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Wardrobe Wound
The Miz: A $5000, custom-made suit, ruined (points at a sprinkle)! This ought to cover it (grabs tip cup)!
CM Punk: Woah, there. Hands off the tip jar.
The Miz: Really? Really? Well somebody's got to pay for my suit!
CM Punk: Well, in that case, I'm gonna get my money's worth (grabs udder).

For many people, fashion is a big part of their lives. Sometimes it's a love for the aesthetics of clothing that attracts them, other times it's a desire for a status symbol to advertise one's wealth and influence to others. Or maybe they just hold some piece of clothing in a higher sentimental light than expected. Whatever the reason for their obsession is, those who love fashion are bound to spend a great deal of time working on their wardrobe. Thus, it's not surprising that people often get frustrated and upset when their clothes get stained, wet, or otherwise damaged while they're in public. All that work just to get humiliated! When this situation plays out in fiction, however, characters tend to react as if they'd been violently wounded, going way past mere frustration and embarrassment. They'll scream, cry, throw fits, sometimes even mourn the "death" of the garment. In more lighthearted uses of this trope, this reaction will be entirely Played for Laughs, the writers will expect the audience to find the idea of freaking out over clothes silly. Other times, the audience will be expected to agree with the character that getting one's clothes messy in front of people is horrible and the ultimate form of humiliation. In the latter case, this trope will either be Played for Drama or played for Cringe Comedy. Essentially, this trope is when Minor Injury Overreaction is applied to clothes. If the universe itself uses this trope, it might get treated as a "What the Hell, Hero?" moment. Understandable if the clothing is actually quite expensive.

Because such characters are defined by their love of fashion, The Fashionista is a likely victim of this trope. Non-Fashionista characters can react this way as well, however. After all, just because a character isn't defined by their love of fashion doesn't mean they don't care about it at all. Female characters tend to get wardrobe wounds a lot and female-targeted works frequently use this trope. After all, Vanity Is Feminine. The Fashionista or not, teenage girls tend to provide examples of this trope since ruined clothes make them easy targets for the Alpha Bitch and this trope would probably be the worst nightmare of the Alpha Bitch herself.

There are two forms of this trope:

Intentional

In this version the character's outfit is ruined intentionally by another character as a form of non-violent "attack". This variant is usually done either by the Alpha Bitch to her victims, or by the victims as a form of retaliation against the alpha bitch.

Accidental

In this version the character's outfit is ruined accidentally: the poor character is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It may come up as a result of Giving Them the Strip, if the surviving escapee complains about the garment's loss.

Either way, they will be devastated. A common way for the character to visually convey their "trauma" is to spread their arms out slightly to the side, open their mouth in shock, and slowly tilt their head downward as they "survey the damage". Also see My Favorite Shirt, a super-trope, and Hat Damage, a specific sub-trope. Compare Nobody Touches the Hair, when it's the hairdo damage that gets this reaction.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • A less serious example happens in K-On!'s college arc when Ayame is using Mio as a dress-up doll. She finds out while getting Mio to on try her t-shirt, being a far curvier girl, that Mio stretched it out completely (particularly around the chest-area). Mio apologizes about this immediately. Overlaps with A-Cup Angst
  • In Highschool of the Dead, Saeko performs a forced Action Dress Rip on Shizuka, annoying her because it was a Prada skirt. Saeko replies "Which is more important, a brand or your life?" Saeko has something of a habit for tearing skirts, thinking it's just easier to move that way.
  • One Piece: One of Luffy's Berserk Buttons is harming his straw hat, as Buggy found the hard way.
  • In Hana Yori Dango, Tsukushi's fellow students at the prestigious high school she attends use Produce Pelting to humiliate her in retaliation for the time she stood up to one of the beloved popular boys.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Mia in The Princess Diaries strikes back at Alpha Bitch Lana by getting chocolate ice cream all over Lana's cheerleader uniform during school lunch. This leads to all bystanders mocking Lana by chanting, "Lana got coned!"
  • Parodied in Not Another Teen Movie, where Janey (already soaked from jumping in the pool fully clothed) gets a bottle of water "accidentally" spilled on her by the Alpha Bitch, which leaves Janey in tears.
  • In the movie Thoroughly Modern Millie, a well-meaning Millie tries an unconventional remedy for a spot on the white dress of a Rich Bitch at Muzzy's party. The guest's anguished howls of "SOY SAUCE!" can be heard throughout the whole mansion.
  • In a Deleted Scene from Mean Girls, Cady, the protagonist, has a friend rig the cafeteria table that Regina, the Alpha Bitch sits at so that when Regina puts down her tray, the table tilts towards her, causing the food to fall into her lap. At least, that's what Cady intends. Instead, Regina is distracted by her boyfriend and a member of her Girl Posse sits where Regina was supposed to, thus becoming the prank's victim.
  • This trope is used twice in Bratz:
    • First, there's a Food Fight scene in which the title characters treat the mess made of their clothes and hair as Serious Business and the ultimate insult.
    • Second, as part of the Alpha Bitch's Humiliation Conga, she gets covered in cake then knocked into a fountain, publicly humiliating her at her birthday party.
  • In Pay Back, gangster Fairfax complains and acts visibly annoyed when Porter shoots through one of his expensive alligator hide suitcases cotaining his precious suits which, as he he claims, cost more than the 70,000 dollars Porter is after.
  • Fat Amy from Pitch Perfect gets a drive-by Wardrobe Wound when a guy in a passing bus intentionally throws a burrito at her.
  • In Zoom: Academy for Superheroes, a psychic highschool girl gets called a freak by Alpha Bitch cheerleaders, so she uses her powers to make a cafeteria food explosion that gets her bullies covered in the stuff.

    Literature 
  • The ice cream incident between Mia and Lana also happens in the novel version of The Princess Diaries (first in the series), although the circumstances are slightly different.
  • In Carpe Jugulum, Vlad (a vampire) screams in agony when doused by holy water, then winks and complains that his attacker just ruined a lovely silk waistcoat.
  • In Lonely Werewolf Girl this is the sum totality of the plan of one of the book's Big Bad's, to destroy Fire Queen Malveria's reputation by destroying her wardrobe. Since The Fashionista is her race's Hat and Serious Business this would be the Fire Demon equivalent of a nuclear strike. Malveria does suffer through a variety of of non-intentional wardrobe wounds in the series too.
  • In the Georgette Heyer novel Sylvester a dandy goes into fits after a dog bites the tassels off his boots.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Glory on Buffy the Vampire Slayer often seems more upset about her outfit being ruined than say, the fact that a teleporting spell was being put on her.
    Glory: Look what you did to my dress!
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Barney gets a stain on his tie and suddenly acts as if the tie was alive and had been mortally wounded, even going so far as to attempt CPR on it.
  • In Glee unpopular students regularly have slushies thrown on them as a form of bullying.
  • The Cat in Red Dwarf, a humanoid creature evolved from the common housecat, whose genes have elevated feline vanity and compulsive self-grooming into something Up to Eleven. His reaction to damage to his clothing is sometimes a Berserk Button.
  • Barney Miller:
    • Happens in the episode "Vandalism". In the midst of all the considerable damage to the squadroom (upturned trash cans, spraypaint, files thrown across the floor), The Dandy Harris is most outraged that the vandal cut up his alpaca sweater.
      Harris: There was no need for this!
    • In another episode, Harris chases a suspect into the sewer and trips, falling into the waste.
      Harris: This will never come out!
      Yemana: It's not supposed to!
    • As often as it happened to him, you'd think he'd figure out not to dress to the nines while on the job.
  • In an episode of Edgemont one of the girls thinks Laurel has spread rumors about her, so she confronts Laurel at the local hangout and dumps a basket of greasy fries on her, ruining Laurel's dress.
  • Lizzie Mcguire provides a few examples of this trope's use as a way to get back at the Alpha Bitch. Despite normally being an Annoying Younger Sibling, Lizzie's brother Matt sometimes defended his sister by playing wardrobe-ruining pranks on her tormenter, Kate.
    • One of these pranks occurred during the "Freaky Friday" Flip episode. While occupying Lizzie's body, Matt put frogs in Kate's locker, scaring her and causing her to slip on a banana peel while running away. The banana peel causes her to slide into a door atop of which was balanced a bucket of chili that spills all over her outfit.
    • In another episode, Matt tricked Kate into opening a spring loaded can of rubber snakes. Kate gets startled, causing her to lose her balance and fall backward into a pond.
  • On Will and Grace, Grace was trying to help Karen live more frugally when she was cut off from Stanley's money. This led to Grace threatening to damage Karen's clothes if she didn't budget.
    Grace: Maybe I'll just start with the label.
    Karen: No, honey! That's the best part! No!

    Video Games 
  • In Devil May Cry 3, Lady shoots some holes in Dante's coat. He then gestures at them while looking annoyed at her.
  • Ripto in Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! gets pretty ticked after the titular dragon sneaks up on him and singes his cape.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • The Spy class sometimes complains (during a taunt) when the opponent gets blood on his suit, and his reaction to getting Jarate or Mad Milk thrown on him sounds much more anguished than anyone else's.
    • The Sniper will also sometimes taunt after killing a Spy: "Aw, did I get blood on your suit?"

    Web Comics 
  • In Hero Oh Hero, having his outfit damaged proves to be The Aristocrat's Berserk Button. Later on, demanding that it be repaired is the first of a series of increasingly ridiculous rewards he demands.
  • In The Wretched Ones, Jackson accidently pours wine over Nicholas' head, staining his white shirt. Nicholas in turn climbs over the table, grabs Jackson by the shirt collar, and tries to do the same to him.
  • In Rusty and Co. Level 6, Ezra the vampiress cares more for the damage done to her dress than to her body (which she can regenerate anyway).
    Ezra: This. dress. was. vintage.

    Western Animation 
  • Daphne from A Pup Named Scooby-Doo often reacts with disgust if her clothes or her go-go boots get even the least bit dirty.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Rarity becomes a nervous wreck at the luncheon for Princess Celestia, afraid anything's going to spill on her pretty party dress, in "A Bird in the Hoof".
    • Rarity becomes upset when giant Spike ruins her cape in "The Secret of my Excess".
  • In the Teen Titans episode "A Date with Destiny", Starfire gets into a brawl with Kitten, the Bratty Teenage Daughter of a super-villain, because Kitten blackmailed Robin into being her prom date with threats of unleashing her father's giant killer moths on the city. This trope comes into play when Starfire throws Kitten into a cake, leading Kitten to furiously shout "You ruined my dress!"
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Ms. Perfect", the girls in Arnold's class come to resent their new classmate Lila because she (unintentionally) upstages them at the things each of them are known for. For revenge, they pull a prank that results in Lila getting covered in spinach in front of a cafeteria's worth of students. She then runs out of the cafeteria in tears because the other kids laugh at her.
  • In Totally Spies!, this trope seems to be Clover's greatest fear. In one episode, she was actually reluctant to rescue her two best friends because doing so would bring her into contact with a muddy river.


Villainous BSODCharacter Reaction IndexWasn't That Fun?
Wardrobe MalfunctionCostume TropesWe Will Not Have Pockets in the Future
Wardrobe MalfunctionStripping TropesWatching the Reflection Undress
Vancian MagicImageSource/WebcomicsSabrina Online
Walking WastelandAdded Alliterative AppealWarp Whistle

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