Rummage Sale Reject

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"Hell, stop making every character look like their clothes were chosen by blind clowns. That would HAVE to save some time."
[GM]Dave, Bannable Offenses

Some characters wear a realistic outfit, to the point that a cosplay of them might be relatively simple. But this gets kind of boring; it's not a challenge for the cosplayer to put together, and very few people will actually realize that he or she is in costume. (Which might explain why even mundane series tend to gravitate towards unique school uniforms and such).

Sometimes the character designers realize that their characters' wardrobes are too realistic. One way to compensate for this is by mixing bits and pieces of what might be a number of perfectly acceptable outfits into a bizarre Frankenstein mess. The outfit may be comfortable, but something about it just looks slightly, but not totally, off.

Often involves Too Many Belts, Goggles Do Nothing, Virtual Paper Doll (with some questionable mixing and matching), Impossibly Tacky Clothes.

See also Rainbow Pimp Gear, where video game characters achieve this effect due to their ideal gear being unfortunately mismatched.

Contrast Pimped-Out Dress, which could have loads of accessories, but (usually) in a stylish manner. See also Improvised Clothes.

Examples of Rummage Sale Reject include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • This is the default mode of clothing for the cast of Fist of the North Star.
  • Most of the Digimon cast's outfits—in particular, the liberal use of Goggles Do Nothing and gloves. The reason the franchise's homepage is linked and not individual series is because it would be faster to list aversions than go through each series's weirdly dressed characters in list form. In fact, the only total aversions are Hikari in Digimon Adventure, Iori in Digimon Adventure 02, and four minor characters in Digimon Frontier. Digimon Savers actually got backlash for generally neutralising the weird clothing, with the result that Digimon Xros Wars sees the return of the rummage sale rejects in truly spectacular force. Comparatively Digimon Tamers also toned it down somewhat; only Hirokazu's clothing - and at a stretch, Ruki and Jenrya's - couldn't totally pass for normal.
    • Digimon Adventure 02 provides some justification in that the strange clothing, excluding Takeru and Hikari, is automatically applied to the Chosen Children upon arriving in the Digital World; their outfits in the real world, again excluding Takeru and Hikari, are much more normal. Said Digital World clothing is said to be a manifestation of how they see themselves and, well, they're all eleven or less. Some individual cases and situations are also justified, such as Ryo.
  • The cast of Naruto alternate between Impossibly Cool Clothes and Rummage Sale Rejects depending on personal taste.
    • Naruto's safety-orange hued jacket and pants certainly stands out. On the few occasions where Naruto isn't wearing his jacket you can see he has some sort of layer of chainmail under it, which explains having something so loose if not the color. By the time of the second series he abandons the goofy looking orange jumpsuit in favor for a less goofy looking orange jumpsuit.
    • Although every ninja wears a village headband, where they do so varies: it's usually on the forehead, but it can be on the neck, on the arm, on the head, the waist...
    • Lee and Guy's green jumpsuits are acknowledged as goofy looking by almost everyone but them and Naruto.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the outfit one's Transformation Sequence results in is called a "Barrier Jacket", and is partially determined via the subconscious. As the series progresses, more and more barrier jackets are a pastiche of random pieces of medieval armor, capes, military uniforms, and exaggerated modern teenager apparel. Which actually makes sense, as later characters have more exposure to different cultures (Belka, Midchilda, and Earth) with those aspects.
  • Haruko from FLCL is a big example. Naota isn't; cosplayers are only recognizable as such due to Limited Wardrobe.
  • Handwaved in Saber Marionette J, where Lime originally shows up in a fairly standard android jumpsuit and, because of Otaru's poorness, really does get her newer outfit from a rummage sale.
  • Solty Rei plays with this when, during a shopping trip, the main character goes through a series of fairly reasonable outfits. Without looking, her guardian assures her to just pick the current one, and she does out of affection—a tight cute, orange jumpsuit with clunky boots number the other women look embarrassed about.
  • The Bount in Bleach had strange accessories like headphones and chains to make them look less normal.
  • The school uniforms in Princess Tutu are distinctive enough (and odd enough) that they don't fit under this...but what the characters like to wear outside of their uniforms are just normal enough to make you scratch your head. Ahiru wears big poofy yellow shorts and a midriff-baring sweater that is appropriately bird-like, while Fakir seems to be wearing one of the standard boy's dance outfits...except that he has inexplicably torn up the top and haphazardly sewn it back together.
  • Chrono from Chrono Crusade has an outfit that at first glance seems distinctly anime, but when he takes off his coat it's apparent that he's wearing what would be a normal outfit for a young boy living in New York during the 1920's -- as long as you ignore the bright red color of his shorts, anyway.
  • Kino, of Kino's Journey is a fairly subtle version of this. She looks to be wearing normal traveling clothing most of the time, but then you realize she's wearing two trench coats of completely different designs, a hunting cap, goggles, a dress shirt, pants, a belt with a ridiculous number of pouches, a second belt for her gun, a boatload of weapons, a scarf, and metal wrist guards. As a traveler, clothing is supposed to be practical rather than pretty, but it seems overkill until the later episodes.
  • Very often, Mikako from Gokinjo Monogatari ends up with a case of this in her attemps to dress in a way that is absurdly flashy, original and/or outlandish.
  • Sadamitsu in the Tokyo Arc of Otogi Zoshi looks particularly ridiculous. His jacket - an orange and yellow thing with Cupid-style cherubs on the chest and a large red heart in back - is bad enough, but he supplements this with a midriff-baring black shirt, shiny leather pants, studded leather wristbands, a silver medallion necklace, and some skull jewelry on his hands.
  • Badou Nails is almost a living embodiment of this trope, in all of his outfits. See this cover from Ultra JUMP for evidence. Granted, he's half blind and most of his clothes might have been literally rummaged for, but still.... Most of DOGS' characters are this way to some extent - some stylishly, and some.. less so.
  • Raikou Shimizu of Nabari no Ou is a triumphant example, sporting a sleeveless... jean-jacket... thing in combination with black hakama and colorful bracelets (plus pink hair and a huge number of talismans...) And it gets worse when he's stressed out.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Jack Ryder actually got his costume from a costume shop's rejected costume parts. And it shows. In Batman: The Animated Series he acquired the costume from various clothes in a Vintage Clothing boutique.
  • Alan Scott got his costume from a theatre's box of spare costume parts.
  • Ditto for Jack Knight as Starman, whose costume is something he literally pieced together in a few minutes from things he hadn't sold in his secondhand shop.
  • Jubilee before she got depowered. Her costumes were probably inspired by the anime look, but she's the comic book example that jumps out as having WAY too many accessories. Her most infamous attire is a bright yellow trench-coat, huge hot pink wrap around glasses, and what looks like giant dishwashing gloves, and this was worn over shorts and a red shirt. Of course given that she debuted in The Eighties... Word of God is that the outfit was deliberately designed to look like a Robin (of Batman fame) costume made out of actual clothing.
    • Wonderfully Lampshaded in the Marvel vs DC Crossover: Robin appears out of nowhere in front of Jubilee and she just replies (paraphrasing) "Nice outfit." They end up as potential love interests before battling.
  • Also from the X-Men, Sprite (as Shadowcat was originally known) briefly had a home-made costume. Intended to look like something a young teenager in The Eighties would think was cool, it was a gold lamé monstrosity with legwarmers and rollerskates.
  • Subverted with Manhunter, whose costume was assembled from whatever super-weapons she could grab from the evidence room. It looks Badass.
  • One incident forced Tony Stark to done pieces of costumes from his fellow West Coast Avengers to retrieve one of his missing armors. Hawkeye ended up giving him the joking name "Spare Parts Man". Thankfully, he retired that "armor" pretty quickly.
  • Hay Lin of WITCH.
  • Delirium from The Sandman comic's patchwork outfits are always an odd mixture of thrift store fixtures.
  • In Elf Quest: Rogue's Curse, Rayek literally assembles a new outfit by raiding boxes of leftover wares. Some people rather liked the results.
  • Issue 79 of Marvel's Star Wars comic book features a gag comic showing assistant editor Eliot Brown demonstrating how to create a Darth Vader costume out of junk.
  • Johnny Turbo's outfit. Just... the whole thing.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Tyler Durden's outfit in the movie version of Fight Club, although the Impossibly Cool Clothes aspect of his thrift-store outfits is probably a result of them being worn by Brad Pitt.
    • Word of God is that the tacky pink bathrobe he wears in one scene actually belonged to his girlfriend at the time.
  • The Joker was apparently designed with this look in mind, to seem as though his outfit was pieced together from different suits he'd stolen. Surprisingly, the cops who tried to determine his identity from his possessions discovered that the entire suit was custom-made.
  • Diane Keaton made this look famous in Annie Hall, even inspiring a fashion trend (people are likely to know what the "Annie Hall" look is without knowing a thing about the movie).
  • Everything worn by anyone in Liquid Sky.
  • The Puma Man costume definitely qualifies. Khaki pants and a poncho do not a superhero costume make.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In David Eddings' Belgariad series of novels, Belgarath developed his trademark vagrant's outfit on purpose in order to pass mostly unnoticed. While everyone thinks that his ragged tunic and mismatched shoes are remnants of rubbish heaps, the entire outfit was custom tailored, including a tunic that has patches over intact cloth, and his mismatched boots were custom-made by a master cobbler and fit perfectly—after Belgarath spent a full day patiently explaining to the craftsman *why* he didn't want them to match and wanted them to be scuffed up a little after they were made.
  • Most of the time, when characters in the X Wing Series have their clothing mentioned at all, they're in pilot's jumpsuits. But in Wraith Squadron, when three Wraiths doing The Infiltration are passing as wild-shirted tourists, well - better just to quote.

Wedge shook his [pile of clothes] out. A short-sleeved tunic in orange and yellow tropical fruit patterns and short pants in lavendar. "I'm going to throw up."
[...] Donos looked mournfully at his outfit: a shirt with thin red and green horizontal stripes and shorts with black and white vertical stripes. "Sir, permission to kill Face?" [...]
Face unfolded his own fashion disaster. A black silken shirt with a variety of insects picked out on it in glittery silver, shorts in a brighter, more painful shade of orange than that of New Republic pilot's suits, and a red kerchief for his neck. "As you can see, I saved the best for myself."

    • Later in the same series 'Red Flight' are told to dress in the local Feudal Future fashion for a diplomatic dinner. Wedge, Tycho and Wes choose nicely coordinated outfits, but Hobbie throws together random colours and styles from the wardrobe on the basis that:

"There are three types of dress clothing. The kind that offends the wearer, the kind that offends the viewers, and the kind the offends everybody. I'm going for the third type. Fair is fair."

  • Claudia from The Baby Sitters Club series was described as wearing the wackiest outfits possible, often a mismash of clothes from totally clashing social situations (ie, a tutu, combat boots, baseball jersey, and top hat) usually followed by the sentence, "On anyone else, it would have looked crazy, but on Claudia, it was fabulous!".
    • One book includes a minor character who constantly wears incredibly tacky pants and brags about how little he spent on them.
  • In American Psycho most of the other characters apart from Bateman embody this trope. The clothing they are all wearing is fine if you don't think about it too much. However the second you start to imagine what all the other characters are wearing your quickly realise that they would all look really stupid.
  • In Lonely Werewolf Girl Agrivex deliberately dresses in the worst faux-punk outfits she can create as a way of rebelling against her fashion obsessed, always immaculately dressed, Aunt.
  • Lords and Ladies: The Elves dress like this. Once you get past the Glamour, you realize that they have a very poor grasp of Rule of Cool. Justified in that they actually embody Creative Sterility: for all their psychically-induced Can't Argue with Elves, they wouldn't know genuine style if it bit them on the nose.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • A Buffy the Vampire Slayer flashback shows us that back in '77, Spike was one of these. He's got dogtags, some other necklaces, an awful vest-shirt-thing with some strange pattern on it, a stupid looking belt with a few loops hanging off it, spiked up hair (which would take way more hair gel than Angel uses), two bracelets and ripped pants. Fortunately, he takes his first step to looking badass again by killing Nikki Wood and taking her leather jacket.
  • Various incarnations of the Doctor take this approach to their outfits. The later versions tend towards less outlandish but nonetheless distinctive looks.
    • The Second Doctor had a many-pocketed, unkempt coat to go with his 'space hobo' look.
    • The Third Doctor had a velvet smoking jacket and frilly shirt that the actor himself (Jon Pertwee) had worn precisely because it looked silly.
    • The Fourth Doctor's enormous scarf.
    • The Fifth Doctor's red-trimmed cricket outfit and decorative vegetable. Not many men can pull off a decorative vegetable.
    • The Sixth Doctor's ridiculous clown suit (to match his ego-inflated personality). At a who-con in Tampa, Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor) told the audience that he had chosen his garish coat specifically because he didn't have to look at it.
    • The Seventh Doctor's question-mark sweater (with question mark-handled umbrella) which might just have gone too far.
    • Subverted by the Eighth Doctor, who stole his outfit from the locker of someone who was going to a costume party. After rummaging through and apparently giving a certain amount of consideration to some really costume-y things, he settled on a rather peculiar but elegant Edwardian suit.
    • The Ninth Doctor averts this: his dark pants, dark-colored v-neck t-shirt, and a black leather coat coordinate nicely—though the coat may not be the best thing to be wearing in WWII England, as Captain Jack notes.
    • The Tenth Doctor wears a brown pinstripe or blue suit (it varies) with an open collar shirt, a tie and... Converse trainers. Not to mention the duster. Believe it or not, the whole thing works.
      • The trainers-with-suit looked odder when Ten's stint started than it does now, since while it hasn't exactly become a trend, it definitely has its imitators.
    • The Eleventh Doctor got most of his outfit from what was lying around in a hospital while he was fighting two Starfish Aliens. The old professor outfit with a bowtie is actually one of the more "normal" ones.
      • For one brief, shining moment in the season finale, Eleven's outfit consisted of tight pants, button-down shirt, tweed jacket, suspenders, bowtie, and a fez. While holding a mop, for some reason.
      • And at the start of the next season, he has a stetson. However, River Song doesn't like him in hats and has an... unambiguous way of demonstrating this.
    • The Dulcians from The Dominators are Human Aliens where both sexes wear curtain-like dresses.
    • Those streamer outfits from The Ark. Well, at least they tried something new...
  • Ford Prefect in the television adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy had a carefully clashing outfit involving a striped cricket blazer and an Argyle sweater.
  • For a modest man, James May on Top Gear has a collection of incredibly loud shirts. He especially favors a purple-and-pink striped number. One of them, a white shirt with a blue flower pattern, even has its own fanbase. Lampshaded by the man himself during an episode of James Mays Man Lab, when he presents a rack full of said shirts, and then proceeds to pull out the infamous purple-and-pink one...

James: Look at this thing. I've never even worn it!

    • The use of this trope also turned into a Running Gag in series 12.

"Are you wearing that for a bet?"

  • Mason from Dead Like Me likes to take the layered look a bit too far and is very rarely seen wearing fewer than three tops at once, of which at least two are either frayed and/or make you wonder how it is they look halfway-decent on him.
  • Harper in Wizards of Waverly Place. Her clothes have been based around such things as food and markers.
    • Harper goes beyond this and into crazy costumer, since she makes her own outfits.


Tabletop Wargames[edit | hide]

  • The Flash Gits of Warhammer40000 "fame" often come across looking like the Pirate/jewelry/BlingOfWar version of this. Since they are Orks, they believe that the more shiny things they wear, the larger their hats are, the awesomer the banner they strap to their backs and the bigger their gun (or guns!) are, the more respect they will get.
    • This is universally true, but not for the reason you think. Orks naturally respect the biggest ork around, and since orks grow in size the more they fight, when a Flash Git has more bling, they also tend to be bigger in size to account for all the heads they had to bash in to steal the bling they currently have.
      • Unless of course the ork being impressed is also a Flash Git. Then they respect the ork for all his shiny fings.
      • Although, by that time the other orks the Flash Git lived with have probably kicked him out of their clan for being too snooty, and then they somehow automatically become Freebootaz. It isn't really explained how, nor does anything orky need to be.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Rent. Started a whole new fashion fad trying to duplicate the mismatching East Village thrift shop look, spending hundreds of dollars on what actually only costs $10 to achieve.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • To a certain degree, any RPG where the character model changes based on the items equipped will have this going, especially at low levels when character don't have much choice in what's available to them. The Elder Scrolls IV, Oblivion, is particularly egregious about this.
  • Taken to extremes in the Jak and Daxter series of games: the bizarre half-barefoot footwear in the first game are a particularly notable example. In Jak 3 it's shown Jak still wears bandages fashioned like this under his boots.
  • No More Heroes' Travis Touchdown is no doubt a pathetic enough Otaku to deliberately dress this way. At least the single glove seems kinda handy for using his beam katana, but the rest... note that the player can choose exactly how ridiculous Travis' outfit becomes by buying more clothes (or diving for shirts in Santa Destroy's many dumpsters), all of them awesomely tasteless Otaku wear.
  • Celine, from Star Ocean the Second Story, wears what appears to be a hovering shower curtain as a cape.
  • Fallout, especially the third game, would follow Mad Max and have people with weird attire made out of literal garbage, such as discarded tires.
  • Most the major characters of Psychonauts wardrobe. May be a case of Stylistic Suck.
  • While leveling in World of Warcraft you'll often end up with a medley of gear for your Virtual Paper Doll. Penny Arcade explores the problem in this comic.
    • The various quest reward gear items obtained between levels 60 to 65 are the most blatant example of this trope as well as the inspiration for the Penny Arcade comic. Mismatched in the most extreme case of garish color clash that could only occur if a clown car exploded in a Skittles factory, the stats on the pieces are still head and shoulders above the most powerful endgame raid gear obtained prior to The Burning Crusade expansion. Many players refer to this phase of a character's life as the pimp suit.
  • From Software's Evergrace duology: the jokey or downright strange looking (calling someone from this series pants-on-head retarded could be disturbingly accurate) weapons and armor, ranging from a frying pan WITH the bacon and eggs still in it, to a bird's nest with the bird still in it (worn as a helmet), to a downed tree (the 'sacred pole', which is about 20 feet long and when not in use is off the edge of the screen), to a random globe you find on someone's desk, to a fanservice-y bit of armor which is just two straps with gigantic pauldrons all megaboost one or more stats. (keep also in mind they can be upgraded and utilized like normal equipment too. The shopkeeper even calls you out on it. "YOU want to upgrade THAT? You're weird.") However, the best all-round builds with an even increase in stats are all plain and generic armor of sorts. And the best full set in the game only looks out of place because this is a medieval fantasy game. (It's a suit of futuristic armor that resembles one of the Armored Core hover leg mechas). Since a good amount of enemies have an immunity to one form of attack or another, using a ridiculous-looking build to Min Max just a couple stats leads to a lot of 0 damage hits on some areas. (An interesting gameplay quirk is that armor that boosts attack doesn't just boost attack, but one of the three kinds of melee attacks too, piercing, chopping, slashing. Whatever is the highest becomes your 'main physical attribute' and determines what is immune to you)
  • Sodom, the second Boss from Final Fight wears a Samurai helmet, a football jersey, and a pair of jeans. He'd look pretty ridiculous if he wasn't so dangerous. In Street Fighter Alpha 2A, it's started that he's an "American Japanophile", meaning an American who is fascinated by Japanese culture, but does not truly understand it.
  • Many male Pokémon characters wear very strange clothing combinations, like pieces of clothing designed for wildly different climates/temperatures mixed together (Gold's heavy sweatshirt and shorts, Lucas' winter scarf and skintight T-shirt in his original design) or highly unfashionable or ridiculous items thrown in an otherwise somewhat sensible outfit (Ethan's knickerbockers that would have been appropriate for a boy his age around eighty years ago but worn without stockings or even socks, Lucas' infamous beret, the thing on Brendan's head). Female characters, on the other hand, tend more towards Stripperific, on girls far too young to be wearing such things. Player characters aren't limited to this, however; Brycen wears what looks like half of a kimono, a mask, and slip-on shoes.
    • In the case of Gold, his outfit is a real fashion native to the Pacific Northwest where late spring and fall is warm enough for shorts but too rainy for T-shirts, so people usually go in shorts and sweatshirts. So Averted for Gold and Red (who just wears jeans and a T-shirt with a short-sleeved coat).
  • The Fable series opens the door to this trope by allowing the player to customize the Hero's appearance. Most of the clothes (and tattoos) are parts of sets that at least compliment each other if worn together. If the player chooses to mix and match, though, the results can range from badass to completely ridiculous. Fable II introduces dyes for clothing and hair, which just adds to the fun.
  • Team Fortress 2 occasionally has shades of this ever since the advent of new unlockable weapons, optional cosmetic items, and the option to paint said cosmetic items. Some players will deliberately design and wear some positively garish things just to stand out. Hot pink and lime green paint applications are popular for this task.
    • In-universe, the Soldier's 2011 Halloween costume comes across as this, consisting of a coat hanger, cardboard box, plastic cups, dryer hoses, and shoeboxes to dress up as a plausible yet hilariously poor-quality 'robot.' This is in stark contrast to the other classes' costumes, which are all quite clearly well designed in-universe. Justified in that the Soldier is a Cloudcuckoolander in a state of Perpetual Poverty, so the cheap, unconvincing robot costume suits him. He also makes up for it with unique and priceless vocal responses.
  • Dragon Age Origins: Morrigan's initial outfit consists of rags, polished stones, feathers and bits of armor. Justified given she lives in a swamp, so every piece of clothing she owned was salvaged or found.

Web Comics[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Jericho, of the Whateley Universe, dresses every day in clothes that are so gaudy and so mismatched that people actually get ill from looking at him. He's blind and his psychic vision is black-and-white and uses that as an excuse.
    • He's specifically picked each part of his ensemble to not go with anything else in order to draw attention away from the crowd he hangs with. That or to fit in with them. Said crowd includes a Lamia, two tetra-armed demonic looking, fear aura packing receptive empath twins, a mute Ancient Apex Predator and an extremely violent current incarnation of the Ultimate Blacksmith. Besides, if he's forced to, he will wear the school uniform. Just don't ask WHICH school uniform...
  • Trope-tan, the anthropomorphic representation of TV Tropes, wears an orange midriff top, patchy brown pants, yellow shoes, crazy belts, and goggles. She was designed to be a Rummage Sale Reject.


Western Animation[edit | hide]


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Prince and the Revolution in The Eighties had this as their default mode, especially between 1983-1985. Evidence, complete with predictable Eighties Hair.
  • If Prince was bad in the The Eighties, Cyndi Lauper was worse.
  • The former page image.
  • I Wanna be a VJ winner Jesse Camp.
  • Lady Gaga, often intersecting with WTH Costuming Department. At this point the most shocking thing she could do would be to wear a t-shirt and jeans in public.
  • According to this blog, many of Benedict Cumberbatch's outfits end up looking like this when he's not being dressed up by stylists.
  • Admit it, you know someone like this.
    • If you don't know a person like this, then you are that person.
  • Super Junior's 5th album concept ended up looking a lot like this. Hilarity ensued.[1]
  • Most Russian soldiers during The Nineties. They even had an ironic rhyme: Форма номер восемь, что спиздим, то и носим (Uniform #8, we wear what we steal).
  • "Wacky Tacky Day", found at High Schools across the U.S.
  • Grunge/Punk/Hard rock band the Lunachicks have the tendency to wear outfits like this. At first, it seemed as if it was out of necessity due to lack of a wardrobe budget; later on however, it was very much intentional. Evidence:
    • See also: the video for "Babysitters on Acid."
  • Visual Kei artists, bands, and fans, especially those with less money for costuming...or those who want to maintain that "authenticity."
  1. No, you're not hallucinating. He's really wearing three pairs of underwear under fishnets, two coats, and a tube top made of ropes.