"Shorts to school? Man, you kids in Maple Wherever just do whatever the hell you want, don't you?"New Transfer Students in places where school uniforms are a cultural default setting often wear their old ones until the school can provide them with a new one. In fiction, this shows the newcomer or outsider. When they get the current school uniform, this indicates they've been assimilated. If the student is meant to be a Fish out of Water, they will keep their old uniform throughout the series. In Japanese media, even rebels don't choose to abandon uniforms entirely; in American media they will do this even if the new school doesn't have uniforms. Compare the Non-Uniform Uniform. For characters Trapped in Another World, having this is not just a case of having a Limited Wardrobe, but to remind the audience that this character is not native. Naturally adopting local clothing is a sign of Going Native. A younger version of Still Wearing the Old Colors.
— Sharita Williams, Ethan, Suspended
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Anime and Manga
- Haruhi Fujioka is too poor to buy a new school uniform when she first goes to Ouran High, even wearing a boy's uniform because her self-consciousness of her gender isn't as much as that of other people's and because the general format (shirt and pants) was easier to mimic with the clothing she had already.
- Yusuke from YuYu Hakusho distinct green uniform annoys the faculty, since while technically acceptable he wears it just to stand out. Even Kuwabara wears a slightly different shade of blue than the standard uniform. This is anime-only, though; manga color images usually have Kuwabara and Yusuke's uniforms matching, even if the colors aren't always consistent, unless the artist was color-coding them. Keiko calls Yusuke on his green uniform in the dub, but the original doesn't really mention it.
- Utena's "boy uniform" in the Revolutionary Girl Utena TV anime, which includes bright red bicycle shorts, is not worn by any of the boys at her school, but is, according to the plot, an approved style (she helpfully points it out at the very beginning - there's nothing at the school dress code that bars her from wearing the male uniform). One wonders who approved it and if it has ever been worn by any boy in the history of the school.
- It's the same way in the manga, except her "boys' uniform" is entirely pink. However, a better justification is given in the manga—the wording used in the student handbook specifies that students must wear a uniform made by the approved designer, apparently meaning that Utena is free to commission a custom uniform from said designer.
- In the movie and the movie manga, the only difference between Utena's uniform and Ohtori's boys' uniform is the coloring (hers is black-and-white, Ohtori's is green/teal).
- Makoto Kino in Sailor Moon wears an old school uniform throughout her entire middle school career and only switches over in high school. This is technically not so much due to lack of integration in the cast as the school not having one in her size, but it does mirror the fact that, outside of the senshi, Makoto was an outcast in middle due to her height. Her school uniform had elements (long skirt, type of shoes) that were typically associated with a kind of young female delinquents, sukeban, that were prominent in during 70s-80s Japan. Indeed in early designs, Makoto was supposed to lead a gang of girls, and though she didn't she was still stereotyped this way by others. This lengthened skirt does not appear in the live-action series as the sukeban wasn't as prominent anymore.
- Freesia Yagyuu wore a different school uniform. This is curious since she did not go to any other school previously. However, by the very end she is seen wearing the current school's uniform.
- Jiyuu herself wore a different one in the first season, and in the second is wearing the standard.
- Also Trapped in Another World, Hikaru, Fuu and Umi had their respective school uniforms incorporated into their magical armor in Magic Knight Rayearth. The manga even jokes about the impracticality of their outfits.
- Subverted? by Aoba from Code:Breaker because she changes into her new Hesei high school uniform even before she starts attending class.
- Subverted by Ranma from Ranma ½ who, despite the pressure of a rules-specific principal, gets into more trouble from his haircut than for not wearing a uniform. This may have something to do with how iconic his usual outfit is.
- Note that Ranma is the only character in the series to never, ever, wear a school uniform, unless it's the female kind in order to pull a prank on Ryoga or fool Kuno for some obscure purpose —in which case, it's always treated as a Wig, Dress, Accent Paper-Thin Disguise. Ironically, the first thing that the majority of FanFics that deal with a split or locked female Ranma do is shove her into a school uniform, ignoring the entire manga.
- Ukyo from the same series generally wears her previous school's boy's uniform while attending Furinkan High, despite being "outed" as a girl in her first appearance. She occasionally wears a girl's uniform in the anime (beginning with a spotlight episode where she deliberately attempts to femininize her image) but was never shown wearing a girl's uniform in the manga (except for gym).
- Subverted again by Yuuri in Kyo Kara Maoh!. While initially Trapped in Another World unexpectedly, on a subsequent visit he's wearing normal casual clothes... but his advisors comment his uniform looks so spiffy they tailored up a perfect replica for him to wear as his royal outfit.
- Mendou from Urusei Yatsura wears a different (all-white) school uniform not because he transferred in, but because he's a rich, arrogant bastard and he thinks it makes him look important.
- Similarly, the rich and arrogant Hokuto in Cromartie High School wears a white uniform, which turns out to have been a mistake on his part because he transferred to the wrong school.
- When Action Girl Tokiko officially enrolls in Kazuki's school in Busou Renkin, she refuses to wear the school's ballgown-like female uniform (barring a one-off for Fanservice in a chapter title splash panel), instead holding on to the seifuku-like uniform from her previous school. When queried, she says the old uniform is easier to move in, and because it leaves her legs exposed, she can more easily bring her alchemical weapon (a set of four mechanical blades strapped to her thighs) to bear.
- A variation on this is what happens to Jun Manjoume in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. He's demoted to Ra Yellow, and decides to leave Duel Academia. After a rather long journey he comes back, but since he went to another school he counts as a transfer student and has to start in Osiris Red dorm. Rather than wearing the red outfit, Manjoume wears his own black coat.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Bakura is still wearing his old school uniform in the end (at least a year after he was transferred to Domino High.)
- A-Ko and C-Ko wore their old uniforms pretty much all through the first Project A-ko, but finally changed to the school uniforms in the epilogue.
- Kaere/Kaede from Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, along with being the only character with a different hair color, is also the only girl in class (excluding Matoi) whose uniform is different than anyone else's — she sports a plaid miniskirt, blazer and tie in lieu of the Sailor Fuku every other girl wears.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Student #1: Sayo Aisaka, wears a rather different uniform from the other students. When this is initially noticed in the class register, it leads to the assumption that she's a transfer student who never actually got there... but of course, the truth is that she's a ghost, and the uniform she wears was the standard at the time of her death - 60 years earlier.
- Itsuki in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya lampshades this: the fact that he appears in North High's uniform from the beginning is a subtle hint at his transfer being deliberately pre-planned so he could better observe Haruhi.
- In El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, Makoto, Jinnai, and Nanami wear their uniforms for a very long time. In the very end, when Makoto arrives where Ifurita is, his robe implies that he had been studying in El-Hazard long enough to go native.
- Despite having a direct Time Travel Portal Pool to the past in InuYasha, Kagome and her family seems to think her wearing her school uniform while traveling in the past is required. There are times when her mother has specifically prepared her school uniform just for going back in time. One would think that maybe standing out wouldn't be a good idea, but then everyone has Impossibly Cool Clothes in that series.
- There's a logical reason for this. Part of the reason for school-specific uniforms in Japan ties into group representation—your uniform marks you and identifies you to the rest of society. Ask any Japanese kid or young adult; they'll tell you the very FIRST thing they notice about someone is their school uniform. This is likely the central reason for Kagome usually wearing her seifuku in the past; she's "representing" the future and her school in another age. (Nevermind that the contemporaries of that era wouldn't even begin to understand this—conformist culture in Japan became what it is today chiefly during the Meiji era.)
- Ikuno from Angel Densetsu refused to change her school uniform after transferring to her new school, since she didn't know how long she would be attending, due to her father's job. So she stands out, even when she does not have someone else's blood on it.
- Himari from Omamori Himari keeps her "old" school uniform (or at least a different one) to warn demons who plan to attack Yuuto that she is there to defend him.
- Happens to Nagisa in Strawberry Panic! anime, but not the manga.
- In Fushigi Yuugi, each Miko is an Ordinary High-School Student who is Trapped in Another World, so... yeah.
- Rei Ayanami appears as a hyperactive transfer student in the episode 26 Alternate Universe of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Two spin-offs set in this continuity — the manga Angelic Days and the Dating Sim Girlfriend of Steel 2 — retain her uniform and personality change.
- The trailer of Rebuild 3.0 shows her in the same uniform while confronting Mari (do note, though, that none of that actually happens in 3.0; everything shown in the trailer was unceremoniously scrapped when the movie was rewritten during development).
- Canon Foreigner Mayumi Yamagishi wears her old uniform and never switches to the blue/white one of Shinji's school because she transfers back out before that happens.
- In the recent spin-of manga Neon Genesis Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse, Kaoru is presented as a transfer student who has his own uniform. Much like Rei, he wears it at all times.
- New students start showing up in Medaka Box bearing the uniforms of a prestigious high school; unfortunately they're all Axe-Crazy Chaotic Evil people of mass destruction.
- Arisa: A half-Japanese transfer student who was in Europe (possibly Spain or Portugal) prior to his appearance somehow seems to be the Big Bad, or at least very tightly bound to the plot.
- In Gakuen Babysitters, this is subverted when Ryuuichi begins to attend Morinomiya as a 3rd-year middle school student and is presented with his new uniform. He initially attempts to be practical by opting to continue to wear his old uniform since he'll only remain in the middle school section for less than a year. However, Chairman Morinomiya counters with the fact that he's now part of her school in possible defiance of the trope, since it's vaguely implied she's aware of the kind of impression another school's uniform would give off to everyone in the student body.
- Averted in the various Pretty Cure series - none of the human transfer student girls are seen wearing (or even having) their previous school's uniforms. Setsuna, Ellen, Makoto and Hime get a pass as they were from other worlds.
- Kanoko Naedoko of The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko is constantly transferring middle schools, but always wears the same uniform.
- Tsugumi in Nisekoi wears a completely different outfit. As Tsugumi was privately tutored beforehand, it isn't known if it's meant to be a uniform or just personal clothes. Later, when Marika transfers in, she retains her old uniform from her previous school.
- Nitori from Wandering Son is mistaken for a transfer student when she decides to wear a Sailor Fuku to school.
- In Du Ra Ra Ra, Mairu Orihara goes to a school with blazer uniforms... but she wears her old Sailor Fuku.
- In a filler two-part episode of Detective Conan, Tamanosuke Itou arrives to Ran and Sonoko's class wearing his old gakuran rather than the school's blazer uniform.
- Joan from Amelia Rules! has attended a Catholic school all her life, before being transferred to public school. She wears her uniform without even thinking about it, and doesn't really notice until Amelia and Rhonda point it out to her. Joan is highly embarrassed, and hopes that she can just wear normal clothes and everyone will forget about it, but as Amelia and Rhonda tell her, it's middle school — everyone remembers whatever embarrassing thing you did. Joan just rolls with it and wears her uniform every day. "I'm thinking of making it a trademark."
- Shogo Kawada in Battle Royale wears a gray uniform, and fellow transfer student Kazuo Kiriyama wears a black one. (The rest of the students wear the school's beige uniform).
- In Rushmore Max Fischer continues to wear the Rushmore uniform when he goes to a public school. He hasn't come to terms with the fact that he's been kicked out of his beloved private school.
- Frank in Catch Me If You Can wears his old private school uniform to his first day of public high school, which helps him to persuade his would-be classmates that he's actually a teacher.
- Charlie Bartlett: Charlie wears his private school uniform at his first day at public school. After the first day, he still wears his uniform jacket but with a Fun T-Shirt.
- The Karate Kid (2010) has a variation with Dre wearing the proper school uniform to his first day at school in Beijing. However, he and his mom didn't realize that Chinese public schools only use the uniform on designated "uniform days" (this was not one of those days) or on field trips, so he ends up looking like a stupid foreigner, further cementing the racist bullying he suffers from some of his classmates.
- The Demon Headmaster features this when Dinah starts at her new school.
- Inverted in Ethan, Suspended: The title character's grandparents buy him the uniform for the Inner City School he'll be attending in advance of his arrival in Washington, D.C.. Since his mother didn't actually get around to the conversation with him that she thought she did, finding it is what confirms his suspicion that he's there for more than a brief visit.
Live Action TV
- There was an argument behind the scenes of Star Trek: Voyager as to whether the Maquis crew members should wear Starfleet uniforms or keep their outlaw garb. Ron Moore was pushing for the latter, but the former made more sense plotwise (why foster division when the crews are going to have to cooperate?), so they went with it. However, the Maquis crew did have special rank insignia since they weren't really officers.
- This was referenced in later episodes where Reg Barclay makes a holographic version of Voyager as an aid to help him think up plans to get them home. As one of the subtle signs of 'offness', as Reg doesn't know everything about Voyager`s situation, all the Maquis crew members still wear their outlaw garb.
- Another Trek example: Trip Tucker keeps his Enterprise patch for a while after transferring to the Columbia.
- On the other hand, Bajorans on Deep Space 9 kept their Bajoran uniforms and ranks. This was because the Bajorans were not actually part of the Federation.
- T'Pol wore a Vulcan uniform the first two years on Star Trek: Enterprise, in keeping with her status as an officer of the Vulcan High Command. She resigned at the end of Season Two, and switched to civilian clothes. She continued wearing civilian clothes in Season Four after officially joining Starfleet, albeit with proper Starfleet insignia.
- And another in Deep Space Nine, when Commander Sisko takes command of the station, he transfers from the red top with black shoulders of starship crew to black top with red shoulders of station crew. Likewise, when in a later series, Worf visits the station after the Destruction of the Enterprise, he remains in his original gold operations top throughout the episode until formally joining the crew at the end of the episode and switching to the station uniform.
- Another Military... IN SPACE! example: On Babylon 5, the major characters who are in EarthForce get a costume change in the third season when Babylon 5 secedes from Earth. Zack Allan and David Corwin who are more loyal to Earth keep their old EarthForce uniforms. Zack gets closer and closer to the inner circle, and eventually gets one of the new B5 uniforms in season 4 — around the same time he starts getting equal screen time to most of the other regulars.
- A more direct Western example was seen in the Australian live-action series Round the Twist, where the Twist kids wear their old uniforms at the beginning of the series. Later on, when the boy who turned into a merman is first seen, he wears the uniform of his former private school, which is far more elaborate than that worn at the Port Niranda school.
- Hilariously, Gribble mocks his uniform, before learning that it's from the school that he had just been bragging about being sent to should his father win the election.
- The Live-Action Adaptation (and indeed any other version) of The Demon Headmaster has this in the first episode, with the Headmaster and several students pointing it out (and the Headmaster explicitly stating disapproval). The regular green uniform is the only one seen for the rest of the series (although none of the Five-Man Band or Dinah could be properly seen as being "assimilated").
- On Summer Heights High, transfer student Ja'mie has come from one of the most expensive private schools in Victoria. She's being shown around the school, but insists on wearing her Hillford School uniform and brags to the principal about how much nicer they are.
- Claire in Degrassi wasn't a transfer student - she was introduced as a new freshman - but she wore her old Catholic school uniform for some months before finally adopting street clothes. Alli lampshades this when Degrassi itself implements uniforms some time later.
- Series creator Linda Schuyler started school in Canada◊ in her old British school's uniform shortly after her family immigrated.
- Degrassi straight-up inverts it in Season 12 when the Ice Hounds plus Becky arrive in their new Degrassi uniforms for a special start-of-term assembly - in which it's announced that uniforms are abolished Effective Immediately.
- Gentaro and Ryuusei in Kamen Rider Fourze. Ohsugi chides them that they have to wear the school uniform until Ryusei notes that while the uniforms are recommended, they aren't required. Gentaro is particularly attached to his old uniform:
Ohsugi: THEN TAKE IT TO THE CLEANERS!
- In The Inbetweeners, Will has transferred from a private school to a state school; while the blazer he wears is officially an optional part of the new school's uniform, hardly anyone else wears it, giving the same effect of making him stand out as an outsider and a nerd (the briefcase also doesn't help).
- In Shut Up Flower Boy Band, the main characters show up wearing their old uniforms to their new school and are given a week to get new uniforms.
- In Persona 3, Robot Girl Aigis has to wear the winter uniform regardless of the season, the better to hide her very noticeable hip and shoulder joints, as well as her arms and legs (covered in armor rather than skin.)
- Ryoji, a late game transfer student, also wears a different outfit from the school uniform.
- Subverted in that the Main Character, who is a transfer student, is wearing the new uniform the day before school even starts. Could be a Justified Trope, in that as a Wild Card; his personality can instantly change to fit his needs.
- In Cherry Tree High Comedy Club, Ravian Merry/Vivian Bergman is a foreign exchange student who isn't quite adjusted to the new location and wears a different uniform from the rest of the students.
- Discussed in Tsukihime during Akiha's route. She transfers in to Shiki's school yet continues to wear her old uniform. When questioned, she states she has absolutely no intention of wearing the new school uniform. Bad things happen before it becomes an issue and afterward irrelevant. Kagetsu Tohya, however, has her getting the new school uniform in the mail.
- The majority of characters in Hatoful Boyfriend are birds and wear, at most, neckties with colors corresponding to what grade they're in. Their gijinka forms - false pseudohuman appearances - mostly wear uniforms, but there's quite a bit of leeway there. Foreign Exchange Student Sakuya eschews both and wears something entirely different. He's rich as well as foreign and doesn't feel the need to dress like the commoners.
- The school in Higurashi: When They Cry doesn't have set uniforms however Shion's uniform is noticeably different from everyone elses when she transfers. It's changed in the remakes and most adaptations though.
- Dark Heart High has Yuri wear the uniform from her old school, until her father orders Dark Heart's school uniform as a gift to her. It's also a minor plot point/hint to who the "new" boy is, later on, when Bala is unwrapped for the school competition. In both cases, though, it's a quirk specific to them: while Dark Heart High has a uniform, Yuri and Bala are the only ones who wear either version of it; there doesn't seem to be a rule requiring it.
- Before his parents' divorce, Michael Hutchence of INXS attended a private school in Hong Kong, and wore that uniform after relocating to Australia with his mother. He got beaten up his first day of school for being an "outsider", but a couple of other students came to his rescue. One of them was his future bandmate and songwriting partner, Andrew Farriss.