Whole Costume Reference

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.

This can include live action works, when the costume actually is the costume worn in an earlier work, as a form of Prop Recycling. Many low budget works do this. But again, there has to be no mention or clue of the work it was reused from.

Compare Historical-Domain Character, Serial Numbers Filed Off, Whole Plot Reference, Clothing Switch, Cosplay Fan Art.

Contrast Dresses the Same (in that wearing the same outfit is seen as bad).


Anime and Manga

Comic Books

Fan Fic


  • Discworld
    • 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



Video Games

Web Comics
  • 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.

Web Original

Western Animation