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File:Whiplash Poster 53.jpg

You got to whip it...whip it good!


Mermaid Man: Once you put on these costumes, their amazing powers will become yours!

Sandy: Wow. I didn't think superpowers worked that way.

Mermaid Man: Sure! Power's all in the costume. Why else would we run around in colored undies?

Squidward: I can think of a few reasons.

The Phlebotinum is applied to a character's clothes instead of himself.

Having superpowers built into a magical or technological garment instead of inherent to a character is a common element of Superhero stories and other speculative fiction. It allows an otherwise fragile Muggle whose only outstanding skill may be smarts to play with the big dogs. It allows a mundane hero, closer to the common man than a mutant, alien, or cyborg. It provides a hero with a creamy center that bad guys can exploit, and provides a plausible reason for the Secret Identity to be vulnerable. Normally, technological super suits surround the character completely, covering 100% of his skin, and are hermetically sealed. In this way, the suit is doing all the work, and the operator is simply pushing its actions from within.

The most straightforward version of the super suit is "Power(ed) Armor", a miniature Humongous Mecha—how's that for an oxymoron? These use some form of mechanical system, like artificial muscles, electric motors, or hydraulics to drive their actions. They may be controlled by positive feedback, responding to the operator's body movements to keep the pressure in the suit balanced, or they may use a mind interface, either wireless or cybernetically implanted. These suits are hard, armored and inflexible, making them hard to wear under civvies or pack for trips. These are the most likely to be mass-produced in a Sci Fi setting, as a souped-up space suit, hostile environment gear, or infantry body armor.

Moving out from there, we find the "soft" super suit, based on some form of "smart materials", nanotechnology, magic, or even living tissue. These can often morph or reassemble themselves, and can be folded, stored and perhaps even machine washed.

Single articles of clothing that add powers are also common. Typically, they empower the part of the body on which they are worn, but they can also have peripheral effects; gauntlets of super strength usually also reinforce the legs and back, for instance. These are almost always magic, and can often be mixed and matched.

When headwear has this effect, it's a Hat of Power. Can sometimes be a form of Upgrade Artifact. No matter the type, if it's worn by a woman, expect Stripperifficness. If metal is part of it, then expect Elemental Crafting. If jewels are a part of it, then expect Power Crystals. If the clothes cannot be removed, it's a Clingy Costume. Contrast Frilly Upgrade. For suits that work with powers but do not provide them, see My Suit Is Also Super. In general these are a case of an Amulet of Concentrated Awesome for obvious reasons. A very mild video-game example would be Stat Sticks.

Not to be confused with Clothes Make the Legend.

Examples of Clothes Make the Superman include:

Anime & Manga

  • While the Otome in Mai-Otome receive some residual abilities (like accelerated healing) from their Nanomachines alone, they're utterly useless in combat without their ultra-powerful, if somewhat Phlebotinum Overload prone, Robes. Even without them, they're shown to still be capable of jumps that would make Sailor Moon proud and agility that would make Spider-Man applaud, meaning that any Muggle or even large group of goons that wanted to screw with them would be utterly fucked, Robe or no.
  • Corrector Yui's Elemental Suits, although it's a bit of a Justified Trope as they're data modifications in a computer-based world.
  • The Hunter suits in Gantz gives them the strength and endurance that they need to survive in their hunts. Of course, the suits can only take only much punishment before the little caps that power them burst, at which point they become nothing more than skin-tight rubber suits.
    • The inconsistent durability suggests that they're just another part of Gantz' game of yanking their chains. "Take these, they'll make you supermen! Until I decide you should stop having superpowers..."
  • In the Mega Man Upon a Star OVAs, the beginning of the third installment had Roll showing up in this outfit, with the intent on fighting alongside Mega Man. However, she never did display any abilities, and by the time she (along with Mega Man) gets to Yuuta's world, she's somehow back in her usual outfit.
    • The outfit got her pretty far into Dr. Wily's fortress, and much faster then Mega Man, apparently. Weird that it just fell apart when they got sucked into Yuuta's world.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima had Chao Lingshen being able to fight with Negi due to a futuristic battlesuit with a Time Travel mechanism built in, making her one of the strongest combatants present. And that's before she reveals that she can use magic.
  • In RIN-NE, the title character—part human, part Shinigami—can wear a haori (a traditional Japanese coat) that allows him to access his shinigami powers, making him Invisible to Normals and able to pass through walls.
  • In the late Ranma ½ manga, three magical suits show up. The first is an intelligent, perverted dogi that bestows incredible martial arts skills the wearer without requiring them going through normal Training From Hell to get it. Of course, as mentioned, it's a pervert, so it will only allow itself to be worn by women that it thinks are sexy. In this unusual case, it's actually capable of moving and fighting on its own. The second is a swimsuit made from living jellyfish that makes the wearer an expert swimmer. Akane Tendo was the beneficiary in both cases. The third case is a nigh-invincible suit of mail-order Powered Armor that anyone can wear, even the weakest of weaklings, in order to get back at bullies and the one person the owner hates most. What keeps it from becoming a threat is that a) it locks down and freezes when first assembled, and it only activates when it attaches to the owner's target; b) it comes apart when the owner lands one successful knockout punch on said target; and c) if the owner can't land a hit within a time limit, it self-destructs.
  • Kurosaki Ichigo from Bleach inverts this trope. How much of his bankai's Badass Longcoat is still attached to his body is an indication of his remaining spiritual power.
    • Played straight with Jackie, whose clothes are her Fullbring power.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has hints of this: The characters' "barrier jackets" can take surprising amounts of damage before breaking. Not to mention their weapons usually take the form of anything from gloves to necklaces to shoes when not in use.
  • The armors worn by various people who are chosen to become a you all the basic benefits; strength, speed, endurance, etc. However, it also gives some nice special benefits namely, car/tank mode and jet fighter mode. Mind you, the dead/comatose bodies of the chosen ones, are still very human and very open to Otoha finds out.
  • Ultimate Hentai Kamen is a manga about a high school student who gains powers when he wears a pair of women's underwear over his face. I couldn't make that up if I tried.
  • The Code Geass manga spinoff Nightmare of Nunnally gave us Lelouch's alternate Geass: a supernatural Power Armor that let's him fight on par with Knightmare Frames, by basically channelling Master Asia. And it. Was. Awesome.
  • The Guyver is a biological suit of armor with a ton of abilities including complete regeneration from a scrap of flesh.
  • The Gatchaman team's birdstyles?
  • Erza Scarlet from Fairy Tail has a variety of armors available in her Hyperspace Arsenal, which grant her a wide variety of special abilities. Still, she's pretty Badass even without the armor.
  • Bobobobo Bobobo: After training at the supermarket, Bo-bobo is given a jacket that increases his power. It cost him 582 yen ($27.50 in the dub, which he had Beauty pay for).
  • The Busou Renkin of Captain Bravo is an indestructible silver trenchcoat.
  • Astro Fighter Sunred, as a parody of the Sentai genre (see Live Action TV), intentionally averts this trope. Sunred never dresses in anything but perfectly normal wear (preferring a Hawaiian shirt and shorts when it's not cold) and keeps all his sentai powers. It's furthermore subverted in that Sunred apparently has a suit that allows him access to his Firebird Form, but he never uses it (given the strength of Florsheim, he never apparently needs it) and keeps it stashed in a box in his closet.
  • The titular character from Hana no Ko Lunlun is gifted with a magical pin that can change her outfit to suit whichever task is at hand. She activates it by pointing it at a nearby flower, which in turn emits magical rays that transform her clothes... and then she gains the abilities that the people wearing said clothes would have. I.e., when Lunlun needs to climb a mountain, she "asks" the flowers for a climber outfit and once she's suited up she temporarily acquires the skills of a professional climber.

Comic Books

Marvel Comics

  • Iron Man's original suit was simply intended to hold a deadly piece of iron shrapnel embedded in his heart lining with powerful magnets, thus allowing him to move without dying. By the end of the first issue, it had became a One-Man Army machine. In some recent incarnations the suit has been shown to be a highly effective combatant even when its wearer is unconscious. He doesn't simply stay home and send the suit out on its own to fight evil for a couple of reasons. First, he's tried it; Tony's track record with AIs is really poor. While none of them have become world-threatening menaces like Ultron, they do all tend to go a bit squirrelly after a while.) Second, but quite possibly more important, he likes to fight; he's something of a crusader personality and adrenaline rush junky.
    • Also, Iron Man has in recent years shown the ability to mentally control his armor from a distance. Including at least one case when he attacked a supervillain with all of his old suits of armor (of which there were a couple dozen, IIRC), at the same time.
    • The Extremis technology and the post-Extremis Bleeding Edge technology are allowing Tony to blur the lines. He can now keep at least his basic armor inside his body, a fact which has occasionally granted his 'normal human' self New Powers as the Plot Demands. He's becoming the poster child for Transhumanism or Posthumanism partly through his own efforts.
  • Spider-Man's black costume was a living alien being, who got a little...too attached to him. In most adaptations, it tried to take over Spidey's mind and body, and ever since Venom came into the comics, the symbiote has been portrayed as doing this to its hosts.
    • There have since been an entire race of symbiotes in Marvel, which have resulted in anti-heroes like Venom, villains like Carnage, and most recently the world's best biological weapon that temporarily took over several heroes.
  • The short-lived team of Spider-Man fanboys known as the Slingers derived all their powers from demon-enhanced outfits, with one exception.
  • At one point in his history, one of Captain Britain's many redesigns had his powers coming from the union-jack-based suit of his.
    • This is how his Ultimate Marvel incarnation's powers have worked from the start. Along with Captain France, Captain Spain, and various other European Captain Geographics, Captain Britain is the product of an EU super-soldier program headed by his father, who designed a series of powered "exo-suits".
  • The Richard Rider Nova's powers are innate, but his costume has a number of extra useful functions such as a life support system, radio transmission pickup and later a powerful artificial intelligence to help him.
  • A big point in the most recent volume of the New Warriors. A lot of the group are mutants who were depowered in M-Day and are now using tech to get new powers.
  • Quasar derives his powers from his Quantum Bands.
  • Darkhawk gains his powers from an android body in Powered Armor.
  • In the first few issues of Ms. Marvel, her powers came entirely from her Kree uniform. Soon enough, though, a villain's blast fuses her suit's powers directly into her body—except for the suit's original bulletproofness.
  • While the Falcon still has the power to communicate with birds and see what they see telepathically, his ability to fly comes from his costume and and flight harness.

DCU (DC Comics):

  • Steel, much the same as Iron Man, but with different motivation.
  • The newest Blue Beetle, with the revelation that the "mystic beetle totem" that gave the original his powers was really an undercharged alien combat suit.
  • Booster Gold. He comments on several occasions that he's pretty helpless without his suit.
  • In some early-Silver Age depictions of Wonder Woman, she got all of her powers from her outfit—with nearly every single piece of clothing she wore having its own origin story and a separate power. Boots of super speed and tiara of invulnerability, for instance. Nowadays, most of her powers are in-born gifts of the Greek goddesses, and only her trademark enchanted invulnerable armbands and her lasso (not really part of the outfit, but a key accessory) remain superpowered. (Her original design by Marston had it as Charles Atlas Superpower derived from Amazonian training in "concentrating body energy").
    • The latest Retcon has it that the "truth powers" are another innate gift; the lasso just focuses it.
    • During a period when her powers were stripped from her, she used the Sandals of Hermes and Bracers of Atlas to recreate her strength and speed. These were then "borrowed" by Cassie Sandsmark, to become the second Wonder Girl. Cassie was later given innate powers by Zeus.
  • Arguably, Batman - his outfit doesn't give him powers per se, but it does give him a frightening appearance.
    • There are a few versions in which he wears at least some body armor, or some more extreme examples like his Iron Man-esque suit from the Kingdom Come series or at least some additional clothing pieces, like the Kryptonite gauntlets from The Dark Knight Returns. His utility belt and everything in it makes much of his mobility and other aspects of his work (aside from hand-to-hand combat) possible to the point that you have to consider it the main, and arguably the most important aspect of his outfit. Aside from his intellect and his hand-to-hand combat skills, basically all of what makes Batman who he is revolves in one way or another around the suit.
    • Arguably, Jean-Paul Valley's Batman armor fits this trope, especially the final version before Bruce came back - gauntlets armed with razor sharp talons, a flamethrower, grappling hook and a shuriken launcher with three settings (normal, semi-automatic and rapid-fire [aka puree]) a metal chestplate set with a powerful flashlight and a cape that can surround and protect him from small-arms fire and a full-face cowl with a targeting system and a rebreather. Bruce realizes he relies too much on it and uses it against him.
  • JSA long standing teenage hero Stargirl, depending on the writer, is depicted with a belt that converts energy into her body to give increased strength and agility. (Her staff is a separate device with no actual connection to the belt, though it works on the same basic principle and was designed by the same man. She had the belt and the increased strength and agility long before she had the staff.)
  • Played With in a Silver Age Superman story. Superman loses his memory due to exposure to a mix of Kryptonites and a bump on the head (which was witnessed by others who believed Superman died in the incident.) Superman somehow makes his way back to civilization in a Clark Kent esque outfit (I forget how.) When he realizes he has powers and sees the Superman costume under his outfit, he believes at first that the costume gives him powers like Superman's (He thinks he's only Clark Kent because others have recognized him as Clark and he's seen news reports of Superman's death.)


  • Shadow Hawk from Image Comics wore a suit of body armor designed by Carlton Sun. Given his ability to break the spines of anyone he came into contact with it seems to have had a strength upgrade component.
  • The Engineer, from Wildstorm comics' The Authority, has nine pints of nanomachinery replacing her blood. She's a (somewhat oxymoronically) closet exhibitionist, and so just uses a skin coating of the nanites for superheroing, giving her body armor, strength, and flight.
  • Empowered, from the satire comic of the same name, has a super-suit that gives her dramatically enhanced strength and speed...but if the suit becomes damaged even slightly, the extra strength quickly fails (at a rate inverse to the amount of damage caused, so most of it is lost on the first scratch). And the suit is very fragile.
    • Three points: The suit only works for Emp, the suit has a mind and the ability to move on its own, and it's been implied that it's fragile only because Emp's self-esteem is fragile.
  • Nite Owl in Watchmen built a powered exoskeleton and abandoned it in his workshop, never having actually worn it on-panel. His only description of it was "The first time I used it, it broke my arm. Never again."

 Silk Spectre: That sounds like the kind of costume that could really mess you up.

Nite Owl II: ...Is there any other kind?

  • The earliest version of He-Man depicted in the mini-comics that came with the figures explained that his superhuman power came from his enchanted chest armor.
    • The Power of Greyskull came from his man-brassiere???
      • The cartoon verifies this in episode 12 "Evil Lyn's Plot". Much of He-Man's strength comes from his harness. His sword just acts as a bag of holding for it.
  • Witchblade. Though technically it's not a suit but a little implant when it sleeps and it transforms the host's own body into a battle form along with itself, recreating "armor" anew. What happens to the real clothes in the process varies.
  • Tech Jacket (who appears occasionally in the Invincible comics) has a semi-sentient alien power suit bequeathed to him by a dying alien. The suit folds into Hammerspace and as he is human, and not Geldarian, his suit boosts his abilities to a far greater degree, giving him powers greater than the normal Flying Brick. Shame only 1 trade paperback was ever produced.
  • Without the Beta Suit, Julie Martin in Echo is just a normal photographer struggling with everyday life. She does not want these powers, but her situation means she has no choice but to use them.
  • Powerpuff Girls #20: Blossom is completely helpless and lacks her usual confidence without her hairbow, which Buttercup swiped as a prank and now Mojo Jojo has stolen because he thinks it contains some intangible powers. It's Bubbles (of all people) who puts her foot down about the whole mess and sets things right.

 Bubbles: (angrily to Blossom) It's just a stupid bow!! You're still a Powerpuff Girl whether you have it or not!!

  • Who could forget The Bikini Teens? Captain Commander gave them bikinis which give them superpowers, but only if the bikinis are showing. By Bob Burden of Dark Horse comics, set in the same universe as the ineffable Flaming Carrot and the mill-town superhero team known as the Mystery Men.

Fan Fiction


  • The story goes, according to Kevin Smith, that while he was doing script treatments for the in-limbo fifth Superman movie (that eventually became Superman Returns, for lack of a better term the third Superman movie), the then-producer had a lot of strange requests. He wanted Superman to fight a giant mechanical spider, a polar bear at his Fortress of Solitude (which, recall, in the comics is in Antarctica), and to have his powers come from his suit.
    • Lampshaded in the Superman/Doomsday DVD cartoon, in which an obvious Kevin Smith Expy voiced as himself, scoffs at the defeat of Toyman's arachnobot, saying "Pfft, like we needed to have him fight a giant spider."
  • In The Dark Knight, there's one scene that makes it quite clear it's only the suit that make some of his actions possible.
  • The Jackie Chan movie The Tuxedo. Not played at all seriously, of course.
  • In The Incredibles, Syndrome's suit gives him enough power to take on supers. Good job he wasn't skilled with it...
  • In The Mask, the eponymous artifact is this. Whoever puts it on becomes invincible and gains phenomenal reality warping powers at the expense of their psychological restraints. The same held true in the original comic book, though the results within were far more violent and gory.
  • The Filipino movie Blusang Itim features a magical blouse that makes ugly women beautiful.
  • Iron Man, for the same reasons as in the comic. In the sequel, this extended to Whiplash (see the page pic) and War Machine.
  • Like Mike
  • In Slam Dunk Ernest, an angel played by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gives Ernest magic shoes allowing him to give him supernatural basketball abilities.
  • The eponymous shirt in the 1978 British kids film Sammy's Super T-Shirt.
  • In the Megamind: The Button of Doom short, the titular villain-turned-hero decides that, in order to protect "Metrocity" he's going to make a suit that copies the powers of the former hero Metro Man (who has powers identical to Superman's). These include rocket boots, gloves for Super Strength, and glasses that can alternate between X-Ray Vision and Eye Beams. Apparently, each device is voice-activated.


  • The novel Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein contains some of the earliest "realistic" Powered Armor in fiction.
  • The novel Armour by Richard Steakley, whose Powered Armor looks a lot like Heinlein's, but whose owners treat it very differently.
  • In the novel Fallen Dragon by Peter F Hamilton, human soldiers wear Skin - suits of artificial muscle which enhance their strength and make them almost Immune to Bullets. The Skin muscles are actually alive - they need to be fed bags of artificial blood to keep them going (this blood is circulated by the wearer's own heart). One character's Skin is nearly destroyed when he is bitten by a poisonous eel.
  • In Kim Stanley Robinson's Blue Mars, there exist recreational flight suits which act as a strength-amplifying exoskeleton, giving wearers a sufficient power-to-weight ratio to fly like a bird, at least in Martian gravity (though more diving and swooping, because flapping would be dull). Similar devices allow low-gravity adapted humans (i.e. the Martians) to function in higher gravity environments (i.e. Earth).
  • David Weber used Powered Armor for the Imperial Cadre, which was a combination of augmented exoskeleton and armor with lots of mounting points for heavy weapons (all of which they could take off), and the embedded pharmacope, processors and additional neural pathways (that they were stuck with all the time).
  • Dale Brown features "Tin Man" suits, a lightweight form of Powered Armor made from material similar to Batman's cape in Batman Begins/The Dark Knight, in his later novels.
  • Witch cloaks in Septimus Heap are the main source of a Witch novice's Magykal abilities, including protection from the Darke, as experienced by Jenna in Darke.

Live Action TV

  • The Greatest American Hero had an alien super suit given to a mild-mannered schoolteacher by advanced aliens, to use for the good of mankind. He lost the instructions. Twice.
  • The super-suit used in the short-lived series Super Force was a prototype space suit, retrofitted for urban assault. In fact, in the first episode, the hero wears an unmodified (though futuristic) space suit as a vigilante.
  • Power Rangers. However, recent seasons have given Rangers non-suit-related powers as well (one Stock Super Power each, quickly becoming Forgotten Phlebotinum) or made Ranger powers simply enhance the Functional Magic or Ki Attacks they're already learning.
  • Taking a note from Spider Man, two episodes of Sanctuary featured an abnormal entity that shaped itself like a superhero suit so it could bond to a host. It would grant them superhuman abilities, but feed on their live energy in return.
  • The Adventures of Superman: Averted: During the famous "Panic in the Sky" episode, amnesiac Clark, having discovered Superman's suit under his own, wonders if this might be the case. Unfortunately, Jimmy says no, the man makes the clothes super.
  • The Captain X chest isignia on The Amazing Extraordinary Friends.
  • A number of artifacts from Warehouse13 work like this.


  • Brynhildr's enchanted belt in Norse Mythology gave her "the strength of 10 men".
  • The belt of Thor (the one from Norse Mythology, not the Marvel Universe), was the basis for Brynhildr's belt. It further enhanced his already superhuman strength, and he could literally 'take it up a notch' by tightening the belt.
  • The ancient gods of Greek Mythology had lots of nifty mystic toys, including Hades' cap of invisibility, Hermes' winged shoes, and the impenetrable Nemean Lion's skin worn by Heracles. The only real "giving a normal person powers" example, though, was Perseus, who was given several gifts for his quest to slay the Medusa, including the aforementioned cap and shoes.

Tabletop Games

  • Space Marines from Warhammer 40000 are enhanced to become badass enough to kill things unarmoured and take no damage from small arms fire to the face, but their Powered Armour makes them even more resilient. Elite members get to use the "Tactical Dreadnought" or "Terminator" armour, which makes them tougher still (and by that, I mean, there was an example in a book where a wearer of it was stepped on it by a Scout Titan and crawled out of the big footprint unharmed), but slower (the armour was developed from protective suits designed to allow maintenance work to be done on the interior of Plasma Reactors whilst the reactor was active). Some of the other factions also use this trope, such as the physically unenhanced Sisters of Battle, the Tau with their battlesuits and the Eldar with their teleport-equipped Warp Spiders and assassin Striking Scorpions.
    • This even applies to the spin-off games. In Necromunda, one gang type are the Spyrers, youths from the uppermost noble houses given extremely strange (possible alive) Powered Armour and sent downHive to kill other gangers in a rite of passage. The heavily armoured, force-field equipped Orrus has a pair of Power Fists with built-in bolt launchers (racks of mini-missile launchers). The Jakara carries a monomolecular sword and an energy-beam-reflecting shield. The Yeld has a set of mechanical, razor-edged chameleonic wings and two wrist-mounted lasers. The Malcadon has two wrist-mounted combi-weapons; a set of Wolverine Claws and a 'web spinner', a gun that entangles enemies in artifical webbing, while the suit itself lets the wearer leap great distances and climb almost any surface. The Matriarch's suit blends into the background, while she herself carries two weapons- a monomolecular sword and a chainscythe. The Patriarch wears heavy Powered Armour with four Combat Tentacles, two tipped with pulse lasers and two with power claws.
  • Magic armor, hats, gloves, boots, and other articles of clothing are ubiquitous in Dungeons and Dragons, and there are even sets of magic armor that give more powers when they are worn together. The most obvious example of this trope, though, is the epic-level golem suit armor, which is essentially a Humongous Mecha powered by magic.
    • Don't forget the Handy Haversack. Being Crazy Prepared is a lot easier when whatever you need at the moment is literally right at your fingertips.
  • Rifts has a rather literal example. Without armor in the Rifts setting, you are typically dead pretty quick due to the abundance of high-power weapons. However such armor is also usually blatantly obvious and will not fit under your clothes. Enter the "Plain Clothes" armor, which mimics normal clothing...and can be very annoying as usually it takes shooting someone and wondering why they did not become pinkish mist to detect. There is also standard infantry full-body armor, Full Environmental Battle Armor (infantry armor with a self-contained environment option like a space suit), and Powered Armor. Any and all of these could survive a single hit by a tank shell usually, though non-powered is also usually near-ruined.
  • In GURPS any power can be defined as this by giving it the Gadget Limitation. Besides that supplemental books on magic and ultratech provide more standard examples that can simply be purchased.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, the Mirrodin expansion introduced the Equipment subtype of artifacts, which generally only function when used by a creature and grant that creature new stats or abilities. Some equipment are concepted as weapons, but others are armor or simple clothing, fitting this trope.

Video Games

  • The Nanosuit in Crysis. Nomad and Psycho (the protagonists) are normal soldiers, but the Nanosuit gives them enough strength to mash cars off the road with their bare fists, turn nearly invisible, allows them to run almost as fast as car in short bursts and bullets will simply bounce off it in armored mode.
    • Sequel explained that the nanosuit doesn't really protect the wearer from some potentially mortal wounds, but it keeps him alive despite them - so it's providing life support, too.
  • In a Role Playing Game, the items you use may be as or even more integral to your tactics as what you've got from your Character Level.
  • In Super Mario Bros 3, when Mario or Luigi picks up a leaf, a tanuki tail appears on him, enabling him to fly or to attack enemies by spinning in place; several other suits also existed, such as the Frog Suit and Hammer Bros. Suit. Most of these were dropped for Super Mario World, but it added a cape feather whose effects were similar to those of the raccoon leaf.
    • New Super Mario Bros Wii brings in the Penguin Suit in much the same way as the suits above, which allows Mario and company to shoot ice and slide really fast on their stomachs...And the Propeller Hat, which allows a really high flight/gliding-esque spin jump via head mounted propeller.
    • Super Mario 64 had Mario become slower, take more damage and have a decreased jumping ability if he lost his Nice Hat, implying that he derives his power from it.
    • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars had an optional item literally called the "Super Suit" that was attained if you managed to get 100 consecutive Super Jumps on any one enemy (harder than it sounds). Only Mario can wear it, but when he does, he becomes almost the very definition of the word "Super".
  • Samus Aran's suit in Metroid holds all the power-ups she acquires. Typical game format involves her losing these abilities at some point early in the game (barring the first two sequels, where her depowering is left unexplained) and spending the rest of the game getting them along with additional powers back. Although she does have superhuman strength and athletic abilities without the suit as well and she wouldn't be able to use the suit without her Chozo-enhanced biology, so she's not exactly helpless without it.
  • While the Spartan-IIs from Halo are already superhuman without their MJOLNIR armour, it is the suits' energy shielding and high ammunition storage capacity, amongst others, that makes them so devastatingly effective.
    • Without their armour, SPARTAN-II's could dent titanium armour plating, pulverise bones and send a Powered Armor wearing marines flying through the air with a heavy punch. With their battlesuits on, they could flip all sorts of armored vehicles including a Base on Wheels, survive falls from low orbit, dodge bullets and deflect missiles.
  • Gordon Freeman is pretty Badass for a theoretical physicist, but it is his Hazardous EnVironment (HEV) Suit that enables him to survive multiple gunshot wounds, headcrab infestation attempts and other nastiness.
    • Note however that when Gordon teleports to Xen, he encounters plenty of dead scientists wearing the exact same type of suit, so Gordon's feats are not entirely due to the suit.
  • BioMetals and their users in the Mega Man ZX series.
  • Minecraft, with the enchanted armor.
  • Crusader: A certain rebel Captain is an intensively-trained, incredibly deadly One-Man Army. But if he didn't have his customary powered armor, which is an aesthetic cross between an Imperial Royal Guardsman and Boba Fett, then quite aside from being able to shrug off bullets and provide juice for heavy energy weapons, why...he'd be naked.
  • Sora can only use Drive in Kingdom Hearts II because of the clothes granted him by the three Sleeping Beauty fairies.
  • Inverted in Bayonetta, where she uses her powers to make the suit, which is made out of her own hair and can be used to summon Demons!
  • Twinsen, the protagonist of Little Big Adventure, has his Ancestral Tunic—it doesn't provide any protection on its own, but instead stores Magic Points that power up his main weapon. In the sequel, it does provide protection through the use of "protection spell".
  • Earthworm Jim, who was an ordinary earthworm until he got his Super-Suit.
    • Slight variation in that Jim is still just an earthworm inside the suit; he doesn't have any arms or legs. The suit not only has powers but has appendages.
  • In Bloons Super Monkey, the description on the App Store implies that the titular character is just an average Dart Monkey in a Super Suit. The monkey kind. Not the earthworm kind.
  • Done many times in different Zelda games. Most recently, The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess provides Link with a suit of armor that allows him to breathe underwater, and another that makes him Nigh Invulnerable but drains Rupees when worn.
  • The various costumes in Contact grant Terry different powers. Some allow him to cast magic spells, while others allow him to cook, fish, or steal.
  • The GM uniform in Maple Story consists of a Nice Hat, suit, and briefcase (though many GMs choose to customize their uniform using cash items). The Suit and Briefcase are about as effective as a suit and briefcase in real life would be against fighting monsters. However, the Nice Hat gives a godly stat boost. Being able to wear the Nice Hat is often a feature of private servers.
    • The players can do this too with the game's scrolling system, which lets you add stats to all your gear. Taken to the extreme, a Warrior can get enough accuracy from his gear alone that he can put every single stat point he gets into STR.
  • Solid Snake's Sneaking Suit (say that four times fast) and Raiden's Skull Suit in Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2 come with enhanced abilities.
  • Yuna, Rikku and Paine used dress-spheres to determine their job class in Final Fantasy X 2.
  • An obscure RPG called Vandal Hearts 2 does away with traditional class-based proficiency (thief, mage, warrior, etc). Instead, everyone can be anything with a change of their armor. There are four types of armor, each emphasizing one aspect or the other, including (and most importantly) HP and MP, which is connected to the fact that levels have nothing to do with providing HP/MP whatsoever since the armors does it.
    • Almost correct, however there is a cap on the max HP/MP given by armor. This isn't so noticeable because the armor is usually the limiting factor. Basic stats are also character-dependent.
    • One of the armor types has wings, which give the wearer the ability to fly fast around the battlefield.
  • Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey has the Demonica armor. Combines combat armor, terrain reconaissance visor technology, enemy identifier, survival gear comparable to a suit of Powered Armor, field-altering technology (opens locked doors and makes doors whenever it finds a suitable place), serves as the home for all your demons, contains maps and an absolutely absurd amount of programs and powers. In addition, the equipment that goes with it (accessories) can inflate its power to unimaginable degrees. God Ring / Solomon Ring + Demonica Armor = The Juggernaut.
  • Similarly, Class Armor in Artix Entertainment's Adventure Quest, Dragon Fable, and Adventure Quest Worlds give characters class abilities. In the case of the original Adventure Quest, this was on top of the spells and magical weapons you most likely also had. Different costumes in Mech Quest also give stat bonuses towards certain tasks, like detective work or delivering pizza.
  • In the Mega Man series, the protagonist was originally Dr. Light's helper robot. However, he had a strong sense of justice, and when Dr. Wily threatened world domination, he requests Dr. Light to remodel him into a fighting robot, and he gets the iconic blue suit of armor. In Mega Man Powered Up, you can actually play as his original form, and he doesn't have the Mega Buster in this form—he only simply gets a kick attack in this form, and it's fairly short range. Apparently he can switch between both forms at will, as seen in the ending of 1 and the opening of the Game Boy V. Despite this, whenever he's seen at home or otherwise doing some activity that doesn't involve fighting, he's always wearing the blue armor, sometimes without his helmet.
  • This is a common explanation for where a character (particularly one of Technological origin) got his powers in City of Heroes.
  • In the new Nippon Ichi game Prinny Can I Really Be the Hero, for their battle as a Bonus Boss, Asagi wears a Prinny suit that lets her do the same things as the Prinny hero, including explode, and shoot little mini-Prinny bombs that walk along the ground. Unfortunately, when she's beaten, the suit self-destructs with her still in it, fumbling for the zipper.
  • Wario's various costumes in Wario Master of Disguise are like this, with various ones allowing fire breath, flight...ArtInitiatesLife are the hats in the first Wario Land game, which are everything from a head mounted jetpack to a head mounted flamethrower.
  • The Big Bad in Cave Story is Fuyuhiko Date, the Doctor who got his awesome superpowers from wearing the Demon Crown.
  • Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure has The Gentleman's Suit, a legendary set of clothes that give the wearer great power if he's deemed classy enough. Luckily the Quintessential British Gentleman Adventurer Archaeologist Protagonist is just the man.
  • Crimson Viper in Street Fighter IV has a "Battle Suit" given to her by S.I.N. (who she is spying on), which includes studded gloves which can be electrically charged and jets hidden in the heels of her Combat Stiletto boots. The latter of which can be used for a Super Jump, but she mostly uses them to kick people in the face with. Ouch.
  • Several outfits in Kingdom of Loathing serve this function. The El Vibrato Relics allowed the player with the right upgrades to effectively create their own superpowers. Also, each class has a set of Legendary Regalia that effectively boosts their class-based strengths to Legendary proportions.
  • The JRPG Dual Orb II features an armor that Lagnus obtains. The Evolving Armor allows him to use magic and slowly transforms him into an evil dragon.
  • The beta suit from TimeShift allows the wearer to control time, heal quickly, hack computers and detect enemies at range.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Without their Guardian armor, the heroes from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes are pretty much helpless.
  • Zoofights, an interactive forum based original on the Something Awful forums where modified animals beat the crap out of each other. In his last battle, Steamcrab was nothing but a pile of fused organs inside a giant crab-suit. In a more traditional fashion, the Iron Manatee uses a combination Space-suit and power armor equipped with a rail-gun, chainsaw, and the ability to fly using both gravity affecting Cavorite and traditional thrusters. Without it, he's nothing but an angry, steak-eating, cigar-smoking manatee with a death wish and an incredible disdain for Malaysians.
  • In the Whateley Universe, Loophole is stronger than average, but she is far more powerful when she wears her power armor. Jericho has a power armor suit too, but he's designing it for medics and rescue workers. Phase has a superhero costume that provides protection against bullets, knife attacks, acid, and several other kinds of assaults, but she paid a huge amount for it.

Western Animation

  • Kim Possible had many:
    • The Battle Suit, used in So The Drama, is a white soft suit with neon blue piping, as a Shout-Out to Tron, that had many useful energy-based abilities like renegating clothes and a power field. A nerd with less power than an average child could get the drop on Kim while wearing it. It was so overpowered that it was mostly written out in the fourth season.
    • Kim hunted for a new mission outfit in "Clothes Minded", and tried three new options before settling on a new mundane suit. Her rocket-scientist father built her a bulky space suit that could fly, but couldn't maneuver on the ground. Her brothers made a suit that looked like a multicolored LEGO® samurai, straight out of Super Robot anime or Mega Man; it flopped. She also tried an improvised suit made of a purple Flubber homage; she over-bounced the target.
      • It is also speculated by the characters in the same episode that Kim's heroic victories are proportional to how well she dresses on her missions.
    • A pair of super-shoes put Kim out of sync with normal time in "Queen BeBe".
    • Shego's bolts of green energy were originally stated by Disney to be generated by her gloves. This was retconned in the second season, where her Sickly Green Glow turned out to be a superpower she gained after she and her brothers were struck by a magic space rock.
    • The first time Ron really saves the day, on his own, with no screw ups, accidental victory, or idiot Ball moments and with Kim Possible knocked out and unable to help is whilst wearing the Fearless Ferret costume.
  • As mentioned by the quotation at top of the article, SpongeBob SquarePants mocks the average superhero's ridiculous attire, and claims this trope is the justification for donning said ridiculous attire.
  • The high-tech Batsuit in Batman Beyond, which used advanced technology, originally to support the original Batman's aging body and failing heart. It also lets the new Batman do a lot of things his predecessor had needed years of training to do, in addition to keeping him alive thgrough his early days, when his total lack of experience lets villains get the drop on him every five minutes.
    • Inverted in a later episode, however, when a hostile AI takes over the Batsuit and Terry is forced to fight it unaided.
  • Similarly, the high-tech Phantom suit in Phantom 2040.
  • In El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera, the Rivera family derive their abilities from their clothes. Manny from his belt, White Pantera from his boots, Puma Loco from his hat. And Plata Peligrosa, Manny's mother, from her glove.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, three Supervillains derive powers from their costumes. The Vulture has Flight-capable Powered Armor, Shocker has a vibrating suit with gauntlets that shoot concussive blasts and generate a protective shield and the Rhino has titanium-resin armor that's permanantly fused to his skin. Then of course there's Spider-Man's unearthly black costume, that increases his strength, jumping distance, balance and webbing integrity. Gee, it's almost to good to be true!
    • And later, Shocker's team mates Fancy Dan and Ox get their own powered suits, which increases their abilities.
  • Parodied by The Tick with the carpeted man—a man covered in wall-to-wall carpet. His incredible choice of dress grants him the power of static electricity to mildly inconvenience evildoers everywhere! Frequent fainting from overheating is an unfortunate and inevitable side-effect of such ...awesome powers.

 Captain Mucilage: You know, Gary, if you'd only take off that stupid suit you wouldn't keep getting overheated.

The Carpeted Man: But...I'm the Carpeted Man! Without this suit...I am nothing.

  • Elmer Fudd's "spear and magic helmet" allowed him to control the weather and finally kill the wabbit...kind of.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the superhero known as Green Mantle obtained his powers from a cape given to him by an alien tailor.
  • Professor Farnsworth of Futurama built a bowler hat that gave the monkey wearing it genius level intelligence and even allowed him to cry.
  • In an episode of Walter Melon, the Superman Expy got his powers from his cape.
  • DuckTales had Gizmo Duck, who was regular Fenton Crackshell until he wore a suit invented by Gyro. GIZ-MO-DUCK!
  • An episode of Darkwing Duck combined this with mind control when, during a Halloween party, the villains of the week caused people to think they actually were what they were dressed up as, giving some of them powers, such as Launchpad (who was wearing his regular pilot outfit) gaining the ability to sit in midair and fly around the room, invisible-jet style. Darkwing himself was mainly unaffected, having gone as himself.
  • HOOD
  • One skit from Robot Chicken has a subversion of this: Batman is driving by and noticing "Clark Kent" acting really strange. At first he thinks it's the effect of red kryptonite, but then goes and asks Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Superman where they dispose of their civilian clothes when they run off to fight crime. Superman doesn't really care for the question and answers that he's saving lives, so what does he care? We then see a bunch of homeless bums walking around in Clark Kent's outfits, all acting crazier than usual. Superman takes advantage of this by letting one of them take over his job at the Daily Planet while he relaxes on a beach.
  • Danger Mouse: Hopelessly averted in "There's A Penfold In My Suit." It starts with Penfold thinking he can be as heroic as DM if he puts on one of his white jumpsuits. Doesn't quite cut it—he's still the hopeless hamster he's always been.
  • Phineas and Ferb became the Beak after creating a super suit for skateboarding. It provides all the essentials for being a super hero, though, strength, speed, flight, looking awesome, and Bulgarian folk dancing.
    • In another episode Doofenshmirtz employs the "Socky-shocky-suit" in order to create a powerful static electrical charge.

 "You know, it's the technical side of evil I don't think people appreciate."

  • Regular Show: To learn Death Kwon Do, you have to have a mullet and disturbingly short cut-offs.
  • Two in Static Shock, one used a glove that allowed him to practically stop time, and another allowed him to use Static's powers after stealing them.
  • The Centurions' Exo-Frames give them Super Strength, even without the Assault Weapon Systems that attach to the suits.
  • The eponymous Sinbad Jr., when he pulls his magic belt tight, becomes "strong as a hurricane." In the Hanna-Barbera shorts, has can also fly while under the belt's influence.
  • In the now-hard-to-find Tex Avery cartoon "Uncle Tom's Cabaña", Uncle Tom tells increasingly tall tales to the listening kids, up to the point where bad guys open up on him with machine guns. When the kids point out that the bullets would've killed him, he replies, "Nope, 'cause I was wearin' my Superduperman suit!"
  • Very literally with one of the new DC Nation short, "Superman of Japan" in which Superman can gave his cape to a baby to use as a diaper in which it transformer him into Superman himself.