Significant Wardrobe Shift

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jesse_comparison_2.jpg
Jesse Pinkman in Season 1 (left) and Season 5 (right). Apparently, four years of Character Development and psychological trauma can leave a mark on a person's taste in clothing.

In the visual media, it's common to give important characters some kind of a cool Iconic Outfit or a Limited Wardrobe that lets the audience identify them immediately. Sometimes it's just there to look cool, or sometimes it can speak volumes about said character's personality.

If it's particularly well-entrenched, though, a gradual change in the character's wardrobe can be a convenient way of showing the audience how they're gradually evolving as a character. It doesn't have to be quite as overt as an Evil Costume Switch or a Good Costume Switch, and it may not even involve a character who wears a costume.

Maybe an extroverted teenage character gradually goes from wearing flamboyant, brightly-colored clothing to more conservative dress with muted colors as he starts to mature and calm down. Maybe The Hero gradually starts to wear darker clothing as he goes from optimistic to cynical, or starts to get more in touch with the harsh realities of life as a world-saving badass.

No matter what form it takes, it's a quick, easy way to show the audience that Nothing Is the Same Anymore, and it can add some visual variety to a show that might not otherwise have it.

A Sub-Trope of Costume Evolution.

Super Trope to the following:

Compare Iconic Outfit and Limited Wardrobe. This trope is one way that a Fanservice Pack may manifest.

Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the second season of Love Live!, Rin accepting that she can be a Tomboy and feminine is marked with her getting an entirely new training outfit, the most notable change being a switch from parachute pants to a skirt.
  • In the first half of Magic Knight Rayearth, Ferio is dressed in a casual adventuring outfit with no frills and a single pauldron. In the second, he's a Man in White with more extensive and ornamented armor pieces and a huge billowing cape to reflect that he's taken up his responsibilities as Prince in the wake of his sister Emeraude's death.
  • In the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Kai Shiden is a one-note Jerkass who provides comic relief, hardly ever shows any concern for anyone else, and even briefly deserts the crew of White Base before getting cold feet and coming back. When we meet him again in the Sequel Series Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam—as a far more mature investigative reporter with the courage to match—his snazzy white suit and black trench coat instantly tell us that he's grown up since his time on the White Base.
  • In the sixtieth episode of the Pokemon X & Y series, not only does Serena cuts her hair short, but she also begins to wear a different outfit to signal Character Development after losing in her first Showcase.
  • Hinata Hyuga from Naruto wore a baggy hoodie or coat throughout the series to signify her insecurity and shy nature. By the time of The Last: Naruto the Movie she wears a sleeveless sweater, short shorts, and even Zettai Ryouiki as her shinobi attire, which signifies that she has outgrown her shyness and is even more self-confident than she already became in Part II.

    Comic Books 
  • The 2006 incarnation of X-Force has the characters in the eponymous team (most of whom do double duty as X-Men and members of X-Force) donning black and grey versions of their regular X-threads, symbolizing their new roles as Darker and Edgier enforcers in the wake of M-Day. This is probably most obvious with Wolverine, who normally wears bright yellow and blue.
  • Grant Morrison's New X-Men has the X-Men swapping out their traditional bright blue spandex for black and yellow leather and grey turtlenecks that could easily pass for civilian dress, just as the team moves in a new direction as a highly visible peacekeeping force that fights for mutant rights worldwide.
  • A few times when The Incredible Hulk changed personality, his outfit changed too.
    • In the 280s, when he has Banner's brain, he goes from shredded purple Magic Pants to purple trunks made of unstable Molecules, which shift in size when he does.
    • Around 350, when he becomes the gray Joe Fixit (a mob enforcer in Las Vegas), he wears three-piece suits tailored to his frame.
    • In issue #377, when he becomes "Professor Hulk", he exchews purple altogether, going for black or dark blue slacks and a white or black tank tops.
  • Everything about Harley Quinn's alternate Suicide Squad costume seems carefully crafted to emphasize her newfound independence from the Joker. Her original duds stuck closely to the court jester gimmick (matching the Joker's clown gimmick), and they were red and black to emphasize her evil allegiance, and to match the Joker's playing card theme. Her alternate costume ditches the jester hat, and it has a much more colorful red and blue color scheme that's all her own; it's also noticeably more revealing (with a tight corset and hot pants in place of the original's full-body suit), emphasizing her newfound sexual independence.
  • 100 Bullets:
    • Through most of the series, Lono—an infamously sadistic thug and torturer without a scrap of empathy—stands out for his love of loud Hawaiian shirts in bold colors; though partly a mark of Lono's Hawaiian heritage, they also hint at his staunch individualism, which is appropriate for a criminal who joined the Minutemen for thrills. Later on, after he accepts the position of Warlord of the Trust in the wake of Mr. Shepherd's death, he immediately begins wearing a brown trench coat on top of his Hawaiian shirts, hinting at his willingness to take on greater responsibilities that require a modicum of cleverness.
    • When we first meet Louis "Loop" Hughes, he dresses exactly like you'd expect of an impoverished kid from the inner city of Philadelphia, typically wearing low-hanging jeans and baggy basketball jerseys. Later on, when he agrees to join Lono's faction after Mr. Shepherd arranges his release from prison, his wardrobe gets noticeably swankier (tailored jackets, gold jewelry, color-coordinated outfits, etc.), showing us that he's slowly being seduced by the Trust's massive wealth and power.
    • Much like Loop, Isabel "Dizzy" Cordova starts off as an impoverished ex-gangbanger from the barrios of South Chicago, with the clothing to match (sweatpants, sneakers, tank tops, baggy jackets, etc.). After Mr. Shepherd takes her under his wing to prepare her for joining the Minutemen, her clothing gets noticeably more expensive (turtleneck sweaters, button-up shirts, leather purses, slacks, etc.), likely because Shepherd starts buying her clothes.note 
    • Everyone in the series gets a black suit and tie when they join (or rejoin) the Minutemen, making it all the more noticeable that Milo Garrett initially wears a light tan suit, which almost makes him look like a photographic negative of his younger self. Fittingly, Milo's post-Minutemen life is the polar opposite of the life of a Minuteman; while Minutemen are highly disciplined professional killers who answer to the Trust and follow a strict code of proportionate revenge, Milo is introduced as a thrill-seeking private detective who only cares about himself. Fittingly, he is the only former Minuteman who refuses to join either side in the war against the Trust, instead choosing to let Lono kill him.
  • In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, resident everyman Dwight McCarthy is introduced as a respectable (by Basin City standards) teetotaler who wears white button-up shirts tucked into simple slacks. After he comes back from a brush with death following a reunion with his old flame Ava Lord, he manages to completely revamp his appearance with the help of a plastic surgeon, and he lets his hair grow back. He also gets a new wardrobe to match his new attitude, swapping his old threads for tight black t-shirts and a black leather trench coat with Army-style epaulets.
  • Marvel's Civil War event is kicked off by a tragic explosion caused by a villain that kills several heroes and dozens of schoolchildren. Speedball, the only hero to escape alive, becomes so guilt-ridden that he changes his name to "Penance" and switches from his traditional colorful threads to a drastically different costume lined with metal spikes, intentionally injuring himself to make up for his "failure".
  • In the very early days of X-Men, Professor Xavier's five original students note  initially wore identical black and yellow uniforms meant to show their shared allegiance to Xavier's School. Around 1968, as the kids gradually grew up and became more independent, Xavier eventually decided to give them all their own unique costumes to acknowledge how far they had come since beginning their training note . The individual costumes would come to be a mainstay of the X-books as time wore on, showing Xavier's movement away from the rigidity of boarding school life.
  • DC YOU changed the outfits of several iconic superheroes, in keeping with its Darker and Edgier atmosphere.
    • Superman's suit is changed to a T-shirt and a pair of jeans, which goes to show his transition from idealistic superhero to dour vagrant.
    • Batman used a Powered Armor with police insignias, showing his closer allegiance to the police instead of being an independent vigilante. Justified because that's James Gordon under the armor, not Bruce Wayne.
    • Wonder Woman puts on a magical armor worn by Hephaestus, accepting her responsibilities as the new Goddess of War.
  • In Knightfall, Jean-Paul Valley's descending sanity level is also tied to how his Batman uniform looks. When he first takes up the Mantle of the Bat, he's in the regular Batsuit. By the time the story ends, he's donned a suit of armor that looks more like Azrael than it does Batman.

    Fan Works 
  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers:
    • Following his name change from Every during the aftermath of the Orre arc, Ever dyes his hair and starts wearing all blue.
    • Psyche starts wearing Gardevoir skirts in lieu of her normal Gothitelle skirts in an attempt to distance herself from her Dark and Troubled Past. Once she discovers that some of that past was Fake Memories, however, she starts flipping between the two as she reconciles her past and present.
  • Guardian shows Lulu's ingame outfit in Final Fantasy X as an example of this—she tailors and resews her more comfortable (but still dark) dress into the corset-and-belts ensemble in order to symbolize the bonds of her vow to protect Yuna and determination to keep her own doubts locked inside.

    Films — Animation 
  • Beauty and the Beast:
  • Inside Out: Riley starts out wearing bright colorful clothes while her family's still in Minnesota. After they move to San Francisco, however, her wardrobe starts getting darker and darker as her mood deteriorates.
  • Frozen: In the middle of her song "Let It Go", Elsa magically changes her clothes from stately royal robes to a slinky gown, symbolizing her decision to stop hiding her powers and letting others determine how she will live her life.
  • Tangled: Rapunzel swaps her lavender dress for a pink one when she is reunited with her parents, presumably to reflect a famous trope.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame shows Frollo losing his distinctive hat whenever he's having a vulnerable moment. He doesn't wear it for his Villainous Breakdown in the song "Hellfire" and loses it completely in the climax.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars:
    • Luke Skywalker's clothes gradually become darker over the course of the original Star Wars trilogy as he grows into his role as the savior of the Jedi and takes on heavier burdens. In A New Hope, when he's a wide-eyed farm boy dreaming of adventure, he dresses completely in white. In The Empire Strikes Back, he wears a grey military uniform. In Return of the Jedi, when the revelation about Darth Vader's identity has fully set in, he wears black.
    • Anakin Skywalker's clothes do the same in the prequel trilogy, climaxing with a full-on Evil Costume Switch when he becomes Darth Vader. In The Phantom Menace, he wears light tan. In Attack of the Clones, when his anger and arrogance start to become obvious, he wears dark brown. In Revenge of the Sith, he begins wearing black (even before he fully becomes a Sith lord).
  • In Pitch Perfect, the Trebles change from maroon hoodies to blazers under Jesse's leadership, suggesting that they have matured (which they certainly have).
  • At the end of Grease, Sandy gives up her bobby-sox outfits to dress in leather, to show her love for Danny. Some modern critics feel this has the Unfortunate Implications of implying that she gave up her identity for him.
  • In Thor and The Avengers, Clint "Hawkeye" Barton exclusively wears black tactical military clothes that fall squarely under Movie Superheroes Wear Black. In the sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, he wears a more personalized trench coat with purple notes. There's a reason for this: Clint spends most of the first Avengers movie as a garden-variety S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, while the Avengers start out as a glorified S.H.I.E.L.D. task force; by the end of the movie, Clint has been wholeheartedly accepted as an Avenger, and the Avengers themselves have grown into True Companions. Clint's individualized dress is a sign that he's officially become part of the family.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: Xavier's attire before and after his encounter with Apocalypse is quite different, and it illustrates a major change in his worldview. He begins with laid-back, '80s-influenced apparel, and he then switches to a conservative, Simple, yet Opulent suit. Charles is naïve at first, but his optimism is later tempered by realism.
  • When retired from his job as a Mafiya hit man, John Wick wears simple but neat casual clothes; jeans, T-shirts, leather jackets and the like. After he's beaten, robbed, and has his puppy killed by his old boss' thuggish son, Wick starts thinking he's back, and switches over to very stylish and expensive suits from then on.
  • In Theodora Goes Wild, Theodora's outfits are extravagant and stylish, showing her new found personality. Compare this to her modest suits from the beginning before her transition into "wild" Theodora.
  • In The Sandlot, the nerdy Scotty Smalls starts out wearing khakis and tucked-in polo shirts, with a dorky long-brimmed baseball cap with a fish on it (since it's the only baseball cap that he owns). After the ultra-cool Benny Rodriguez takes him under his wing, though, his clothing gradually gets more relaxed as the movie goes on. First he trades the fish hat for a Chicago Cubs cap, then he stops tucking in his shirt, then he starts wearing simple shorts, and eventually t-shirts.
  • In 13 Going on 30 Jenna's adult clothes start off very high-fashion and kicky. As the film goes on and she reconnects with her childhood friend, she wears more pink. The costume designer explicitly points this out on the DVD's special features.
  • Mean Girls has Cady start off wearing t-shirts and jeans. As she's corrupted into 'girl world' she gets a makeover to wear the same clothes as the Plastics. In the end when she has undergone a Heel–Face Turn she's at a balance - casual clothes but femininely styled hair.
  • Small example in The Blob (1958). Lt Dave's tie disappears and his shirt opens by a couple of buttons around the same time he starts believing Steve about the monster.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    • Jadis's dress. Tilda Swinton describes it as a "mood thermometer" that changes to reflect Jadis's current state. When we first see her, in the height of her reign in Narnia, it's a grand and elaborate gown with a crown of icicles. As her power weakens, the dress becomes less elaborate and the crown shrinks.
    • The Pevensies change out of their regular clothes and into Narnian ones around the time they accept their destiny.
  • Rex in The Devil Rides Out begins the film as a skeptic fully suited up. As he comes to have feelings for Tanith and believes in the cult they're up against, the tie and jacket come off and his shirt opens by a couple of buttons.
  • In Cursed Ellie starts out wearing business suits with her hair tied back. Jimmy meanwhile wears baggy and nerdy clothes. After getting bitten by the werewolf and gaining a "natural sexual aura" Ellie wears more skirts and lets her hair down, while Jimmy wears more form-fitting clothes and styles his hair too.
  • Sarah in Hitch begins the film wearing sharp pantsuits. As she falls for Hitch, we see her in dresses a lot more.
  • In Legally Blonde after Elle resolves to become more serious, she wears black suits all the time in contrast to her previously colourful outfits. The change isn't apparent until after Callaghan makes a pass at her - and she walks into the courtroom wearing a bright pink suit (showing she's back to her old self).
  • The Stepford Wives of course uses this as code for when someone's been replaced with a robot: the woman in question will suddenly be wearing a traditional 1950s housewife dress with elaborately styled hair and a lot more make-up.
  • In the live action Scooby-Doo movie, Fred and Velma's switch from their standard outfits to beach party gear is a sign they've been possessed. Averted with Daphne, as she's still wearing the same dress (but has been possessed for a shorter amount of time).
  • In Bram Stoker's Dracula Mina's corset is loosened and she shows more cleavage as a sign that the vampire in her is taking over.
  • Rhett in Gone with the Wind loses his suit jacket and his shirt becomes looser after he's rescued Scarlett from Atlanta - and decides to join the army.
  • Enchanted:
    • Giselle arrives in New York in a big Pimped-Out Dress to reflect her fairy tale roots. She then crafts herself a blue dress which is more casual but still quite fairy tale like. Her next one is a more flowery pink sundress. She then appears at the ball wearing a more typical evening gown - showing how she has found some ground.
    • It's the reverse with Robert. We see him less in suits and ties, and he ends the third act wearing a Prince Charming costume to reflect Giselle tweaking his idealism.
  • Stokeley of The Faculty dresses all in black for the majority of the film. In the epilogue when she's made a love connection with Stan, she's now wearing a bright purple cardigan.
  • Dirty Dancing. Baby's clothes become visibly sexier from the very second time she visits the staff quarters—a sleeveless shirt as opposed to being covered up with a sweater—and get even moreso as her dance lessons continue, coinciding with her developing sexuality. They revert to plain and frumpy when her Dad finds out about her forbidden relationship with her dance instructor.

    Literature 
  • From the Deryni works by Katherine Kurtz:
    • The relative security of Deryni in Gwynedd (as well as his status as a badass) is reflected in Alaric Morgan's clothing. During his twenties and early thirties as reactionary forces hold sway in the Church and government, he generally wears "sable" (black) riding leathers, with a chain mail shirt that "gleamed openly at wrists and throat, boldly belligerent and just a little too ready for trouble". By the time Kelson had ruled for several years (in The Bishop's Heir), he's described as having transitioned through muted grey with a deep burgundy cloak, followed by deep blues, then greens and golds and particolours—"the rich jewel tones rather than bright shades". For Kelson's accolade in The Quest for Saint Camber, Morgan was "[c]lad in forest green velvet...ducally crowned with gold and with Kelson's sword in his hands, he looked like some elemental godling—sunlight on forest leaves and pine boughs, puissant and vital". Secure at last?
    • Duncan's tenuous position within the Church is reflected in his swapping between secular and sacred garb. Aside from the need for discretion, Duncan reverts to mostly secular dress when his vocation is in doubt or when it's prudent to emphasize his secular role. Even then, there are usually subtle clues to his priesthood: he left to lead the northern army on the Mearan campaign with the sword and crozier crossed en saltire behind the embroidered crest on his clothing and the cross-shaped nose piece on his helm, and he entered Laas with Kelson in ducal coronet and armor with a scarlet bishop's cope.
  • Hester of The Scarlet Letter has spiritual ups and downs over the course of several years which are accompanied by various degrees of subdued wardrobe and effort put into her appearance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Breaking Bad:
    • When Jesse Pinkman first appears, he's almost invariably seen wearing loud, eye-catching clothes, including a bright yellow hoodie that he wears in almost every scene. After Season 2, when he goes through a succession of traumatic events including quitting heroin and coping with his girlfriend's death, his personality mellows out considerably, and he begins dressing in a noticeably darker, more muted color palette.
    • The first real outward sign that Walt is beginning to change from Mr. Chips into Scarface is when he shaves his head and dons his trademark Heisenberg hat.
  • In Babylon 5 Londo Mollari, who started off as a loud, boisterous almost comic character, often wore a purple longcoat. In later seasons, after his deals with Morden and pretty much starting a war, he starts wearing a black one.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Seventh Doctor wore from a light blazer in his first two seasons, when he was mostly a goofy guy who clowned his way out of stuff as much as planned his way. In his third season, he wore a darker blazer to reflect the fact that he was now a stone-cold planner who would do whatever it took, no matter how dark.
    • The Fourth Doctor's outfit gets progressively more Victorian and better coordinated as his character matures, while sticking to the same "coat, fedora and unreasonably long scarf" theme. He starts out a Rummage Sale Reject wearing a tacky argyle cardigan with a pocket watch, a clashing green neckerchief and a red safari jacket; switches to waistcoats, frock coats and a plain red neckerchief when he becomes a Reasonable Authority Figure; and shifts fully into Byronic Hero with an all-red outfit based on Victorian military formal wear. He also spends most of "The Deadly Assassin" without his trademark scarf, indicating the darker tone his character is treated with in the serial.
    • The Twelfth Doctor changes his shirts a lot from the start, but his costume and hair significantly evolves over his tenure.
      • In Series 8, the contrast between Eleven's whimsical, youthful nature and his old, grouchy, dour one is reflected in his "serious" wardrobe. His curly silver hair is close-cropped and his Crombie coat and coordinating pants are always in crisp condition.
      • In "Last Christmas" and the first three-quarters of Series 9, he has moved past his post-regeneration identity crisis and is more relaxed, traveling with a companion he has known and loved for a long time. He's often seen in a peacoat, hoodie, and T-shirt, sometimes with plaid trousers ala the Second Doctor. His hair has grown into obvious, fluffy curls.
      • He returns to his pressed-suit look, but with a cozier red velvet Crombie coat, in the Season Finale three-parter as he struggles with Clara Oswald's death and a wrenching imprisonment/torture. He makes an Evil Costume Switch late in the game to a black trenchcoat, having become a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, but after he redeems himself he gives it up in favor of a new Crombie coat.
      • In the follow-up Christmas Episodes and Series 10, he usually has the formal suits of Series 8, but they are not as severe. The peacoat occasionally shows up in his more casual moods. His hair is fluffier than ever.
  • In one episode of Happy Days Fonzie decides to give up his tough guy biker attitude to become a calm person. He switches from his trademark white t-shirt and brown leather jacket to a light blue t-shirt and no jacket.
  • In The Big Bang Theory Penny wears low cut tops, booty shorts, and loud colors to reflect the fact that she's a very young woman optimistically dressing like what she thinks a hot young women in LA would wear. In season four, after she's done a little growing up and become a bit more of a cynic, she begins dressing a bit more conservatively and less like a teenager.
  • Game of Thrones
    • Sansa Stark starts off with a braided hairstyle wearing dresses that are simple and practical, like everything else in the North, but her clothes are somewhat fancier than Catelyn's or Arya's since she longs to be a Princess Classic in King's Landing. Once she becomes a hostage in King's Landing, she wears sumptuous dresses and an elaborate hairstyle like Cersei, reflecting her status as Joffrey's betrothed and a member of the royal court. However, these dresses are also made of more fragile pastel-colored fabric, reflecting her helplessness. She shifts back to a much more somber style in Season 3 wearing mournful, monochrome colors and loose hair since she has fallen from her status as the King's betrothed and cast aside. It gets worse when, not only has her father been executed, her mother and oldest brother are slaughtered with her two younger brothers believed to have been murdered as well. While in Season 4, she keeps a somber look reflecting her refugee situation, the more she loses her innocence, the darker her wardrobe becomes, until she ends Season 4 wearing a pitch black feathered gown, along with the dark hair she uses to disguise herself, meaning she's becoming a dangerous player in the game. After finally breaking free from Ramsay and reuniting with her brother, Jon, the first family member she has seen again in a long time, Sansa fully embraces her Stark identity. She reverses to Northern clothing style with the blue gowns and braided hair, but, since she is no longer a little girl like in Season 1, her clothes are very reminiscent of Catelyn's, meaning she has now taken over her mother's role as Lady of Winterfell along with a very much Ned-looking Jon.
    • In the beginning of Season 1, Daenerys wears dresses so sheer and delicate that you practically see through them, reflecting her frailty. Then she switches to more sturdy Dothraki garb as she grows more assertive. She wears elegant blue and white gowns from Season 3 onwards, as she grows into her queenship. Her clothes in season 5 are a drastic change from the blues she'd been wearing for the past two seasons, as she starts exclusively wearing white and light grays. This is meant to make her seem pure and remote to show her over-idealism by thinking she could just end slavery without causing any problems. Both she and her goals are beginning to seem impossible and hollow as the city is consumed by strife between the former slaves and masters. She starts wearing more black and red, her House colors, beginning at the end of Season 6, in contrast to her usual white and blue dresses in previous seasons, signifying the reaffirmation of her status as a Targaryen and conqueror as she begins her invasion of Westeros.
    • Jon Snow also has a significant wardrobe change in Season 6 after leaving the Night's Watch where he switches his black cloak for a sturdy, blue and brown armor, resembling a Stark armor previously worn by his father Ned and brother Robb, signifying him claiming back his roots and foreshadowing his ascension as King in the North in the season finale. In addition, Sansa enforces it by making him a wolf pelt coat explicitly based off Ned's, as we saw in his very first scene in Season 1.
    • At the beginning of the show, Cersei often wore light blues and golds to appear gentler. As time passes and she becomes more paranoid, she begins to wear the Lannister colors, red and gold, more often as well as incorporating metal into her dresses. After Joffrey dies, she starts wearing black clothes with a dagger pattern, and her dress at the end of season 6 is practically armor.
    • Jaime's casual outfit during his command of the Second Siege of Riverrun in Season 6 is a curious composite of Tyrion and Tywin's outfits (the color scheme mostly harkening Tyrion's suit as Acting Hand of the King, while the design of the upper garment is more Tywin's). Quite appropriate, considering his turn into the capable commander and politician Tywin and Tyrion probably wanted him to be.
  • The costume changes have been symbolic in the Arrowverse as the characters in the shows have evolved.
    • Arrow: Oliver started out wearing grease-paint makeup and a relatively simple green leather outfit (befitting someone assembling a costume on their own in a quasi-realistic setting) as the killer Vigilante/Hood, then as he gains more allies and changes his attitude to be the less-lethal Arrow the costume acquires a slightly more sophisticated look, culminating in trading in the makeup for the standard superhero domino mask. When he finally becomes the Green Arrow in Season 4, and the show's setting having firmly moved out of the "realistic" area with superpowered humans, superscience, magic and time travel, the costume looks much more like one befitting a superhero.
    • The Flash (2014): Barry's Season One costume was more muted with some differences from the standard comics version of the Flash costume. Come Season 2, when he's firmly established as a respected and beloved superhero with much of the traditional Flash elements now in place, his costume acquires some minor touches that make it look much closer to the traditional version.
  • In Smallville before it, Clark Kent initially had no costume at all as a high-school student in Smallville. Later after he becomes "the Blur" in Metropolis, he adopts a black Badass Longcoat with the House of El insignia in white on a black T-shirt. Early in season 10 he shifts to a red and blue jacket and trousers as the Blur gradually morphs into Superman, and he finally receives the classic Superman outfit in the Grand Finale.
  • In Farscape John Crichton spends much of the first season wearing parts of his IASA flight suit, but shifts over to darker-colored native clothing similar to Aeryn Sun's as he gets used to being part of Moya's crew and loses some of his innocence.
  • Agents Of Shield: In the first two seasons, Agent Coulson wears the standard suit and tie of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but in season 3 he starts wearing colored shirts without a tie partially because he hasn't figured out how to tie one with his artificial hand.
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell is never dressed in shabby clothingnote  but as he ascends in Henry's esteem his clothing becomes finer to match. It's still always dark, but starting partway through the third episode fur and velvet become constants rather than occasional.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy in early seasons was made to look more like a Valley Girl - with shoulder-length bleached hair, bubblegum coloured nails and lots of short skirts. As she went through college and matured, her clothing became much more sensible for slaying.
    • Willow began as a nerd who wore clothes her mother picked out for her. As she comes out of her shell, she wears more colourful outfits and lots of fuzzy sweaters. By the final season where she's a very powerful witch, she wears lots of long skirts and clothing reminiscent of Tara.
  • In Once Upon a Time:
    • Regina's outfits in the flashbacks are a good indicator of what point in her Face–Heel Turn she's at: If it's before she's evil, she has simple hairstyles and riding clothes. If she's learning magic from Rumpelstiltskin, she's wearing some finery but her hair is simple. If it's before Leopold's death, her clothes are bright and elaborate. If she's the Evil Queen, she wears lots of black with Absolute Cleavage and her hair is in elaborate updos.
    • Ruby is shown mainly in her Stripperiffic waitress outfit or otherwise revealing clothes. After her Aesop in the episode "Red Handed" she's shown dressing more modestly and is shown less in her uniform.
    • Cora's change from flowing gowns to sharp pantsuits are half symbolic and half justified - she changes around the time she reveals herself to Regina, so the clothes symbolise how mother and daughter are working together. And also how she no longer has to remain undercover in Storybrooke.
  • Rikki Chadwick in H2O: Just Add Water is at first presented as a tomboy who wears mainly jeans and baggy pants. As her relationship with Zane blossoms, she'll be shown in short-shorts and skirts a bit more.
  • In Charmed Phoebe's outfits become much vampier after her job as the advice columnist kicks off. It also coincides with her divorce being finalised. Perhaps her way of letting the men know she's back on the market?
  • Merlin:
    • Done with Gwen; in the first season they intentionally dressed Angel Coubly down, only to gradually give her appearance more care and attention as the romance with Arthur progressed.
    • While Morgana is at court, she has the expected elaborate finery of a royally-connected lady. After she's outed as a traitor and retreats to the woods, she only wears black dresses - and they are more simple.
  • Implied in Sons of Anarchy. At some point before the events of the show, the titular motorcycle club went from wearing light-colored denim cutoff vests to black leather ones, signifying their shift from a brotherhood of freedom-loving outlaws to a violent criminal syndicate who are Only in It for the Money. Notably, the aging co-founder Piermont "Piney" Winston (who founded the gang with Jax Teller's father John shortly after the Vietnam War) is the sole member who still wears the old denim uniform, signifying his opposition to the club's new direction.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In general a wrestler changing their style of gear around usually is accompanied by tweak to their gimmick.
  • Gorgeous George, a basic boots and Underwear of Power wrestler who wrestled good and clean. But really took off as a cheater, and more importantly, when he put on a dress.
  • Konnan initially wore eye searingly bright, multi colored jackets with equally bright gloves and bandanas in accordance with him working for television shows for children when not working for LLI/UWA or CMLL but in AAA when he joined Los Gringos Locos, he began wearing darker colors, crusher caps and business casual attire.
  • His initial NWA\WCW run in the main event saw Sting wear many bright colored singlets but as he began associating with the more morally dubious Lex Luger and The Four Horsemen he increasingly wore black and as the nWo began taking over and Sting was accused of being a conspirator, despite being one of their first targets, he also took to wearing a trench coat.
  • Test switched from long pants to biker shorts at the wishes of his girlfriend/ business advisor Stacy Keibler - in the hopes of making his fanbase grow.
  • Kane began WWE wearing a full on bodysuit because he was supposedly scarred in a fire. As his character became less of a monster (and started speaking more) he started wearing less and less clothing. After unmasking, he went topless completely.
  • Chyna in WWE was presented as a Brawn Hilda who only wore black. After making a love connection with Eddie Guerrero, she received a Girliness Upgrade and was seen in dresses with her hair styled.
  • Carly the avenging company savior came to the ring in a wife beater and sweatpants, emphasizing his lack of concern with much besides jumping right into the fight. When he left Puerto Rico and attempted a Gorgeous George gimmick he went shirtless with tights, and when that didn't work out he got pants and armbands as a "cool" Cabana boy.
  • As Triple H gained the managerial services of Ric Flair, he swapped out his usual t-shirt and jeans attire for suits and sunglasses. His ring gear didn't change much, apart from occasionally wearing purple trunks.
  • Bryan Danielson was given a mask in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, their way of making him a literal "American Dragon". Distaff Counterpart American Angel got a similar deal in LLF.
  • The mask of Delirious seems to reflect his mood. White, angry groaning. Green, loony hyperactive unintelligible Motor Mouth. Red, Ax-Crazy, revenge obsessed. Black, bitter attack dog angry at the world easily directed by Jimmy Jacobs...the exception was Chikara due to UltraMantis Black and the eye of Tyr disrupting things.
  • El Sensational Carlitos wore straw hats, bright unbuttoned shirts, jeans and went without shoes in his initial start as a Colon family parody. When he started getting popular with the IWA PR crowds though, not only would he find footwear, but he'd advised to wear business attire pants and suit jackets over buttoned up shirts...and straighten his afro back into a pony tail on his uncovered head. He reverted to his old look in rebellion but teaming with Hiram Tua saw him get boots, tights and often sleeves less shirts when not shirtless entirely as he became less of a parody and more a wrestler taken seriously.
  • When the Lovely Lacey took on Jimmy Jacobs as one of her angels, one of her first orders of business was getting rid of his fuzzy boots. And thus the end of the likable Jacobs had begun, as he would soon dedicate himself to trying to win her love.
  • In Chikara Austin Aries got pink and black trunks, a fur jacket and a cape, no longer being the bitter serious Jerk Ass but a brash, womanizing Jerk Ass, A Double, the greatest man who ever lived!
  • The Bella Twins initially wore identical outfits to match their gimmick of Making Use of the Twin in matches. Along with the 2013 Heel–Face Turn, both twins started differentiating their styles and developing their own identities. Brie wore her hair back and favoured outfits with ruffles on the legs - while Nikki opted for a t-shirt, soccer socks and a backwards baseball cap. Also as the twins started a feud with each other, Brie changed her outfits to tights with slashes on the sides - as well as tying a flannel shirt around her waist as a nod to her husband.
  • Kaitlyn wore less sparkly spandex and a lot more street clothes as her feud with Eve Torres intensified.
  • AJ Lee in her 'Geek Goddess' persona favoured tights with Hello Kitty skulls or plaid prints. After her Face–Heel Turn as part of Dolph Ziggler's entourage, she adopted a now iconic look of Girlish Pigtails, cut-off denim shorts and a shredded t-shirt.
  • As Beth Phoenix began her 'Divas of Doom' phase, she changed her usual Glamasuits for an outfit with a skirt. Out of the ring she wore lots more dresses and feminine outfits.
  • A female wrestler will often make the switch from skirts or hot pants to longer tights if she wants to be taken as a serious title contender. Trish Stratus, Melina, Candice Michelle, Mickie James and Kelly Kelly are examples.

     Video Games 
  • Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite trades her original, school uniform-like clothes for a much darker blue dress with a corset (not unlike the one her late mother had worn) after killing a person for the first time. She does so ostensibly for practical reasons, but it also underlines the rapid loss of her innocence throughout the game. And then she goes for a full-on Femme Fatale outfit in the Burial at Sea expansion.
  • In Dynasty Warriors 7, characters who change factions in-story have an alternate costume based on the faction's "Corporate Color". Like Guan Yu's purple Wei costume (he's from Shu) and Zhen Ji's Yellow Yuan Shao faction costume (her chronological original, she's mostly associated with Wei).
  • Since all party members in Dragon Age II are basically stuck with their default (upgradeable) armor sets for the entire game, changes in their attires are usually tied to Character Development or important events in their lives instead:
    • All of the love interests, except Anders, change their default outfits after the Relationship Upgrade to mark their new relationship with Hawke. Most striking is Merrill, who goes from tattered khaki rags of an elven hedge mage outcast to an intricate white-and-silver attire sending a clear message to everyone not to mess with the significant other of the Champion of Kirkwall.
    • Anders, instead, trades his healer clothes for a much darker set upon completion of his Act 3 personal sidequest, foreshadowing his self-inflicted martyrdom.
    • Aveline's armor grows more and more ornate with every Act, signifying her rise through the ranks of the Kirkwall Guard, all the way up to Captain.
  • Shows up optionally in Mass Effect. In the first game, when Shepard divides his/her time between serving the Systems Alliance and the Citadel Council, s/he wears a fairly conservative blue crewman's uniform as a default casual outfit when walking the decks of the Normandy between missions. In the sequel, after Shepard is resurrected by Cerberus, the player can choose between several different casual outfits; though some of them are official Cerberus uniforms, one option is a working-class spacer's garb. Donning this outfit can give the impression that Shepard is taking a more independent path after being freed from his/her duties as a soldier—which fits very well with many choices that the player can make. In Mass Effect 3, Shepard has rejoined the Alliance military, and his/her options include two variants of military-style utilities and a more formal service dress uniform.
    • Additionally in Mass Effect 2, each member of the team gains an alternate uniform once you finish their loyalty mission (featuring back and red or black and gold) which gives them a more unified appearance, symbolizing their unity and commitment to Shepard and his/her mission.
    • A special mention should be made about Jack: her initial clothing consists of low-slung pants and a harness top made of straps that barely cover her nipples, quite clearly showing she doesn't give a crap about how she looks to others. After the loyalty mission she adds a tight black shirt, implying that she has started caring what others think. When she shows up in Mass Effect 3, she's allowed her hair to grow out and while her clothing is still revealing meant to be sexy and edgy, it still is more modest than her original harness and she's added a jacket, indicating she's chosen to fit in more with society while not conforming to all its norms.
  • In Spec Ops: The Line, Walker, Adams and Lugo's neat, form-fitting Delta Force uniforms become ever more mucky, grimy and tattered as the game wears on, mirroring their increasingly fractured psyches.
  • In Lunar: Eternal Blue Lucia gets a change of wardrobe when she starts to become gentler. Unusually, it changes back to the old one during a tense, climactic moment.
  • When Metal Gear Solid 2 first introduces Raiden as a new protagonist, he wears a "sneaking suit" that's noticeably similar—in design and color palette—to the one that Solid Snake wore in the original Metal Gear Solid. This can't be a coincidence, considering the Patriots' plan to psychologically condition Raiden into Snake's replacement. After Raiden's story arc takes a divergent turn from Snake's around the time of Metal Gear Solid 4, he shows up again in an enhanced cyborg body, which comes with noticeably sleeker, tighter clothes in a much lighter color palette, contrasting with Snake's black battle gear in the same game. Even later, his spinoff game Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has him donning a black version of the same costume as he comes to embrace his new warrior status.
  • In Crusader Kings II, characters of different ranks and cultures wear different clothing in their portraits, and will change clothes accordingly if these change. For example, a Celtic duke wears drab clothing and a brown leather circlet with gold studs, but a Celtic king has brightly colored clothing and a gold circlet. Game mods like Better Looking Garbs can add to this, such as making Catholic bishops shift to the famous red robes upon elevation to cardinal.
  • In Pokémon Sun and Moon, this is combined with Expository Hairstyle Change for Lillie, after the Wham Episode that is the second visit to the Aether Foundation. Lillie puts her hair up in a ponytail and wears a more sporty getup to signify her strengthening resolve.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, most of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn gain brand new outfits to showcase their unity as a team after spending so long apart. Of note is twins Alphinaud and Alisaie, who dump their similar clothing and don outfits that lean more into their true personalities. Alisaie even mentions that she's glad that it's not a matching outfit because their parents liked to put them in similar clothing and it's lead to a lot of incidents where people have mistaken one for the other.

    Webcomics 
  • In The Order of the Stick, female lead Haley Starshine has undergone a number of wardrobe shifts to indicate Character Development. She moves from a stereotypical fantasy outfit to a more covered one to indicate gained maturity, and then into a more practical one to indicate gained confidence.

    Web Original 
  • Mentioned in Worm as part of Taylor's backstory. Prior to high school she wore well-fitting jeans and t-shirts in bright colors. Due to constant bullying and her self-esteem nose-diving, Taylor's wardrobe veered into drab and bulky jeans and hoodies as she tried to hide herself. After becoming an Undersider and gradually regaining her sense of worth, Taylor started to wear dresses, tight jeans, and stomach-baring t-shirts.

    Western Animation 

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SignificantWardrobeShift