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Impossibly Tacky Clothes

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"But the guests will mistake me for a present!" she cried.

Lucina's mother:note  Now let me get a look at this gorgeous... Er... dress? Oh dear. I've never seen so many... unusual colors and shapes in one piece of clothing.
Lucina: I know! It's very modern. See all the giant pink polka dots? If you look carefully, you'll see that each one is a portrait of Emmeryn herself! I wager when Father sees you in this, he'll just scream with delight!
Mother: (I bet he'll scream, all right...)

When it's clear In-Universe that the clothing tried to be fancy but ended up a mess.

Some people like fancy, detailed clothing, but it's not always easy to make such clothes look good. It could be that the character/dressmaker/culture has no taste (and also why some people rightly prefer Simple, yet Opulent clothing). Or that the outfit was really rushed and this is the unfortunate result. Or the writer/designer is making a point about fashion trends. This last may involve caricatures of Real Life outfits.

Often occurs with bridesmaids' dresses in sitcoms. They're ugly, but the bride thinks they're beautiful - or the bride knows that they're ugly, and picks them so that she looks better by comparison.

Again this is not when the viewer thinks an outfit is bad. That's What The Hell, Costuming Department?. This trope is when the writer/designer deliberately states that a costume is bad, either in direct narrative voice or via the reactions of the characters in the story.

This often overlaps with (again has to be an in-universe overlap):

A Super-Trope to Tacky Tuxedo, Homemade Sweater from Hell.

Compare Scenery Gorn, Fashion Dissonance, Uncanny Valley Makeup

Contrast Impossibly Cool Clothes and Opulent Outfits.

In-Universe Examples Only:

    open/close all folders 

  • An advert for UK men's clothing store Jacamo, in which the Style Police went after badly dressed men, suggested that guys who didn't shop at Jacamo wore outfits of carefully crafted hideousness, rather than just pulling on a T-shirt and a pair of jeans.
  • The Hideous Bridesmaid Dress version shows up in a commercial for Progresso soups. A woman calls to praise their low-calorie soups, saying she can eat well while slimming down to fit in her bridesmaid's dress for her sister's wedding.
    Chef: Don't you love the dress?
    Bridesmaid: [standing in front of the mirror in a fluffy lime-green dress with a giant purple bow] I love my sister.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Shirogane's fashion sense is just as bad as all of his non-studying skills when Kei gets a look at his wardrobe outside of his school uniform. Kei directly compares his clothes to a middle school student due to how edgy and ridiculous it looks. Shirogane justifies it that his clothes are from middle school and he hasn't bought clothes since moving to high school to save money.
  • Karamatsu from Osomatsu-san has on various occasions been shown wearing clothes like sparkly blue pants and a tank top with a picture of his own face. His brother Osomatsu's reaction? "So painful!"
  • Kuniya's gimmick in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is his absolutely atrocious fashion sense, which he demonstrates whenever he's out of his school uniform. It's bad enough that when the class is watching a field news report on a crime, they spot him in the background with an incredibly gaudy t-shirt and get so distracted that nobody can even remember what the crime that was being reported was (and one of them even asks if it was a guy wearing a gaudy t-shirt and staring at the camera.)
  • Spy X Family: In Mission 48, in order to distract Loid from seeing Yor, Anya makes him try on every possible outfit in the store. He convinces himself that "this is the right move" in order to keep the mission. Anya tries to use this to escape, but then remembers he's a quick-changer. Only for Loid to look at himself and start to question if this is right. At the end, Loid comes out dressed in his "tourist" get-up: A shell hat (think Slowbro's tail), sunglasses, a lei, a toy sword, a squirt gun, a tote bag, an inner tube, swim trunks with little octopi, striped socks, and pointed octopus shoes. Anya simply says "So uncool" as Loid looks shocked with Color Failure (despite being a black and white manga).


    Comic Books 
  • In one strip from the Archie Comics, Betty wants a new dress for a dance — but her mother refuses to let her wear a rather daring gown. Betty promises to do all sorts of chores if her mom will let her wear it, but her mother refuses; she then says that if Betty will do those chores, her mother will make the dress. Unfortunately, the mother makes a dress that would have been embarrassingly out-of-date when she was Betty's age (it has puffed sleeves, which were in vogue in the late 1800s)note , and Betty is humiliated. Luckily, a man there likes the dress and takes Betty as his dance partner for the evening.
  • In the Asterix album Obelix and Co., the totally-not Jacques Chirac Roman economist Preposterus, who is trying to introduce free-market capitalism to the village (hoping to cause their decadence with money), buys lots of Obelix's stock at inflated prices and tells him that he should now put some of the money back in the economy by spending it on expensive clothes more appropriate for a businessman. Obelix is so rich that he buys an entire peddler's stock of fabrics and then pays a lot of money to the village seamstress to make his dream outfit from them. This turns out to be strange-looking purple and blue breeches and a huge yellow bow. Obelix is convinced he is a Sharp-Dressed Man, but everyone else hates it, with only Asterix retaining the good humour to laugh at him instead of just shooting him waves of contempt. Then he gets everyone else into the menhir craze, and they all start dressing like that, too.
  • Black Canary's '80s costume has received much lampooning since she got rid of it, including one issue of Birds of Prey where she sees action figures of herself in it and immediately buys all of them so no-one will know how ugly it was. Not to mention the one cover that showed her gleefully burning the thing when she returned to her classic look.
  • Dick Grayson's gotten some flack over the years for several of his costuming choices, mostly his "Discowing" suit and the fact that he decided to run about Gotham in a leotard with a t-shirt over it as Robin. He generally puts up a token defense of these choices when others bring them up but seems to understand why people found them tacky. His fondness for bright colors and shining accents (presumably a vestige of his Circus Brat days) has found its way into his civilian attire as well but his undisputed status as the most successful Mr. Fanservice in comics indicates he can pull it off.
  • Forgotten Realms: In one issue, Foxy Cardluck takes it upon himself to make a new outfit for Priam Agrivar after the latter's clothes get destroyed in battle. The result is a garish ensemble consisting of a purple cape and hat, a red tabard and boots, a pink scarf, a gold belt and gloves, and green-and-pink striped undershirt and pantaloons. Vartan bursts out laughing at the sight of it, the other members of the crew struggle to find anything kind to say about it, and Agrivar is left covering his face in embarrassment.
  • One of Kitty Pryde's outfits, which was very short-lived and lampooned whenever she wore it. Meant to be a combination of things a 14-year-old girl in the early 80s would think was cool, it has (among other things) leg warmers and roller skates.
  • Luke Cage used to wear an open-chest yellow silk shirt with a high collar and a tiara. In The Pulse, Janet Van Dyne is trying to design Luke's new outfit, and most of them make his old outfit look like an Armani suit. When Spider-Man mocks him for the old ensemble, Cage's response is "It was the '70s!"
  • X-Man: Nate Grey used to run around in blue and yellow gear which, surprisingly, was from the grim and gritty Age of Apocalypse. It was the first in a long streak of dubious fashion decisions, which became a Running Gag. This particular outfit had him dubbed a "horrible little MTV clone" by Peter Wisdom (who was admittedly none too well disposed to him because Nate had just blasted him into a wall).

    Comic Strips 
  • There's a Bloom County story where Opus gets Steve Dallas a role in a Tess Turbo music video and rummages through Steve's wardrobe for "something shocking... crazy... tacky... outrageously ugly" for him to wear. He produces a loud plaid suit that he describes as "El Barfo." Steve angrily protests, "That's my Sunday suit!!"
  • In one Calvin and Hobbes Sunday strip, Calvin's clothes team up to attack him and dress him in the tackiest outfit possible. He tries to resist, but the pants force his legs to move. His mom lampshades it when he comes downstairs, asking if he's gone colorblind.
  • Garfield's owner, Jon, frequently dresses in gaudy outfits for dates.
    • In one strip set at a golf course, another golfer asks Jon, 'Would you mind observing proper golf etiquette there, mister?' Jon apologizes for yelling at Garfield and Odie, and the golfer responds, 'No, I'm talking about your outfit'. Now think about some of the outfits you see on golf courses outside the pros...
    • There's also a Jon-and-Liz-on-a-date mini-arc; Jon starts out looking more or less respectable, but then he loses a contact lens and has to put on his sunglasses (with plastic palm trees on either side), then spills soup on his tie and has to change it to his hideous spare. The arc ends with the waiter coming over and asking them to leave as Jon has 'slipped beneath the dress code since you've arrived'.
  • Safe Havens:
    • The bridesmaids are worried about what Ming will pick for them to wear as, since Ming is the group's Cloudcuckoolander, stuff like pirate costumes, tutus, giant diapers, and flippers aren't out of the question. Their fears aren't entirely unfounded: Ming once considered one giant dress for all four of them to wear at once, a la the memetic Get-Along Shirt, so she didn't alienate them by choosing only one to be a maid of honor. In the end, she went with a low-key decision: swapping her bridesmaids' regular outfits. The poor groomsmen, however, had neon green tuxedos.
    • Samantha acknowledges this trope when she picks her own bridesmaids' outfits, saying they only exist to make her look better, so to keep the peace, she'll pay for the dresses out of her own pocket. They're fine with that, they're just glad Samantha isn't literally transforming them into birds for the ugly plumage. (Samantha also had to talk Dave out of turning his groomsmens' tuxes into sports uniforms.)

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Applies to both the bride's tastelessly over-the-top Fairytale Wedding Dress and Penny's hideous bridesmaid's gown in "The Wedding Reception."
    Mittens: That dress. What was she thinking? It would've been more tasteful if she wore the wedding cake. It's got less flowers on it, and mercifully no Styrofoam birds. Though you’ve gotta admit, it’s better than Penny’s bridesmaid dress. She looks like a banana split, complete with sprinkles.
  • Navarone gets a set of tacky armour in Diaries of a Madman, as a way of Celestia getting revenge on him for spoiling one of her plans.
  • In Divided Rainbow, Applejack, as the proprietress of the Carousel Boutique. Of course, she's not herself...
  • A staple of Harry Potter fanfiction is having Albus Dumbledore wear impossibly tacky robes to reflect his slight Cloud Cuckoo Lander tendencies.
  • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, when George has to disguise himself as a wealthy Geddy man—he hates Geddies—he deliberately chooses the most obnoxious "high fashion" Geddy clothes he can find. He also gives himself a Yu-Gi-Oh!-type hairdo, which he quickly comes to regret, since the points on his hair continually brush against things.
  • In the Skyhold Academy Yearbook series, Cullen has a collection of ties that fit the description, if Dorian's horrified reaction to them is any indication. As the resident history teacher, they tend to be covered in things like busts of famous historical figures, ships from legendary battles, or monuments; the one patterned in winged nugs is generally considered the worst of the lot. Cullen retaliates for all the teasing by getting his colleagues their own horrible ties.
  • In this fanart from The Owl House Lilith is dismayed to find that all of the clothes Eda leant to her are like this, including a shirt that reads "Ask me about my mackerel passion" and sweatpants with "It's a cowboy thing" down the leg.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Turning Red, Devon's puka shell necklace and bucket hat are described by Mei as making him look like a hobo and Ming identifies him in Mei's drawings based on the hat calling him sketchy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Most of the bridesmaid dresses in 27 Dresses are considered to be tacky, though one is pointed out to be a decent dress, but an awful color. The male lead thinks all the brides made Jane wear such ugly outfits on purpose because they couldn't stand having a gorgeous, tall, and elegant woman like her next to them.
  • In 101 Dalmatians, particularly the live-action adaptation and its sequel starring Glenn Close, Cruella's outfits are monstrously over-the-top and shock anyone who sees them — but nobody is brave enough to confront her about it. Cruella is in search of the "perfect" fur coat and is convinced that it must be made from the skins of the dalmatian puppies.
  • Barely Lethal: Megan/Agent 83 tries to act as a regular high school student, but since her efforts are inspired by teen movies, she tends to come across as outrageously over-the-top.
  • Many of Delia's outfits in Beetlejuice fall into this category, although clearly she thinks she's on the cutting edge of fashion. In one scene, she wears a glove as a hair ornament; in another, she wears a sweater (the same sweater her husband Charles was seen wearing previously) as pants.
  • In Bridesmaids, Helen goes to all the trouble of getting a fancy dress from a famous French designer commissioned for Lillian's wedding, making Annie jealous. But on the day of the wedding, when Lillian reveals the dress to Annie, it's an incredibly over-the-top, frilly couture dress that Lillian is embarrassed to wear, symbolizing how Helen's takeover of the wedding has overwhelmed Lillian.
    Annie: I will not let you walk down that aisle unless you look perfect and beautiful, I promise.
    Lillian: Do you have a chain saw? And a blow torch?
  • In Django Unchained, Django's first choice of clothes as a free man are a royal-blue coat with matching knee-breeches (tied off with blue ribbons), buckled shoes, and a very large, lacy bow tie. When one of the slaves he's talking to realizes that he picked the outfit for himself, rather than being forced to wear it as she's assumed, she's astonished.
  • In The Hunger Games, the decadence of the Capitol citizens is emphasized by their garish clothes.
  • Johnny Be Good: Johnny returns from California with a purple and gold suit and multiple gold chains. Everyone around him thinks his outfit is ridiculous.
  • The costume department of 2011 movie Killing Bono clearly went to town in showcasing the absolute worst fashions of The '80s.
  • Stanley Ipkiss' pajamas in The Mask. One even inspires Lt. Kellaway to use Bat Deduction to conclude he is the title character.
    Stanley: This is... impossible!
    Kellaway: Those pajamas are impossible. This actually happened!
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Toula's initial wedding dress had a massively oversized veil and figure-hiding ruffles, leading to Toula exclaiming "I'm a snow beast!" There are also hideous bridesmaids' dresses that her cousin Nikki picked out. While the rest of her family coos in awe, Toula's response is a horrified gasp.
  • In My Cousin Vinny, the title character is held in contempt for not wearing a suit in court. When his only suit is accidentally thrown into a mud puddle, and the dry cleaners is closed, he needs a replacement to keep himself from another night in jail. Cue the only suit for sale in the entire town: A three-piece '80s prom night getup in maroon.
  • True Stories: A fashion show of nothing but. It starts with suits made of things like grass turf or red brick stucco and moves on to increasingly hideous outfits. Topped off with bridal gowns with headpieces about a dozen feet tall. It has to be seen to be believed.

  • In the Acorna Series, Acorna finds the traditional costumes of her people to be far too ostentatious, modifying them to be more discreet. Her kinsfolk react by thinking she is still in her underwear.
  • Bret Easton Ellis invoked this in a more subtle manner when writing American Psycho. To a reader unfamiliar with the world of fashion, the characters' clothes will make them seem fancy due to the lengthy descriptions and the flashy brands that get name-dropped, but a reader who is familiar will immediately realize that their outfits are incredibly mismatched and haphazardly put together, in a manner that Ellis compared to court jesters. Thus, it is highlighted how shallow the characters are, obsessing over surface-level markers of wealth and taste but coming off as tasteless and lacking real personalities of their own. (The effect didn't carry over to the film adaptation, in which the characters are legitimately sharp-dressed men.)
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Nathaniel's fashionable, very tight trousers in The Golem's Eye are mocked by Bartimaeus and Kitty.
  • A Brother's Price. When he is dressed for a royal ball, Jerin complains that he feels like that fantasy world's equivalent of a Christmas tree. The dress includes tight trousers with a codpiece, and all kinds of bells, flowers, and feathers woven into his hair. There are also bells at the sleeves of his shirt.
  • Discworld:
    • Cheery Littlebottom embraces that she is a female, against Dwarven traditions of looking gender neutral. In The Fifth Elephant she and other dwarves like her make some dresses to show off their newfound femininity, but their dresses look silly. Others are too polite to point it out. The dresses are described as going all-in on gaudy girliness because when you're breaking out of a thousand years of tradition, subtlety doesn't come into it. At the end of one novel, Cheery chooses to attend a party in more traditional dwarf attire, admitting that the green dress she was planning to wear makes her look like a big cabbage.
    • Happens in Pyramids. Ambassadors to the Djelibeybi court have tried to look their best, but because many items of clothing from Djelibeybi's seven thousand year history are sometimes employed only in very specific circumstances, they end up looking like utter fools. The effect is described thusly:
      "If a foreign ambassador to the Court of St James wore (out of a genuine desire to flatter) a bowler hat, a claymore, a Civil War breastplate, Saxon trousers and a Jacobean haircut, he'd create pretty much the same impression."
    • The Discworld Diary for Unseen University describes UU scarves and other apparel in the school colors as being an eye-watering mix of colors, allegedly intended to approximate octarine for non-wizards' eyes.
  • Dragons in Our Midst: In the ending of The Candlestone, the medieval Arthurian knights in present-day America find and wear tacky leisure suits in Creamsicle orange, avocado green, and electric grape in a box marked "goodwill". It further accentuates their Fish out of Temporal Water status.
  • Ciaphas Cain: Early in Duty Calls, Cain is attacked by followers of Slaanesh, one of whom wears a jacket so hideous that Cain claims wearing it is a capital offense. He refers to the man thereafter as "Vile Jacket". He also mentions that local fashion is so hideous that even a Slaaneshi cultist would look down on it.
  • In Eight Cousins, Naïve Everygirl Rose is dressed a very "fashionable" outfit. As it's a book, much is left to the imagination, but the narrator and characters comment on how overdone and awful it looks on her, except for the slave-to-fashion aunt who put her in it in the first place. Rose's uncle even lambasts the aunt on how unhealthy it is. (Then again, whalebone corsets? He has a point.) This is a case of Writer on Board, as Alcott has Rose then put on a much more modest and simple outfit to emphasize the simple, modest young lady she is (and that all her readers should strive to be).
  • In Alexandre Dumas's novel The Forty Five Guardsmen we are informed that they have no uniform and, since they have just arrived in Paris, they are provided with money to buy new clothes. The results are a motley assortment of styles and decorations, "generally in bad taste".
  • Goldfinger: Goldfinger's golf outfit is tacky because it's so designed.
    "...Goldfinger had made an attempt to look smart at golf and that is the only way of dressing that is incongruous at the links. Everything matched in a blaze of rust-coloured tweed from the buttoned 'golfer's cap' centred on the huge, flaming red hair, to the brilliantly polished, almost orange shoes. The plus-four suit was too well-cut and the plus-fours themselves had been pressed down the sides. The stockings were of a matching heather mixture and had green garter tabs. It was as if Goldfinger had gone to his tailor and said 'Dress me for golf—you know, like they wear in Scotland.'"
  • Harry Potter:
    • Hepzibah Smith wears a large pink dress to impress Tom Riddle that makes her look like a "melting iced cake".
    • Rita Skeeter is described as dressing in ridiculously tacky fashions such as magenta robes with maroon furs at the collar and sleeves.
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Ron Weasley is not at all happy with the second-hand dress robe his mother bought for him. It is unclear whether it actually is this trope, but apparently there is lace involved, which Ron thinks looks very unmanly. The film made it very clear that it was hideously antiquated and, yes, had copious amounts of lace.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Zaphod Beeblebrox was voted "Worst-Dressed Sentient Being in the Known Universe" seven times.
  • Kris Longknife:
    • Kris and Vicky Peterwald both complain at various times that the formal dress uniform for female naval officers is awful: dress whites business jacket with a floor-length skirt. Kris narrates something to the effect in Mutineer that it must have been designed for women by men who were determined to make it as unattractive as humanly possible. In Target, Vicky hires an admiral's fashion designer wife to improve on it and ends up in a much more flattering white gown with a bolero jacket on which her rank and party salad can be worn.
    • Also in Target, Vicky's father issues the Order of St. Christopher, Star Leaper decoration to survivors of the expedition in Daring. Vicky, and Kris when she receives hers in Bold, find that the bright orange sash on which the medallion is supposed to be worn doesn't go with anything.
  • Discussed in The Magician's Nephew when the cabbie's wife Helen is brought to Narnia in the middle of doing her washing-up. The narrator notes that if she had time to prepare by putting on her "fancy" clothes, which apparently included a hat with fake fruit on, she would have looked extremely tacky. As it was, Underdressed for the Occasion in her simple workday clothes, she looked quite beautiful.
  • In Shadow Grail, the main character has to attend the school's New Year dinner and formal dance, but doesn't have any formal wear. She goes to the storage room of dresses that Oakhurst Academy has to find something suitable. Unfortunately, as a friend puts it, it's where 'bridesmaid dresses go to die'. Fortunately, said friend is a good seamstress and is able to make a nice formal dress out of two terrible ones from the "Little Closet of Horrors". The boys apparently have their own version of said closet, with secondhand rent-a-tuxes.
  • In To Say Nothing of the Dog, all of Tossie's over-designed dresses tend towards this, at least in the eyes of the time-traveling protagonists, who are pretty put off by most Victorian design. But especially Tossie's dresses. Girl loves ruffles.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Near the end of Barrayar, Miss Droushnakovi has a lacy wedding dress in mind, but — fortunately, as it turns out — Lady Alys Vorpatril takes an interest in her case and averts this trope.
      "No, no, no!" she cried, recoiling. "All that lace — you would look as furry as a big white bear. Silk, dear, long falls of silk is what you need—"
    • Taura's civilian wardrobe also tends to this, which is why Miles has her consult his Aunt Alys when she arrives for his wedding in "Winterfair Gifts". Alys' first stop in giving the bioengineered Super Soldier a makeover is to have her previous wardrobe burned.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Tinkers, wandering Actual Pacifist expies of the Romani, tend to wear rather blandly designed clothes compared to some of the other cultures that Robert Jordan indulged his Costume Porn tendencies with, except that the color choices are best described as eye-searing. The combinations could be described as having been picked by someone who was completely colorblind, but they're so hideously clashing, and uniformly so, that you can't get there by mere chance.
  • In Wild Cards, Dr. Tachyon is frequently described as dressing like this whenever he has the opportunity to dress himself. Canary yellow, emerald green, royal purple, cardinal red, and sky blue can all make an appearance in the same outfit. Apparently, this is considered a normal Takisian wardrobe, but since he's living on Earth, almost every human who looks at him comments on how ridiculous he looks. It's compounded by his metallic-red hair.
  • A few examples from the X-Wing Series:
    • In Wraith Squadron, three members of the squadron (Wedge, Face, and Donos) are attempting to slip past customs on an Imperial world by disguising themselves as Agamarians — people from Agamar being a byword for stupid yokels throughout the galaxy. To "blend in", when they land, they hang out at a tourist resort in some of the most appalling clueless clothing ever, including one outfit that contains a shirt with thin horizontal stripes in clashing colors, shorts with thin vertical stripes in different clashing colors, and a ten-gallon hat.
      Face: I recommend you keep the hat. It really completes the image of an Agamarian stereotypical with no taste and no sense.
      Wedge: [ruefully] I wish I didn't agree with you.
      Donos: [looking over the outfit Face prepared for him] Sir, permission to kill Face?
      Wedge: Granted. But keep your hat, like Face says.
    • In Starfighters of Adumar, the four pilots of Red Flight are serving as ambassadors to the eponymous planet and decide to honor the local traditions by wearing Adumari clothing. Wedge and Tycho have fairly reasonable-looking ensembles. Janson wears an all-black outfit and a floor-length, nebular purple cloak with twinkling star lights in it. Hobbie, however, surpasses him with an elaborate fringed tunic outfit colored entirely in bright primary red, yellow, and blue. He explains himself thusly:
      Hobbie: There are three types of dress clothing: the kind that offends the viewer, the kind that offends the wearer, and the kind that offends everybody. I'm going for the third kind; fair's fair.
    • Later, Janson has to find a new cloak. (His first one was lit on fire.) It's composed entirely of flexible flatscreen displays, so that he can display whatever he wants on it, like a CGI image of a chorus line of Jansons doing high kicks. It's so appalling Wedge considers spacing it.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Ally McBeal: Ally once went to her client's wedding as her bridesmaid. The dress was terribly fluffy and of some vivid colour. Nelle and Ling observed that it looked horrible. When Ally was wandering in the streets still wearing said dress, one couple liked it (or was amused) and they wanted to take a photo of her.
  • Benny Hill did a skit in which he was wearing an impossible tacky suit as he's strutting around, then they show a scarecrow wearing the same suit.
  • The Big Bang Theory features a twist where the bride's dress is tacky, rather than the bridesmaids'. Amy, after trying on a few tasteful dresses, comes out in a voluminous, fluffy number with gloves and a cape claiming it's "the one." Penny and Bernadette hate the dress and struggle with whether to tell Amy. Amy is devastated once she learns how they feel, enough to return the dress. Her fiancé Sheldon, however, (also known for his poor taste in formal wear) loves the dress on her, saying she "looks like a pile of swans". Amy keeps the dress, though the final version removed the cape and gloves, making it a little more tasteful.
  • Boy Meets World features Topanga excitedly waiting for her bridesmaids to come out in their hideous southern belle-themed dresses, complete with parasol. While Topanga finds them completely beautiful, Angela and Rachel are much less enamored but hide their feelings to spare their friend's feelings, pretend to be as enamored with them as she is (Morgan is much more blunt, ripping hers off and beating it with her parasol). Amy however gives Topanga a taste of her own medicine when she lovingly insists that Topanga wear an heirloom wedding dress that dates back to the Civil War.
    Topanga: I don't want to offend anybody, and my family's feelings are the most important thing to me. (to Cory) But if she thinks I'm getting married in that freakin' monstrosity, she must have been hitting the sauce!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The bridesmaids at Xander and Anya's wedding in "Hell's Bells" are stuck wearing neon green dresses with ruffly trim on the sleeves and hem. Willow tries to argue that her being Xander's Best Woman means she should have been allowed to wear a suit instead. Buffy shoots the notion down claiming that they all have to suffer together.
    Spike: It's nice to watch you be happy. For them, even. I don't see it a lot. You glow.
    Buffy: That's because the dress is radioactive.
  • In a sketch parodying Gone with the Wind ("Went With the Wind!") on The Carol Burnett Show, Carol (as "Starlet O'Hara") appears in a dress made from curtains, complete with the curtain rod (parodying a dress in the film, made from curtains sans rod).
  • The Chase's Bradley Walsh gets a ton of mileage on Paul Sinha's straight from the 70s white suit. So does Paul. Behold. There's a reason his twitter feed lists him as a: "Prisoner of ITV's Fashion Consultants".
  • Dead Gorgeous: The 'fashion of the future' outfits Christine and her Girl Posse create for a fashion show in "Smoke and Mirrors", which cause the entire school to laugh them off the stage. When you surround yourself with yes-men, there is no one to tell you how ridiculous you actually look.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The outfit worn by the Sixth Doctor was, according to Colin Baker, included by producer John Nathan-Turner to be deliberately terrible to show how over-the-top the new Doctor could be. Baker himself was rather unhappy with the result, which he described as "an explosion in a rainbow factory", and would later state on record that he had actually wished for his Doctor to wear a more subdued black velvet suit to reflect the character's new, slightly darker nature (compared to the gentler and more human Fifth Doctor's prominently beige and white costume), but that Nathan-Turner had vetoed the idea and gone ahead with the deliberately tasteless design. It actually got an In-Universe nod in Big Finish Doctor Who story The One Doctor, when Banto points out how ridiculous the Doctor looks in it.
    • Referenced in the anthology Short Trips and Side Steps, with the mind-manipulating Javaman stating flatly that there are only a handful of beings in the known universe to dress as tastelessly.
    • In The Twin Dilemma, the Sixth Doctor's first full story, his companion Peri's reaction to his new outfit is "Yuck". The Doctor takes great offense to it.
      • The novelisation, written by the era's script editor Eric Saward, has a lengthy paragraph of what can only be described as Anti Costume Porn, including suggesting that the watch chain may have been stolen from a public lavatory.
    • Nathan-Turner himself later admitted the outfit had been a mistake— since it was so bright and colourful, the sets had to be designed in a similar range of colour and brightness, due to the cameras' limited range of brightness values. He's reported as saying that if the design or lighting people had told him this was an issue, he would have dumped the thing.
    • For a while, UK-based nerd store Forbidden Planet sold Doctor-torso-print t-shirts as a form of very low-effort Official Cosplay Gear (these are the t-shirts the ex-Doctors wear in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot). The official description for the Sixth Doctor t-shirt is rather sarcastic:
      Step out in style with the 6th Doctor's patchwork coat, cat pin, and iconic question mark lapels! Enjoy fashionably tasteful time travel with this fantastic Forbidden Planet Exclusive T-Shirt designed to commemorate Colin Baker's iconic outfit!
    • It's even a plot point in Big Finish story The Sandman, where the Doctor uses the optical overload of his coat to turn himself into the Galyari's chief terror. Their eyes are extremely sensitive to colors due to their chameleonic background and they literally can't look at him.
    • In publicity photos for the Big Finish Eighth Doctor Stranded 4, an incarnation of the Curator played by Colin wears a marginally more subdued version; the coat has darkened to plum and lost the patchwork look, the waistcoat now has the yellow and black stripes that used to be on the trousers and coat cuffs rather than being its own combination of clashing patterns, the trousers themselves are striped in light brown and dark brown, and the bright blue polka-dot cravat is replaced with a teal bowtie. There's still a cat badge, but no question marks.
    • While not quite the color explosion of Six, one could make a strong argument for Seven not winning any Beau Brummell contests any time soon.

  • Mimi on The Drew Carey Show regularly dressed in outlandish clothes and overdone makeup, which of course got a number of jokes from Drew and his friends (although Mimi would have her own jokes to snap back with).
  • In Entourage, Vince almost dismisses Aquaman because of the first costume design.
  • In the The Flash (2014) episode where The Trickster is introduced, the garish outfit he wore during his original rampage back in the '90s gets more than one disparaging reaction.
  • Frasier:
    • There's one episode when Roz mentions she hates those kinds of bridesmaid dresses. It's subverted when Frasier takes control of the wedding and chooses tasteful dresses for the bridesmaids, at which point Roz agrees to be Daphne's bridesmaid. It's then Double Subverted when, after Roz has agreed, she convinces Daphne to take control of her own wedding, and Daphne says the first thing she'll change is the bridesmaid dresses: "They don't even have poofy sleeves!"
    • Roz once shows Frasier the dress she was supposed to wear for a wedding back in Wisconsin. After the typical cringing, Roz mentions that they're supposed to be awful "so the bride will glow". She then adds: "And standing next to this, she'll light up like a bug zapper." The hideous green taffeta creation elicits a comment from Frasier that if she gives it to Goodwill she'll "make some Irish drag queen very happy." The Stinger proves him correct.
      Bulldog: Never been to a wedding where I didn't bag at least one bridesmaid. And the uglier the dress, the quicker they want to get out of them. (looks at Roz's neon green dress) This one would hit the floor before the rice.
  • Friends did an episode that touched on these bridesmaid dresses. When Rachel agrees to be Maid of Honor at Barry and Mindy's wedding she's forced to wear a neon-pink, taffeta dress with Giant Poofy Sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat. Rachel claims she looks like something you drink when you're nauseous while Chandler calls her "Princess Bubble Yum" and compares her to Little Bo Peep. Mindy's short-fronted wedding dress is pretty tacky as well suggesting she just doesn't have good taste when it comes to fashion.
  • Have I Got News for You:
    • Paul Merton frequently wears tacky clothes. The rest of the time he wears a Fun T-Shirt. Once lampshaded when Paul wore a bright pink shirt with a yellow-gold dragon design on one shoulder.
      Ian: I say, Paul, I think someone's thrown up on your shoulder.
      Paul turns to the plain shoulder and brushes away an imaginary piece of lint.
      Paul: Thanks Ian, I wouldn't have noticed otherwise!
    • Angus Deayton went in for this back when he hosted the show too. Most notorious was his bright brown suit.
    • Have I Got News For You: The Shameless Cash-In Book includes a look at the regulars' wardrobes. Angus' contains "Silk suits, many of them tragically brown" and Paul's contains "Shirts of such unyielding hideousness as to take your breath away". Ian, meanwhile, goes for "Nondescript woolen jackets and cheap loud ties (non-matching)".
  • In How I Met Your Mother season 1, Lily tried on some bridal dresses in her price range which were truly groan-worthy.
  • In The IT Crowd, Douglas Renholm spends his time preparing for a trial by sewing together an awful, Sixth Doctor-esque patchwork suit that freaks out Jen.
  • In Jessica Jones (2015) this is Jessica's opinion of the loud and colorful dress patterns favored by Pam, the secretary (also lover) of Jeri Hogarth.
    Pam: (to Jeri) She won't wait, she wouldn't listen.
    Jessica: I couldn't hear you over that print.
  • Kamen Rider Build: Gentoku Himuro turns out to have almost physically painful fashion sense, which nobody realized until late in the series because up to that point he'd only ever worn "official" outfits like business suits and military uniforms. The rest of the cast finds this out in Episode 40 when he enters Nastica wearing an outfit that includes a baseball cap made of straw and a blue jean vest covered in one inch-tall plastic gemstones; nobody has the heart to say anything...except Misora, who just blurts out that he looks like a creep. Later that same episode, he shows off a new outfit with matching pink T-shirt and capri pants, white platform shoes, pink hair extensions, and a transparent jacket; Misora again tells him that he looks like a creep, which stuns him since he considers this outfit a "compromise" and is utterly gobsmacked that these people just don't understand his "style".
  • The Nanny: Fran Fine normally has style and flair, but she still has some off days. In "Here Comes The Brood", while she's a bridesmaid for her cousin, she wears a garish pink dress which, in her own words, makes her "look like Pat Boone's mistress." And her mother Sylvia's gown isn't much better.
    Fran: Oh, I don't know about these straps, Ma. You look like a ham.
    Sylvia: The salesgirl said I looked like a dream.
    Fran: Maybe Oscar Mayer's...
  • One episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide has Cookie set out to create a "universal outfit" that is utilitarian, inoffensive, and gender-neutral after getting fed up with how a person's clothes can affect their image and social group. What he creates is a hideous grey smock that looks like a cross between a Mao suit and a Jedi robe, with a giant kangaroo pouch in front for carrying laptops and equipment. Just wearing it makes Cookie, Ned and Moze pariahs to the whole school.
  • One episode of New Girl has Winston and Cece getting hammered off champagne while shopping for a wedding dress. When she tries it on sober, they're both in utter shock at the sartorial nightmare they picked out. Words barely do it justice, but the fact that the top lights up is the least heinous part of it.
    Winston: You look like a prostitute for wizards.
    Cece: I look like a bullfighter in space.
  • Odd Squad:
    • "The Potato Ultimato" has Olaf forcing him, Olive and Oren to wear full-body potato sacks in place of jackets. Olaf doesn't mind it despite it being itchy. Olive and Oren, on the other hand, look less pleased, with Olive giving a reaction that screams "This Is Gonna Suck."
    • In "Not So Splash", when Olive and Otto corner Sven Jorganson, he taunts them by saying that they'll never find his temperature-changing machine. Olive takes it in stride and fakes interest in seeing a snowflake on the ground, and when Sven looks down, she rips his red-and-white-striped hat off of his head and grabs his machine. Then this exchange follows:
      Sven: Ah! Nooo... [Olive takes out the machine from his hat] Ahhh, how did you—
      Olive: It's the only reason you'd wear a hat like this.
    • In "New Jacket Required", both Olympia and Oprah express their dislike for Otis's Investigation agent jacket, which is stained, ripped, and held together with tape and bobby pins. Otis doesn't mind the wear and tear, but Oprah orders him to get a new one regardless.
      Oprah: Since we're ahead of schedule, Otis is getting a new jacket.
      Otis: What's wrong with this one?
      Olympia: Mainly the entire back of it.
      [Otis turns around to show his ripped jacket]
      Otis: It's just a little worn-in, is all.
      Ms. O: Otis, this is a professional workplace.
    • The episode "Overdue!" has Orla forced to wear a dress made out of canvas when she is fired from Odd Squad for not returning an Extremely Overdue Library Book. As an ancient Odd Squad agent, dresses made out of such material would be no issue for her, but since her normal uniform is made of a "cotton-polyester blend" (which she had been wearing for a while up to that point), she is much more used to that kind of clothing than to old-timey dresses.
  • One episode of Project Runway had the contestants have to make an outfit out of a vintage suit. Some of the suits were actually pretty nice, but a few were seen as tacky by the designers, who didn't know how they'd make anything good out of them.
    • In general most of the losing outfits that get a designer sent home will often be of this sort, and judge Michael Kors usually rips into the failures the most of any of the judges. Kors in particular is fond of describing bad outfits with a Mad Libs Catch Phrase of "She looks like an [adjective] [Always Female role or occupation] on her way to an [event] in [geographic location]."
  • Hologram Al's favoured outfits in Quantum Leap. Vividly coloured, shiny, embellished, and frequently lampshaded: a small child (who could see Al) described him as "a man in a yucky shirt", and on one occasion when he was soberly dressed, Sam was alarmed in case someone had died. (In practical terms, the loud costumes made Al easy for the viewer to spot, and contrasted well with the green screen for the times when he had to walk through a solid object.)
  • While he tends to be rather fashionable, some of The Cat from Red Dwarf's outfits can be this, particularly in series three. Case in point, his golf outfit from Timeslides.
  • In the Saved by the Bell: The New Class Season 4 episode "The Fifth Wheel", Ryan buys Rachel a jacket with trinkets in the shapes of the moon and stars that glow in the dark attached to it. After Maria makes a Backhanded Compliment about the jacket, Nicky buys one for her. Neither of the girls likes the jackets, and, after confessing to the boys at the end of the episode (which the guys take well), they ditch the jackets.
    Maria: Nicky, if you ever buy me clothes again, just follow this simple rule: Nothing that glows in the dark.
  • Seinfeld:
  • Top Gear: James May often gets made fun of for his fashion sense, especially his loud and/or flowery shirts. He has pointed out in several interviews that he actually spends quite a bit of money on clothes, but "manages to make them all look like crap."
  • Several contestants fell prey to this on Whose Line Is It Anyway?:
    • Colin Mochrie is especially remembered for his insanely tacky shirts. During one episode, his shirt was so eye-searingly horrible he was dubbed "Tacky Shirt Man" during the opening Superheroes game, turning it into a Running Gag for the rest of the show. In actuality the shirts were chosen by the show's wardrobe department, not by him, since he was usually the one in front of the green screen during "Newsflash" games, so his shirts were chosen so they didn't interfere with the Chroma Key.
    • Ryan Stiles' custom-made shoes were also frequent targets, including a pair in leopard print, a pair in bright blue, and an impressive black-and-white pair with flames on the sides.
  • On WKRP in Cincinnati the station's sales rep Herb Tarlek is infamous for his eye-searing suits.
  • In a "Non-Denominational Holiday" episode of X-Play, Adam dissed the antlers he wore, while Morgan dissed his sweater.

    Music Videos 
  • The entire point of "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Tacky" music video. Also mentioned numerous times in the song itself: wearing stripes with plaid, suspenders with a belt, socks with sandals, Uggs covered in glitter, pink Crocs covered in sequins, and an Ed Hardy shirt with fluorescent orange pants.
  • In the start of the video for Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison", Ronnie DeVoe breaks the fourth wall and asks who gave him a goofy-print shirt to wear, before going off to complain to the director.

  • In Welcome to Night Vale Cecil's attire apparently includes furry pants, a tunic, and a fanny pack. Quote Carlos on the fanny pack (albeit adoringly)
    Carlos: I tell him it makes him look like a baby boomer mall mom on a cruise vacation.

  • Jemimah from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues is a sporty girl with no interest in fashion or personal presentation, which is made clear by the garish ensembles she throws together. When she's introduced, she's wearing a lime green shirt, hot pink windbreaker, and ratty sweatpants.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dark Folk, a vintage third-party Dungeons & Dragons supplement from Role Aids, states that hobgoblins are color-blind and select articles of clothing based solely on pattern and texture. This means that to races with color vision, they typically look like this trope personified.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 universe, pretty much anyone who worships Slaanesh, the hermaphroditic deity of hedonism, will end up turning their armor into this trope. Slaanesh is a giant walking metaphor for drug abuse, with his/her warriors constantly looking for new Sensory Abuse so they can get a high. Slowly they become numb to everything, and they need to dress up in clashing hot pink with black highlights just to register that they can still recognize colors (among thousands of other horrific things they do to themselves to slow down the insanity encroaching on their souls).

    Video Games 
  • Brayko's clothing in Alpha Protocol, especially his pink, cheetah-print blazer. Thorton will repeatedly mock him about this depending on your conversation choices. This gets Brayko to like you.
  • Broken Age: The offerings to "Mog Chothra" in the beginning wear extremely pimped out dresses.
  • Orlesian gentry's attire in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Gigantic frilly dresses. Elizabethan collars so thick that they're up to the wearer's nose. Not a flat-soled shoe anywhere. Men's headwear that can only be described literally as "Pants on head". Fashion fads that defy common sense (mostly described second-hand by less senseless Orlesians). And metal masks everywhere. One might surmise that the Orlesian gentry knows that they're a bunch of Fantasy French Jerks and have the metal masks to discourage foreigners from punching them in the face.
  • In Disco Elysium, the outfit the Player Character starts the game wearing is very much this. How else would you describe an ensemble that includes a forest-green blazer, a wide collar satin shirt, mustard-yellow bell-bottom pants, high-heeled green snakeskin loafers, and a paisley necktie, which consists of no less than five different patterns, and the game openly admits is "Horrific". In game terms, every single item in your starting outfit inflicts stat penalties, because no one takes you seriously while you wear them. Along the way, you get the chance to pick up even more tacky clothing articles such as a heavy metal Barbarian Hero T-shirt covered in flames, Nerd Glasses and sunglasses you can barely even see through, and an ultra-trendy jockey tracksuit that you are way too old to wear. In the Dénouement of the game, Jean will comment on the outfit being worn at the time (including if you're still wearing your default outfit) and none of his comments are complementary.
  • Benny's checkered suit in Fallout: New Vegas, which is a slight exaggeration of outfits worn by the real life mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, one of the driving forces behind the Vegas Strip. Bugsy himself had a checkerboard suit but the squares were a lot smaller. Once the Courier kills him, several NPCs will comment on how tacky the suit was.
    White Glove member: I know Benny was murdered, but if you ask me, the real crime was that checkered jacket.
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening: While not shown graphically, Lucina's support conversations with her mother endearingly have her go through some truly horrendous fashion choices.
  • Anything Evelyn is proud of making in Rune Factory 3, though she does also sell you different colored versions of your regular outfit. You never get to see any of the crazier things she's made, but the more normal ones (as in, the ones not made of fish scales or cheese fondue) are still not only horrifying but meant for quite possibly the worse people imaginable.

    Web Comics 
  • One of many, many torments inflicted on Black Mage in 8-Bit Theater (to be fair, he deserves them) is that while everyone else gets a reasonably cool look after their class change, Black Mage is stuck with what is presumably the traditional Blue Mage costume (actually the Magus sprite from Final Fantasy III): MC Hammer pants and a bell on his hat. For the rest of the comic, half the people he meets mistake him for some sort of clown.
    White Mage: It seems you've made some progress since we last spoke. Even your wardrobe is a statement about the repulsiveness of violence through image.
    Black Mage: No, this is just what I wear now.
    White Mage: Oh. I'm sorry to hear that.
  • After Seffie of Girl Genius gets into a, uh, sticky situationnote , she improvises an excuse for Albia, then she tries to save her dignity, puts on a good show and some of the locals are unimpressed... at first.
  • Homestuck:
    • Jake has an array of wearable computers that make him look like an even more pimped out version of the already impossibly tacky series Big Bad Lord English. Oh, and that skull thing to his left? That's a helmet computer that he could've also been wearing. In this scene, the narration states:
      "You put on a few of your more ostentatious devices. Luckily (or unfortunately) you grew up alone, so there was never anyone around to point out how ridiculous you look."
    • The Prince of Heart outfit, involving dark pink bloomers and white tights. Dirk is understandably relieved to hear that he isn't actually required to wear the clothes constantly while God Tier.
    • God Tier designs in general are pretty hit and miss, which is the point. The Bard of Rage clothes on their own are pretty tacky, but then you see that their most distinguishing feature is an enormous codpiece. And Meenah actually complains about the Thief of Life clothes and refuses to wear them whenever possible.
    • John's Heir of Breath windsock is relatively subdued for God Tier, until Homestuck^2, where he pulls it out of retirement without considering that he hadn't worn it in ten years and it was sized for him as a teenager. Everyone present makes fun of him for the "sun's out tum's out" look.
  • Kevin & Kell:
    • Kell has to wear an embarrassing number with feathers and a tail when she was a bridesmaid in her secretary's wedding. (Said secretary is a bird, should be noted.) She thought in her head she could use it for a Halloween costume.
    • When Lindesfarne was a bridesmaid in Tammy's wedding, she had to wear a cocoon, since this was an insect wedding. She's less than thrilled about it, but admits that it does hide the fact that she's an insectivore among insects. She rips it off to take on a spider that crashed the wedding with the intention of eating everyone.
    • Kell talks Sheila into helping her stepdaughter Leona with planning her wedding with the threat that if she didn't, Leona would make her a bridesmaid instead and make her wear a dress which we don't see, but Sheila declared hideous. (The actual wedding shows that her bridesmaids avert this...kinda. Leona had held a poll on social media on which wedding dress she should pick for her wedding, and the bridesmaids wore the dresses that didn't win.)
  • Mike: Bookseller has Jason's incredibly loud Hawaiian shirts.
  • Inverted in this comic of Our Little Adventure. When Julie goes to her appointment with the Everwood council, she passes a small group of nobility. Each of those nobles has an outfit more ridiculous than the last, though Julie thinks they're "stately and beautiful."
  • Jareth's wardrobe in Roommates is best described as 80s Fantasy Disco Dan meets Villainous Fashion Sense with a dash of Rummage Sale Reject, which is just ignored normally by the other characters... until the Masquerade Ball costumes in the Third Vacation arc happened where he overdid it even for their patience and got an appropriate: "Jareth. Sartorially. WTF." (He *poofed* and feigned ignorance.) Worth to note that the cast tends to heavily object to his Instant Cosplay Surprises for this very reason.

    Web Original 
  • Jericho of the Whateley Universe wears clothes so horrifically glaring and mismatched that people tend not to notice that he's hanging with one mutant who's mostly velociraptor and one mutant who's mostly anaconda. When he makes a special effort it actually causes nausea and disorientation, implying he's applied his gadgeteer talents to weaponize fashion.
  • After a picture of Wil Wheaton wearing a clown face sweater became an Internet meme, he started using the image as his photo in his columns and on his site.

    Web Videos 
  • In the Doug Walker video "Reverend Nutjob", he encountered a man wearing a light yellow suit and declared, "Lord, heal this man's fashion sense!"

    Western Animation 
  • The Green Lantern's outfit is this according to Duck Dodgers: "Yech! Black vinyl and latex. How cheesy can you get?"
  • Jon Arbuckle, in the various incarnations of Garfield, is well known for this. Mismatched patterns and polyester abound. It becomes a plot point in one episode of Garfield and Friends when the only way to stop a monster that ate clothing was polyester plaid leisure suits as found in Jon's wardrobe, which the monster hated.
  • One of the outfits Kim Possible tries after her regular mission duds are ruined is a mecha-style suit built by the Tweebs. The sight of it reduces Drakken and Shego to fits of hysterical laughter.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The episode "Suited for Success" had Rarity, the local fashion designer, make dresses for her friends. Her first dresses were fine but her friends couldn't see it and gave her strict directions for a second go. She finishes up the garish designs just in time for a fashion show for a world-famous designer.
    Hoity Toity: Who is responsible for subjecting our eyes to such horrors?! Not to mention, wasting my valuable time!


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Impossibly Tacky Clothing


“Unstoppable Force of Cringe”

Miyuki Shirogane's younger sister Kei wants him to dress nice for her cultural festival, but his fashion sense is ridiculous. Kei utterly chews him out for it, and even wonders how he could be her brother.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / ImpossiblyTackyClothes

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