It’s not a secret that I dress like I belong in a cartoon.
My clothes, which rarely match by traditional standards, don’t feature much variation. In fact, I tend to wear the same thing nearly everyday: jeans, sneakers and a T-shirt featuring a cartoon character.
I would be perfectly content wearing the same outfit every single day.
In the real world this is not an option, but in cartoon world? It is preferred.
A lot of people ask, especially when they’re younger, why cartoon characters never change clothes. How can they go to school wearing the same thing every day? Why does no one ever say anything?
It makes sense, from an animation standpoint, to not change the look of a character. In fact, one episode of “Home Movies” featured the main characters gaining weight, a plot point Brendon Small apologized to the animators about during the DVD commentary.
It is much easier and a much more efficient practice for the characters to have their standard look – from hair, clothes and accessories.
Mickey is white gloves and red shorts. Bart Simpson had orange shirt, blue pants. Arnold of “Hey Arnold” had his little blue hat and plaid shirt tied around his waist.
(Yes, that was a shirt and not a kilt. My mind was blown when I figured it out, too.)
Some shows, however, have thrown caution to the wind and allowed the characters to change outfits.
Disney’s “The Weekenders” featured main characters Tino, Lor, Tish and Carver switching outfits for each day of the episode. Each character had a color scheme with five or so outfits throughout the series’ run.
Nickelodeon’s “As Told By Ginger” did the same thing, though the boys wore the same outfits and the girls would change outfits depending on the day and episode.
Some shows only change clothes on a seasonable basis: if it’s snowing the characters will wear coats, if it’s sunny they have T-shirts. These outfits are always similar, but with extra sleeves and layers.
My favorite moments of cartoon clothing are when shows acknowledge this trope. I?can’t deny how much I?love lampshading.
In the “Doug” episode “Doug En Vogue,” Doug Funnie’s classmates accuse him of dressing like Dylan Farnum from the TV?show “Teen Heart Street.”
This annoys Doug, of course, since he had been wearing the same khaki shorts, white T-shirt and green sweater vest since the series began.
The best moment is when he opens his closet to prove to his friends that this is what he’s always worn. Hanging in the closet are identical “Doug”?outfits, and his friends simply reply that he has the biggest Dylan Farnum collection.
A close second place in top cartoon clothing lampshading goes to the “Rocko’s Modern Life” episode “Unbalanced Load.”
In the episode Rocko does his laundry which, of course, consists solely of blue shirts with purple triangles. He also says he’s wearing his “lucky” shirt which is identical to the others in the laundry pile.
Cartoon characters have it so easy. They find one look that works for them and they rock the look until a reboot or network change happens. What a life.