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->'''Finn''': Donny's problem is that he's treated as an outsider, like me!
->'''Jake''': You are'' not ''an outsider; you wear cute little blue shorts.
->'''Finn''': I... am complicated...

The lazy CostumeTropes. This is where items of clothing are only worn by certain types of characters. It's done so that these people will be certain to have DistinctiveAppearances.

This isn't always a bad thing. On StrictlyFormula TV, there isn't always the time to subtly tell us what a character is like, so their clothes act like visual markers. It can also be helpful in less-than-subtle theatre, such as pantomime.

When the same thing is done to show us where a character comes from rather than what their personality is, see CultureEqualsCostume. (Of course, certain works will assume that cultural origin ''determines'' personality, so there's likely to be overlap between the two stereotypes.)

Note this applies to regular outfits, not something someone tries on for just one episode.

Compare DressCodedForYourConvenience, VillainousFashionSense, StockCostumeTraits.

Not to be confused with an actual DressCode, nor to be confused with HollywoodCostuming.

* It's rare to see someone wear glasses who isn't a {{Nerd}}, {{Meganekko}} (meaning this isn't actually limited to Hollywood), or using them to show how [[ScaryShinyGlasses creepy they are]]. Literature/HarryPotter is an exception, but novels don't usually rely on this trope, given they have words to make characters. Pulp fiction books might, but they are also StrictlyFormula. A woman wearing glasses is very likely to turn out to be BeautifulAllAlong, especially if she's the main character.
** HRG from {{Series/Heroes}} is a subversion. Early in Season 1 he comes off as a somewhat creepy investigator up to no good. Later on as we get to know him better, we learn he's a BadAssNormal.
** Derek "Wheels" Wheeler, from ''Series/DegrassiJuniorHigh'', gets some NerdGlasses partway through the second season. Of course, being ''Degrassi'', the implication here is simply that [[RealLifeWritesThePlot he needs them to be able to see clearly]]. He is never shown to get any "nerdier" than he already is.
** This trope is so ingrained that the makers of Series/{{Seinfeld}} had to go to special lengths to stop people assuming George was the smart one, just because he wore glasses.
** Because of the above, there is now a RealLife tendency for people to wear glasses just to look smart, even if they have no vision problem.
* Suspenders (braces in the UK, galluses if you're ''really'' old), are a surprisingly rich trope-mine. They are practical substitutes for belts, but if you wear them on TV you ''will'' fit in one of these categories:
** If you wear them with a cardigan, corduroys or a tweed jacket then you are Old, and do so because you always have.
** Pair them with a shirt with rolled up sleeves (preferably unbuttoned and unironed) and you are a [[DaChief Police Chief]], [[DaEditor News Editor]] or similar Frustrated and Overworked Professional.
** Keep your sleeves down and your tie on, however, and you are a Ruthless Businessman. If your suspenders are ''red'' then you are a City Trader of the [[Film/WallStreet Gordon Gekko]] school. This one's more justifiable, as many of the current hallmarks of this character type were developed in the 1980s, when this was indeed part of standard business fashion.
** Combining suspenders with narrow jeans, Doc Martens and the appropriate haircut marks you as a [[UsefulNotes/{{Skinheads}} Skinhead]], specific subtype unspecified.
** Suspenders are the essential accessory for any aspiring Lumberjack or Frontiersman, and should be worn with a flannel shirt in the appropriate pattern.
** Do not wear suspenders with sweater vests, pocket protectors or short sleeved shirts or you risk being condemned to the farthest reaches of [[{{nerd}} TV Nerd-dom]], particularly if the suspenders are red. (Bubba Higgins of ''Series/MamasFamily'' is an exception: a jock and former delinquent who sometimes wears his suspenders over a sweater vest.)
** [[Series/MorkAndMindy Mork from Ork]] wears rainbow suspenders (which have reached IconicOutfit status), and can get away with it because he is an alien (and a {{Cloudcuckoolander}} one at that).
** Members of TheMafia tend to be wearing suspenders far more than other BadassInANiceSuit characters, probably as a sign they come from an earlier time where they were more widely worn.
** To an extent, any kind of Stressed Urban Professional as mentioned above (cop, journalist) wearing suspenders is a purposeful throwback to the 1920s-1950s, where wearing suspenders was more common, especially for a man with a desk job. Even today, in some offices wearing suspenders is seen as a symbol of seniority.
** Four guys wearing suspenders, pinstriped dress clothes, bowties, and boaters are almost certainly a barbershop quartet.
** Or you're a fireman who needs to keep his pants up. [[FiremenAreHot Shirts optional.]]
* In British English, "suspenders" are the sort of stocking garters that encircle the leg above the stocking and are clipped to the stocking by little elastic strips, glimpses of which are still {{Fanservice}} even today when worn around the thigh by women. When worn around the ankle or calf by men, they are usually subject to the same stereotypes as braces/suspenders, except that they make the person look even more old/nerdy/ridiculous.
* If you wear a [[FurAndLoathing fur coat]], and are female, you are usually the RichBitch or TheVamp, at least nowadays. If you aren't one of those two, and wear fur, it will last [[{{snapback}} just that one episode]].
** If you wear a normal coat with fur trimming, you're a Japanese schoolgirl.
* A fur coat on a man means he's a pimp, a playa, a badass, or an eccentric like the [[Series/DoctorWho second Doctor]] or an Creator/EdwardGorey character. Or some combination of the three.
** Or [[HilarityEnsues in the middle]] of a ZanyScheme.
** Or an eccentric Broadway-Joe type star athlete.
** Or [[WackyFratboyHijinx a fraternity brother from the 1920s & 1930s]] rooting for his school's team at a big football game.
* If a male character wears a leather coat, the style will reflect the character type:
** If it's cut like a blazer or a casual coat, he's dangerous and most likely on your side: (Series/{{Angel}} and the [[Series/DoctorWho Ninth Doctor]]).
** If it's a [[BadassLongcoat duster, or a trenchcoat worn open]], he's dangerous (or wants you to think he is,) and could be on either side.
** If it's cut like a [[BadassBiker biker jacket]], then he's a [[ShapedLikeItself biker]], hoodlum or, rarely, the [[TroubledButCute sensitive bad boy.]]
** If you wear [[{{Leatherman}} anything else in leather]]...
** If the leather is studded, then the character is either a punk or, as occurs with momentous frequency in comic books, a thug or gang member about to get his ass handed to him by Franchise/{{Batman}}.
* PeltsOfTheBarbarian are the typical wear for many primitive, but dangerous, cultures.
* A man in a business suit (lately) is pre-known to be in the [[CIAEvilFBIGood FBI or CIA]], [[BadassInANiceSuit Mafia]], Lawyer, CorruptCorporateExecutive, Producer <shudder>, or the like. It's the tie. Perhaps due to standards of dress in California (which is noticeably more casual than most places in the U.S., except perhaps Hawaii), there is something not to trust about a guy wearing a tie, unless it is part of a work uniform. And the type of tie matters. Strong tie = strong character. Weak tie = underhanded (or a geek). Bowtie = geek.
** If the man wears one of those colored shirts with white cuffs and collar, he is an ''especially'' sleazy 80s Wall Street guy. (a la Gordon Gekko in ''Wall Street'' or ''Office Space'')
** If the protagonist's top button is undone and they wear their tie like a headband, they either intend to rebel or [[ThePowerOfRock rock out]]. In Japanese media, the headband tie is code for falling-down drunk, and is usually seen on salarymen.
** If it's all black, the character is either [[VideoGame/HalfLife creepy and possibly sinister]], or [[TheMenInBlack a member of a top-secret organization]]. Unless he's a [[Film/TheBluesBrothers jazz or blues musician]].
** A woman in "business attire" -- the analog of the male "business suit" --- is a Suit, subject to the same pre-judgments as her male counterpart. Typically, they are ambitious and are willing to sacrifice love and children for career advancement. [[DefrostingIceQueen Particularly prone to]] {{heel face turn}}s or they're office-worker-types who "conform" and are "part of the system". If they're the protagonist, they're creatively stifled.
** If it is a war movie, the one guy wearing a suit instead of a uniform might be one of TheMenInBlack, a less-honorable CIA type, or an [[TheWatson outside character]] there to have things explained to him or to present an alternate viewpoint.
* For bowties, it's all in the color. If it's a black bowtie worn with a matching suit, you're ridiculously refined. If it's a coloured bowtie you're a bit mad. If it doesn't match the suit then you're just tragically nerdy.
* Men in work uniforms (as opposed to military uniforms) are subsumed by their jobs. The job is the role, not the man.
** Sometimes the case ''especially'' for men in uniform, where someone's entire character might be that they are with The Army. The type of uniform will often telegraph what the character might be like. Compare ''ComicStrip/BeetleBailey'' ([[MildlyMilitary rolled up working uniform sleeves, poorly fitting helmet]]) to Sarge (NiceHat, service uniform with rank and necktie).
* A woman in ''Series/SexAndTheCity'' garb -- specifically Choo shoes -- is vapid, grasping. She can dress like that or be a philanthropist. Not both. An exception is Annie in ''Series/CovertAffairs'' who works in the CIA but is just into fashion.
* Baseball caps. They can be worn casually by grown men and women, and some jobs even have that in the uniform. Yet in media, no job seems to require a baseball cap (because those hats aren't embarrassing enough), no women seem to wear them, and if you are an adult and wear one with the bill facing forward, it means you are a slob, a trucker, or [[ManChild never really grew up]].
** Wearing it backwards or sideways means you are [[TotallyRadical trying way too hard to be cool.]]
* A man in T-shirt and jeans is a regular joe. Since the 90s, often the men are also sporting plaid shirts over their T-shirts, especially on U.S. sitcoms (Ted in ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'')
** A woman in a T-shirt and jeans is the down-to-earth tomboy the male lead ''should'' be dating instead of the shrew in a skirt and heels that he clearly has nothing in common with.
* The OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent wears jeans, a T-shirt, with an open button shirt and Converse[-(TM)-] Chuck Taylor All-stars optional. Possibly intentional, as while the look is rarely ''in'' style, it's never exactly ''out'' of style.
* Male HighSchool athletes always wear wool letterman jackets with leather sleeves, even in [[HollywoodCalifornia Southern California]] at the very beginning or end of the school year. If not that thay will wear a football jersey, especially if they're a heavyset fellow. On the heavy set fellow this can also indicate he is a [[JerkJock bully]]. Cheerleaders wear their team uniforms to class. Whether this is TruthInTelevision or not varies widely based on requirements of the school district and even of individual coaches.
** Also, in Fictionland, it is not possible to letter in anything other than athletics. Even then, few people letter in anything other than American football or baseball. No one letters in academics, theater, speech or debate, swimming, tennis, band, or math team. Also, girls do not wear letter jackets, even if they are a butch LesbianJock.
* Facial piercings, unnatural hair colours and tattoos can be a sign that the character is dangerous. On anyone under 18, they show that the character is a teenage rebel, or the body modification is simply something to fight with their parents about.
** This trope has partially been undone by the increasing popularity of tattoos with both men and women. When an actor or actress has tattoos, at times they are covered by make-up and, other times, they just are a part of the character. Tattoos can also mean that the individual has been in military service or been on a sports team. Tattoos are no longer a sign of walking on the wild side. Unless it's a full sleeve of tattoos on one or both arms or any tattoos on the character's head.
* Strapless dresses clearly indicate you're at least a FemmeFatale, if not TheVamp.
* If you wear a UsefulNotes/{{Kimono}} than you are a YamatoNadeshiko (including aspiring ones) or an ancient little PruneSenior who has always worn one.
* A woman in a military uniform is either intensely [[ButchLesbian butch]] or TheSquadette. If the latter, she's [[SharpDressedWoman instantly hot]].
* If you are wearing a track suit, you are
** in the mob
** you're the President. In this case you're surrounded by other men in track suits and shades. Or in suits and shades, depending on how [[RuleOfFunny silly]] the work is. Bonus points if you do this for a Governor or some local official, to up the SeriousBusiness aspect.
** You're a BruceLeeClone if it's a yellow tracksuit with a black stripe down the side ala ''Film/GameOfDeath''.
* A headband worn across the forehead has two meanings. If it is worn with warm-ups and wristbands, you are a nerd exercising. If worn with almost anything else, you are either a badass or a flower child. Never both.
** If you're a teen girl, the headband will usually be covering a zit that ''just'' appeared, usually right before your first date.
* For the subject of skirts and dresses:
** If you are a girl who wears a skirt that shows too much [[ShesGotLegs leg]], with a tank top with too much [[AbsoluteCleavage cleavage]], with the possible addition of showing your [[BareYourMidriff stomach]], you are either the AlphaBitch or TheVamp. Either way, your intentions are neither good nor wholesome. Could be the MsFanservice or HookerWithAHeartOfGold if you are lucky.
** If you wear a flowery sundress that shows just enough leg to still be innocent, along with an open front blouse over that, with a [[HairDecorations hair band or hair clips]] or wearing GirlishPigtails, you are either NaiveEveryGirl, ProperLady, LoveFreak, TokenWholesome, or all of the above. Either way, you are ''definitely'' the hero's LoveInterest.
** If you wear a skirt that is too long, along with being pleated and or plaid, with an ugly cardigan sweater, [[NerdGlasses glasses]], [[UnkemptBeauty a messy ponytail]], and or [[BracesOfOrthodonticOverkill braces]], you are the HollywoodNerd, which means that in TV Land, you are one of the [[HollywoodHomely ugliest]] beings in the universe, and can only be seen as [[BeautifulAllAlong acceptable]] once you [[TheGlassesGottaGo lose the glasses]] and [[LettingHerHairDown undo the ponytail]].
*** If the long-ish skirt is denim and worn with sneakers, it is the uniform of the Orthodox Jew, particularly when the top is a fashionable blouse worn over a long-sleeve t-shirt.
** The ''male'' HollywoodNerd wears a buttondown shirt buttoned all the way up, suspenders (what Music/OneDirection adopting this look will do is as yet unknown), and creased pants worn higher-waisted than any male youth has since TheForties.
* A variation is that certain jobs require clothing that is almost never worn now, but was, at some time, the common style for that profession.
** At least in Western countries, only a small portion of very traditional Catholic women's religious orders still wear a habit, even a modified one (with only the veil). It's largely anachronistic in the U.S. and has been for decades except in Hollywood. Many priests, when not conducting religious services, wear at most a priestly collar instead of being dressed in a black suit.
*** Actually wearing a habit is making a bit of a come back with the religious orders that are growing tending to be ones that require the habit... and not necessarily "very traditional". Also, never really abandoned for cloistered orders.
** Doctors wear lab coats, when you usually see them dress in shirts and slacks or scrubs these days. Some hospitals have begun to actively discourage the wearing of ties for sanitary reasons. See the ''Series/{{House}}'' episode where Cuddy gives some doctor a tie-ectomy after several babies fall ill.
** Scientists ([[MadScientist mad]] or otherwise) are sometimes put in lab coats whether or not they're actually doing any experiments that call for such protection. Bonus points if the character is a Theoretical Physicist, Mathematician, or any other discipline that never performs practical experiments of any sort, let alone the type that would require protective clothing. In RealLife, it;s generally a bad idea as you will end up taking chemicals from the lab wherever you go, which people will touch, then rub their eyes, bite their nails, or eat. Many commonly used lab chemicals are known carcinogens or developmental toxins.
** Similarly, you often see nurses wearing all-white uniforms and caps, when (in the U.S. at least), nurses haven't worn caps for about 50 years, and rarely wear white uniforms any more. The cap and uniform is purely fetish material if the story in question is not a period piece.
** Most works of fiction depicting fast-food workers will have them wear gaudy striped shirts and paper hats. While this was formerly TruthInTelevision, most fast-food outlets since the late '90s have opted for simpler monochromatic shirts and visors or baseball caps.
* Another example is hats like trilbies or fedoras being worn by...well, pretty much anybody who's not a {{hipster}}. In earlier times, dressing in a suit was generally accompanied by some sort of hat, but such is out of style now. You still see them on journalists or private eyes sometimes in cartoons. In real life these are all over the place among subcultures--ska and geeks for men and women, and also on women trying to look Avril Lavigne-ish--but thus far, it has not been seen in Hollywood.
* Deerstalker hats are pretty much limited to Sherlock Holmes and cartoon detectives parodying him. In reality though they were mostly worn by hunters--hence their name--and would actually be out of place for a fashion conscious urban fellow.
* If a woman is wearing a short, usually leopard print skirt, fishnet stockings (or torn tights), granny boots, an off-the-shoulder Flashdance-style t-shirt with a Union Jack or skull print, heavy makeup and elaborately teased, spiked and sprayed short hair (with or without red or blue streaks), chances are she's a punk rocker in an [[Creator/BratPack 80s teen movie]].
* Males who wear shorts as everyday street clothes are the ManChild if they're past their early 20s, the HollywoodNerd if they're teenagers/preteens.

This can also be spoofed when a character actually changes character type when a piece of clothing is put on or removed.

[[AC:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* Lady Une from ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing''.

* Also the basis of a game on ''Series/WhoseLineIsItAnyway'' (though rarely with pieces of clothing).

* White Wolf's ''TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening'' has an interesting take on this phenomenon. The Order of the Guardians of the Veil have what they call the "Masque". It is a series of "identities" built around defining virtues paired with defining vices. Characters must train in their use, but can gain distinct in-game benefits... ''and penalties''... when using the "token" for the Masque they happen to be employing at the moment.

* Basis of a Warner Brothers cartoon where a multitude of hats fall out of a truck and blow in the wind, causing Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny to change characters as various hats land on their heads.