"Lipstick on your collar, told a tale on youLipstick on the collar, a telltale giveaway that he is cheating. This old trope has its roots in the days when most men wore shirts with collars and women wore lipstick that marked easily. The wife, doing her husband's laundry, finds a pink mark on her husbands collar and immediately concludes that he has a mistress. When the husband returns from work, he finds that he has been Exiled to the Couch or his belongings thrown outside. Most of the time in comedies it's Not What It Looks Like. The stain is ketchup, or the lipstick is from his grandmother pecking him on the cheek. See also Affair Hair and Affair Letters for other types of evidence of affairs. For the variation not related to infidelity, see Covered in Kisses. In a case of Reality Is Unrealistic, the lipstick marks are generally shown in visual media as a clear impression of a woman's lips on one of the points of the collar. In real life, the mark is more likely to be a smear or smudge near or along the top edge, unless she was deliberately marking his shirt as a challenge to the wife.
Lipstick on your collar, said you were untrue."
Lipstick on your collar, said you were untrue."
— Connie Francis, "Lipstick on your Collar"
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Anime & Manga
- In the long-running Sazae-san anime, the lipstick mark on the husband's shirt is actually caused by the preteen daughter playing with Sazae's makeup, then wiping it off on the nearest cloth object.
- Ranma ½:
- In the Gag Dub of Crayon Shin-chan, Mitzi finds a lipstick mark on Hiro's shirt and starts throttling him. Turns out that the baby, Hima, was playing with the lipstick.
- In one of The Prince of Tennis chibi-fillers with the TeniPuri Family, Ryoma is trying on Shuuko's makeup, and when he hears her coming, hastily wipes it off on Sadaharu's dirty laundry, leading her to conclude the "obvious".
- This was a plot for an Archie comic. Betty and Veronica notice a lipstick mark on his clothes, and when they realize it isn't theirs, they walk out right then and there. Turns out, the mark was his mom's.
- They did this with a Jughead story as well. He walks around school with what looks like a lipstick mark on the corner of his mouth. Archie and the others spend the whole story trying to figure out whose it was. In the end it turns out the mark was from ice cream pops he hid in the school freezer.
- In an issue of Teen Titans, Beast Boy asked Superboy what he was doing on the roof with Wondergirl. When he said "nothing", rather quickly, Robin pointed out that he had lipstick smudged on his face. That was some "nothing" you were doing, Superboy.
- Invoked in a MAD article offering ways of ending a relationship without outright dumping your significant other: one of them involved becoming so jealous that they get sick of you.
Man: Aha! Lipstick on your collar!
Woman: It's my lipstick! I'm a girl, you idiot!
- Fatale: Both Hank's best friend and his wife notice that he's been having an affair because of Josephine's lipstick left on his collar.
- A Carl's Jr. commercial: A woman finds red marks on her boyfriend's collar and starts to throw his stuff out the window (which is a trope itself). The guy appears below, eating a burger and wiping the barbecue sauce on his collar.
- Inverted in a Jack-in-the-Box commercial: The wife sees the stain on her husband's shirt and instantly assumes it's dipping sauce. The guy protests saying it's just him having an affair, and then the phone rings. The wife answers, and Jack hurriedly tries to impersonate the lover.
- Inverted in a car commercial where the husband gets home and tries to put fake lipstick marks on himself. His wife sees him and berates him for joyriding in the new car again.
- Dirty Sympathy, discussed when Daryan compares the smells of Klavier's usual, expensive cologne and the cheap drugstore cologne he came back smelling like after he spent the night supposedly mourning over his brother's sentencing.
Daryan: Girls are one thing, Gavin. You made a fool out of me with this band, you know it. I won't say there's been no payoff, but you humiliated me. I was never going to let you do that again. And now I'm like some fucking pathetic housewife, like I'm looking on your collars for fucking lipstick.
- Addicted to Love. Critic Roger Ebert said this about the film:
Among their tricks: They pull a pickpocket scheme to get lipstick on his collar. They bribe kids to use squirt guns to douse him with perfume. These clues are supposed to make Linda jealous. By this point in the film, I was squirming: At what intelligence level is the story pitched?
- The Matrix Reloaded. Persephone knows about the Merovingian's philandering by the lipstick a woman left. This despite, in her words, "She wasn't kissing your face, my love."
- Referenced in What Women Want when the main character is trying to think of ways to advertise lipstick to women.
Nick Marshall: Lipstick... on a guy's collar? No, women will hate that. Lipstick on a guy's collar that won't rub off? ...No, women will hate that even more.
- A Discussed Trope in The Seven Year Itch. Richard tells The Girl note that if his wife ever found lipstick on his collar, she'd assume it was cranberry sauce. At the end, she intentionally leaves lipstick on his collar.
The Girl: I have a message for your wife. Don't wipe it off. If she thinks that's cranberry sauce, tell her she's got cherry pits in her head.
Live Action TV
- On The X Factor, Simon Cowell had a lipstick mark on his cheek—one of Hope had kissed him earlier.
- On The Partridge Family
Danny: I wonder how he explains lipstick on his collar?
- Red Dwarf: "That's not lipstick. It's a computer rash."
- This happens in one episode of Family Matters, after Eddie tries to sneak back to his room, after a date with a girl, only to be spotted by Carl.
- A Not What It Looks Like example from The Dick Van Dyke Show: Laura, who is jealous that Rob is working with a glamorous actress, is paranoid about him cheating. Later, Sally kisses Rob on the cheek and wipes it off on his handkerchief. Laura finds the handkerchief and realizes that the lipstick doesn't match hers and becomes enraged, etc., etc.
- Happens in Lois and Clark when a woman Superman rescues kisses him in gratitude.
- Gary Hennesey finds one on a cigarette in his fathers car.
- Hogan's Heroes had an episode where a woman from the Underground drew lipstick on her hand, then touched it to a German officer's face and collar to make it look like they had been fooling around, enraging the officer's fiancé, Frau Linkmeyer (General Burkhalter's sister).
- The Drew Carey Show: In one episode, Drew discovers that there is a club of Winfred-Lauder employees who hate him. One of them hates him because on the night he was going to propose to his girlfriend, Drew turned up the collar on his shirt. Drew left a red stain on his collar from the jelly doughnut he was eating. His girlfriend thought it was lipstick and broke up with him.
- A Connie Francis song "Lipstick on Your Collar". Though that makes a bit more sense since she, her boyfriend and the owner of the lipstick are all at a diner, and the lipstick owner and boyfriend disappear for a while. So...it's pretty obvious for other reasons too.
- Martina McBride sings it in "Phones Are Ringin' All Over Town".
- Taking Back Sunday sings "Your lipstick, his collar" in "Cute Without The 'E' (Cut From The Team)".
- Kylie Minogue sings "There's lipstick on his collar" in "One Boy Girl".
- Elton John sings "He's got lipstick on his collar" in "Heartache All Over the World".
- In "Southern Rain", Cowboy Junkies sing, "Every night there's lipstick on his collar; every morning I wash it away."
- "Want Ads", sung by Honey Cone first, going gold for them in 1971, then covered by Tayor Dayne, has the line, "Lipstick on his collar, perfume on it too..."
- In Tom Waits' song "Step Right Up" from Small Change, the product being sold (whatever it is) "gets rid of unwanted lipstick on your collar."
- The Judds' "Have Mercy": "The lipstick on your collar gives your game away / It's strawberry red and mine's pink roses."
- Rapper Yo-Yo's "You Can't Play With My Yo-Yo": "Who your man givin' the dollar's/What? Yup, I put lipstick on his collar..."
- Billie Holiday tells her man to "skip that lipstick" in her song "Don't Explain"
- Cab Calloway sang "Poppa's in Bed with his Britches On": "Late this mornin' 'bout half-past ten / Ol' Pops come ballin' in / Lipstick on his face and a knot on his chin / No hat, no shoes, but a belly full'a gin!"
- In the music video to Dollhouse by Melanie Martinez, one of the reasons Cry Baby's mother notices her husbands infidelity is the lipstick on his neck.
- "Dirty Laundry", by Carrie Underwood, he's sloppy not only about the lipstick marks ("That lipstick on you collar ain't my shade of pink") but also about his mistress's perfume ("I can tell by the scent of that perfume it's 'bout forty dollars too cheap") and he let her spill red wine on his shirt ("You drink beer and whiskey and you know I don't drink red").
- Discussed by Olga in The Women:
"Know Mrs. Herbert Parrish that was Mrs. Malcolm Leeds? Well, Mrs. Parrish was telling me herself about her divorce. Seems Mr. Parrish came home one night with lipstick on his undershirt. Said he always explained everything before. But that was something he just wasn't going to try to explain."
- An Imagine Spot in Penny and Aggie has Aggie's widowed father Nick picturing himself this way (as well as Covered in Kisses and with dishevelled clothing and Affair Hair) as he deliberates how to tell her he's in a serious relationship.
Lipstick on... oh! Lipstick on my collar. Yes. Well. The good news is... it isn't my lipstick.
- Used in an amnesia plot in Evil, Inc..
- Family Guy: Stewie, trying to prevent Lois and Peter from conceiving his brother, attempts this by making lipstick marks on Peter's shirt, but gets caught by Lois and scolded.
- Spiderman The Animated Series: Black Cat lifts up an unconscious Spiderman's mask to give him a kiss. Peter Parker doesn't notice it until after a co-worker at the Bugle points it out to him. Hilarity Ensues.
- Parodied in Phineas and Ferb: In the episode "It's About Time", Perry notices that Dr. Doofenshmirtz has a pawprint on his cheek, left by his new nemesis.