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What The Hell, Costuming Department?
That's right, take a nice, LONG look at them. What. The. Hell. And don't get us started with the Bat-Ass.

So you're watching a movie, and, hey, maybe it's pretty good. The writing is snappy, the actors really seem to have settled into their roles, and all in all it's shaping up to be an enjoyable experience. And then the hero walks in wearing a gorilla suit, a Fu Manchu moustache, and high heels.

And the thing is, it's not for the sake of a joke. The costuming department thought — mistakenly! — that this combination would make the character look Badass, and somehow managed to persuade the director. No, they're not being sarcastic, comical or parodic (at least not at the time): it's an entire team of costume designers being totally, completely 100% damn serious about it. The audience, however, remains unconvinced.

That is the essence of What the Hell, Costuming Department. Maybe it's an adaptation of another work where the costumers decided, for no apparent reason, to make the character look entirely unlike he or she does in the source material. Maybe it's an original work where the costumers were evidently insane. Either way, confusion and dismay ensue.

Related tropes include: Rummage Sale Rejects, where the characters at least have the excuse that maybe they got dressed in the dark; Costume Porn, which provides a possible explanation for some examples; Fashion-Victim Villain, a bad guy whose costumes attract WTH moments; and What The Hell, Casting Agency?, where the confusion arises over who's in the costumes. Specific to video games is Rainbow Pimp Gear, where the best combination of items for gameplay purposes results in a visual eyesore.

Compare Impossibly Tacky Clothes, which is when characters within the work treat the costumes as bad.


Anime & Manga
  • The Stripperific battle uniforms from Kill la Kill are meant to be sexy, but some people see them as so over the top that they become Fetish Retardant. Which was said to be the actual point, and even in-universe Ryuko was asking this question of the designer, her own father.

Comic Books
  • Power Girl has had several particularly hideous costumes, as shown here. The one fourth from the right deserves special mention for having way too much going on at once and making the usual Cleavage Window look downright tame in comparison, and as one blogger wrote, making her look like "an X-Men reject from the 1990s."
  • And speaking of the 1990s, they spared no one in comics. Not even gods. Yes, that's Thor.
    • Hercules got it pretty bad as well - circa 1992-93, he shaved his beard, grew his hair long, and ditched his traditional shorts/skirt and straps for long pants and giant shoulder pads that looked like Cable's cast-offs. He later dropped the shoulder pads for an Avengers tank-top, but that just made him look more like some guy who was on TV by then.
    • The 1990s were quite bad for hair styles when it came to hair. Beast Boy and Nightwing with mullets. And those are considered iconic.
    • In the latest Teen Titans animated series, new Teen Titans, a short has the Titans being tossed through time, donning costumes and looks from that era. In the '90s era, Beast Boy laughs at Robin's mullet (as he was wearing Tim Drake's Robin costume with Dick Grayson's Nightwing mullet) before noticing his own. When they get to the '80s, Starfire sees what she's wearing and promptly freaks out, using her hair to cover herself up.
  • The assorted attempts to design Kryptonian formal garb, especially from the Byrne era, have caused more than a few snickers.
    • Parodied in All-Star Superman, where "Kryptonian formalwear" apparently consists of wearing your underwear outside your pants. Either that, or Bar-El was screwing with Jimmy Olsen's head. (Leo Quintum's borrowed outfit is just as silly, but not in the same way, something he's grateful for.)
  • Vartox. Not too surprising, since he's an Expy of Sean Connery's Zed from Zardoz (see Film below). This gets thoroughly mocked when he shows up in the Power Girl series.
  • Some of the clothing Luke Skywalker's worn in Marvel Star Wars and other contemporary works is... amazing. Like what he wore in The Return Of Ben Kenobi. Then there's the absurdly tight outfit that is honestly referred to as a miner's uniform in Splinter of the Mind's Eye.
  • In ElfQuest fandom, the outfits of Rayek and Mender are not the most popular.
  • Mike Grell's rather infamous Cosmic Boy costume from The Seventies. There's a reason fans call this period the Naked Legion. Tyroc was pretty Stripperific too, though in that case it was a deliberate Artist Revolt.
  • Back in mid 2012, Ken Penders, former writer of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, expressed his desire to win back all the characters he created, mostly the echidna-types from his Knuckles The Echidna run, and use them in his own works. As he did, he showed off new designs for some of them. Here's Lara-Su and Lien-Da. For reference, here's Lara-Su and Lien-Da as they are now. Yeaaaah.
    • Prior to this, there was one story, during the comic's Dork Age, that gave Rotor and Bunnie some cringeworthy outfits when they went to school. Rotor's seen wearing what is easily stereotypical "rapper" clothes and Bunnie donning a sleeveless blouse and Daisy Dukes. A kid's comic!

Fan Fic
  • My Immortal gives Voldemort high heels in one scene. These only appear once and are never mentioned again. That's just one example. The whole thing is filled to the brim with fashion failure.
  • This can occur in any fanfic where the writer decides to give the characters new costumes. A significant number of fanfic writers seem to think that punk outfits with inordinately elaborate symbology is the best way to portray their version of a character as independent, proud, and superior to canon.

  • Batman & Robin's Batnipples became so infamous that they received a nod in Ozymandias' costume design in the Watchmen movie, and Spartan 3000's costume in Empowered. In real life, nipples on breastplates weren't uncommon in some historic civilizations, like Rome.
    • What often gets glossed over and what George Clooney was more concerned with were the sculpted butts and enormous cod pieces that the suits featured. Granted, there were more shots focusing on the upper body than... the lower.
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula begins with the mortal Vlad the Impaler wearing red armor that is textured to resemble human muscle. The film won an Oscar for its impressive, and often outlandish, costume design.
  • Tim Burton's take on Superman Returns would have featured Superman in a black, Borg-inspired suit, designed by Jon Peters. Check it out. This was probably inspired by the similar costume he wore in the comics during Reign of the Supermen. Still, when they got then-lead actor Nicolas Cage into their concept suit for a photo shoot, the results...were not pretty.
  • In the words of Jay Pinkerton, the Catwoman film "boldly [reinterpreted] the heroine as some sort of crime-fighting badger." With shredded pants and Too Many Belts.
  • Damodar, The Dragon from Dungeons & Dragons is a pretty standard evil warrior, but with inexplicable blue lipstick.
  • Neal McDonough in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. McDonough really does resemble M. Bison from the games, except for the beard and business suit. And even if the pseudo-Nazi uniform was deemed too silly for the movie — and that'd take some doing — there's no real excuse for the beard. The usual comment on McDonough-Bison is that the costumers appear to have gotten him mixed up with Geese Howard.
  • Ray Park's Rugal in the King of Fighters movie. While it's forgiveable that they couldn't convince Park to grow a foot taller and gain a hundred pounds of muscle for the role, they could've at least thrown a dinner jacket and a blond wig on the guy.
  • Amidala's outfits and hairstyles in the Star Wars prequels go out of their way to be as outlandish as possible. This helps her walk around without her regal attire on and not get recognized.
  • Jocelyn's hairstyles in A Knight's Tale have certainly evoked this response from many viewers. As someone on the movie's page put it, "It's time for me to style my hair. Handmaiden, fetch me the fork and the royal toaster!" Several of her dresses also qualify, making one wonder why she wasn't thrown out of the courtly areas after being mistaken for a street walker. Might help that she's a Tomboy Princess and the whole thing is a huge Anachronism Stew.
    • Much like the music, it's possible that the dresses were intended to be a sort of Translation Convention for the viewers. What she was wearing didn't actually look like that, but for the time it was effectively comparable. That said, there's no telling what her hair was supposed to look like...
  • The dreary Starfleet pajamas from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Compared to those, the red-tunic-black-trousers getup is practically the height of style. Supposedly, they were intentionally bland because director Robert Wise wanted the audience to focus on the characters' faces (which backfired just a bit). They were so uncomfortable that the main cast refused to do another film unless the uniforms were changed, which is one of the first things Nicholas Meyer and Harve Bennett did for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
    • Lampshaded in Star Trek: Ex Machina with McCoy's own opinion on Starfleet uniforms: "Maybe for once they'll design something that doesn't look like a pair of pajamas".
      • McCoy is sort of calling the kettle black, considering the ridiculous hippie get-up and beard he was sporting when he first appeared in TMP...
  • The Phantom Of The Opera 2004... which, like Batman and Robin, was directed by Joel Schumacher:
    • Erik's pitiful excuse for a deformity in a story that revolves around his hideousness.
    • Also most of the costumes from the operas within the film, leading Cleolinda Jones to refer to them as "giant pink poodle-lady" and "The Dread Pirate Roberts Corps de Ballet"
      • Of these, the "Il Muto" costumes take the cake. It's about pre-French Revolution aristocracy so some flamboyance for both genders is expected...but really, blue and green lipstick?
    • Then there's the costumes for "Masquerade." The lyrics, which describe the ball with lines like "every face a different shade" and "grinning yellows, spinning reds" are being sung by revelers...dressed almost entirely in black and white.
    • Most of the Phantom's outfits accentuate instead of conceal his figure (especially the Red Death suit, which in the stage version was huge and included a full death's head mask).
    • All the womens' costumes, except Madame Giry's, somewhat anachronistically show a lot of cleavage, and the slave girl outfits are altered from those of the stage show such that they show midriff. Christine in particular runs around half-dressed far more than would be expected for a naive young Ingenue.
      • And let's not forget running off to visit her father's grave - in the snow - wearing a low cut elbow sleeved gown under a silky cloak.
  • David Bowie's entire wardrobe in Labyrinth was bizarre even by 80s standards. Whoever put him in leggings so form-fitting you can actually see his bell-end in a kid's movie either really really liked him or were doing a few too many drugs. Perhaps both. Then again, much of the movie is so surreal it's hard to believe a few other people weren't taking them, too. The whole point of the movie is about growing up and coming to grips with adult issues, and the rampant sexuality displayed by Bowie-in-tight-pants was entirely deliberate and intended as somewhat disturbing for the heroine/viewer, famously inspiring new and unfamiliar stirrings in all who watched him.
  • Richard Burton's film version of Marlowe's The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus involves some of the absolute silliest costumes known to man. Particularly narmful: when Envy, Wrath, and Pride show up in the garden of the Seven Deadly Sins, they are wearing... interesting... helmets. They're huge and oddly shaped. It's very hard to see how Pride could possibly be persuaded to wear something that requires that little dignity.
  • Puma Man features the world's cheapest superhero costume ever, including slacks and loafers. Some viewers were shocked he wasn't wearing a bath towel for a cape.
  • The Wild World of Batwoman: Batwoman. See here. The best part? Actress Kathryn Victor assembled that thing from her own personal wardrobe.
  • Clash of the Titans, specifically, the 2010 remake, has made viewers both laugh and cringe at the utterly baffling plastic-looking "armor" of the Olympian gods. It looked like the production team raided the local costume shop. The constant bombardment of lens flare in these scenes doesn't help matters.
  • Zardoz has this in spades. Sean Connery + thigh high boots + what looks like a red diaper and suspenders made out of pipe insulation = Brain Bleach. For this, John Boorman has no excuse, but he does have an explanation (paraphrased): "Um, it was The Seventies, and I was doing a lot of drugs. Frankly, even I'm not entirely sure what parts of the movie are about."
  • The John Wayne version of True Grit. Not only does she have an obviously 1960's hairstyle, Mattie also wears black nylon tights at the end of the movie.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic mocks the Green Goblin's design from Spider-Man in "Ode to a Superhero" thus:
    And he's ridin' around on that glider thing
    And he's throwin' that weird pumpkin bomb
    Yes, he's wearin' that dumb Power Rangers mask
    But he's scarier without it on!
  • X-Men:
    • Played straight with the costume Erik wears in the last scene of X-Men: First Class. He has a bright purple cape and modified the helmet so that it's magenta and has little horns, which are straight out of the comics, as seen here. The rationale for the costume in-universe is that humans think mutants are spawn of the Devil, so Magneto plays up to it with a red horned costume. In real life, the color scheme was probably chosen because the artists had an extremely limited palette to work with and needed something that contrasted with the X-Men's blue and yellow outfits.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:

      Magneto's chest piece gets flak for looking cheap and silly.

      Likewise, Magneto of both past and future has a cape with one half full and the other half only a half cape, making some bizarre 3/4 cape. It sort of makes sense for Future Magneto (fashion choices are limited in a Bad Future) but then his 70's self rolls out with it and we're left to assume that, no matter how many options Magneto has, he just has no taste in clothing.

      While the future outfits aren't bad by any means, there's been a lot of flak for them being rather dull and unmemorable; of course, this is a problem people have had with the costumes since the first film.

      Quicksilver's outfit also got a lot of flak over the silver jacket and such, though this dialed down after release.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince the twins at Slughorn's Christmas party can be seen wearing two ghastly green outfits that appear to be pear costumes.
  • For some reason, somebody thought it would be a good idea to the have the villain of Killer Party, which occurs during a college frat party, dress as a deep sea diver. And no, it wasn't a costume party.
  • Dune. Behold the majesty of Sting's bronze speedos! Otherwise, the strange and interesting costumes are one of the few things the film did well.
  • In Twilight New Moon, when Alice shows Aro her vision of Bella being a vampire, Bella and Edward are seen running through the forest in slow motion... wearing clothes that look like they came right out of 18th century Colonial America. Needless to say, this scene drew much unintended laughter from the audience. Here's a screenshot of the narmful scene.
  • Attack of the Eye Creatures has a drifter wearing a floor-length sweater nightgown, with Freddy stripes on the front. And several of the titular Eye Creatures wearing nothing but black clothes and sneakers.
  • In Thor, the trousers of Loki's armor seem to be channeling David Bowie's costume in Labyrinth. Tom Hiddleston has mentioned getting teased about them on set. Enough said
  • Godzilla vs. Megalon: Why does Godziila have irises?
  • The costumes in Immortals could have been considered Ham and Cheese actors just by themselves.
  • The killer in Hacked Off spends almost the entire film wearing the uniform of a telephone repairman he had murdered. Not a particularly threatening ensemble for a Slasher Movie villain.
  • The Lone Ranger: As Tonto, Johnny Depp has a dead bird on his head. Your argument is invalid. Then again, this is a deliberate artistic choice; Tonto in this version is insane, and nobody, Comanche, white, or otherwise, tries to claim anything different.
  • During close-up shots in Man of Steel, you can see Superman's chest hair just poking up from the lower collar area.
  • All of Jack Palance’s outfits in The Silver Chalice, especially the infamous “sperm suit” he wears at the end.
  • Ah, The Apple! Where to start with that one? Perhaps with Dandi's Buck Rogers-as-porn-star performance outfit, or the golden banana hammock he wears in Hell (Don't ask!) or Boogalow's purple velour jackets with the huge lapels, or Bibi's studded leather and bad eye make-up, or any and everything worn by Shakes...Suffice it to say, this is one ass-ugly movie.

Live-Action TV
  • Bubble's clothes in Absolutely Fabulous defy description or interpretation
  • Ugly Betty is supposed to be a fashion victim, but Season 3 took it way too far when Patricia Fields took over as costume designer. Betty went from frumpy to looking like a deranged clown. And though she's supposed to be poor, the pieces of these monstrosities were obviously expensive designer items, which she never wore more than once. Also, the people on the show who are supposed to be fashionable didn't look much better.
  • Pat Fields also put the stars of Sex and the City into bizarre clothes.
  • There was a long-running joke on Television Without Pity about the wardrobe bag game on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: one bag had a list of ridiculous wardrobe items, the other had a list of cast members.
    • It made a bit more sense for Xander and Willow (in early seasons) to dress like Rummage Sale Rejects, since they were supposed to be unfashionable nerds. But we were supposed to see Buffy and Cordy as The Fashionista...
  • Angel had a similar problem, but apparently after Doyle left they ditched the second bag and gave everything to Cordelia.
    • One particularly notorious one was the dress she wore when revealing she was pregnant with Connor's baby. It was referred to by fans as the black widow dress of doom.
  • Almost every costume of the nobles in the Frank Herbert's Dune miniseries looks completely insane. This has led to it being dubbed "The Funny Hats version" of Dune. Theodor "Dodo" Pistek, the film's costume designer (he really lives up to that name), also did Those Hats in Amadeus, designed the uniforms of the Czech Castle Guard... and was a Formula 1 driver.
  • Doctor Who runs into this sometimes, especially in the old series. Alien fashion or no alien fashion, some of those costumes were just plain hilarious. Usually it just adds to the show's Narm Charm.
    • The Doctor himself has often worn some fairly ridiculous outfits. He generally gets away with it, with the exception of the Sixth Doctor, whose costume is universally regarded as being too crazy and hideous for even the Doctor to pull off. Even Colin Baker realized this, arguing for a basic black ensemble for the Doctor to showcase his darker persona in this regeneration. He was overruled by John-Nathan Turner, who felt that the "Technicolor Timecoat" fit Six's "fractured personality". Judging from the other Time Lords it seems to be a racial trait.
    • John Nathan-Turner is particularly unfondly remembered for his desire to give the Doctor Symbol Motif Clothing for Merchandise-Driven reasons. This led to Doctors from the time of the Fourth's red outfit onwards to incorporate red question marks, usually on the shirt lapels and braces, but by the time of the Seventh Doctor they'd leaked out into a fairisle design on a Homemade Sweater From Hell and onto the handle of his umbrella.
    • In "The Androids of Tara", the planet Tara gives new meaning to the phrase Planet of Hats, with the absurd royal crown, the spiked helmets, Romana's apparently fashionable giant purple hat, and above all, the Archimandrite's tall, sparkly, rainbow-coloured hat.
    • Lalla Ward said later that the costume department let her wear pretty much whatever she wanted. This got her into a little bit of accidental embarrassment, as in City of Death, she decided to wear a Catholic schoolgirl's outfit.
    • Somewhat lampshaded in the episodes featuring the Eleventh Doctor - after proclaiming that "bowties are cool" and "fezzes are cool" in series five, the fandom embraced those statements and now the Doctor's penchant for ridiculous headgear is a running joke. This, however, is far more tame than most examples, as the Eleventh's base, nerd-chic outfit isn't bizarre.
    • The Time Lords high-collared robes and ornate headpieces that appeared in any Gallifrey story from "The Deadly Assassin". In "The Deadly Assassin", these are explictly supposed to be ceremonial garb, so the impracticality can be forgiven. However, later stories make them standard everyday wear for Time Lords, in a costume example of Flanderization.
  • So You Think You Can Dance has frequently suffered from this since season one.
  • The "Cyberwoman" episode of Torchwood, features the eponymous character in a metal... thing... and high heels. What the costume department were likely going for is a sort of metal version of the 1950s evil dominatrix leather wear. If so, it's painfully misfire. It gains bonus demerits for making absolutely no sense whatsoever for the people who designed it in-universe. One of the things the Cybermen want to remove is gender distinctions. A sexy dominatrix look would not exactly be in line with that aim. It could almost be explained by the fact that she was rescued in the middle of assimilation, meaning a half-naked partially-complete look might be justified, if not for the fact that every other Cybermen conversion was explained as pure Body Horror.
    • The outfit is a Shout-Out to the work of the Japanese BDSM/cyborg-fetish erotic artist Hajime Sorayama, which sadly points out how those outfits wouldn't work in real life.
  • On The X-Files, for some unknown reason, Scully spends the first few seasons wearing some incredibly boxy, unflattering pant suits in outrageous colors—including brown plaid and various shades of maroon. It got better over the course of the series, where the odd colors were traded in for mostly black and gray.
    • In the latter part of season one and early season two, the cuts were to hide Gillian Anderson's pregnancy. No excuse for the rest of the time, though. In IGBN's Duchovny-Anderson conversation DVD, Duchovny mentions he'd want Scully's wardrobe "after season four".
  • Pretty Little Liars has gained a following of people who watch the show just to see the garish, WAY over the top outfits the girls wear each episode, with Aria being usually the worst offender. It's even lampshaded in an episode where Aria's mother Ella comments that she shouldn't ask her daughter about fashion, since "she wears knives as earrings".
  • Blake's 7 often had strange costumes. But two in the episode "Weapon" take the cake: those of the weapons designer (the man in the picture) and the bond-slave (the woman): [1]. (As someone wrote, "It's hard to perform manual labor when you're dressed like Ming the Merciless.)
  • In what are otherwise stunningly beautiful costumes on Game of Thrones, the outfits worn by Margaery Tyrell in season two could only be described as wrapping Natalie Dormer in an ugly brown burrito. Mercifully, they gave her more flattering and sensible dresses in season three.
  • Many civilian outfits on Star Trek: The Next Generation are very tacky and garish. This outfit Q wore in "Deja Q" was the reason for Picard's legendary Face Palm.

  • SlipKnot wears matching uniforms with bizarre masks for each individual member of the band.
  • A lot of Lady Gaga's notorious outfits (the meat dress, the Kermit the frog top, the gun bra), though it's more "What the fuck!" instead of "What the hell?" "What the fuck" implies genuine disbelief that someone would wear something so outrageous while "What the hell" is more "What were you thinking?"
  • Björk appears in bizarre outfits, most famously her swan dress.
  • Peter Gabriel, especially during his days with Genesis, where he would dress as a flower or elf on occasions. He said he did this to conquer his stage fright, since he wasn't afraid of people having a laugh at the costume, because the costume isn't him. A lot of musicians create personas for themselves on stage to compartmentalize the fear of performing.
  • K-Pop artists are often given strange outfits for their album concepts.
  • A lot of recent metal bands perform with very nerdy, "emo" fashions, contrasting quite startlingly with some of their music. This is a drastically inverse approach to those of older acts, who took upon themselves "Badass" Leatherman and Post Apocalyptic-style imagery to match the feel of the music they played. While it does share similarities to the stripped-down "jeans, t-shirts and long hair" approach Thrash bands took in reaction to the overly elaborate Hair Metal of the time, even those acts had looks which fit the music. Current bands (both the "emo" type and the "casual" typenote  seem to take the "anti-image" approach to the furthest possible extreme.
  • Elton John in his glam period often went in this direction, especially during the Leather Jackets tours of 1986 (just before he gave up on the crazy costumes altogether).

Professional Wrestling
  • Even if The Shockmaster (Fred Ottman, a.k.a. "Typhoon" and "Tugboat") hadn't face-planted in his debut entrance at WCW's Clash of the Champions in 1993, it's hard to believe that anyone would have taken him seriously when his costume consisted of a black vest, a pair of jeans, and a silver-painted Stormtrooper helmet covered in glitter.
  • A lot of Layla El's more recent outfits where the theme seems to be a combination of snake skin and coloured tinfoil.
  • Maxine from WWE NXT season 3 was introduced to us wearing an open blouse with a neon bra underneath, topped off with a skirt and suspenders. Then her ring gear for the evening appeared to be an ice dancer costume.
    • Speaking of NXT, Naomi deserves a mention from the Halloween Episode. For the costume contest, she showed up dressed as the Hamburger Helper hand - yes she wore a giant foam hand. And she wrestled in that very costume. First of all, if she knew she'd be wrestling in her costume why didn't she wear something more sensible? And secondly, has she never seen a WWE costume contest before? Less is generally more in those things.
  • Tori (Terri Poch)'s cat bodysuit deserves honourable mention from WrestleMania XV. She should have just worn one of Sable's catsuits.
  • When Goldust became "The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust" he wore some very disturbing outfits including his infamous silver body suit at WrestleMania XIV complete with silver and red face paint and a black leotard.
  • Alicia Fox and her piñata gear.
  • Molly Holly. At a time when the WWE Divas were moving to a sexier image, Molly ran in the opposite direction. She adopted a prude persona following her 2002 heel turn and wore the most matronly, unappealing outfits she could. One person on YouTube described her sense of style as "Soccer Mom". Check out her swimsuit from the competition against Terri Runnels and her 2002 Santa's Little Helper dress as shining examples.
  • MVP's infamous purple and silver "Power Ranger costume.
    • Justified however, as MVP has several potentially inflammatory tattooes that needed to be covered.
  • Poor Jorge Gonzales went through this in both WCW and WWE. As El Gigante in WCW, he had this silly armor that he wore to the ring. As the Giant Gonzales in WWE, he had that infamous Bigfoot-like muscle suit.
  • When actress and journalist Maria Menounos wrestled a match at Wrestlemania, she honored her Greek heritage in her ring gear by wearing white pants and a Greek-flag-themed top. The outfit itself wasn't bad, but the problem came when she and Kelly Kelly did a double stink face on their competition and Eve's makeup rubbed off on the seat of Maria's pants, and made it look like a giant skid mark.

  • The National Hockey League has seen its share of uniforms that teams would like to forget. One of the most notorious examples is the New York Islanders 1995 uniform change from this to this.
  • The St. Louis Blues would have worn THIS during a game in 1996 if it weren't for their head coach stepping in and refusing to let his players wear that. Score one for good taste.
    • If only the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Los Angeles Kings had stood up and said no to these. Yes, the Great One himself wore that goofy "Burger King" jersey (coincidentally, Gretzky was soon traded to St. Louis), though some fans don't see that short-lived Kings jersey as all that bad these days. The Ducks' third, though, isn't fondly remembered at all.
  • The Vancouver Canuck's V Jersey
  • When Reebok's Edge uniform system was being introduced into the NHL, many teams took the opportunity to utilize the different templates available. Several teams opted to stick with traditional designs, but a few teams embraced the new templates, with decidedly mixed results at best. One unpopular aspect of most new uniforms has been vertical piping down the front, often derided as Bettman stripes (named for the unpopular commissioner). A few examples:
  • The success of the Pittsburgh Penguins' 2008 Winter Classic throwbacks, which became their third jerseys the next season, led to the Florida Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets deciding to borrow some of the jersey concepts. The Panthers' thirds (which were sponsored by JetBlue) weren't well-received by their fans due to their lack of red, the team's original jersey color which had been de-emphasized in favor of bluenote . The Blue Jackets' uniform has been criticized for its liberal use of "Vintage white"note  mixed with modernized fonts, but the biggest WTH goes to the new mascot they introduced with the jerseys...
    • Boomer the Cannon! Yes, the Jackets actually thought an inflatable cannon mascot was a good idea at the time, but it backfired spectacularly. The Jackets management apparently even hoped he might replace Stinger, their original mascot, but Boomer was quietly retired after the 2010-11 season.
  • Coventry City FC's 1970's away strip. Liverpool FC's late '80's home strip wasn't much better.
  • The 1994 FIFA World Cup uniforms for some national teams. Particularly for Brazil, Spain, and the hosts themselves, the USA.
  • The Australian football team (Socceroos) kit in 1990 was a horrid mish-mash of random strokes of gold, green and white that became forever known as the 'spew jersey', which is Australian slang for vomiting, called so because that's what the shirt resembled.
  • Because many baseball fans and owners are so stuck in the past, teams think it's a good idea to hold "Turn Back the Clock Day" and make the players dress in baggy, oversized old-fashioned uniforms for one game. Most fans born after 1950 can only roll their eyes at them.
    • A lot of the bagginess actually comes from how modern players wear their unis, as many of the recent throwbacks have come from the 1960s or later, when jerseys were generally streamlined.
  • Probably the most infamous case of a baseball throwback concept - the 1976-81 Chicago White Sox. Eccentric owner Bill Veeck decided to introduce uniforms inspired by the franchise's first World Series winner. This is the result. The collar flaps stopped at the shoulder seam, and were sewn on flat; the cap logo was incongruously modern; and for one game, they even wore shorts! (The leg scrapes after that game convinced them to stick to long pants.)
  • The late 1970s and into the early 1980s was not a good time for cricket uniforms, specifically the one-day format where coloured uniforms are the norm. New Zealand's beige and brown and the West Indies grey pajamas (with the maroon fading to pink fairly quickly) are considered the low points. However, the New Zealand beige has come full circle to retro coolness, to the point an official game (albeit of the "Twenty Twenty" format) was played in 2005 with both Australia & New Zealand wearing the retro uniforms of the 80's.
  • Because the University of Oregon football team has the support of alum and Nike founder Phil Knight, it has become infamous for breaking out new, outlandish designer uniforms every single ''game." Listing the number of ridiculous combinations they have worn may require its own page.
  • The Fremantle Football Club entered the Australian Football League in 1995, and for the next 15 years had the team colours of purple, green, red and white, with their uniforms having a huge anchor on the front. In 2010, the club thankfully changed to a more conservative purple and white chevron design.
  • The Houston Astros' infamous "Rainbow Guts" uniforms. which they wore for almost two decades.
  • The San Diego Padres, since 2008, have trotted out on the field every Sunday home game in camouflage.
    • Most likely they are (literally ) Pandering to the Base, as San Diego has a significant Naval base just across the harbor from Petco Park, with a large Marine Corps presence just up the road at Miramar and Camp Pendleton.
    • The Padres' original colors of yellow and brown led to some fairly awful uniforms in the 70s and early 80s (Of course, it was The Seventies).
  • The original Denver Broncos colors were mustard yellow and "barnyard brown", and came with incredibly ugly, vertically striped, orange-and-blue socks. Observe. After a few games the players held a pregame ceremony where they tossed the socks onto a pile and ritually burned them. One of the few surviving pairs is on exhibit at the Hall of Fame in Canton.
  • For the Parade of Nations in the 2012 Olympic Games, most countries' teams wore clothes based off their traditional garb, or at least reflecting their flag...and then came the Swedish team, wearing pastel blue and yellow striped shirts.
  • Also in the 2012 Olympics, Brazil's handball team mixed the traditional yellow with green stripes... with multicolored animal prints.
  • In the field of mascots, we have the Leland Stanford Junior University's football team's. You would think, with the team's name "The Cardnals", you would have something related to the bird, perhaps even the catholic version? Nope, they don't have a mascot. So they use the Marching Band's instead. Ladies and gentlemen, the Stanford Tree. Honestly, what can be said that the image does not already convey?
    • It's the Stanford Cardinal (the color, singular), which is admittedly a ripoff of the Harvard Crimson.
  • To celebrate their 80th season the Pittsburgh Steelers donned the gaudy black and yellow prison stripe throwback jerseys for a few games in 2012.
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers original creamsicle-orange jerseys. Perhaps it's not a coincidence that within a decade of ditching them, they won their first Superbowl and ended their run as the NFL's officialy Butt Monkey.
  • The "ketchup" away kit of Athletic Club.
  • A lot of things went wrong for the New Zealand All Blacks in 2007. Many fans think that all bar one of them can be traced back to the first: going from their classic, Exactly What It Says on the Tin all black kit to... this. Many New Zealand rugby fans claim that the despair at seeing the Mighty All Blacks playing in that kit was a greater cause of shame than their highly controversial exit from the World Cup to France in the quarter final stage.

  • The costuming for the Broadway version of The Lion King is largely fantastic and truly captures the Savannah feel of the show...until you get to the hyenas and Timon; the former are all decked out in painted hillbilly longjohns with horrible paper maché masks (they're supposed to be ratty and ugly, but couldn't they do with a more primal version of the native garb the other characters had?), while the latter was essentially a 4 foot Timon plushie sewn onto the front of a man in green hillbilly longjohns and clown wig (it kinda looks like Timon is being molested by the Jolly Green Giant). They are really jarring when put beside the fantastic costumes of the other characters.
    • Timon's actor's greenness works in one scene in which the actor is surrounded by plants (it is great camouflage in that one scene). Never mind that when we first meet him, he's standing in a desert. For about five minutes or so.

Video Games
  • In Plumbers Don't Wear Ties, the narrator suddenly dons a chicken mask for no reason.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The player can take over this role. Utterly serious cutscenes can have the protagonist standing around in any number of insane outfits. The possibilities are in the hundreds, such as: boxers only, a Groucho Marx face mask and tuxedo pants, or even a gimp suit. This last, in a business meeting with his sister.
  • The Soul Calibur series has been getting worse and worse in this topic with each new entry. It reached its lowest in Soul Calibur IV, specially with Ivy's ridiculous strip-bra. In Soul Calibur V they seemed to recover from it, although there are still some characters with ludicrous outfits.
    • Another real standout was Asteroth's alternate costume in Soul Calibur III. In the first two games, his alt costume consisted of an executioner's hood (granted, one with stupid looking antennae that curved over his back) and Spikes of Villainy protruding from his shoulders. In three, the hood was changed to a giant claw hammer and the spikes were replaced with nails. Actual giant metal nails.
  • Unique and memorable character designs are usually a good thing in fighting games, unless the designers interpret that as "ludicrous, eye-searingly garish and ugly mismatches of colors and patterns for half the cast" like they did in the Fighters Destiny games. Day-glo, animal prints, and odd choices like thongs over tights or full Native American headdresses are just a few of the highlights, and if you're lucky, these won't all be on the same character.
  • Similarly, the Saints Row series, with its insane degree of Character Customization, features equally insane wardrobe choices depending on the player's whim. Including hot dog suits and gladiator helmets. And Saints Row 2 features the ability to replay any mission and accompanying cutscenes at will. A game with some fairly strong dramatic parts, such as a funeral. The player can be wearing a mankini and traffic cone during.
  • In both Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2, the player can make some questionable wardrobe decisions. Nothing says intense zombie fighting action like a pink women's business suit and a servbot helmet.
  • Who sends a bunch of mercenaries to fight, probably to the death, with paper bags or rubber gloves on their heads? Team Fortress 2 in a nutshell.
    • The most iconic example is probably Demopan. Just LOOK at it, and you will see why some of the diehard fans see him as the symbol of everything that is wrong with the game today.
  • Save very few exceptions, most of the armors from Xenoblade are so ridiculously ornamented that a lot of players prefer to stick with the standard outfits, even if it means to have lower stats.
    • The Last Story doesn't suffer as much, but it does suffer. Upgrading the armors can help make them look more sensible, or a lot worse. There's also a color option in case you think Calista's bright pink armor is too insufferable. Honorable mention goes to the Dragon greaves, which looks like half of a bad Dragon costume that was used at a furry convention. Of course, you could just make them invisible, which just makes the characters run around in incredibly boring underwear.
  • Mass Effect 2 has taken some flak for putting several (female) characters in outfits utterly impractical for fighting in. The first game was good about giving characters practical outfits - every team member wore armor, flattering figures be damned. Then in Mass Effect 2 you have Miranda in a sexy catsuit, Samara in... another sexy catsuit with Absolute Cleavage, and Jack with just some leather straps over her nipples. However, Miranda and Jack have unlockable alternate costumes that are much more reasonable; in Jack's case, she puts a shirt on, and a downloadable costume pack gives Miranda form-fitting composite armor and more sensible boots.
    • Mass Effect 3 received similar criticism when trailers featured Ashley Williams not only wearing what essentially came off as the Alliance's version of Miranda's uniforms but also letting down her hair, which would be impractical during combat. There were alternate outfits available, however; though they only added armor and didn't adjust the hair.
  • Mortal Kombat 9 has a few of these. Specifically, Sonya Blade's primary costume. Does Special Forces not require their female operatives to at least wear bras or something? And high heels too? Seriously?
    • Mortal Kombat got into the game as early as part 3. Kabal, Stryker, Unmasked Sub-Zero, and especially Shang Tsung stand out the worst, and the weird spandex-y ninja outfits even managed the previously unthinkable feat of making Scorpion look like a dork.
  • Similarly, in BlazBlue, we have squirrel girl Makoto Nanaya. Her Stripperiffic battle outfit is ridiculously impractical. Example: here is her costume in Calamity Trigger, here is her NPC costume in Continuum Shift, and here is her playable character costume. The impracticality of it is even lampshaded in one episode of Help Me, Professor Kokonoe!
    Kokonoe: Who the hell goes around dressed like that!? How do you live knowing you're always one slight breeze or sudden cough away from a massive Wardrobe Malfunction!?
  • In Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, most of the U.S.S have costumes that are fairly intimidating, if not exactly practical in a military sense. Except for Spectre. Ze goggles look goddamn ridiculous.
  • Fallout has a lot of strange fashions, which is at least somewhat excused by its Retreaux style. Still, whoever designed the Recon Armor from Fallout 3 has a rather morbid preoccupation with the human buttcrack.
  • BioShock Infinite has a costume choice that turns into fridge Squick the further storyline unfolds. The companion NPC Elizabeth winds up in a very tight and revealing busty corset, ripe for some Male Gaze, only for the player to find out at the end of the game that the main character they are playing is her father Ewwwww.
  • Rune Factory 4 is the first in the series to allow players to select a male or female protagonist at the start of the game (RF2 allowed you to play as your seven-year-old daughter in the second half of the game). Except...the female protagonist has soda can tabs on her nipples. Um, what?
  • Final Fantasy XII has, well, every main character except maybe Balthier, depending on your tolerance for large arrays of coloured rings. Basch is a Rummage Sale Reject with what appears to be a flattened Rubik's cube strapped to his chest, Vaan and Fran wear "armour" with no actual ability to defend vital organs, Ashe sports neon pink hotpants, and Penelo's wing-things cannot make sitting down comfortable.

Web Comics
  • In Homestuck, male God Tier outfits range from the basic t-shirt and pants of the Heir outfit to the absolutely humiliating codpiece-centred Bard. Female outfits range from the tomboyish Thief outfit (which Meenah still complains about and refuses to wear whenever possible) to the Sylph's elegant dress.

Western Animation
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the normally fashion-conscious Rarity gets butterfly wings that quickly go to her head during "Sonic Rainboom," which leads to her entering the Best Young Fliers' Competition in heavy make-up and a gaudy Carnival dancer outfit.
    • "Suited for Success" features the rest of the Mane Six butting into her process of making dresses for them, with hideous results (though Rainbow Dash's does look kind of cool).
    • Opinions on the human outfits in Equestria Girls in general aside, there's been some controversy about putting the two tomboys of the group Rainbow Dash and Applejack in skirts. Applejack arguably gets a pass since presumably being set at a high school we won't be seeing her on the farm much and Rainbow Dash has always been a Tomboy with a Girly Streak and she at least is wearing shorts longer than the skirt, but its still odd seeing them in skirts for lots of fans. Applejack's skirt actually gets shortened intentionally by Rarity in the scene where they dress for the school dance.
    • In Magical Mystery Cure, Luna's dress and crown look terrible. The purple is the wrong shade, and her crown has an unfortunate resemblance to a banana.
    • Rarity's outfit for the ponyville athletes in Rainbow falls. Ya know. For athletes.

Real Life
  • The definition of "fashion" (at least in the context of "the fashion industry" and "fashion shows") seems to be "wearable modern art that no actual person would be caught dead wearing."
    • Some designers have admitted (or boasted) that their work is intended for and looks best on hangers, not on people.
    • That's haute couture. Fashion is a watered-down, more affordable version with saner makeup (and sizes meant for real human beings).
  • Two U.S Military digital camouflage patterns have received criticism (if not outright scorn) for being this. The first is the Army Combat Uniform, commonly known as ACU. Mostly leveled at the pattern's inability to camouflage the wearer in anything other than an urban environment (or, it would seem, tacky couches). The second is the Navy Working Uniform. While Desert and Woodland variants exist, this blue one is intended to be worn aboard a ship. Most point out it would only serve to disguise the wearer in water. This is a bad thing if the wearer, say, falls overboard. Actually, it's meant to hide stains better.
  • Princess Diana's poofy, over-elaborate wedding dress was fawned over when she married Prince Charles, but allegedly, she herself despised it. And with the arrival of Kate Middleton's wedding dress among other things, there have been big detractors of her dress in this day and age.
    • And then there was the hat Princess Beatrice wore to William and Kate's wedding. It got so much attention, its sheer ridiculousness almost stole Kate's thunder.

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