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Theiss Titillation Theory

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The sexiness of an outfit is directly proportional to the perceived possibility that a vital piece of it might fall off.
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This basic theory underwrites Stripperiffic clothing, Impossibly Cool Clothes, and pretty much anything else you stick characters (usually female, but this can apply to men's clothing as well) 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.

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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, on 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 skin tone 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.

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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.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    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 expose her hips and abdomen, is barely above her groin and looks like it could slip off at any time, 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 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.
  • In Raideen, Sharkin's Roman-soldier-style miniskirt always made him look one stiff breeze away from indecent exposure.
  • Daphne in the Brilliant Blue: Absolutely nothing at all appears to hold on the bottoms of Rena and Shizuka's field outfits. This could be Maebari — a Japanese form of real life fetishwear which amounts to essentially a bikini made out of tape.
  • In The Seven Deadly Sins, Merlin wears a jacket that is held in place across her chest by seemingly nothing. In the first fanbook it is referenced that she does indeed keep her clothing in place with magic.
  • Kureha from Tokkô goes around wearing nothing above her waist except an unzipped leather jacket. Even when riding her motorcycle, it somehow stays in place.
  • Chocolat's combat outfit in Sorcerer Hunters consists of baggy trousers and a pair of thin suspenders. If a woman dressed like that in real life, the only way she could move without flashing her nipples would be to glue the suspenders in place.

    Comic Books 
  • Starfire's outfit is part lingerie, part bondage gear.
  • Supergirl has fallen victim to ridiculously skimpy suits from time to time. Her one-time suit in Adventure Comics #409 was completely backless and displayed her Sideboob prominently. In The Supergirl from Krypton, Darkseid got her brainwashed and dumped into a cape, skintight trousers and an impossible bra. At the beginning of her Post-Crisis book, her midriff shirt was so tiny it almost displayed her underboobs. Finally, her alternate universe counterpart Power Girl is infamous by her boob window.
  • Cixi from Lanfeust. At one point she shows up in what is essentially a bikini, cut into strips, and those strips arranged in spirals for maximum effect.
  • Carol Danvers' Ms. Marvel 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.
  • X-Men:
  • Cloak & Dagger: 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.
  • 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. 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 in order to avoid unfortunate implications.
  • Discussed 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.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Level Up (MHA), Izuku's Gamer style Quirk gives both Momo and Itsuka "sexy kimono" skins which are described as always looking one deep breath or wrong movement from falling off entirely.

    Films — Animation 

    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 Rossellini) 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.

    Literature 
  • 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 Eight Worlds: 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 muse that the really titillating spots are never going to turn transparent, but people will keep staring at the ads just in case...
  • In the 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.
  • In his biography, Chuck Jones recounts how his fellow male students at college all told him how lucky he was to be taking art class, as he got to sketch beautiful nude models. When the woman disrobed and posed, however, Chuck found himself unaffected and sketched her as he would any other subject. Later that day, however, he was sitting outside in the common area between classes when a female student sat next to him to adjust her stockings. As pulled back her skirt, all Chuck saw was the briefest glimpse of one of her bare thighs, but that was enough to force him to take a moment to compose himself before heading to his next class.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
    • 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 about women in the 17th century Harlots, Housewives, and Heroines, 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 consisted of spandex shorts and two strips of fabric across the chest, which had a tendency to slip down his shoulders.
  • Melanie from Hotin Cleveland in a trash bag-dress when she causes it to ride up in "Duct Soup".

    Music 
  • Lady Gaga usually wears skin-tight clothing, bypassing this trope; but in the video for "Poker Face", one of her outfits is a crisscrossing 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.
  • That sort-of top that Beyoncé wore in the video for "Soldier" looked like a Wardrobe Malfunction waiting to happen.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Taeler Hendrix is a walking advertisement for double-sided tape or whatever it is she uses to keep herself from falling out of her clothes.
  • No, Hania The Howling Huntress' top did not come down during her match with Cherry Bomb at Valkyrie I: International Joshi Grand Prix, May 24, 2014, but, it looked like it could have.
    • This Twitter post, about a picture from her match with Sage Sin Supreme at AWS/QPW Joint Show #2, April 29, 2017, reads, "That moment you...hope...Hania's boobs doesn't spill out."

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons 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 type of clothing tends to be skintight, so...
  • This is the modern design philosophy for Horny Devils and Dark Elves in Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, wearing just enough that they aren't technically showing anything but implying they could be at any time. Earlier versions of the models were outright topless.

    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 keeps 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.
  • Valkyrie Drive -Bhikkhuni- has Viola's outfit. It's a miracle she doesn't have constant Wardrobe Malfunction with how low the neckline of her kimono is. Amusingly, she receives special versions of everyone's else costumes named "risque versions" that have been modified to show this.
  • In Otomedius, there is almost no way the Stripperific outfits that barely cover the breasts of some of the characters can stay on when they are flying.
  • Endless Frontier:
    • The game's leading lady, one HRH Kaguya Nanbu, has huge tracts of land stuffed into a microdress held on by the cruelty of the Universe. She has an extremely acrobatic fighting style, which results in, uh, earthquakes, in keeping with the metaphor, but never a wardrobe malfunction. Whoever enchanted that thing deserves either a medal or to be hanged, depending on your perspective.
    • Her successor in the never-released-overseas sequel, Neige, is just as, eh, perky and wears a maid costume with a similarly too-small blouse; also imbued with cosmic malice by a bashful sorceror. She has a Super Move Portrait Attack wherein the camera does a closeup full-body pan, with her skirt *just* managing to hide what kind of underwear she has on, if any.
  • Krystal from Starfox Adventures is a Nubile Savage who wears a skimpy tribal outfit that's basically just a bra and a hazardously short loincloth. In particular, the way the loincloth stays on (two button clips, one on each of her hips) makes it physically impossible for her to be wearing underwear. note 
  • Sylvanas Windrunner's outfit, specifically her skin-tight pants, in Warcraft IIIand World of Warcraft. Prior to the Battle For Azeroth expansion, many wondered about her top as well (though tbf, it did look like it was reinforced with metal). While one can suspend disbelief in the case of the dragons who dress in similar styles, since their "clothes" may actually be body parts, one really has to wonder about Sylvanas. The front of her pants sits well below her belly button or even her hip line. If she jumped in the air, the fabric SHOULD be pulled down sufficiently as to show her vaginal opening. Of course, it never does: no matter how many crazy archery stunts she pulls.

    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 Comics 

     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 nip slip, 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 note .
    • 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.
    • Roman (infantry) armor also worked on this principle. Romans used large shields, so their armor didn't particularly have to be extensive. And it wasn't.
  • 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 men's tunics invoked this trope much more strongly than the women's 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.


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