Instant Costume Change

The Instant Costume Change is an ability of Super Hero characters to change from their street clothes into their hero costumes, well, instantly. This doesn't include characters who wear their costumes under their normal clothing. The Instant Costume Change is usually accomplished by some bit of Applied Phlebotinum that automatically transforms the character's clothing with little action; often a button push or just a thought.

Virtually all Henshin Heroes perform an Instant Costume Change when they transform into their powered modes. But other characters can have this ability as well. The exact mechanism by which the trope operates varies from character to character, but some common methods are include nanotechnology, morphable cloth, magic, and alien tech.

See also To the Batpole!, Flung Clothing and Instant Armor. Sometimes involves a Transformation Sequence and often a way to justify Transformation Is a Free Action.


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  • Kathy Smith in this Babe commercial.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, mages summon their "barrier jackets" with their intelligent devices (or armed devices).
  • Many more examples at Henshin Hero.
  • In the Pokémon anime episode "The Light Fantastic" Jesse and James instantly change from their regular Team Rocket costumes into archeologists' garb.
    • Heck, Jessie and James usually start out disguised as workers or sellers to lure Ash and the gang. And then, when the heroes are surrounded, they remove their disguise to show that they're actually Team Rocket. It doesn't make sense in some factors, though... for example, when they don't wear gloves in their disguise, but do wear them in their Team Rocket uniforms.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (AKA Battle of the Planets). G-Force had wrist band communications devices which also allowed them to change between their team uniforms and civilian clothing.
  • Cutey Honey has a special device built into her Boobs of Steel that allows her to instantly reconfigure her clothing and even her appearance; beyond the normal Henshin Hero effect, she can change into a number of alternate forms with unique skill sets, such as Biker Babe Hurricane Honey and Hot Scoop Scoop Honey.
  • In Arata Kangatari, Sarae, the Hayagami of one of Yorunami's Zokushou, has the power to instantly change its targets clothes to whatever its wielder is imagining.
  • Duke Fleed from UFO Robo Grendizer is able to generate a pilot suit from his own body in order to pilot Grendizer. The suit also provides protection from different types of hazards, such as lasers.

    Comic Books 
  • A Green Lantern Ring can do this.
  • In the Spider-Man mythology, the Venom symbiote can alter its appearance to that of any clothing the host wants.
  • In the Marvel Universe, Reed Richards invented an "unstable molecular fabric", which some characters can morph using their powers.
    • This was done a lot in the X-Men animated series from the 1990s, by Storm and Phoenix.
  • The children from the comic Power Pack could change into their costumes by saying the words, "Costume on!"
  • The Wally West version of The Flash could create his costume from Speed Force.
    • And any version of The Flash effectively pulls this one off just by being fast enough to change clothes in the blink of an eye.
    • In addition to his speed, the Barry Allen version of the Flash was further aided by the use of a ring that stored a costume chemically treated so that it could be packed into the ring's compartment for this trope.
  • Averted in modern Batman comics and film adaptations. Bruce's costume is too bulky to be worn under his regular clothes, so when an emergency pops up he has to travel to the Batcave (or somewhere where he has a spare costume in storage) to suit up.
  • The current Heroic Age version of Iron Man. His armor is entirely part of his body and emerges from his bones when needed.
  • The members of Genšł could do this for a period of time, thanks to high-technological bracelets. Grunge once grabbed Rainmaker's bracelet by mistake and didn't realize it until after he had used it to change costume.
  • Ms. Marvel when she was first introduced could instantly change between her normal clothing and costume instantly, although it was never explained how she could and the ability (along with her combat sense) was never demonstrated by Rogue after she permanently drained the powers from Carol Danvers.
  • When Marvel Girl originally became Phoenix she would instantly restructure the clothing she and the other X-men were wearing into their costumes by telekinetically rearranging the molecules, her divergent future daughter Rachel Summers also demonstrated this ability once she acquired the same powers.
  • The Ray Palmer incarnation of The Atom has a costume that is only visible and tangible when he uses his shrinking abilities. This eliminates the need to change into (or out of) it entirely — he's basically always got it on. There's still the question of what happens to his civilian clothes when he shrinks, though...
  • Being a shapeshifter, the Post-Crisis Matrix version of Supergirl could transform from regular clothes into her Supergirl uniform by altering her clothes telekinetically.

    Films — Animation 
  • Parodied in The Emperor's New Groove; villainess Yzma and her lackey Kronk reach her lab by riding down a Mayincatec roller-coaster that fits them into lab-coats and goggles en-route. When the heroes later sneak into the lab, they also get stuffed into the very ill-fitting costumes.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Undercover Brother. Undercover Brother jumps out of a window while dressed in what can be best described as a nerd disguise. On the other side, he comes out in his normal attire, complete with afro.
  • Buster Keaton did the same thing for real in Sherlock, Jr., entering the window in evening clothes, and emerging dressed as an old woman in a dress and shawl.
  • Jason in Mystery Team has shades of this.
  • Typically done by ninjas in the Godfrey Ho Ninja Movies.
  • Jeremy Irons does this in Lolita (1997). Entering the motel room's bathroom in his suit, a Jump Cut has him instantly opening the door dressed in his pyjamas, no doubt to show how eager his character is to get into bed with a sleeping Dolores.
  • In Sky High (2005), this is apparently a skill all heroes and sidekicks learn by default. All they have to do is walk out of sight behind a tree a civilian, and walk out the other side a superhero.
  • Ant-Man has Scott Lang being given ten seconds to put on the suit. He starts a 9, and the time he's done the counter's at 4. He put on a full body suit in five seconds.

  • The Swineherd does this behind a tree in the Hans Christian Andersen story, also featuring in The Yellow Fairy Book, there being no believable way he can change into a Prince costume which it isn't mentioned he has, or clean himself of the muck he is covered in.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Wonder Woman could basically do this too in her TV show by twirling around a few times. Nobody spun it like Lynda Carter.
  • In Smallville, Clark naturally does this a lot in Super Speed. However, it gets ridiculous when Oliver changes into his complicated Green Arrow uniform in about five seconds.
  • The Adam West Batman TV series had Batman and Robin changing into their costumes while sliding down the pole into the Batcave. They must have a heck of a contraption down there.
    • Queen of Wands has a suggestion.
    • Possibly similar to the one Mr. Incredible had in his car in The Incredibles?
    • In The Movie between the first and second seasons (think "shark repellent bat-spray") we see that there is a switch marked "Instant Costume Change Lever" that they pull on the way down.
  • Shaktimaan, a famous Hindi serial from the 1990s deserves a mention. The superhero's alter-ego, Pandit Gangadhar Shastri could change into Shaktimaan (and back), simply by spinning around like a top.
  • Power Rangers has a few examples outside the usual morphing. All ninja-based characters are adept at Flung Clothing to completely change their wardrobe, and in Power Rangers Mystic Force, the unmorphed wizard robe uniforms appear when they enter the dimension their base is in. Another dimension gave them more medieval garb upon arrival.
  • On Star Trek: The Original Series, Sufficiently Advanced Aliens had a thing for putting female crewmembers into feminine clothing using their Stop Trick powers.
  • Ultraman and his M-78 teammates can transform from fully clothed human form.
  • Naturally, Barry can do this by virtue of being extremely fast in The Flash (2014). In one episode, he doesn't even go anywhere, since he has brought his suit in a gym bag, and it looks like he just spins around in place at superspeed. Additionally, Eobard Thawne is able to put on his yellow suit in the blink of an eye, since it's somehow stored in his ring.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The superhero RPG Mutants & Masterminds has a feat called Quick Change, which allows a character to change between his street clothes and hero uniform as a free action.
  • Earlier editions of Champions had the Instant Change power, which did just what you'd expect. Recent editions have replaced that power with a limited form of Transformation (defined as Transforming one's clothing).

  • In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2013), Willy Wonka initially appears dressed in a long black coat...suddenly, with a single struck pose, the coat vanishes to reveal his true, much more colorful suit. Between how quickly this happens and the contrast in the colors, it appears as if the whole outfit turns itself inside-out.

    Video Games 
  • Animal Crossing characters don't need to do much in order to change their clothes. In the original Gamecube/N64 version they'll change clothes by doing a little spin, and in all subsequent games they'll do a flip instead. When Wild World introduced accessories and new hats for the player character to wear, they started doing the flip in order to put those on (and take them off) too. Everyone in the game is well aware of how instant everything is; you can change clothes anywhere, even in the middle of town, and it's not uncommon to see villagers suddenly change their clothes while talking to another villager.
  • Alex Mercer can switch between his Shapeshifter Default Form and his disguise form in about a second.
  • In Secret Agent Barbie, Barbie performs these when changing between Stealth, Action and Adventure modes, sometimes in broad daylight, in a public area, while surrounded by other people. This is never mentioned or explained.
  • Sims spin around whenever they need to change (or take off) clothes. They can do it anywhere, but you can also make them go to a dresser in order to have them change in a slightly more traditional way ("traditional" in terms of location only; they will still change by doing the spin). If they change their hairstyle, it just appears on them automatically without any spinning needed.
  • Every character in Super Cosplay War Ultra has the ability to instantly change into different cosplay outfits, gaining the abilities of the character they're cosplaying.
  • World of Warcraft has always allowed instant changes of clothing/armor/weapons/etc. while not in combat, and there have long been add-ons to help with organizing sets for quick switches. Quick-changeable item set have become a built-in feature of the game client in Cataclysm.

    Web Comics 
  • Subverted in Shiniez. The comic touches on how difficult it is to get in and out of latex (especially when sweat is factored in) we even see Ally having to wrestle latex stocking off of Lisa.
  • In Alice and the Nightmare, Rougina manages to get to the Phanty U's back entrance, get out of her usual garb, remake her hair, put on make-up and get into this wonderful dress in the time it gets Alice to reach the main hall, find a sit and open the uni flyer.

    Web Original 
  • Actually explained and played with in the Whateley Universe. We first see Generator and Shroud using their powers to change clothes, although Shroud's first demonstration is to use her cloak to turn into what looks like a Japanese schoolgirl. Fey not only uses her magic to change her own clothes, but starting around "Boston Brawl 2", she is using a spell that enables her to change the entire team into their uniforms (with them holding the packaged uniforms at the start).
  • Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse sometimes shows Barbie and/or her companions wearing clothes that can change appearance and function through such actions as pulling a cord or turning a knob.
  • SCP-1156 is a talking horse with the ability to change it's clothing at will.
    • SCP-040-1a is a polymorphic jumper that acts as clothing for SCP-040 and transforms into clothing appropriate for the environment.
  • In Noob, Ystos has a mask that he wears only in battle. When he puts it on, it tends to just appear on his face in a split second. May be justified by the fact that the series is mostly set in a MMORPG.

    Western Animation 
  • The animated series Spider-Man Unlimited gave Peter Parker a wrist device containing nanomachines that rebuilt his street clothes into his Spidey suit.
  • Occurs frequently on The Magic School Bus. When the bus transforms, Ms. Frizzle and the kids' clothing will often change along with it. For example, if the bus turns into a submarine, everyone will instantly be wearing scuba gear.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! has Janet shrink to shed her civilian clothes, then suddenly emerge as The Wasp.
  • In keeping with its vague video-game theme, SwaySway and Buhdeuce of Breadwinners can make new costumes blink onto them by jumping and shouting, "L-l-l-l-level up!"

    Real Life