In Read or Die, Ms. Deep's leather catsuit with its impressively low-cut decolletage would be impossible to wear in the real world without its occupant violating local indecent exposure laws in those places that have them. (See Gainaxing, Theiss Titillation Theory.)
Likewise, cosplayers have noted that the miniskirt worn by Noir's Mireille Bouquet actually facilitates panty shots in real life, but is a rare instance in anime where the expected fanservicedoesn't occur.
Revolutionary Girl Utena: It is perfectly possible to fight in any of the uniforms worn by the duellists; they may not have been the sort of things you'd want to get dirty, but they would have been light and allowed plenty of movement. However, the fact that all student council members get unique uniforms, and that Utena, despite being an ordinary student, gets a unique uniform (lampshaded as Utena is scolded for wearing a "boy's uniform," though in fact her uniform doesn't look like any of the other boys', and by the fact that originally, Utena's uniform was bright pink), along with the magical manner in which Utena and Anthy's uniforms get pimped out for battle, still qualifies this manga and anime for this trope.
The uniforms worn by schoolgirls in many anime — Kare Kano comes specifically to mind — would be manifestly unsuitable for school in the real world, and some might even qualify as fetish wear.
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon proved that the Sailor Senshi's uniforms are just shy of feasible in their original forms. And Tuxedo Kamen's is eminently doable, except it makes him look like a dork.
Although this is mostly the hat's fault. Lose it, and he actually looks pretty cool.
Bloodberry's usual outfit in Saber Marionette J and its sequels includes two loops of rope which circle her shoulders at some distance, and simply can not be made to work (and look right) in the real world. (As seen in a brief clip of a live actress in a Bloodberry costume shown in the closing credits of Saber Marionette J To X.)
In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha the outfit one's Transformation Sequence produces is called a "Barrier Jacket" and is somewhat determined via the subconscious. As the series progresses, more and more barrier jackets are a pastiche of random pieces of medieval armor, capes, military uniforms, and exaggerated modern teenager apparel. Which actually makes sense, as later characters have more exposure to different cultures (Belka, Midchilda, and Earth) with those aspects. The military uniforms in the series, thankfully, are relatively plausible.
Ninja-esque Sango wears an incredibly intricate costume and makeup for Walking the Earth in feudal Japan. While time traveler Kagome can just pop up back to the 21st century for supplies, bathing, and clothing maintenance (and this has been commented on), Sango has no such resources.
Inuyasha himself has this in one of its simpler forms; while the clothing he wears is an eye-catching but simple red kimono, it never holds damage from one episode to the next. Barely an episode goes by when he isn't slashed, stabbed, burned, poisoned or impaled at least once during the episode, but as soon as he heals his kimono resets to its original state. While it is implied that his kimono's demonic nature is the reason for both its regenerative and armoring capacities, no such explanation is given for his undershirt, which has been vaporized during some of the more egregious fight scenes but always manages to return in the next episode. The kimono is woven from the fur of a Chinese fire rat. It's a reference to a legendary fireproof, indestructible garment from the Japanese Fairy Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.
Gundam SEED Destiny: In her guise as idol singer Lacus Clyne, impostor Meer Campbell wears a not-all-that-concealing skirt whose waistband seems to hover around her lower hips without actually touching her body. Come to think of it, how do either Lacus' or Meer's hair clips stay up?
For some reason, Ray, Joshua and Michael in GUN×SWORD all wear what looks like extremely stylized clerical attire throughout the series. Joshua, at least, changes his clothes on several occasions, but Ray and Michael never do. And the less said about Carmen99 and Priscilla's outfits the better. At least Van's tuxedo is justified (he's fixated on the day his bride was killed). The series also subverts it, though, with the Claw: he has an impossibly cool outfit (the spacesuit he wore when he left Earth), but he hates it and wears it only on formal occasions, preferring a work shirt and overalls.
There exist skin-tight "plug suits" in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Of note is the fact that only the male Evangelion pilots (Shinji, Touji, Kaworu) have breastplates. The girls' are mysteriously lacking, allowing the skintight plug suits to more effectively show off their "assets"; Asuka doesn't even have the "cleavage defibrillator", somewhat compensating for the fact that she lacks large breasts of the other females.
Halfway through Spriggan the protagonist Yu Ominae is given a skin-tight combat-suit woven from high-tech fibers and artificial muscles which augments his strength and protects him against bullets. It helps that he is a special agent for a powerful shadowy organization, Arcan.
Hinamori Amu from Shugo Chara! always wears daily clothes that, well, at the very least much more stylized than others. Somewhat subverted that it does take her time to put all of it on.
In Princess Tutu, Kraehe's bodice always stays in the exact right place without any straps.
Gankutsuou. I'm looking at you, Haydee's opera dress.
Also, in the original series, we see Nene suiting up. Inside the suit, her feet are flat. Basically, they're walking around on short stilts sculpted to look like high heels. The actresses who voiced them did some publicity shots in fibreglass mock-ups, and after a few minutes' adjustment, had no difficulty walking, running, and jumping.
There is also a valid engineering for the "ballet-boot" design of the feet, as it eliminates a structural weakness at the ankle and foot, while still remaining light. The AD Police's K-12 armour shows how much more heavier that area needs to be to deal with stresses on the ankle joint and foot extension. Arguably a case of Did The Research. However, that doesn't explain why it was split into the high-heel design and not just made as a single piece, which would have been even stronger still.
In the 2040 series it's at least mentioned that Sylia had significant input into the design, and she's a slightly unstable, bisexual fashion designer, explaining some of the out of place sexiness of the designs.
Ginko from Mushishi is an interesting case: by all means the clothes he wears are practical, believable, and something you might even be wearing yourself right now. So why is his wardrobe on this list? Because Mushishi is set in Feudal Japan, meaning that either Ginko has the unmentioned ability to predict fashion trends centuries before they actually occur, or the author's just screwing with us (She is).
The oneshot chapter that started Mushishi was intended to take place in the present. It was only when it won an award and the mangaka decided to expand on it that the setting changed to a feudal one. The original chapter was even included in the expanded version since it took place in a rural setting where the time period wasn't obviously apparent.
God in The Demon Ororon is a mild case. He is shirtless and wears a pair of jeans which are unbuttoned, unzippered and do not seem to have anything under them. The jeans never go past his hips even while standing. Justified in the fact that he's God, and can probably keep them up by sheer divine will.
The girls of Mahou Sensei Negima!, most noticeably during the School Festival arc, can be found wearing outfits so beyond plausible function — or possibility for that matter — that their design may very well have been based on the question "How many Fan-Service-y features can I cram into a single outfit per girl?".
At least the School Festival arc justifies it, as most of them are wearing costumes or cosplaying. Then we get to the Magic World, where everybody dresses like this...
And it seems to be confirmed that Setsuna's battle outfit is a maid uniform and cat ears.
Uryuu Ishida wears head-to-toe white when fighting. His clothing often shows dust and damage for the first few minutes after it happens, but inexplicably seems to regenerate itself until all-over marks become a single scuff on the shoulder. It seems that Quincy have an additional 'stay-white' power that applies to their costumes. He also manages to procure one of his costume's requisite capes from apparently nowhere when the original is ripped. This is lampshaded in a handful of places, as a few jokes and omakes will involve Uryu always bringing spares of his clothes in case they get damaged.
Bleach's chapter covers almost always feature one or more characters in very trendy clothing, to the point where they occasionally resemble professional fashion photography. Kubo Tite has said in an interview that after he finishes Bleach he wants to design clothes.
In what may be a subtle lampshading of this trope, the Fatimas of The Five Star Stories wear impossibly cool clothes that could never look right on a real woman's figure. This is because they don't have a real woman's figure. When we see them naked they look obviously inhuman, with exaggeratedly protruding joints, unnaturally long limbs & unhealthy-looking emaciated bodies. There are apparently very strict, Sharia-esque laws about how they can dress, probably because few people want to see that. The fact that they don't age still makes them quite popular with men, though.
Mamoru Nagano is so fond of this trope that even in his other works he tends to lapse into it. Just look at his entry on the Bling of War page...
xxxHOLiC: As many cosplayers have found out, replicating Yuuko's clothes in real life is no small feat. And that's without getting into the splash pages where the motifs on her kimonos somehow seep out into the background for dramatic effect. Then again, among CLAMP characters, sporting barely feasible outfits is the norm rather than the exception.
The titular Hell Girl, Enma Ai, takes the cake with a simple, traditional kimono... except the fabric is animated. And it glows.
Lelouch's ridiculously awesome Zero outfit in Code Geass, with that cape which practically qualifies as a Large Ham all by itself.
More so the R2 version; the original is simply a bodysuit, while the revised version is essentially a very elaborate three-piece suit.
In Naruto, Zabuza and Dosu tape up their mouths, jaws, and necks, yet still can speak clearly. Also Yoroi Akadou looks as though he holds the lenses of his sunglasses on his face by squinting really hard.
Sasuke's outfit change for the Chuunin Exams. So Impossibly Cool that Kishimoto found to be too elaborate to draw and scrapped it.
Killer Bee has similar "armless sunglasses" though the lenses are at least connected to each other.
Naruto's full Bijuu form deserves special mention, as a chakra coat forms around him.
Éclair from Kiddy Grade wears a dress which reveals her stomach through a cross-shaped opening—which never gets out of shape, no matter what acrobatics she pulls off.
Many of the supernatural types in Umineko no Naku Koro ni, especially the various Ms. Fanservice characters. Gaap, for instance, is a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen, and the Stakes have very weird overskirt things that have no rational reason for sticking out like that. On the other hand, they're, well, magic.
Saber from Fate/stay night can summon armor equal parts full-length medieval dress and overlapping plate-mail - anytime, anywhere. Dark Sakura gets an honorable mention for having clothes made of concentrated EVIL.
Futaba Aoi from Asobi ni Iku yo!! wears a battle suit so skintight she is literally shrinkwrapped into it.
While Yu-Gi-Oh! has quite a few examples, few stand out as much as Kaiba's amazing white trenchcoat that he dons early into the Battle City arc. It stands up in the back almost as if starched, but flows in the wind in a way that can only be this trope.
Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has a pair of sunglasses that seemingly float in front of his eyes, immune to the laws of gravity.
Gurren also has some awesome sunglasses, that can (apparently) split in two when thrown or in up to five pairs when needed to really, really impale another mecha to prevent it from running... All later versions of Gurren Lagann also wear glasses due to the Rule of Cool.
Ilena of Claymore wears an outfit consisting of what looks like plates of asymmetrical armor on one shoulder and one hip, three belts cover the other hip, with a tunic and thong-underwear-short things underneath. One arm has an arm-warmer with multiple belts on it, and she wears Thigh-High Bootswith more belts on them. Now, the clothing is one thing, but how she manages to put such an ensemble on is another matter entirely: SHE ONLY HAS ONE ARM! And no - she doesn't have anybody to help her.
Yolei and Cody in Digimon Adventure 02 have this whenever they went into the Digital World. They even lampshade it in episode 2.
Cody: Hey wait, I'm wearing different clothes. And they're pretty comfortable too.
Yolei: Hey, I'm dressed like I'm part of the cool crowd!
Green Lantern's costume is created by the ring out of energy - the comics say the black sections are ice cold, and the green almost burns.
The Unstable Molecules created by Reed Richards to allow the powers of the Fantastic Four to not burn away their clothes, or force them to go naked if they want to be invisible. They, of course, were what The Incredibles' Edna Mode was paying homage to in the first place. They were also used to explain why the X-Men and other spandex clad Marvelites were so hard to hurt: the unstable molecules used in their costumes were flexible under normal circumstances, but hardened to bulletproof levels when subjected to the appropriate stresses. A rare subversion of the Reed Richards Is Useless trope.
And surprisingly, close to Truth in Television. D3O is a material that is now available for a variety of sport clothes which flexes under normal use but hardens into armor under impact.
And continued to be used far into the future as well. Miguel O'Hara uses a UMF costume that he bought for the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico the year before as his Spider-Man costume.
In early episodes of the comic books, the artists shaded the "4" on each character's chest depending on the reader's view of the character.
Forge, of X-Men fame, is credited with making the costumes for the late-eighties X-teams.
Spoofed in Garfield, where Jon wears an outfit with "six gajillion zippers" in an attempt to appear macho and ends up rummaging through them for his keys at his doorstep (as Garfield notes, "This could take months!").
Spider-Man seems to openly oppose this trope in most of its formats, other than the movie. In the comics and the original animated series, Peter Parker was known to occasionally patch up his costume with needle and thread. In Ultimate Spider-Man Mary Jane makes and repairs his costume, and there have been several episodes where he's had to go in less than perfect versions of it due to fights with Mary Jane, or because he damaged it so much that she's not finished fixing it. In fact, the only time Spider-Man ever wore Impossibly Cool Clothes, they turned out to be a symbiote.
In one 1970s comic story, he lost his cowl and had to resort to stealing a copy from a costume shop, one that did not render his eyes blank white shapes but acted like a "real" mask would.
And in Germany when his suit was for some reason not there, Spider-Man was forced to rob a fancy dress shop. On the back it had a big blue circle and read "Die Spinne".
In Earth X, Peter Parker gave up being Spider-Man when his secret identity was revealed. When he goes back into action to rescue his daughter, he steals a store costume which has holes in the yellow eye-patches for vision and a rectangle with his name on it on the chest. It also fails to conceal his hefty stomach. His daughter has no such problem, as she's "wearing" the Venom symbiote.
Even in the movies, his ICC would get damaged during a fight, or he'd have to charge into battle without his mask on (or lose it during the fight).
The "Iron-Spider" suit. The suit itself was made by Tony Stark to supplement his powers, so had a bunch of sub-systems built in (to what looks like a completely spandex red suit with oddly flexible gold metal). And then there's the Waldoes, 3 robot arms resembling spider legs that pop out of his back to help him fight.
Spidey's also built specific suits for unique circumstances. The stealth suit could switch between invisibility and sound-cancelling, depending on the colour of the Tron Lines. Scarlet Spider later kept this suit for himself. He also made a bulletproof suit for fighting Massacre.
Doctor Strange's Cloak of Levitation has two hornlike projections on the collar which stand up by themselves (and of course the whole thing billows artistically as required). Without magic, it simply hangs on him, which looks as pathetic as it sounds.
Wild at Heart has Sailor Ripley's snakeskin jacket, which he lovingly treats as "a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom".
In "Donkeyskin" and its variants, the heroine tries to discourage the affections of her father or some other undesirable suitor by saying that she will marry only after he makes her a dress that shines like the sun, another like the moon, and a third one like the sky or stars — and her suitor somehow manages to give her all of them. The French film adaptation Peau d'Ane in particular uses special effects to make her dresses truly dazzling, especially the "sky" one that looks as if real-life skies and clouds are actually passing over the fabric. Many variants also have her ask for a cloak made of animals' furs and skins which is much less glamorous than the dresses but much more fit for a disguise.
Game Theory has a justified version with Jackets, magical constructs used as clothing. This allows for outfits that are quite literally impossible with mundane materials.
The Immortal Game has Twilight Sparkle's "God Slayer" uniform, a piece of the night sky turned into a uniform and fused with her body when she steps up fully into her role as Rebel Leader (Spike thinks it looks silly). It's designed to never come off, which brings some Fridge Logic with it, but that becomes a moot point when the uniform is incinerated by Twilight's transformation into an alicorn.
In The Infinite Loops, Twilight attempts to orchestrate Rarity's alicorn ascension by having Sapphire Shores commission fifty-two dresses from her, each unique and from a different material. After having exhausted the run of conventional and mundane materials, she gets... inventive, managing to stabilise water into a thin film and sewing it into a ballgown, then following up with a dress made from fire, then moving on to extruded sapphire, gold foil, diamond, condensed moonlight, solid magic... she is considering making the fifty-sixth out of alicorn wing feathers when Twilight points out that she's filled the order already, and - as she was about to use her own feathers - accomplished the ascension as well.
Parodied in The Incredibles with the character Edna Mode, costume designer for the superheroes (herself a parody of Real Life Hollywood costume designer Edith Head). The super-suits she designed could absorb tremendous levels of damage and stretch incredibly without significant tearing or abrasion (and yet it breathes like Egyptian cotton!). Also somewhat deconstructed, as it's shown that Edna stopped making her suits with capes ("NO CAPES!") because if they ever got caught on anything, since they're indestructible you'd be stuck to or sucked into such things as rockets, jet engines etc.
Films — Live-Action
Probably the first example of this was in a Soviet movie called Aelita, where a WHOLE PLANET dresses like this. Just see this! Its influence can still be seen on well known movies such as Flash Gordon or Metropolis.
Brandon Routh's costume in Superman Returns included padding that would be switched for each shot to create the best look for each pose. Routh's underpants required extensive trial-and-error to avoid emphasizing his wang.
They ended up having to use CGI to de-emphasize his package. Apparently, the dude is packing.
Batman was one of the earlier examples of this trope, although there were many superhero-based film serials in the 1940s who showed it as well. The difficulties inherent in creating an authentic-looking Bat-cowl that allows the actor to move his head and neck have plagued every film incarnation of the hero. The Begins reboot came pretty close.
Lampshaded in The Dark Knight, when Bruce specifically asks Lucius Fox to build him a Batsuit that allows him to turn his head. The Dark Knight was the first movie to include a cowl that allowed full range of head movements.
Batman's Rogues Gallery are generally kitted out in Impossibly Cool Clothes. If Batman really wants to track down all those supervillains, why doesn't he just start investigating Gotham City's tailors to see who's making all those question-mark leotards and three-piece purple suits?
In movies such as Batman, the bat-suit is often depicted as three or four easily donned pieces, while the costume is much harder to put on in real life. The continuity reboot Batman Begins had the bat-suit made out of three basic parts, but the sequel's contains one hundred and ten separate pieces. Even with Alfred's help, Bruce Wayne would take longer to get in the suit than he'd spend fighting crime in it.
According to Word of God, in Batman Returns Catwoman/Selina Kyle's costume had to be sewn onto Michelle Pfeiffer. For several scenes in which she performs backflips and cartwheels she has a costume without the six-inch Combat Stilettos, and the heels can be seen disappearing and reappearing. Also, all the squeaking had to be edited out.
A few of the dresses worn by Madonna's character in the film Dick Tracy are fairly sketchy.
Breathless: I was wondering what a girl had to do to get arrested around here. Tracy: Wearing that dress is a step in the right direction.
Costume designers for The Matrix apparently struggled to create the right clothing for Neo. They felt he should wear a leather trenchcoat like your standard Bad Ass Longcoat, but even garment-weight leather is too heavy and stiff to billow and flow the way they wanted. They had to settle for a dark silvery-gray cloth coat.
Contrasting with Batman, the 2008 Iron Man film demonstrates the hundreds, if not thousands, of parts to Tony Stark's armor being assembled around him to "suit up" in a breathtaking CGI sequence. Lampshaded when he's trying to get the damaged armor taken OFF.
Olivia Newton John had to be sewn into her famous leather pants from the end of Grease.
The brown Jedi robes in the Star Wars prequel movies were supposed to be made of wool, but they are also voluminous, and wool fabric is heavy. This prevented the robes from flapping in the wind properly during vehicle chase scenes. Most of the other costumes also qualify, even the stuff seen on screen for less than a second. Amidala and Leia's wardrobes are stuff of Costume Porn legend.
In Green Lantern, the title character's entire costume is done through CG, which gives it the appearance of him wearing a glowing, organic extension of his body— a literal second skin (and muscles) made of pure green energy.
TRON: Legacy went to great lengths to make the costumes almost never fold or crease to appear like a CGI texture brought to the real world.
Star Trek: Almost all of the Star Trek uniforms are the source of constant complaints. The miniskirts in the original would be horribly impractical outside the ship, and the sleeveless version in the reboot were horrifically cold on-set. Several characters in TNG developed back problems from the one-pieces, which were modified over the years to be more comfortable. The movies averted this, including the Starfleet "Monster Maroons"◊ used from The Wrath of Khan onwards, and the three-piece grey uniforms used starting in Star Trek: First Contact and the similar design in Star Trek: Enterprise. A massive upgrade compared to the ghastlyStarfleet pajamas in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which was the low point in the series.
Lampshaded in A Hat Full of Sky, when Tiffany visits a magical supply shop and expresses interest in a particular cloak, the "Zephyr". As the shopkeeper puts it, absolutely useless at keeping you warm or dry but looks fantastic in the slightest breeze.
And subverted with the Assassins. They wear black because it looks cool. Vetinari wears grey (or a dark nondescript green) because it doesn't show up in the dark, always useful when you're sneaking up to someone to kill them.
He'd rather not be cool than be cold.
Vetinari failed camouflage class because, as the instructor complained, "[He'd] never even seen Vetinari attend one of the lectures." Hmm.
The sky pirate outfits in The Edge Chronicles. You have breastplates, goggles, giant tricorn hats, gauges, levers, backpacks, wings, pouches, pockets, several magic charms (usually), and an insanely huge compass, all hanging off of a gigantic coat. And it looks awesome.
At the end of Starfighters of Adumar, Wes Janson gets a cape that is essentially a supremely-flexible flat-screen TV. Being the comic relief character that he is, he sets it to an image of a bunch of Jansons with their arms linked, kicking their legs like chorus dancers. Wedge Antilles wonders if he can find a way to space it on the flight home.
The live-action version of The Flash had to resort to (movie) Batman-style sculpted rubber, which didn't look nearly as good as it did on Burton's Batman. It was explained as being originally designed as a Soviet space-suit. The justification for using it was that normal clothes just ripped right off his body when he ran at top speed.
In the original Superman series, Superman's costume was, as a Seinfeld parody put it, "impervious to stain." It was never damaged, no matter how much of a beating he took. There have been a variety of pieces of Scotch Tape applied to this.
The current canon explanation is that Superman's invulnerability is a field effect that extends a fraction of an inch beyond his skin. It's protecting his suit, but not the cape. Which, you know, makes lots more sense than the Magic Spandex. On the rare times when his suit is also damaged, you know he's been taking a pounding.
In the original TV show of the early 50s, Ma Kent made the suit from the Kryptonian blankets little Kal-el was wrapped in when the Kents found him. Obviously, Kryptonian blankets are made of tough stuff.
As of the most recent retcon, this is again the current explanation. Young Clark had to help Ma sew the thing together with his heat vision.
And in the New 52 retcon, the suit is formal wear from Krypton that he takes from Brainiac's ship. It's even more impossibly cool due to its armored/paneled appearance, which looks a lot more difficult to get on than spandex.
Lois and Clark included a scene with Clark, early in his superhero career, calling his mother for advice on how to get a "bomb stain" out of his outfit.
Superman may have an Impermeability Field, but what about Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers? A hero in a Western series could take on six bad guys, duck a hail of bullets, fall off his horse, and roll 400 feet down a dusty hill. And when it came to his closeup, not only would his pure white suit be in perfect shape, but also his hat would still be on his head. I suppose Western stars had a Stunt Man Field.
Whether they're cool or not is a matter of opinion, but no self-respecting Canadian can hear "impossible clothes" without thinking of Hockey Night in Canada's Don Cherry. He once wore a checkered sportcoat that alternated between mauve & the color out of space...
Speaking of Canadians, how about the Red Serge that constable Benton Fraser wears in Due South?
"What, were you Scotchguarded at birth?!" -Ray
In 1960s Doctor Who, the actors playing the companions mostly had to wear their own clothes due to budget problems. This runs into implausibility when supposedly fifteen-year-old alien schoolgirl Susan, who is shown not to understand the way 1960s money works, and who cannot leave her time due to the fact that they would never be able to get back, dresses in head-to-toe Mary Quant.
Suzi Quatro once had to be sewn into her leather outfit for a Top of the Pops show.
AKB48 are definitely guilty of this. Pimped out schooluniforms for all 48 main members (and every single one is in some way individual) as well as a different costume for each song make the group into an extreme eyecatcher.
In its Spiritual Successor, The Party Zone, this is carried on by Captain B. Zarr and his entourage of female followers. The Captain wears a black flight jacket, aviator goggles, and white cowboy gloves, while the ladies wear tube tops, Painted-On Pants, go-go boots, fishbowl space helmets, and jet packs.
GURPS has the Costume advantage, which is immune to one's powers (a la Human Torch), and approximately all other powers as well, though not giving any sort of armor effect. There is also an add-some-color article sidebar in the Supers supplement that mentions something like "...modern superheroines need not resort to tape or the glue pot, thanks to modern elasto-polymers" or something like that.
Of course, it also has an optional set of rules covering Bulletproof Nudity.
Champions provided advantages for sufficiently cool costumes and penalties for lame ones.
Not exactly a costume, but has anyone tried to consider what a body would hide under that Impossibly Cool Armor of a Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine? Cosplayers never get the look right, because they couldn't: Astartes simply have different body proportions than normal humans. Fluff frequently lampshades this, describing marines out of armor not simply as giants, but as being positively deformed with their barrel chests, narrow waists, impossibly broad shoulders and longer limbs.
Wayne Reynolds' character designs for Pathfinder. His design philosophy seems to be "Design a fairly streamlined (if flowy) fantasy outfit with a bazillion individual pieces/panels/dangly bits, then slap about 14 more belts/streamers/pendants/dangly bits on it."
Ayn Rand's play Night of January 16th has a dress made by Bjorn Faulkner for Karen Andre that is so impossibly cool it cannot be shown, only described: a gown made out of sheer platinum mesh that she would wear on her naked body after it was heated in a fire.
The later Dynasty Warriors games. Lu Bu's armour from DW 6 onwards has reached a level of impossibility matched only by his absurd weapon... and that is to say nothing of the Super Mode costumes of the Strikeforce games.
And Kessen II takes it even further than that, with almost ludicrously gaudy outfits for everyone.
Sakura Kasugano from the Street Fighter series wears a school uniform which not only allows for frequent upskirt shots (because of which she has the sense to wear her gym shorts underneath), but exposes her midriff too.
The outfits for most fighting game characters could fill their own page. However, Chun-li's outfit deserves a mention as more traditional qipaos are a bit more restrictive.
Felicia and Morrigan of Darkstalkers, who have the excuse of them not actually being clothes (but rather fur and magically shaped bats, respectively).
Morrigan also has the excuse of being a succubus, so she has a reason to expose some flesh.
Forerunners in Halo wear a suit of armor for their entire lives, whether they're in the military or just some gardner. How awesome are they? It abolishes the need to sleep, has a dedicated AI, provides a link to the omnipresent store of their ancestors' memories, immortality, prevents disease, heals injuries, including radiation damage, allows users to survive in low-oxygen environments, can be covered in ceremonial gowns for festive occasions, can be fitted to theoretically any species, and can make you taller.
The Final Fantasy series has this all over the place: for instance, Fran in Final Fantasy XII, and Lulu in Final Fantasy X, who wears clothing that's impossible on several levels. Pointing out the unrealistically eclectic character designs in recent Final Fantasy games is a common joke on ImageBoards, often revolving around sticking unnecessary belts and zippers onto every article of clothing imaginable. Older games aren't exempt from odd design choices, either.
Lulu's dress not only makes no physical sense in terms of being made out of belts, but also there doesn't seem to be any way for it to stay up even if it had been made out of conventional material. Even with her assets, it rides so low on her chest it must be glued to it.
And God help the poor fanboy who tries to imitate Wakka's hair...
Yuna's Summoner outfit in X is a milder version of this: While it's fairly easy to make with sufficient skill, having to wear it is an entirely different matter. Her Detached Sleeves are notorious for causing cosplayers headaches, and her shirt in Real Life requires safety pins and lots of strategic stitching. Not even going to mention her obi, which needs to be right over her ribs for the proper effect.
Are we forgetting her wedding dress, which has a five-foot train trimmed and lined with hundreds of pure-white feathers?
Many of the summoners wear Impossibly Cool Clothes.
Dona◊ has strips of cloth attached with a several straps showing her undies. Yuna's dad, Braska◊ wears a heavy robe and an elaborate headdress in all environments.
Yunalesca is essentially wearing a wire coconut bra and, even more confounding, a double G-string.
Tidus wears overalls whose pant legs are different lengths. Attempts to recreate this fashionably in real life have failed.
Every outfit Penelo has worn is at least mildly impossible. The one from Final Fantasy XII basically requires being sewn into, and the later ones need double-sided tape to keep the pants up.
Rinoa wears shorts with garter straps that pull upward... over tights... under a skirt. It somehow manages to be provocative and prudish at the same time.
Lightning's miniskirt has curved zippers that zip down, which is not only impossible, but also raises questions regarding her chastity.
Hope is actually wearing a shawl and knickers. No one questions this.
Impossible, often, but that's at least justified by the fact that all the non-default outfits are magically applied by the dressspheres. No one ever has to make the outfit or even put it on in a normal fashion. Though this doesn't explain Nooj. Actually, nothing can explain that.
Advent Children? Cloud is wearing a sleeveless knit sweater and one-half a trenchcoat. Really. It's just a dismembered sleeve. Also his boots have 3 zippers each.
Don't forget the ridiculous BFG/BFS weapons, often larger than the people carrying them (but strangely invisible outside of battles).
Seriously: how the characters actually manage to use their often ridiculously-sized weapons without some serious wardrobe malfunctions happening is beyond the impossible.
BELTS AND ZIPPERS appeared only when Tetsuya Nomura became a main designer of a series. Back when the characters were still designed by Yoshitaka Amano their clothing was in general somewhat more subdued, but Amano drifted in the other direction. His designs were often so stylized that sometimes one has difficulty seeing people in them, not their clothes.
Or distinguishing between what parts are clothing and what parts are people.
Vanille's and Fang'straditional Gran Pulsian attire; the former's is a pink halter top, numerous belts, adornments, beads, and a skirt made of scraps of material covered by a bear pelt. The latter's is a black halter top, open-toed boot-sandle-things and a long piece of elaborately folded blue cloth, all held in place by a single belt at her waist.
Serah's outfit in Final Fantasy XIII-2, as well as all of the subsequent DLC bonus outfits. As well as Lightning's new silver armour and Noel's outfit (MC Hammer pants with more belts and adornments than Vanille).
Serah's default outfit is a headscratcher to begin with. For one, it has large circles cut out around the hips and we see quite clearly nothing but skin there. On the other hand, it's been stated (and visible with the Camera Upgrade in the game) that she wears black shorts underneath that tiny dress. How come they aren't visible around her hips?
Both sexes get this in the Kingdom Hearts games. Indeed, one of the most hilarious views in the game is Goofy, Donald Duck and (in the sequel) Mickey Mouse and Pete, in anime-style Impossibly Cool Clothes. Mickey, Donald and Goofy's are also based on their classic looks. And, hey, Donald has a zipper on his hat, yet it works, according to some, anyway.
There's just something about Donald's hat. In the first game, his Court Mage outfit includes a Wizard's hat with square spirals.
In the (relatively few) RPGs that actually show injury on your character, through blood and torn clothes, drinking a healing potion or using a medicine syringe will, for some reason, also repair your clothing. This is lampshaded in The Order of the Stick.
Clothing in the Devil May Cry series seems to boast a Healing Factor, as they appear to regenerate from wounds inflicted on their wearers. Some fans have taken issue with Capcom's laziness in not properly modeling the Clothing Damage.
In a cutscene where Lady opens fire on Dante, several of the bullets pass through his coat as he flips past them and he holds up his coat as he lands, annoyed at the holes in them. The holes are not present once gameplay resumes, though.
City of Heroes has almost no limit to the impossible costumes you can design for your characters. Alternatively a costume that looks relatively feasible on a male may look impossible on a female.
One of the more impossible 'possible' costumes is a highly revealing, skin-tight leather suit known as 'Leather buckles'. It is strapless and sleeveless, low-cut to show extra cleavage, uses the style known as 'backless', has several buckles and a zip up the front, but laces up at the back like a corset. Its matching pants are similarly skintight with buckles on the outsides of the legs and laces up at the buttocks in a similar fashion to the top. It is possible to wear only if ones special powers include attaching clothes with a nailgun.
Snake's Sneaking Suit from Metal Gear is very form-fitting without any wrinkles or bends and seems to do an impossible amount of tricks, such as protecting him from the cold despite its presumably thin material, reducing the damage he gets, and helping him to hide in plain sight. More here.
Sniper Wolf's Absolute Cleavage fatigues look fantastic, but why on Earth did she think dressing like that in Alaska was appropriate? Consider that the low temperature forms relevant obstacles throughout the story - for instance, Snake had to be injected with special proteins in the Briefing sequence to protect him from frostbite, one door is inaccessible because it is frozen shut, Snake's Rations will freeze if he doesn't have them equipped while outside... Vulcan Raven is underdressed for the weather, too, but it's explained as his special power. Sniper Wolf has no excuse.
Similarly, Sam Fisher's suits in Splinter Cell have embedded light sensors and embedded sound sensors. According to the fluff, they come with heat regulators and an onboard water supply sufficient unto 12 hours, as well as a kevlar weave. This weave only helps deflect bullets at long range, and since enemies in the games are usually in spitting distance, it doesn't do much good.
Tekken. Go on, try to last in a serious fight wearing Christie Monteiro's clothes without flashing someone. Double-dog dare you.
Ada Wong wears an ankle length evening dress while fighting hordes of zombies in Resident Evil 4. It's never addressed exactly why she does this, though.
The entire Resident Evil series features characters in clothing that, taken as individual articles look contemporary and realistic enough, but the combined effect somehow looks distinctive enough to be a costume. The second movie also borrowed this feature. Impossibly cool.
Claire Redfield is guilty of this as well. In Resident Evil 2, she comes in Raccoon City on a motorcycle, but is just wearing cutoff jean shorts, gloves, and some spanex onesie underneath. No motorcylist would ever do that, unless they didn't mind some serious windburn. But on the otherhand, running from zombies would be very difficult in full leather...
In Apollo Justice the TREADS of Klavier Gavin's shoes have his band's logo on them!
Pretty much anything made by Satoshi Urushihara for Growlanser and Langrisser. Doubly for anything the females wear.
A good number of characters from Xenosaga are quite guilty of this trope.
Specifically KOS-MOS and T-elos. Making the outfit for cosplay is hard enough, but wearing it is virtually impossible, whether it's due to a certain level of modesty or the sheer number of pieces to each outfit.
How does MOMO even keep her dress down?
Although live-action, the Command & Conquer series of games provide a good example, with high-ranking military personnel, as well as being young, well-endowed models, progressively wearing less and less over the course of the games. They begin with what looks something like real uniforms, until Red Alert 3 where they all look like they're in costumes left over from a porno.
Considering who plays Tanya, that may not be too far from the truth.
They kept this, at great difficulty and expense, when the game went 3D.
Played completely straight in No More Heroes (of all things). All the characters have the most ridiculously awesome outfits, but the shining example is Travis himself, who goes to a store that sells only Impossibly Cool Clothes.
A contest was held for No More Heroes 2, in which fans may design their own shirt for Travis to wear in the game.
Karin in Shadow Hearts: Covenant. Swordfighting in high heels and a microskirt that doesn't actually reach all the way around her waist. And some of her skills require her to jump in that getup. She basically floats up off the ground, because there's no way she'd be able to actually do that. And then there's the Dating Costume, which is basically a few threads held together by sheer willpower.
Human armors in Mass Effect are certainly very... form-fitting. Of all the technologies seen in the game, bulletproof spandex may be one of the most impressive.
Asari Justicar Samara has a v-neck body suit that accentuates her curves, though impractical in combat, it is thoroughly pleasing to the eye. Considering the reliance on personal shields, perhaps she can afford to wear something a little more comfortable.
And that's just the outfits made by the developers. Thanks to a healthy and active modding community the list of Impossibly Cool Clothes ranges from ninja suits to barely-there bikinis...that still have a higher armor rating than the best default armor in the game.
A few "Tales" characters are guilty of this.Tales of Legendia seems to be one of the worse offenders. To start of, the main character Senel's top is not only skin tight but has strange mechanics attached to it. Makes one wonder how exactly he puts them on, and how they STAY on.
Norma's full outfit looks like it would take some effort to put on. In addition, there are Moses's pants. Good lord, his pants.
Yuri Lowell◊ from Tales of Vesperia generally has one of the series' simpler character designs, barring a pair of knee-length boots which are open at the front and don't appear to have any laces. They pretty much defy the laws of gravity by even staying up. One possible explanation is that they are actually buttoned onto his pants, which makes them less impossible, but still really, really silly.
At least somewhat averted in StarCraft II - Space Marine suits are constructed around the marine. They also consciously break away from just scaling up everything around the marine to achieve bigger body height: A marine's hands are actually in the forearms of his armour and move the suit's hands by feedback. They still seem to work pretty fine with regards to manual dexterity as experienced users like Tychus can for example hold a cigar for smoking without either dropping or crushing it.
An interesting analysis here. tl;dr: Torso too narrow, arms too long, thighs too small, hips too wide. But it's not as bad as most fiction mech suits, like the one in the article picture above for instance.
Of course, since its made by the same people as Guilty Gear, BlazBlue is equally frustrating to do.
Amane Kuzuryu and the other Shomonkai in Devil Survivor are almost impossible to cosplay. Why? Because the Shomonkai robes' sleeves are linked by a continuous loop that goes between their legs and should be tripping Amane every other step.
Iori, prior to XII, would wear pants that have a strap that binds both legs. Why anyone would fight with an intentional handicap like that is his business (he even does a nearly straight-up kick with no difficulty).
Dead Space 2 features protective suits that you need a 'magical' changing cupboard to get in and out of and helmets that assemble/reassemble at the touch of a button .
Everyone in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is like this, especially compared to other games in the series where everyone just wears school uniforms. Ulala and Katsuya's outfits are modified versions of normal outfits, Tatsuya and Baofu's are normal outfits in bright colours, and Maya's outfit is particularly nice.
The girls of Gensokyo. Only a few of the outfits can be considered practical - And they tend to be part of the occupation (For example, Reimu, Sanae and Sakuya. And even then they're not the most practical in a series where almost everyone flies.) The most impossibly cool must be Iku's shawl... thing that she can use as a whip or drill and Utsuho's cape, which in Hisoutensoku has an individually scrolling galaxy pattern on it.
Ghirahim from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword wears a peculiar skintight outfit with diamond-shaped cutouts all over it exposing his skin, a belt with a huge gem on it and a red robe that teleports away when he's ready for combat. The only other villain whose clothes come as close to Ghirahim's in terms of Impossible Coolness are Veran's; all the other villains have much more practical robes and/or armor.
The Assassin robes in Assassin's Creed, particularly the Master Assassin version. Not only does the hood remain permanently rigid (the next time an Assassin's hood is pulled off by accident will be the first time), but the bottom of the robes are usually long enough that they should be a hindrance in combat and whilst free-running. Of course, this could all just be an abstraction of the Animus.
In Asura's Wrath almost everybody who wears more than just trousers qualifies to this trope. Insanely elaborate robes and armour are commonplace for many warriors. Maybe justified by the fact that they are Demigods and Gods. Probably the most common feature is a large, artificial halo that hangs in the air behind their heads.
S4 League features this due to the 'stylish' nature of the game. Every outfit consists of regular clothes designed in extravagant ways that they simply look awesome or cool, special mention goes to sets designed by panamaman where a simple set of pants and shirt manage to look cool.◊
Haunting Ground: Daniella's uniform is complex enough for anyone, but Fiona's default outfit takes the cake. The dress' composition is already complex, but then one gets into the overly complex lacy patterns and stitching on the lower half and her boots...
They doubled as Fetish Fuel. They really are impossibly cool clothes!
In FreefallWord of God mentioned that Florence could wear clothing that attaches to her fur, and would be impossible on humans without assistance. Florance herself hasn't realized this.
Loserz one of the main characters has a Star Wars hat that changes its lettering when its on his head, but as soon as the hat is off it goes back to being a regular Star Wars hat.
Foil's scarf from Indefensible Positions never has anything happen to it, until he gets his real one (it's complicated) when it disintegrates. His real one becomes impossibly cool as soon as he puts it on.
Just outside Whateley Academy, in the Whateley Universe, Cecilia Rogers has a clothing boutique where she makes supersuits for the students... and also for big-name superheroes. She uses special fabrics and has a superpower over fabric, so the outfits she makes can be (mostly) bulletproof, acid- and stain-resistant, knife-resistant, etc. And she repairs them too. She also tailors school uniforms for the impossibly cool who have to meet school rules.
Alternately, for people with special needs. Such as werewolves. Who can't change back.
New York Magician's Michel sure likes his Burberry (later London Fog) coat, which is resistant to harm.
The fashion brand Demobaza also comes interestingly close to this, with most of their designs resembling something you'd see in a JRPG or futuristic setting.
In Real Life, many famous actresses on such special events as awards nights, opening nights for movies, and so on, wear dresses that they literally need to be sewn into.
One country singer successfully sued the IRS for the right to declare her stage clothes as being business expenses by pointing out that they couldn't be for personal use since she couldn't sit down in them.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand had to be sewn into his ceremonial uniforms. He was wearing one such outfit in Sarajevo on June 26, 1914, and some historians believe that getting him out of his uniform for treatment may have contributed in some fashion to his death, and therefore, to the events that occurred because of it.