Still Wearing the Old Colors
Our old uniforms, from our days of glory. I was saving them, so that we could wear them in death. And so we shall!A character wears a uniform indicating membership to a specific group or organization, despite no longer being a part of that group. Often occurs with ex-soldiers who later go freelance. This is generally used to indicate loyalty, especially if the group fell out of favor with the general population or the character left when the group changed its ideals. In a more negative interpretation, the character is simply unable to let go of the past (either as a Disco Dan or living in the Glory Days). In videogames or serial works, this can sometimes be done just because Limited Wardrobe is in effect; the designers may not want to come up with a new design (or replace an iconic one), even if their situation changes. Naturally this can overlap with other, in-character reasons. Compare Transfer Student Uniforms, Frozen Fashion Sense.
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Anime & Manga
- Goku, Krillin, and Yamcha in Dragon Ball all still wear the Turtle School uniform out of respect for Master Roshi, despite far, far surpassing him. Roshi's rival Crane doesn't get this and accuses them of being his puppets.
- In Ghost in the Shell, Batou's combat knife and his eye implants mark him out as a former ranger. This comes in handy when the Big Bad sends some after him, and he simply shows them his face so they decide to trust him.
- Isaac McDougal in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is still wearing his Amestrian Army uniform. Given that most of his issues stem from what he did in Ishbal under Amestrian orders, this is understandable. He repeatedly tries to get other soldiers—Kimblee, Roy, Armstrong—onto his side as well.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: The main cast members continue wearing their old uniforms (Earth Alliance for the Archangel's crew, ZAFT colours for the Eternal's, Athrun and Dearka) after they side with Lacus and the Three Ships Alliance, since they aren't part of their old formal military forces anymore. In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, the Archangel's crew switch to ORB uniforms, but Terminal's engineers and pilots (primarily made up of defectors from the PLANTs) still wear ZAFT Uniforms.
- Meaningfully subverted with Athrun in Destiny. In Seed he still wore his Zaft uniform and flight suit showing that deep down, he still believed in Zaft despite the path they had took. After another stint with Zaft in which case they again screwed him over and tried to eliminate him for not following the chairman's radical plan (in Seed it was his father who wanted to kill every Natural, in Destiny it's Durandal who wants to forcibly take control of the Earth sphere entirely) he returns to Orb and hangs up his Zaft coat for good, donning an Orb uniform and flight suit and showing that after 2 strikes Zaft is dead to him.
- In SEED, Mu calls Athrun out on this. Interestingly, Athrun isn't wearing a Zaft uniform at the time. Mu however, is wearing an Earth forces uniform.
- Naruto: Konan still wears the cloak even after defecting the Akatsuki. Lampshaded by Tobi/Obito, though she is quick to remark that it's rather the other way around, as she is the sole original Akatsuki member left.
- The Seven Ghosts in Claymore donned black skintight attires instead of their old, fancier Claymore uniforms after deserting from the Organization. However, before the battle against Priscilla and Cassandra in Rabona, they once again put on their old gear. Helen even lampshades the nostalgic feeling that overcomes them at that moment. This gesture becomes even more interesting if you consider that the Organization no longer exists at that point, toppled by none other than the Ghosts themselves.
- In Gundam Wing, Zechs Marquise continues to wear his OZ uniform, with a red military dinner jacket, white pants, and black boots, long after he leaves/is forcibly ejected from the organization, partially representing his love/hate relationship with Vitriolic Best Bud Trieze Khushrunada and partially being unable to reconcile his own morals with those of Trieze and his faction. He only leaves it behind when he finally takes over as the White Fang leader and finds an organization he can mold to his own ideals.
- In Legend of Galactic Heroes, the Imperial admiral Willibald Joachim von Merkatz and his adjutant Bernhard von Schneider continue to wear their Goldenbaum era uniforms even after their defection to the Free Planets Alliance following the defeat of the Lippstadt Alliance in the Imperial Civil War.
- In S-CRY-ed, Ryuho embodies this trope perfectly. He wears his second HOLY uniform for the latter quarter of the series; years and years in the anime time, despite having denounced the entire HOLY organization. Though, Ryuho and other characters state that it's the uniform itself that visualizes his ideals, not HOLY.
- Jonah Hex still wears a Confederate uniform, even though the Civil War is over and his side lost.
- In X-Men, Nightcrawler wears his circus costume for years after joining the X-Men. His later costumes still take influence from the design.
- Wolverine's classic yellow costume is a holdover from his days in Department H.
- In many continuities, Dick Grayson's Robin costume is based off of (or just plain is) the costume he wore when performing with Haly's Circus.
- Forrest Gump meets some anti-Vietnam activists who mostly wear their old uniforms, but made into Non Uniform Uniforms.
- I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. After getting out of the Army, Jack Spade continues to wear his uniform even while engaging in vigilante justice against Mr. Big.
- At the climax of The Man in the Iron Mask, the musketeers don their old uniforms to demonstrate loyalty to a higher, older, and more principled calling as they rise in rebellion to depose the king and replace him with his twin brother. Unlike most Three Musketeers films, their uniforms are black, while the current Musketeer uniform is the more common blue.
- In "Manos" The Hands of Fate, according to people working on the film, Torgo's outfit was supposed to look like a Confederate army uniform. It, uh, didn't, at all, but that was the intention.
- In The Searchers, John Wayne's character Ethan Edwards is first seen wearing a Confederate Army jacket years after the war ended.
- Max Rockatansky from Mad Max dons his all leather police uniform during all 3 films, for decades at a time thereafter, despite having gone AWOL from the force at the end of the very first film. By the end of the third film, the whole uniform is in tatters, heavily customized due to his new life scavenging the Wastelands, and barely recognizable of its past glory.
- In Sharpe's Waterloo, Sharpe wears his usual uniform despite being repeatedly ordered to change into a newer one. Carried over in the TV adaptation.
- To be precise, Sharpe wears the green uniform marking him as an member of a British rifle regiment — an elite skirmisher — when, as a member of the Prince of Orange's staff, he should be in Dutch uniform.
- In Arena (William R. Forstchen), the protagonist dresses up in the garb of the long destroyed Fifth-House in the Four House Annual Battle Tournament.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire Mance Rayder, the king of the tribes beyond the Wall was once one of the Night's Watch. His life was once saved by a wildling woman who mended his torn cloak with swatches of red silk; the most precious item she owned. When his superiors insisted that his cloak be replaced because of the patches and stitches' non-regulation color, he deserted. Beyond the Wall, he wears the cloak in memory.
- In an early scene in The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G. K. Chesterton, the deposed president of Nicaragua goes to some trouble to wear the colours of his now-conquered country.
- In the X-Wing Series, Corran Horn's X-wing and droid still have the Corellian Security colors when he flies for the New Republic, since they belong to him personally and not the military. This is also a double example, because Corran is commemorating the old Corellian Security Force, which had since been turned into a State Security organisation called the Public Safety Service.
- After their liberation on Hades in Echos of Honor, most of the military prisoners have their uniforms recreated, including those from nations that were conquered decades ago, making them effectively unique.
- In Discworld, Commander Samuel Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch has turned in his badge a couple times, usually on principle after refusing to obey a command he feels is repugnant. At no point does it occur to him that this is any reason to stop wearing battered Watch-issue chainmail, breastplate, and helmet. (It also doesn't occur to him that there's any reason to stop investigating crimes and arresting people.)
Live Action Television
- The Independents, who lost to the Alliance in the Unification War in the series Firefly, were nicknamed Browncoats after the plain brown leather trench coats they wore as uniforms. After the war's end, clothiers made good money dyeing brown coats blue or gray to allow rebels to bury their pasts. Those that still 'wear the brown' — like Captain Malcolm Reynolds and ZoŽ Alleyne — are making a deliberate political statement. Even the fanbase calls itself "browncoats".
- The Tribe: After joining the Mallrats, Ebony still wore the red and black clothing associated with the Locos, her old tribe.
- Although as the Mall Rats all have their own individual clothing and face-paint styles anyway, Ebony wearing the Locos style stands out significantly less. While each of the other Tribes has a unique style of dress and face-paint markings that is worn by all members (of that tribe) as a uniform.
- Captain Jack Harkness and his WWII era trench coat. Over 1,000 years old, and he's still wearing that damn blue coat. That nobody touches. EVER. On penalty of death.
- After deserting the Peacekeepers at the end of Farscape's first season, Crais continues to wear his captain's uniform throughout Season 2. By the third he has discontinued wearing it until his death in the penultimate episode of th eseason. When going to his Heroic Sacrifice he dons his captain's uniform once more.
- Sleepy Hollow's Ichabod Crane, resurrected from the 18th century, continually wears his Revolutionary War uniform coat in the 21st century.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Caleb, a former priest, still wears his collar even though he's renounced God and serves the First Evil because "a man can't turn his back on where he comes from."
- Malcolm Merlyn from Arrow wears his League of Assassins uniform in battle even after he left their organization.
- Jess Evans and several of his Confederate renegades in the Frontier Circus episode "The Hunter and the Hunted". They are The Remnant who were refused pardons after the war, and headed west where they became outlaws.
- Sports teams often times will bring out alternates based upon former teams in that city.
- There are two minor league hockey teams that not only share the name, but also the green, white, and blue colors of the Hartford Whalers.
- The Toronto Raptors have, on occassion, taken to wearing the old blue and white uniforms of the Toronto Huskies.
- When they first started playing, the Seattle Mariners wore blue and gold, just as the former Seattle Pilots did.
- Manchester United supporters have recently started taking to wearing green and yellow to games, the colours of the old Newton Heath club, in a protest against their ownerships.
- Done frequently in Warhammer40000
- Space Marine Specialists wear differently coloured armour - Red for Techmarines (reminiscent of Mars), Blue for Librarians, White for Apothecaries and Black for Chaplains.
- Senior ranks just go for the Bling of War approach instead.
- In Eric Overmyer's play Native Speech, Vietnam vet Belly Up still wears his army jacket.
- Thenardier in the Les Misťrables musical wears a Napoleonic uniform at the start of the play as a remnant from his supposed days as a soldier (if by soldier you mean "guy who looted corpses on the battlefield").
- In Mass Effect 2, Commander Shepard wears armor embossed with the Alliance N7 logo (a military vocation code designating him/her a top-proficiency special forces soldier) despite (as Shepard personally admits) technically no longer being a member of the Alliance military.
- In the 3rd game, now back in the Alliance and having left Cerberus, Shepard can do the reverse and wear some of their Cerberus armor from the 2nd game.
- Roland from Borderlands wears pieces of his Crimson Lance uniform. Although in his case it may be out of necessity rather than loyalty, since the armour helps when you're on Everything Is Trying to Kill You: The Planet.
- Cloud from Final Fantasy VII still wears his SOLDIER outfit. We later find out that he was never a member of SOLDIER to begin with.
- Also Sephiroth who, despite going rogue, still wears his old SOLDIER uniform despite, among other things, having a massive grudge against his former employer.
- Chris Redfield does this in Resident Evil: Code: Veronica. Oddly, while it's a uniform for his old, disbanded organization, it's a new design.
- World of Warcraft has the Death Knights who tend to keep their old gear they got while still aligned with the Lich King for a while, and with Transmogrification quite a few choose to make it their permanent look even at higher levels.
- In Kingdom Hearts, neither Roxas nor Xion ditch their Organization XIII coats after they quit the Organization. Lea also continues to wear the coat in Dream Drop Distance.
- Enemy units that join you in Fire Emblem typically keep their original armor color.
- Can happen in Gothic 2 if you continue to wear a uniform to an order you have outgrown. Others will comment about the uniform you are wearing being out of place.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning is still wearing her uniform. But in that instance, it's more that she quit a minute or two before she boarded the train in the opening, and therefore, didn't have time to change.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, Craig Boone and Manny Vargas still wear their 1st Recon berets despite having left the army a while ago (And why wouldn't they? It gives a fantastic bonus).
- Ranger Andy, who lives in the town of Novac along with Boone and Manny, was an NCR Ranger until an injury forced him to retire. He still wears his Ranger armor and hat, day in and day out; it's pretty clear that he hasn't let go of the past.
- Ulysses, in a sense. While he is far too young to remember the United Commonwealth of America, he still holds their ideals closer to his heart than any other loyalties, and wears "the Old World Flag on his back".
- A subtle example in Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom: While the personnel of the Terran Confederation Navy and Space Forces wear spiffy new uniforms, the Border Worlds Militia, including our heroes after they defect from Confed, wear the Confed uniforms from Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger.
- In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Big Smoke and Ryder still wear their Grove Street Family greens long after betraying the gang to work with the purple-clad Ballas and yellow-clad Vagos.
- Jin Kisaragi continues to wear his NOL Colonel uniform in BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, despite having defected from that organization at the end of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift.
- Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire still wears the uniform of the company he did security for before he went freelance. It's apparently not a loyalty thing, though, because they parted on very bad terms. Namely getting them all arrested. In payback for trying to use him as a pawn in a scheme to capture a Sufficiently Advanced Alien, at that.
- In Drowtales, Sil'lice Val'Sharen keeps her armor from the Nidraa'chal War and brings it out when she fights Yaeminira despite officially being in exile (and presumed dead). There are also a few Sullisin'rune who wear the traditional armor and facepaint of their ancestors despite the fact that they were defeated in battle by the Sharen and officially became pacifists.
- In Teen Titans, Beast Boy still wears the outfit of his old group, the Doom Patrol. He ditched the mask after Raven called it dorky/pointed out he had no "secret identity" to hide, but that's about it.
- Shego from Kim Possible still wears her Team Go uniform. She, however, is a villainous example.
- Wonder Boy from The Venture Bros. still wears his old costume from when he was Captain Sunshine's sidekick. He has issues. And a lawsuit against him that details just how genuine a "Wonder Boy" he can or cannot be when appearing in public.
- Green Lantern: The Animated Series has Razer, who still wears his Red Lantern Corps uniform even after joining Hal's group.
- Possibly justified in that most Lantern Corp uniforms are generated by the wearer's ring, which Razer is still using.
- The Vietnam War examples are Truth in Television for anything involving Vietnam War Protestors: see Born on the Fourth of July.
- In Russia, members of the Communist Party often wear old soviet military uniforms in protests and public events.
- Yevgeny Lukin frequently plays with this in his books, and eventually coined the term: a character "still faithful" to the dead state called himself a "necropatriot".
- Retired personnel from most branches of the armed forces are still entitled to wear their dress uniform on ceremonial occasions such as their wedding, the funeral of a fellow veteran or memorial services for Armistice Day or similar.
- Factory-sponsored Ferraris in Formula One (and most other series they participate in) are the old Italian racing red. Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Chevrolet Corvette factory teams have raced in national colors (D=silver, USA=white/dark blue) in recent years as well, but that's sporadic while Ferrari has raced and used red continuously.
- When a store or restaurant chain with franchisees goes out of business, some former franchise owners will continue as independents under the old name and signage for years or even decades.
- "Wearing the old school tie".
- Or updated to today, any college alum who wears paraphernalia of his/her alma mater, such as t-shirts, hats and the like, even if they haven't set foot on the campus in years.
- Truth in Television for United States World War II veterans — although regulations technically forbade demobilized soldiers to continue to wear their service uniforms after discharge, the fact that there just wasn't enough civilian clothes readily available for millions of returning troops forced the armed forces to allow continued use of uniforms until civilian clothes could be obtained. The discharged soldiers were asked to wear a special badge (colloquially called the "ruptured duck") to let M Ps and S Ps know they were civilians and not subject to arrest for being AWOL.
- For much the same reason, though in a much grimmer vein, demobilized and released German troops also kept wearing their service uniforms for a time. As the FRG considered itself the legal successor to the German Reich (though technically, the Bundeswehr is not the successor to the Wehrmacht), World War II veterans are allowed to wear decorations earned in the conflict to this day — though No Swastikas is enforced and newly-minted replacements without Nazi symbols were issued to vets starting in 1957.
- Taken to an extreme by the military contingent of the war criminals at Nuremburg. Under international law, as POWs, they were entitled to wear their uniforms if they so chose. Some like Goering did for much of the trial. Civilian members of the NSDAP among the accused (such as Hess, Speer and Streicher), even though they had a paramilitary-style uniform, were, for obvious reasons, not allowed this, and were given business suits to wear if they had no suitable clothes at the time of capture.
- Ditto for Japanese troops as well — as in Germany, there wasn't a lot for anyone to wear until the bombed out industrial plants could get back into operation and foreign aid from the Allies began to filter in.