"Oh, should've known, the way you guys are blending in with the local colour. I mean, Flag Girl was bad enough, but U-Boat Captain?"
When people are engaged in Time Travel
, they will very frequently be wearing clothing that is inappropriate or out of fashion for the time period. After the obligatory initial comments about the time traveler being dressed "very strangely", the locals will all, in effect, shrug and move on
, and however bizarre or inappropriate the clothing may be by their standards, they will rarely mention it again. An Improbable Hairstyle
doesn't faze the peasants, either. Occasionally caused by Limited Wardrobe
. Of course, in some cases, it's not a problem because Fashions Never Change
. (And, of course, if it's Halloween, expect at least one instance of Your Costume Needs Work
Necessarily averted if you Can't Take Anything With You
— which just makes the time traveler stand out more
. If time travel allows for multiples of the same person to run around at the same time and they actually do change their jumper, see Differently Dressed Duplicates
(Note: For those of us Separated by a Common Language
, a jumper is a sweater, not a dress for little girls. Or a kind of conductor. Or a guy on a bridge
. Or a cable.)
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- Inverted in a Carl's, Jr./Hardee's ad that has a man from the antebellum South time-traveling over 150 years into the future and winding up on a beach in 2010s America to hand out Carl's Jr.'s/Hardee's Made-From-Scratch Biscuits. He is soon surrounded by several people in swim trunks and bikinis, and asks what everyone is doing in their underwear.
Anime and Manga
- Kagome from InuYasha wears an extremely short skirt in feudal Japan. Near the beginning, a man comments that "Her kimono is shorter than mine" while fingering her skirt. After this, though, aside from a rare passing comment about "strange clothes", no one she meets is ever really surprised by her modern clothes and hair, though she is accused of being a demon a few times. May be part of an ingrained cultural habit where after elementary school Japanese schoolchildren are conditioned to wear their school uniforms on school days, period, no exceptions—even after school. Sundays and holidays are no-uniform days, but most junior high and high school students are expected to remain in uniform until they go home for the night. Word of God states she keeps wearing it to retain a sense of connection to her own time. And she does switch to wearing a kimono after deciding to marry Inuyasha.
- Word of god has also stated she just likes the style, and that there's a practical side too: It's apparently easy to keep clean.
- Hitomi in Vision of Escaflowne goes gallivanting through the fantasy world with knights, princesses and giant magical robots, wearing her school sailor uniform. She gets some comments about strange clothes in the early episodes, though. At one point they try to get her into a more appropriate dress, but then she had to run down Van and a big, billowy dress really gets in the way of a good runner, so she resorted to an Action Dress Rip.
- Averted strongly in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, where nearly every stop (longer than a day or so, anyway), involves the main characters acquiring clothing that would be appropriate in the local culture. More often then not, they are skipping dimensions, not time traveling, but the concept still applies, since the worlds they visit have a great diversity of historical settings, magical abilities, technology, urban vs rural, or even non-human inhabitants. Fai's fur coat would be out of place anywhere, so he seldom wears it. If they are wearing their own clothing, someone is likely to comment on how strange it appears. Basically, this gave CLAMP an excuse for endless costume changes.
- Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyou Shou (not quite a Time Travel, but close enough) averts the trope only partially. It's implied that Akane, Tenma and Shimon do look strange in their school uniforms to people in Kyou; however, the trio is given a chance to change into local clothing. The result is mixed: Akane in particular ends up trading her jacket for a short big-sleeved... thing... while the rest of her clothes, including short skirt, is left intact, and her short hair is also quite a contrast to the local standards, yet this hardly gets commented on.
- In Oda Nobuna no Yabou, Sagura Yoshiharu was transported from the present (late 2000s-early 2010s) Japan to the Sengoku era, some 450 years ago. The light novel and manga averted it by making him, eventually, wear period clothing. The anime plays this straight; he's always seen either in his school uniform or a yellow T-shirt, sometimes with period armour on them.
- Particularly noticeable in Dinosaur King, as in the second season, the gang is being shunted to various time periods, and none of them ever change what they're wearing, not even Zoe, even when they're in the 18th century and would presumably have gotten into a lot of trouble for being dressed as she is.
- On the rare time-travels of Milligan's Shade, the Changing Man, it was easily Hand Waved by Shade only appearing to personalities known to stay under the influence of substances, sometimes including hallucinogens. In one unique aversion, all of Hotel Shade and everything inside reverted gradually to earlier analogues and fashions, until they finally arrived in colonial Salem. Constantine mused on the fit of various underwear through history.
- A comic special (Mandy?) featured a girl who sat in an a coach in a museum being transported back to the same coach in the Victorian Era. Once she explained that it was normal to wear mini skirts back home everyone accepted hers. Also pointing out that back home many secretaries were women was sufficient to get her the job.
- Inverted in Kate and Leopold. Leopold travels to the present and continues wearing his coat. He sees Kate and mentions that "women who wear pants are not to be trusted", but only jokingly.
- Given that he's in New York, it's not unusual that people don't care how he dresses.
- Averted in the first Back to the Future, with people remarking on Marty's hazmat suit and vest throughout the film. Back to the Future Part III also subverts this: Marty's cowboy outfit (assembled by 1950s Doc Brown, who assures Marty that it is, in fact, "authentic") is horrendously out-of-place in 1885 Hill Valley.
- Totally avoided in the Terminator series. Nothing dead (unless it's surrounded by living tissue, like the terminators) can be sent through a time machine, so time travelers arrive naked and have to steal contemporary clothing.
- Though the flashforwards also avoid this trope through the simple expedient of describing the future as a grim and endless theater of war, so that no matter what fashions might have appeared between, say, 1984 and 2004, the humans' clothes are all ripped to shreds, patched with whatever other fabrics and thread (and skill) were available, and covered with layers of dirt interspersed with sweat and cordite.
- The Time Machine (2002). After the first time jump, the main character is given directions by a friendly woman on a bicycle. Both clearly think the others' mode of dress is unusual, but are too polite to say so.
- Of course, thanks to the movie, this bicycle outfit inspired a Real Life version.
- Averted in Somewhere In Time (1980), where the main character tries to buy accurate period costume for the time he is traveling to, but is informed by pretty much everyone he meets that his clothes are several years out of fashion, which makes him stand out significantly in the high society he is visiting.
- In Star Trek IV, the crew walk around 1980s San Francisco in their Star Fleet uniforms without anyone noticing at all. This was actually Truth in Television... They specifically tested it first by sending bit actors out in uniform, and got exactly that little comment. (A bit of the movie is even shot more-or-less guerilla style, showing actual bystander nonreactions.) Hey, it's San Francisco!
- Well, with the rank insignia and more obvious military trappings removed, the late 23rd century Starfleet uniforms really aren't all that abnormal-looking...and remember, only Scott and Uhura were even in uniform. Everyone else was wearing the same civilian clothing they wore when they stole the Enterprise in the previous film (except Chekov, who changed from his fancy-collared pink outfit into a simpler leather jacket), and their civvies are only superficially different from late 20th century attire.
- In interviews, one of the filmmakers discusses the process of trying to decide how to dress the characters for 1986 as "we went to San Francisco, looked around, and decided they could wear what they already had and would be the normal ones!"
- Spock's the only one that really does stand out, and people would probably accept the explanation Kirk gave.
- In A Kid in King Arthur's Court, Calvin arrives in the middle ages in his baseball uniform. Everybody laughs at him and asks why he's dressed like a jester.
- Inverted in Magic Tree House and Kat the Time Traveler books, in which the characters usually find themselves in the typical clothes of the era. Occasionally Jack and Annie [in Magic Tree House] have kept the clothes they had originally (usually the most impractical clothes possible for the era, such as swimsuits in the Ice Age), but this is never commented on by any natives of the time they may meet.
- The Pendragon Adventure book series completely avoids this - probably two-thirds of an Acolyte's job is making sure that period and world-appropriate clothing is available to the main characters. Of course, in this case it's more dimensional travel than time-travel, but the spirit is the same (not to mention that two of the "Territories" are a past and future version of Earth, respectively).
- In the Pratchett book Johnny and the Bomb, the kids decide to get disguises before going back to the WW2-era version of their hometown again (the first trip being accidental). The skinhead Bigmac's idea to scrounge up a military uniform would have been better if it hadn't been a German uniform. Kristy was the picture of 1940s glamour...and, being 13, looked to 1941 eyes like a little girl playing dress-up. Johnny managed to scrounge up clothes that were reasonably authentic to what a kid his age might've had- and Kristy criticized him for it.
- The Devils of Langenhagen, a short story by Australian sci-fi author Sean McMullen. The protagonist, a German pilot in an Me262 squadron in the last days of WW2, realises there's something odd about the two pilots (and their wives) who've turned up with their unusually advanced aircraft (a Horten 229 and a Japanese Shinden canard fighter) because they're not dead-tired, starving and filthy like the rest of the squadron. They even have cigarettes! It turns out they're time travellers out for some thrill-seeking.
- Foop!. The character's somewhat naive thoughts on how millenium-turn era citizens dress (obscene t-shirts) ends up not mattering because they had to go to Mardi Gras.
- In Kir Bulychev's book A Hundred Years Ahead, a boy from 1976 ends up in 2082 - and simply tells the people he's dressed up for a masquerade ball.
- The hero of L. Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall is transported from Rome in 1938 to the same spot in 535 CE. He's wearing a light wool suit, necktie, modern shoes and hat. No one seems to particularly notice.
- Discussed and averted in the Time Scout series. Even small changes in dress are considered dangerously anachronistic and treated as life or death.
- The Time Machine Choose Your Own Adventure books may or may not pay attention to this. In Quest for King Arthur, for instance, when you time-travel to a modern-day museum, the tour guide will sarcastically comment on your Medieval costume. On the other hand, in The Mystery of Atlantis you're wearing nothing but a Greek chiton and yet can time-travel to locations such as nineteenth-century Great Britain or pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and nobody ever notices anything amiss!
- Parodied in "Almost...But Not Quite" by Dayton Ward (Star Trek: Strange New Worlds II) where two Temporal Investigations agents (based on a report of Kirk's visit to 20th Century San Francisco) disguise themselves as punk rockers (based on the one Spock nerve-pinched on the bus, one assumes) when visiting Griffith Observatory. Needless to say, they stick out a bit.
Live Action TV
- Doctor Who has had this a fair few times and it's sometimes remarked on by the locals. There are also some interesting subversions.
- In The Sarah Jane Adventures story "The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith", teenage assistant from 2009 Rani Chandra time-travels back to 1951. Everyone is shocked to see her in such ridiculous clothes and wonder if it can really be the fashion in "the Punjab". She, hilariously, assumes at first all the strange looks she's getting are due to her race, when she's really getting the looks due to her clothes, and probably only getting away with it because she looks foreign. In the same episode, knowing that she's going back in time, Sarah Jane dresses appropriately for the time period. Apparently "the '50s came back in the '70s". Luke is suitably embarrassed.
- Repeatedly in Star Trek: The Original Series:
- "Tomorrow is Yesterday": Captain Kirk beams down to a 1960s U.S. Air Force base while wearing his Star Fleet uniform.
Colonel: What is that? Is that a uniform of some kind?
Kirk: This little thing? Something I slipped on.
- "City on the Edge of Forever": Kirk and Spock are in 1920s New York wearing their Star Fleet uniforms.
Kirk: We seem to be costumed a little out of step with the time.
- Averted in "Assignment Earth": When Kirk and Spock beam down to the 1960s United States, they wear appropriate clothing.
- "All Our Yesterdays": Kirk, Spock and McCoy accidentally end up in the past of an alien planet while wearing their Star Fleet uniforms.
- Also, on one episode of Deep Space Nine, several characters found themselves in the Original Series, and changed their jumpers to fit the Star Fleet uniform of the period.
- Averted in "Accession" where a time-displaced Bajoran emerges from the wormhole and his 22nd Century clothing looks exactly the same as that of the 24th Century.
- It formed something of a running gag in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Whether on the Holodeck or traveling into the past, people would assume that the characters' uniforms were pajamas (Or in one case, a bellhop's uniform). Can't really blame them.
- In Time's Arrow; according to locals, the android Data is actually French, and he was kicked out by his girlfriend in the middle of the night. At least Mark Twain doesn't fall for it... Jack London does, though.
- Humorously averted on Star Trek: Voyager: when the crew of Voyager find themselves in Los Angeles in 1996, they dress to blend in, but one look at the odd outfits on the boardwalk and gang-banger Tuvok comments that they could've worn their Star Fleet uniforms and no one would've noticed.
- Averted in Star Trek: Enterprise. When Captain Archer wakes up in an Alternate History version of WW2, it's assumed from his jumpsuit with 'Enterprise' symbol that he's a survivor from the aircraft carrier of the same name, which has been sunk in this timeline.
- The Time Tunnel: modern day clothing, various time periods
- One of the leads actively averted it in the first episode, but never got that chance afterwards.
- Its About Time: astronauts wearing space suits in the prehistoric past
- Averted in the Lost in Space episode "Visit to a Hostile Planet", where the Jupiter II goes back in time to the 1947 United States and the Robinsons walk around in their shiny silver space suits. Because of their dress, the locals think that the Robinsons are space aliens.
- Played with in Lost in Austen, where Mr Darcy and Miss Price are able to wander around modern London in outfits from the early 19th century without anyone commenting. Whether this is because nobody thinks it's that weird in a city that diverse, or the British are just too polite and reserved to comment, is uncertain. On the other hand, when Miss Price first arrives in Pride and Prejudice land she has to excuse her leather jacket and jeans as otter-hunting clothes. The degree of cleavage she's showing causes Mr Bingley some discomfort, as well. Cleavage-exposing dresses were considered acceptable as evening wear but not during the day.
- In an episode of Farscape, Moya's crew find themselves on Earth, on Halloween, in 1986. Aeryn's faux-hippie outfit is interesting, to say the least.
- In the Stargate SG-1 episode "1969" the team are sent back to the titular year and swap their uniforms for stereotypical hippie garb. This is, however, justified - they're on the run and want disguises that'll make people dismiss them.
- On Voyagers!, the costume of the travelers almost always got attention — particularly Phineas' chest-baring pirate shirt. In most episodes they'd quickly find local garb. In more than one, a local lady would mourn the passing of the shirt.
- In the Haven episode "Sarah", Duke gets sent to 1955. Several people confront him about his long hair, thinking that he's either a troublemaker or imitating Tonto from The Lone Ranger. When Nathan arrives in 1955, his conservative clothes and hat let him fit right in.
- Supernatural. In "Frontierland" Sam and Dean have to travel back to 1861 Wyoming. Aware that Dean is a massive Western fan, Sam reluctantly wears the clothes he's picked out for them. Sure enough, not only is it the Hollywood History version (Dean dresses up in a serape like The Man With No Name, only to remove it in embarrassment when someone congratulates him on his nice blanket) but one of the locals also comments on how unusually clean their clothes are.
- Avoided in Charmed, where their outfits are almost always commented on when they time travel. In "The Good, The Bad, and The Cursed", Cole and Prue steal contemporary outfits when they wind up in the Wild West, but the locals are shocked because Prue is wearing men's clothes.
- In an episode of Beyond Belief Fact Or Fiction, a man wearing a T-shirt, khaki shorts, and boots preparing for a hike finds himself in the Wild West. The locals harass him and ask why he's walking around in his underpants.
- Averted in Lois and Clark. During a time travel episode, Lois is called indecent for wearing a business skirt and blouse.
- In the time-traveling RPG Continuum, spanners are cautioned to be careful of this once they learn to travel more than a few years in a single span. One of the flavor-text stories in the sourcebook has a mentor living in the early sixties call out one of her charges for wearing a peace sign, even though it's only a few years before it would become popular.
- Skillfully averted in The Journeyman Project series. In the first game, the character, in a form fitting biosuit, is expressly forbidden from coming into contact with any intellegent being originating from the time he is traveling to. In the second game, the new Jumpsuit technology, features a cloaking device that can conceal the character by bending light around him. In the last game, talking to the locals is necessary, so the new suit can copy the external appearance of any individual of the time period, including attire, facial features, etc. It even allows for the generation of a fake cane and removable top hat in the game's ending.
- Agent 5 gets seen several times by medieval knights in the second game. Fortunately, his metallic suit is mistaken for armour, and most of the witnesses die immediately afterward. Attempting to wear the suit into the public in BC Mayan times results in him being immediatelly assumed to be a god, resulting in Have a Nice Death by screwing up history.
- Chrono Trigger. While soldiers in 600 AD do comment on Crono's clothing, Lucca somehow manages to get past them later on, and no one notices the other party members wandering around in strange clothes (not even the cavewoman running around in a fur bikini). Even Crono's mom, who can talk to other party members says "young ladies shouldn't dress like that".
- Degrees of lampshades are hung on the subject. The Cavemen will make weird comments on your shiny stones and such, however a medieval guard has no problem talking to a robot from 2000 some odd years into the future.
- Star Ocean: Needed for the human to enter the first town
- And then totally ignored for the subsequent games, which while not involving time travel, are functionally equivalent in having space travelers visiting primitive planets.
- The Orion Agenda, an IF Comp text-adventure, requires players to adopt the appearance of the natives. You also need to use the Universal Translator in order to avoid being detected as well.
- In Kingdom Hearts, the trope is averted in some worlds such as Halloween Town, Timeless River and Space Paranoids where the main characters change their clothes to fit the world they're in. In Atlantica and the Pride Lands they even change their bodies into animal bodies. On the other worlds they don't change their clothes, but nobody seems to take notice. It might not count as time travel, but most worlds are set in different time periods.
- This trope is the entire point of Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day, started by the webcomic Dresden Codak.
- During filming for Star Trek IV the director was somewhat disappointed that the locals didn't even blink at the actors wandering around in strange uniforms.
- It wasn't even during filming, it was prior to filming, and it was non-actors in the full Starfleet "Red Jacket" uniforms.
- Of course they weren't strange uniforms. They were probably recognized as being Star Trek uniforms and then not given a second glance.