A woman buys an outfit to wear to some event, and is humiliated when she sees another woman wearing the same thing. Cue death glares and scoffing at each other.
Truth in Television, at least for some women. It doesn't matter if she bought her dress at the snooty boutique or the local Walmart (though if it is from Walmart, then both suffer the humiliation of knowing that another woman knows she got her dress from the bargain bin), wearing the same dress is undeniable proof that she's bought a mass-produced consumer item, breaking any illusion of the dance taking place in a Jane Austen novel where all the dresses have to be hand-made. She might also be self-conscious because the other woman upstages her, having a body type (taller, thinner, curvier, etc.) that better fits it or whose complexion/accessories/hairstyle/makeup better compliments it and is generally able to look better in it.
When someone is conscious about their appearance, buying clothes that look and fit juuuuust right can be a long and painstaking process. Seeing someone else in the same outfit is akin to an artist having their style copied. See Mars and Venus Gender Contrast, since two men in the same outfit are far more likely to laugh over it and move on (probably aided by the fact that men's fashion isn't nearly as varied; in most formal events, all men will be wearing identical tuxedos.) Contrast Whole Costume Reference (in that wearing the same outfit is considered a good thing). Contrast also with Coordinated Clothes where characters intentionally wear matching clothes to show that they belong together.
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Anime and Manga
During the class trip in Azumanga Daioh, Kaorin shows up at one point in a souvenir T-shirt... only to see Mr. Kimura wearing it, at which point she runs off to go change. Though this was more because he's an admitted ephebophile than for social reasons.
Classic John Callahan comic panel: A woman at a funeral is leaning over the coffin and thinking, "That BITCH!" The deceased is wearing an identical dress.
In one story, Betty and Veronica appear at a party in the same dress, and they both act as if it must be a dream, because the thought of them wearing identical dresses is so outrageous, so terrible, that they refuse to believe it can be true. When they finally realize that it isn't a dream, not only do they destroy each other's dresses, but they wreck the entire place. Can you say Serious Business?
In another story, Veronica asks Betty to make her a one-of-a-kind swimsuit, even asking if she's made any other girl a swimsuit out of a particular bolt of fabric. Turns out Betty used that fabric to make swimsuits for a bunch of guys.
In yet another story, Veronica is so mortified when she sees Midge wearing the same "original" designer dress as hers that she asks Chuck to make her an "original original" dress, only for other girls to see Chuck's signature on her dress and ask him to make similar dresses for them.
In one Legion of Super-Heroes story Monstress, who has recently become self-conscious that her altered skin colour makes her look like a Khund, discovers she's wearing the same dress as Leland McCauley's Khundian assistant, Ms Crugg.
Happens in Freaky Friday (2003); Lindsay Lohan's character and another girl wear the same shirt to school. Lindsay turns her shirt inside-out to avoid looking the same and looks...well, actually, stupider than if she had just left the shirt as it was.
In My Fair Lady at Ascot, there are two women with the same outfit (including hats). Cue frosty looks and consequent ignoring of each other.
Accidental in 1988 Big Business. Separated at Birth/Switched at Birth twins* The film starts with a wife of a billionaire and a wife of a factory worker each giving birth to twin girls in the same backwoods hospital and nurses putting two newborns to wrong cribs. (played by Bette Midler) behave the same way and end up buying identical dresses and wearing them for the climactic shareholders meeting. Their paths cross in a restroom shortly before the meeting, resulting in thisMirror Routine. Their sisters, another pair of separated/misplaced twins (played by Lily Tomlin) also dress similarly to each other.
In the children's book Ruby the Copycat, Ruby wants to be friends with classmate Angela so she keeps dressing up in the same clothes and eventually copies every single thing the other girl does. Angela gets annoyed and doesn't want anything to do with her, and when the teacher tries to talk to Ruby about her behavior, she does the same thing to the teacher instead. She finally learns that she should just be herself
A male variant: in Dodger; when Dodger gets invited to a posh dinner party, Solomon insists he spends some of his reward money at a top Saville Row tailor. Since the reward isn't that much, they get a relatively cheap suit, which Solomon's friend Izzy explains was a bespoke suit for a top client, but the tailor got the measurements wrong. Naturally, said client is at the dinner, wearing the correctly measured version of the same suit, and turns out to be Sir Robert Peel. Dodger is embarassed about this, partly because it draws attention to the fact he got the suit cheap, and partly because it's never a good idea to attract a Peeler's attention, and Sir Robert is King of the Peelers.
Live Action TV
In Glee's Prom episode, a girl walks past Santana wearing the same dress as her. She rolls her eyes and carries on enjoying the night, the implication being character development in that she didn't start a fight over it.
There's an I Love Lucy episode about this happening to Lucy and Ethel. After ignoring Fred and Ricky's (actually pretty logical) argument that, since they're performing in a talent show, dressing the same as a kind of sister act would be cute, decide that neither would wear the dress and they both promise to take the dress back. Of course they don't, and it climaxes with them tearing decorations off each other's (highly) overdone dresses◊, while singing a song called "Friendship."
There's a Sister Sister episode about their senior prom. The girls had bought a dress they liked each but Lisa had made them some too, in order to not hurt her feelings the girls planned to change in the back of the Limousine. When they did, and went to the prom, all the girls there were wearing either Tia's dress or Tamera's dress. They go back to the Limo but they're locked out, when Ray and Lisa show up Lisa's miffed initially but in the end it all works out.
Played with on a Halloween episode of Roseanne. Jackie is dressed as Morticia Addams and Crystal is dressed as Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark - but their costumes are identical.
Monk: In "Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa," Randy shows up to a Christmas party with a sweater he claims his aunt made for him by hand... until he sees a Japanese-American detective wearing the exact same sweater. The other detective says he got his at Wal-Mart for 15 bucks. Randy is convinced his aunt copied that design, until Natalie points out the tag on Randy's sweater.
Used in the Wings episode "The Waxman Cometh." When Casey goes to the grand opening of Lowell's new wax museum, she is mortified to see that the museum's wax figure of Eva Gabor is not only wearing the same dress as her, but also has better jewelry.
A variation appears in the Mama's Family episode "There's No Place Like...No Place." When Thelma is mistaken for being a vagrant and arrested, she asks the cop, "Do I look like a homeless person?" Just then, an actual bum is brought in behind Thelma, wearing the same housedress as her. The newcomer comments, "Cute dress. You get yours at the mission too?"
An episode of the 90s sitcom Living Single features the ladies going out to the club. Regine sees other women wearing her dress, and proceeds to go up to them and "accidentally" spill her drink on them so they'll leave to go change.
On The Golden Girls, Dorothy and Blanche buy the same dress for an occasion. Each takes her dress back without telling the other, trying to be the nice one. After a brief scare that they've bought the same dress again, they reveal two totally different dresses, only to have Sophia emerge wearing the same dress as Blanche.
In another episode, when Rose and Sophia are competing against Dorothy and Blanche in a bowling tournament, Rose and Sophia invoke this trope by buying the same bowling shirt as Blanche, in order to throw her off her game.
In the 30 Rock episode "Goodbye, My Friend," Jenna gives Kenneth a picture of her dress for her birthday party, telling him to make sure that no one else wears it...Only to have Cerie show up wearing it.
The geeks initially show up all dressed as The Flash. Sheldon comments "See? This is why I wanted to have a costume meeting."
Judging by their disappointed reactions to Leonard "calling" Frodo, it might have happened a second time. Perhaps they all had Frodo as their second choice.
One episode features the gang dressed up as superheroes from the Justice League of America for a New Year's Eve party in a comic book store. Too bad there were several gangs with the same idea, but Leonard and co's costumes were the coolest and they won the competition.
In the episode "Angel", Cordelia spots a girl wearing a dress identical to her own, and accuses her of wearing a cheap knockoff of her designer original. "This is exactly what happens when you sign these free trade agreements!"
In "Lie to Me" Angel bitches about Vampire Vannabes thinking they know how vamps think, act and dress. Cue one of the said vannabes walking by dressed exactly as Angel.
Played With when Cordelia complains when she sees a woman at a homeless shelter wearing her one-of-a-kind blouse — unaware that Angel gave away her blouse to the shelter.
In "Couplet" Angel thinks that Groo is taking over his life. Wesley assures him they are two completely different people — only to bump into Groo with Angel's Spiky Hair and Badass Longcoat.
In the Look Around You episode "Maths", one of the problems is to compute the probability that Queen Elizabeth III, Queen Elizabeth IV, and Queen Elizabeth V all show up at a party wearing the same dress. The answer: the party is canceled.
On an early episode of Murphy Brown, Murphy is shown getting ready for work as "Devil With A Blue Dress" plays. When she gets to work, she discovers Corky is wearing the same blue dress she has on.
In an opening of The Amanda Show, Amanda and Nancy Sullivan were embarrassed to find out they were wearing the same dress to the show, as were Drake, Josh, the Camera men and the Dancing Lobsters.
During The Tag at the end of an episode of Community. Abed and Troy both spoke in unison with and dressed the same as Jeff. Annie apparently wanted in on the gag too, but got stuck in traffic and arrived just after the joke had ended. The joke had apparently taken months to prepare.
Season 3 opened with a big song-and-dance number - Shirley makes a grand entrance in a sparkly purple gown - then the Dean enters wearing the exact same thing. Shirley is creeped out.
In the second All Star edition of The Amazing Race (Unfinished Business), this was deliberately invoked as a joke by Zev & Justin, when they showed up to the starting line wearing the same Globetrotter gear worn by Harlem Globetrotters Flight Time & Big Easy when they originally raced together on a previous season.
Rachel and Phoebe take Ross shopping for new clothes to wear on his date. Later Rachel tells him that she'll just buy something nice but their bags get mixed up. Not only does Ross wear a pink flowery shirt on his date, but his date is wearing it as well. They are both very uncomfortable and leave abruptly.
Ross and Rachel's ex-boyfriend Tag own the very same red sweater and they meet on a street wearing it. Being men, they are not embarrassed and do not react hostile to each other because of it.
In the Leonardo episode "The Betrothal Ball", Lisa and Angelica, daughter of the Duke of Pisa, are wearing identical dresses to the titular ball. Lisa tries to make a joke about it, but gets icily told "Yours is a copy. And a cheap one at that."
The X-Filesplayed with this trope in the episode "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas". Agents Mulder and Scully go ghost-busting to a Haunted House and a couple of ghosts play tricks on them to get Mulder and Scully re-enact their suicide pact. The agents discover two decomposed corpses under the floor who have the same clothes as the agents. They are supposed to represent them which means that the pair of ghosts Invoked it.
Scully: Mulder, she's wearing my outfit.
Mulder: How embarrassing!
Scully: Yeah, well, you know what? He's wearing yours.
Played for Drama in Dollhouse when Sierra sits down next to a woman on a train dressed exactly the same as her, including hairstyle. Her eyes widen in surprise until Sierra jabs a knockout hypo into her thigh. Turns out she works for the National Security Agency and Sierra is stealing the woman's identity to infiltrate them.
In season 8 of Scrubs, Elliot gets annoyed when fellow doctor Veronica shows up to work every day in the same dress she does. When Elliot gets her dress dirty and has to change clothes, Veronica also changes into the same clothes Elliot has on.
In the first episode of the third season of RuPaul's Drag Race, as all the queens make their grand entrances and get to know one another, the room goes silent when India Ferrah walks in and notices that fellow contestant Phoenix has a very similar punk-inspired look. Both queens proceed to stare daggers at each other.
The trope appears in the music video for the Reel Big Fish song "She Has a Girlfriend Now," in which the identically-bedressed girls get into a knock-down-drag-out chick fight.
Parodied in a cartoon, where a cowboy wearing a flowery, decorated hat balks at entering a saloon where another cowboy is wearing an identical hat. All the other cowboys, of course, are wearing the usual style of cowboy hat, all alike.
One cartoon has two chameleons in the same color at a party.
In a psychic convention, they not only wear the same dress but the exact same hair and makeup. The punchline is that it was completely unforeseen.
Pondus strip: Pondus' wife demands that they leave the party because someone else is wearing the same dress as her. Pondus tries to convince her that it's no big deal, until he sees that the person wearing the same dress is a transvestite. Then he cries out for a taxi.
In one early Tank McNamara strip, tennis player Barb was going to play Chris Evert, and wanted an edge. Her boyfriend suggested she wear a tennis dress identical to Chris's. Barb said angrily that "even in jest that's an asinine, sexist, stupid, dumb, male idea ... and it really disgusts me that I'm going to try it." The last panel of the next strip showed Evert missing a shot while wondering frantically, "Where'd she get it? Where'd she get it?"
In a series of FoxTrot comics, Andy forces Peter to wear a dorky shirt on the first day of school: "I'm asking you to dress nicely for one day. How bad can that be?" When he gets to school, he discovers, to his horror, that super geek Morton Goldthwait is wearing the same shirt. Hilarity Ensues.
"Paris Original" from the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying takes this to its logical extreme, as each secretary enters in succession, and reacts in horror as she sees every other one wearing the same dress: "Some irresponsible dress manufacturer just didn't play fair!"
Parodied in Rhapsodieshere where this makes a run in with a high ranking society lady, Kate had accidentally insulted in the past, worse.
Happened between Ki and Trudy at a party on General Protection Fault. Nick doesn't see what the fuss is, as all of the guys are wearing the same outfit. Then he realizes that he's talking to Fooker, who is the only person present whose tuxedo is plaid.
One gag had Peter and Lois wearing the same dress, and Peter expected Lois to change.
During a costume party, Stewie and Brian both come as Snoopy.
Happens once in Jimmy Two-Shoes, where Heloise actually gets Jimmy's attention by wearing a fancy dress at a premier.
Jimmy: Oh, Heloise, nice outfit.
Heloise: (Coy) It's an original. (Sees a girl wearing the same thing and tears it to shreds)
In Phineas and Ferb episode "De Plane! De Plane!", Candace finds a girl who wears the same swimsuit as her, only hotter.
A Halloween Episode variation: In "Druselsteinoween", both Candace and Stacy come to Vanessa Doofenshmirz' party dressed as a vampire queen. On top of it, Vanessa is wearing the same costume. Candace decideds to keep hers, but Stacy leaves the party to change into a The Scarlet Pimpernel costume instead. When she comes back, she discovers that five other people are dressed as the Scarlet Pimpernel, including Vanessa's date.
Parodied in Beverly Hills Teens, where Bianca and Larke wore the same outfit to a costume party (save for some color differences), and then both got changed into new outfits, that are still the same.
Johnny:(holding out Plank) Hey, Jimmy! You and Plank ordered clothes from the same catalog! (Jimmy is horrified)
Done in an episode of Kappa Mikey. Lilly and Mitsuki see each other and gasp... Then pan out to Mikey, Gonard, and Guano, all three also wearing the same dress.
In a Totally Spies! episode, Clover is humiliated when she sees Mandy wearing the same outfit as her. She keeps on trying to switch to different oufits she thinks Mandy will never think to wear throughout the episode, but it backfires every time.
In the episode of "Make War Not Warcraft" in South Park, Butters showed up with an avatar identical to Cartman's. Cartman ordered him to change right away.
Those tongue-in-cheek internet lists on "Why it's Great to be a Guy" usually include this subversive chestnut: If another guy shows up at a party wearing the same outfit as you, the two of you just might become best friends for life. As one comedian put it, if a guy sees someone else wearing the same as him, he just figures "hey, I got it right!"
Demonstrated by the story accompanying this image.
Les Dawson used to complain of having to wear hand-me-downs from his older sisters. One day he went to school in the same dress as the teacher.
I couldn't tell who was more embarrassed - him or me.
Defied to her chagrin by Anne Hathawayduring the 2013 Oscars. She nearly wore a dress that looked so similar to the one worn by her co-star, Amanda Seyfried, and thus decided to change her dress to the one that got her criticized left and right.
Played for laughs during the MTV Video Music Awards one year. Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey (who were believed to have disliked each other,) emerged from opposite sides of the stage to present an award together, in identical brown silk gowns. There was an awkward silence as a cat fight was anticipated, until Mariah and Whiteny revealed it was all a gag, and each ripped their gowns (actually just removed the extra fabric) to make them different by altering the hemlines.