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Guess the trait!
Tertiary Sexual Characteristics
occurs when stereotypical female elements are added to a character to demonstrate she is a woman. If you have a yellow circle
, and you stick a bow on it, you instantly recognize the circle is a girl.
Stock Costume Traits
is that concept, except as related to characteristics or professions rather than gender. You add some costume element onto a character, and that is the visual signal they have adopted that characteristic. For example, if the circle has a pipe and deerstalker hat, we know the circle is a detective
; if it wears a monocle and top hat, we understand that yellow circle belongs to high society
Most of these are Dead Horse Tropes
by now. Closely related to Hollywood Dress Code
, but approached from a different perspective. See Clothes Make the Legend
for a similar idea, but related to one specific character.
Compare Expository Hairstyles
, when a character's hair is used to indicate personality, background, or other traits. See also Hat Shop
, which analyzes the connotations of headgear.
Tropes with their own pages:
- Burglar: Blatant Burglar — Black and white striped shirt and domino mask or ski mask.
- Doctor: Dressed to Heal — White lab coat, head mirror, stethoscope.
- Explorer: Explorer Outfit — Pith helmet and khakis.
- Extreme Poverty: Bankruptcy Barrel — Naked, except for a barrel.
- Formal Tough Guy (Bodyguard/Professional Assassins): Badass in a Nice Suit — Tux or business suit (often with sunglasses).
- Flapper: The Flapper — Loose, low-waist knee-length dress, bobbed hair, cloche hats (casual wear) or decorated headbands (formal wear). Style is mostly Art Deco.
- French Maid: French Maid Outfit — Black dress with lacy white trim.
- Ghost: Bedsheet Ghost — Plain white ghost.
- Pimp: Pimp Duds — Ridiculously oversized hat and bulky fur coat.
- Pirate: Dressed to Plunder — Some combination of eyepatches, Hook Hands, peg-legs, tricorner hats, breeches, bandanas, and a Pirate Parrot.
- Rich/High Society: (male) High-Class Glass — Top hat, monocle, tuxedo; (female) — a Pimped-Out Dress
- Viking: Horny Vikings — Horned helm and beard.
- Wizard: Robe and Wizard Hat — Robe and a wizard hat. Naturally.
- Amateur Sleuth: A pipe and a deerstalker hat; thank Sherlock Holmes.
- Artist: Beret
- Astronaut: Puffy white moon-landing style spacesuit.
- Beatnik: Black turtleneck, Cool Shades, beret, goatee.
- Bodyguard, CIA, or government agent: Sunglasses, a black suit and tie, possibly an earpiece.
- Biker: Spiky helmet, leather jacket, leather or denim pants, spiky combat boots, tattoos, sunglasses and facial hair.
- Butler: Men's formal daywear, generally a morning suit.
- Court Jester: Multicolored outfit, with a multi-pointed jester hat with bells on the ends.
- Clown: Puffy one-piece jumpsuit with pompon buttons, oversized shoes, cone-shaped hat, and a big red nose.
- Disco Dan: Dapper suit, usually mostly in white. (This was being parodied as early as 1980, in Airplane!)
- Disc Jockey (DJ): A pair of headphones and the optional Cool Shades.
- Farmer: Gingham and overalls.
- Fairy Tale Princess: Large poofy gown of pink, blue, or purple and a sparkly tiara.
- Gangster: (old style) Fedora and zoot suits; (new style) Hoodies, and saggy jeans.
- Hardboiled Detective: A fedora and Badass Longcoat; in Film Noir, they're usually wearing a tie, a white button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and suspenders.
- Hippie: Tie-dyed clothing and headband. Long hair. Beard on the men.
- Janitor: A jumpsuit or boilersuit.
- Judge: Black robe and gavel. Powdered wig in Commonwealth nations.
- Knight: Suit of full plate armor, visored helmet with or without tassel on top.
- Leprechaun: Bright green clothing, usually appearing to be from the late 18th or early 19th centuries.
- Mad Scientist: White lab coat; goggles and Einstein Hair optional.
- Magician: White tie and tails or tuxedo, often with a cape, white gloves, a slick handlebar mustache or an imperial beard, a white-tipped baton, and a black top hat with a bunny in it. Often there will be star and/or moon designs incorporated.
- Maid: Stereotypical maid uniform; French Maid-style optional.
- Medieval Executioner: Dons a black hood that covers the head partially or whole. Wields either an axe, sword or a noose.
- Mime: Striped shirt, white face with heavy rouge, beret.
- Ninja: Black kabuki stagehand outfit with face-concealing mask and/or headband.
- Nurse: White dress and nurse hat with a red cross on it.
- Pilot: Goggles over a leather cap, generally with a scarf and a leather bomber jacket.
- Policeman (the Theme Park Version): Laughably outdated "bobby"-style uniform, complete with cylindrical blue hat. Often will have a "Prussian"-style mustache, too.
- Professional Wrestling: Lucha libre-style mask, colorful cape and tights, and Underwear of Power. (Never mind that, except for the underwear, most American wrestlers don't dress like this.)
- Punk / Emo: Dyed messy hair, black printed t-shirts, body piercings, tattoos.
- Reporter: A button-down with sleeves rolled up, tie at half-mast, and fedora with a card stuck in the band that says "media" or "press"; cigar optional.
- Spy: Fedora, Badass Longcoat, and sunglasses, although that's a Dead Horse Trope by now. Spy Catsuit is more modern. James Bond-esque spies prefer a Tuxedo and Martini.
- Soldier: Woodland camouflage patterned BDUs, black or brown combat boots, metal WWII style combat helmet. May have a bandolier with grenades or cartridges draped across their chest or shoulder.
- Superhero: The stereotype is a cape note , spandex, and underwear on the outside. May have a good physique.
- Surfer: Long blond hair, tanned skin, Cool Shades, lotioned nose, cowrie-shell necklace, and baggy shorts.
- Teacher (male): Tweedy jacket with patches on elbows, glasses.
- Teacher/Librarian (female): Severe long dark dress, hair in tight bun, glasses.
- Televangelist: Ice-cream suit.
- Transvestite: Fishnets, high heels, corset (Optional), a noticeable amount of make up, jewelry of some sort (usually a necklace or earrings) and often (but not always), a dress.
- Valley Girl: Garishly colorful clothing, often vaguely "punk" in appearance.
- Venetian gondola drivers: A flat straw hat and striped shirt.
- Witch: Pointy black hat, black dress, warts. Green skin optional.