a banner image that says lovely cyborg, a shrine to #18 from dragon ball

Eighteen is described as having been a teen delinquent before she was cyberized, and we quickly get the idea that she cares a lot about her appearance. In order to consider Eighteen's style, we must first consider when Dragon Ball Z was being written, which was during the late eighties and early-mid nineties. In Japan, the mainstream fashion trends seemed to be fairly similar with trends in the United States: A fairly conservative and preppy feel, replete with acid washed denim, big hair, high waisted pants, shoulder pads, and tucked in everything.

the 80s and 90s!

Another interesting phenomenon was the Valley girl, which, while huge in the US, may have had some cross-over in Japan (or so I would like to believe). In fact, the more I look at late 80s/early 90s fashion pictures, the more I suspect that Dragon Ball's creator, Akira Toriyama, designed Eighteen to look like a Val. So what we might consider to be some pretty weird, ugly outfits were, in fact, quite fashionable in the 80s and 90s. Now let's continue!

Look 1: The Red Ribbon (classic outfit)

classic outfit
This is probably 18's most easily recognized outfit and the one she first appears in. A matching denim outfit with biker boots and the trademark Red Ribbon Army logo emblazoned across the back. The frayed arms and back logo offer a slight punk vibe, yet the overall feel is pretty conservative.

  • Black scoop-neck shirt. Long white sleeves with narrow black stripes. Arguably a black tank layered over a striped shirt, but seems to be one piece based on drawings.
  • Opaque black leggings
  • Denim A-line mini skirt. Back and front pockets, side zipper or elastic waist (notice the lack of front closure)
  • Cropped denim vest, unbuttoned with frayed sleeves, Red Ribbon Army logo on back
  • Brown biker boots with slightly darker boot staps. Exact shade of brown varies
  • Brown belt with gold or brass oval buckle
  • Gold hoop earrings

Look 2: The Cowgirl (the in-between outfit)

cowgirl outfit
The Cowgirl is not one of 18's favorite outfits, but it was all there was available after her original outfit got mussed up in her fight with Vejita. If I were her, I'd too would be pretty annoyed to wear this mess, but she manages to pull it off for the time being.

  • Camel color fringed skirt. Below the knee, A-line cut (maybe a wrap skirt?). Side pockets and back pockets
  • Matching mid-drift vest, fringed. Zip front. Serious business shoulder pads
  • Opaque navy leggings
  • Longsleeve navy turtleneck
  • Camel cowboy boots
  • Gold hoop earrings

Look 3: The ChiChi (raiding-the-closet outfit)

chichi outfit
The pearl necklace screams Valley Girl to me, which is funny considering it was lifted from Chi-Chi's closet. 18 cobbles this edgy debutante look from what's laying around in the evacuated Son household. As far as her outfits go, this one has a ton of accessories. And considering that her classic look might have been supplied by Dr. Gero (whom she hated), and the cowboy look was her only option, this outfit may be one that actually reflects 18's true personal style. Maybe.

  • White short sleeve tee
  • Cropped black vest with yellow triangle pin
  • Denim capris with a teal/turquoise wash (color varies due to source)
  • Loose orange socks rolled over
  • Plain black mary janes
  • Black gloves rolled over with gold bangle for left hand
  • Mid length pearl necklace
  • Long gold chain at waist with gold medallion/pocket watch
  • Dark brown belt with silver buckle
  • Gold hoop earrings

Look 4: The Kame House (starting over)

kame house outfit
After 18 is spit out by Cell and begins a new life with Krillin at the secluded Kame House, we catch a few glipmses of her relaxing in this number. Simple and casual; we're finally starting to see her preference for denim.

  • Denim vest, buttoned up with frayed sleeves. Color is either super light blue denim, or a lilac wash
  • White clamdiggers (ankle length)
  • Black thong sandals (not pictured)
  • Bangle (red?) for left hand
  • Gold or red hoop earrings, depending on the picture

Look 5: The Family Life (return of the orange socks!)

family outfit
After her daughter, Marron, is born, this is 18's stock outfit till the end of the series. She's taken the orange socks and maryjanes raided from ChiChi's closet and paired them with a regular wash pair of denim capris. The old shirt and belt from her original outfit returns, as well. Sometimes she likes to wear red hoop earrings, sometimes gold. 18 actually wears this outfit during the Strongest Under the Heavens tournament. A shirt and jeans: Able to withstand baby spit and the furious blows of enraged saiyans!

  • Black shirt with long, nautical striped sleeves
  • Regular bluejean capris
  • Loose orange socks rolled over
  • Plain black mary janes
  • Brown belt with gold oval buckle
  • Gold or red hoop earrings

Look 6: The Business Woman (executive realness)

business outfit
I won't front, I still haven't watched Dragon Ball GT. The fact that 18 begins to wear super conservative business suits all the time just turns me off. She used to be so rowdy! Now she's wearing blazers with shoulder pads, pleated pants, and loafers? I just don't know how to feel about it... Then again, she always dressed on the conservative side. Regardless, 18's no-nonsense attitude and sharp haircut give her on a serious executive realness vibe, and I can be down with that.

  • Pearl necklace
  • Loafers
  • Shorter hair
  • Hoop earrings
  • Other outfit aspects vary

Look 7: Special Outfit! (the Budokai 2 special)

special outfit
Until Dragonball Z: Budokai 2 came out for Playstation 2, this outfit was unconfirmed, as there were no full body pictures of 18. However, there were a few Japanese DBZ cards showing 18 wearing a plain denim vest with frayed sleeves and plain jeans...but were they capris? And what kind of shoes was she wearing? Was it just a variation on the Kame House outfit or what?? Since the Budokai 2 game came out, the details were be confirmed! The question now is if this is the original design of Toriyama sensei or of the game developers? Or perhaps there's just a picture I've never seen...

  • Denim capris
  • Denim vest, buttoned up with frayed sleeves
  • Red thong sandals
  • Red bangle for left hand
  • Hoop earrings
  • Brown belt

Other Looks

miscellaneous outfits
In the History of Trunks Special especially, and in various trading cards, we get are treated to glimpses of some of Number 18's other stylistic choices. While there really aren't other more flamboyantly dressed characters in the series, it still seems that 18's style follows mainstream 80s/90s Vogue chic, with some nods to pop icons of the times

90s styles

Some final notes and observations: In the 5th Daizenshuu, there is a little excerpt that says when she dresses casual, she prefers to wear sandals. In the Trunks' Special, she is seen holding a cheongsam dress before her in the mirror of a clothing store. She smiles at how it looks. But in the series, she decides against wearing ChiChi's Chinese dress. Maybe it was simply because she didn't like the color or something, but I find this little nuance between timelines amusing.