group found, and I quote: "a pink frilly tu-tu of Strength +6", and he wore it with pride for the rest of the campaign.A character has an outfit that grants them immense power but there's one major problem. The outfit looks ridiculous and its powers can't be accessed without wearing it. Despite the benefits, the character is usually hesitant or refuses to wear the outfit all together. This frequently overlaps with Stripperiffic as usually the outfits, while powerful, are often extremely revealing. Sub-Trope of Clothes Make the Superman Compare to Impossibly Tacky Clothes, Chainmail Bikini Closely related to Rainbow Pimp Gear, where it's a discordant combination of empowering articles that makes the character look silly.
— KillItWithFire (comment on The Order of the Stick's forum)
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Anime & Manga
- From Sumomo Mo Momo Mo, Sanae's Uma Kamen outfit. It's an outfit from her tribe that increases its wearer power but it looks like a bondage costume. Sanae hates wearing it and most characters, even the ones she saved, are taken aback to how ridiculous the outfit looks.
- Project Ako: B-ko Daitoukuji's battle armor, Akagiyama 23 enhances her physical abilities to match A-ko's. However, it's skimpy and comes with a visor. When A-ko and the other students first see it, they burst out laughing at her. Then the fight began. Let's just say A-ko's laughter was short lived. Later in the film, it's revealed that it also has a built-in jet pack which enables B-ko to fly; which she uses during her attempt to rescue C-ko from Captain Napolipolita. B-ko was able to manuever effortlessly through a non-stop missile barrage.
However, the visor's function doesn't become clear until the fourth movie: Final. It allows B-ko to breath in outer space. Seen when she flies A-ko into space, to get C-ko back, at 11.5 G's! Taken Up to Eleven and subverted when her father steals the design and wears one, and she's the one embarrassed by it.
- Is This a Zombie?: The costume worn by Magic Girl Haruna contains lots of ruffles and bows. This isn't so embarrassing for her, but when she accidentally passes on her powers, costume included, to the zombie Ayumu (pictured above), he is not so amused by the outfit. Unfortunately, in order to activate his powers, the pink bow-covered costume is included.
- Also when he uses his own Limit Break abilities while wearing it, the costume proceeds to get even girlier. Complete with commentary on his rising cuteness from whoever's on the sidelines.
- On Kill la Kill, this is a plot point: the Kamui that both Ryuko and Satsuki wear bare your torso from the chest to the upper leg, in a very skimpy way. You need to be able to wear them without shame or rejection in order to access their full power. This later gets some justification when it's revealed that Kamui are sentient aliens and in order to get as much power as possible from them without them overwhelming the wearer's mind they need to be touching as little skin as possible.
- There's a scene in Slayers where Lina and Amelia put on silly dresses and sing a silly song (in a clear parody of Idol Singers) in order to cast a powerful spell and kill a demon that was supposedly guarding a MacGuffin they're seaching for. It produces some lights. The spell was actually for a festival, the Mac Guffin is elsewhere. Lina then killed the demon with her classic Dragon Slave as punishment for watching her embarrass herself.
- The manga Miracle Lingerie parodies Stripperific costumes with a set of actual lingerie that gives superpowers, but only when nothing is worn over it. The heroine is understandably not keen on wearing it in public.
- In Pretty Sammy, the costume Sasami dons when she transforms into Pretty Sammy includes a really short skirt. This is one of the reasons why she doesn't want to be a magical girl.
- In Empowered, the title character possesses a full body super-suit that gives her numerous super abilities, but it's also made of extremely thin and fragile material. The suit tears easily and even when it's fully intact, it's so form-fitting that it leaves little to the imagination, and nothing can be worn over or under it. These are huge problems for a superheroine like Empowered who has numerous body-image issues - particularly because tearing the suit strips her (pun intended) of her powers. What makes this worse is the main character suspects that the suit is only as strong or weak as the user's self-confidence (with a few memorable occasions that suggest she's absolutely right). This applies both to the abilities it gives, and the fragility of the material. Given how paper-thin the title character's confidence is and how it gets more fragile after every failure...
- Starbound, a Lucky Star fic, involves a variation of this, in which Kagami, Konata, and Miyuki's hair end up being restyled against their will. Trying to undo them doesn't work either, as any strands pulled just arrange themselves back into position. Kagami and Miyuki are both embarrassed by this, although Konata doesn't mind so much and finds moe in their new hairstyles. Responsible for their hair situation eventually turn out to be some magical crystals, eventually revealed to contain potent psychokinetic powers.
- In the short story "Wunderpants" by Paul Jennings, the protagonist David is given pink, fairy-print underwear that give him superhuman strength.
- In the short story "Origin Story" by Dwight R. Decker, a spirit who's been out of touch with events on Earth for the past century of so offers the protagonist the empowering (and prominently emblazoned) garb of "Captain Swastika". He declines.
- In The Greatest American Hero Everyman Ralph Hinkley is given a "super suit" by some friendly aliens. It's spandex, but made for someone with a much more muscular physique, and on Ralph it looks a lot like footy pajamas. He is very embarrassed being seen in it, but eventually he gets used to it.
- On Wizards of Waverly Place, when Max's powers fully come in he's unable to truly control or use them. In order to do so, he must wear a huge, gaudy, puffy jester hat. Not doing so would cause events like spontaneous indoor blizzards, but doing so made him the laughing stock of the school.
- In Persona 3 there's a bonus female-only costume you can get called the High Cut Armour. It significantly raises a party members attack and defense, can be gotten early on in the game and isn't usurped as the best armor for a while. However, it's also very skimpy and one the few costumes that the girls will comment on specifically if you equip it (usually you get a generic "thanks!" message, but with the HCA you get a "...really? I have to wear this?" one instead).
- The World Ends with You has something like this with its 'threads' system. Instead of buying armor or the like, you buy designer clothing that grants you bonuses. Female clothing tends to have very high bonuses, but most of your characters are male. To get them to wear it requires increasing the "Bravery" stat. Shiki, the only playable girl, starts with a moderately high Bravery stat.
- Mai Tsurugino, the primary protagonist of the Makeruna! Makendou trilogy (quadrilogy if you count the OAV), is not at all fond of the outfit she finds herself in as Makendou Ichi-go.
- Magick Chicks: The mysterious wand grants Melissa Hellrune unimaginable power, enough to trigger a level 9 magical event. Said wand also comes with an outlandish Cute Witch Magical Girl costume. Melissa is not pleased.
- The Order of the Stick: Haley has a pair of magical Boots of Speed, but considers them a fashion disaster because they're lime green, and refuses to wear them until she can get them dyed brown to match her armor.
- Goblins has a subversion, when Minmax complains loudly about Forgath forcing him to wear a suit of magical pink armor. He doesn't realize that one of the armor's properties is the ability to take on any color he chooses.
- In one strip of Oglaf, a man asks an apparently really misogynist blacksmith to commission him some armour. The blacksmith, disgusted by the man's lack of facial hair, begins haranguing him for his supposed lack of masculinity. The man ends up getting a breastplate with an enormous bust and the word "SLUT" embrossed on the front in big block letters. The man concedes, though, that "it's really good armour".
- In the xkcd strip titled shoes a character is rewarded shoes that make their wearer immortal. He can't decide whether or not to wear the shoes since they have creepy individual toes.
- In Slimy Thief a male warrior goes to Azamat's store and asks for the most powerful armor. Azamat pulls out some magical armor that He initially refuses to wear it because "It has boobs".
- Most God-Tier outfits (a.k.a. God Hoods) are pretty decent-looking, but some of the class-based variations are just embarrassing — particularly the Page, Prince, and Bard outfits. The hypnotic terribleness of Jake and Gamzee's speedo shorts and jutting codpiece respectively get Played for Laughs. Fortunately, while the outfit comes with ascending to the God Tiers (and is super-comfy and self-cleaning), it isn't required to access any of the other perks. Furthermore, Meenah reveals that it is possible to modify them.
- Gamzee's codpiece might be an Embarrassing Outfit for anyone else, but he actually seems to like it (especially since it's outright stated by another character that his "god tier" outfit is a fake).
- In Girl Genius Gilgamesh Wulfenbach acquires a hat so impressive that no one who sees it can doubt who he is (well, except that one guy). It's huge, purple, on fire, and has "Gilgemesh Wulfenbash: Schmott Guy!" written on it. The moment he's done using it to establish his identity, he orders it taken away and never spoken of again.
- The Armor of Zeldron, from Adventure Time, grants its wearer flight and protects them from just about anything (even ghosts!). In the episode "Blood Under the Skin" Finn and Jake go quest to find the armor, but when they do find it Finn refuses to wear it since it's "girl armor".
- In Spongebob Squarepants it is stated that superpowers come from costumes, and that is the only reason that the heroes would wear them.
Mermaid Man: Power's all in the costume. Why else would we run around in colored undies?
Squidward: I can think of ten good reasons.