What's a superhero without a cool costume to act as their calling card? A stylish outfit makes a hero an unforgettable figure, and many hero costumes are designed to protect the wearer and enhance their abilities somehow. A villain's outfit is designed to inspire awe or fear, and like a hero's costume, it may be designed to enhance the wearer's unique powers.
The same is true in the Naruto world, and in the first half, we meet many characters with their own idea of ninja outfitting. On-screen, we see many background ninjas wearing the "standard" Leaf Village outfit, but that's just for redshirts. Heroes and cool villains design their own duds, and some costumes end up looking cooler than others. Which costumes really stand out, and which are tacky or plain?
10 Best: Zabuza Momochi
Zabuza is one of the first major villains to ever appear, and he's a rogue ninja born in the Hidden Mist Village. His outfit clearly calls to his Mist origins, but the costume has some unique attributes to it, too. To start, Zabuza has bandages over his mouth and nose for a mysterious look that mirrors Kakashi's, and his headband is at an angle. His chest is bare, showing off his impressive physique, and his pants have the long, vertical pinstripes that are a Mist Village trademark. He's also got suspenders of a sort on his chest, just for show. And don't forget his massive and unique sword to complete the look!
9 Worst: Naruto Uzumaki
That's right, not even the main character is above scrutiny. His wardrobe design is simply bizarre and garish, even if you don't count the fact that he is a ninja. What sort of assassin goes around in bright orange clothes?
Orange, yellow, and white are designed to make the wearer stand out, such as at construction sites. But no, Naruto decided to be flashy while he's stealthy. Enjoy that paradox. Oh, and that collar looks rather thick and envelops his neck, making for an oddly stiff look. It's not even winter. Why such a thick collar?
8 Best: Dosu Kinuta
Although Dosu Kinuta is a minor villain in the Sound Squad during the Chunin Exam arc, he really makes for a memorable visual. Like Zabuza, his head is wrapped in bandages for a spooky look appropriate for a villain, and his camo scarf is pretty neat, too.
His forearm-mounted sound emitter is a unique piece of hardware that looks cool and enables his sonic jutsu, and the glove looks tough and practical, too. He even has a fur cape, which looks a bit odd... but also kind of cool.
7 Worst: Sasuke Uchiha
Another member of Squad Seven falls short in costume design for part 1. Some of these costumes are disappointing simply because they're plain and boring, and that describes Sasuke's, too.
His clothes may be practical, but really, he just wears white, knee-length gym shorts and a blue shirt with a blue collar that foreshadows Itachi's robe collar later on. He's also got some forearm braces and a standard Leaf Village headband, but that's all. His outfits in Naruto Shippuden are definitely cooler than this. At least his early costume is easy to cosplay since it's so plain.
6 Best: Jiraiya
Old man Jiraiya is one of the legendary Sanin ninja, and he's the sharpest dresser of the three. His headband, in fact, is more like an armored plate complete with little horns and the kanji for "oil" written on it for a unique look.
He also has robes and pants that call to mind Japanese daimyo or shoguns, and the red and olive green combination is striking. Jiraiya is still a practical man, though, and wears a mesh shirt under all this so his outfit can breathe a little during combat. His wooden sandals are a fun touch, not unlike those of Kisuke Urahara in Bleach.
5 Worst: Shikamaru Nara
Shikamaru is a boy genius, but when it comes to ninja outfits, he suffers the same issue as Sasuke: a really bland appearance. He dons the standard ninja outfit in Shippuden, and it could be said that he should have done this earlier.
The plain, grayish-beige color of this outfit is simply hideous, and it has no interesting patterns or markings on it to make it stand out. It does have a few accent marks, but they don't help much. Where did he find fabric with that awful color, anyway?
4 Best: Kimimaro
Another villain appears, and the bone-wielding boy known as Kimimaro knows how to dress. He has the same elegant, light purple color scheme of Orochimaru's followers, and he wears a loose and comfortable-looking robe that flaps around in combat rather stylishly.
His pants are still practical, though, and he has the same thick purple rope belt that the other Sound Five members wear. And when Kimimaro releases the full power of his bone-based kekkei genkai, he can lower the robe and fight bare-chested with ease. Nice and practical.
3 Worst: Kankuro
When this puppet master first appeared on screen, a viewer might think: "What in the world?" Kankuro has a rather odd choice in wardrobe, as his all-black ensemble is not only plain looking, but it's wildly impractical in his desert home! No one wears black in a desert, no matter how goth they're feeling!
Besides that, the two cat-ears on his hood look silly and ridiculous, and his ever-changing face paint seems like an unnecessary feature to the character. Is he trying to look scary? It doesn't really work unless he puts on a really mean face (pictured).
2 Best: Gaara of the Sand
It's a little tricky to describe the outfit of this unfortunate boy, but suffice it to say, Gaara has a truly unique and fascinating outfit. It features some rustic beige, dark red, and white colors that indeed look like desert garb, and he whimsically put his ninja headband on his outfit rather than his head (to show off that "love" tattoo).
To complete this look, Gaara carries an oversized gourd on his back, and he can remove the cork to unleash his sand powers. He's a mini desert wherever he goes.
1 Worst: Neji Hyuga
Neji Hyuga is a genius ninja and a tough contender in battle, but it looks like he got dressed in the dark. His choice in clothes vastly improves in Shippuden, but until then, his outfit is both bland and strange looking. He's got wide, knee-length shorts, and a parka-like coat without a hood and a rather thick collar, like Naruto's.
His headband, for whatever reason, has two extra straps on it, and it does nothing to make him look cool or tough. Neji's outfit has dull colors and looks oddly top-heavy, with a coat like that worn over shorts. His cousin Hinata dresses a little better, though.