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Frozen Fashion Sense
"How did you manage to slip through the fifties wearing red velvet?"
Lestat, Queen of the Damned

So, Vampires Are Rich, Vampires Own Night Clubs and Vampires Are Sex Gods.

But are they always snazzy dressers?

Maybe it's because they're old-fashioned or just out of touch with humanity, but sometimes, vampires just can't seem to grasp the concept of contemporary fashion. They'll continue wearing the clothes that were in style when they were still human, hundreds of years ago (in extreme cases, they'll recycle the same outfit until long after it should've fallen apart in the wash). When this happens in groups of vampires, it can lead to Anachronism Stew.

This is a handy visual cue to the age of any vampire appearing in a visual medium, and can, depending on the outfit, be a characterization cue that lets you know this guy is evil.

This trope is becoming less and less popular for live action features, since it's all but impossible to put a vampire in tights and a doublet in The City and take the character seriously. Or to avoid the Fridge Logic this trope entails, as period costume would presumably wear out after a few decades' use, and similar replacements would get increasingly hard to come by. Conversely, you almost never find a vampire wearing clothes from the 10-20-years-ago low point of the Popularity Polynomial that are considered dated but not yet retro.

Related to Jacob Marley Apparel and Fashion Dissonance. Compare and contrast Disco Dan.


    open/close all folders 

Examples:

     Anime 
  • Mr. Shido from Nightwalker prefers Edwardian era clothing despite operating in the modern world.
  • Alucard preferred the Victorian era, most likely. Just with gaudy red and modern Gothic design.
  • Mina Tepes, when not in a school uniform or naked, leans toward late-Victorian/Edwardian wear.

     Comics 
  • The Countess's coterie in Once Bitten all dress in the style appropriate to when she brought them over. Victorian prostitute, civil war soldier, etc.

     Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Mentioned in the first episode, where Buffy spots a vampire by his Seventies wardrobe and then dropped afterward for all but a very few vampires like Dracula and The Prince of Lies. A lot of the low level vampires tend to just wear the sort of clothes you grab off the rack - or, of course, take off people you kill.
    Buffy: Deal with that outfit for a moment.
    Giles: It's dated?
    Buffy: It's carbon-dated.
    • According to the pilot commentary, the original idea was the vampires eternally wear the clothes of the era they died in. This idea was swiftly dropped with the introduction of vampires centuries-old who pass for yuppies.
    • The character of Spike could be considered a loose example. Originally a plain vanilla vampire from Anne Rice era, he lifted some fashion tips from Billy Idol and Syd Vicious (though Spike would claim they stole his look) and remains stuck in the 80s.
    • Another dead giveaway is their hilariously outdated dance moves.
  • This trope made a brief appearance on Buffy's spinoff, Angel, when an obnoxious, Rat Pack-era vampire from Las Vegas arrives in town for a museum heist.
  • In a 1989 Doctor Who serial, "The Curse of Fenric", the sequences where the haemovores rise up to feast on the living display everything from Elizabethan doublets to eighteenth century seawool. Justified, as they've all been holed up since they were turned, and haven't exactly had a chance to nip down to the shops and pick up something more trendy.
  • Averted in True Blood. Most of the main vampires wear perfectly modern clothing. In fact the first view we get of Godric, known to be about 2,000 years old, he's wearing sweatpants and a simple shirt.
    • They also dress to fit in, if they are trying to infiltrate an organization, such as Godric and Eric dressing as SS officers during World War II when looking for werewolves.
    • On the other hand, Russell Edgington, who is 3000 years old, prefers to dress in an old-fashioned manner at home... and then go out to meet his werewolves in a leather jacket.
  • The American version of Being Human has the vampire Elders who prefer to live among the Amish and dress as the Amish do. However, the Elders are 1000+ years old so for them that is already modern clothing.

     Film 
  • As the page quote suggests, many vampires in the film Queen of the Damned are wearing outfits that look like the Society for Creative Anachronism's best efforts, from the bizarre pseudo-belly dancer chic Pandora dons in the background to Akasha's interpretation of prehistoric Egyptian royalty's clothing. It partly makes sense with some of them, as a deleted scene shows them being woken up from who-knows-how-long slumber by Lestat's song. Like everything else in the movie, this doesn't match the book. This is lampshaded by Lestat (who is dressed as a rock-star) when he sees Marius wearing the same red velvet outfit as he did centuries ago, when he asks him how he managed to slip unnoticed through the past several decades wearing that.
  • Played with in the 1980s comedy Once Bitten. The Countess and her Dragon have a modern fashion sense, since the Countess needs fresh virgin blood every year to maintain her youth and beauty. So they are often out-and-about. But, many of the Countess's lesser vampires are stay-at-homes who still dress in their period appropriate attire (we see one wearing a Civil War-era uniform).
  • Though the 2001 film The Breed is set in a dystopic Not So Distant Future, many characters dress in stereotypical 50s detective noir get-ups. (Though to be fair, this is not limited solely to the vampires.)
  • The 1990 film Sundown: The Vampire In Retreat takes this to an almost ridiculous extreme, where every vampire in the town is wearing clothes from when they were human, ranging from the villain Jefferson's Mayflower getup to the Old West hats and long coats sported by about a third of the cast.
  • Averted in Lair Of The White Worm. Lady Marsh is very fashionable and chic.
  • Averted in Underworld, where most vampires wear up-to-date clothing, even for a formal occasion. Amelia's outfit, for example, wouldn't be out-of-place at the Academy Awards. Then you have Victor, but he can be forgiven, as he has just been woken up after a century-long slumber, and he didn't get his normal update on all events of the past century (he also brings his sword into a gunfight and actually manages to use it). The decadent vampires dress for a party, while the Death Dealers and Kraven's goons prefer leather.
  • In We Are the Night, Charlotte and Nora, who were a 1920s silent movie actress and a 1990s party girl, respectively, before they were turned, wear clothing and hairstyles matching those eras. However, this is averted with Louise, who is over 200 years old but wears modern fashions.
  • Clara & Eleanor from Byzantium dress in clothes that appear to be from the late 70s, early 80s. This may have been the last time they had money to purchase clothes.

     Literature 
  • This trope is something of a recurring theme in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novels.
  • Mercy Thompson has met vampires who only do this for formal events. They dress in appropriate contemporary style the rest of the time, but in a formal setting wearing clothing appropriate to their native timeframe is a visual indication of how old they are, and therefore how powerful they may be as well.
  • The Kitty Norville series has vampires who go either route. Some dress contemporary, some dress affected to their timeframe. One dresses like an old time cowboy.
  • The Hollows has vampires who mainly dress contemporary rather than anachronistically.
  • In The Dresden Files most of the Red Court of vampires dress in contemporary clothing, although they do have ancient Mayincatec outfits for ceremonial occasions. The White Court frequently dress in the height of fashion, or at least what will be the height of fashion in a month, but appear particularly fond of catsuits. The Black Court isn't well represented, but the sole prominent member seen, Mavra, does tend towards ancient styles of dress. Seeing as she's also unmistakably a walking corpse, and can become invisible, there's not much point in keeping up to date. At one point Harry notices that her centuries out of date clothing is machine made, so presumably she just likes the style.
  • Justified in The Vampire Chronicles, where Lestat explains that if vampires don't wear the clothing from the time period in which they were mortal, then they like to wear clothing that resembles such apparel; it's explained (in so many words) as psychologically comforting for the vampire. Lestat also claims that it's an excellent way to gauge a vampire's age; given that this is very much a Stronger with Age world, it can help give another vampire a way to gauge the danger (i.e, if a vampire consistently wears clothing appropriate for Colonial or Elizabethan times or earlier, it's time to run).
  • Played Straight in Team Human, where the vampires like to dress the way people did before they were turned.
  • Averted in, of all vampire novels, Dracula, where the eponymous Count's attempts to prepare himself for his move to England explicitly include acquiring clothes in the latest fashionable English style he can get his hands on in order to blend in better.

     Tabletop Games 
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade, this trope is in effect in Elysiums (places where vampires can gather and socialize). When they are, well, masquerading, they are pretty keen about not standing out.
    • The physical appearance of vampires in V:tM is unchanging from the time they turned. This includes hairstyles— their hair will not grow, but it also cannot be cut, nor can it be dyed. Tough luck if you had one of the more epic examples of '80s Hair when turned...
      • Well, technically you can get a haircut and dye your hair and such. It's just that by the next night they will have restored to the situation they were in before anyway. This in itself comes in handy to cover your tracks, since nobody will assume that that guy over there with a full beard and long hair is very same person as the skinhead who wrecked your store yesterday.
    • There's mention in one book of a hunter taking his apprentice into a bar and asking her to find the vampire. She pointed to the guy in 1800s attire. She was right.

     Video Games 
  • The higher ranking "New Shadows" faction in the game Champions Online tend to dress in eighteenth century clothes. The mooks dress in torn rags, and the Big Bad of the faction wears armor similar to, but sufficently different from, the armor worn by Vlad Dracul during the back story of Bram Stoker's Dracula. And still wears it in a modern day New Orlea ... err, Vibora Bay, that is.


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