When a female character's costume doesn't include underclothes; bra, panties, or both, are noticeably AWOL. This can be more or less obvious, but still, nothing quite shows. The outer clothing may be made from a translucent material (with strategically placed lace or tape for modesty), feature a window to show off some Absolute Cleavage or Underboobs, or may be something backless, but whatever the case, the outside costume is all that the person is wearing. If she's wearing any underclothes at all, they must be made of air — or, should we say, Vapor Wear.
Of course this is often Truth in Television; perhaps as a way of being daring, flaunting convention, or just being comfortable. During the 1970's the look was even a part of mainstream fashion. And, despite what a lot of people tell you, there may actually be good reason to avoid supporting parts of the human body — see for example this preliminary study.
Vapor Wear is the default dress code for The Vamp and the Femme Fatale, whose personality traits match up well with the ability to waste no time removing her knickers, and who (if seen in something less vampy) will specifically mention the lack of underwear, which can present even an ordinary outfit as something interesting or unusual. As such, it is frequently a significant factor in the Theiss Titillation Theory.
A similar rule applies to succubi, the female Horny Devils (with the exception of one popular succubus who tends to avert or even invert this trope).
This trope can also apply to male characters, but rarely does, because nipple nubs tend to be more socially acceptable than a certain bulge. If something should be there but isn't, it's probably thanks to Barbie Doll Anatomy (common in most forms of animation), as well as a sign you might be overthinking things.
The trope is common in Science Fiction and Fantasy, regardles of the medium. Some possible reasons for this:
It may feel jarring if characters in the far future, in a galaxy far, far away, wear totally mundane 21st-century underwear under their outlandish Space Clothes. Instead of inventing equally outlandish Space Underwear, it's easier just to dispense with it altogether.
The same reasoning applies to most fantasy settings as well (the obvious exception being Urban Fantasy).
Between about 1915 and 1985, the trend was for people to wear less (and scantier) undergarments for each year. Extrapolating that trend into the future naturally leads to this trope.
Since the 1990's the trope is quite commonly inverted, with people wearing skimpy or see-through clothing to show off the undergarments beneath. Interestingly enough, the effect is more or less the same as playing the trope straight: titillation by showing what is not supposed to be seen.
Not to be confused with Censor Steam or Vapor Ware, nor with the similarly named Real Life clothing company that, alas, bears absolutely no relation to this trope. For a more generalized version see Going Commando (which means just not wearing underwear, without necessarily being obvious about it).
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There was a commercial once showing a pretty girl standing on a busy street wearing a tartan skirt. She turns to the camera and says cheerfully: "No, I'm not wearing any." Referring, of course, to the famous vapor wear of the Scottish people.
That sounds very much like a commercial in which the girl says "Do you want to see what's under my kilt?" The ad was for tartan patterned sanitary napkins.
Anime and Manga
This is occasionally known as "itenai" (a shortened form of 履いてない: "haitenai", which means "not wearing") in Japan, especially when the question "is she or isn't she wearing them" is left deliberately ambiguous.
Mostly good guy version: Anko Mitarashi of Naruto wears only a jacket over a combination of fish net stocking and chain mail. (And a skirt.)
Kotoko-01 in Divergence Eve, in both seasons, she definitely dosen't wear panties underneath her piloting suits.
Technically speaking, Lust and at least some of the other homunculi are naked, because their "clothes" are really part of their body. This is shown when they're injured and their clothes regenerate with the rest of them.
Kalifa, Iceberg's secretary and an agent of the CP9.
Nico Robin is probably most guilty of this among the Straw Hat Pirates. Though the true masters of this trope are the Kuja Pirates. One in particular, Rindo, has the same unzipped leather jacket mentioned in the Tokko example below.
Subverted with Tashigi after the Time Skip. Due to a "Freaky Friday" Flip with Smoker, it looks like she doesn't wear a bra under her shirt because Smoker has a habit to wear his jackets openly and without an undershirt, that's why he has an Absolute Cleavage all time he spends in her body. However, a fan asked Word of God if she really doesn't wear a bra, so Oda asks Smoker if it's true. Smoker answered he ripped it off.
The girls of Ultimate Girls may fit this trope — seconds after expanding to 100 foot tall, their skintight spandex uniforms begin to disintegrate. This wouldn't be so bad, except said skintight spandex uniforms are all they are wearing. Not to worry, however, they use the feeling of humiliation at being seen naked by millions as a moe power source.
Some shots in Code Geass, especially the first R2 ED◊, strongly suggest that Kallengoes commando, though we do see that she does occasionally wear panties. Not a bra, though (at least, not all the time).
This is the entire basis for Hatsukoi Limited's side story. Soako, a Dojikko, was in such a hurry getting dressed that she forgot to put on her underwear. Hilarity ensues.
Yumiko in Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou has gone running around without panties twice. The first time was some unspecified number of years in the past where she threw them at a group of boys who were teasing her about it and then found herself on the run without them later. The second time, they were stolen by a daemon and she went running around without them.
Nowa from Queen's Blade, a forest elf, never wears any panties at all, to the surprise of Leina. She's totally comfortable with it, too.
Urabe Mikoto, from the Mysterious Girlfriend X manga, shares a sort of psychic "bond" with the male protagonist that lets them share emotions (and memories, to some extent) with one another by tasting each other's drool. For real. When some other guy asked her out, she tried to test it on him, but nothing happens. Then, she went with the protagonist (worried at the moment that she might actually switch to the other, "cooler" guy) and uses their bond, whereupon he immediately gets aroused without knowing why. Then, she pulls a pair of panties from her schoolbag, revealing that these were the ones she was going to use that day, and she was, in fact, wearing nothing under her uniform skirt. And it's not the weirdest thing she has done, either.
Mizuki from No Bra. Despite what the title may suggest, she seems to be the only one.
When Silcardo Jenezad obtains his disciple Bulu, it appears as if she wears nothing from the waist down except for the bottom section of a tunic. Once the inevitable Clothing Damage starts to pile up, we see her rear end is indeed completely bare.
Black Butler II: Episode 6 reveals that, underneath her usual maid outfit, Hannah doesn't wear underwear, only a corset and a see through slip. Probably a case of Go-Go Enslavement, though.
In SHUFFLE! (both the anime and the VN), Primula at first has no idea she's supposed to wear something under her shirt. Rin finds this out when the clothes get wet in Sexy Soaked Shirt fashion.
As Fairy Tail has gone on, it has become increasingly apparent that none of the women wear bras and that at least Erza and Juvia may not normally wear anything underneath their heavier clothing if Clothing Damage is any indication.
Yuka from Kemonozume never seems to wear a bra, but her breasts are small enough for her to get away with it.
Maicchingu Machiko Sensei has almost every Fanservice you can name. Whether or not she is wearing a bra varies from episode to episode. We can usually tell by the time her clothes are torn away.
Kureha from Tokko walks around bra-less and shirtless with only an unzipped leather jacket covering her. Sakura also doesn't appear to wear a bra under her tank-top.
Eriko from Dragon Crisis! goes bra-less sometimes - in particular, her dress from episode 6.
The Yuurei Shoujo from Gate Keepers 21 wears a transparent dress, scarf, and nothing else.
Ranma ½: Ranma Saotome, being a guy half the time, never wears bras when he's in his female form. All the male students at his high school love it, I assure you.
Saki Achiga-hen: Shizuno wears a (zipped) jacket, shoes, and nothing else. She's flat enough not to need a bra at least...
Saki in general has a strange tendency to have characters in very short skirts and to routinely show them at angles that logically should show a panty shot, but perhaps for reasons of modesty never actually shows any panties. The resulting implications are anything but modest.
Question Fairy, a Japanese animation created by the Japanese government to teach kindergarten children what they needed to bring to their first day of school. Some .... fans pointed out she can't possibly be wearing underwear. This is one of the reasons the Japanese government abandoned the project. See it here.
When the characters of Seitokai no Ichizon each attempt to write a novel about their "adventures", Ken simply writes a parade of Harem Genre tropes. This culminates in Mafuyu tripping, then admitting that she's not wearing panties.
In Gun Frontier, every time Sinunora loses her pink dress, she has no bra nor panties.
Empowered, the titular heroine of that series, is empowered by a super suit that gives her super strength and super toughness. She can't wear anything over the outfit because anything touching it kills its powers. She can't wear underwear under it, for the same reason, and since it is literally skin tight, even a thong looked horrible. The lack of...certain things being visible through the suit was dodged in book 3, and seemed to have become a running gag in the metatext pages at the end that they'll never actually tell us how Emp gets around that problem.
The Engineer from The Authority. Her "outfit" was created when her nanomachines came out and covered her skin. Earlier issues showed how form-fitting it was quite clearly. If, for whatever reason, her nanomachines malfunctioned, well, they get reabsorbed into her body leaving nothing behind. Picture of a cover with her on it here◊. The Engineer straight up admits to being an exhibitionist when challenged on why she doesn't wear anything over it.
At least one Marvel artist draws the Scarlet Witch in outfits that make it clear she can not be wearing any panties. Said artist stated Wanda goes commando, and insisted there is no canon artwork of her that shows her wearing panties.
Girl One, a police officer from Top 10, surprises her partner by revealing that she's not wearing a funky color-shifting outfit - she can change her pigmentation expertly at will and uses it to simulate the appearance of clothing while she's really naked. Later, she punches out her superior officer Ceasar without any warning, because she found out that dogs are color blind (he's an intelligent dog in a mecha suit — it's that kind of series) and, thus, he's seen her naked all the time without saying anything. It Makes Sense in Context when you realize the true horror of Girl One: She's not a nudist or exhibitionist. She's an artificial human created by 2 horny geeks based on video game heroine and fanservice tropes, who programmed her with a compulsion to never wear clothing but not an Innocent Fanservice Girl mentality. When asked by her partner why she doesn't wear clothes, she says she's more comfortable without, and it's not like anyone can tell the difference, but when she found out her boss was aware — no one else is outside of her partner — she assumed he was getting his jollies from looking at her. He explains later that he's a dog, and she's a human, and thus, she's about as interesting to him as a random poodle is to her. And then he married a human prostitute and adopted an Anubis-like Dog Headed Human girl. It's that kind of series. This is later subverted when Girl One dies, and her replacement, Girl Two, has an early and unfortunate run in with some would be rapists. Girl Two promptly begins dressing conservatively, and changes careers from cop to lawyer.
Gemini Storm has Elizabeth Rose, whose clothes are all strapless and we can see she doesn't wear a bra underneath. She does wear a thong, though.
The cleavage window in Power Girl's leotard is almost always drawn in a way that would make it impossible for her to be wearing a bra underneath. Although being a Kryptonian the functionality of a bra for her is questionable.
And sometimes even drawn so wide that it seems she has no nipples, either.
In The Intimates, Destra doesn't wear a bra — or, for that matter, a shirt. She's got a little sheer cape draped over her shoulders that barely covers her up (and is probably held in place by double-stick tape), but it's, you know, sheer. Her nipples don't seem to exist in the comic, but artist Giuseppe Camuncoli did a few sketches where they're plainly and completely visible.
Alana from Saga clearly has nothing under the poncho-like jacket she wears, but it's justified since she's nursing her newborn daughter and needs access at a moment's notice.
Sonya Savage from Danger Girl wears skintight snakeskin trousers with lacing up the side that reveals that she cannot be wearing anything under them.
The 1991 romantic comedy Career Opportunities was livened up somewhat by having busty Jennifer Connelly spend the whole movie wearing a white tank top with nothing underneath.
After an Extended Disarming sequence in the third movie while in Singapore, Swann is left wearing only a shirt. One of the fellow pirates, who is hiding under the floorboards, gets a peep up her dress and informs his friend. During the interval, however, Swann has moved forward, resulting in the other guy getting an eyeful of the privates of one of Sao Feng's male group.
Unlike Elizabeth's 'corset', this is a rare bit of authenticity: panties hadn't really been invented yet and very few women wore anything between their undersides and their clothes but a 'shift' (the garment Elizabeth spends most of the first film in).
She also confirmed that the gold bikini wasn't exactly good at covering anything. (In one interview, she said that Jabba's puppeteers were perverts and liked standing above and behind her for some reason).
Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. She was given panties in the DVD release, sorry to say, though she's still obviously going bra-less.
Comes up in Shock Treatment, when Janet's parents are upset by her new outfit.
Mr. Weis: She's practically naked in that thing! Janet: Well I can't wear anything under it, Daddy, it would spoil the lines.
The Mike Myers vehicle The Love Guru parodies the Real Life examples below with the titular Guru caught by the paparazzi getting out of a limo without underoos.
Avatar: there's an occasional glimpse of Neytiri's nipples because her "tops" tend to be nothing but a bunch of strings.
The actress playing Jabba the Hutt's dancing girl, Oola, in Return of the Jedi is wearing a costume that basically amounts to black fishnet and body paint. This is exceptionally visible when she is struggling against her chains, and visibly "falls out" for a split second.
Pretty much everything Milla Jovovich wears in The Fifth Element, much to her protector and acolytes' collective chagrin.
The very silly 1960's beach party movie The Girl in the Invisible Bikini. Yes, the bikini was invisible, but everything the bikini covered was invisible too.
In Sex And The City 2, Charlotte's nanny, Erin (Alice Eve), never wears a bra, making Charlotte jealous.
The alternate title of the 1968 British-French film The Girl on a Motorcycle is Naked Under Leather.
Faith's chain-link concert dress in Strange Days. Very clearly not wearing a bra. Barely wearing a dress.
In Fritz the Cat, Bertha and Harriet both wear no underwear and short skirts that ride up in the back, so their butts are basically visible all the time. Oh, and Harriet's breasts are hanging out of her top during the entire first scene she appears in.
In the 1999 The Mummy, Imhotep's lover appears to be wearing a long gown when she secretly meets him - but then he touches her shoulder, smearing the body paint which is all she has on.
In The Little Devil, Nina doesn't wear panties under her dress. Not only that, she lifts it up, due to the summer heat as she says. The viewer doesn't see anything, though, as they only see her either from behind or from the waist up, but little devil Giuditta (and everyone else around him) does. In fact, Nina was sent from Hell to seduce Giuditta and take him back home.
The female residents of the City in Logan's Run wore costumes that were little impractical whisps of nothing. The costuming department reportedly had to sew these garments together around the women, as they had no buttons or zippers.
In Philip Kerr's SF novel The Second Angel, a woman named Veronica (a major character) wears a long lambskin coat, but no underwear, even though the Earth has become arctic, due to the melting of the icecaps. This takes Fanservice to the point of near suicide.
The female Big Bads in The Wheel of Time are partial to wearing gowns of "streith", which is basically mood cloth. Under certain conditions, it becomes transparent or smoky, showing that they don't bother with underwear, and making this "vapor wear" of the most literal variety.
Kiss Me, Deadly opens with Private DetectiveMike Hammer picking up a female hitchhiker in a belted trenchcoat. He doesn't realise she's got nothing else on until she slips his hand underneath it to encourage him to get her past a police roadblock.
Invoked and used for nefarious purposes in Turn Coat of The Dresden Files. Harry has just finished talking to another private investigator who has been tailing him. The other PI is a decent fella, so he backs off the case when Harry tells him lives are in danger if he keeps it up. However, he doesn't tell Harry who hired him because he's got integrity. He reports this to his apprentice, barely-legal Molly Carpenter, who decides to go ask him...but not before taking off her bra and cooling her chest for maximum effect. Poor guy never stood a chance.
Conversed in the book Dork Diaries by Nikki in her diary. She points out about the habit of some celebutante/actresses of 'continuously forgetting to wear their underwears'.
J.T. Edson's descriptions of his heroines often mention that it is clear that they are not wearing anything under their clothes. This is usually a sure sign their clothes are going to be shredded in a Catfight.
In the fourth Claudine book, Claudine and Anne (set around the 1900s), Anne is on holiday with someone who often wears very skimpy clothes. One day this friend comes down to the beach in a very decent, very opaque dress. Anne compliments on her on her modesty, and she explains that she had to wear something so opaque as she doesn't have a stitch of clothing on underneath.
Inverted in Eveless Eden by Marianne Wiggins. The protagonist is a foreign correspondent who meets his Love Interest (a photojournalist) when she's hauled in by two soldiers who insist on searching her, having seen her taking photographs of something she shouldn't. She refuses on the grounds that she's naked under her raincoat, but allows the protagonist to search her instead; he discovers she's wearing a vest that's loaded with cameras and film, but backs up her story.
Live Action TV
Sue Ellen Mischke, the Braless Wonder from the Seinfeld episode "The Caddy", is a subversion of sorts. When she was introduced, Elaine went of on a rant about how her old enemy from high school had never, ever worn a bra; in her first scene this is apparent to the viewer (but, to be fair, not too obvious). When Elaine gave Sue Ellen a bra as a gift, she started wearing it in place of actual clothing, causing whiplash and car crashes on the streets of New York.
Played for laughs in an episode of the prison-based Brit ComPorridge. When Fletcher's daughter, Ingrid, pays him a visit (in the open-plan visiting room), he is outraged that she's not wearing a bra and all the other prisoners can see it. Next time she visits, she puts a bra on, and just to make sure he knows it, she lifts up her t-shirt to demonstrate.
If Kelly Bundy ever wore a bra, she was certainly always very bouncy and pointy in spite of it.
Doctor Who embraced this trope whole-heartedly in its classic days. Professor Amelia Rumford in the story "The Stones of Blood" wore a silk blouse without a bra when the air was a bit chilly; companions Romana (especially the Lalla Ward incarnation), Tegan, Nyssa and Ace were seen bra-less more often than not.
30 Rock: Liz Lemon counseled her assistant Cerie about wearing revealing outfits and going braless at the office, despite protests from the male staff.
In an episode of Friends, Monica's decision not to wear a bra results in embarrassing consequences when she chooses to sing at Mike's piano bar and the stage lighting causes her breasts to become very visible to the cheering male audience. She thinks they like her singing.
Rachel never seems to wear one.
When Parker of Leveragechanges clothes in an elevator, she is notably not wearing a bra. Kind of weird if you think about it - she's on a job and must have known she'd have to change - but nobody's complaining.
About half the time the main cast of Charmed are on screen, they don't seem to be aware of the existence of bras.
In another episode, Eric and Kitty go to see a movie. We're treated to their Internal Monologue as they watch, and each one notes that the main female character isn't wearing a bra.
Brittany and Santana went on a date with Finn during the first season of Glee. Brittany later informed Sue that they tried everything to seduce him—Brittany, for example, didn't wear a bra. And asked management to turn up the air conditioning. Ahem.
Jaime Sommers in The Bionic Woman wears quite a lot of barely legal dresses with no bra, which, in reruns, are slightly startling to modern sensibilities.
Shamelessly employed on the Tremors series, when Rosalita taught a self-defense lesson to Burt's survival class, apparently without realizing her white T-shirt was soaking wet. Not that the guys in the class were complaining, mind you.
Let's not forget the slayer's own aversion to bras in seasons 3-5. note According to Sarah Michelle Gellar, she stopped wearing bras when she was made aware of the drinking game where you're supposed to take a shot every time you see Buffy's bra strap.
In Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen wears a flimsy silk dress that can barely pass off as clothing with nothing on underneath. Perhaps justified, as she was being displayed to her new husband, Khal Drogo.
Susan Sullivan in the pilot movie of The Incredible Hulk was wearing a see-through black shirt with twin breast pockets. While it would be difficult to say for certain while watching, the DVD commentary specifically states she was braless and the pockets were the only reason they got away with it.
Fiona Glenanne in Burn Notice is rarely seen with a bra and at times it's blatantly noticeable.
Frequently seen on Rome. Cleopatra in particular, with that transparent dress. Yikes.
The prime minister of Serbia, Ivica Dačić, once fell victim to a prank involving this trope, perpetrated by hidden camera show Nemoguća Misija (Mission Impossible). The show's producers invited the Prime Minister for an interview administered by a very attractive young woman in a very short minidress (who was in fact a glamour model). Shortly after the alleged interview began, the model/interviewer shifted her legs, revealing a distinct lack of underwear, in order to capture the Prime Minister's resulting downward glance and goofy grin on video. When the (censored) trailer hit the internet, the government instructed the show not to release the full episode.
When Penny on The Big Bang Theory slipped and dislocated her shoulder in her shower, she has Sheldon help her put on just a pair of shorts and a top, justified since she needs to get to the hospital as soon as possible. She insists that he help her with his eyes closed leading to:
Penny: Just help me get my arm in the sleeve.
(Penny's eyes go wide)
Penny: Is that my arm?
Sheldon: It doesn't feel like an arm.
Penny: Then, maybe you should let it go.
On a Spring 1994 episode of the French children's show Jacky Show, singer/actress Mallaury Nataf performed her song "Fleur Savage" while wearing a short dress with no panties, and, via a Marilyn Maneuver, flashed both sides, triggering a scandal.
In Space1999, Sandra suffers Clothing Damage that exposes her back - and the fact that she is naked under her uniform. Unfortunately, the effect is ruined by a continuity error: in the previous scene, you can clearly see the outlines of her bra and panties under her tight jumpsuit.
Trudy, one of the female detectives in Miami Vice, never wore a bra and usually wore tops that made this quite obvious. Didn't Miami P.D. have a dress code in the 80's?
Similarly, the women of Evel Knievel are shown wearing tight white "Evel Knievel" T-shirts that make their lack of undergarments clear. Crosses over with Sex Sells, as Real Life shirts were also available from Bally.
Farfalla, by Italian pinball maker Zaccaria, is infamous for the butterfly nymph on its backbox, who is wearing nothing but a very translucent gown.
The tight tops worn by the women of Truck Stop make it obvious they're not wearing any bras.
At WWF Capital Carnage, December 6, 1998, there was a mixed tag match with Sable and Christian defeating Jacqueline and Marc Mero. After the match, Jackie attacked referee Tim White and was sitting on his neck (he was standing) and punching away at him. Sable casually grabbed Jackie's shirt and pulled it right off of her, leaving her topless on camera.
Jazz defeated Jackie on on the April 7, 2002 Sunday Night Heat with a reverse rollup and a handful of tights, partially exposing Jackie's bare butt on camera.
The Swedish RPG Playelf has "clothing penalties" - anything above the base necessities will obstruct your movements and give penalties to everything. Armor is useless because any advantage gained is negated by all the penalties. There are some options, but for the most part, you're encouraged to dress like a Boris Valejo painting.
The Dark Elf Witch Elves in Warhammer practically wear anti-clothing and yet still have an armor save. This is considered by most players to be highly optimistic.
Same goes for 40k's Sisters of Battle repentia, who get a 4+ save despite wearing nothing but a few strips of cloth and parchment to cover their strategic area. For comparison, a flak vest gives a 5+ save. 4+ is equal to full-body carapace armor.
Uh, neither of the above is true currently. Witch Elves decidedly do not have an armor save and Repentia have no armor save, but have a 6+ Invulnerable (from Shield of Faith, representing their ability to shrug off injuries due to their incredible faith.
The Dark Eldar of Warhammer 40,000 field Wyches, evil space-elf gladiators who wear weapons, boots, and about a grand total of one square foot of black leather. Maybe two square feet for some of the guys.
The infamous black lace bodystocking worn by the late, great Anita Morris as "Carla" in the 1982 Broadway musical 9.
The models for female characters in the original Neverwinter Nights are set up so that they are always wearing underwear unless you have an item equipped in their armor slot, in which case the underwear disappears. Curious, given the presence of backless/excessive cleavage torso options for most armors.
A Dance with Rogues has dialogue options in which you can respond to Vico's insinuations about your panties with "What panties?"
In the leaked prototype for the 7th game, the CG pictures don't have the grainy filter applied yet and make it easy to see Lyn's bare right cheek under her dress.
In Awakening, we, of course, have Aversa, but there's also Tiki, whose entire dress is cut in a fashion that implies she might be going commando. Naga herself is not immune to this either, at least in regards to her upper torso, as all awakening artwork of her shows that area semi-exposed and she clearly isn't wearing a bra.
Morrigan deserves a special mention. Since her clothing is made up of servant bats that conform to her body and change appearance, literally everything she wears is Vapor Wear. Then again, she is a succubus...
Felicia the Catgirl also qualifies. The fur on her body is part of her body itself, and she has the ability to control where it even shows up at will (same with her ears, claws, and feet: she can turn them completely human at will). She is technically naked in every aspect. Even her ass is fully exposed, but sometimes gets censored just enough by various means during her attacks.
Particularly egregious because she actually puts a bra on for her sex scenes... And it covers more than her default outfit does.
In Tsukihime, apparently, Roa's favorite outfit when it was possessing Ciel in a previous incarnation was a partially open cloak. And only that.
Given how he (or would it be a she?) went around raping people (regardless of gender) before he killed them, his choice of clothing is really not all that shocking.
Chun Li and Cammy in Street Fighter IV have visible nipples during battles. They even pull a Gainax. Oddly, Chun Li is depicted with underwear nearly all the time, except during battle. Hmm.
Ibuki in Street Fighter III wears an outfit that leaves the sides of her hips and waist bare with a distinct lack of a waistband for anything underneath.
Gaia Online has the Laceback Skirt, a miniskirt that amounts to two squares of black leather and lacing up the sides (the name references the Laceback Bootsnakes you get the materials from in zOMG!). Admittedly, Gaia Online also has articles of clothing that amount to strategically-placed clouds, "Heart Pasties", and "Porn Stars", so this is nothing new.
NPC Sasha used to wear a short sarong so low on her hips that any underpants she was wearing would have been apparent. After the Art Shift, she's switched to jeans and a t-shirt. Post-Art ShiftRuby, on the other hand, clearly isn't wearing a bra under her new dress (for obvious reasons, since she now has angelic wings). This is a bit more alarming than the other examples since Ruby is A) quite stacked and B) the single mother of a young boy.
Numerous outfits for the female custom characters in Soulcalibur IV appear to be worn without underwear, complete with Absolute Cleavage. Of course, when Clothing Damage kicks in, a bra will spontaneously appear where there clearly wasn't one before.
I-no in the Guilty Gear series goes braless, in a top that realistically would show the goods to anyone she was fighting.
The Oracle in the first God of War has a see-through top and no bra (unlike most examples of Vapor Wear, her breasts are fully visible).
In Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, most of the women are decently clothed, though significantly bouncier than one would expect in armor. Catwoman, on the other hand, clearly isn't wearing a bra (and her catsuit is unzipped practically to her navel). Neither is Wonder Woman. As this is the skimpiest of Diana's outfits (completely backless leotard with a very high-V bottom), we can also say that she is probably not wearing anything under it, especially since thongs weren't invented in Ancient Greece.
Catwoman keeps the outfit, though slightly more zipped in Batman: Arkham City. Still obviously not wearing a bra though.
The heroine of Psychotoxic averts this in the actual game, but plays it straight in the box art. Her low-rider jeans clearly show she wears a thong in-game, but the identical outfit on the box shows no thong.
In Skyrim, many of the female characters, most notably Aela, sport this trope. Unless of course you remove the armor from their dead bodies then some underclothing magically appears.
Alice in Virtue's Last Reward is topless except for a short open-front jacket and a heavy gold necklace. The necklace stays perfectly in place even when she's struggling with people or lying on her back.
Bravely Default has the Bravo Bikini, which the party tries to get Agnès to wear so she can win in a beauty contest. Since the goal was just to get the attention of the vestal of water, and Agnès finds the bikini embarassing, she ends up not wearing it, but it can be unlocked as an alternate outfit for Edea. The US version Bowdlerized it by censoring the outfit and aging Edea to eighteen rather than fifteen, but it does remain skimpy. To give you an idea, here's a comparison, with the uncensored version to the right◊.
It seems that the ultra-voluptuous DiDi hardly ever bothers with a bra. It's amazing she can walk, let alone jog... She's shown to be wearing one in one strip, but she's in disguise there. Later, she's shown putting one on, but it turns out to be too small for her (strip #854, February 22, 2014, NSFW).
Zii seems usually to go braless as well, as does Kiley, but they're both notably small-busted and really don't need support.
In Misfile, Cassiel's wardrobe, to the point it seems that she only wears panties in order to do Panty Shots. Ash initially refuses to wear a bra, but comes around to the idea. S/he refuses to wear a thong, though.
Melvin: Hey, how do you get your bodysuit to stay on?
The Order of the Stick's Celia is pretty obviously not wearing a bra most of the time, although you can only tell when she turns her back to the "camera": her clothes are all backless on account of her giant fairy wings.
Sabine does likewise; unsurprisingly, as she is a succubus.
In the first The Simpsons episode, Lisa is seen dancing whilst wearing a grass skirt, with seemingly nothing under it. The creators said that she's wearing a skin-colored suit, but you can see her individual toes.
One surprisingly shocking moment in Teen Titans has most of Raven's clothes get torn away. A look at her bare back implies that she doesn't wear anything under that skintight leotard. Then again, most leotards are made to be able to be worn like that, not unlike a bathing suit.
In the RobotBoy episode "Traffic Slam," Lola sits in the back seat of the Turnbull car with her legs apart, and she's not wearing any panties. A few scenes later, she sits in the same position and is wearing panties.
Some women do this in Real Life. Why? Every woman has their own reasons. Just like there are guys who prefer to go shirtless because its more comfortable, some women prefer to go braless/pantyless for the same reason. While a woman may being doing so to feel "sexy" the fact remains that it is their business and if you are male and happen to notice a girl isn't wearing panties or a bra it is not safe to assume she likes you, and it isn't really polite to bring it up or point it out unless the woman is already a very good friend of yours.
While this trope is about not just not wearing undergarments, but dressing in a way that makes it obvious, one should keep in mind that it may not be intentional. A shirt may be slightly less opaque than you thought, a skirt may ride up a little too far, and so on.
Charlie Dimmock, the female gardener in the BBC's semi-cult garden-makeover programme Ground Force. References to "Charlie's dimmocks" abounded for a while.
Britney Spears, the time that she was caught by the paparazzi. Happened several times with other celebs, too.
Nip slips were so 2004. This year the thing to do was to denude your ladyflower, wear a short skirt and no underwear, and then spread your legs wide as you emerged from a limousine. Exposed O'Keeffes included those of Kate Moss, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and, of course, Britney Spears, who flashed so much cooter the week after her marriage broke up that at this point many of us could probably provide police with an accurate sketch.
—Rebecca Traister [Salon's "Year in Sex, 2006"]
A famous photograph of '30s/'40s actress Carmen Miranda, taken as she danced with Cesar Romero, revealed that she was not wearing underwear at the time.
Similarly, Tallulah Bankhead reportedly never wore underwear, and considered it "extremely inhibiting". Several of her fellow actors on the set of of Lifeboat discovered this firsthand when she repeatedly climbed the ladder to the set ahead of all of them.
Jean Harlow, film star and sex symbol in the thirties, never wore any underwear. Some even say that she put ice on her nipples before shooting a scene. This practice contributed to the introduction of The Hays Code.
While watching the 1994 Carnaval in Rio, Brazilian President Itamar Franco invited a parade dancer named Lilian Ramos to join him in the Presidential box. She was wearing an oversized T-shirt, and each time she raised her arms it rose a few inches, revealing to the press assembled below that she wasn't wearing anything underneath. Various newspapers and magazines ran major articles about it (translation), creating a bit of a scandal. Some time later, Ms. Ramos did a reenactment of the incident for some sort of documentary.
Many Black Dresses look normal under normal lighting conditions but become see-through when blasted with several photo-flashes at once. When an unlucky actress wears one onto the red carpet without realizing it, certain websites start making money.
A photograph taken at Dutch publisher Playlogic's booth at E3 2004 revealed that one of their booth babes was going commando at the time.
Taiwanese model Vivi Wang accidentally created a minor scandal thanks to this trope at the 2007 Taipei Motor Show. As she explained afterwards, her costume was so extremely tight that she was worried her pantyline would be visible. So she simply removed her underwear beforehand to avoid that possibility, and then once the shoot started she was so focused on modeling that she completely forgot all about it.
Czech-Indian Model and actress Yana Gupta was caught by Paparazzi at a November 2010 charity event in Mumbai wearing nothing underneath her Little Black Dress. She later explained the circumstances leading to this on Twitter.note "So…wanna know the truth? It's going to be a bit long though. See, for past three weeks I have been rehearsing for a particular dance tv show. Now during doing all the splits and various crazy dance moves I kept getting irritated by my panties getting stuck in my ass. Now imagine: At all times I am being shot by cameras as I rehearse so it just didn't look good that after every crazy step I'm trying to adjust 'myself'. And sure you'll agree if I say none of us would want to be caught on camera adjusting our undies.So.After few days feeling uncomfy like this So…I thought I'll sort out the issue by simply not wearing undies as I wear pants for rehearsal btw, no short dresses!! Ha ha.Now that day I had no time to go home after rehearsal in order to make it to the charity event.I packed my bag in the morning, put my make up, my dress my shoes in it but guess what I forgot! yup!So here u have it.so yes I openly admit…I did forget something 'slightly' essential to pack. Of course I had no time to go home, I had to run for the event and I hate to be late. And of course, I had no clue it could be seen. So I just pulled my dress down every few steps, but hey, it didn’t help! Apparently! I had no clue till I saw the pics today, now should I cry over this? My manager was shocked to see me getting a laughing fit when I saw the pics. See, shit happens. Its done. I can't change it.
When she wore a green Versace dress to the Grammy Awards in 2000, Jennifer Lopez was obviously modeling this trope. Her photo◊ was much reproduced and much commented on. However, Entertainment Weekly confirmed via the designer that the dress came with a built-in panty.
Adrienne Bailon made headlines thanks to this trope after a red carpet event in March 2012, when a gust of wind blew the cream-colored ruffly thing on her dress to one side, and the skirt underneath proved unexpectedly transparent.