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Forced into Their Sunday Best

Characters (usually children) are forced to wear smart looking clothes (their Sunday best) and hating it. They usually change out of these clothes as soon as possible.

The term Sunday refers to Western Christian society where people often dress up in tidy clothes for the Sunday service. This was far more common in the past when people only had limited clothing, they had the set they wore in the week and their Sunday best for special occasions (and Sundays).

If related to cartoon characters, may be one of the few exceptions to their Limited Wardrobe. This trope, however, is about anyone being forced to wear smart clothing for an occasion.

The reasons for this hate can include:
  • They think they look stupid/people will laugh at them.
  • It inhibits their normal behaviour (can't risk damaging the clothing).
  • It is grossly impractical.
  • It represents everything they hate about something (e.g., the upper classes, or parental control freakery).
  • It itches.
  • It is too girly for a Tomboy.

Some of these reasons are interchangeable. Truth in Television for many kids (and occasionally adults) at formal events, like weddings.

See also Doomed New Clothes. Compare Sudden School Uniform. Contrast slightly Sharp-Dressed Man, where the character usually enjoys such nice clothes.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Chichi forces Gohan into a Little Lord Fauntleroy-type outfit for his trip to Namek on Dragon Ball Z. Gohan changes out of it soon as they are out of her sight. He's stuck with the haircut, though.
  • England buys a suit for a teenage America in the America Cleans Out his Storage episode in Axis Powers Hetalia, and he looks adorably embarrassed by it.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • This happens several times to Calvin. If he's not happy about it, nobody gets to be happy about it.
  • Dennis Mitchell hates being put in his Sunday best.
  • Jon has often dressed Garfield up and told people he was his son to get into restaurants. Garfield was not amused.

    Film 
  • The kids are forced into their dress clothes in Nanny McPhee...which then get forced onto the animals. Also the ending could fit, when the kids are forced into those lime-green outfits for the wedding.
  • Harry Potter and Ron Weasley are forced into formal robes for the Yule Ball. Especially Ron, since his are horribly outdated hand-me-downs.
  • Merida on Brave has to wear a confining dress while attending the archery tournament for her hand. When she infiltrates the competition, she has to tear apart the dress just so she could move around.
  • Shrek and Fiona have to wear ridiculous finery as acting rulers of Far Far Away in Shrek the Third. It's especially hard on Shrek, who is unused to palace life.
  • In Frozen, as the camera tracks through Arandelle, and introduces us to the Duke of Weselton and Kristoff, we see a boy complain to his mother about being forced to dress up for Elsa's coronation.
    Son: Why do I have to wear this?
    Mother: The queen has come of age! Today is her coronation ceremony!
    Son: That's not my fault!

    Literature 
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876): Happens to Tom Sawyer, much to his chagrin.
    • After being taken in by the Widow Douglas, Huckleberry Finn must also suffer from this.
  • I think this also happened in one of The Great Brain books, too, but I'm not sure. (Or maybe Little House?)
  • In Discworld, Sam Vimes is often forced to wear his knightly regalia of red tights, impractical shiny breastplate and a helmet with a damned plume in it, rather than battered chainmail, in Jingo. By the end of the book he's a duke, with an even more impractical outfit that he's forced to wear in The Fifth Elephant.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Blandings Castle short story, "Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend", the eponymous peer is forced, over his strenuous objections, to put on a top hat, frock coat, and a stiff collar to preside at a public fête held on the grounds of Blandings Castle.
  • While not ‘forced’ Lauchlan of ''Mix Beer With Liquor And You Will Get Sicker hates wearing his best clothes. He describes himself as thuggish and lopsided in them, and compares himself to a circus animal stuffed into human clothing for the entertainment of the crowd.
    • Also referenced by Bertie Wooster (via the narration) in "Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest":
    She [Lady Malvern] made me feel as if I were ten years old and had been brought into the drawing-room in my Sunday clothes to say how-d'you-do.
  • Happens twice in Harry Potter: Once for the Yule Ball (mostly concerning Ron and his hideous maroon robes), and again for Bill and Fleur's wedding (in which case its Fred and George complaining).
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe states that starfighter pilots in the New Republic hate the dress uniform for Starfighter Command, which was designed without any input from the people who would be wearing it, and will generally wear anything else if they can get away with it.
  • In chapter eight of Heinlein's Double Star, Emperor Willem complains about having to either take a long route back from the throne room or "parade through semi-public corridors dressed like a circus horse," then adds that "I never wear anything but underwear under those silly robes." Lorenzo replies "I doubt if they are as uncomfortable as this monkey jacket I am wearing, Sire."

     Live-Action TV 
  • Gilmore Girls makes ample use of this trope.
    • Subverted in one episode, in which Emily Gilmore buys her daughter and granddaughter fancy dresses; her daughter, Lorelai, alters the dresses because she and her daughter, Rory, dislike them.
  • In the Star Trek episode "Journey To Babel", McCoy complains about having to wear his dress uniform. About to greet the Vulcan Ambassador, he asks Spock how to do the Vulcan salute. After Spock demonstrates it and the good Doctor tries to imitate the gesture, McCoy grumbles, "That hurts worse than the uniform!"
  • Happens to Bernard Black of Black Books. It looks really odd.
  • Despite the severely dysfunctional nature of the family, Malcolm in the Middle did this occasionally.
  • Name a television series in which the main characters are either military or police officers. Sooner or later they'll have to put on their dress uniforms, and they will always complain about having to do so.
  • In the Angel episode "Waiting in the Wings", Gunn is initially very concerned that he will look silly when dressed up for the ballet. He is, of course, GORGEOUS, as Fred quickly points out.
  • One time on Leave It to Beaver, Beaver had to take dancing lessons and was forced to wear his Sunday clothes to the classes. He didn't know which was worse.
    • Another episode had June going out of town and the boys being looked after by an old-fashioned aunt, who makes Beav go to school in a short-pants suit complete with knee socks, necktie and beanie cap.
  • Onslow once has to wear a jacket and a shirt with a tie for his grandchild's baptism. He keeps on fumbling with the tie and claims that he feels as if he were the first member of his family to be hanged.
  • In the early episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, Elly May didn't like having to wear a dress. It was partly because she afraid people would make fun of her, and also because she's tomboyish and likes to play games which would mess up the clothes. Once she played football wearing a ball gown and ruined it because she thought ball gowns were made to play ball in.
  • When Branson marries into the Crawley family on Downton Abbey, he is forced to wear morning dress for an event. He isn't happy, but the Dowager Countess is having none of it:
    Branson: You see I don't approve of these costumes; I see them as the uniform of oppression and I should be uncomfortable wearing them.
    Violet: Have you quite finished?
    • Several minutes later we see him suitably attired.

    Webcomics 
  • The group from Fey Winds are forced to dress up to go undercover; two of them find the costumes embarrassing and impractical. Cue stripping off said clothes for a fight scene.
  • On occasion, Dubious Company's Tiren is forced into formalwear. She has several, logical, practical reasons against wearing them.
    Tiren: Great. Can I take this... whatever I'm wearing off and put on normal clothes?
    Mary: But you look so stunning!
  • In Original Life local Tomboy Charlene is forced by her mother to wear a dress into a church and is very annoyed both by its "girliness" and by limitations on the pose resulting from lack of pants.
  • PreTeena: Teena and Jeri, whose parents ensure they are regular churchgoers. Teena does not like dressing girly; Jeri does not like dressing conservatively. One Sunday strip has the girls lamenting the fact other people can get away with dressing extremely casually for church.

     Western Animation 
  • Recess: In "Picture Day", the kids have to wear smart clothes all day for their portraits. Unfortunately, there are many kids who are keen to get their clothes dirty before then.
  • Bart and Lisa Simpson have special clothes for church.
  • Similar to The Simpsons, Fry from Futurama has a turtleneck/blazer combo that he wears for fancy times (like going to Elzar's).
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, when Heloise's Auntie Pomigranite comes to visit, she's forced into very frilly, very un-Heloise like clothes.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy find themselves stuck with new clothes bought by their parents. They're hilariously too stiff, so they throw them in the lake.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Octi Gone," Buttercup bristles at having to wear a fancy dress for the Professor's dinner party.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door Operation: C.A.N.N.O.N. introduced The Proper Patrol, who attacked with rays that transformed kids' clothes into "proper" clothes. Which can simply be switched normally immediately after.

For Halloween, I Am Going as MyselfCostume TropesForm-Fitting Wardrobe
RecessImageSource/Western AnimationRedwall

alternative title(s): Pressed Into Formal Wear
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