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Wanna spruce up the look of your fantasy/RPG character? Just add an extra belt, preferably one with a nice, big buckle. What? Your character already has one? Just add another, draped casually across their hips! While you're at it, wrap two or three of them around their shin, and another four over their sleeves. Oh, and we can't forget two more making a big X on their chest... So what if they're not attached to anything? Decorate the belts with Power Crystals or Spikes of Villainy, and now even the skimpiest Spy Catsuit can be stronger than plate mail! Maybe they keep your guts from spilling out or something.
You're done! Well... maybe just one more...
Many characters in fantasy, steampunk, anime and even a few sci-fi settings will sport more belts than they really need. Either they were having a clearance sale at JCPenney or they have some weird obsession with belts that borders on the fetishistic, especially when they don't even need a belt where it is, or even use it to carry things, and wear one anyway. One of the last places you will often see these people wearing a belt is tight around their waist.
This also goes well for zippers - zippers on your shirt, on your sleeves, on your pants, on your coat, on your hat...
This is extremely common in Japan in Real Life, hence its appearance in so many works of fiction that come out of there. This is also a trend in certain fashion subcultures in the West, though not as prominent.
Compare Goggles Do Nothing, Rummage Sale Reject, Impossibly Cool Clothes, and Chained by Fashion. Often overlaps with Fashionable Asymmetry. If the belts are shown to serve an actual purpose besides holding up the wearer's trousers and/or looking cool, see Utility Belt. A subtrope of Useless Accessory.
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Anime and Manga
Digimon tends toward this. Some of them don't wear anything else... and not always as clothes...
Under his overcoat, Trigun's Vash the Stampede's outfit is 100% belts. There actually might be a decent reason for it though, considering how torn up Vash tends to get in fights, if it helps keep wounds closed...
Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh! wears a multi-belted shirt during Duelist Kingdom. After that arc, he changes to a black sleeveless shirt, but he keeps the two belts around the cuffs of his jacket and the one around his neck, while adding another belt around his waist. Kaiba dons eight belts, two on each of his arms and legs, from the second season on, in addition to the normal belt on his pants.
Liru the werewolf in Magical Pokaan has but a single belt across her chest that services as a top.
Maka from Soul Eater wears belts quite often. On her shoes.
Hiei of YuYu Hakusho has four thin white belts underneath his cloak on his standard outfit. Not as many as some others, but just enough to let you know he's a Noble DemonBadass. He later stopped doing this, probably because it took an hour to go to the bathroom.
Compared to others, the Barrier Jacket of Lyrical Nanoha's Fate didn't have too many belts when she was a kid. After all, it only had one red belt slung on her hips, another two around her chest, another one on her arm, and another one around her neck. The first Reinforce, on the other hand, had red belts all over her legs and one arm.
Mizore in Rosario + Vampire has a couple of garter belts which connect her waist to...nothing whatsoever.
Lady Emmaniel's outfit in My Balls is all belts, including one big one with a hook clasp occasionally managing to stay fastened across her chest. Strategically placed shadows manage to provide whatever modesty she feels she needs to keep; Barbie Doll Anatomy and censorship take care of the rest.
Golden Darkness from To Love-Ru has five belts wrapped around each leg that do not seem to serve any actual purpose beyond... well, making you stare at her legs. Yeah, it's that kind of series.
Naruto's Sasuke came back from his training for the Chunin Exam finals wearing a black outfit with belts around his left arm and both legs. This trope was actually cited as a reason for him returning to the blue outfit he started with at the beginning of the series—the belts were difficult to draw and animate on a regular basis.
Superboy used to love belts. He wore a couple of them over his skin-tight one-piece outfit. They didn't hold anything up, they didn't even have pouches on them. They were just there because otherwise the outfit wouldn't be belty enough.
He also had a belt round one leg, for some reason.
Considering his characterization in those early days, he probably just thought they looked cool.
A hallucination sequence in X-Men had Cyclops wearing a variant of his 90s costume. Only with even more belts than it had originally - tons, most of them with X-symbols attached somewhere. Oh, and a tutu.
Penance - the Generation X character, not Bleedball - has an outfit made almost entirely of belts. They might be a part of the body itself, given its origin.
Hellraiser - The Cenobites often employ this trope for their outfits in every installment of the franchise (comics, etc.) save for the original novel, The Hellbound Heart.
X-Wing Series: Thin, brightly-colored loop belts are a staple of Adumari fashion, along with more, sturdier belts to hold their knives, blasters, and blastswords.
In the mid 70s a reader of TV Guide noticed that a cover illustration of Buddy Ebsen as Barnaby Jones had the detective (one would think mistakenly) drawn with both a belt and suspenders. As they wrote in a letter to the editor pointing out the error - 'How can I trust this man to catch a crook if he can't even trust his suspenders to keep his pants up?'
Every season of Super Sentai and Power Rangers have belts on their spandex suits (which obviously aren't going anywhere). While the single waist belt is justified as holding a sidearm holster, sometimes they keep going with it, like in Engine Sentai Go-Onger/Power Rangers RPM, where the costumes (fitting into a racing theme) have seatbelts◊ on them.
A bit of fashion exists for two belts, shown in teen shows like Wizards of Waverly Place and Degrassi. The girl wears one belt on her pants in the usual manner, and a second belt over the midriff to adjust the flow of your shirt.
Much like the page image where she wore belts as her dress, one season of Project Runway had a challenge where the contestants had to make a dress out of car parts. One designer made a dress out of nothing but seat belts.
Rabbit, the clockwork robot of Steam Powered Giraffe, wears at least three visible belts. And as briefly seen in one of their music videos, there's more where those came from.
All of the members of D in their video for "Tightrope" wear quite a few useless belts, but Asagi stands out by wearing more than the other four members combined. That's a lot of belts. (Thirty-six, to be exact.)
Vocaloid: Luka has two belts, both worn at odd angles, as part of her Fashionable Asymmetry. Rin, Len, and Miku have purposeless belts hanging off their waists.
Dirty Sanchez in "F__king on the Dancefloor": "You're wearing too many belts, and I bet they leave welts".
Keiji Mutoh has been known to wear several belts as a suit of armor, one example of which can be found here.◊
At one point in his career (image on his page), Ultimo Dragon held the NJPW J-Crown (eight titles), NWA Middleweight, WAR Six-Man Tag, and WCW Cruiserweight belts. He's held (eleven) and actively defended (ten) more belts at once than any other professional wrestler, ever. (and considering the schedule that required, it is quite an accomplishment)
There's a popular Photoshop with Triple H holding every belt in WWE, as a shot at his inability to stay out of the spotlight.
Mike Quackenbush got to walk around this way in 2004, actively defending six belts from the USA, Mexico and Germany.
Shantelle Taylor has a set of ring gear that requires five belts to keep up and has two more around her boots just for show. She has variations on the gear that use buttons and such instead of belts too.
Hailey Hatred wore five different Japanese title belts she defended in 2011 while holding a sixth in her hands. The Japanese origin belts fell to four in 2012 but she picked up a USA belt and a joint Japan-Mexico belt in 2012, keeping the number at six.
It's mentioned in passing that he likes to be able to change it around; sorcerers tend to be on thechaoticaxis.
Also it can be an optimization trick to have a character that wears several of the magic item called the belt of battle to get extra actions, which avoids the usual magic item restrictions by being a charged item.
Anything Tetsuya Nomura has worked on is likely to invoke this. His work on Final Fantasy has the most belts, particularly Lulu who has a skirt composed entirely of them as you can see in the above picture. The outer dress is lovely and creative by itself, so it didn't really need the belt-dress. In an interview, Nomura explained Lulu's design by saying that he wanted to provide "a challenge" to the character model and CG departments: namely, having to reproduce the exact layer order of every belt worn. Of course, there's probably more to it than that, but who can really say? (Or maybe he really hated someone in the CG dept). Oh, and the animators got around the problem by showing Lulu from the waist-up in most of the CG scenes, and leaving her entirely and inexplicably out of others.
Squall, in Final Fantasy VIII, deserves special notice. Because while he already had a few excess belts around the time of Final Fantasy VIII, when he was the star, every subsequent game that features him seems to add more. Compare his first◊ design, to his later re-design in Kingdom Hearts as Leon◊, and finally his Dissidia: Final Fantasyupdate◊, which goes back to his original design and still finds room to throw some more belts on. One can only wonder how many more belts he could get if they do a sequel...
Nomura's touch is out in force in the characters of Final Fantasy Type-0, who seem to need 6 belt buckles to keep their shirts fashioned. The male uniform takes this a step further, with an actual belt and shoulder strap added.
According to this OPM article, Nomura has a tendency to dress like this in real life.
Haseo from .hack//GU has 52◊ belts spread across his body, making him more belt than outfit. Of course, this is the self-created Player Character in a MMORPG of a standard Japanese teenage male who wanted it to look "cool", so it might be (relatively) justified.
Etna◊ from Disgaea is an example. To wit, she has two belts on each boot, one on each arm, and four stitched to her skirt.
Guilty Gearloves its belts. Sol Badguy alone has at least 20 on his costume, and his rival, Ky Kiske, has around the same number. Also, every playable character except Justice, Anji and Baiken has at least 3 belts with them.
The Hero Rosalyn from Okage: Shadow King has only two belts... but one is on her head.
Mike Haggar of Final Fight does not seem to understand that belts go around one's waist. He wear but a single belt, its gigantic, and its slung over his chest like a suspender. He even wears pants to accommodate this.
In fact, Kratos' alternate outfit has so many that it became a fandom in-joke that he has a belt fetish. Since Kratos' belts in that outfit are quite clearly patterned after a basic Japanese bondage harness, that's probably canon.
Forcystus's undershirt is pretty much just a mass of belts (or belt-like straps, anyway).
Dante from Devil May Cry is has several belts on his vest and pants. The latter would appear to be a holster for his guns, but there's only the belts...
Trish has only one belt, but it does have two buckles. "Too many buckles"?
Castlevania: Judgment features characters from all across the Castlevania series. Unfortunately, they've all been given makeovers by Takeshi Obata, who decided that Dracula had two columns of golden nipples down his torso, Death was constructed out of discarded orthopedic braces, and the Belmonts were great big fans of belts. Oddly, the redesigned Alucard wears fewer belt buckles than he used to have.
Skies of Arcadia's lead character Vyse uses belts to hold his sleeves together (Justified, as they're Detached Sleeves). He's also got belts on his cuffs. Combined with the necessary belt on his waist, that brings him up to five. He also has two belts on his shoes, as does his friend Aika. Aika's evil doppelganger, Anita, has extra belts, one on each shoe and one on her thigh. Interestingly, Vyze's doppelganger Vize has less belts.
Hwoarang from Tekken games wears a lot of belts on his trouser legs in the primary outfit.
As a general rule, quarians in the Mass Effect series are fond of belts.
The asari from Mass Effect 3's multiplayer feature this, with several belts wrapped around their torsos (though ironically they don't have one around their waists) and belt-like straps running up and down their arms and legs.
Lulu'sCaptain Ersatz, Morrigan, also seems to favor a lower garment made entirely out of belts and leather strips.
Another example is Duncan, whose leather armor has six different belts, five of them around the waist. Must have been anxious to keep that skirt in place.
The Architect seems to wear pauldrons made entirely out of belts.
Hawke's signature armour, the Mantle of the Champion in Dragon Age II features several belts, buckles and leather strips throughout it's design, particularly the rogue version, which seems to be more belt than anything else.
The new Grey Warden uniforms introduced in Dragon Age II features multiple belts and fastenings, with the amount depending on each class' version.
While the characters in Spell Force generally don't do this, the woman on the loading screen is wearing several belts on her Stripperiffic battle bikini. Including a belt that could only be holding up her bikini bottom.
Trinity Universe's Recit invokes this, wearing several including one as a headband. His character trait does seem to be collecting things though.
Characters from Piltover fall into this trope with such consistency it's probably an In-Universe fashion trend. Both Vi and Jinx follow the same pattern. The latter (who wears very little else) even lampshades it.
"I'm wearing lots of belts! ...For no reason at all!"
Parodied in Cthulhu Saves the World - there is an enemy called Beltman who is seemingly entirely made out of belts.
Raynie◊, from RadiantHistoria wears a belt on her left thigh, on her waist, on her left arm, one holding her boobs, one strapping a turtle-neck, and lastly... a belt tying her ponytail.
Naal'suul Val'Beldrobbaen of Drowtales likes belts. They help her feel secure against inner demons, and ends up as a complete demon under the belts and close enough to normal above it... so it's not just a good luck charm thingy...
In early seasons of The Venture Bros., Henchman 21 refused to wear his utility belt because it made him "look fat." After the death of Henchman 24, even his boots have their own utility belts.
Truth In Television
Tanker Boots. Good idea for tankers, bad idea for infantrymen.
Historical sword belts and scabbards can often have multiple straps, loops and buckles for comfortable, efficient and non-obtrusive carry. The simplest functional western sword frogs and belts have at least three straps. A belt for more than one weapon would have at least five. Unfortunately, most modern artists and costumers have no idea what the belts are for, and it becomes belt city.
Gun belts, particularly the sort seen in media set in The Wild West, are a justified example: Holding a heavy revolver, a couple of dozen spare rounds and your trousers in place is a bit much for one belt to handle. Also, a revolver holster sat low on the hip, and a belt couldn't hang low enough to hold it and still be high enough to hold your pants up.
Peace officers routinely wear two belts: one to hold their pants up, plus a much heavier duty belt carrying their equipment and pistol. The two are typically fastened together with snap-loops.
Officers of the United States Marine Corps. are authorized to wear a Sam Browne belt (with included shoulder strap) to carry their sword for ceremonial use.
Some belts are specifically made to look as if they are two or three separate belts—or possibly even to be worn two at a time, due to being so thin. Also related: Wearing a necktie through your belt loops. That's obviously just for show.
The Metallic Power line of New Rock shoes definitely evokes this trope for most of the boots.
A kidney belt is a very, very thick belt worn to protect ones internal organs. Some models come with 3 smaller belts to properly fasten it.
Typical infantry battledress uniform includes at least one Utility Belt around the waist and a set of webbing straps across the chest, containing enough pouches to keep Rob Liefeld happy. Unlike most of his characters, however, said pouches actually serve a purpose.
A common complaint amongst infantrymen before current MOLLE-loop body armor came into common use was the overabundance of straps, loops and belts. It wouldn't have been highly unusual for a late 20th century light infantryman to be wearing 3-4 belts around his waist with several sets of shoulder/chest straps.
Some individual military personnel can get a bit carried away if allowed to bring privately-purchased gear along, as parodied here◊
Famous auteur directorTommy Wiseau, director of The Room is known to wear more than one belt (occasionally asking fans to count them at midnight showings). In Greg Sestero's book he says that Wiseau does it because 'it feels good' and 'keeps his ass up.'
English Puritans (including, famously, the Pilgrims) had their iconic buckled hats.