Often a character in a work dresses in an outfit practically identical to an outfit worn by another character or Real Life person, as a kind of Cosplay on the character's part, and a Shout-Out on the part of the costumer, designer, and/or artist. The Whole Costume Reference is when you take the cosplay part out. The character is just wearing that outfit. There is no indication or clue within the work that this character is dressing as that other person. Also:
- There's no fan convention.
- It's not Halloween.
- It's not a costume party.
- No one mentions what the costume is based on.
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Anime and Manga
- Trinity Blood ended with Esther being crowned queen and wearing a gown just like one Queen Elizabeth I wore. But not her coronation dress.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Relena's Queen dress is the same one Audrey Hepburn wore as Princess Ann in Roman Holiday.
- Naoko Takeuchi was fond of drawing the cast of Sailor Moon in outfits inspired by real world high fashion. For instance, one of her most famous art book depictions of Sailor Pluto has her wearing a Chanel dress sported by supermodel Naomi Campbell, while the designs of Koan and Black Lady originated from a Christian LaCroix outfit and a Yves Saint Laurent perfume ad, respectively.
- Early on in Black Butler, Ciel has to cross-dress as a girl to go to a dance. His dress is a near replica of one worn by Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.
- Berserk has The Berserker Armor◊ when Guts wears the berserker armor it became similar looking to Batman
- Rosario + Vampire: Moka, seeking help from a Chinese Mystic/cosplay fan, was required to don a Urusei Yatsura styled tiger-striped 2-piece bikini and boots.
- In episode 16 of Love Hina, Naru Narusegawa plays the role of Sanzo in a rather loosely-followed play of "Sayuki". In an opening shot, she is held captive on a chain leash by the "bad guy", and is wearing very similar clothes to slave Leia.
- In Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, in the martial arts episode, Sasshi is given an "Outfit That Makes You Feel Stronger" by Eutas. The outfit, of course, being a yellow tracksuit with a black stripe.
- Ms. Aki wears Ginrei's dress from the Giant Robo OVA in the same episode.
- In one of the Project A-ko movies, B-ko's father dresses as Elvis.
- Utako of Man of Many Faces wears a dress from My Fair Lady on one of her birthdays.
- In episode 24 of Cardcaptor Sakura, Sakura wears a dress that is rather similar to Alice's. This presumably is an intentional allusion, since the episode's plot revolves around size-changing antics.
- In Bleach, Kugo Ginjo's attire is an exact replica of Squall Leonhart's, right down to the necklace and fur-collar. The only noticeable difference is his shoes.
- In Paprika, the eponymous heroine wears another eponymous hero's outfit. During the scene where Paprika dives into Chiba's dream, she wears Monkey's iconic outfit from Monkey (Saiyuki in Japan), complete with staff and riding a flying cloud. Subtly Justified, as Paprika has powers in the realm of dreams that allow her to project herself however she pleases. It's easy to assume a trendy young Japanese Action Girl might have a childhood connection to Monkey.
- In Paranoia Agent, Li'l Slugger is at one point seen wearing the armor of Erdrick from Dragon Quest I.
- InuYasha: Kagome's little brother Sota is dressed just like Conan Edogawa for his date.
- The bejeweled ermine dress in Rose of Versailles is heavily based on this dress worn by Marie Leszczynska, wife of Lois XV◊.
- Princess Tutu and Princess Kraehe wear tutus modeled after Odette's and Odile's, respectively. Mytho also wears an outfit similar to Prince Siegfried's for the season 1 finale (his heartshards seem to wear it, too).
- In the fighting festival arc of Fairy Tail, Laxus Dreyar is the Arc Villain. For some reason he gains a new outfit in the anime, which is the same thing worn by Ginji Amano when he was known as the Lightning Emperor of the Limitless Fortress.
- In Dog Days, Princess Leonmitchelli's outfit is practically identical to Subaru's barrier jacket (save Lady Leo wears boots instead of rollerblades).
- Brief from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is almost always seen exclusively in a slightly modified version of the Ghostbusters uniform.
- During the production of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, one of the production staff noted that her Giant Poofy Sleeves made her look like the RX-78-2. So they made her the magical girl equivalent of a Gundam.
- In House of M, Magneto's costume (and medals, and pose, and backdrop, and... yeah) was taken from, of all people, the Spanish king Juan Carlos.
- Kefong in The Intimates wears Bruce Lee's tracksuit from Game of Death in his first year at the Seminary... and one with the colors reversed in his second.
- Wolverine's casual duds in Uncanny Avengers resemble Bruce Lee's iconic tracksuit from Game of Death.
- Katana also sports the Bruce Lee tracksuit in an issue of Li'l Gotham.
- Shang-Chi sports a black and red variant of the above-mentioned Bruce Lee tracksuit in Secret Avengers.
- In Mastermen #1, the Sivana of Earth 10's outfit is exactly the same as Major Toht. Fitting, considering what his world is like.
- A number of characters have worn Bruce Lee's Game of Death tracksuit, the Bride in Kill Bill being the most famous. The goalie in Shaolin Soccer, also an homage to Lee, wore the track suit in one of the few times he wore full chest covering. Like the Bride, he also lampshades it with Lee's silent "Come Get Some!" hand gesture.
- From the James Bond movies:
- Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) in The World Is Not Enough appears in a Shorttank outfit based on Lara Croft
- In Die Another Day, Jinx (Halle Berry) wears the bikini top, Shorttank and survival knife ensemble made famous by Ursula Andress in Dr. No. Spun into a Mythology Gag when Bond himself (Daniel Craig) wears the Shorttank and knife in Quantum of Solace.
- Christine's dress in The Phantom of the Opera when she sings "Think of Me" is inspired by one worn by Elisabeth of Bavaria (also the subject of the musical Elisabeth).
- And in the act II opener, when the Phantom crashes the "Masquerade," he's dressed in head-to-foot scarlet, with a death's-head mask. Darkly funny if you know what you're looking at, incomprehensible otherwise.
- In Oscar, Lisa's Fairytale Wedding Dress is a copy of the dress from It Happened One Night.
- Queen Elinor's dress in Brave is very similar to the dress Ellen Terry wore as Lady Macbeth.
- In Iron Man 3, War Machine sports Norman Osborn's Iron Patriot armor from Dark Avengers.
- Concept art for the new Captain America suit in Captain America: The Winter Soldier reveals that the costume is an homage to the Commander Rogers outfit from Secret Avengers.
- In Scream (1996), the school janitor is seen wearing Freddie Krueger's iconic hat and striped shirt. Made funnier because this is a cameo by Freddie's actor Robert Englund.
- In Maskerade, the Discworld parody of The Phantom of the Opera, Death himself is wearing Erik's Masque Of The Red Death outfit, with the only explanation being I do like to get into the spirit of the thing.
- Paul Kidby's sketch of Queen Magrat's complicated dress from Lords and Ladies looks exactly like the dress worn by Elizabeth I in the Darnley portrait.
Live Action TV
- Land of the Giants had an episode where one of the girls ends up in the skating dress from the beginning of Snow White and the Three Stooges.
- It was said the reason Klinger stopped crossdressing on M*A*S*H was that he had worn just about every dress in the studio wardrobe stock that would fit him. So inevitably many of the dresses would be this trope.
- In the Firefly episode "The Train Job," the Alliance soldiers are dressed in costumes recycled from Starship Troopers. (To save money.) Similarly, the soldiers' suits were also used in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. Those costumes show up everywhere. It's a testament to how sturdy the suits actually are. They were used in at least two TV shows and were eventually re-sold back to the production of the sequels.
- When Tony daydreams about Kate in NCIS, she's wearing Gogo's school uniform from Kill Bill. This is entirely appropriate for film buff and Handsome Lech Tony.
- All the time on The Amazing Race with locals and Pit Stop Greeters.
- In the "Fashion is Danger" music video from Flight of the Conchords, Bret and Jemaine are dressed as EarthForce and Excalibur officers. No word on if this is a case of Prop Recycling or not.
- Doctor Who:
- In "Robot", Harry Sullivan dresses in the same outfit used by Steed in The Avengers.
- In "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", the Doctor dresses like Sherlock Holmes. Leela, not to be outdone, dresses at first as Tinker (the Kid Sidekick of British pulp hero Sexton Blake) and later more femininely as Eliza Doolitle.
- Thanks to heavy Prop Recycling, the two most stylish ladies in British 70s sci-fi television - the first Romana from Doctor Who and Servalan from Blake's 7 - appear to share a wardrobe. The two most notably shared outfits are the purple military jacket suit and the white dress with the feathers.
- Tales from the Crypt: The episode "You, Murderer" famously "starred" the late (digitally inserted) Humphrey Bogart. The costar was Isabella Rosellini in a costume just like the one her mother, Ingrid Bergman, wore opposite Bogart in Casablanca.
- Vera has Vera casually wearing an outfit very similar to the Fourth Doctor's◊ from Doctor Who.
- Arrow has Cyrus Gold◊, who seems to be a mixture of the monster and Jason, along with Deathstroke, who just seems straight Jason.◊
- The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "The Magical Place" has Skye dress up like fellow agent and Living Legend Melinda May in order to extract some info from a person of interest. Later, May takes notice:
May: (smirking) Nice jacket.
- The picture is of Anne Boleyn wearing an ermine-lined gown, and the Ice Princess from the Spyro series wearing an almost identical one.
- The Military Suit from Fable III is similar to Richard Sharpe.
- AdventureQuest Worlds has Gravelyn when she is taken prisoner by Noxus and Vordred during the Shadowfall War, Gravelyn gets put into a Slave Bikini◊ which looks quite similar to the one that Leia wore in Return of the Jedi.
- The singer in a stage of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters on the SNES has Madonna's pointy bra.
- Like the film meta-example above, Chie's persona Tomoe in Persona 4 wears a distinctive bright yellow tracksuit. From the same game, Yosuke constantly wears a pair of headphones around his neck. In his case, though, it's also a Casting Gag, since Yosuke and Persona 3's Main Character are both voiced by the same actor.
- Persona 5 has Ryuji, whose thief clothes are black, with a heavy leather and skull theme, making it one large reference to the persona Hell Biker, a reference to Ghost Rider.
- The infamous yellow tracksuit can also be worn by Jann Lee in Dead or Alive and Law in Tekken. Unsurprisingly, both characters are Bruce Lee Clones.
- In Final Fantasy V, Bartz' Dragoon armor is Kain's from the previous game, while both his and Galuf's Magic Knight outfits are Minwu's getup from Final Fantasy II.
- The armors in the Overlord games are heavily based on Sauron's. Although there is a lampshade hanging in Overlord: Dark Legend, when a villager almost says what it looks like, but then says he can't say who.
- The first prince outfit in Etrian Odyssey III is extremely close to the king's outfit in My Life As A King.
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II shows paintings of several Neimoidians in the clothes of Napoleon and Marie Antoinette. This only makes sense in the German version, where they have French accents; every other dub portrays them as different nations.
- Solid Snake in Boktai 2, unusually for a video game character cameo, doesn't wear his own Iconic Outfit but instead wears a Whole Costume Reference to one of the outfits worn by Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (the outfit he wears when ambushed and forced to hang himself in the hotel).
- Super Mario Galaxy: An early prototype design for Rosalina showed her wearing a dress and hairstyle similar to Cinderella's.
- In DLC Quest, the NPC Random dresses as Cloud Strife from (the original) Final Fantasy VII, although with long sleeves and less silly hair. His Leitmotif is also a Suspiciously Similar Song version of the battle theme from the same game. He doesn't have a personality anything like Cloud's, and his only purpose is to force the player to pay for an expensive item to get him to leave you alone.
- There are multiple costumes in Marvel Ultimate Alliance that are references to Marvel heroes who are otherwise not playable in the game. For instance, Spider-Girl is an alternate costume for Spider-Woman, War Machine is one of Iron Man's alternate armors, etc.
- Same goes for Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and its upgrade. Iron Patriot appears as an alternate suit for Iron Man, Ronin for Hawkeye, Scarlet Spider for Spider-Man, The Punisher for Captain America, and so on. It got to the point that in the pre-release days for the Ultimate version, one type of announcement Capcom would make was alternate colors for the characters and how each of them would be based on something.
- Miles Morales, the second Ultimate Spider-Man, appears as an alternate costume for Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Edge of Time.
- There's a pirate chapter in Runaway 2 The Dream of the Turtle in which Brian the protagonist wears the exact same outfit as Guybrush did in The Curse of Monkey Island.
- Two of Leona's alternate outfits in KOF: Maximum Impact 2 resemble those of Asuka Langley and Rei Ayanami.
- It is possible to use the John Stewart version of Green Lantern as an alternate costume for Hal Jordan in Injustice: Gods Among Us. What makes this unique is that they even brought in Phil LaMarr to voice said alternate costume.
- Purrloin from Pokémon Black and White has a fur pattern based on Dorenjo from Yatterman.
- Prince Alexander's outfit in King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow is the same as Kevin Costner's in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
- Gado's outfit in Bloody Roar 2 is identical to that of Rugal Bernstein's in The King of Fighters.
- One of the NPC sprite designs in Astonishia Story is wearing a dress very similar to this dress worn by Louise of Lorraine (wife of Henry III of France).
- A few costumes in Ougon Musou Kyouku that had to be removed from the console ports of Umineko: When They Cry. On Jessica's stage, the lead singer and rhythm guitar are dressed as Kirisame Marisa and Hakurei Reimu. Jessica herself dresses as Marisa for her Meta Special and her ending with Kanon, in which he is dressed as Reimu.
- Super Smash Bros. has alternate colors that may invoke other characters. Kirby's white colors changed the colors of his eyes, cheeks and the inside of his mouth to be monochrome as he originally appeared on the colorless Gameboy, Pikachu and Jigglypuff and in Melee, Pichu, are given accessories instead of alternate colors which slowly started referencing their origin series more as the series went on, Melee introduced Princess Peach and had the design on her dress, as well as hair color and skin-tone change to match Daisy rather than simply giving her a yellow alt, and Brawl also went this route by taking Link's black color scheme and making his skin pitch black and his eyes glowing red to simultaneously reference Dark Link and the Dark Interlopers that appeared in one cutscene and portrayed as a Dark Link in Twilight Princess, as well as paying more attention to making the alternate colors of other characters more closely reference other costumes (Mario finally has Fire Mario, Snake has different camos rather than pure palette-swaps, Samus' alts reference her different suits, etc.)
- The Dragon of Astérix and Obelix: XXL dresses like a somewhat more homemade version of Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, down to the hairstyle. He looks absolutely nothing like her otherwise, though. As the game is set in 50BC, Caesar criticises his dress sense in one cutscene - "Why can't he wear a skirt, like everyone else?"
- This happens all the time in Erfworld, due to the hundreds of pop-culture references the characters make unconsciously. Significant ones include Ansom fighting while dressed as Evel Knievel, Jillian dressing as Sandy from Grease while Vinny and his group dress as West Side Story thugs, several of Wanda's costumes referencing horror movies, and Jack veiling himself as Kain from Final Fantasy IV. In addition, this is a game mechanic that gives them more bonuses.
- The man in this & a few following cartoons of The KAMics isn't a Mountie, he just likes dressing as one.
- Zoe in Sluggy Freelance steels her nerves to join the boys' adventure, dressed as Lara Croft. (Is it possible the other costume changes in the Stormbringer arc were this trope?)
- From Homestuck, Rufioh is a whole character reference to Rufio from Hook and Dante Basco, in reference to Dante reading through Homestuck on tumblr and becoming a fan. Therefore, Rufioh's outfit is pretty much identical to Rufio's aside from the obvious species differences.
- In an episode of Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Calla wears a dress that's just like Snow White's. No reason is given it looks like that, it just is.
- There was A Pup Named Scooby-Doo episode where they encountered a gamer girl who wore a pair of shoes identical to those worn by Sonic the Hedgehog. Given that shoes are all Sonic wears, this technically counts as a "Whole Costume Reference".
- An episode of Science Court had the resident idiot prosecutor Doug Savage parachute onto the scene in an Rebel Alliance pilot suit, for no reason whatsoever.
- In The Venture Bros., Dr. Girlfriend wears a pink skirt and jacket associated with Jackie Kennedy, whose name is
never mentionedbrought up, to the confusion of Dr. Girlfriend."Who the hell is... Jacqueline Onassis?"
- The scene in question had Dr. Girlfriend playing a party game where the other person had to describe the person whose name was taped on her back. Cue the confusion when the other guest ends up describing her as well as Jackie Kennedy, followed by the above line after it ended.
- Even stranger, she briefly thought she was hearing herself described anyway.
- Dr. Orpheus' outfit is specifically based on the good count's in the original Dracula film. The Phantom Limb's design is based on The Phantom.
- In the very first episode of Static Shock, Static and Richie run through some costume designs. One of them was Black Vulcan's outfit from Superfriends. Richie says it makes him look like "a mascot from a battery commercial".
- The Halloween episode of Young Justice had Mal Duncan wearing Superboy's 90's outfit. Karen Beecher also showed up wearing an outfit resembling her costume from the Teen Titans animated series, while Kid Flash was dressed as Teen Wolf. Random teens dressed as Donna Troy and Harley Quinn could be seen as well.
- Tornado Champion's costume from Batman: The Brave and the Bold was the outfit worn by Red Tornado in his earliest Silver Age appearances.
- In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, Peter Parker wears an outfit reminiscent of that of Ben Tennyson. Unsurprisingly, the latter half of Earth's Mightiest Heroes was overseen by Man of Action, who created Ben 10.
- One episode of The Super Hero Squad Show has Captain America convincing Wolverine to join the "All Captains Squad", a team of Captain Ethnic superheroes. Wolverine shows up as "Captain Canada", and is dressed as the Guardian from Alpha Flight.
- An episode of SuperTed had a scene where a villain tried to hijack a musical performance, with the real singers left Bound and Gagged backstage. One of the singers resembled Johnny Cash and was wearing his iconic "Man in Black" outfit, another looked like Dolly Parton and had one of her pink dresses, and a third looked like Minnie Pearl and had on her outfit from Hee Haw.
- In Futurama, Fry is almost always seen wearing Jim Stark's outfit from Rebel Without a Cause.
- The Gender Flip episode of Adventure Time had Fionna wearing Princess Serenity's white gown.
- Two dresses worn by Courtney in the Total Drama Island animated series (one being a princess dress in Action, and the other being a wedding dress in World Tour) resemble palette swaps of Cinderella's iconic ballgown.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "It's About Time" was apparently an elaborate excuse to get Twilight Sparkle in an Old Snake costume. The only thing missing was a Badass Mustache.
- Shining Armor's wedding suit is very similar to the suit worn by Prince William during his wedding to Kate Middleton, though whether it was intended as a homage to that event in particular or just based off of a British Royal Guards uniform is anyone's guess.
- Irma from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) dresses like Jeanette from Alvin and the Chipmunks. They also have a similar design.
- Avengers Assemble has two episodes where this happened:
- "Planet Doom" depicts Black Widow donning the costume and mask of Madame Maqsue, Spider-Man wearing a version of Spider-Man: Noir costume, Hawkeye in his costume from the much-malinged The Ultimates 3 costume, and Falcon in his Ultimate Marvel costume. The last one is specifically baffling that it's not Falcon's default costume, given Assemble and its sister series, Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., and Guardians of the Galaxy (2015), are known for copying many elements from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the character's costumes in that hue closer to the Ultimate one, yet Falcon's normal costumes in the animated series hue towards the classic white and red costumes of the comics.
- "Dark Avengers" sees Captain America wear the "Captain/U.S. Agent" costume and Iron Man undergo a Palette Swap where his red is changed to black to evoke his Marvel Now armor.