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Impractically Fancy Outfit

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Sure it's pretty, but can she actually skate in that dress?

Walking in a tokar demanded small, mincing steps and exquisite balance, lest one tread upon those heavy trailing fringes. It was not a garment meant for any man who had to work. The tokar was a master's garment, a sign of wealth and power.
Daenerys Targaryen's thoughts, A Dance with Dragons

Basically, this trope is about outfits that are perfectly wearable, but they're just for show, not for practical use.

Reasons they are impractical are many. The most common one is the outfit is just too expensive to risk damage from actually wearing it. The outfit could also be heavy and/or hot. Or the fabric and/or trimmings would make it too delicate. Either way, the outfit is best used only when the wearer wants to, well, look his/her best.

The line where an outfit becomes impractical can depend on the outfit's purpose. If it's a dress for a black-tie dinner, it could have quite a few trimmings and still work. If it's for construction, the only accessories should be tool belts and safety gear. But let's say the company is shooting an ad, and the agency thinks the normal construction outfit isn't cool enough. So they throw on a few pieces of gear that look as though they fit, at least to those not familiar with construction work. That would be an Impractically Fancy Outfit.

There are some jobs where such outfits actually are practical, in the sense that part of the job is showing off the outfit. This includes showgirls and certain modeling jobs. If you see an outfit on a runway that looks as if it's just the designer showing off, it probably is.

Impractically fancy outfits can also advertise wealth and status, showing that the wearer doesn't have to do physical work, can afford to risk damaging an expensive outfit, and (in extreme cases) can afford servants to help with dressing and undressing.

Is often a feature of the patrons of the Coolest Club Ever. Is practically the uniform for a classical princess.

Often overlaps with Gorgeous Period Dress and Impossibly Cool Clothes. But note that those pretty dresses in period pieces are sometimes much more practical than they look due to hidden design features of the dress or the undergarments that went with them.

A Sub-Trope of Costume Porn.

A Super-Trope to:

  • Bling of War: War uniforms fancied up to be practically useless in all but the most formal warfare. note that something explicitly described as a "dress uniform" in-universe does not count for this trope: as these uniforms are, of course, never used during actual battles. To count as this trope it has to be something the character is either shown fighting in or is implied to use during an actual battle.
  • Battle Ballgown
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: If in a setting that logically wouldn't have modern materials like spandex or polyester. Or if it's made of latex, vinyl etc (even in a setting where these materials would logically exist). Also applies to armor if it is worn without any clothing underneath: as that is in fact very dangerous.
  • Going Fur a Swim (as the fur makes it not practical to go swimming, despite the swimsuit)
  • Happy Holidays Dress
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: If the garment in question would in reality limit the wearer's movement, or if the ass-kicking actions would realistically lead to a Wardrobe Malfunction.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Dresses that are fancied up enough to be impractical for everyday wear, only however if they are shown to be worn for everyday. Dresses that are explicitly labeled as being for a special occasion don't count.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: if mixed with Royals Who Actually Do Something. Or if it is made with some improbably expensive material: covered in gemstones, for example. Especially in fiction, royals are usually wealthy enough to not worry about damaging clothes made from fine fabrics.
  • Scary Impractical Armor
  • Shoulders of Doom: If they would logically limit the character's vision and/or degree of movement.
  • Sexy Santa Dress: If it's either improbably short, is made of latex, or is worn by a character in an arctic setting as if it was actually a thermally protecting garment.
  • Showgirl Skirt: Only if it's not worn over another garment though. If she's not at risk of showing her privates or underwear, then this design is not actually that impractical.
  • Tutu Fancy: Dancers portrayed in clothes that would actually be unsafe to dance in.

Compare Stylish Protection Gear (which is always fancy, but not always impractical), Ermine Cape Effect (the belief that royalty and nobility walk around in these clothes all the time).


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  • Spoofing this trope is the whole point of a series of TV commercials by Reitmans, a Canadian chain of women's clothing stores. In each ad, the impracticality of "haute couture" is hilariously contrasted with Reitmans clothes, "designed for real life".

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bubblegum Crisis: In the seventh episode of the original OAV, Double Vision, one has to wonder how many assistants are required to help strap Idol Singer Vision into her stage outfit (or how she keeps from falling right back out of it, for that matter). Might almost qualify as Impossibly Cool Clothes, were it not for the fact that at least in theory someone could probably make this sort of outfit work.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: When Sakura goes off capturing Clow Cards, Tomoyo dresses her in such outfits in every chance she gets. Some of them are examples of Stylish Protection Gear, such as a rubber dress worn to help capture a lightning spirit, while others are just thematically appropriate for the Card of the week. What is really impractical about some of them is the way that Tomoyo has these outfits pre-made and on hand whenever Sakura needs to use her powers, even if there was no way she could have known Sakura would need one (or at least that specific one) at that time, such as the time she pulled a cute froggy-themed raincoat out of her bag so Sakura could deal with a Card generating a massive rainstorm, which had turned up on zero notice in the middle of a week-long drought.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena: Subverted somewhat with Utena — her impractical "shirt" is actually her jacket and she wears a perfectly reasonable tank top and bicycle shorts underneath. Her shoes also seem more practical than others...
  • Some of the Magical Girl outfits with their Frills of Justice really shouldn't be all that practical — Sailor Moon's Eternal outfit with the gigantic wings come to mind. This suffers a Lampshade Hanging in one episode where they have to fight inside Usagi's house. The stock footage of her In the Name of the Moon speech is accompanied by crashing sounds and by the end of the fight the house is a mess... at which point the Starlight, Uranus and Neptune promptly leave.
  • The formal racing outfits in Uma Musume look adorable, but would be impractical (or dangerous) for actual competitive running. The series completely ignores this in favor of Rule of Glamorous, making it possible to run at full speed while wearing high heels, heavy capes, enormous frilly skirts, or other showy articles of clothing that have no business on a race track.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Shishio Makoto's mistress Komagata Yumi, a former courtesan, wears a very low-cut kimono that is drawn as if it's almost always about to fall off her shoulders. Nobuhiro Watsuki mentions in her profile in the tankoubon that cosplayers typically have to tape the top on to avoid a Wardrobe Malfunction.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman's cape is incredibly impressive, but Depending on the Artist can be anywhere up to four feet longer than Batman is tall. Some incarnations have Shoulders of Doom, which would get caught on any doorway. Lampshaded: when Dick Grayson took over the role he complained about how awkward it was to wear, noting that he had deliberately dropped the cape when transitioning from Robin to Nightwing.
  • Trickster suffered an outfit-related demise in the trainwreck that was Countdown. Odds are decent he would've survived the train-encounter with Deadshot, him and Piper having thrown the assassin off the car, had Deadshot not managed to grab his cape as he fell. James reaction to the realization that he will have such a lame C.O.D. is moderately amusing.
  • The Creeper, being loopy, sports a completely reasonable superhero suit of boots, gloves and speedos... and incredibly floofy, mane-like red fluff around his shoulders. He also wears a green wig and yellow body paint, and those "completely reasonable" boots and gloves are trimmed with fake fur. His origin story explains the costume: he's an Accidental Hero, and it was a spur of the moment thing based on what he could find handy to conceal his real identity. The loopy bit is an act, because it tends to scare the hell out of bad guys. You know more or less where you stand with Batman, but somebody who dresses like the Creeper and laughs all the time might do anything.
  • Allure of Relative Heroes wears a multilayered costume that includes a floor-length dress, multiple fluttery sleeves and two cleavage windows for fighting in which should get caught on things and get in her way all the time.
  • To Bertille in Sasmira, this is what Belle Epoque ladies' wear feels like, though she still enjoys wearing the dresses regardless.
  • Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose: Tarot's Stripperiffic costume has tall boots with spikes that are about eighteen inches long jutting straight out to the side. You'd think she'd be banging into doorjambs and poking people all the time with those things.
  • Watchmen:
    • Poor Dollar Bill. He was hired by a bank as a gimmick, and his employers designed his costume to appeal to the public as much as possible. His pretty cape got stuck in the bank's revolving door while he was trying to stop a heist, and he was shot to death.
    • The first Nite Owl briefly went through a similar phase before he officially started crimefighting. When he realized that he couldn't move around his own house in the caped version of his costume without knocking things over or getting the cape caught on something, he removed it from the costume.
    • Similarly, Nite Owl II had to redesign his outfit after he lost a thug during a chase. Why? Because he had to urinate and removing the lower part of his suit took too long.
    • Also, Hooded Justice who wears a noose around his neck. It looks cool but can easily be used against him, such as in issue #6 of Before Watchmen - Minutemen when Hollis grabs onto it and breaks HJ's neck. It's even lampshaded:
      Comedian: What kind of stupid shit fights crime with a noose around his neck?
    • A flashback shows that Mothman's wings poke Comedian.
    • Dr. Manhattan was made to wear a jumpsuit but he does not like wearing costumes. He is stark naked in the present day.
  • Discussed in a Gen¹³ special, where Freefall grouses about Lynch insisting that she wear her costume (in this case, a spandex one-piece) under civilian clothes in case of danger.
    Roxy: But what about the danger of my bladder bursting before I can get bare enough to use the toilet?

    Fan Works 
  • The Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers Alternate Universe Fic The Rod Squad takes the fashion of The '70s to extremes.
    • When Gadget dresses up, she needs a crane to get into her platform shoes.
    • Chip's extremely wide necktie is somewhat more practical: it doubles as a surfboard.
  • The Judgement of the World (5Ds): Aki's usual Victorian-inspired attire from canon, particularly its short dress and heels, is often noted to be ill-suited for the adventures she finds herself on.
  • Slayers in Xendra never think to wear casual rugged clothing while patrolling. Buffy in particular refuses to patrol in anything but designer clothes and shoes while having a fresh manicure; she then complains about her clothing getting damaged and/or stained from fighting demons. When she complains about chipping a nail, Xendra suggests she wear protective gloves, but Buffy refuses because they aren't stylish. Contrast Xander/Xendra, who always wears durable clothes he can afford to lose and either cheap tennis shoes or work boots while patrolling.

    Films — Animation 
  • Brave includes Merida's turquoise dress that she is forced into, which would be lovely if it weren't highly uncomfortable for her. She has to partially rip the back by flexing her muscles just to properly shoot her bow. In the ending, she wears a practical and elegant dress.
  • A subtle example in Frozen; Elsa's ice dress is both a literal and figurative example of Impossibly Cool Clothes. However, given the fact that, when running away from people who are trying to kill her, she repeatedly has to lift up the hem of her dress to keep from tripping on it, it's also not particularly practical. Though in her defense, she wasn't exactly planning on running away from any murderous individuals when she made the thing.
  • Defied in The Incredibles, which features a costume designer to the superheroes who refuses to include capes in her costumes. Edna Mode points out the danger and inconvenience of a cape, including anecdotes about superheroes who got sucked into jet turbines and such. Later demonstrated using the villain.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • Rainbow Rocks:
      • The "fabulous" dress Rarity shows up in for the pre-selections. It's full of dangling metal shingles that, if they nicely reflect every light, also make the thing so heavy Rarity has trouble just walking in it — and render her vulnerable to magnets, to boot.
      • Trixie's costume for the final concert. It's quite fetching and impressive, as fitting for a true showwoman, but also very impractical to make a sneaky exit or climb a walled fence.
    • Rollercoaster of Friendship: Rarity's "Carousel Dress" that she's seen parading with during the final song has a magnificent design, but it's strictly good for a fashion show and nothing else. Notably, she better be wearing Modesty Shorts underneath because it's perfect for upskirt shots. It's also probably impossible to sit down with it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The more Troperiffic Bollywood films will often include scenes where the female lead is wearing incredibly fancy clothes, usually a sari or a type of choli with a skirt. This can overlap with Fanservice as a sari can be draped to bare the midriff on one side.
  • In The Golden Age of Hollywood, the studios would often dress up their actresses (and some actors) in extravagant outfits for publicity.
    • Take the ermine-trimmed skating dress Sonja Henie is wearing in the page picture (although it's for a cigarette ad).
    • Just watch any — repeat, any — production number in an old movie musical and you'll be almost certain to see the lead singer/dancer, especially if an actress, wearing this.
    • Carmen Miranda and her famous fruit salad hat. This includes the many spoofs of that outfit.
    • Impractically Fancy dresses can still be seen at "red carpet" events, such as the Oscars. (There are people who watch the Oscars just to see the dresses, in the same way that some people watch the Super Bowl just to see the commercials.)
    • Anything on a Hollywood catwalk will be five parts art and one-half part wardrobe. For that matter, most outfits on a haute couture catwalk these days are much more about art than about wardrobe (a notion which must have Dior, Fath and Balenciaga spinning in their graves). For things people would be more likely to actually wear, check the "ready-to-wear" shows.
  • Batman: In The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne asks Lucius Fox to redesign the Batsuit because the current one doesn't allow him to turn his head. Indeed, that has been a persistent problem for cinematic renditions of the Batsuit ever since the original Keaton film.
  • In Delusions of Grandeur, fitting for the time period (17th century), the noblewomen from the court of Spain are wearing fancy dresses which are ridiculously wide at the hips (but not in the back and front). The movie milks some humor from it at two points:
    • When Blaze frantically runs in the throne room toward a window to kick out the bomb, he bumps into the sides of the dresses of a few women, making them spin on themselves like tops.
    • Salluste Disguised in Drag subverts a bit the impractical aspect when moving around in a tavern between tables, by having the dress pivots 90° on its axle (with a gear-like sound) so that he could fit in narrower spaces. And then he pivots it back in the proper position with the same sound.
  • Giselle's wedding dress in Enchanted. Amy Adams said it was really hard to move wearing so much fabric (especially since the skirt shape was from loads of petticoats instead of a hoopskirt).
  • In Kaamelott: Premier Volet, Lancelot's royal outfit is a cross between a gambeson and an armor with the shape of an eagle, apparently made from dragon hide. It is very stiff and the high collar covers his mouth most of the time, but he doesn't seem to mind the impracticality (and ridiculousness) of it all.
  • Many of '50s swimming star Esther Williams costumes, but most notably the one from Million Dollar Mermaid, which nearly killed her. (Wearing a crown + diving from a 6-story height + not landing absolutely perfectly = 3 broken vertebrae + 6 months in a body cast)
  • Rebecca (1940) hung a lampshade on this trope. The heroine, having just married former widower Maxim, is desperate to prove herself a Proper Lady (and not an Inadequate Inheritor to the titular Rebecca). Hoping to appear elegant and tasteful, she buys a fancy party dress from a fashion magazine... but quickly learns that it's completely out of place for a quiet evening at home, Big Fancy House and Fiction 500-status be damned.
  • Queen Padme Amidala's outfits in the Star Wars prequels. They did have one practical function. All the heavy makeup she wore along with the highly distinctive clothing made it very easy to switch places with her bodyguards as needed without Padme being recognized posing as one of her own handmaidens. Outside material indicates that this is actually subverted: the Queen's dresses are designed to be easily shed in a hurry, and all that material makes it easier to hide body armor or personal shields.
  • Almost any garment from the brakes-screeching Technicolor fashion show from The Women.

  • In The Belgariad, Ce'Nedra commissions a suit of gilded armor which has a ... rather more prominent breastplate than Ce'Nedra actually needs. The blacksmith rebels at the impracticality of the fancy armor and Ce'Nedra's vanity. Subverted because at that point she stands to her full height (she's in her teens, and slight and short even so) and asks what he thinks of her chances in a fight against a trained warrior. She doesn't have any intentions of actually battling in the armor ... she wants to wear it to remind everyone that she's at least nominally the Commander of the Armies of the West.
  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin and his sisters attend a ball at the palace. Their clothes (paid for by the royal family) are made of fabric that would be ruined if it came in contact with rain. And Jerin has to be sewn into his outfit, as it is too tight to put on the normal way.
  • In Dragon Bones, Alizon, the king's illegitimate brother is normally seen at court in very colourful clothes that make him look like a peacock. When Ward sees him in everyday clothes, he remarks that Alizon suddenly looks much more competent.
  • In a short story by Saki a character was fox hunting when a friend needed help that would have necessitated them dismounting, they refused because "frankly it was rather an art even to ride in my riding clothes."
  • The Reynard Cycle: Reynard orders Rukenaw to wear the Chainmail Bikini version of this in Defender of the Crown, in order to win over the... hearts of the male population of Calyx. She's relieved that the breastplate doesn't have actual nipples on it.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the nobles of Slaver's Bay wear garments called tokars, long, shapeless fabric sheets that are wound around the body. When wearing a tokar, the wearer has to hold it in place with their left hand and walk very carefully and slowly to avoid tripping on it. It is made this way deliberately, to show that the wearer is rich enough that they have no need to labor like a commoner. When Daenerys sacks Astapor, many of the fleeing slavemasters trip over their tokars while trying to escape, making them easy prey for her soldiers.
  • In Three Men in a Boat Jerome K. Jerome recalls a boating trip with two decorative young women wearing dresses that would be utterly ruined if they got the least bit wet or dirty.
  • Hercule Poirot's perfectly neat suit is not excessively fancy, and as long as he's in what he considers civilization it's not impractical, but when walking through muddy fields in "The Apples of the Hesperides", he is forced to consider that perhaps there are footwear options other than patent leather shoes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Beverly Hills, 90210: Donna wore a dress to the prom that was so big, she could barely get through doors. In another episode she wore a mermaid costume for Halloween that was so tight, she could barely move at all.
  • Blake's 7: Servelan, dominating the galaxy while looking fabulous in dazzling fashion statements. The wardrobe room on the Liberator is full of fancy impractical clothes. Behold Jenna and Cally saving the day in long skirts and six inch heels.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Time Lord robes from Doctor Who are reasonable, save that it makes it impossible to turn your head. The giant collars are only worn for ceremonial occasions, and that Gallifrey is at a Crystal Spires and Togas level of advancement so they don't really need to do anything that their robes would interfere with. Oddly, at least one novel informs the reader that that getup started out as Bling of War.
    • The Fourth Doctor's signature scarf, which suits the character, flies out dramatically behind him when he does all his running about, and serves as the Iconic Outfit for the Doctor as a character as well as for the Fourth Doctor, but is so long that it caused all sorts of problems during filming. Some takes of the Doctor stepping on the scarf, getting the ends caught in doors and so on did remain in the show as they suited the character, but Tom Baker managed to break his collarbone tripping over his own scarf while filming "The Sontaran Experiment", necessitating a season of amazingly unconvincing Stunt Doubles having to portray the Doctor doing anything more strenuous than walking. (The stunt doubles, as you'd imagine, wore a special short scarf.)
  • Firefly: Mal tries to use this to convince Kaylee that the fancy dress she wants in "Shindig" would be completely useless to her. His comments just piss everyone off, but the plot does contrive to get her the dress later.
  • Miami Vice: Crockett and Tubbs wear long-sleeved blazers while running around in high-stress situations in Florida's legendarily sweltering heat.
  • Project Runway frequently includes challenges that result in clothing that cannot be worn for more than the short time required for the fashion show and following discussion (for example, using perishable materials or including oversized or outrageous elements). Occasionally lampshaded by requiring the designers to create a high-fashion design intended for the runway and a toned-down version that incorporates many of the same ideas but can be worn in real life.
  • Scarlet Heart: Zhang Xiao discovers very quickly that Qing Dynasty fashions require more than six layers and are very hot to wear. Downplayed, though, since people used to the clothes don't find them uncomfortable.
  • Schitt's Creek: Moria's everyday clothing consists of wigs, black and white high fashion pieces from designers like Balenciaga, Givenchy and Commes des Garcons, platform shoes and layers of accessories. Her son David mimicks her black and white wardrobe through his own high fashion looks from designers like Rick Owens, often wearing long sleeve sweaters in summer. David reached peak fashion absurdity when he wore a Helmut Lang hoodie and men's skirt while staying with an Amish family.
  • Ted Lasso: When AFC Richmond attends a charity gala, Jamie decides to make a fashion statement by going shirtless under his suit jacket. He proceeds to accidentally scald his nipple with hot soup at the dinner.

  • When David Bowie performed "The Man Who Sold the World" on Saturday Night Live in 1979 — with Klaus Nomi, no less — he wore a rigid skirt that enclosed his legs, and had to be carried into place by his co-stars in order to reach the microphone.
  • The Glam Rock trend of The '70s was made of this, with acts such as KISS, David Bowie and Elton John leading the way.
  • Averted with GWAR: The inner casts of their suits are manufactured by one of the members whose regular job is making prosthetic limbs. The joints move freely, allowing the band to play and move somewhat normally.
  • Lady Gaga. Her totally outlandish costumes normal clothing is part of the reason some people know her. She had trouble sitting down to play the piano during her 2nd performance on Saturday Night Live. Here are a few of her particularly ridiculous outfits.
  • Liberace practically invented wearing completely over-the-top elaborate costumes in the music industry. Outside of the numerous video clips and pictures online, this depiction of him as a showman in Behind the Candelabra is accurate.
  • Finnish shock rockers Lordi dress up as monsters for all public appearances, including interviews. This is possibly part of the reason why they've never toured to Australia, despite having a large and vocal fanbase there.
  • Visual Kei. That is, the half of it that isn't Rummage Sale Reject-tastic.
  • ABBA were known for wearing outrageous clothes to the point where some have made the hypothesis that it was a way to avoid paying taxes, since they could claim their costumes were work-related because they were too tacky to wear in real life.

  • Remarkably averted by Cirque du Soleil — you would think the fancier costumes should be completely unsuited for acrobatics, dance, etc., but they are all safe and functional thanks to careful designs, unusual choices of material, exact measurements taken of the performers, and so forth. "O"'s costumes go the extra mile in that they can take the rigors of immersion in water as well. Likewise with figure skating outfits, which have to look good and withstand athletic performance. Makers specialize only in these costumes. It's the same thing for all dance costumes. For example, there are makers who specialize only in making ballet tutus.
  • In Ayn Rand's Night of January 16th, a minor character mentions Bjorn Faulkner having presented Karen Andre with a sheer platinum gown, "fine and soft as silk," which she put on after it was warmed in the fireplace. This symbol of extravagant luxury is, perhaps fortunately, left to the audience's imagination.
  • A ballet version of A Streetcar Named Desire had the female dancers wearing heavy-looking, full-length dresses. When the production changed hands the dresses were shortened, which original dancer Mia Slavenka scoffed at because it changed Blanche from a woman who is trying to appear better than she is to "just another nymphomaniac".

  • Just about every other outfit Barbie has ever worn. In a comic (yes, there are licensed comics about her), Stacie's Play for the Drama Club got selected simply because hers is the only one that didn't require elaborate costumes, making it a bit of a subversion (since her original ideas were all Gorgeous Period Dresses romances)

    Video Games 
  • Invoked in Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel. Your Reyvateils' outfits are very fancy, but that's because they're constructed out the inert state of fictional physics particles they use for power. The more physical outfit they have to shed to show some more skin mid-battle, the bigger the feedback wave, so the more power they get.
  • Ezio from Assassin's Creed II has a garb so fancy, it stretches one's Willing Suspension of Disbelief if he could actually be inconspicuous in such a thing. And that's not getting into Altaïr's armor, which really doesn't look like something Altaïr would've worn.
  • Discussed, though not actually seen, in Dragon Age: Inquisition during the shindig at the Winter Palace. One of the first optional conversations the Inquisitor can have with Spymaster Leliana concerns a minor Orlesian noblewoman's footwear: gem-encrusted slippers. Leliana lists a whole bunch of reasons why it's just insane to wear something like this to a royal ball. The most important ones are the shoes' weight, their monetary value and the risk of losing them, and since Leliana also happens to know that the noblewoman in question is pretty much broke, she deduces the woman's simply pretending so she can continue to play with the cool kids.
    • In fact, Leliana discussed this very thing in Dragon Age: Origins with a Gray Warden interested in talking to her about it, revealing that apparently Orlais goes through this sorta thing all the time, depending on what specifically is in style at the moment. As an example, Leliana mentions a noblewoman who wore some kind of headdress that contained a cage holding rather nervous birds...
  • Many of the later Harvest Moon games had clothing for the protagonist that is rather impracticable for a farmer, and overly fancy considering how they should get dirty and broken often.
  • Kingdom Hearts' protagonists regularly wear clothing which would require a Hollywood costuming team to put on in the morning. Admittedly, they're generally teenagers, but it still seems odd for people who engage in melee combat to have all sorts of buckles and belts and straps to get caught on things. And on that note, Final Fantasy has become famous for the excessively ornate and often silly outfits many characters wear, leaving the player wondering either how characters can move around freely in them or wondering how they even stay on.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Fetish wear. Thick rubber clothes which commonly restrict movement and make breathing difficult. Also prone to significant Wardrobe Malfunctions. Of course, this is the point.
  • Just about any costume for Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro or the Notting Hill carnival in London.
  • Fashion Shows love this trope. Haute couture collections, in particular. Many things you see on a fashion show runway require impractical or esoteric sewing techniques that can't be mass-produced, or even easily replicated. Heck, sometimes the models are literally sewn into the outfit. On top of that, they're also often heavy, hot, or itchy. Many overly fancy stage show outfits might be designed only once, then never worn again.
  • Very long-hemmed wedding gowns that are easy to trip over.
  • Low-rise jeans, backless tops and many types of shoes can only be worn properly by a select few. They never sit right and look awful on most people.
  • Togas. They were restricting, hot in the Italian sun, and the wearers had to constantly hold them up with one hand. The Senate eventually had to pass a law making it illegal for citizens not to wear them in the Forum, because they helped to stop assassination attempts. The need to constantly hold them up is a matter of them being wrapped in a bad way. The wrapping styles used earlier in the Roman period were generally more practical than those used later, and some even provided a convenient loop that could be pulled up over the head to help keep the rain off. Some of the later ones get quite silly. The dominant clothing of the following period (tunics and dresses) can be plausibly seen as the direct descendant of Roman underwear.
  • Any Navy junior enlisted man will tell you that the Dress Blue uniform note  is, despite the traditions of practicality that it originates from during the age of sail, the most impractical uniform they will ever wear. Mostly because it only uses technology available in the age of sail. During which zippers did not exist. In some navies, it's literally impossible to get into without assistance. Many sailors joke that the best incentive to get promoted is to not have to wear it anymore.
  • Cracked pointed out why superhero costumes are this in real life.
  • The fashion sensibilities Goth, Cyberpunk and Steampunk subcultures (and various overlaps like Cyber Goths) can come off this way, sometimes reaching the point where the wearer no longer looks human. They are also very heavy on the Awesome, but Impractical side. The combinations of various artifacts of clothing can be a problem even for some of the simpler outfits; leading to an oft-repeated adage in the Goth scene: "Shoes first, then corset."
  • After creating plenty of those outfits for The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Lizzy Gardiner won an Academy Award for Costume Design in a glorious example.
  • In Japan, wearing old-fashioned Japanese clothes (kimono, yukata, etc) is considered classy, like wearing a tailored suit or a tuxedo in Western nations. However, very few people wear them day-to-day, because a kimono traditionally had to be unstitched, then washed, then sewn back together again every time they needed cleaning.
  • Just about any costume in Philadelphia's Mummers Parade.
  • Insofar as natural plumage can be considered an "outfit", this is the case for some male birds. The vibrantly colored and often times very large feathers on, say, a peacock are very alluring, especially to a female bird. However, they make stealth virtually impossible (hence he can't hide from predators) and they can often weigh the bird down while he's flying (hence, he can't easily escape from a predator). Indeed, many peacocks and other birds like them have been known to shed their tail feathers when attempting to flee from a hungry predator, in a sort of natural world Giving Them the Strip/Life-or-Limb Decision combo. Females of these species usually invert this trope, with their cryptic, nondescript plumage being the very definition of Boring, but Practical. Some biologists suggest that male birds of this type are deliberately attracting predators' attention towards themselves and away from a female mate and any young. The other primary speculation is that given how energy-intensive it is to have such large and elaborate feathers, it serves to signal to females how fit the male is and thus show that he would be a good mate if he can keep them in pristine condition.
  • The famous (or rather, infamous) Robe à la Française: those ridiculously wide 18th Century dresses. Although most dresses of the period had some kind of padding in the hips, this dress took that fashion up a notch. Some got so wide that ladies had to turn sideways to go through doors, and wide staircases were necessary to accommodate them. The ridiculousness and discomfort was 100% the point. Requiring these dresses was a way for the King to exert control over the courtiers. Contrary to what some have depicted however, these gowns were never worn outside of formal court events. Elements of their design however were copied in other fashionable gowns of the period: such as the built in cape
  • Lampshaded by performers, typically singers and musicians, who can claim clothing that they wear in performance but is not suitable for everyday wear as a business expense. One often-mentioned but possibly apocryphal criterion is that the clothing cannot have pockets.
  • Some designer swimsuits come with advisements that say the wearer shouldn't wear them while swimming, likely because of the material they're made from.
  • Graduation outfits. The gowns have no pockets, make pockets in clothing worn beneath them inaccessible, and can be stiflingly hot under bright commencement-ceremony lights. Mortarboards can be very tricky to balance on one's head, are awkward to store, and nearly impossible to clean. As for the hoods worn by Ph.D. recipients, just figuring out how to wear them is a challenge, especially for college faculty who have a whole year between graduation ceremonies to forget which bit goes where.


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Alternative Title(s): Impractically Fancy Clothes


Arlo at the Met Gala

The guests and celebrities attending the New York City Met Gala wear out-of-the-ordinary costumes that are beyond the usual.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

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Main / ImpracticallyFancyOutfit

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