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: Stand Alone Complex, 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 and from discovering that Amestris's problems go far deeper than mere bloodlust on the part of the leadership, 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 Alliance 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 Mobile Suit 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. Ryuho and other characters state the uniform itself visualizes his ideals even though HOLY doesn't.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • Red Skull's costume is generally depicted as having heavy SS influences long after the Red Skull abandoned the Nazi party in favor of HYDRA.

  • 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.
  • The Saddest Music in the World is set during the time of The Great Depression but Fyodor still wears his uniform from World War I.

  • 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, flight suit and astromech droid still bear the green, black and grey colors of the Corellian Security Force, since technically they all belong to him personally following his defection to the New Republic. This is also a double example, since Corran is commemorating his homeworld's security force as it was, before being turned into the "Public Safety Service" which wore black uniforms styled after those that Imperial Stormtrooper officers wore when not in armour.
    • Later in the series, one sign that Wraith Squadron pilot Myn Donos is getting over a Heroic B.S.O.D. is when he starts wearing his Corellian Bloodstripe again, colored piping down the legs of his trousers that the Corellian military awards for feats of heroism.
  • 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 
  • In Band of Brothers, one german soldier who talks with Easy Company after V-E Day is a veteran of both World Wars One and Two. He very distinctively still wears his World War One uniform.
  • 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 Zoë 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.
  • Doctor Who: 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.
  • The Australian Football League's Heritage Round is all about this, with teams wearing old versions of their club jumpers, or those of clubs they have some sort of connection to (for example, Fremantle wearing the South Fremantle or East Fremantle WAFL teams' jumpers). Also, fans of South Melbourne and Fitzroy may occasionally be seen wearing their clubs' jumpers at Sydney or Brisbane games (respectively), especially if they make a Grand Final.
  • 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Some examples concerning Powered Armor from Warhammer 40,000:
    • Space Marines who attain certain specialist ranks typically wear differently-colored armor from others in their chapter - Techmarines traditionally wear Martian red, Librarians blue armor, Apothecaries white, and Chaplains black. The extent of this recoloring varies from chapter to chapter, but one constant will be that at the very least, the specailist's left pauldron will keep the chapter's heraldry and coloration.
    • Space Marines who join the Deathwatch repaint their armor black to fit in with their temporary assignment in the organization, and will bear the Deathwatch symbol on their left shoulder, but will move their original chapter's color and symbol to their right shoulder, as a mark of respect (and to not offend their armor's machine-spirit). The exception are the Blackshields, Deathwatch Marines who have chosen to completely sever themselves from their original chapter.
    • The Dark Angels' contemporary color scheme is a very dark green, but some of the Fallen Angels that they hunt still wear the chapter's original black colors, as they're either unaware of the change, lack the resources to correct it, or see no reason to. The Dark Angels' 1st and 2nd companies, the Deathwing and Ravenwing, also kept the original black colors, though the Deathwing has recently changed to bone-white armor for ceremonial reasons.

  • In Eric Overmyer's play Native Speech, Vietnam vet Belly Up still wears his army jacket.
  • Thenardier in the Les Misérables 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").

    Video Games 
  • 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. Sephiroth also still wears his old SOLDIER uniform despite having a massive grudge against, among other things, 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. Supplemental materials explained that it was supposed to be the standardized S.T.A.R.S. uniform they would have adopted had the unit not been disbanded, and Chris took the only prototype with him when he left Raccoon City.
  • 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. One strip of Awkward Zombie questions the wisdom of this.
  • 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. In this instance, it's more that she quit immediately before boarding 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."
    • Father Elijah, who still has the looks of (and attempts to compose himself like) a Brotherhood of Steel elder as he used to be, complete with robes and gauss rifle. By the time the Courier meets him in the Sierra Madre, he's too far gone to ever be reconciled with the Brotherhood.
  • In Fallout 4, the Vault Tec salesman you met in the game's prologue sequence will still be wearing that same suit 200 years later as a ghoul.
  • 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.
  • In Electronic Arts's sports games, you can make teams take to the field in old uniforms, including those of the clubs' previous incarnations (e.g. The New Jersey Devils playing in the colors of the Colorado Rockies).
  • Gaichû from Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong still wears his Red Samurai armour, which makes sense since he's already on their 'kill' list anyway for being a ghoul and the armour is one of the best available in the Sixth World.
  • The Sneaking Suit from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and the prologue for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes, feature the FOX Unit logo on the shoulder, even though Big Boss had left the unit and the United States military years ago. In The Phantom Pain proper, the Sneaking Suit becomes a double example of this, as in addition to the FOX Unit logo on one shoulder, it also has the MSF logo, even though in the aftermath of Ground Zeroes MSF's home base is destroyed and the force disbanded. The upgraded Sneaking Suits do not feature any old logos, notably.
  • In Star Trek Online, players are not beholden to wear the current uniforms of the 25th Century Starfleet. When players begin, they can don the Starfleet uniforms of the franchise post-Star Trek: First Contact and players can purchase uniforms from all other eras, thus it's not uncommon to see other player characters running around in the blue jumpsuits of Star Trek: Enterprise, the gold Command shirts of Star Trek: The Original Series, the turtlenecks of the post-Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan era and beyond.
  • One pre-order bonus for XCOM 2 was the option to field veterans from the original alien invasion, who can wear battered suits of the default kevlar armor from XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • In Teen Titans, Beast Boy still wears the outfit of his old group, the Doom Patrol, except he ditched the mask after Raven called it dorky and pointed out he had no Secret Identity to hide.
  • Shego from Kim Possible still wears her Team Go uniform long after becoming a supervillain.
  • 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: Razer who still wears his Red Lantern Corps uniform even after joining Hal's group because it seems to appear automatically whenever he uses the ring he kept.
  • Steven Universe combines this with Symbol Motif Clothing. The Crystal Gems wear stars while Homeworld Gems wear diamonds, with the color of the diamond representing which one they work for. Peridot, who joined at the end of Season 2, still has her diamond at the start of Season 4... because she can't shapeshift and hasn't needed to reform. Also, some of the Crystal Gem's fusions, most notably Sardonyx and Rainbow Quartz, have a bit of the diamond insignia on them.

    Real Life 
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The few franchised locations that were part of Blockbuster Video before it went belly-up in 2013 still fly their old colours, primarily because replacing them would be an unnecessary expense for a business on the way out.
    • There is one AMC dealership still around, despite the car company going out of business in 1988 and all of its franchise dealers becoming Chrysler-affiliated.
  • "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 MPs and SPs know they were civilians and not 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.