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File:Amy sorrel gothic lolita.jpg

Miss Amy Sorel found an outfit that she's both too old and too young to wear.

Kurt: She manages to dress like a grandmother and a kindergartner at the same time.
—On the fashions of Rachel Berry, Glee

Basically a character dressing in a manner that just doesn't fit the cultural norm for the character's age. It could be in clothing, hairstyle, makeup, or something else.

The reasons can vary, although dressing up or costumes wouldn't count for this. This is more a character either not realizing how they look dressed like that, or they might even be trying to pretend they are a different age (either as a disguise, or as a denial about one's age).

This can be justified when characters are Older Than They Look or Younger Than They Look, and dressing their actual age would look like this trope even though it isn't. Legal Jailbait characters are very likely to use this justification for dressing this way.

A Super-Trope to Adults Dressed as Children.

Compare Mistaken Age, Improbable Age, Dawson Casting.

Examples of Age-Inappropriate Dress include:

Anime and Manga

  • Evangeline from Mahou Sensei Negima, who constantly dresses in a Stripperiffic Goth loli manner. She is considerably older than ten, but she does not look it at all.
    • Pick a girl in Mahou Sensei Negima. Then, pick an outfit they've worn that isn't their school uniform or a casual after-school outfit of their own choosing. Anything else from this 'verse is 98% more likely to be seen as "inappropriate" by someone in real life. Given the consideration that, oh yeah, the vast majority of the cast are girls under the age of 15. And later on, a handful of boys under the age of 12 (at least physically).
  • Kokoto-01 from Divergence Eve, she wears a very Stripperiffic outfit when on active duty, her new one in the second season even more so.
  • Misao from Rurouni Kenshin.
  • Dr. Kureha from One Piece is going on 140 years old, but dresses like a teenager.
  • Fate of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, whose Barrier Jacket when she was nine can best be described as Stripperiffic black leather.
  • Near from Death Note. He wears pyjamas all the time, and he's 18 post-time skip, then 21 in the special. Then again, he doesn't look 18.
  • Crystal in Pokémon Special recently switched costumes to match her game counterpart in the remakes...Well that's fine, except that the protagonist is an eleven year old girl who wears a overralls and a giant hat. Crys is a rather mature girl around age sixteen, the style really doesn't fit her. It was forced upon her by her mom, who is an Adult Child.
  • Pokémon anime. 10 year old Hikari (or Dawn) and her hip-length skirt.
    • Nah, that's tame compared to this that her mother actually forbade her to bring on her journey.
  • Mitsumi from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Adventure is in her mid teens at earliest but sports the same costume as her 11 year old game counterpart, who in turn wears a costume too old for her age. At times Mitsumi's clothes can look age appropriate - though her Platinum jacket fits more.
  • The outfit that Bra/Bulla wears in Dragon Ball GT is definitely not appropriate for her age. In the Japanese version, she is not older than 10.
  • Mii from Popotan wears an outfit for a Beauty Contest that looks like her normal Magical Girl costume if half of it was cut off.

Comic Books

  • X-men's X-23 almost never dresses appropriately for a teenage girl. It could be the fact that she was never raised to know what was appropriate, a call back to her time as a prostitute, or just Fan Service
  • Evey dressing up as a little girl in V for Vendetta to trap a pedophile. She was pretending to be just a year younger than her actual age, but her dress really was meant to sell it.
  • In The Sandman, Delirium's clothes would fall into this by default. Since she's been around since the earliest sentient life in the universe, she's really too old for pretty much anything she wears. She is also the youngest of the Endless, so, anytime she dresses like a little kid is a subtle nod to what she used to be.
    • In The Wake, she wears a fairy princess costume that looks like it's meant for a much younger kid; the skirt's very short on her.


  • How the two protagonists of Thirteen dress, although since they're played by teenagers it's not quite as jarring as it could have been. Still, "no bra, no panties, Mum."
  • Little Miss Sunshine during the titular pageant. Even more disturbing, this pageant was portrayed realistically by real pageant girls.
  • Played straight in Mystery Team, where the characters dress up like little kids.
  • The German boy costume worn by Mugatu during the brainwashing sequence in Zoolander.

Live Action TV

  • In an early episode of The Drew Carey Show one of "the most difficult customers" Winfred-Louder had was an old woman who dressed herself in pre-teen clothes.
  • Jordan putting her hair in pigtails and dressing childishly to persuade her gyno that she's younger than she really is, on Scrubs.
  • In Glee one character says of Rachel "She manages to dress like a grandmother and a kindergartner at the same time."
  • Several episodes of What Not to Wear feature a woman who, in her late 40s, continued to wear the same kind of clothing she wore as a young teen and only that clothing; because she could not buy the fashions and styles she was comfortable with she made all her own outfits from scratch and looked somewhat like a demented circus clown.
  • UK television: Mini-Pops was a late 70s/early 80s show where small kids would dress up like grown-ups and dance.
  • Toddlers and Tiaras is a reality show about beauty pageants for little girls, which shows them in outfits like bikinis, and them even getting spray tans. Already seen as more than a little unsettling, criticism of the show spiked noticeably when it featured a girl dressed in Julia Robert's prostitute outfit from Pretty Woman. The mother defended it by claiming it wasn't as revealing as some of the other outfits in the competition, an argument that helps no one.
    • Said little girl was on again, the mother complaining about the backlash she'd gotten over the costume. What's the girl wearing this time? A crop top and a tulle, poofy black skirt, okay. Sure, the boots and stockings are a bit risque but it's not that bad...and then she rips the skirt off during the routine to showcase her underwear-like bottoms (that match the top) and garters. Yes, that was scripted, they practiced a lot. And she won.
  • The Wayans Bros.: In the episode "Hip-Hop Pops", Pops is depressed about turning 50. Shawn and Marlon take him out to a nightclub and gets a female acquaintance of theirs to dance with Pops in an effort to cheer him up. It works a little too well: Pops starts dressing (and acting) like someone in his 20's, basically the age range of his sons.
  • On The Steve Harvey Show Regina (who is in her mid to late 30's) is accused of not being in touch with the students. Her solution? Dressing like them. She resorts to wearing shirts that show her belly button and wearing her hair in Girlish Pigtails with loud, colorful accessories. She goes back to normal when Cedric reminds her of how embarrasing her parents were when they tried to act and dress young when she was a teenager.
    • This is played with when it comes to Lovita. She dresses inappropriately for her job but not necessarily her age as she is portrayed as younger and more hip than Steve, Cedric, and Regina. No one really calls her out on it, except Steve (when he wants to make fun of her) and Regina (when Lovita takes it too far).
  • One episode of Married... with Children gives us a flashback of Kelly wearing roughly the same slutty outfit since grade school.
  • One episode of 30 Rock has a new cast member on Liz's show doing the baby stripper act in both dress and action and honestly seems to be her real personality. Turns out she's been trying to get close to other men and take on a new identity in order to avoid her insane husband who wants to kill her. Liz trying to help her backfires INCREDIBLY BAD.
  • An episode of The Bob Newhart Show had Emily getting very upset about getting middle-aged as her birthday approached. She starts dressing in faddish youth clothes, and only snaps out of it when Carol innocently buys her an identical a gag gift.


  • At the beginning of Spring Awakening Wendla tries to convince her mother to let her continue to wear a dress that's too small for her as she's too innocent to realize why this is inappropriate for a pubescent girl in 1891 (her reasoning for wanting it is probably more of the clinging to your childhood variety).
  • In The Glass Menagerie, when Jim comes for dinner, Amanda wears an old-fashioned dress from her youth, much more appropriate for a younger woman, as if he were calling on her instead of her daughter.

Video Games

Web Comics

  • This comic has hellish Halloween punishments, such as making "sexy children's costumes" for that day.

Western Animation

  • An episode of Daria featured the 40ish editor of a teen magazine who dressed like a teenager.
  • The South Park treatment of the "trend" of little girls dressing like skanky teenagers in "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset."
  • The girls from Sea Princesses wear very skimpy outfits, despite the show being aimed at children.
  • 14-year-old Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars wears a very tiny tube top—on a battlefield, no less. George Lucas specifically requested that her original outfit be redesigned to show more skin. (And incidentally, George also intended her to be eleven in The Movie, although canon puts her official age at fourteen.) The third season finally changes this, with a more modest outfit that still features a Cleavage Window.

Real Life

  • Along with nipple-tassle and "I'm living proof that my mum is easy" shirts, baby stilettos, and underwear with various inappropriate phrases printed on them. And look at the comments on these things about how anyone who objects to children becoming sexualized - especially when they aren't even aware they're being exploited and their parents are doing it for kicks - has no sense of humour.
  • Child pageants are notorious for this.
  • The way most high school girls dress is another, especially if the school they go to hardly enforces the dress code.
    • Even in schools with uniform, this often happens.
    • Even if the school is strict with the dress code, it's still possible for students to pull this off, either by bringing another set of clothes and just steering clear of administrators (which can be pretty easy) or simply using excessive make-up and/or accessories as an alternative.
    • And then at the other extreme, some teens' dress sense barely changes between elementary and high school.
    • Girls are not the only ones. It may not be as common, but there are many high school boys who don't dress appropriately either.