As a cosplayer, accuracy is so important to me when making my costumes. I can only imagine some of the discomfort people who chose to cosplay the following Final Fantasy characters experienced. Some of these designs make you wonder, “What was Square Enix thinking?” At times, some pieces of an outfit do not seem relevant or useful to a given character, so it's natural to wonder what they're even doing there in the first place.
Costume design and construction is a key aspect of how the world of a game is tied together with the personality of a character. If the look is cohesive, it makes the character all the more dimensional. If it’s not, then it usually doesn’t play well to the game’s atmosphere except (with a few rare exceptions)
Now, it's a given that these outfits do not have to be wearable or practical, because, well, it’s a video game. These characters don’t seem to complain much regardless of what outfit they’re put in. However, there are quite a few standout examples of what seems to be either lazy character creation or just outright clothing confusion.
15 Cloud (In a Dress) - Final Fantasy VII
Cloud looked beautiful enough to fool Don Corneo, but not me. Although Cloud did this for a good reason (to rescue Tifa and Aeris from the Mansion), it did not pan out well. First off: he is wearing pants under his dress. Pants. Brown pants, that don't even match with the purple dress! Secondly, he didn't even try to tame his spiked bonanza of a hairstyle. He just braided parts of it back.
Granted, Final Fantasy VII is an older game —which is not a slight— it is still a fantastic game. It's just, the polygon-style shapes really don't help with Cloud's transformation in the slightest. For all the work you have to do in the game to get the items you need, the final result is less than perfect. Of course, we probably should not blame Cloud, but the women who helped him choose his outfit.
14 Tidus - Final Fantasy X
Oh, Tidus. Of Final Fantasy X fame, he first charmed gamers across the globe with his ... er... raucous laugh. His outfit is much the same, kind of a mess. First off, why are his pant legs different lengths? The asymmetry of this style of dress really does not make much sense. It must be annoying to move around in. In addition to his weird demi-overall top, this aesthetic leaves much to be desired (and explained).
And he couldn’t just wear a normal blitzball outfit —oh no— he had to follow Jecht’s footsteps and be different as far as trouser leg lengths were concerned. His gauntlet and shoulder pad also don’t seem necessary, as they don’t even help him when he’s playing Blitzball. I do not envy any cosplayer that needed to make this outfit, you definitely cannot find a pattern for this! I see the inspiration here. Swing and a miss.
13 Thief Paine - Final Fantasy X-2
Why Paine has a thong on over her pants will forever be a mystery to me. It seems like whenever the ladies of FFX-2 switch classes things never works out well. Rikku is a thief and her outfit is adorable, why is Paine's such an eyesore? I understand trying to make the characters look different even within the same class distinctions, but that thong is pushing it.
The sleeves are this gorgeous dark purple, and I like the combination of the white and blue, but the swim trunk shorts also aren't doing it for me. Longer pants tucked into taller boots are an easy fix for this. It's really annoying that this outfit only needs a few tweaks to look nice and reflect Paine's personality. The thong absolutely ruins it though, no redeeming that!
12 Lightning: Carnaval Crusher - Lightning Returns
Now, now, in her defense Lightning has some absolutely gorgeous garbs in Lightning Returns. However, there a few that are a miss. I am not a big fan of excessive feathers. I understand Carnaval costumes have a ton feathers, sure, but this is not even close to that caliber. As far as defense, this garb does resist all four magic elements, which is awesome. This garb is pretty useful. However, those feathers just look hastily slapped on. There's no rhyme or reason as to their placement.
Her strange half sandal/half boot is pretty tragic too. This outfit is from a DLC, so naturally, lots of extra costumes would be added for Lightning. However, this is one of the few that don't quite make the cut. It's almost like the developers ran out of ideas.
11 Black Mage Class Outfits - Final Fantasy X
This is an excellent example of a good concept that isn't well exectued. The staffs are very cool, and these costumes should have been built around them (as there was already a solid color scheme there). The hats are adorable and I love the sleeves, but those colors just don't make any kind of sense. Paine's is the most cohesive, but it seems like Yuna and Rikku's outfits did not get the same treatment.
They are also rather colorful for black mages. One would expect darker colors all around. These are kind of jester-esque and remind me a bit of Kefka's garb. The potential for these outfits is absolutely there, and the design is not too bad, the color scheme seems to be the main takeaway that makes these outfits unable to cast a spell.
10 Vaan - Final Fantasy XII
Just because Vaan poses like a model doesn't mean he dresses like one. From the metal-looking vest to the clip holding the vest together, the top of this outfit is way too out there to match his bottom armor. He really would look better with full armor. This weird Prince of Persia vest and bare chest, mixed with a Dark Souls-style set of leg armor really does not bode well for poor Vaan. This outfit gives us no clue as to what class he is supposed to be, much like Ashe's which is mentioned later on for reasons that will soon become very apparent.
Now, I'm not saying EVERY outfit needs to reflect the class of a character, but historically in the Final Fantasy series, that's how it's done. Tidus plays Blitzball, so his outfit is reminiscent of a player's, Yuna is a summoner, so her outfit reflects the sacred traditions of Spira. Vaan's aspiration is to become a sky pirate, sure, but they should at least have given him a cool flowing pirate coat, anything other than that tiny, tacky, vest!
9 Irvine - Final Fantasy VIII
I love Irvine as a character, and I do actually love his concept. His cowboy aesthetic is neat, sure, but something about that purple vest really ruins the neutral color scheme he has going on. The brown and tan work great, and he sure is dapper, but I can't really take him seriously in his current garb. The overall look is quite plain, but there is an air of cringe to the patchy knees and flashy jewelry.
His department is "guns and women," but that doesn't cover being stylish, so maybe it isn't his fault. According to the FLAREgamer, creator Tetsuya Nomura gave Irvine "a cowboy-like appearance to set him apart from other goggle-wearing characters in the Final Fantasy series." It is interesting to read this because he was also not supposed to overshadow Squall. Perhaps that could explain some of the unique choices made
8 Lightning: Moogle Queen Outfit - Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XII
Strike two for you, Lightning. I adore the overall idea of this costume, it's cute with the moogles hanging off of it, but I am not okay with this weird harlequin pattern on the base outfit. You're not supposed to really see the base outfit, but you do, and it clashes. Something about putting Lightning in purple when she has pink hair is also an unusual choice.
I tried to like this one, I did, and the cosplays I saw of it are cute, but again, it doesn't have any in-game appeal for me. Sure it is a novelty and unique garb, I'll give it that, but it doesn't really give anything about Lightning as a character. It's just another garb that the player dresses her in and it feels a bit hollow despite its intended light-heartedness.
7 Kefka Palazzo - Final Fantasy VI/Dissidia Final Fantasy
Although Kefka was the main antagonist in Final Fantasy VI, we see him in his full costumed glory in Dissidia Final Fantasy. Kefka is a court mage, so that can potentially excuse some of his outlandish style choices. He does seem like low-hanging fruit because this outfit is so obviously chaotic, but all of these colors and not a single matching scheme to be found.
He is known for being loud and short-tempered, and this outfit absolutely captures this. So, it is absolutely a win for summing up his personality in a visual way, but that doesn't mean that it looks anywhere near pretty. Kefka is one of Final Fantasy's most memorable villains, and it rings true because none of us can ever forget a getup like that.
6 Dangerous Ariana - Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius
She is anything but fierce. The sprite design of Ariana’s look is, well, lazy. Sure, the look is cohesive, and echoes the singer that she is based upon, but it’s boring. I know this is a mobile game, and it’s not supposed to have the same superior graphics that the other Final Fantasy games have. However, that is all the more reason to have a beautiful and cohesive outfit to really dress up a pixelated sprite.
Ariana herself wears some very fashion-forward and extravagant outfits, and it feel like this embodiment of her is a little too safe and expected. Celebrities who get the Final Fantasy treatment deserve to have an outfit that magnifies their personality and really ties them into the world. Plus it’s all one color, with very subtle pops of silver. Sure, the look is "matches," but it definitely lacks the dimension and visual appeal that other characters have been allowed.
5 Electronica Lightning - Lightning Returns
Although the color scheme of this costume is very on-point, it gets swallowed up by this disaster of a design. This rave-inspired outfit has a sort of a Vocaloid vibe to it, which is fine. What isn't fine is the cobbled together top portion. I get trying to be stylistic with certain pieces in order to make an impact, but as we have discussed, cohesion is key with any video game character's outfit.
It isn't great either. The subtleties of items that don't match up, or don't look good really distract from what could be a neat looking garb. At the end of the day, it's a very weak outfit in a game brimming with style.
4 Kuja - Final Fantasy IX/Dissidia Final Fantasy
It just occurred to me that there are quite a few villains on this list. Let's welcome Kuja. He is elegant and narcissistic: neither guarantee a good sense of fashion it seems. First off, he has a codpiece, and it's not on armor, it's just...there. It's no question that he is one of the most powerful magic practitioners in Final Fantasy IX, but couldn't he practice magic in a more stylish outfit?
He has the same sassy, gravity defying hair as the next antagonist on our list. Although Kuja's colour scheme is really pretty, the weird execution and outlines of the outfit absolutely disrupt it. The big trend of armored boots not connected to anything is something that will never make sense to me, at least have some pants tucked into them for a bit of cohesion.
3 Seymour Guado - Final Fantasy X
Leaving Seymour's gravity defying hair out of this, that outfit is something I have a bone to pick with. It’s impossible to know what is keeping the top part of his outfit from sliding down (magical magnets in his chest tattoos or maybe that strange beaded necklace??) And of course, much like Tidus, Seymour just couldn’t wear the traditional garb of the group he belonged to. Unlike the other Maesters pictured above, his robes are differently colored and he just had to show off that bod.
The other Maesters, of course, have closed robes that are much less extravagant. These are men of religion, and Seymour is, without a doubt, a preening peacock. It wasn't enough for him to use his prominent position of power for evil, he just had to add "crimes against fashion" to his bad guy achievements list.
2 Princess Ashe - Final Fantasy XII
Oh, Ashe, you are stunning, but that outfit just does not know what class it wants to be! Mage boots, lightweight legionnaire-esque armor, and that major outlier of a skirt. Although she has this gorgeous and intricate leg armor…it’s dwarfed by these large and very distracting boots. The outfit would look far cleaner with a different skirt and armored boots to match her leg armor. The boots don’t look like they offer much protection at all and the armor part was a poor attempt to create a semblance of consistency (which was absolutely not achieved).
The skirt is absolutely far too casual for her look, and it doesn’t look like it would be comfortable to battle in. Yikes. There are so many things screaming to be seen in this outfit. This is absolutely another case where the cosplayers who chose Ashe really made her costume look amazing, but the design really does not give us much in the game.
1 Trainer Class Outfits - Final Fantasy X-2
The final design on the chopping block is those tacky trainer outfits that Yuna, Rikku, and Paine wore in Final Fantasy X-2. Upon initial impression, it's clear to see these outfits are just plain visually confusing. The color schemes are inconsistent, and this strange obsession with lacing up every single piece of clothing really makes this a sight for sore eyes. Now, to the cosplayers who have done these outfits, I will applaud them because they absolutely made these outfits look gorgeous in real life. However, there is something about the in-game presence of these outfits that really do not have cohesion.
It appears as though the desired effect was to pick a color scheme associated with each girl. Yuna has her light blue skirt, Rikku has her yellow and blue, and Paine has her black and purple. The tops of these outfits are okay, but paired with the matching skirts make them way too busy. Plus, do those skirts really lace? How much movement do they have in those? Clothing that defies general comfort is a category that absolutely applies here.