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Theiss Titillation Theory

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How long can she go before those strips slide down her arms?

The sexiness of an outfit is directly proportional to the perceived possibility that a vital piece of it might fall off.

This basic theory underwrites Stripperiffic clothing, Impossibly Cool Clothes, and pretty much anything else you stick female characters into: what makes clothing sexy is the potential for a catastrophic Wardrobe Malfunction. The Trope Namer is William Ware Theiss, costume designer on Star Trek: The Original Series, who first codified the concept.

The allure of this trope is all in the tease — precarious as these outfits seem, they will never, ever fail to keep everything covered. (At least from the perspective of the viewer — other characters might be getting quite the eyeful.) The TTT also takes advantage of an odd side effect: a particularly sexy outfit actually out-titillates frank nudity. Evidently, a woman who is not quite naked is more interesting than a woman who already is.


This trope is particularly common in Science Fiction and related genres, where exotic or futuristic landscapes (plus the Willing Suspension of Disbelief) make it seem plausible that these outfits could be everyday wear. However in Will & Grace, Debra Messing occasionally wore outfits that would not be anatomically feasible for a better-endowed woman.

Though Theiss was a costume designer, according to Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, by Herb Solow and Robert Justman, most of the costumes following this theory were actually somewhat more modest before being "improved" by Gene Roddenberry. According to the "Art of Star Trek" book, Theiss preferred to design costumes that only appeared to be in danger of slipping or coming off, through the use of strategically-placed sheer or skintone fabric. He was further able to enhance the effect by the censorship rules of the time regarding what parts of the body could or could not be shown (the navel being the most well-known restriction). He found he could get surprising amounts of appeal from the carefully-arranged display of skin not generally considered erogenous.


Impossibly-Low Neckline ("What's holding it up?")note , Absolute Cleavage and Sideboob ("What's keeping those two strips in place?")note , Underboobs ("That shirt should ride up!")note , and Godiva Hair ("All she has to do is turn her head a little...") note  are common forms of this. Strongly overlaps with Vapor Wear, when it appears a costume doesn't include any undergarments.

Compare Wardrobe Malfunction.

Contrast Fetish Retardant.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • One Piece:
    • There is nothing holding up Boa Hancock's robe except the sheer cruelty of the universe. This is MUCH more apparent in the animated version.
      • And yet Rindou, her bazooka-wielding underling probably has her beat as far as this trope is concerned. Seriously, is her short jacket duct-taped to her nipples or something?
    • Let's not even get into Sadi-Chan from the Impel Down arc. If you think the outfit is unbelievable, you should see her in the fight scenes in the animated versions; it defies reality.
  • Gaap in Umineko: When They Cry wears a dress that appears to have a pretty good-sized strip chopped out of it all the way down and very barely stitched back together with laces. It's been described as "a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen."
  • In Macross Frontier, Sheryl's stage outfits fit the trope enough. However, this is only an illusion, as most of the time she's actually wearing a holographic body suit.
  • Naruto:
    • Mitarashi Anko is always depicted wearing nothing more than a miniskirt, fishnet shirt, and trench coat. Despite all of the acrobatics she gets into, that coat never swings fully open. (Averted, however, in the anime where all of the mesh shirts are filled in with grey, leaving some fans to believe that they're a form of chain mail.)
    • An even more blatant example would be Yamanaka Ino's outfit as of The Last: Naruto the Movie. Her shirt and skirt almost fully exposes her hips and abdomen, is barely above her groin and looks like it could slip off at anytime, yet somehow stays on.
  • Harribel in Bleach wears a tight top exposing underboob. Her pants, which barely consist of enough material to cover her inner thigh until just above the knee, are also held up only by a sash. Lilinette's vest also looks pretty malfunction-prone.
    • Though the underboob never popping out is understandable, considering part of her hollow mask covers them.
    • There's also Isane in the Beach Episode.
    • This is played surprisingly in Bleach, considering how Stripperific many of the women's outfits can be. The female characters, despite fighting fairly often, suffer nowhere near as much Clothing Damage as male characters. You might be able to argue that this is because the women don't wear enough clothes to damage.
  • The strangest invocation of this trope has to be in the gag manga Kidou Senshi Gundam-San. Char Aznable says this is why he wears his iconic mask.
  • Liru's magic "top" in Magical Pokaan looks like it would be hard to keep in place even without suspenders pulling down on it.
  • Chocolate Misu's magic suspenders in Sorcerer Hunters.
  • Cowboy Bebop's Faye Valentine. Particularly in the movie, which has a scene with strong rape-y overtones, wherein the one button that appears to be her top's only fixture is sliced away by the Big Bad. Given her figure, this should have resulted in her clothing flying open rather spectacularly. Since it didn't, we must conclude that her breasts are coated with an adhesive; it's the only way that scene makes any sartorial sense. Of course, since it's implied Faye dresses like that to distract people, she may need a certain amount of help keeping it on.
  • Yumi Komagata from Rurouni Kenshin wears a top so low that it should not be physically possible to keep up, and indeed constantly looks like it's about to fall down. Word of God says that he's gotten letters from female fans attempting to cosplay as Yumi asking how she does it.
  • In one Detective Conan chapter, a woman dressed in what looks like a dress made out of a really long scarf appears. Absolute Cleavage included.
  • Princess Tutu. Princess Kraehe wears a black tutu which looks like it might fall off at any second. Episode 13 of Princess Tutu Abridged even has the cast trying to figure out how it stays up at one point.
  • Getsumen to Heiki Mina has Ootsuki Miina has an Impossibly-Low Neckline that her transformation has got to include double sided tape to keep those puppies from popping out.
  • An In-Universe example occurs in A Centaur's Life, in a village populated by mermaids and mermen who generally go around topless, a pair of teenage boys are more enthralled by a magazine featuring a girl in a bikini. One of them explicitly says it's different when they're covered up.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Mai's Harpie Ladies wear something that resembles a slingshot bikini, only skimpier, even while flying and fighting opposing monsters. In GX, Burst Lady's costume is even more unlikely. (Justified, of course, as they're duel-disk created holograms, not living beings, but that still poses the question of how Duel spirits can wear them.)
  • In an anime known for little fanservice, Momo's swimsuit from the first two OVAs of Girls und Panzer also qualifies. One wonders how she avoids a wardrobe malfunction.
  • Kill la Kill has this in spades. There is eventually introduced an entire organization whose members are only not technically "naked" because they have tactical belts with low hanging pockets.
  • Kuroka from High School D×D has the classic kimono example, not only is nothing keeping it up, but it should fly open pretty much any time she moves. Maybe magic demon powers are keeping it in place.

    Comic Books 
  • Several female superheroes fall under this. Notable examples include Starfire (whose outfit is part lingerie, part bondage gear) and Power Girl and her infamous boob window.
  • Ms. Marvel's first costume was very skimpy before she got her iconic black leotard.
  • A lot of jokes were made in-story about how Lady Rawhide managed to keep her breasts from falling out of her costume, and eventually, it actually happened in one story.
  • Dear God, Emma Frost. As a member of the Hellfire Club, her outfit, while skimpy, was believable. (It was white lingerie resembling the kind that anyone could buy at Victoria's Secrets, combined with knee-high boots and a cape.) However, after her Heel–Face Turn, her outfits got more daring and more improbable in design. One good example was when she first joined the X-Men: her outfit combined Absolute Cleavage and Impossibly-Low Neckline, using a few strategically placed scraps of fabric to form a reverse "X" with her exposed skin. (Of course, the lingerie was a dress code for the Hellfire Club, but being the type of person she is, quitting the Club actually gave her a chance to be more daring.)
  • Madelyne Pryor in the crossover Inferno, as well as some later appearances. Her ragged outfit included a loincloth and one of the most famous cases of Underboobs in comics history. Especially given how often Madelyne raised her arms, it is widely assumed that only telekinesis was keeping her inside that costume!
    • During Inferno, Havok's normal costume was shredded into the same form as Madelyne's during a brief Face–Heel Turn. Underpecs?
  • Dagger has an...implausible costume. It's gotten worse over the years, as the character has gotten better-endowed and the costume has gotten skimpier, but even in earlier days the only reasonable explanation is that the thing is glued on.
  • Exactly how Vampirella keeps her costume from falling off is a mystery. (Wizard Magazine claimed that for Real Life models who dress as the character at conventions, they use aerosol spray glue.) Some Harris (or was it already Dynamite?) story boldly declared the costume is a symbiont like the Venom thingie. Don't think too much about that.
  • In one Beetle Bailey strip, Beetle, Killer, and Plato are in a nightclub where a dancer is performing onstage wearing a skimpy outfit made of flowers:
    Beetle: Come on! We've seen the stage show twice already.
    Killer: Let's see it again.
    Beetle: How come?
    Plato: He's waiting to see if they wilt.
  • Much like Madelyne Pryor's example, the outfits worn by Jena and Madelyne Pyre in X-Men: Phoenix – Legacy of Fire are very tiny and not held by any sort of string. They must be using Mind over Matter to keep it in place.
  • Martian females in Warlord of Mars are dressed in nothing more than jewelry and gold ornaments and surprisingly never get fully exposed on page.
  • Mike Grell's work for the Legion of Super-Heroes in the mid '70s gave nearly all the girls the Most Common Superpower, which didn't go at all well with most of their outfits, especially Princess Projectra. Those two laces holding it together were going to snap the minute she did anything strenuous. Hey, Mike, these were supposed to be young teenage girls, you knew that, didn't you?
    • Either right before or during Grell's run, it was explained that most of the Legionnaires were, in fact, well into their twenties or even older.
  • Discussed Trope in Sin City sub-story "Hell and Back"—Wallace draws erotic pictures for a lowbrow publication and pisses off its much more worldly boss when he turns in a nude whose nakedness is implied entirely via a sheet that covers her from head to toe. He is promptly ordered to redraw the picture without the sheet.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Duel in the Sun thrived under the trope. There's a reason Howard Hughes' advertising caused George S. Kaufman to call it "The Sale of Two Titties".
  • Return of the Jedi: Was there any more to Leia's dancing-girl costume beneath the panels of cloth hanging from front and back of the waistline? According to Carrie Fisher on the DVD commentary, there wasn't, and at times, crews standing behind her could see "all the way to Florida", as it were. Oola suffers a wardrobe malfunction as she is being dragged towards Jabba the Hutt, and again as she falls through the trap door. You can still see a short bit of the first malfunction in the current special edition. Older editions have longer scenes.
  • Hammer Horror movies in particular lived on this trope. Women in form-fitting see-through nightwear that could slip off their smooth shoulders at any moment.
  • Ursula Andress in The Blue Max. There is a protracted scene where she has a folded towel looped around her neck so that the two lengths of towel, draped strategically in front of her, both conceal most of a breast, or at least the nipples. Despite how she moves or speaks, despite how her unsupported breasts jiggle and move, her nipples are always concealed by the towel as if it was glued in place (and it probably was).
  • Subverted in Vampirella — not very surprisingly, the iconic costume did have a nasty tendency to fall off, and the filmmakers had to adapt it into a more practical form. The original version only appears in some promotional photographs.
  • All of Pamela Anderson's scenes in Barb Wire. Gene Siskel outright invoked the trope, stating that the entire film was about whether or not Anderson's breasts would pop out of her outfits.
  • The giant, elaborate, torso-covering necklace and perilously secured sarong-like skirt that Lisle (Isabella Rosselini) wears in Death Becomes Her.
  • Pharaoh: Ms. Fanservice Kama ensnares Crown Prince Ramses when she meets him in a temple wearing an outfit best described as bikini bottoms and a translucent gown. She's motivated, as she is a Honey Pot meant to get the new pharaoh to back the Phoenicians against the Assyrians.
  • Tarzan and His Mate: Discussed Trope, as Arlington observes the flimsy dresses Holt has brought for Jane and says "The effect seems to be to promise to show something that is never quite shown." And outside that bit of lampshading, Jane spends most of the rest of the movie wearing a leather tank top and a flimsy loincloth down below. Later installments of the Tarzan series, after censorship got stricter, saw Jane wearing a more conservative one-piece.

  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin manages to convince himself that his nightshirt, which just about reaches his knees and is very thin, is almost as decent as a walking robe. Later on, though, he is very aware that the tight trousers with a codpiece he is expected to wear are a lot more titillating than naked legs.
  • Vetinari mentions this in Terry Pratchett's Jingo. "Curiously, the purpose of the nautch girl or exotic dancer has always been less to reveal and more to suggest the imminence of revelation."
  • All over the place in Piers Anthony works — Anthony is fond of having some characters go completely clothed, others go completely nude, and a third group go partially clothed. The first two groups are seen as more-or-less nonsexual, but the third is a major turn on.
  • Discussed in Problem Children Are Coming from Another World, Aren't They? by Shiroyasha and Izayoi, with the former explaining this effect as the reason she invented a literal Magic Skirt.
  • Likewise Discussed in Steel Beach as part of a larger exposition on why Our Nudity Is Different in Lunar society. In a closed environment with no nudity taboo, actual nudity is considered a sign of either stodginess or poverty, neither of which are particularly attractive.
  • Within Alan Dean Foster's Sentenced to Prism, one young lady acting as a walking billboard sports clothing that flashes advertisements on it and occasionally turns transparent on parts of her body. The protagonists muses that the really titillating spots are never going to turn transparent, but people will keep staring at the ads just in case...
  • In the Literature/Lensman series, several of the outfits that the society women wear are described in terms that bring this to mind. Apparently scientific advances allow for more daring clothing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
    • The page image is one of Theiss's best known creations. The android Andrea from What Are Little Girls Made Of has a costume with an upper portion that's merely two crossed strips of material. Off the set, models wearing this costume never failed to get a dramatically appreciative reception from at least the men.
      • In William Shatner's Get A Life, he tells a story about how Gene Roddenberry talked that same outfit into a fashion show at a Sci-Fi con. According to one of the people there, the model apparently had to spend the evening "beating men off with a stick". Notable is the fact that Star Trek hadn't even aired yet.
      • According to Herb Solow and Robert Justman's book on Star Trek, William Shatner couldn't stop hitting on Sherry Jackson, the actress playing Andrea, once he saw her in the outfit. Further, the first public modeled display of the costume was in Desilu Studios' lunch room, where Ms. Jackson entered in said outfit — according to Herb, forks stopped midway to people's mouths.
    • Similarly, the top part of the Greco-Roman-style outfit worn by Leslie Parrish (playing Lieutenant Carolyn Palamas) in "Who Mourns For Adonais?" consisted of a single swath of cloth draped across her breasts and slung over her shoulder. Most people who were there believed that nothing held it in place except its own weight, and were absolutely certain it was going to fall off at any second. Parrish, on the other hand, knew that it was stuck to her skin via massive amounts of two-way tape which had torn off chunks of skin during the original fitting; this is why she instead wore a bathrobe during all rehearsals, even the dress rehearsal.
    • In "Mudd's Women," Maggie Thrett, playing the character of Ruth, suffered repeated wardrobe malfunctions during shooting — apparently one of her, ahem, assets refused to remain covered. (Unsurprisingly, the final version of the costume was another of Roddenberry's "improvements.") The ruined shot was saved for a Gag Reel, however.
  • In a male example, one scene in an episode of White Collar had Neal Caffrey wearing nothing but some very low-riding sleep pants, with a waistband that looked very loose. You could practically hear the fangirls pleading for him to bend just a little further...
  • With the amount of bouncing and jumping around Elvira, Mistress of the Dark does, it's a wonder her boobs never fell out of her dress. That's because she's a master (mistress?) of suspense.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Sleeper" James Marsters is shown in bed with the sheet loosely bunched around his waist, just barely above the groin.
  • By Game of Thrones's costumer Michele Clapton's own admission, the costumes of Dorne, the southernmost, hot region of Westeros, are not made of fabric; they are made of this trope.
    Michele Clapton: I wanted it to look like one little pull of a strap and it would just drop to the ground.
  • Non-fiction example: in the documentary series Harlots, Housewives, and Heroines about women in the 17th century, Dr. Lucy Worsley tries on the style of gown worn by the ladies at Charles II's court.
    Dr. Lucy Worsley: Now, in contrast to the other one, it feels decadent and luxurious, and it also feels — although it's comfortable — it also feels like it could quite easily just sort of fall off.
    Dr. Joanna Marschner: Well, I think that's most of the point, actually.
  • Although the male Gladiators on American Gladiators were generally more covered up that the women, Nitro's first season costume was spandex shorts and two strips of fabric across the chest, which had a tendency to slip down his shoulders.

    Music Videos 
  • Lady Gaga usually wears skin-tight clothing, bypassing this trope; but in the video for "Poker Face", one of her outfits is a criss-crossing number obviously inspired by the Star Trek Trope Codifier.
  • Kylie Minogue's video for Can't Get You Out Of My Head features a stunning outfit that must be just about to fall off. A still image can be seen here. Apparently there was a lot of double-sided tape involved.
  • In The BBC's impressive library of music films, there is a late 1970's recording of Meat Loaf and Karla de Vita performing his “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” sometime around 1979, from the music show The Old Grey Whistle Test. This is an energetically acted song. What makes the clip especially mesmerizing is that Karla is performing in a filmy black top slashed to below the navel in front and open at both sides. She gets within millimetres of inadvertent exposure several times but, perhaps due to strategic tape, never quite gets there.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the D&D 3.5 edition Player's Handbook, all of the female examples shown in the races chapter have clothing that looks almost exactly like the example pictured at the top of the page. Not to mention the Nymph in the Monster Manual, the Elemental Savant in Complete Arcane, for that matter just about any female character pictured in any D&D book. A notable exception is the iconic 3.5 rogue, the halfling Lidda, who's typically fully clothed from her neck to her toes. On the other hand, that clothing tends to be skintight, so...

    Video Games 
  • Jessica Albert from Dragon Quest VIII. Her breasts are so large, and her top is so low, one would think her nipples were glued to the neckline, with how they never explode out — even with her idle stretching, her bouncing, or her bending over. The "Sex Appeal" (as her skill in the game is) of Jessica's dress is that she is essentially naked from the nipple up. As such, her top attracts much attention and many camera shots in the game.
  • The entirety of the female cast of SoulCalibur — with the possible exception of Hilde — are participants in this trope, thanks to the implementation of female-focused clothing damage in Soul Calibur IV. In addition to, you know, the huge quantities of cleavage and the rather unusual designs that were carried on from earlier games.
    • The award goes to resident Stripperiffic Ms. Fanservice, Ivy Valentine, who, with the exception of V, loses more and more of her already amazingly revealing default costume. By the time IV rolled around, her dominatrix outfit has been diminished into strips of leather held together by strings. (She was covered up more in V; the developers likely realized by then that if they made her outfit any more revealing, they'd probably have to change the game's ESRB rating.)
  • Yoshino "Haru" Harusawa of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor wears an outfit that would do Theiss proud. Looking at her sprites, it's a wonder she isn't having a wardrobe malfunction every few seconds. Needless to say, she's a popular character.
    • Specifically, she wears what would normally be a form-fitting dress, except that it's at least two cup sizes too big for her. This makes the top half hang off dangerously low.
    • It doesn't help that she's constantly fiddling with the straps.
    • And you know how significant that is when all the character animations are expressed in a few sprites. That's right; out of say, five sprites they drew of Haru, one of them is of her fiddling with the straps.
    • The Angel: Her design from the original Devil Summoner, which was swapped out, but later made a glorious return for Strange Journey and the new Devil Summoner, can be described as so: a light chained blue scarf that barely covers the breasts and nothing else.
  • Katsuragi of Senran Kagura wears an open dress shirt with Absolute Cleavage. You would think that with all of her flipping around, her nipples would pop out any second, or at least she'd suffer an areola slip, but somehow her top always stays in place.
  • Pretty much the entire cast of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, males included. The archers are only kept decent by the camera angles.
  • Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball: Unrealistic clothing physics are the only thing that keep this from being an H-Game.
  • This would probably explain the immense popularity of Sunspear armor and Kurzick armor among Guild Wars's Elementalists and Ritualists, respectively.
  • Morrigan's robes in Dragon Age: Origins. There are more Stripperiffic examples, but the loose fit, the cleavage and Sideboob indicating lack of a bra, make it look like she could escape her top during any of her magical gestures.
  • Mai in Fatal Fury/The King of Fighters. Her outfit looks designed to fall off.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII: Tifa Lockhart runs around kicking ass in a white tank top, leather mini-skirt, and combat boots. Then there are her assets.
    • After Wol's outfit in Mobius Final Fantasy had to be changed for being "too sexy" for the playtesters, it's worth observing that he's actually slightly more dressed than some previous FF protagonists like Vaan or Tidus. The difference might have been how it looked like it was one gust of wind and two bootlaces away from falling off his body — Vaan and Tidus's outfits might be scant, but look secure, giving a sort of a more innocent, schoolboy feel as opposed to the stripper effect that Wol ended up with.
  • In the Street Fighter games, Chun-Li doesn't exactly show that much skin (in fact, a lot of other females in the series, including Cammy, show more). Still, that skirt of hers... How she manages all those acrobatic flips and wicked kicks while not showing too much (yet still showing off her great legs) is hard to fathom.
  • The reboot of Mortal Kombat. Most female fighters' outfits start off this way, and get only worse as battle damage sets in (to the point where the only thing that could possibly be keeping some of them on is glue or magic, and the only thing keeping them from flashing is Barbie Doll Anatomy.)
  • This trope is why some perceive North America's attempt to censor Tharja's swimsuit scene in the Fire Emblem Awakening Summer Scramble DLC as more risque than the original version: in the original version, she's just adjusting her swimsuit bottom, in the censored version, thanks to some Scenery Censor, it looks like she's about to take the bottom off. Compare for yourself.
  • In God Eater Sakuya's Sexy Backless Outfit is held up only by a pair of strings tied behind her neck and back. With how much sideboob is showing, it's a wonder nothing slips out.
    • Along similar lines in the sequel, Nana wears a strip of fabric slightly too small to completely cover her breasts, held up by a single suspender. It must be seen to be believed. Naturally, it never slips or malfunctions in any way.
  • In Until Dawn, Sam's Modesty Towel manages to stay on her even while she's running away from the killer, despite the fact that it probably would have fallen off in real life. Some players might be disappointed but it's a survival horror game, not a sexy one.

    Visual Art 
  • Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, often considered a trope codifier for the Art Nouveau movement, produced a large number of posters showing attractive women in flowing robes which quite often illustrate this principle. (They’re never fully nude, although there’s a very occasional flash of actual nipple.) These posters have become hugely popular, and are often the subject of Pastiche or Affectionate Parody to this day.


     Web Original 
  • In Holy Musical B@man!, Robin is a rare male example of this trope. All he's got on is a shirt, cape, mask, shoes, and briefs the whole musical. It gets worse after a scene where we see Superman and Batman rip off each other's Underwear of Power.
  • Gaia Online:
    • Ruby is wearing what appears to be a strategically tied bedsheet with no bra. The jury's out on whether it's being held up by her rack or by the sheer force of her hotness.
    • Sam's original design couldn't find coveralls in her size, so the ones she had were open to her belly-button and on the verge of falling off.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • This is the idea behind the "fan dance" and "bubble dance" invented by the famous burlesque dancer, Sally Rand.
  • Gypsy Rose Lee's burlesque routines famously didn't reveal much skin; her signature move was sliding her shoulder strap off her shoulder.
    • According to legend, Gypsy once got a male audience all hot and bothered simply by slowly unbuttoning the long sleeves of her perfectly modest dress while speaking.
  • Soooo many red-carpet dresses, it's not even funny. Whether it be see-through or the slow edging of a nipslip, you know that the more TTT a dress is, the more likely that's what's gonna be leading on TMZ that night.
  • In Brazil, this trope is invoked for strapless dresses/bikinis, being usually called "Tomara-que-caia" ("I-hope-it-falls-off").
  • Paris Hilton is well known for wearing outfits like this for the cameras.
  • Preventing this (or invoking it), especially in Cosplay situations, is the reason why Spirit Gum and similar products exist.
  • The high-kicking can-can was considered obscene because of its debut at a time when underwear was designed with open crotches. The hem and ruffles usually obscured a clear view, but even when not deliberately manipulated by the dancer, the fabric could part enough for a brief flash of exposure.
  • This trope is why some people consider bikinis for prepubescent girls obscene: There is nothing to hide, but the bikini top implies that there is something titillating under it.
  • Romans didn't wear togas as much as we imagine them doing; most famously they were donned by political candidates, since the pure white of the garment was supposed to communicate their honesty. The reason? There was nothing holding them up except for strategic body posturing. If you pivoted just the wrong way, down it would come and nude you would be.
    • At least in later times togas were worn over a tunic, and the more conservative and traditionalist Romans who preferred the old-fashioned way were considered to be somewhat eccentric.
  • Ancient Greek tunics and dresses were open at one side. While there was enough fabric that nothing was actually going to show, the suggestion of it was always there (particularly on a windy winter day). Presumably this was just how they liked it. The mens' tunics invoked this trope much more strongly than the womens' dresses, because the tunics were cut no longer than absolutely necessary. Again, they did wear underwear so there was no danger of actual nudity: but if the wife had done her job correctly, there would be a strong suggestion of it. Greek painting and statuary also made heavy use of this trope: particularly in depictions of heroes, gods and goddesses. Paintings and statues of course never wear underwear, and often wear only a strategically placed cloak. The most common style is to have a male wearing a cloth draped on the hips held in the left hand. Since the statue is immobile, the simulated cloth can't actually fall. But, we all know that if a guy did this in Real Life it would stay up for about five seconds. It's never used on female statues, since there is no suggestion that the cloth would fall because women have wider hips. The female equivalent is to have the dress hanging by one shoulder pin.


Example of: