Work those polygons
It's the compelling question that drives us all: just how fashionable are our favourite video game creations? Can Lara make it work? Does Luigi wear it best? Should Crash Bandicoot even be in the business of modelling sexy underwear? For answers, I decided to take a good, long look at our modern day gaming community, to assess its unique styles, flavours and fashionable voices, in order to better understand what the hip young gamers of today are saying. And when that failed, I just asked someone else to do it.
Enter Beth Cunniffe, occasional blogger and dedicated follower of fashion. With Beth's help, I've finally been able to overcome my longtime fondness for socks and sandals and even bought an honest-to-god dress shirt. Oh and I've also written this: it's a list of 12 famous gaming faces, and what Beth makes of their fashionable flourishes, flops and faux-pas. Enjoy.
Nathan Drake (Uncharted 2) - Gap catalogue
Hey Nate: Dylan McDermott, Nathan Fillion and a young Robert Vaughn called. They say you owe them some credit. Oh, and GAP left a message too, something about their 'spring adventure collection'. Yes, all things considered Nathan Drake is a fairly standard-looking guy--standard in the sense that he reminds us of a whole host of handsome chaps. Fortunately Nathan's personality is jam packed with personality but, just how much of his character is he able to communicate through such cookie-cutter clothing?
"Nathans channelling casual chic quite well here--maybe a little too well. Remember kids, theres a fine line between the 'I just threw this on' look and genuinely appearing to stew in your own juices. Nate's shirt, jeans and trainer (sneaker) combo ought to work well together, if only they were clean. A quick spin in the washing machine will have him looking more boho and less hobo in no time".
Dante (DMC) - Controversial new look
You remember Dante don't you? The demon slaying scoundrel with a serious penchant for peroxide? Yes, well he's dead. Died in a freak fairground accident dontcha know. Anyhoo, here's a ready-made replacement. Wadda ya mean, "its the same guy"? Ah yes, as it happens Capcom did perform a bit of a sly switcheroo with the character back in 2013. Out went the original Dante: (glam rock superstar edition) and in came Dante 2.0: the grimacing male model. Er, excellent
"Dante is probably the single most stylish man on this list. His outfit is simple yet effective, with a classic white vest serving to draw our attention to the slight, acid washed details in his fashionable, slim-fitting jeans. As for those military-esque boots he's wearing--aside from the fact that they never seem to go out of fashion--they also help to tie the entire outfit together". Beth also reckons that Dante's massive coat "stops the outfit from looking too 'indie'" and features some great little elements, including an ever-reliable union jack emblazoned on the sleeve. "As the old saying goes, 'less is definitely more' here"!
Mario (All the Mario games) - Plumber duds
Unlike the vast majority of men and women on this list Mario represents an ever so slightly 'different' take on the human shape. With his bulging gut, massive hands and honking great growth of a nose, this portly plumber could never be mistaken for a realistic creature--but let's not have it be said that GamesRadar doesn't cater to short, moustachioed men with elephantitis, so let's get to analysing.
"Dungarees have made a massive comeback recently so Mario is bang on trend! Hes avoided going too matchy-matchy and opted for a pair of simple brown boots, which work well within an otherwise colourful outfit. White gloves offer a sophisticated touch; akin to something the late, great Audrey Hepburn would wear" (minus knuckle bumps). However, all is not well with Mario's iconic red cap. As Beth handily reminds me: "nobody should have their own initial emblazoned on their clothing". Let that be a lesson to us all.
Alyx Vance (Half-Life 2) - Post-apocalypse chiq
Is there such a thing as post-apocalyptic chiq? Maybe a Chanel anti-radiation suit or a Gucci gas mask? The answer to that question is, of course: maybe. Half-Life's resident 'girl next door' Alyx Vance knows all about looking good, even in the grimmest of circumstances, and that practicality certainly shows up in her dress sense.
"This is a cute, casual, daytime outfit that isnt trying too hard. The little bomber jacket is easily the best thing about the entire ensemble and helps tie everything together without the need of a more conventional shade such as black or dark brown. The jacket itself looks pretty versatile, meaning that it's likely to go with pretty much anything in your wardrobe. Here its kept relatively low-key, teamed with a simple, zip-up grey hoodie that also helps to accentuate a rather eye-catching white collar. Where Alyx's pins are concerned, you really cant go wrong with blue, slim leg jeans and as for those fingerless gloves, they make for a functional but fashionable accessory". Daddy would be proud. If he wasnt dead.
Jack (Mass Effect 3) - The Bandaged Biotic look
Aside from looking like a crack-addled Miley Cyrus, Mass Effect's Jack is probably best known for her role in the late-game lover's tiff, that often (though not always) results in Miranda's sad passing. And by 'passing', what I really mean is 'being forcefully jettisoned into space. Following the events of ME2, Jack successfully reinvents herself as a young Angelina Jolie, and that's the slightly less naked lass we'll be evaluating here today.
"First things first: that jacket is fierce and should really be the 'statement piece' of this outfit. Sadly, it quickly becomes lost within the mire of an otherwise crazy getup. 'Bralet' tops are everywhere right now, with all manner of girls showing their midriffs left, right and centre. However Jack seems to have just bandaged hers up and moved along, effectively missing the point. As for those trousers, they're actually an awful lot like chaps (a major no-no) and as such, help to undermine the whole tone of the outfit. Plus, her boots are way too busy--replacing them with a pair of high-waisted trousers, and a cute set of ankle boots would've completely transformed this outfit and perhaps turned it into something special".
Fortune (MGS2) - Cut-scene chiq
If Metal Gear Solid's voluptuous vixen Fortune proves anything, it's that RnB sensation Beyonce must've sprung fully formed from the mind of one Hideo Kojima. Consider this: both girls are seen rocking blonde locks, matching 'single ladies' leotards and one extremely influential piece of arm candy. Come to think of it, neither woman has ever been obliterated in a mass missile strike either, lending some credence to the idea that Miss Knowles is also rather adept at deflecting deadly ballistics with the power of her mind.
As for fashion, Beth argues, "Fortune's high-legged, all-in-one bodysuit is just too 1980s--think Baywatch and all of those perpetually bouncing swimsuits. Singers like Jessie J may have been trying to bring them back into vogue as of late, but where the average, everyday woman is concerned theyre simply not feasible nor flattering. As with her garment, Fortune's sleek overcoat may make for a great piece of tailoring, but unfortunately it also comes across as a little too Matrix-y when combined with the rest of the outfit. The only salvageable elements of this daring ensemble appear to be Fortune's boots and socks. Sadly, even they cannot save this terrible throwback outfit".
Carth Onassi (KOTOR) - Garbage-chute casual
Oh Carth, you're not going out like that again are you? You look like some kind of aging boy band member working at the city dump in space. While he's certainly no Han Solo, KOTOR's Carth Onassi generally succeeds by virtue of the so-called Anakin effect i.e. anything less annoying than Hayden Christensen circa Star Wars Episode 2 somehow gets a pass. Sure, the fate of the known universe may rest--in part--upon his padded shoulders, but this whinging gunslinger is more than likely down about his poo-brown outfit. The poor guy.
"Whilst the jacket itself appears to be an impressive, if unusual, piece of tailoring, Carth's overall look is let down by the sight of those two protruding front pockets. Taken together they look some kind of dual bum bag ensemble (that's 'fanny pack' to you Americans) which Im afraid is a definite no-no. Onassi's also committing two relatively common fashion faux-pas here: namely going overboard with his colour coordinated accessories (i.e. bum bag, knee pads and jacket) and wearing a brown belt with black shoes". The horror.
Faith (Mirror's Edge) Gym Gear look
Faith Connors: free-running fashionista or sleazy scourge of the shopping mall? Well, I guess that all depends on whether she wears that sweat-stained gym equipment 24 hours a day. After all, what need does a high-flying parkour practitioner have with street clothes anyway? Maybe she spends the entirety of her weekends surrounded by tracksuited ruffians, 'borrowing' smokes and busting out rhymes in the Burger King car park. Perhaps not. In either case, Faith's gear ought to serve a purpose first, and make a statement second, so what does our resident expert make of this uber 'functional fashion?'
"By 2002, we all thought we'd seen the last of cargo pants on women. Nowadays, it seems even the A-listers of Hollywood can't leave home without a pair. This time around however girls are sporting a skinnier, decidedly more flattering take on the formula, and it appears Faith Connors is among them. While that tight black vest might typically suggest 'casual', Faith's footwear and gloves leave us in absolutely no doubt as to her sporting fixation. One part Adidas advert, one part 'overly-aggressive backup dancer' Faith seems primed to hit the gym and/or head out on a cross-country bike ride. If this is how she dresses during the day, then perhaps sandals or a nice pair of converse might've made for a better fit".
Cate Archer (NOLF 2) - Retro spy casual
It's an unassailable truth of espionage cinema (think James Bond et al) that while men spy with daring-do, women spy with double Ds. Fortunately for us, video gaming is nothing if not mature when it comes to the subject of the female form just ask Soul Calibur's spine-wrecked, mammary mutant-in-chief Ivy. Then there's Cate Archer, a feisty, self-reliant type with the brainpower to match her considerable 60's-style good looks.
"Mini-dresses never go out of style, and if youve got the legs for them then by all means go for it. Cate's orange example looks great, and the addition (or subtraction) of black tights will allow this outfit to be worn all year long. A black leather jacket is the perfect accessory to throw over any ensemble and fits perfectly with this outfit, while black knee high boots allow the wearer to stay in or hit the town at their leisure".
Link (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess) - Symphony in green
Why is it that skirts are considered horrendously effeminate menswear, while tunics (which create the effect of a skirt and t-shirt combo) are somehow deemed fair game? What would happen, say, if your tunic tore at the waistline? Would you automatically become a woman? Is that how that works? Lucky for us, tunic-loving Link has a back up plan; he's wearing an XXL shirt (thats a Medium to you Americans) alongside a pair of regular pants.
Beth says: "Too much is going on in this outfit; Link needs to de-clutter and fast". Main offenders include an overly busy belt scheme, solitary leather gauntlet and slug-like Hyrulian hat. Minor quibbles aside, Beth feels that the earthy tones on show ought to serve Link well in the autumnal and winter seasons, while that chainmail trim also "helps to prevent the outfit from becoming too plain".
Triss Merigold (The Witcher 2) - Fuck-me boots
The Witcher's Triss Merigold might seem like a bit of an odd choice for an article scrutinising fashion. For one thing, this flame-kissed mage seems to spend the majority of her time dossing around sans-underwear, unhooking her britches at the first sight of any-and-all bloodsoaked albinos. Well, that isn't entirely true, as Triss does manage to stay fully clothed during moments of undead menace, political intrigue and so forth. So kudos to her on that. Whenever nudity is no option, Triss makes do with a multicoloured bodice and cape combo, a pairing which may or may not be known as a 'shrug'.
"No one has worn a 'shrug' since the mid-noughties and it really doesnt work here, especially when matched with this striped, corset-style top. Its a little all over the place with too many conflicting styles all competing for attention. However, the bottom half of the outfit does seem to have its act together; with jeans that are both well-fitted and flattering and a pair of boots that are just next-level stylish. Rather like Dante's duds, these kinds of knee high boots never seem to go out of fashion, with that moccasin look also helping to give them an added edge. Its just a shame Triss's torso and legs dont match up".
John Marston (RDR) Wild west wear
As dashing as he is downright dirty, cowboy John Marston has many looks during Red Dead Redemption. Some dapper: the gentleman's attire. Some not so much: that big-hatted bandito outfit. In any case, the only fair thing to do here is to judge John on his starting slacks and nothing else. You'll recognize this gear as the same plain garb encountered by each and every RDR newbie, complete with undershirt, jacket and pinstriped pants. Heres what Beth had to say about it.
"This outfit is just plain, bland and boring. John's found a colour scheme and hes sticking to it. Of course, neutral hues do go together, but in the case of this mud-flecked cowboy were left crying out for colour. The only truly interesting aspect of this outfit is Mr. Marston's belt buckle, though sadly it becomes all but lost in a sea of samey beige-ish layers".
Got that? Good, because prior to Beth's help this list was a whole lot less analytical. [Example slide no.1] "a bare chested look that says "look at me, I'm bare chested". To hear more good things from Beth, sashay your way over to her very own Twitter account @BethCunniffe (opens in new tab), and make sure to check back here in 6 and a half minutes when the entire fashion landscape inexplicably changes. Adios!
Want more features where experts cast their eyes over the excesses of video games? Here's one about Gaming's Most Impractical Suits of Armour (opens in new tab), and another on Gaming's Most Impractical Swords (opens in new tab). Enjoy!