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"Following that unseen sauna, we get to see the women with nipples poking through their towels, which apparently operate like shrink wrap, and conform to their bodies perfectly."
—Linkara, Atop the Fourth Wall on 22 Brides #1
In comics, and some other drawn and animated media, clothing is often drawn fitting around the body far better than it reasonably should in Real Life.
All clothing will fit tightly around an animated woman's 15 inch waist, even if it's a dropped or empire waist style. Men too, will have an apparent narrow waist even in jackets that wouldn't show that in real life
Of course, the most common form of this is spandex outfits, which nowadays wrap around every curve and muscle (especially prominent since the late 1980s). But as the picture shows, any piece of clothing can wrap around better than it should if the artist so chose, whether it be an overcoat or the bodice of a Pimped-Out Dress.
The reason this is done is likely a combination of Rule of Cool, Rule of Sexy and Reality Is Unrealistic, with a heaping bushel of Fan Service for good measure. If the character has a good figure, the artist likely wants to show it off, to advertise the beauty or natural athleticism.
Another reason, particularly where superhero comics are concerned, is that artists are trained to draw human figures. It is faster and easier to add colors that imply spandex clothing than to actually draw the folds and wrinkles that come with wearing realistic clothing.
Compare Most Common Superpower, Sensual Spandex (which shows some skin as well as conforming to the skin it covers), Sweater Girl (although the sweater is designed to be form-fitting), Painted-On Pants, Superheroes Wear Tights.
Anime and Manga
- The armor worn in Saint Seiya
- The plug suits in Neon Genesis Evangelion, justified as necessary for synchronization and as a life-support system for the pilots. We're also shown how they get so tight: a vacuum-sealing button at the wrist to make them skintight.
- Dragon Ball Z has Vegeta's ever popular combat suit. It is a skintight bodysuit with chest armor over top, but the actual armor piece gets continually smaller until it's done away with completely in the Buu arc.
- Vegeta's Saiyan armor is somewhat justified. While it's kind of unclear who exactly made the armor (it's called Saiyan armor, but it's mainly seen worn by Frieza's forces, even in flashbacks) the obvious intent was for it to match the form of whoever was wearing it (in the case of Saiyans, it is so that they can transform into their gargantuan Ozaru forms without destroying their wardrobe, while Frieza's men come in all shapes and sizes, in addition to being able to transform as well, so producing one type of armor that conformed to everyone's shape makes manufacturing them easier).
- Good God, Historys Strongest Disciple Kenichi. Miu's clothing is so formfitting that she might as well be wearing Body Paint. Even her apron is form fitting.
- It must be a Fuurinji family trait. Grandpa Fuurinji wears thick robes that somehow manage to show off all his abs and arm muscles.
- That, or that he's so damn ripped!
- In Yu Yu Hakusho, whenever Yusuke is shown wearing blue jeans, they always look far too tight to be comfortable. This combines with some serious Clothing Damage to create a sizable female fanbase (with a little help from Kurama). His other clothes aren't nearly as bad, though.
- Excel Saga: All of the female characters, most of the time, no matter what they're wearing (including the Daitenzen suits, and the ACROSS girls "uniforms"). Of course, this is all Author Appeal, as Rikudo Koshi is known for his many Doujinshi.
- Lampshaded in Volume 15, between Missions 2 & 3. A single-panel image of Excel and Elgala being held prisoner, where, among other comments, the guard asks: "Purple-haired prisoner! Have you been tailoring your uniform again?" Elgala's prison uniform is unusually form-fitting. Even Excel's is needlessly tight around the bust and midsection.
- Gantz deserves special mention here. Not only do the full-body suits hug every curve so tightly that they're impossible to put on while wearing any undergarments whatsoever, the breasts actually seem to grow when the suits are put on. It's equal-gender-opportunity, though, and partially subverted when some characters (mostly men) insist on wearing street clothes outside their suits.
- Death Note: Mello's leather wardrobe.
- Rurouni Kenshin frequently has bad guys wearing what appears to be 19th Century spandex, even to the point of having vacuum-fitting bandages.
- Any of Orihime's shirts or outfits seem to be tailored to her large bust.
- It would be easier to list superheroes with outfits that don't follow this trope.
- A notable example would be Iron Maiden of Earth X, though. She's wearing a suit of Vibranium (fictional metal) armor which molds to her attributes. All of them, apparently--the style of art in the original series makes it hard to see, but a concept drawing shows nipples, navel, and cameltoe. Only the armor's head, which looks like Iron Man's original helmet, is an exception.
- In the Golden and Silver ages spandex usually wasn't so tight, and fit much more realistically. As time went on clothes got tight, to the point where a hero in spandex was essentially naked save for a few choice areas. Then it got even crazier and muscles just started appearing everywhere, reaching an apex with Rob Liefeld and his followers. Nowadays things tend to be more subdued, thanks to colouring techniques having enough depth to render all those muscles through subtle shading rather than hard lines.
- In many renditions of muscular males, you could even see their veins through the material of their sleeves.
- Just about everything the girls in Archie Comics put on will wrap far better above the waist than they would in reality. Perhaps a way of Getting Crap Past the Radar?
- Liberty Meadows. Brandy and Jen's jeans look more like they were painted on. In one strip, Brandy has difficulties with putting her jeans on.
- Almost continually averted for female pilots in the Rogue Squadron comics; the outfits pilots and other characters wore sometimes hinted a little, but were seldom overt, and their pilot jumpsuits were all baggy and heavily pocketed. The most notable exception was the one time a character got into a formal gown which clung tight enough to reveal her abs - and rather than being an Unusually Uninteresting Sight, the pilot she was dating saw it and said "Wow!"
- In Twenty Two Brides, it showed two of the heroines dressed in bath towels that managed to shrink around their bodies to the point that their nipples show.
- Justified for the sake of Fan Service in Empowered - her semi-sentient suit is thinner than Real Life lycra and actively forms itself to her skin. According to which rules it's actually less revealing than it should be...
- Specifically, it doesn't show camel toe — which, if it was really a few molecules thick and more or less a superpowered form of bodypaint, would definitely be visible. This is lampshaded in comic and by the author several times, and both characters and author promise to explain it in a future chapter. Every volume.
- The comic book adaptation to Splinter of the Minds Eye puts Luke and Leia into "miner's uniforms". On Leia this outfit actually avert this trope, being tight but not apparently painted on. On Luke...
- The Batman films did this, leading to the most extreme form yet of this trope: the bat-nipples in Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.
- David Bowie's pants in Labyrinth.
- In Anastasia, Anya changes into a flapper dress, which still hugs her waist and breasts, even though the point of that style was not to do that.
- Likewise Tiana from The Princess and the Frog lives in The Roaring Twenties. Her blue gown has a belt where the correct waistline should be, but the top is completely form fitting.
Live Action TV
- Various episodes of The Mighty Boosh have Vince in skin tight latex jumpsuits.
- Star Trek: Voyager, Seven of Nine wears mostly suits that are far more form-fitting than the regular uniforms.
- Star Trek: Enterprise, T'Pol has a jump suit that is not only more form fitting than the uniforms, but also for Vulcan clothing.
- Some Eldar armor in Warhammer40000 molds to the user absurdly well in the regions not covered by the stiffened overplates, especially noticeable with the Guardian model's easily visible abs.
- Justified in that it's Psycho-sensitive plastic, so it conforms to the form for maximum protection while simultaniously affording maximum mobility.
- Most games avert this unless based on comic books, given that more curves mean more complex sprites if 2D, and more complex models if 3D, both of which mean more RAM, processing and ROM that could be better allocated elsewhere.
- Inverted for a long time in the case of of some games -especially wrestling titles- where most create-a-character options involved applying new textures to a basic character model, since it's much easier to just draw a new pattern than it is to render lifelike clothing. The only exceptions would be some jackets and pants that flared out at the sleeves and legs, but otherwise looked "painted on."
- The Metal Gear series follows this trope with main characters' spy suits.
- Ditto with Sam Fisher's gear in the Splinter Cell games.
- Both of these are justified in that tighter attire are better suited for sneaking.
- Unlike most examples, Snake remarked how 'uncomfortable' the Sneaking Suit was until he 'breaks it in'
- Solid Snake has pecs, abs and intercostal muscles visible through a padded bulletproof vest in Metal Gear Solid 1. In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Big Boss's bulge (in his Battle uniform) is visible in alarming detail through a padded plate more than an inch thick. THERE IS NO JUSTIFICATION.
- Often happens with badly made custom clothing for The Sims 2: Women's shirts actually do not cling between their breasts, but it's easier to design skintight clothing.
- Armor in Mass Effect. The same suit that fits on a human male will have no problem fitting a human woman.
- In Mass Effect 2, most of your squadmates: Miranda, Samara, Jacob, Thane, Kasumi, and Tali. The second downloadable appearance pack gives Miranda a suit of more sensible-looking but no-less form-fitting armor.
- Rubi, the protagonist of Wet, wears a surprisingly form-fitting jacket.
- Metroid, Samus Aran's "Zero Suit".
- City of Heroes: While both justified or averted for a lot of costume choices (such as spandex and hoodies), some materials can be surprisingly formfitting.
- In the Soul Series, Taki usually has at least one costume that's so tight as to look like body paint.
- Considering it has over eighty playable characters and the various skins for all of them it should come as no shock at all that League of Legends has a few of these. A recent example is Riven's Crimson Elite skin.
- In the Final Fantasy VII spin off Dirge of Cerberus one of the Tsviets named Shelke wears a suit that fits this trope.
- In Dragon Quest III, both the female and male Cleric / Pilgrim class members wear a very tight-fitting orange bodysuit under their churchly attire.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob, Jean's outfits are all extremely form-fitting; once in a blue moon, she does wear a skirt, though. Voluptua's costume is basically a one-piece swimsuit. Thanks to her fur, Molly revels in nudity.
- Doctor Voluptua (no relation) has a similar situation with her suit.
- Visarah from Uncreation has some seriously tight jeans, if the ass-cleavage is any indication.
- Many adaptations of comic books actually avert this trope to save the animation budget.
- The first X-Men series did follow this trope.
- In an episode of Justice League where Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern chased a Mad Scientist back in time, they decided to blend in by stealing clothes from some bandits they beat up. The clothes Wonder Woman stole fit her curves perfectly, despite the bandit having a figure similar to that of Batman.
- To further highlight this problem, Wonder Woman's taller than the rest of the team. She might be able to wear the thug's socks comfortably; everything else couldn't possibly fit.
- In Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy lounge around in oversized shirts that still manage to show every curve.
- In Re Boot, Dot's season 1 outfit didn't show the contours of her cleavage, because ABC complained. Later seasons, on different networks, did.