Voluntary Shapeshifting is a handy power, but it has its limitations. Being able to make your face and body look like Alice is great, but it can raise suspicion if you're still dressed like Bob. Keeping a spare set of clothes around for every possible disguise you might need is a hassle.
Some shapeshifters don't have this problem, because they can actually form clothes out of themselves. If this kind of creature wants to disguise itself as, say, a police officer, they can form a police uniform, badge, belt, shoes, possibly even a gun out of the same stuff — usually Handwaved as some kind of proto- or ectoplasm, Nanomachines, or general biomass — as the rest of the shapeshifter's body.
If you think about it, this makes the shapeshifter technically naked, but the end result from an outside observer's perspective is more or less the same. It may not be the same for the shapeshifter itself, however: if it's the sort of creature that requires protection from cold and heat, for example, it's not going to get it if what looks like a warm jacket is actually its "skin".
Not included in this definition are cases of magical shapeshifting in which new clothes are conjured or existing clothes altered as part of the spell, or Applied Phlebotinum clothing that can change its form to match that of the wearer; in both those cases, the clothing is still a separate set of physical objects from the wearer. This trope specifically refers to cases in which a shapeshifter's "clothing" is contiguous with itself.
The inversion is Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing, which also includes sizeshifting, Baleful Polymorph, and various other methods of changing form besides Voluntary Shapeshifting. Sister Trope to Shapeshifter Weapon, which is when a 'shifter can form functional weapons out of its own body, and Invisible Streaker, whose nudity has to do with not being seen. Compare and contrast Clothing Appendage.
- In The Elder Sister-like One, all of Chiyo's clothes seem to be formed from her prehensile tentacle hair.
- The doppelganger, Doppel, in Monster Musume is actually always naked; the clothes of her disguises come from her hair.
- The titular heroine from Cutey Honey can transform like this. Her "forms" or disguises are mostly a change of clothes, hairstyle and eye color, but she can actually change her appearance beyond that. Her clothing is made of the same material than the rest of her body and can rearrange its particles at her will.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Envy's "clothes" are actually part of his own physical mass, and they shapeshift along with him.
- Early on in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid Tohru mentions that her maid outfit is actually made up of her scales (though she can still remove them). This also applies to all the other dragons barring Ilulu, whose poor shapeshifting skills mean that she actually has to wear any outfit other than her initial one.
- My Hero Academia: Himiko Toga's Quirk gives her the power to shapeshift into anyone whose blood she has consumed. She can, but does not have to, shapeshift clothing as part of this as well. However, she can not change any normal clothes she's already wearing and any shapeshifting she does will appear under them, so if she intends to use this part of her Quirk she needs to undress first.
- Melona from Queen's Blade is a Slime Girl, so her clothes are just parts of her. At one point she offers to strip, and then simply retracts her "clothes" into her body.
- Longtime Spider-Man villain the Sandman, after coming into contact with some radioactive sand (seriously), is changed into a shapeshifting sand creature. He can alter the color of his sandy body to resemble clothes, although it's largely cosmetic and not detailed enough to make a convincing disguise. It plays with the trope a bit, in that his clothes may actually be clothes, the ones he was wearing when he gained his powers, which have the same abilities he has, and just go along with his body (they may be fused to his body, also).
- Like her film and animated counterparts, Mystique in X-Men forms clothing, including her trademark white dress with yellow skull-motif belt, out of herself when she changes form. She tells an ally clothes are usually pretty easy, but zippers are the trickiest.
- Most versions of Batman villain Clayface (there have been a few) are blobby clay-like shapeshifters who often form clothing out of their own substance as part of their disguises.
- Morph from the Exiles really likes talking about how he's technically naked all the time.
- PS238: The stretchable superheroine Poly Mer says "I'm glad I don't have to worry about costumes", implying that what looks like a costume is just her body. This grosses out her friend 84.
- Howard the Duck's shapeshifter friend Tara Tam does this once, and complains that it's weird and gross. Howard comments that he'll never look at Mystique the same way again.
- Vampirella: Pantha, a woman who can change into a panther. The way her transformations are depicted she is always automatically wearing her cat-print outfit (basically just underwear) instead of leaving torn clothing in her wake or needing to go shopping for clothes whenever she turns back, but the Fridge Logic is never addressed.
- Played With: The Ray #4, Lucien Gates, has powers that instantly burn away any clothes that he tried to put on. He has Master of Illusion powers that let him look clothed, but he still feels awkward walking around naked all the time.
- Wonder Woman (2011): The New 52's Demeter has a rather malleable body formed of plant material and appears to be wearing a dress that looks like dried leaves, but the "dress" is later revealed to just be a part of her body.
- Maui in Moana makes not only his grass skirt and necklace disappear and reappear when he changes into an animal form and back, but his magic hook as well, if he happens to be holding it at the time. (At one point he transforms by just touching it, and it remains where it was lying.) During the intro sequence, he also appears to make the Heart of Te Fiti he was holding disappear when he turns into a hawk.
- Terminator franchise:
- The T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a robot made of a versatile liquid metal that can take on the appearance of anything it touches, from humans to the surface of a tile floor. One of the first forms it takes is that of a police officer, forming a police uniform out of itself. It doesn't actually take on the chemical properties of the things it imitates, though, so while its surface looks and feels like cloth and skin, it's still made of liquid metal.
- The T-X from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines has the same ability, being a T-1000-like liquid metal covering over a T-800-like solid-metal endoskeleton.
- The true form of Mystique from the X-Men Film Series is a blue-skinned humanoid. She almost never wears clothes (her skin, which is scaled, it presumably more resilient to changes in temperature than that of non-mutants), granting her the freedom to shift the surface of her skin into clothing appropriate for whatever form she takes.
- Animorphs: Most of the time morphers cannot morph clothes, as the inventors of the morphing technology, the Andalites, have no need for them. The only kind of clothes that change with them are skintight ones, and only one talented morpher in the series is able to assume a fully clothed form.
- "The Claire Switch Project" by Lynsay Sands is a woman who gains this sort of shapeshifting ability. It becomes a sticking point when she needs to wear a name badge pin, which would be decidedly more painful than if she were actually wearing clothes; fortunately, they also have the sticker kind available.
- In the Night Watch (Series) book Sixth Watch, powerful vampiress Eve shifts from a bat to an apparently clothed humanoid form to the surprise of several Others who expected Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing to be in effect. She then demonstrates that she is following this trope instead by shifting her "clothing" to a Stripperiffic outfit.
- In Oathbringer, the third book of The Stormlight Archive, this gets pointed out with regard to the clothing that Syl, and many other spren wear. It's actually part of their essence. Some spren in Shadesmar do seem to wear normal clothing, or the manifestations of the souls of normal clothing at any rate.
- What The Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror: Discussed in the end with Joy Park. John complains that she is a shapeshifter who can make herself appear to be wearing any clothing she wants, but is still using his credit card to buy clothes for herself.
- In the Live action adaptation of Animorphs, they had no problem morphing clothing, even though they could only change skintight clothes in the book series
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Odo and the other Changelings are able to shapeshift so well that they can even fool sensor devices into detecting them as whatever sort of material they mimic, and typically form clothing out of themselves when they assume humanoid form. On a typical episode, the only part of Odo that's not made of himself is his comm badge, which he hides inside himself when he shifts into a form that doesn't include it.note
- The trope is demonstrated at the end of season 4 when Odo is stripped of his shapeshifting abilities by the Great Link. After passing judgment on him, the ocean of Changelings returns Odo to the shore, biologically human and completely naked.
- When Odo has Garak tailor a uniform for him, he remarks how odd it feels to wear actual clothes instead of just forming it out of his own body.
- Doctor Who:
Osgood: If I'm a Zygon, then my clothes must be Zygon, too. So, what happens if I lose a shoe or something?
- The first time the Doctor regenerates, his clothes change in addition to his body, implying that he's technically naked. Chalk that up to Early Installment Weirdness, as this never happens again — every other time they regenerate, their clothes remain the same.
- Discussed in "The Day of the Doctor" between a Zygon shapeshifter and the human that the Zygon is impersonating. At the time their memories are scrambled, so neither one knows which of them is real and which a shapeshifter.
- The novelization says Zygon shapeshifting can't mimic clothes, which they do with hologram shells.
- The Tesselecta, first seen in "Let's Kill Hitler," replicates the uniform of both the janitor (used for infiltration) and the Nazi officer it intends to use to get close to Hitler. Later, when Rory and Amy steal the motorcycle that it is riding, the commander says, "This time, let's do the bike, too."
- No Ordinary Family: An evil shapeshifter mimics Katie, and later Jim, including the clothes that each happens to be wearing at the time.
- Weaver in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a liquid metal Terminator similar to the one in T2: Judgment Day above, and her shapeshifting includes all of her clothing as well.
- In Tales of Xillia and its sequel, spirits don't wear clothes; most of them just have a clothing-like appearance. This gets lampshaded when the male members of the party in 2 talk about Milla and Muzet being technically naked, only for Ludger to ruin their fun by suggesting the same thing about himself when he transforms into a Chromatus state.
- In [PROTOTYPE], Alex Mercer's and James Heller's clothes are composed of their biomass.
- In Skullgirls, Eliza's outfit is made of the same shapeshifted blood as the rest of her body, excluding only her parasite skeleton and her own brain. Her victory animations even have her converting it into a different stylish outfit.
- In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, Cubi can form clothes from flaps of skin. Though if that gets cut it hurts, so a lot of them wear actual clothes. Though it is handy if one loses their pants, or needs armor on the quick. Generally, the flaps of skin in question are their wings, which the comic explicitly notes are very durable, much more so than the rest of the body, and thus there is real protection to be had by morphing them. The real disadvantage is that pants formed this way have No Ontological Inertia, and spontaneously de-manifest upon their "wearer" passing out or falling asleep. Also, something with structure like a weaved fabric is harder to morph, so a lot of Cubi were happy when latex clothing came into style.
- In El Goonish Shive, this is sort of inverted with Not-Tengu's monstrous form not wearing clothes of any kind but after being knocked out his human form is revealed to be wearing them meaning he can morph them away entirely.
- In Latchkey Kingdom, Yumans-turned-Shadows like Rose can't wear clothes without "twitching out"; they don't really have anything to hide anymore, but it still feels kind of weird being naked. Rose had to train herself to make her clothing, and judging by how many fancy dresses she wears, she's gotten really good at it.
- In Yokoka's Quest, Spirit birds are able to transform freely, which includes being able to shapeshift into different outfits, while other characters who shapeshift wear actual clothes and change into them normally. Yfa doesn't wear anything in his base form, but shapeshifted into a fully-clothed human. Copycat's base form hasn't been shown, but being a bird is presumably naked, and has shapeshifted into many different forms and outfits.
- Whateley Universe: As could be expected for this series, this trope not only appears but is discussed (both with and without some story relevance) as well. Apparently, forming pseudo-clothing is not at all uncommon for higher level shapeshifters such as Jimmy T., and the possibility that those who revert to a default form when unconscious would end up naked in public gets some titters among the Underdogs. It had also been observed that while Thorn (who isn't a shapeshifter per se, but uses his manifestations in a similar fashion) does wear real clothing, they aren't anything like the Edwardian dandy's clothes he seems to wear.
- DC Animated Universe:
- Clayface, first appearing in Batman: The Animated Series, is a blobby clay-like shapeshifter who often forms clothing out of himself as part of his disguises.
- Clayface's Spiritual Successor, Inque from Batman Beyond, forms a dress from herself when she assumes humanoid form. Considering that her humanoid form is the same inky blue-black as her default shapeshifting form, it's not really meant to fool anybody.
- Like her film and comics counterparts, Mystique in X-Men forms clothing, including her trademark white dress with yellow skull-motif belt, out of herself when she changes form.
- Justice League Action: The fact that Plastic Man's clothes are part of his body is lampshaded a couple of times. While shapeshifting into winter gear to fight Mister Freeze, he notes that a parka doesn't make much difference if you're the parka. In another episode, Firestorm assumes Plas' clothes are made of "unstable atoms."
Plastic Man: What's what?
Firestorm: Your, uh, your - your uniform.
Plastic Man: (glances at himself) What uniform?
Firestorm: So you're saying you're not wearing any - OH, I gotta go! I gotta go! (flies off) Oh, my eyes!
- Interestingly, the Mystique in X-Men: Evolution changes her costume between seasons once, from something comic-based to a shiny black outfit◊. When passed out from Rogue's touch once, she reverted to her default green-skinned form, complete with her by-now-long-established second outfit. It makes you wonder just what decides her default form, that when she changes outfits she reverts to the new one with no conscious control.
- Steven Universe:
- Gems make their clothing with shapeshifting, but it's debatable if this is even "technically" naked. Their weapons, bodies, and clothes are all made of Hard Light. As their gemstones are their real body, one could see their clothing as part of their bodies or their "bodies" as part of their clothing.
- Peridot is a strange variant in that she can't shapeshift her body or clothes except creating an entirely new body. Thus it's implied she can't take her clothes off (at least without damaging them), and can only wear other clothes on top of her regular ones.
- Heisenberg in Phantom 2040 forms clothes and hair in various colours from his fractal components when he transforms. Since he doesn't actually have a fixed form, whether he looks naked is meaningless.
- Defied by Miss Martian in Young Justice who specifically notes that she wears clothes that shapeshift according to her mental command.