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Non-Uniform Uniform
Gotta look good while saving the world.

"Okashi City Junior High School's Dress Code Manual, Guideline #5A states, and I quote, 'Ladies, if they elect to wear socks, must wear the appropriate school-provided socks or a comparable white or black store-bought version. Otherwise, ladies must wear stockings instead of socks.' These, I feel I should point out once again, are stockings, and the manual says nothing about what type of stockings one is allowed to wear. So, as you can see, I am fully within the guidelines determined by the dress code."
Tristan, Angel Moxie

Bob must wear some form of uniform which he finds repressive or simply dislikes, so he tries to act out and be an individual through wearing something distinctive. If he actually gets away with it, he may even inspire others to do the same. Often, Bob's change to his uniform comes from finding a loophole— The rulebook says "black shirt, shoes, socks, and pants," but says nothing about silly hats or tearing the sleeves off the shirts.

Essentially a Dress Code, but not a strict Uniform.

This is often done in fiction to make things more visually interesting while still keeping a team feel. In Real Life this is a key reason why novelty neckties are so popular. Big earrings, watches laden down with gadgets, mismatched socks, you get the idea. In the professional world, this is popular with men, who tend to have fewer options for "proper" attire than women.

Custom Uniform of Sexy is usually this, but with a specific Fanservice angle. Compare Custom Uniform — While that one is "I won't wear the real one, so I'll wear whatever I damn well please," this is "I'll wear the real one, but I'll make mine different than everyone else's." Transfer Student Uniforms: Technically I'm waiting for my new uniform to be made so I'll wear my old one, but this is symbolic of my status.

Compare Distinctive Appearances.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Wandering Son, a girl, Chizuru, wears the boys' uniform to her middle school's opening ceremony. She tends to do this kind of thing on a whim, and later wears the boy's necktie instead of the girl's ribbon on her uniform. Female lead Yoshino struggles over whether to do this herself and eventually starts wearing the necktie also.
    • For a while she wears sports the male Summer uniform, before changing back to female gear after her (male) friend goes to school dressed in a Sailor Fuku
  • Although Naruto has plenty of Custom Uniforms, some characters fit this trope as well, with headbands that are supposedly meant to be worn on the forehead, as a belt, eyepatch, bracelet, or bandana.
  • The Guardians of Shugo Chara! wear mantles on their shoulders, though this isn't out of rebellion but rather a symbol of their status. Amu, on the other hand, tends to wear her uniform in a slightly more disheveled fashion. Jacket unbuttoned, shirt un-tucked, and belt with a fanny pack on over the shirt. The fanny pack, used to keep Amu's Guardian Character Eggs, was added after she joined the Guardians.
  • Kubo Tite, the creator of Bleach, considered becoming a fashion designer instead of a mangaka, so the series downright revels in finding new variations on faction uniforms.
    • The Soul Reapers have a standard black hakama-and-gi uniform that comes with regulation socks, sandals, obi, etc, but many characters have added unique tailoring (Nemu's minidress) or accessories (Kyouraku's pink over-kimono), and there seem to be no standards at all for hair, tattoos, or jewelry. The only dress code rule that we actually see enforced is that captains are required to take good care of their white division haoris, but even those can be customised.
    • The Arrancar all wear black-trimmed white jackets with high collars, but in a whole range of different styles. Some much sillier than others (I'm looking at you, Aaroniero).
    • The Karakura kids even wear their school uniforms in different ways: Ishida and Mizuiro wear it properly, Ichigo doesn't wear the tie, Keigo wears the tie but never seems to tuck his shirt in, Orihime later starts using Zettai Ryouiki while Tatsuki prefers sneakers, etc.
    • Like the Arrancar, the Vandenreich all wear variations on a standard white uniform...a standard uniform that is VERY Putting on the Reich.
  • In Yugioh GX, Kenzan/Hassleberry removed the sleeves of his Ra Yellow jacket to look like a delinquent.
  • In Pani Poni Dash!, none or almost none of the characters wear quite the same uniform.
  • Rina in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch wears the boys' uniform for no apparent reason.
  • In Japanese schools where Sailor Fuku are the standard uniform, "bad girls" would often wear longer skirts than is required by the dress code, or just wear the winter version in the summer.
    • These kinds of girls were the target of a hit-and-run driver back in the day when Inspector Juuzou Megure was still a patrolling officer. One of them, Midori, was gravely injured while under his watch. She got better, though... and later she married him.
    • Subverted: In Sailor Moon, it looks like Makoto is one of those girls (that was apparently the intention in early design notes). She eventually gets a new one, but it was so distinctive as to stick around, with the Hand Wave that finding one in her size wasn't worth the trouble.
    • Kaorin imagines two girls in her class (Tomo and Yomi) dressing in these long skirts in an Azumanga Daioh dream sequence (Osaka goes with a spacy set of glasses, and Chiyo has a hat and black overcoat with a Shout-Out on the back); they accost her, so she can imagine Sakaki coming to her rescue.
  • In GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class, Nodamiki always wears the school tracksuit instead of the blazer, even there's no P.E.. On the other hand, Tomokane always unbuttons her collar and often removes the ribbon tie, something that leads to Viewer Gender Confusion. OK, she still wears the skirts...
    • There's also Namiko, who always wears a big belt and doesn't wear her blazer, in order to hide her size.
    • In the first episode, Tomokane and Nodamiki paint the inside of their tracksuits in outrageous colors and wear them inside out. They later find out that the color is water-soluble...
  • Touji from Neon Genesis Evangelion also wears a tracksuit above his white shirt and no one calls him out for it, not even Hikari the class rep - though that may be because she has a crush on him.
  • In an episode of The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, friction between Yuriko & Kim begins when Kim begins wearing makeup and earrings on duty, though Kim points out this isn't in violation of regulations so long as they don't interfere with her work.
    • And of course there is the Good Captain's trenchcoat itself, as well as the Marines wearing whatever the hell they want anyway.
      • The "uniforms" seen in the series are so diverse to begin with it's a wonder anyone knows what's regulation and what's not anyway.
  • Sailor Moon as a whole deserves a mention. While the Sailor Suits they wear as senshi all share the same base design, at the start they can have different boots, earrings, shoulder pad styles, gloves, choker accessories, brooch and color schemes. As time passes Moon's outfit grows more different while everyone's grows more uniform to the point the only difference is color scheme. Chibi-Moon bounces back and fourth, her first two uniforms are more like Moon's but her final one is the same as everyone but Moon. It should be noted that the anime doesn't get as uniform as the manga as the 3rd version doesn't appear aside from Moon's version of it.
    • The starlight's also have different accessories on their uniform and different strap colors. Kakyuu's version (Which only appears in the manga) has a unique skirt and shoulder pads and her crown remains.
    • Sailor Senshi as a whole have wildly different uniforms based on their team with the only real rule being it must have a Sailor collar, a bow of some kind on their chest and some from of tiara or head gear.
  • Late in Gundam Wing, when the five Gundam Pilots finally start working as a team, they start wearing matching Latex Space Suits, mostly black with white and red trim and different colored patches on the chests and arms: Heero, Quatre, and Wu Fei have a tan-brown while Duo and Trowa have blue. There doesn't seem to be any real reason behind this, either in terms of "coding" or style.
    • Similarly, it seems the higher ups in the OZ faction have variations on a theme. Trieze and Zechs wear a blue and red military dinner jackets, respectively, each with white pants and high black boots. Lady Une wears a woman's variation with a brown jacket/skirt with white leggings.
  • Utena seems to be following the school rules by wearing the approved uniform (for men) but we never actually see a male student wearing the style.
  • All five Smile Pretty Cures wear some kind of variation on their school's uniform, complete with color-coded ties and (for the most part) vests.
  • Urzu team in Full Metal Panic! all wear the same black jumpsuit when piloting their Arm-Slaves, but each has a different colored strip along the shoulder. Further, their M9 units themselves, while operating on an identical chassis, are visually distinguished by having different equipment loadouts. Mao's M9 has a different head with an aerial fin as part of an enhanced electronic warfare package. Kurtz' M9 typically will be armed with a larger anti-tank rifle for sniping other Arm-Slaves. Sagara's Arbalest is an M9 modified with deployable cooling fins and a different head to accommodate a Lambda Driver and its control system, with a different color scheme to distinguish it.
  • Yusuke of YuYu Hakusho deliberately chooses to wear a green version of his school's uniform in direct violation of the dress code. He claims it looks better on him than the blue version.
  • Ritsu in K-On! always wears her uniform differently from the others - in the winter she doesn't tuck in her shirt or button up her jacket; in the summer she doesn't wear the yellow vest.
  • In D.Gray-Man, excorcists wear uniforms that share a specific style, yet they are fitted to the style or needs of each of the excorcists. For example, Lenalee will wear a Dangerously Short Skirt or super-short shorts, supposedly to commend her fighting style, and Lavi prefers tighter pants than the rest of the male cast because he carries his weapon in a thigh holster.
  • Inugami Akira of Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest wears his old school's uniform, initially because he didn't have the new one yet, but once he gets one it's damaged in a fight and he goes back to wearing the old one.
  • In Saki, as well as its spinoffs, there's typically at least one person on each team who isn't wearing their uniform the same way that the others do. The most plot-relevant example is Arata from Saki Achiga-hen, who, instead of wearing the ribbon that's part of the Achiga girls' uniform, wears the red necktie that Harue gave her years ago, back when she was a student at Achiga, and which was part of the uniform back then.
  • Kagerou Project:
    • Takane never wears a tie and always wears black Modesty Shorts beneath her shirt, presumably because she prefers wearing pants/leggings.
    • Haruka never wears his tie.
    • Ayano always wears her red scarf rain, shine or committing suicide.
    • In an illustration showing the entire cast in the high school uniform, Kido wears red track pants instead of the skirt, And Kano wears a sweater/cardigan instead of a blazer.
  • In episode 23 of Sengoku Collection, Tsunehisa Amago wears a blue shirt as part of her uniform to day care like all the other children, only hers features Detatched Sleeves.

    Comic Books 
  • Commonly seen throughout the X-Men franchise. Any given junior team such as New Mutants or Generation X usually have a standard school uniform, but some may modify it to accommodate their powers, "sex it up", or discard it completely to signify leadership or lone wolf status.
    • Even with the original X-Men, everyone's outfit was slightly different to accommodate their powers etc. Cyclops had the visor, Jean's outfit was feminized (her cowl allowed her hair to flow out), Iceman only wore shorts and boots since he was covered in snow (later ice) most of the time, Beast didn't wear gloves or shoes (the latter so that he could make use of his prehensile feet ... this was when he still looked human except for having abnormally large hands and feet), and Angel had his wings sticking out the back. During The Nineties, all X-Men had yellow and blue uniforms that they mostly used during training sessions, although they were occasionaly worn in battle. During Grant Morrison's run, they all wore black and yellow leather and briefly went with blue and yellow variations.
    • The original New Mutants wore a black and yellow variation of the original costumes (without the masked cowls), but team maverick (and later team leader) Dani Moonstar wore fringed brown leather boots and a turquoise-studded belt instead of the regulation yellow ones to affirm her Cheyenne identity.
  • In the X-Wing Series, Imperial Ace Pilot Baron Soontir Fel defected to the New Republic and joined Rogue Squadron. He wore their dress uniforms instead of his Imperial one (well, sometimes), but he kept his old Imperial flightsuit, adding a Corellian bloodstripe - admittedly he sometimes had that before - and removing the Imperial symbol. Note that the other pilots are in orange.
    • Basically, every artist put him into something different. Maybe, unlike the other Rogues, he doesn't have a Limited Wardrobe.
    • In the novels, Corran Horn sometimes wore his pilot-suit from his old job with the Corellian Security Service. Of course, given that supply shortages are a constant problem for the Rebel Alliance and nascent New Republic, the last line of their official dress code probably reads "Or whatever you can get your hands on that fits and doesn't have too many holes in". The "standard" orange pilot suit only became standardized because it was the kind the Rebels had been able to scrounge up the largest numbers of. By the time they had the resources to make this no longer an issue, orange had become a tradition in Starfighter Command.
  • When Reep "Cham" Daggle decided to institute uniforms for his version of the Legion of Super-Heroes (The 5-years-later/TMK Legion, for those keeping track), they lasted for all of nothing before the various members started wearing them in distinct ways, if they were wearing them at all.
  • Members of the Green Lantern Corps are allowed to customize their uniform pretty much however they choose so long as they keep the green-black-white color scheme and the Lantern badge is clearly visible. This is more or less necessary, since while many Lanterns are at least approximately humanoid, not all of them are. Mogo is probably the most extreme example; as a sentient planet, his "uniform" is green foliage growing in a "belt" pattern with the Lantern logo around his equatorial region.
  • The Thing from the Fantastic Four does this the most; his costume is often just blue briefs or pants with the "4" logo but no shirt. Sue alters her costume too from time to time with varying degrees of tastefulness, see Custom Uniform of Sexy for details. Johnny once wore short sleeves and biker gloves briefly (not that it matters much, since when he's using his powers he's enveloped in flames and you can't actually see much more than the outline of what he's wearing anyway). Generally only Reed is guaranteed to stick with the original outfit. Makes sense since he's the one who designed it.
  • For a short time in the nineties, The Avengers wore brown leather jackets with the Avengers' logo on the shoulders. This gave the team a uniformed look while maintaining their individual identities.
    • Perhaps as a reference to this, the "uniforms" of Nextwave were just a roughly knee-length trenchcoat (usually grey with black lapels) over whatever their normal outfits were. Or perhaps it was just Warren Ellis' love of trenchcoats. Either way, it worked.
  • Currently, the Fantastic Four has been remodeled as the Future Foundation. The group wear black and white body suits similar to their original F4 designs. Thing and Spider-Man both have different costumes that accomodate their powers and past costumes while Reed and Susan Richards seemingly have identical suits with their chest emblems slightly different. Their children have gender-based uniforms.
    • When he first joined the Future Foundation, Spidey started by wearing a Fantastic Four uniform and adding a black version of his mask to the ensemble (since he still has a secret identity) before quickly changing to the white and black design. Also in a What If story where Spidey joined the FF, he kept his regular costume but swapped out the spider logo for a number five (since, with his addition, they were re-named The Fantastic Five).
  • In W.I.T.C.H. and its animated counterparts the Guardians of Kandrakar wear custom outfits who are always green and violet (pink in the animated adaptation) and include leggings or socks striped in two different shades of green and identical wings (changed to a different design in the New Power version). A difference between the original outfits and both the New Power versions and those of the two known previous groups (their immediate predecessors and one of a few millennia ago) is that the first costumes all have exposed stomach while the New Power ones and the other Guardians' don't (in the New Power only Taranee kept it, while the previous team had Yan Lin not exposing it and the team from a few millennia ago all had covered stomachs).

    Film 
  • Joker from Full Metal Jacket wrote 'born to kill' on his helmet and wears a peace pin on his jacket. When a colonel gives him heck for it, he claims he was trying to make a statement about the dual nature of man.
  • Coraline from Coraline wants rainbow-colored knit gloves because she has to wear a school uniform and those are something no one else will have.
  • In They Died With Their Boots On (1941), the Warner Bros.. take on the Custer story, Cadet George Armstrong Custer (Errol Flynn) arrives at West Point in a uniform bedecked with plumes and so much braid that he is mistaken for an officer. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Alien, the crew on the Nostromo all wear various pieces of the uniform (jacket, jumpsuit, shirt, hat, etc.) combined with their own choices. Since they're traveling by themselves in deep space, it's not like the Corporation is going to notice whether they follow the dress code or not.
  • The eponymous Mystery Team wears color-coded outfits that make them look like children.
  • According to the "Children of the Atom" behind-the-scenes documentary this was done purposefully in X-Men: First Class, not only because the comics did so but also because each member required something slightly different, like Xavier having more body armor (as the leader) and Magneto having less (since he can stop bullets) or Hank's collar being torn off.
    • Even the original X-Men movies invoked this trope. The team wore black leather bodysuits with slight variations (Cyclops' visor was incorporated into his, Beast's costume was modified for his bulky frame, Storm had a cape attached, etc.). Also, some characters have subtle accents in different colors (such as yellow for Wolverine, white for Iceman and pink for Shadowcat).
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past does this as well. The future X-Men mostly wear black (except for Rogue, who wears white), but that seems to be the only real "rule". Storm, Magneto, and Bishop's costumes all have capes, Kitty Pryde's has a jacket, Blink, Warpath, and Sunspot all have individual markings and design elements, etc.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy, the members of the team wear red uniforms, but each one is customized in some way. Gamora's has gloves and a lower neckline, Rocket Raccoon's has no gloves or shoes, while Drax's has no shirt.
  • The Avengers: Age of Ultron is similar to the Avengers jacket example mentioned above. The characters still wear individual costumes, but most of them have stylized "A" logos somewhere on their outfit.
  • The girls of St Trinians school clearly have a school uniform as a starting point. But no two girls have made the same alterations.
  • The Star Trek franchise may have had the occasional variant in the Original Series (see the Live Action TV entry below), but uniform variations took off with the movie series.
    • Star Trek: The Motion Picture introduced numerous Starfleet uniform variations promote a casual shipboard atmosphere befitting Gene Roddenberry's vision. Captain Kirk himself wears a few examples throughout the film. McCoy and Chapel alternate between regular duty uniforms and medical whites, and Scotty spends much of the film in his engineering suit.
    • When the first film's uniforms proved uncomfortable and unpopular among the cast (let alone unpopular among much of the fanbase), new uniforms befitting Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer's vision of Horatio Hornblower in Space were commissioned. Despite the more militaristic "Monster Maroons", designer Robert Fletcher still kept the idea of customizable uniforms for mission-specific needs, as well as casual variants.
      • From the first movie, the engineering suits and medical whites were brought back, with slight tweaks (updated insignia, duty undershirts). McCoy and Scotty wore these prominently throughout Star Trek II, and Scotty wore the engineering suit for the last time in the first act of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
      • Along with the beefed-up excursion jackets, Kirk wears an additional field vest beneath his jacket, over his duty undershirt. Notably, he's the only one in the landing party wearing this variant, as when we see McCoy and Saavik remove their jackets, they're not wearing vests.
      • In Star Trek III, we're introduced to the officer's bomber jacket, worn by Admiral Morrow, Scotty, and (in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) Kirk.
      • Also in III, Uhura wears a skirt with her uniform for the first time since the Original Series. She would alternate between a skirt and trousers going forward.
      • Kirk would wear another vest in Star Trek: Generations, designed to match the standard uniform jacket normally worn over it.
    • Star Trek: First Contact introduces a broad change in uniform design for the TNG-era. This included a vest—similar to the vests Kirk wore—meant to be worn over the division-color turtleneck in place of the standard duty over-shirt. Only three officers are ever seen wearing this vest: Picard, Sisko, and someone impersonating a high-level official from Starfleet Internal Affairs.
    • The Star Trek reboot reintroduces the miniskirt uniforms from the Original Series, although this time with short- and long-sleeved variants. Female officers could also wear a standard-style uniform with trousers.

    Literature 
  • In one of the Adrian Mole books, characters wear red socks under their black school uniform socks, as a kind of silent rebellion.
  • One of the Mr Ben books has him, as a prisoner, modify the black and white prison uniforms to use multiple colours (which is allowed as long as they're striped).
  • Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter, wears her mandatory Hogwarts robes accessorized with bottlecap necklaces and radish earrings.
    • The film adaptations use this trope realistically; some of the extras display the same variety of creative, non-standard ways of wearing a tie as they probably did in their Real Life alma maters.
      • They actually got the extras to adjust and modify their uniforms as they would at a normal school.
      • In the fifth film, one of Umbridge's decrees imposed that "proper dress and decorum is to be maintained at all times." Either the filmmakers were sloppy or the students didn't care to follow this rule. We'll go with the second explanation because we hate Umbridge.
    • Also, in the film adaptations the Aurors (magical police) tend to wear brown trenchcoats when on duty (only Shacklebolt doesn't), with retired Auror Mad Eye Moody still wearing one all the time.
  • Discworld uses this trope repeatedly, usually to indicate an organization which has to prioritize practicality and availability over style and conformity.
    • The titular Monstrous Regiment is formed after years of fighting have impoverished the country. Even the resourcefulness of Sergeant Jackrum can only do so much with the pathetic odds and ends that the quartermaster issues as "uniforms". Only Maladict, through sheer vampiric Rule of Cool, manages to look stylishly shabby in them.
    • Ankh-Morpork City Watch armor is described as "a museum exhibit of funny helmets through the ages". The Watch is chronically underfunded and also one of the most species-diverse employers in the city, leading to a lot of improvising with whatever happened to be in the armoury and came closest to fitting.
    • Going Postal lampshades this with the aging postal workers: "They all wore uniforms, although since no two uniforms were exactly alike, they were not, in fact, uniform, and therefore not technically uniforms."
  • In Phule's Company, when Phule gives his troops new custom-made uniforms, C.H. immediately has the sleeves removed.
  • In Scarecrow by Matthew Reilly, the bodies of some Delta Force operatives are discovered. They don't wear unit insignia or any personal identification, but each man has customised his uniform slightly.
  • Myn Donos of the X-Wing Series sports a variably-customized uniform. Though his gear is New Republic issue, some of it still bears the patches from his (nearly wiped out) former command. When he's in the middle of a BSOD, he wears a bare-bones Wraith Squadron uniform with no ornamentation, but when he starts recovering he sports his Talon Squadron insignia and the various decorations and medals he's earned.
  • Endemic among the Tanith First And Only, starting with the fact that they've been amalgamated from three separate commands and didn't have entirely uniform equipment to begin with. Aside from Gaunt (who has a Custom Uniform to go with his unique rank), notables include flame trooper Lyse, who goes sleeveless to emphasize that even her muscles have muscles, and Sergeant Criid, who sports a fur bomber jacket. They also have a surprising mixture of smaller equipment, including sidearms and utility tools, that comes from various sources (up to and including the enemy, if they're not using it any more).

    Live Action TV 
  • On Star Trek more than one officer has gotten into trouble for wearing jewelry on duty. Apparently religious ornamentation is still allowed, but similar stuff worn just for fun is banned.
    • Basically: Worf's sash is okay, but initially Ro's earrings are banned. Note that after that Bajoran extras in the movies are seen to wear them, making it likely there was some sort of change. Also note that, despite the earrings being religious in nature, Ro doesn't follow the Bajoran religion yet wears them anyway.
      • Which makes for a certain level of Fridge Brilliance, when Deep Space Nine makes a point that Bajorians of the Prophets wear the earring on the right ear, but Ro wears hers on the left ear (which is code for a follower of the Pah Wraith, although that doesn't apply to thoroughly non-religious Ro; she just does it to be contrary).
      • Another Bajoran crewmember (originally a cadet of the flight team) is apparently not allowed to wear the earring.
    • Modifications to the standard uniform are made at the Captain's discretion. And as Bajor was trying to join the Federation, one imagines that it became more common that Bajorans in Starfleet were given allowances for their cultural icons. Note that Nog is allowed to wear a Ferengi military headdressnote  (though one adapted to match his Starfleet uniform), and there are other variants seen from time to time.
    • In one episode of Voyager we learn that hair accessories such as Alice bands are permitted as long as they are in uniform colours.
      • Though this has the distinction of being the only accessory on this list that would provide a useful function (keeping your hair out of your face which would be extremely useful in the Jefferies tubes.) It makes sense given that Starfleet has always allowed officers to have long hair.
    • Next Generation had Troi, who for the majority of the show wore what appeared to be a civilian outfit. She doesn't begin wearing uniforms until late in the show's run, when a visiting Captain calls her on it.
    • Starting with Kirk in the Original Series, Starfleet captains have been seen occasionally wearing uniform variants unique to their ranks. Kirk had a green wraparound tunic, Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation had a jacketnote  in command colors that he'd wear over a gray shirt, and both Picard and Sisko from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had two piece versions of the black and gray uniform that had a vest that could be worn in lieu of the jacket.
    • There was also the occasional female extra wearing a two-piece uniform with trousers instead of the usual miniskirt uniform. "Charlie X" has what is likely the most prominent example, with one of the victims of Charlie's powers wearing such a uniform.
  • On Bones, Seeley Booth wears the standard FBI suit, but has wacky socks and belt buckle. Also, Angela Montenegro wears a standard blue lab coat, but with decorated lapels.
  • Will Smith on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He always turned the jacket of his school uniform inside out, displaying a colorful silk liner instead of the single color shell.
    • Not to mention the time he wore his tie as a headband. (Tied in a Windsor knot, as specified in the student handbook.)
  • In Reno 911!, while all the officers wear uniforms, a few are different than others— Though Lt. Dangle's shorts are the most noticeable, Deputy Travis Junior wears his vest and shades at all times, Clemmy's shirt is usually unbuttoned to show her cleavage, as is Cindy's. The latter also wears a skirt.
  • The main characters in Scrubs have, er, scrubs that are a different shade than everyone else's. In particular, The Todd makes his scrubs sleeveless so his "DOC" tattoo is visible and Doug Murphey is seen with with a red fannypack.
    • There is Truth in Television to this, as some hospitals require different colored scrubs for different departments and even different levels of staff. There are problems because supply management departments tend to not care about carrying five different shades of blue just to satisfy staff vanity.
      • Scrubs does tend to restrict departments to certain specific colours: medical interns wear shades of light blue, surgical interns wear shades of green, and nurses wear shades of pink. More senior staff usually wear a white lab coat over their scrubs.
    • Reference in an episode where Kelso, enraged at the theft of scrubs, decided to stop it by replacing all the scrubs with a single ugly brown color nobody would want to steal.
  • Daisy's uniform modifications in MI High must be pushing the limits of what is allowable for a school uniform, even at a school as slack as St. Hope's.
  • The characters on Gossip Girl are so creative with their high school uniforms that half the time you forget they're even supposed to be wearing uniforms.
  • Degrassi's gone in this direction in Season 11. Justified in that the school had only implemented uniforms earlier that school year, and one of the teachers stated flat-out that they don't like enforcing it any more than the students like wearing it.
  • Taiwanese series KO 3anguo, a High School AU take on Romance of the Three Kingdoms, naturally does this. Of special note, Huang Zhong is no longer the oldest of the five Shu generals, but his school jacket has been altered into a Badass Longcoat to help him stand out.
  • The first episode of Red Dwarf shows crewmembers working around the ship in standard fatigues or boiler suits as needed, though many crewmembers elect to wear their own hats. Lister, on the other hand, wears a mishmash of the standard issue pants and boots, a London Jets tshirt, a jacket that has some badges sewn onto it and his own hat.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: the outfits that the wizards wear for the competition and other activities 'in the field', so to speak, judging by the fact that Jerry (in The Movie) also had a similar uniform.
  • Shake It Up has a random dress code change, which makes some people angry, especially Ce Ce, who rebels by wearing bright accessories, which lands her detention.
  • In an episode of That's So Raven in which the school makes it mandatory for students to wear uniforms, Raven continues wearing the uniform by mistake, not knowing the school has removed the uniform rule. She modifies her uniform on the spot to get around this.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze's Amanogawa High School has this. Students are given the dress code guidelines, but are also told that that's all they are: guidelines. They're actually allowed to customize their clothes however they want, as the school board's chairman believes in allowing and even encouraging the children to express themselves. Said self-expression actually makes them more susceptible to the chairman's plans to awaken their inner Monster of the Week.

    Music 
  • Destinys Child made this their signature look. In a Music Video or live performance, the girls' outfits always had the same theme, but the specifics were different for each girl. For example, if the theme is a red shirt and black skirt, one might wear a tank top, another would wear a tube top, another would wear a halter, and when there were four members, the fourth might wear a baby tee or crop.
  • While Doctor Steel did give the his fan club, the Army of Toy Soldiers, a general guideline for uniforms, he also encouraged incorporating individual expression into them, resulting in a myriad of interpretations on the theme.
  • The ladies of Japanese Dance-Pop trio Perfume always looks simultaneously unified and distinctive thanks to a personalized look they kept over the years (A-Chan: Ponytail/loose curly hair and dress/blouse with skirt. Kashiyuka: Long straight hair with bangs and sleeveless top with miniskirt/minidress. Nocchi: Bobcut with shirt and shorts/hotpants).

    Newspaper Comics 
  • For Better or for Worse had April, who was going to an Ontario high school, have to buy certain clothes that fit exact specifications, but the list didn't mention socks, so she wore knee-high socks with rainbow stripes.

    Theatre 
  • In Wicked, the characters at Elphaba's school technically don't wear uniforms so much as all their clothes are made of the same cloth.

    Video Games 
  • In Gears of War, pretty much all of the COG characters have customised their uniforms in some way. (In fact, one part of the standard-issue uniform (the helmet) seems to outright doom you to die a tragic, undignified death, so yeah, incentive there.)
    • It's retconned that the helmet restricts sight and hinders the men in such a way that they become less adept at spotting snipers... Pity the first two Carmines didn't listen (ironically enough, Clayton, the third Carmine, is actually saved from a sniper by his helmet deflecting the bullet).
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, each student uses a slightly different uniform when they graduate from the Knight Academy. The color varies each year and seems to be personalized to a degree; Pipit, Link's friend, has a yellow tunic with markings on the pants; Karane has a light green tunic and a beret instead of a cap and Link himself uses pouches on the waist with a white shirt under the chainmail.
  • The Persona series has quite a few instances of this, which also crosses into Custom Uniform:
    • Persona has each playable character has some sort of Iconic Item or personal style variations, while still keeping the basic uniform intact.
    • The Persona 2 duology has Eikichi "Michel" Mishina, who wears a long tunic that sticks out from under his uniform coat, which goes down his legs halfway to his knees. He also has an armband on his left arm with his band's logo. The other playable high school student characters keep with the standard uniform, believe it or not.
    • Persona 3 has quite the track record with this, even taking the PSP remake into account. The female protagonist and Aigis are the only ones who wear their uniforms correctly, the latter even wearing the winter version during the summer (for a justified reason). The other playable characters from Gekkoukan are all guilty of Custom Uniforms.
    • Persona 4 is better about this than Persona 3, though. Three of the eight (one of whom doesn't go to school, another is explicitly a delinquent) party members wears the full winter uniform, and five wear the full summer uniform. One of the characters who regularly does wear the full uniform is a cross-dresser who's wearing a regulatory uniform of the opposite gender.
  • Bully seems to give some leeway in what is considered a uniform for Bullworth Academy; You need to have something on displaying the school's name or logo at all times, but other then that go nuts customizing Jimmy's outfit.
  • In City of Heroes, Soldiers of Arachnos must have a soldier/widow costume for their base slot, but are given some customization options so they don't all look the same.
  • Rin Tezuka of Katawa Shoujo doesn't have arms and does everything with her feet. Obviously, she would have certain problems with a skirt, so she wears the boys' uniform.
  • Mass Effect 2 comes at this from the other direction. As your characters become loyal, they change their colors and swap out a few accessories here and there to make what was originally a totally unrelated hodge-podge of outfits into a black/white/gold Un-Uniform. In the case of Garrus, he literally just repaints his armour, retaining the damage it sustained earlier in the game.
  • Kunio-kun's signature outfit is a white school uniform. While some games depict this as the standard uniform of Nekketsu High School, others describe the white uniform as a privilege of the school's guardian.
  • For its first four years Star Trek Online had a basic style pattern for Starfleet NP Cs but innumerable variations. However between Season 9 and Season 9.5 Cryptic converted them all over to the Odyssey uniforms with a much stricter dress code.

    Webcomics 
  • Similar to the For Better or For Worse example, Tristan Stallings of Angel Moxie exploits a loophole in her school's dress code to wear striped stockings to school. When a teacher tries to call her on this she gives the page quote.
  • The Dogs of war in Cry Havoc all wear customized versions of the same basic uniform. This is explained away by their jobs as mercenaries who chose their own gear.
  • The black belts in El Goonish Shive Anime Martial Arts wear what they want, because "no-one dares tell them otherwise".
    • There is also Sarah's beret worn during the school uniform story. She gets away with it by giving the principal Puppy-Dog Eyes even though hats were against the rules even before the uniforms showed up.
  • Jägers in Girl Genius — at least, "goot lookin' vuns", i.e. not working for Klaus and clothed according to their old traditions — wear a wild variety of uniform-looking garb even when prepared to fight. One of the novelisations explains that while the Jägers love the idea of a uniform, they haven't wrapped their heads around the idea of it actually being uniform.
    • Even to the Wulfenbach Jagers "uniform" seems to be wishful thinking. The Jagergenerals working for Klaus (perhaps "with Klaus" is a better way of putting it) have significantly divergent styles, with the only real uniformity being that they all seem to have a lot of red and gold in their costumes. The Jagers themselves aren't anywhere close to uniform, either, being of differing colors and shapes, with most of the Jagergenerals being huge compared to the more humanly-proportioned Jagers like Dimo, Maxim, and Oggie.
  • The soldiers of both the Souballo Empire and Angelo's Kids in the webcomic Our Little Adventure don't seem to ever wear the exact same uniform. As long as the soldiers wear the Empire's colors no one seems to mind. The Angelo Kids even wear their uniforms intentionally mismatched to emulate their master's clothing tastes.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender : when Aang goes to a fire nation school in season 3, he wears a headband to cover his arrow (explained as covering a scar), because they stole the clothes from someone's clothesline, not realizing it was a school uniform. More subtly, he is the only one not wearing a belt—because said "headband" is actually meant to be the uniform's belt. This seems to work against him when he gets into trouble and the teachers look for the headband to find him in a crowd, but then it's revealed that, in a show of support, all the other students are wear their belts as headbands as well, making finding him impossible.
  • G.I. Joe is frequently cited as having a very, very messed up idea of what constitutes a uniform. This was especially true early on in the era of the Sunbow animated series, where seemingly anything flew in the unit. Ninja costumes? Somewhat-antiquated civilian sailor's uniforms? Crazy native-American accessories? All acceptable. It was all especially noticeable since their villainous adversaries, Cobra, had a pretty solid uniform. Over time the series has gotten over this and in most modern incarnations the Joes still don't wear uniforms, but at least dress appropriately for a warzone. There's also plenty of cases of them wearing their dress uniforms, implying the usual eclectic set-up isn't always in effect.
    • In the comic series from Devil's Due, Rock 'N Roll leaps at the chance to rejoin the team when he hears it is being reformed as it means he can ignore dress regulations and is allowed to regrow his beard.

    Real Life 
  • Robert Fulghum once decided to wear a propeller beanie on his way to work. Imagine seeing an older gentleman walking down the street wearing a full suit and a propeller beanie.
  • The late US Chief Justice, William Rehnquist, adorned the sleeves of his black judicial robe with four gold stripes, an idea he got after seeing the Lord Chancellor dressed the same way in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe.
    • Rehnquist's reasoning was that the Lord Chancellor's role in the British judicial system was historically similar in many ways to that of the Chief Justice in the American one. His successor, John Roberts, declined to make a tradition of it.
    • He adapted the look while presiding over Bill Clinton's impeachment proceedings.
    • And finally, in theory, all justices of the Supreme Court could get their robes modified (the only requirement is that you have a robe; the justice has to buy it him/herself). They just don't.
    • Some of the male Justices took to wearing a skullcap with their robes. Some of the female Justices wear white lace jabots (ruffles) or collar, in honor of the sartorial decisions of first female Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor.
  • When working at Walmart, there are really only two things you have to keep in mind: dark blue shirt and khaki pants. Sky's more or less the limit on exactly how you wanna wear those two things (or, even, what style of those things you want to wear).
    • Best Buy has more or less the same uniform. Improv Everywhere decided to take advantage of this flexibility in Operation Best Buy; they sent 80 people dressed in blue polo shirts and khaki pants into a single Best Buy solely to cause confusion.
    • Same with Target, just replace the blue shirt with a red one.
    • Same deal with Starbucks, you just have to have a black or white shirt, and black or khaki pants along with black shoes. Quite a flexible dress code.
    • This gets very annoying if you just happen to be dressed that way.
  • Go to any school that has a uniform policy and you'll probably struggle to find anyone averting this trope if they can get away with it.
    • Some schools do not have a uniform as such, have rules about what colours you can wear instead, eg: red top and green pants. Or vice-versa ("Boys must wear a dress shirt and tie", color left to choice).
    • As with the Degrassi example, it's far from unheard-of for teachers to consider enforcing a uniform to be yet another waste of precious instructional time heaped on from above.
    • Some schools are more strict about the uniform but allow the students to accessorize using badges and insignia. For example a student might wear a school badge, a club collar pin and another token denoting a student officer (student council, class representative, student first aider, school librarian, etc) from armbands to sashes. Enterprising students can use this to bring this trope into play.
  • Some corporations have tried to introduce this into the workforce as a means of maintaining a 'team' atmosphere with a lean towards personality. Frito-Lay (the chip company) for example, issues employees a yearly voucher to pick up company branded apparel for official functions ranging from the obvious (t-shirts, polo shirts) to the highly specific (sweater vests, skirts, muscle shirts and sweatbands)
  • After WWI, ex-soldiers of the German army often formed "Freikorps" militia groups, using modified versions of their old uniforms, notably, one of the decorations to their helmets included the swastika (notably the Marine-Brigade Ehrhardt). However such unit-specific modifications were not true examples of this trope, as the soldiers were dressed uniformly within their respective Freikorps.
  • In the armed forces, obviously everybody has to wear uniforms that cause them to more or less dress exactly the same. For example, the current-issue US Army uniform is the Army Combat Uniform - exciting name, right? The shirt worn under the "blouse" is just a tan t-shirt. Any tan t-shirt can be worn under the blouse with anything on it, as long as it doesn't show when the blouse is on. Depending on the chain of command, the blouse may not be allowed to be removed if the shirt underneath is non-uniform. Since most Soldiers wear t-shirts with unit-specific designs on them, this isn't often a problem. Another example would be the wearing of unit-specific baseball caps instead of the issue headwear. This is more common in the Air Force, and ironically its required in several Navy uniforms, but some Army units allow it as well.
    • There's a good reason for this: Going too far outside the uniform regulations puts the person outside The Laws and Customs of War.
    • US Navy flight deck personnel wear jerseys which are color coded by the function that service member performs. For example, the guy refueling the planes will be wearing purple, while the guy reloading it with ordnance will be wearing red. The basic design is the same, but the color varies wildly (leading to the nickname "Skittles").
    • On the other hand, the same laws and customs has provisions to give some slack when times are tough, which leads to soldiers with limited supplies using mostly civilian clothing with a prominent identifier such as a Nice Hat. This is most common when a smaller or less militarized nation is taken by surprise, such as Finland during the Winter War.
  • Modern Russian Army is notorious for its lax uniform regulations, so everyone often just wear whatever they like (or whatever is in stores, not a small consideration during the period of spotty funding in The Nineties), as long as it can be at least distantly construed to fit the regulations, especially in combat or when the unit commander doesn't care. This creates characteristic rag-tag look that's often ironically dubbed "Uniform #8" after a satirical couplet: "Форма номер восемь — что спёрли, то и носим" ("Uniform #8 — we wear what we steal"), although the awards and insignia are a much bigger deal. Air Force is often just as bad, but Navy is usually much more fussy about its uniform.
  • Mostly averted in the British Army, but every regiment has its own unique cap badge and other minor variations that can create a similar effect; dress uniforms are especially varied in this regard. There's also a number of exemptions on religious grounds; practising Sikhs, Muslims or Orthodox Jews are exempt from the requirement to be clean-shaven, and the former can wear a turban instead of a cap or beret. Some soldiers also resorted to buying their own boots at one point because the standard issue ones wore out ridiculously quickly, and occasionally their own body armour because there wasn't enough to go around, but that isn't quite an example because it's barely noticeable on parade.
  • In Finland during early days of WWII there wasn't enough uniforms to go around, only a small insignia and rifles, and even then, many members of the old militias brought their own. The name for the ragtag clothes was "model Cajander" after the defence minister at the time.
  • During WWII, Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery was notorious for this, wearing khaki shorts rather than trousers at almost every opportunity, along with the black beret of a tank crewer rather than an officer's hat.
    • He at first wore a slouch hat with a collection of regimental badges he had visited before he switched to a black beret with a Royal Tank Regiment and a general's cap badge side by side. Part of why he became notorious was because at a press conference at the height of the Second Battle of El Alamein he treated his switch from hat to beret as the most important news item.
  • These young Chinese men and women in basic training have added such things as pink hair ties, painted nails, buttons, designer handbags, and long white sleeves to the basic green uniform.
    • That's not basic training but a "military summer camp", a step below cadets.
  • Free French general Leclerc wore a képi that was made by his comrades in arms at Koufra from a French colonial soldier's chéchia cap, a leather visor and two stars from an Italian captain's uniform from 1942 to the end of the war.
  • Medical professionals who are required to wear lab coats or scrubs fully embrace this trope, from clinic doctors who clip funny accessories onto their stethoscopes to med techs wearing day-glow shoelaces. Even surgical teams whose every stitch of clothing is covered by scrubs sometimes don different colors of latex glove, both to play this trope straight and to make it absolutely clear whose hands are whose. This can be very important in microsurgery where the team is viewing the operation blown up to several times actual size on a video screen.


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