Final Fantasy is more than a game, more than a multimedia entertainment monolith. It's also one of the most glamorous and fashion-forward forces on God's green Earth. And that's partly thanks to the work of visionaries like Testsuya Nomura and Yoshitaka Amano, designers who've helped shape Final Fantasy's visual style since the franchise began.
But while discussions have long reigned about the best game in the series, the conversation has failed to address the single most important question looming over Final Fantasy. Who is the most stylish character of them all?
To reach a definitive conclusion, we'll have to examine some worthy contenders and their jazzy, individual styles. Lads, gals and pals, here are your finalists in the competition for Final Fantasy's most fashionable crown.
These are just two of the outfits Cloud's fashionable little feet are found in during the events of his Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts sagas. There's a lot going on here, from his numerous straps, bolts and knobs to his dramatic, flowing scarf.
That's a lot of details and I'm not sure where to start. I mean, what's going on with his legs on the left, there? What do those straps do? Why is his sword covered in bandages? Seems impractical. That's not to mention he's fashioned a corset made of belts across his torso. How does he even move in those? His plain black skivvy (the more common outfit) seems a much more practical choice.
The shoulder pad on both outfits are a bit of a mystery to me, too. Do they do something? Can you stab people with them? They look cool, so they get a pass, but I want answers. One more thing before we move on — Cloud has a little baby wing in Kingdom Hearts. Why? I mean, we know why — Vincent was originally going to be in Kingdom Hearts before Cloud replaced him — but why? Along with the swoopy Vincent scarf, it feels a bit extra. Try harder, Cloud.
Verdict: Cloud is one stylish guy and a definite contender for the 'most fashionable' crown — but he's cheating a bit by stealing his fashion sense from the next person on our list. Plus, he's got seven too many belts. You only need one! Belts are for pants! 7/10
Speaking of Vincent, check out this fashion icon. If this were 2015, I'd check out those glam shoes with a swift "what are thooooose." They still deserve one. They look like they'd make little slappy noises as he walked, which would low key take any kind of stealth element away from Vincent's attack, but who cares? They're impractical, but very fashion.
Like Cloud, Vincent loves his belts — they're all over his body from his neck to his arms and thighs. After being trapped in a coffin for 500 years, who wouldn't enjoy a bit of casual bondage?. And the cloak really sells Vincent's whole 'brooding shapeshifter' charm, as does whatever hair product he's using. How does it stick up?
I'm in awe. Truly, he is an innovator.
Verdict: Vincent is such an icon that Cloud can only aspire to be his equal. Not many people can pull off the 'I'm dead outside, but also on the inside' glam that Vincent manages. 8/10
Wow, Yuna's costume really did a swift 180 between Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2. I'll admit I don't remember much about the story, so I can only assume this is what happens when you drop your man and start living ya life. The Yuna on the left is a kindly, ethereal priestess, wearing a dour kimono and a soft smile. The Yuna on the right will kick your arse to the curb and smile while she does it. With an ocean-inspired skirt and a little leggy jutting out, she radiates confidence.
Unfortunately, she also has the world's longest rat tail. Seriously, look at that. Why did she think that was a good idea? Surely it gets in the way, like, a lot? Her shirt also seems a bit dangerous for battling. The last thing you want while facing down the forces of darkness is a nip slip and this gal is just courting disaster. There's some wild choices going on here and I'm not sure they all work for her.
Verdict: Yuna's made some bold choices here and she has the confidence to pull them off, but she ruins her image with that unsightly rat's tail. Why is there? Does anyone know? 6/10
Kefka is art. Pure art. Avant garde. Haute couture. He wears a multi-patterned, multi-coloured cloak like he is fashion, and I can't say enough about these choices. His cloak drapes with an easy style, accentuating his glamour — and with his bend-and-snap leg there he looks like a true diva.
The only thing I'm not quite sure about is all the tassels. I am strongly of the opinion that tassels are for curtains, and not fashion, and there's just... a whole lot of tassels going on here. There's tassels on his socks, tassels on his scarf, tassels on his cloak and even tassels in his hair. I know I called him art, but I'm going to have to dock points there. His bejewelled Thanos gloves are also a bit of an eyesore, so that's another point gone. Somehow, I don't think he'd care.
Verdict: Not a bad showing from Kefka, our first representative from the villains. He's made some very strong choices with his niche clownpalooza style, but some of them don't quite work here. 8/10
I'm kidding, Noctis didn't place. I just put him here so I could dunk on him. I mean, look at what he's wearing. He's every Hot Topic kid from 2009. Also, he's got some kind of weird dotting on his shirt that makes it look like he spilled beans on himself. You're a Prince, man. Get it together.
The worst part of this is in Eos, this is probably considered high fashion — especially if the royal family is wearing it. He probably paid $500 for that shirt, and wears it proudly. Macklemore would not be impressed.
At least falling into a coma helped his fashion sense - old Noctis is like a whole new person.
Check out them chains. He still doesn't rank, though. Get outta here with this shit.
Oh my god, look at her. No, gaze upon her. Ultimecia is evil incarnate, and I think I want her to beat me up. Her plunging neckline is a choice few could make — but it does skew dangerously close to showing off a bit too much. Points off for impracticality and her dangerously-close-to-a-nudie-run neckline.
Aside from the whole navel situation, she's got some tasteful fluff around her gown that gives her a peacock-like appearance (Charlotte Flair would be proud), and some fancy red decorations on her horns. Red is a marvellous choice here, matching her luscious silk gown. This outfit definitely screams, "I am a god!", which I assume is what she's going for here. It makes me want to bow at her feet and weep softly.
Verdict: I think I would kill for her, if she asked. I would do anything. She's (nearly) perfect. 9/10
Is it hot in here, or is it just me? Jecht has a big ol' sword, and it's the perfect accessory for these beach dad looks. Yes, Jecht is a finalist and Tidus is not, because it's my list and Tidus is not welcome (ahh haha haha hha aaa). Not only is Jecht rocking a Captain Jack bandana and a matching, sunset towel, he's also got a big metal arm and a sick full-chest tattoo marking him as a certified Cool Dad.
Upon closer inspection, Jecht is wearing some kind of kaftan with overalls — but straps down, because straps up is for small children and 'the uncool'. Having one leg exposed is the ultimate Cool Dad move, but it works. These looks shouldn't all work together, but they do. It just goes to show it's not the clothes — it's how you wear them.
Verdict: Why wasn't Final Fantasy X about you? 8.5/10
Lightning went through a total evolution in her journey from Final Fantasy XIII to Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XII. I'm not sure if the fashion 180 is practical, but she is absolutely killing that armour, so great job there. The hooked shoulder is gorgeous, too. Perfect for uhh... maybe shimmying up to your enemies and poking them in the eye a bit. Or maybe just to look cool — that's a valid answer, too.
The boob armour on the right's a bit weird, though — and she's left all her soft meaty bits exposed. Remember when people used to play that 'fun game' where they'd come up behind you and drill their fingers into your sides? She would not survive.
She also hasn't learned her lesson about short-shorts, and seems to be just hanging around in her undies — covering your legs with a sheet won't give you protection in battle, Lightning. In fact, the more I look at it, the more her Lightning Returns armour seems a bit fetish-y. If you're into it, no judgement, but it's not what I'd be caught in while I'm cleaving my way through the battlefield. She does have some consistently solid boots going on, at least, and that feather skirt is stunning.
Verdict: Lightning is a total chameleon with this three-piece ensemble, and each outfit has its merits. Overall, her sense of fashion feels a bit confused, but given her character, maybe that's intentional. 7/10
Paine is a total rockstar, from her spiky, hairspray stylings to her studs and her silver skulls. Like any good rockstar, she's covered in leather and big belts, and she doesn't give a shit what you think. Her hair is big, her sword is big and her secrets — big. She's wearing a stunning off-the-shoulder black crop, secured in place by a fantastically goth cross, and if the skull on her sword wasn't enough, there's a skull on her belt, too. I know I said belts are for pants only, but I'm making an exception for Paine.
This outfit absolutely kills, which is appropriate, given she could definitely kill you. Her leather pants are the real winners here, though. They're accessorised with suspenders and metallic clips, and I reckon I'd wear the shit out of them. Very fashion forward. Totally iconic. Maybe it's personal bias, but I'm learning towards a perfect score here.
Verdict: You know what, it's my list. Perfect score. 10/10
So there you have it, folks. Paine is the most fashionable member of the Final Fantasy squad, and she beat out a lot of strong competition to get there. A few skulls go a long way, and Paine is going straight to the top. Agree? Disagree? Duke it out in the comments, pals.