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Frozen Fashion Sense

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Party like it's 1699.

"How did you manage to slip through the fifties wearing red velvet?"
Lestat, Queen of the Damned

So, Vampires Are Rich, Vampires Own Night Clubs, and Vampires Are Sex Gods.

But are they always snazzy dressers?

Maybe it's because they're old-fashioned or just out of touch with humanity, but sometimes, vampires just can't seem to grasp the concept of contemporary fashion. They'll continue wearing the clothes that were in style when they were still human, hundreds of years ago (in extreme cases, they'll recycle the same outfit until long after it should've fallen apart in the wash). When this happens in groups of vampires, it can lead to Anachronism Stew.

This is a handy visual cue to the age of any vampire appearing in a visual medium, and can, depending on the outfit, be a characterization cue that lets you know this guy is evil.

This trope is becoming less and less popular for live-action features since it's all but impossible to put a vampire in tights and a doublet in The City and take the character seriously. Or to avoid the Fridge Logic this trope entails, as period costume would presumably wear out after a few decades' use, and similar replacements would get increasingly hard to come by. Conversely, you almost never find a vampire wearing clothes from the 10-20-years-ago low point of the Popularity Polynomial that are considered dated but not yet retro.

Related to Jacob Marley Apparel and Fashion Dissonance. If they can pull it off in style — and few do — it's Awesome Anachronistic Apparel. Compare and contrast Disco Dan. Completely unrelated to the Kingdom of Arendelle's fashion statements.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dance in the Vampire Bund, Mina Tepes, when not in a school uniform or naked, leans toward late-Victorian/Edwardian wear.
  • In Hellsing, Alucard preferred the Victorian era, most likely. Just with gaudy red and modern Gothic design. We do see him rocking a business suit at least once, though, and his red coat is pretty snazzy, too. His outfit when he was a little girl during the '40s was also quite contemporary (for the time). He's also seen in what can only be called a BDSM leather outfit and 14th century plate armour when he's at Level Zero (or in other words: How he appeared as Vlad the Impaler).
  • Mr. Shido from Nightwalker prefers Edwardian-era clothing despite operating in the modern world.
  • Seraph of the End follows this trope to a T: Vampires mostly stem from the Victorian and Elizabethan era and wear clothing reflecting the nobility of those eras (though the female vampires' attire is more Stripperiffic than what would be normal for those times). Their wardrobes run on Rule of Cool, however, and are rarely, if ever, close to accurate. Vampire cities underground also primarily have Gothic architecture, as opposed to the modern-day highrises and citadels on the surface.

    Comic Books 
  • Preacher: Subverted by Cassidy (who goes with casual wear, originally being a poor Irishman in the early 20th century) and Eccarius, who dresses up as a Classical Movie Vampire despite vampires being completely different in the Preacher verse, being unable to transform or enthrall victims (and don't even need human blood to survive). Cassidy calls him out on his behavior.
  • Throughout his early publication history, immortal caveman Vandal Savage consistently dressed like an eighteenth-century Englishman even though he was in the modern day.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Though the 2001 film The Breed is set in a dystopia 20 Minutes into the Future, many characters dress in stereotypical '50s detective noir get-ups. (Though to be fair, this is not limited solely to the vampires.)
  • Clara & Eleanor from Byzantium dress in clothes that appear to be from the late '70s, early '80s. This may have been the last time they had money to purchase clothes.
  • In The Fearless Vampire Killers, Count von Krolock throws a Midnight Ball for the previous generations of vampires from the castle. They attend in tattered finery from a variety of time periods ranging from the Middle Ages to the Regency.
  • Averted in The Lair of the White Worm; Lady Marsh is very fashionable and chic.
  • Played with in the 1980s comedy Once Bitten. The Countess and her Dragon have a modern fashion sense since the Countess needs fresh virgin blood every year to maintain her youth and beauty. So they are often out and about. But, many of the Countess's lesser vampires are stay-at-homes who still dress in their period-appropriate attire (we see one wearing a Civil War-era uniform).
  • As the page quote suggests, many vampires in the film Queen of the Damned are wearing outfits that look like the Society for Creative Anachronism's best efforts, from the bizarre pseudo-belly dancer chic Pandora dons in the background to Akasha's interpretation of prehistoric Egyptian royalty's clothing. It partly makes sense with some of them, as a deleted scene shows them being woken up from who-knows-how-long slumber by Lestat's song. Like everything else in the movie, this doesn't match the book. This is lampshaded by Lestat (who is dressed as a rock star) when he sees Marius wearing the same red velvet outfit as he did centuries ago when he asks him how he managed to slip unnoticed through the past several decades wearing that.
  • The 1990 film Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat takes this to an almost ridiculous extreme, where every vampire in the town is wearing clothes from when they were human, ranging from the villain Jefferson's Mayflower getup to the Old West hats and long coats sported by about a third of the cast.
  • Averted in Underworld (2003), where most vampires wear up-to-date clothing, even for a formal occasion. Amelia's outfit, for example, wouldn't be out-of-place at the Academy Awards. Then you have Victor, but he can be forgiven, as he has just been woken up after a century-long slumber, and he didn't get his normal update on all events of the past century (he also brings his sword into a gunfight and actually manages to use it). The decadent vampires dress for a party, while the Death Dealers and Kraven's goons prefer leather.
  • In We Are the Night, Charlotte and Nora, who were a 1920s silent movie actress and a 1990s party girl, respectively, before they were turned, wear clothing and hairstyles matching those eras. However, this is averted with Louise, who is over 200 years old but wears modern fashions. In Charlotte's case it highlights her nostalgia over her past, since she turned in the 1920s, and being depressed regarding her present life.
  • The vampire protagonists of What We Do in the Shadows do try to keep up with fashion trends, they just fail horribly at it and are thoroughly mocked for their attire each time they go outside. In their defense, the lack of reflection isn't helping.

  • This trope is something of a recurring theme in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novels.
  • Averted in, of all vampire novels, Dracula, where the eponymous Count's attempts to prepare himself for his move to England explicitly include acquiring clothes in the latest fashionable English style he can get his hands on in order to blend in better.
  • In The Dresden Files most of the Red Court of vampires dress in contemporary clothing, although they do have ancient Mayincatec outfits for ceremonial occasions. The White Court frequently dresses in the height of fashion, or at least what will be the height of fashion in a month, but appear particularly fond of catsuits. The Black Court isn't well represented, but the sole prominent member seen, Mavra, does tend towards ancient styles of dress. Seeing as she's also unmistakably a walking corpse, and can become invisible, there's not much point in keeping up to date. At one point Harry notices that her centuries-out-of-date clothing is machine-made, so presumably she just likes the style.
  • The Hollows has vampires who mainly dress contemporary rather than anachronistically.
  • The Kitty Norville series has vampires who go either route. Some dress contemporarily, some dress affected to their timeframe. One dresses like an old-time cowboy.
  • The Laundry Files (by Charles Stross): Although deriding the idea that vampires have an innate fashion sense, The Rhesus Chart does point out the difficulty that older vampires (who out of necessity are isolated from society, as well as being occult sorcerers more interested in research than interaction) have of fitting in with society as it changes around them (not just fashions but also the English language has changed over the past century). One vampire gets around this by training The Renfield from every generation to act as his surrogate.
  • Mercy Thompson has met vampires who only do this for formal events. They dress in an appropriate contemporary style the rest of the time, but in a formal setting wearing clothing appropriate to their native timeframe is a visual indication of how old they are, and therefore how powerful they may be as well.
  • Nightfall (Series): Some vampires wear clothes from their human times. Most combine styles from all times and places they have experienced.
  • Played Straight in Team Human, where the vampires like to dress the way people did before they were turned.
  • Justified in The Vampire Chronicles, where Lestat explains that if vampires don't wear the clothing from the time period in which they were mortal, then they like to wear clothing that resembles such apparel; it's explained (in so many words) as psychologically comforting for the vampire. Lestat also claims that it's an excellent way to gauge a vampire's age; given that this is very much a Stronger with Age world, it can help give another vampire a way to gauge the danger (i.e, if a vampire consistently wears clothing appropriate for Colonial or Elizabethan times or earlier, it's time to run).

    Live-Action TV 
  • This trope made a brief appearance on Buffy's spinoff Angel when an obnoxious, Rat Pack-era vampire from Las Vegas arrives in town for a museum heist.
  • Being Human (US) has the vampire Elders who prefer to live among the Amish and dress as the Amish do. However, the Elders are 1000+ years old so for them that is already modern clothing.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Mentioned in the first episode, where Buffy spots a vampire by his Seventies wardrobe and then dropped afterward for all but a very few vampires like Dracula and The Prince of Lies. A lot of the low-level vampires tend to just wear the sort of clothes you grab off the rack - or, of course, take off people you kill.
      Buffy: Deal with that outfit for a moment.
      Giles: It's dated?
      Buffy: It's carbon-dated.
    • According to the pilot commentary, the original idea was the vampires eternally wear the clothes of the era they died in. This idea was swiftly dropped with the introduction of centuries-old vampires who pass for yuppies. The reason given in the commentary was that after seeing it in the pilot the creators realized it was stupid.
    • The character of Spike could be considered a loose example. Originally a plain vanilla vampire from Anne Rice era, he lifted some fashion tips from Billy Idol and Syd Vicious (though Spike would claim they stole his look) and remains stuck in the 80s. Going by flashbacks he'd been rocking variations of the look for nearly a century before it became popular, although his iconic leather coat is a trophy from the actual '70s.
    • Another dead giveaway is their hilariously outdated dance moves.
  • In a 1989 Doctor Who serial, "The Curse of Fenric", the sequences where the haemovores rise up to feast on the living display everything from Elizabethan doublets to eighteenth-century seawool. Justified, as they've all been holed up since they were turned, and haven't exactly had a chance to nip down to the shops and pick up something more trendy.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "In Throes of Increasing Wonder...", when the French vampire Lestat de Lioncourt arrives in New Orleans, his outfit is noticeably out-of-date compared to the American men's fashion of 1910, like he's still stuck in the previous century. Louis de Pointe du Lac (a snazzy dresser) later helps him to update his wardrobe.
    Lestat: New to the... the New World, I am.
    Louis: That explains the clothes.
    Lestat: (chuckles) A 19th-century man at heart, yes.
  • Averted in True Blood. Most of the main vampires wear perfectly modern clothing. In fact the first view we get of Godric, known to be about 2,000 years old, he's wearing sweatpants and a simple shirt. They also dress to fit in, if they are trying to infiltrate an organization, such as Godric and Eric dressing as SS officers during World War II when looking for werewolves. On the other hand, Russell Edgington, who is 3000 years old, prefers to dress in an old-fashioned manner at home... and then go out to meet his werewolves in a leather jacket.
  • Similarly to their film counterparts, the main vampires in What We Do in the Shadows (2019) mostly wear the clothes from the time and place they became vampires. They also tend to wear very elaborate and fancy outfits an aristocrat may wear. Colin Robinson's fashion sense is also trapped out of time, with his milquetoast '50s-esque office worker attire.

    Web Original 
  • The Vampair: Subverted; Duke is a vampire who dresses like a gothic-victorian gentleman, complete with a top hate, snazzy cane, and flowing cape, and in the early videos it seems this trope is in play. Season 2, however, reveals he's actually only been a vampire for a few years, or a decade at most. Having been a goth kid in life, he gleefully leaned into the aesthetic after becoming a vampire.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade, this trope is in effect in Elysiums (places where vampires can gather and socialize). When they are, well, masquerading, they are pretty keen about not standing out. The physical appearance of vampires in V:tM is unchanging from the time they turned. This includes hairstyles — their hair will not grow, but it also cannot be cut, nor can it be dyed. Tough luck if you had one of the more epic examples of '80s Hair when turned... Well, technically you can get a haircut and dye your hair and such. It's just that by the next night they will have restored to the situation they were in before anyway. This in itself comes in handy to cover your tracks, since nobody will assume that that guy over there with a full beard and long hair is the very same person as the skinhead who wrecked your store yesterday. There's mention in one book of a hunter taking his apprentice into a bar and asking her to find the vampire. She pointed to the guy in 1800s attire. She was right.

    Video Games 
  • The higher ranking "New Shadows" faction in the game Champions Online tend to dress in eighteenth-century clothes. The mooks dress in torn rags, and the Big Bad of the faction wears armor similar to, but sufficiently different from, the armor worn by Vlad Dracul during the back story of Bram Stoker's Dracula. And still wears it in a modern-day New Orlea... err, Vibora Bay, that is.

    Western Animation 
  • The Owl House: As Philip Wittebane/Emperor Belos prepares to return to Earth in the season two finale, he ditches his imperial attire from the Boiling Isles to wear normal clothes for fairly obvious reasons. Somewhat unfortunately for him, he is a New England Puritan from the 17th century and has been on the Boiling Isles for over 300 years, kept alive by dark magic, so his idea of what "normal people" wear on Earth is a littleā€¦ outdated. Which is to say, he dresses just like the old-timey pilgrim he once was.
    Luz: No one's gonna take you seriously if you start ranting about the Demon Realm. Not to mention a fashion sense like that... Yikes, my dude.