Vaarsuvius: Indeed. A most grave conundrum you faced.
Rainbow Pimp Gear is what happens in a video game when players equip their characters with gear solely based on stat bonuses without consideration for how it will look on them. The end results tend to be... colorful, to say the least.
This tended to be much more of a problem in the past. Nowadays, developers are wise to the problem, and many games try to circumvent the phenomenon by allowing equipment to be dyed or cosmetically altered so that it looks like another item, or simply keep stat-affecting and appearance-affecting equipment completely separate. One other way to counteract this is with the Set Bonus, where the best possible clothing combination is by definition a set that matches.
It's more than just looking like a Rummage Sale Reject — the game has to not only show the player the full clothing combination (so no Informed Equipment), but also provide a real advantage to equipping this particular clothing combination (whether intentionally or not). If a game has it really bad, there may be No Cutscene Inventory Inertia, and your Rainbow Pimp Gear could even be seen prominently during an otherwise dramatic cutscene.
A result of applying Virtual Paper Doll effects to equipment that affects gameplay, often just overlooked per Rule of Funny. Closely related to Embarrassing but Empowering Outfit, where a single piece of clothing looks silly on its own but is worth it for the powers it grants.
Not to be confused with Pimp Duds.
- Shoot Many Robots doesn't have very many full sets of equippable gear, so you'll wind up wearing all sorts of random crap just to get the stat bonuses you want.
- The Binding of Isaac delves into this, since most power-ups come with cosmetic changes to your character (some of the Body Horror variety), and the changes often (but not always) end up stacking. Thus it's not uncommon to end a run with a nun's habit, a hideous Harvey Dent-style facial scar, a fez on top of the habit, a lit fuse sticking out of your head, a dead fetus attached to the other side of your face, a dismembered cat tail wrapped around your waist, and creepy protruding eyes.
- Dead Rising just utterly revels in this trope. You can grab clothes and costumes off shelves and equip them, often to no effect whatsoever, and Frank will wear them during cutscenes. Does this◊ look like a man to be trifled with? That is also by and far the least outlandish example possible.
- In Monster Hunter, due to how stats and skills are handled, high-level play can involve players wearing some downright hideous mixed armour sets. The games eventually came around to giving options to avert this, though. Generations Ultimate has the Transmogrification system, where a piece of high-level armour can be given the cosmetic override of another piece. Monster Hunter: World has Layered Armour sets, which when equipped appear in place of your functional armour. The latter is lampshaded by the smith when he gives you a free set at the start of the expansion, commenting that layered armour is "good for hiding the clown suits".
- Soul Series:
- In Soul Calibur 3, your character's good/evil and cheerful/gloomy stats are assigned via clothing options. This often meant that if you don't want to look stupid, you'd need to hide extra garments underneath your chosen costume to get the alignment you want.
- Both Soul Calibur 3 and 4 produced pretty much exclusively this kind of character in their Character Creation mode. While you can always play "Standard" mode, where clothing and weapon effects don't count, if you want to do well in other modes, you're pretty much forced to play with either the bastard child of Lady Gaga and a Silver Age superhero or a generic heavily-armored knight. The color slider can help alleviate this problem somewhat, but it doesn't work in every case. Thankfully, by Soul Calibur V, your choice of outfit is now purely aesthetic (but you can still do the Rainbow Pimp Gear if you want).
- Tekken 6 can end up like this in its Scenario Campaign, due to various clothes you can find giving you special boosts. It does vary from character to character, as one character's clothing sets can end up mixing a lot better than another's.
- Dragon Ball Xenoverse suffered from this, as players seeking out the best stats will probably be forced to mix and match different outfits just to get the right sort of boost. You could get something mundane, like wearing Vegeta's gloves with Goku's various gis, or you could be prancing around in Raditz or Nappa's speedo while wearing Dragon Ball GT Trunks' shirt and jacket. This got averted in Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, which added the QQ Bang items, which allowed you to combine two different sets of outfits (and a random item if you like) and create a random stat mod for your use, so if you have a good QQ Bang Soul you like, you can wear anything you wish and the Soul will overwrite the stats of the outfits.
- Injustice 2 features this with its gear system. While you can choose your outfit's colors with a selection of color shaders, wearing an ensemble of high-level gear can make your chosen character look truly ridiculous. Downplayed in that you can play with gear stats turned off in online and offline multiplayer, allowing you to dress your character however you want.
- Ultima Online:
- Downplayed with the introduction of colored ores, which would lead to patchwork colored armor as the player repaired it or picked up looted pieces. It wasn't too big a deal because they were mostly dull in color and mixing and matching metal types conferred no significant benefit; it was just more convenient to use what you could find.
- This was occasionally inflicted on players by tailors getting creative with the leather dye tub Two Year Veteran reward (especially intentionally bugged 'neon' leather dye tubs). The resulting mismatched clown suit wasn't technically better than any other exceptionally crafted leather set, but it wasn't worse either, so not wearing it after buying it would be a waste.
- World of Warcraft when first released was particularly guilty of this due to its pseudo-cartoony style. Items were designed independently of each other, meaning that it was very easy to build an efficient but stupid-looking clownsuit. However, it was at its worst with the release of the first expansion, dubbed "Outland Clown Syndrome" after the name of the new expansion zone, Outland. Bright colors, tight pants, and stupid hats abounded. The page image is, horrifically, only a slight exaggeration. Blizzard got the message, and the gear from the next expansion onwards was designed to mesh well with each other and use more muted colors. Blizzard also later included a feature for players to change the appearance of their gear at will.
- Asheron's Call was known for having this in its earlier days, before the advent of tailoring (taking the look of one type of armor and applying it to another) and especially before dyeing armor became common. The only people who took the time to color- or type-coordinate their gear were those that were so far into the endgame segment with that particular character that they had literally nothing better to do. If you want to get technical, underneath the tailoring and dyeing everyone's gear is still Rainbow Pimp Gear.
- EverQuest practically introduced the trope to the MMORPG world. Prior to introducing end-game class-specific quest armor sets (which were color-coordinated), top-tier armor rarely matched, so it wasn't unusual to see an ass-kicking hardened warrior wearing a black breastplate, green sleeves, gold pants, blue boots, and a silver helmet since that combination of items just happened to be the strongest ones you could get. In fact, the ability to dye armor slots whatever color the player wanted was introduced specifically to address player complaints over Technicolor gear.
- EverQuest II averted this by allowing "visual" armor to be equipped, granting its appearance without its stats, so players could wear whatever armor they wanted while maintaining a uniform appearance if desired.
- The now-closed Tabula Rasa MMORPG seemed to generally avert this, as armor colors were generally of a duller shade, and dyes could be made to change the color of most armor, and so were usually tolerable in terms of color coordination.
- Runescape is guilty of this. "Hybrid" or "tribrid" gear for players who wish to use or defend against multiple styles of combat (melee, projectile, and magical) without changing armour will almost always look absurd. Wearing a robe skirt, leather body armor, metal boots and gauntlets, a visored helmet, and a backpack with a chicken in it — while wielding a salamander — is optimized gear for certain activities. The developers tried to fix it by introducing dyes, but they don't work on metal or leather (and are basically just for Vendor Trash). They tried to fix it again with the introduction of Solomon's General Store, which offers a sizable number of cosmetic ensembles as well as the Dragon Keepsake Keys, which allow the player to use equipment as a cosmetic covering, but cosmetic gear still won't work in Player vs. Player areas like the Wilderness.
- Averted in The Lord of the Rings Online, where you can make things like hats, cloaks, and even boots invisible, you can dye all of your equipment in a wide variety of colors (though it's not uncommon for the main color of the item to be fixed at "nasty greenish-brown" or some equally unpalatable color, with the dye only affecting the trim), and you can even equip a cosmetic set of equipment that replaces the visuals of your actual equipment without having any effect on the stats. So nobody has to look like a clown. Except those people who want to. Also, in the PvP area the cosmetic gear is ignored and only the gear actually equipped is displayed.
- Mostly averted in Dungeons & Dragons Online. Of your eleven item slots, only armor, weapons, shield, helmet, and cloak are visible; the latter two can be made invisible. Armor is a single item, so it never clashes with itself, although some look pretty dumb. Like LOTRO mentioned above (from the same studio), you can buy cosmetic coverups, or make a cosmetic that copies the look of a different item.
- In the later stages, you'll get to a level where you can't buy armour anymore, and you have to equip what you can find, whatever colour it is. Luckily, you can fix this with cash shop equipment, which masks over whatever you're actually wearing, but it's not cheap. There are also invisible item masks, which just hide specific equipped items to make it look like you're not wearing anything in that equipment slot.
- Some players will dabble in Min-Maxing and create a character appearance that looks utterly ridiculous. In most games, you wouldn't be able to get away with running around wearing a glowing stone relic for a helmet and weird green shoes, using a paintbrush as your weapon, and having no armor other than a Modesty Towel.
- At as low a level as 18 (out of 200), a fairly simple quest rewards you with a terribly tacky mascot helmet — which happens to have defense and stat bonuses leagues ahead of any other hat. It also happens to render your head completely invisible, and the only way to see your face again is to either wear a less powerful hat or buy an NX hat.
- Subverted with like-coloured equipment that comes with stat boosts — those boosts are significant enough that it's a perfectly viable strategy to obsessively hunt down all the gear in a particular colour. Part of the problem, though, was that the resident search engine for the Free Market, the Owl of Minerva, costs about 600 NX, so the only really cost-effective way to find all that gear is to jump into the infamous sea of spam or spend hours looking for it in overpriced player stores. It wasn't too bad at first, but then Nexon began to release special equipment which outshone the standard equipment in stats so much that wearing standard equipment would automatically brand you as someone who isn't playing the game correctly. At least their outfits will match.
- Mabinogi makes it possible to completely avert this. There are many different styles of equipment with identical stats, grouped into three categories — clothing, light armour, heavy armour — with weapons and shields being a bit more varied. Combine this with cash shop dyes (which can be used to dye pretty much anything, including weapons), and it's fairly easy to customize colour and style combinations to create any look you want. And shop items change colours randomly, so you can even create stylish and coordinated ensembles just by waiting until the desired colours are available (although you can't get them all this way, and it can take a long time to get there). However, since all gear, whether dropped, crafted, or purchased from NPCs, comes in completely random colour combinations (some of them fairly hideous on their own), and since there are many items which exist solely to look silly (such as the "bald wig" and "tree costume"), it is also possible to play this trope straight to truly epic levels.
- Vindictus, prequel to Mabinogi, plays this trope very straight. All equips drop or are crafted, and they come in fairly random colours. Mix-and-match outfits are discouraged by the bonuses provided when wearing a complete set, but matching colours is a lot more challenging. Unlike most other MMORPGs, especially other Nexon games, there is no provision for choosing colours. There is a function to "dye" all equips, including weapons, but it is purely random and costs a considerable amount of in-game currency for higher-level gear. Fortunately, the colour palette for each type of armour or weapon is very small, so there are limits on how clownish you can end up looking. With later updates, cash shop dyes were released that allow for more control over colour and create much brighter colours. This means that along with players creating some very coordinated and flashy sets of gear, others deliberately go for the insanely clownish look. That still didn't eliminate some armour sets, especially at high levels, that look pretty clownish all on their own.
- Star Wars: Galaxies averted this. It was unique in that nearly all equipment was fully customizable (since it ran largely on a player-run economy), but it was very difficult to find full sets of armor that were customized in the same way without buying it all at once from an individual or even to wear every piece of a given armor set at once. And without an armor certification system, the armor itself simply drained some of your other stats while equipped, which could outright preclude you from equipping other matching armor. Many players never wore armor at all, opting for the robust clothing options instead. The game has... changed a bit over the years, to say the least.
- In The Matrix Online, clothing drops were randomly colored, sometimes leaving articles in colors that should never be viewed together, much less in entire ensembles of visual offensiveness. Any player dressed like a complete clown was assured to be kicking ass in their ubergear. Some kept more fashionable but less adventure-worthy gear for clubbing and socializing, and others amped their absurdity to 11. This was somewhat mitigated by players' ability to weave their own clothing from the Matrix, but it involved a very expensive skillset and time-consuming farming to gather the raw materials.
- Earth Eternal can suffer from this if one doesn't take advantage of the Armor Refashioners, who can take an existing piece of gear that may be ugly or garish but have good stats, and make it look like another piece of gear that may be from ten levels ago, but looks really nice. This may result in grinding random mobs to see if they drop anything that looks interesting.
- Gunbound: Each avatar item has different stats, and not all of them mesh well together appearance-wise. Players who often disregard the appearance of the equipment in favor of the stats are called "Stat Whores".
- Mobsters 2: Most high-level players wear what amounts to a uniform of Combat Pants (puffy camouflage trousers) and a Window-pane Overcoat (a long grey coat over a waistcoat, shirt, and tie). Their bottom half is in the army and their top half is attending a business meeting.
- A common effect in Monster Hunter with new players, who forge whatever they can afford to increase defense without knowing about skill points. More experienced players equip full sets of armor from a certain monster (which doesn't look tacky) to get the skill points that the monster set gives. Even more experienced players know that, with the right combinations of armor sets, a unique combination of skills can be attained instead of having to go with a pre-made set, but at the cost of looking like a rainbow pimp again.
- Tibia suffers from this kind of gear (for instance the blocking set), even though equipping items has no bearing on a character's appearance. The game wasn't above referencing the trope in the forums either.
- Dofus only has three visible pieces of equipment (with the weapon also showing, but only when it's used): hat, cloak, and pet/mount. A character is also allowed to customize their own colors, but only at character creation or for a small real-money fee. These colors, combined with armor that stands out very starkly and tends to be rather absurd (a popular early hat is basically a severed sheep's head with the tongue still hanging out), means that the odds of your character not looking stupid are very low. Of course, anyone going into Dofus intending to look badass is playing the wrong game.
- Ankama's followup game Wakfu continued the trend of embracing the silly suits but expanded the visibility slots. Now your starter character will be wearing sheep heads all over, with selection of black or white colours, even. Until he levels up a bit and crafts an eye-tearing amalgamation of variously coloured Piwi (tiny chicken/peacock-like bird) sets. On the flip side, there are fashionably designed Costume items, which overwrite appearance of all your other gear and higher-level complete sets of normal gear are not too bad either.
- Averted in Wizard 101 and Pirate 101. Yes, when you first get an item it may clash, but you can go to a shop in the main shopping district and dye it to match whatever else you have on if you have the gold (and by the second world, you always will). This is good because it's almost always better to use drops instead of buying shop items (except in the case of decks and sometimes wands). Though some hat and robe combos might look a bit odd regardless, you can just also use a small amount of real-world money to stitch items (stitch the appearance of one item with the stats of another). Some pets and mounts can be dyed, but only a small amount, and neither can be stitched, though you can hatch pets to transfer talents from one another.
- This tends to happen frequently in MUDs since they are entirely text-based and the players don't have any graphical representation, and also because they tend to have a lot of equipment slots.
- Averted in Spiral Knights, where there are two equipment slots: for equipment that affects player stats, and for equipment to override gear appearance.
- It happens in the Final Fantasy MMORPGs, Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV.
- In XI, it's not quite as bad as you'll often find in an MMORPG, but this is an example of a paladin in good enmity gear for the time◊ — not pretty. Of course, if you want to look good if you're just dicking around your home nation, you can always just wear event gear till it's time to fight.
- In XIV, equipment can't be (re)dyed until you hit level 15 in at least one class. Be prepared to have a mismatching wardrobe for a little while, as the colour of equipment from quest rewards and vendors is random. Even after dying is unlocked, there are just some combos of clothes that aren't gonna look good together, even if the colors match. Later on, you gain the ability to cast Glamours on your equipment, changing the appearance into that of other pieces of equipment, allowing you to make any armor match. The developers have since taken note of the trope in Heavensward, where all the gear you can buy from vendors has a visual theme going on and looks quite good if you buy the whole set. Of course, the trope rears its ugly head due to players either not keeping all their gear up to date or are mixing and matching for the sake of optimal stats. This has since been even further averted in Stormblood, where players can now set glamours on their gear starting at level 15. The system will once more be revamped in patch 4.2 to include glamour storage, which the developers hope will finally put the whole Rainbow Pimp Gear trope to rest.
- Averted, but unevenly so, in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Players with a subscription or who pay a fee can unlock an option to match all of their gear to the palette of their chestpiece equipment. This trope is still played straight for players who are free to play, presumably as incentive to change that. Unfortunately, the cutscene engine currently ignores color matching and even dye modules in many cases, so the character or their companions sometimes appear in their original mismatched ensembles. The addition of the Outfit Designer allows you to put together an outfit (or several) for purely cosmetic purposes while your stats are based on your original gear, even allowing you to incorporate pieces of gear you otherwise wouldn't be able to equip in your look (such as a Jedi Sage who wears heavy armor or an Imperial Agent who walks around in full Sith gear).
- In Dynasty Warriors Online, equipment can only have certain stats, so it's not always possible to equip an intended set. This is downplayed, however, in that the torso slot covers both shirt and pants, so as stupid as your character may look, the damage is limited to having odd gloves or a strange hat.
- In Guild Wars, armor pieces typically have a dye attached to them, but it doesn't unlock a palette to be applied at will and must be purchased and applied separately to every piece. For typical colors, this isn't a problem, but for unusual ones (especially black or white), it could get very expensive — at the height of the game's popularity, you would pay as much as 9 platinum pieces for those dyes. Guild Wars 2 allows you to simply change each armor piece's color at will, but this still only applies to drab default colors, so if you want something more eye-popping, you still need to get dyes.
- In both Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2, each character can carry upgrades that can even be seen during cutscenes. As such, expect to see Sonic with glowing soap shoes and two bracelets, as just an example. Knuckles in particular gets the raw end of the deal, with plenty of useful but silly-looking upgrades, especially in Adventure 2. Lampshaded in Sonic Shorts:
Omochao: You got the Fighting Gloves! They're yellow!
Knuckles: What the hell?! Why don't you just give me some gloves with "I am gay" written on them?!
Omochao: You got the "I Am Gay" gloves!
Omochao: You got a serious spinal condition from carrying so much junk! You got a tombstone!
- Cyberpunk 2077 has it especially bad, considering that most of Night City dresses like they picked garments at random from a glam-rocker's wardrobe to start. You can try to avoid this by constantly upgrading your gear, but it will get really expensive to keep your armoured coat on the same level of protection as some literal rags from the street.
- Dragon Age: Origins tends to avert it, encouraging you to wear full sets of armour of a specific type as that would give stat bonuses, and armour of the same class tends to be more or less similarly coloured. However, in the Feastday Gifts and Pranks DLC, there is the Butterfly Sword and Ugly Boots (both of which are more or less Exactly What It Says on the Tin), which will massively clash with pretty much everything else in the game but are decent items on their own. (Sten and Leliana will also take a big -50 approval because they clearly pretty much agree those items fall under this trope.)
- Dragon Age: Inquisition brings it out stronger than previous Dragon Age titles have, thanks to the crafting system. Since the color of a crafted item is based on the materials you used in its construction, it's possible to end up with a scarlet red suit of armor (which, thanks to the game's new design, is a Badass Longcoat instead of plate mail) with bright blue gloves and green boots. This is especially true at high levels, once you've started collecting the best quality materials. A later patch sought to avert this trope by allowing players to recolor their armor to taste.
- Fallout 3 and New Vegas and their expansions contain a lot of gear that can be just plain goofy looking all by itself, like 3's tribal power armor with its Pittsburgh Steelers paint scheme and cattle skull pauldron, powdered wigs, Abraham Lincoln's tophat, samurai armor, cowboy hats, Civil War caps, motorcycle helmets, tinted sunglasses, and assorted raider bondage gear. In the late game, you tend to move toward a handful of proper looking unique armor sets (mostly Powered Armor), but low-level player characters are very likely to look like total jackasses.
- Lampshaded in Shadow Hearts From the New World: A Ninja actually tells you that no matter how ridiculous something looks, if it raises your stats, wear it.
- Too Human: Averted. You can buy special runes to change the color of your armor.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- Morrowind can reach ridiculous levels. Each piece of equipment is separate (with the exception of boots, which are always worn as a pair) so it's possible to wear mismatched gloves and pauldrons over a different style of cuirass with yet another different style of greaves over pants, under a skirt, under a robe... The "magical sheen" from the enchantment effect is also not very subtle, so if any of your equipment is enchanted, it will vibrantly glow as well.
- In Oblivion, on completion of a major quest, the city of Bruma will erect a statue of you in your honor. Your statue will wear the "best" armor and gear that you had in your inventory at that moment, which is not necessarily what you're wearing, and the results can be interesting. In fact, "interesting" doesn't even begin to describe the weird things that can go on with this statue. On one hand, sometimes it equips magical equipment you no longer possess, due in part to a glitch that sometimes gives you magical bonuses for items forcibly taken from your character; on the other hand, if you carry out the insane task of completing the mission while carrying one thousand torches, a one-handed weapon, and no shield, you're rewarded with the sight of your statue wielding a flaming weapon. So if you know how to manipulate the results of the statue, you can make it look like a big-headed dinosaur with a fiery sword. No matter what, though, the NPCs will comment, "You look just like your statue!" Why yes, I do have a dirty great staff implanted right through my arm, thank you for noticing. One bizarre case can have the statue wearing the hood of the Grey Fox, leader of the Thieves Guild and the most infamous criminal in the entire province... and people still don't connect you with the Fox. (Of course, the hood is a divine artifact enchanted to do exactly that.) There's also a certain dagger you get from the Dark Brotherhood called the Blade of Woe, one of the most powerful weapons in the game, but it's pretty small, and a statue heroically lifting a dagger to the sky does not have the intended effect.
- Skyrim generally avoids this trope, as it encourages the player to wear a complete set of armor since there are two perks in each of the Heavy and Light Armor skill trees: one that gives defense bonuses for both wearing a full set of heavy/light armor and another that gives a further defense bonus for wearing a full matching set of heavy/light armor. However, since your physical defense is hard-capped and can never go higher than 80% damage reduction, you can use enchantments and potions to boost your Smithing skill to ungodly levels and invoke the trope deliberately by crafting a horribly mismatched set of armor that still manages to get you to the defense cap.
- Hellgate: London averted this with a mechanic to color shift all your gear to match. Unfortunately, this translated into a lot of brown and similarly dingy colors.
- Neverwinter Nights: Prismatic Dragon Boots give you great bonuses to DEX and AC, but they are so painful to the eye that they drain your CHA.
- Mass Effect:
- Mass Effect has powerful Phoenix armor that just happens to be bright pink and looks ridiculous on almost anyone who wears it — especially Wrex, your walking tank party member. It's even funny on Gunnery Sergeant Ashley Williams, even though it's her default armor in the first two games, just because she's always wearing it when she's holding the Distress Ball and basically nowhere else, and because the in-game stats on the initial set are so awful that most players swap it out as soon as they recruit her.
- Players in Mass Effect 3's multiplayer are allowed to color their armor as they see fit. Some players invoke this trope and paint themselves in clown colors because it's funny, but Geth and Ex-Cerberus players have a very good reason to do it — there are enemy units that look just like them, and in a pitched firefight they don't want their allies wasting bullets or special abilities on friendlies (even if they're Friendly Fireproof). So they paint themselves weird colors that enemies never use in order to stand out, like hot pink or lime green.
- The best equipment in a 3D Might and Magic game tends to look extremely gaudy and ridiculous. The in-game descriptions of said items tended to lampshade this.
- Dragon Quest:
- Dragon Quest VI has a variation in the fashion contest that has a hidden style bonus for wearing some items together. Some make sense, such as all platinum gear. Others don't, such as boxer shorts, a pot lid shield, and nothing else. Thankfully, the game doesn't show the armor changes, but it's pretty funny to imagine the latter getup on Carver, who already wanders around half-naked.
- Dragon Quest IX has it bad thanks to its widely varying equipment styles and occasionally counterintuitive bonuses. For instance, a leather kilt is better than cotton pants as warrior gear despite covering less, but iron armor is predictably more effective than a shirt, so a warrior may have substantial upper-body coverage and bare lower legs. And it's really easy to obtain the "Gooey Gear" early in the game, which has great defensive stats at that point but looks completely ridiculous (it's literally a stack of brightly-colored slimes).
- The Sonny series is pretty bad about this. Game two has perhaps two or three sets of equal-level equipment meant to be used together. For the rest of the game, you are stuck with mix-and-match gear in widely varying styles trying to maximize the attributes your skills depend on.
- The Last Story averts this, allowing the player to dye the characters' clothing, item by item, as well as partially undress them and so on. The colours you are given at the start of the game include orange and hot pink. The uniforms include one with assless chaps. Hilarity Ensues.
- In Half-Minute Hero, most of the clothing items are deliberately mismatched and stupid, with only a few items that fit the usual JRPG armour tropes. And you can't take equipment you gain in later levels with you. This means you will probably be wearing outfits like a long brown wig (grants good evasion), a Fundoshi (attack bonus), a utility knife (good attack and speed), and wellington boots (big speed bonus).
- In Xenoblade every piece of armor has an effect on characters' appearance. They're divided into Head, Top, Bottom, Gloves, and Legwear, and that level mixing-and-matching can cause some... odd combinations. (Combining Heavy torso armor with light bottoms is particularly jarring, especially if said bottom is a bikini.) And naturally, you will have to do this to maximize stats. And the best part is that the characters keep their armor in cutscenes, so you can ruin dramatic scenes with ridiculous outfits for your amusement. The Definitive Edition Updated Re-release allows the player to avoid this (or make it worse) by keeping a running catalogue of every piece of equipment ever obtained, which can be freely used as a cosmetic override for any armour or weapon slot (with the exception of the Sword of Plot Advancement).
- Xenoblade Chronicles X is a bit better about this than its progenitor two ways: first, armor is now split into Head, Torso, Left Arm, Right Arm, and Bottoms, along with being more consistently designed in general, leading to less jarring combinations when mixed and matched, and second, everything now has "Fashion Armor" equipment slots, which take priority over anything else visually but don't affect stats at all.
- Zettai Hero Project lampshades this: Fairly early on, one character suggests that you should equip tank treads because they'll let you walk across spike traps unharmed, but the other says not to because you'll look ridiculous. And indeed, you (and your enemies) can equip some fairly ridiculous combinations of gear in the game, all of which are completely visible.
- The two Rune Factory games for the Wii, Rune Factory Frontier and Rune Factory Tides Of Destiny, not only allow you to wear whatever you want but also allow you to give gifts to the townspeople, who will wear them if they can. Want a town full of Cat Girls? How about turnip heads? Go ahead.
- In Shin Megami Tensei IV, you can gather various pieces of several sets of armor, which are not required to match. Perhaps in acknowledgement, there are sets of Monster Clown masks and helmets apparently inspired by Robbie the Rabbit, which (un)fortunately happen to have very good stats. There are many different complete suits of armor, but the difficulty of locating where and under which conditions the rarest sets can be found, and how some pieces can be given as quest rewards, mean this trope is in full effect.
- In the second Denpa Men game, every single piece of equipment you wear is visible — and there are five different slots, for your head, arms, legs, back, and clothes. You can also paint your entire body different colors. And most of the in-game equipment is wacky to begin with, including things like baseball-patterned clothes, frilly sleeves, bunny slippers, and giant carrots. Very few pieces of equipment come in sets as well, so matching isn't even an option. As even the official art shows the Denpas in outrageous costumes, Rainbow Pimp Gear seems to be the desired effect.
- Equipment in Opoona affects the look of your "bonbon", or the colorful ball floating above your head. Some gear simply changes the size and shininess of the bonbon, but others do things like cover it in Combat Tentacles, set it on fire (or ice, or lightning), or even outright turn it into a mace. These effects naturally stack, leading to things like cheerfully sparkly maces or fireballs orbited by UFOs.
- Downplayed in Diablo III, where for a nominal fee you can dye your gear any color you like, including invisible, or (with the expansion) even replace a piece's model with that of another. So players only fall under this if they choose to do so. Or if they want to use a lot of Legendary items in the console base game, as they could not be dyed until the Ultimate Evil Edition was purchased.
- No such luck with Torchlight. Because equipment is randomized and stats can vary wildly even within the same class of equipment, picking the pieces that are most suited to your build can end up with a bewildering and mismatched collection of clothes and gear, as you have no less than 10 item slots and 4 weapon slots to juggle. You can gain set bonuses if you manage to put together a full outfit, but good luck accomplishing that, with drop rates and the lack of enemy respawns being what they are.
- Kingdom Hearts:
- You can do this with spaceships. While the Gummi ship editor is clearly designed with creativity in mind, more often than not you won't have matching blocks to pull off a specific design. Similarly, a Gummi's HP is directly proportional to the number of blocks it has, so it's considered practical to turn your Gummi ship into a literal Flying Brick with mismatched blocks, tons of guns on the front, and a massive engine in the back. If you choose to go with the A.I. Breaker tactic, replace the Flying Brick with a giant flying donut.
- Some Keyblade designs themselves can verge on this at times, being the only things that avert No Cutscene Inventory Inertia. Sure, Keyblades beyond the one you'll start out with will have vastly better stats, but they can occasionally make cutscenes look unintentionally narmish when Sora has something like Decisive Pumpkin◊ equipped.note The numerous Blade Lock cutscenes throughout the series have a tenancy to look weird with very short Keyblades and cause clipping issues with long or bulky ones.
- Birth by Sleep arguably has the worst case of this: one of the most powerful Keyblades you can obtain is the Sweetstack, which is basically a Lethal Joke Item made entirely out of ice cream.
- Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2, and Dark Souls 3 allow you to mix-and-match armor parts to maximize your stats. Some of the armor combinations can look pretty◊ goofy.
- Before the patch introduced with the PC version of the first game, multiplayer was long dominated by builds combining delicate rapiers and daggers, absurdly huge and heavy armor, nimble ninja backflipping, and comical-looking stat-boosting masks. Among the most (in)famous of these is the Giantdad build (seen here)◊, made of Giant Armor and the Mask of the Father. At least he's somewhat color-coordinated. It was even worse in earlier versions of the game, where the most optimal equipment for the pants slot was a dress skirt.
- Designing a mixed armor set that is actually meant to look badass, cool, or intentionally hilarious is termed "Fashion Souls" by the community, and is a popular pastime among some players. As time has gone on, Fashion Souls has evolved among some players from a practice to a playstyle, on the logic that if you're truly skilled at Souls games, you can forgo stat optimization entirely and focus only on style.
- Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII allows you to invoke this by changing the colors on your various garbs, as well as wear adornments that range from cat-ears to an electric guitar. Under normal circumstances, you're not too likely to run into anything jarring, with the exception of weapons dropped by certain Last Ones. These weapons are among the most powerful in the game... and vibrant fuchsia from pommel to point.
- In Ultima VII Part II, the party is likely to end up wearing mismatched sets of armor throughout the adventure. And then there's winter clothing.
- Averted in Miitopia: a number of the clothing and weapon options look ridiculous as you get to higher levels (for example, the Warrior class gets the aptly-named Garish Armor◊), but there's an option to change the appearance of the equipment you're using to make it look like another piece of equipment you have.
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a prolific source of memes among Japanese fans who enjoy combining Big Boss's shirtless uniform (or occasionally his Ga-Ko uniform, which is printed with kawaii-style ducks) with his Monkey Mask and Torch. This gives him a lot of protection against dogs (they ignore him in the Monkey Mask and the smoke from the Torch irritates their sensitive noses) but looks absolutely stupid. Meanwhile, the infinite ammo face paint needs no explanation of why it's good to leave on at all times, but the pattern is redundant kanji graffiti covering Big Boss' entire face from forehead to chin, which looks rather silly.
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots continues this trend with the octocamo, which caries into cutscenes — whose dialogue is considerably more depressing than in previous games. Seeing this◊ utter the line "I'm no hero. Never was. Never will be." is guaranteed to put smiles on faces.
- In Yandere Simulator's current unfinished state, the best way to play if you want to go around killing people and not be caught is to walk around butt-naked and wield a magical girl wand. The nudity part is there because there are no special penalties for being nude, and not wearing clothes means you don't have to go burn them, just wash yourself off. The magical girl wand (a joke weapon) has the unique property of being undetectable to the police, so you don't have to burn it either.
- The Saints Row games have a variant: you can pick colors on just about anything, but you get the most respect from wearing purple colors, which are the primary color of the Saints. You also gain respect for wearing tattoos and piercings. In order to gain the largest respect multiplier in the first game, your character will end up looking like an overdressed piercing fanatic with ink on every square inch of his body and a serious fetish for the color purple. Thankfully, the sequels made it so that you only need to buy these items once in order to get the respect bonuses; you don't have to wear them all simultaneously.
- Spore can get quite silly in the tribal stage, with a wide variety of items available in different categories. Getting the best stats for a creature requires some unusual combinations of clothing, but the game's built-in colour-coordination and ability to move and size the items generally averts total ugliness. Still, it's tricky when you find that your badass warlike tribespeople absolutely need cowboy hats. One method for dealing with that is to make it as small as possible and try to hide under something else. If you can't enjoy playing the rest of the game with your people wearing cowboy hats for no reason other than tradition. In the Creature phase, it can happen with body parts, particularly for a "social" species — and they're acquired randomly.
- It happens in Minecraft, although less because of stats and more because of what you can afford:
- If you've started mining iron but don't have enough for a full set of armor, you might find yourself wearing some iron pieces and some leather pieces. The various armor bits clash not only with each other but also with whatever outfit your player skin was drawn wearing. Most texture packs only exaggerate this trope further by giving each armor set a unique look.
- You can end up looking particularly stupid if you wear a Pumpkin (to avoid making Endermen hostile when you look at them), Turtle Shell (to increase the time you can spend underwater), or Elytra (wings that let you glide).
- Once you start getting armor items through mods, which can grant useful abilities and are one-to-a-set, you get things like the odd-looking jetpack, backpack, and solar helmet (added by IndustrialCraft) or the various garishly-coloured magical armour items (and capes and gloves) found in the Aether.
- Terraria and Starbound both have methods to avert this, allowing players to wear gear over their actual armor for cosmetic purposes. Both also have methods to show a character's default starter outfit instead. For Terraria, since the starting clothing doesn't exist as actual items, you have to obtain "familiar" clothing that simply renders your armorless appearance. Starbound makes it easier by making your starting clothes actual items you can wear over your real armor, but the tradeoff is no equivalent starting headwear, forcing you to wear some other hat or helm instead of appearing bare-headed. Terraria's accessories play it straight, though, as many of them are visible and do not always mesh well with an otherwise good-looking outfit or armor set (or each other for that matter), but there is a vanity and dye slot next to the accessory so you can recolor the accessory or override it with a better-looking one.
- Animal Crossing doesn't have equipment stats, but it does have Gracie the giraffe performing "fashion checks". The sole criteria used for judging is the rather abstract "theme" of your outfit. If everything in your outfit is Sporty, for example, and you don't have something from a clashing theme (in this case, anything Official), then you pass — regardless of how much of an utter disaster your outfit actually is.
- While Unturned doesn't feature equipment with stats, it is a Zombie Apocalypse, Survival Sandbox game where you start off completely naked and your inventory is limited to what you can hold in your hands. While that restriction is still pretty generous, you're going to need clothing to carry more equipment and supplies, and that clothing is going to be pretty damn random, especially since virtually all of it is a shoddy state of repair. Combine that with multiple layers, and you can easily wind up wearing red lumberjack flannel, white scrubs pants, a purple poncho, a green backpack, and a black fedora.
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey is the first game in the series to have equippable armor pieces, and since all armor gives some type of stat bonus on top of its protective value, you'll no doubt have a hard time getting anything in a matching set (with a few exceptions). However, the game averts this trope entirely by allowing you to customize the look of any given armor piece to anything you've unlocked (which is unlocked once you've obtained it) allowing the best of both worlds.
- Team Fortress 2 is infamous for the disparity in art style between the game's release and every subsequent update. Wearable cosmetic items (or simply "hats") can be combined to personalize players, creating vaguely themed costumes. Alternatively, a player can also end up as an incomprehensibly gaudy mess, be it accidental ("I unlocked Pink as Hell from this crate and by Gabe, I will wear it even if it doesn't match anything!"), to be purposely obnoxious ("Why, yes, all of my custom-colored items clash, but that just makes me the rich motherfucker who can afford to!"), as a Badass Boast ("Look at all this eye-blinding lime I'm wearing and you still can't hit me!"), or some combination thereof. The game also includes "unusual hats", or cosmetics blessed with incredibly rare particle effects, which often exacerbates the issue. There are a few particularly infamous getups:
- The "Demopan" is a Demoman wearing a pirate hat with a little treasure chest on top, reflective shutter shades, a medieval spiked buckler, and a frying pan.
- The "Gibusvision" is a player (of any class) wearing a crumpled old top hat with a hanging toy ghost, a set of clunky gray goggles (which makes you see the world as a cute pastel land), and rarely, a bronze recruitment emblem. All aforementioned items are the only ones that are available for free. Hence, most players who wear them are usually considered "clueless newbies".
- Incredibly egregious in the Facebook game It Girl, considering it's a game about fashion. Each article of clothing is awarded a certain number of "hotness" points, based on how rare and expensive it is, and players may engage in "showdowns" with NPCs to compare how hot their outfits are. Unfortunately, to max out your hotness points in any given style of clothing, you'll probably end up wearing a yellow minidress with a purple cardigan, silver tights, grey leg warmers, white socks, blue shoes, pink earrings, gold bracelets, a green necklace, and carrying an orange purse. While absolutely no one would ever even begin to think such an outfit is remotely "hot" or fashionable in any context, the game awards far more points to this than to a simple, coordinated outfit that actually looks good to a human observer.
- If you want to win at Love Nikki - Dress Up Queen, you're going to have to accept that the best scoring outfits will look hideous.
- This can happen in Aikatsu! if attempts to make a good coord (a working combination of clothes of different types) fail or players simply use cards with higher score values without regards to compatibility. Even the good coords themselves are not◊ exempt from this.
- Averted in Destiny, where most acquired armor pieces (even the most basic of all gear) look stylish or plain cool. The trope is only ever invoked when you equip new gear with clashing color schemes. Shaders that are purchased or awarded can alleviate that... or make it far more absurd.
- The Splatoon series has abilities wholly tied to clothing gear, so you're bound to find a few players wearing an unfashionable combination of hats, shirts, and shoes. Each piece of clothing can have a maximum of four ability slots: one main ability, and up to three sub-abilities that are decided at random as the gear item is leveled up. The main ability is specific to each piece of gear and can never be changed, and while you can "re-roll" the sub-ability slots for different abilities, it's still up to chance what abilities you get (though each brand name has a greater affinity for a certain abilities than others).
- Downplayed in the sequel, Splatoon 2, where ability chunks gained from "scrubbing" your gear or using the Deepsea Metro vending machine can be used to more easily customize your sub-abilities exactly how you want them on top of the "re-roll" mechanic, while playing Salmon Run, using the real-world SplatNet app, and even just checking the usual in-game shops can land you the same gear, but with an alternate main ability.
- In Gundam Breaker, stats are wholly independent of the parts that they appear on, with no regard to the parent design's initial focus. This can lead to things like the parts for a slow, missile-and-chaingun-armed Heavyarms getting a ton of melee buffs, or agile, thin-skinned Hyaku Shiki pieces getting benefits for Stone Wall skills. Anyone who puts together a Gunpla for its stats rather than its aesthetics might end up with interesting results, even when painted cohesively.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, undeniably the most universally useful mask overall is the Bunny Hood, which allows you to run at 1.5 times your normal running speed. Of course, it's not so much a "mask" as it is a big doofy pair of yellow bunny ears on Link's head that are visible at all angles, and since it can be obtained as soon as the initial three-day cycle is reset, you will get very used to seeing Link with big silly ears on his head.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has gear that always comes in a set of three pieces (head, body, legs/feet). Because some gear are bought and others are found, it's quite common for Link to look like a Rummage Sale Reject until you can get a complete set of clothes. Since some clothes can give bonuses when you wear at least two pieces from its set, Link will look a bit mismatched if you choose to keep him that way.
- Super Smash Bros. lets you equip battlefield items onto any playable character in the game, and sometimes it looks totally ridiculous. Want to give the aforementioned Bunny Hood to Bowser so his jump height will prevent him from falling off the arena? Do it! Want to make a tiny Pichu pick up a giant hammer that makes her go berserk and rapidly whack the hammer with the strength of a gorilla? Great idea!
- Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night ignores this for body gear, which doesn't change her look (barring the Valkyrie Dress and Ex Shovel Armor), but plays it straight for anything that wouldn't replace her dress. You can have Miriam wearing a Santa hat, a stone mask, a rainbow-colored scarf, and golden Combat Stilettos. Considering the game also averts No Cutscene Inventory Inertia, it can make the conversations rather silly.
- In Shall We Date?: Lost Alice, players need to do a minigame where they compete with other players to get Wonda and Sugar points needed to pass route checkpoints, and they gain a lot more of them if they have more Style points than their rival. Thing is, you get bonus Style points if you wear clothes corresponding to your current suitor's preferred card suit, and the cool-looking outfits you can win from events usually have individual clothing parts that belong to different card suits, which means that instead of wearing these nicely-coordinated outfits, you'll end up wearing a clashing mixture of various outfit parts to get as many Style points as possible. This is slightly mitigated by you having the option to take a snapshot of your current outfit so that other players can see you in a nicely-coordinated outfit instead of whatever bizarre getup you're actually in, but you'll still have to see said bizarre getup on your home screen unless you're willing to go to the trouble of changing outfits every time you play the minigame.
Non-video game examples:
- Noob has a short story involving Gaea and Omega Zell helping Sparadrap choose new equipment with the stats they considered to be important. The end result fits the trope, with the irony of some of Omega Zell's choices being attempts to give Sparadrap better charisma.
- In one Spider-Man story, third-rate villain the Looter steals the equipment of several other villains from a government impound vault and commits crimes using a mishmash of their costumes — Unicorn's helmet, the Shocker's left gauntlet, the Mauler's right one, the Trapster's vest (with paste gun), and Stilt-Man's telescoping legs (with the rest of his costume his own). He's able to accumulate a great deal of loot robbing banks this way, but he looks ridiculous, and Spidey still trounces him.
- The Legend of Drizzt: Jarlaxle is this trope exactly, possibly due to living in a world that is also a Dungeons & Dragons setting. Everything he wears is highly magical and very unique. He almost fits this trope literally, as he wears a color-changing rainbow cloak (it also cycles through ultraviolet!) and a large be-plumed hat that could best be described as pimptastic. Of course, he's probably doing this on purpose, as he's quite flamboyant and is happy with his look. It also makes him quite memorable, which is what he's going for — Jarlaxle's reputation is "He dresses like a goofball, but don't screw with him." It also helps that everything he wears has a perfectly practical use. Even the ridiculous plume on his hat can be used to summon a monster in a pinch.
- Gogo Sentai Boukenger and Power Rangers Operation Overdrive each had an episode where the Red Ranger was afflicted with bad luck, so his teammates each loan him a lucky charm — and he wears all of them into battle over his powersuit, causing the bad guys to stop in their tracks and burst out laughing. And each show uses a different assortment of charms, so that's two sets of ridiculous outfits. Then to add insult to injury, Boukenger has the series' gratuitous explosions set the charms on fire.
- Dungeons & Dragons includes many different types of wearable magical items that give you bonuses or special abilities, leading characters to don headbands, cloaks, gloves, boots, eyeglasses, amulets, rings, earrings, necklaces, brooches and all manner of other accessories to become more powerful, even if this would make them look garish or ridiculous. For this reason, players often conveniently forget to include some of their sillier magic items when sketching out their characters.
- In the Legend System, one example given of Gnomish technology is a nice suit of armor that also happens to be this. But you can subvert it when you add on a very small piece and it becomes considerably more practical.
- In Munchkin, since it's a parody of Dungeons & Dragons, you're going to end up with ridiculous combinations of weapons and gear if you're playing reasonably well and aren't too unlucky. How about a Magnificent Hat, Short Wide Armor, Kneepads of Allure, Boots of Only Having to Run Faster Than YOU, and Extra Feet? Thankfully, card illustrations rarely go to the extreme of picturing multiple items.
- In BattleTech, Clan Nova Cat's Xi Galaxy paints its mechs up in eye-searing neon colors rather than camouflage them. This provides an in-game benefit when unit special abilities are activated: enemies take a penalty to attack rolls against them because the paint jobs are so ugly nobody wants to look directly at them.
- When doing freehand LEGO creations, there's often a strong tendency to settle on bricks that are the right shape and structure but totally the wrong color, in hopes of coming across the correctly-colored brick later on. When that doesn't happen, it results in models that function perfectly fine (and could even be a masterwork of engineering), but look like a three-year-old came up with it.
- Sir Bob in The Noob is an example of this, wearing a violet tunic with poofy sleeves, bright yellow-and-green striped trousers, and a "King of the Trolls" hat that's bright yellow with a blue ribbon.
- Parodied by Stolen Pixels in regards to Dragon Age: Origins. Dragon Age actually tends to avert this by giving stat bonuses to characters who wear a full set of armor (e.g. chainmail breastplate + gloves + boots), but at that point in the game, most characters fit the trope.
- In 8-Bit Theater, Red Mage states he would wear his underwear over his armour if it granted +3 Endurance. It's an obvious jab both at this trope and superhero suits that really look like they wear briefs on top of spandex.
- Peganone's adventuring outfit in Our Little Adventure. Randi even makes the comment that her outfit makes her look like one of the Holograms. She explains that her outfit gives her a lot of combat and stat bonuses.
- Also parodied in By Way of Booty Bay◊ (a sub-comic to Supermegatopia).
Melissica: I want quest reward designer names and I want them NOW...
- In Homestuck the Zilly weapons play this trope perfectly, particularly Trickster Mode, which is the most crapsaccharine example possible of With Great Power Comes Great Insanitynote . In contrast to practically everything else, characters, items, and locations in Trickster Mode are drawn with a variety of bright colors... and they look absolutely terrible. And horrifying.
- In Blood Stain, the main characters play in an in-universe MMORPG named Moonstone Gate. Elliot asks what Dr. Stein's gear looks like under his cosmetic armor. The answer is a mishmash of armor sets optimized for his build.
- This problem in Tera Online is called out in a strip of Nerf NOW!!: One character's gear involves a School Swimsuit, a bright yellow flotation device, kitty ears and tail (a part of the character's regular looks by the way), a small crown, and a giant candy cane used as a bludgeon.
- This Penny Arcade strip, which parodies the phenomenon. It's also uncomfortably close to reality (most cloth-wearers, after gearing up in quest rewards in the first zone in the Burning Crusade expansion of World of Warcraft, looked way too much like this).
- The page quote comes from The Order of the Stick. Later, Haley is seen retelling the story of the lime green Boots of Speed to Celia, who is appropriately horrified. In an even later arc, we find that Haley actually kept the boots, without wearing them, until she found an armorer who could dye them a more subdued color. Even after the dye job, they glow green when activated.
- One image from a Cracked slideshow titled "If Real Life Worked Like a Role-Playing Game".
- Duncan from the Yogscast in his "Blast Off" series, finds himself a set of Indiana Jones-inspired adventure gear, and also crafts a very useful backpack. Unfortunately, the modelling in the mod leaves something to be desired — they don't follow his actual character correctly, so he winds up with sleeves at right angles to his character's arms, and so forth. And to make matters worse, he then continues on after being decapitated.
- SunWon Cho (a.k.a. ProZD) explores how people would react to this in-universe in this clip.
King: So you finally... arrived. What the hell are you wearing?
Hero: It's my ass-kicking outfit, bitch!
- Parodied in the Justice League episode "Eclipsed", where a soldier, possessed by an ancient evil known as Ophidians, asks how to find the titular Justice League. He's jokingly told "put on a gaudy costume and threaten to hurt a lot of people". Taking it entirely at face value, he does just that◊ and it works like a charm.
- Miraculous Ladybug could theoretically wear all the miraculous jewelry simultaneously, but so many differing trinkets look unusual, to say the least.
- Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?: In the episode "A Fashion Nightmare", special guest Tim Gunn states Shaggy has a case of this. Throughout the episode, he criticizes Shaggy's outfit and tries to give him a new look, but by the end, he realizes what Shaggy's clothes lack in fashionableness, they make up for in practicality and speed. The loose collar and open neckline of his shirt increases airflow like a jet engine, the size of Shaggy's shoes give him more grip on the floor, and the bell-bottom pants that Tim Gunn finds particularly hideous allows Shaggy to pedal in midair before making a speedy exit.
- As anyone who's ever worked in a trade will attest, mandatory safety equipment amounts to Rainbow Pimp Gear. Working at a height? Here's your Fall Arrest Gear that looks like a pile of random leather straps tied to a rope. Entering the site? Here's a gaudy reflective vest and hard hat. Working on a live voltage unit? Here's a balaclava, bright green-tinted face shield, white hard hat, blue overcoat, bright orange gloves, and of course your "weapon", a hotstick. You will look so cool buried in all that stuff, but it's really the most effective means of keeping you safe and sound.
- You'll sometimes see irregular militaries and guerrilla soldiers in developing nations wearing bright red life jackets in combat. This is a common tactic for forces that can't afford proper ballistic vests — they cut open a personal flotation device and replace the padding with sand or earth, creating a sort of Improvised Armor.