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Costume Inertia

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Angus Young, Angus old.

Someone continues wearing an iconic costume, even if they logically should no longer be doing so. Maybe they were simply wearing it as a one-off initially, or it was justified at the time, but it continues to be worn well after the justification has worn off. Alternatively, a common version is a school uniform being worn after graduation. Usually, the costume has become so iconic and associated with the character that changing it could lead to outcry from the fans, or even the author might be a fan.

Compare Limited Wardrobe which is when characters are seen wearing the same clothes day after day.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Gohan wears a helmet as part of his Saiyaman costume. When he enters the annual fighting tournament as Saiyaman, he replaces it with a cloth and sunglasses because armor isn't allowed. In the 13th movie when Gohan dresses as Saiyaman, he still isn't wearing his helmet. Averted as of Dragon Ball Super, where Gohan goes back to the helmet.
    • Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' gave Goku and Vegeta new costumes for their training under Whis. In Dragon Ball Super, they keep the costumes for the next story arc, but afterwards, they revert to their iconic looks (Goku's unmarked dogi from the Buu Saga, Vegeta's battle armor from the Android Saga).
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Jotaro's outfit is a heavily-modified high school uniform, fitting his status as a 17-year-old Japanese Delinquent. All of Jotaro's outfits in later parts are variations of this same look. He's still wearing this outfit in Stone Ocean, more than twenty years after graduating high school.
  • In Resident Evil: Death Island an egregious example is given through how Jill Valentine is depicted in this movie; Jill is portrayed as if she was taken straight out of Resident Evil 3 (Remake), which took place in 1998 in-universe, while Death Island is set in 2015, a good 17 years later. Press release information did try to explain why Jill looks so young: being infected with the T-Virus and being experimented upon by Wesker has halted her aging process, (they don't explain what happened to Jill's albinism, however) and no effort is made to explain why Jill is wearing her REmake 3 outfit still, especially since the only reason Jill was wearing casual clothing in her stay in Raccoon City back then was due not being in active duty as a RPD S.T.A.R.S. officer. With games such as Resident Evil: Revelations showing what Jill's wear as a B.S.A.A. agent actually looks like, there should be a reference to what Jill should theoretically be wearing in Death Island, so Jill Valentine sticks out like a sore thumb compared to Leon, Chris, Claire and even Rebecca who all have designs from their later years, long after 1998. At the end of the day, the only time Jill wearing her 1998 casual outfit almost makes sense in the movie is when her, Chris and Claire go undercover as tourists to an Alcatraz' tour, but certainly not early on in active B.S.A.A. duty.

    Comic Books 
  • Franco-Belgian comic character Spirou kept his hotel groom outfit for a very long time of the series, even if he had become a reporter and had no reasons to still wear it.
  • Donald Duck still wears the sailor suit. He debuted as a young duck in the thirties (when this style was humorously outdated). Some comics do make him an actual sailor, though strangely enough not the Barks/Don Rosa canon. He even wore it in a 1941 short when he was Drafted into the Army. It was replaced with an army uniform but still looks really bizarre.
  • Ultimate Marvel: Daredevil and Elektra were introduced in Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra, where they are Not Wearing Tights but just street burglar clothes when doing vigilante stuff. But when they used in Ultimate Spider-Man, they are using the classic ones.

  • Americana (1981): A soldier comes back to his homeland after the war, but instead of settling down, he starts wandering in his military uniform from town to town like a vagrant without any apparent reason or purpose.
  • Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man: Marlboro always wears the same boots that he got from his father, they are old, worn, patched and taped but he won't give up on them. Eventually they save his life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In early-1980s Doctor Who, everyone had consistent, unchanging costumes for reasons having to do with merchandising, some falling under this trope. Tegan wore her air hostess uniform for two series, though at least for most of that time she was actually trying to get the Doctor to return her to Heathrow so she could take up her duties (she did change outfits eventually, after being returned to Earth only to get the sack from her airline). The one that really doesn't make sense is Turlough, an alien who hated his exile on Earth at a boys' school, yet wore his slightly-too-small school uniform for his entire tenure on the program.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Most of the team continued to use the costumes from Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger despite adapting footage, mecha and some characters from Gosei Sentai Dairanger and Ninja Sentai Kakuranger. Tommy was the only Ranger in MMPR to undergo a costume change with his new suit being that of the Sixth Ranger suit from Dairanger. It wasn't until Power Rangers Zeo that we got full on costume changes for the entire team.
    • Adam's guest appearance in Power Rangers in Space has him once again taking the form of the Mighty Morphin Black Ranger despite it being stated that using the damaged morpher could kill him. This is especially glaring because Adam's Zeo powers were never shown being destroyed on-screen meaning that he had a perfectly functional morpher he could have used without any danger to himself.
      • The Zeo costumes tend to be an inversion of this trope. Since the Zeo morphers and powers were never shown being destroyed on screen there is no in-universe reason for why the Rangers stop using them in favor of the Turbo powers and costumes. If a Zeo cast member returns - such as Tommy in Dino Thunder or Adam in "Once A Ranger" - chances are they will be wearing a costume from before or after the Zeo days.
      • This was taken to rather absurd levels in "Dimensions In Danger" when Tommy, Rocky and Kat return on screen together for the first time since the first episode of Turbo and Tommy is the only one who wears a Zeo costume (and even then only briefly) due to having a morpher that grants access to every Ranger form he's ever had. Rocky uses the MMPR Red Ranger powers (despite previous and subsequent episodes showing Jason as the user of these powers) and Kat uses the Turbo Pink Ranger powers.
    • Power Rangers Wild Force: The Milestone Celebration episode, "Forever Red" saw Cole, the Red Ranger of the Wild Force season teaming up with every previous Red Ranger including Jason Lee Scott, the original MMPR Red Ranger and TJ Johnson, the second Turbo Red Ranger. Despite both of those powers having been destroyed on screen, no explanation was given for how they were able to assume those forms again.

  • AC/DC's Angus Young originally became a member of the band while he was still in high school, and so wore a school uniform — his real one — on stage. Decades later, and he still has his distinctive schoolboy look with full uniform.
    • A Family Guy cutaway gag lampshades this, with Angus saying "When I picked this [outfit], I didn't think I'd have to wear it when I'm 60!"

  • In the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio plays and the novels, television series, movie, comic books, and video games based on them, Arthur Dent is rushed out of his house one morning in his dressing gown (what Americans would call a bathrobe and slippers) and doesn't change out of them for years, despite (eventually) having ample opportunity to do so. Although this was slightly retroactive — in the radio series and first two books, Adams didn't think much about what Arthur was wearing, and then wrote a scene where he changed clothes for the TV series, which was cut by the director because it was funnier that way. The idea he's still in his dressing gown is first mentioned in the books in Life, The Universe and Everything, where Arthur probably has a change of clothes by the final chapter, and defintely has by the next book.

    Video Games 
  • Street Fighter
    • Sakura Kasugano takes it perhaps too literally. In the Sakura Ganbaru manga, she justified fighting in her school uniform as being ready to fight at any time. Thusly, being a student, she wanted to be ready to fight in clothes she spent much of her day wearing. By Street Fighter IV, Sakura has since graduated, but still wears the uniform to fight (she even considers it her proper sparring attire). However, at the end of said manga she wears a different uniform — because she's a PE teacher now. And since it's an alternate costume for her in IV, this is evidently the case there as well, as seen by her ending in SSFIV. This is finally averted in Street Fighter V, where she has graduated from high school and works part-time at an arcade, though her new costume still superficially resembles her old sailor suit.
    • According to an interview, when the Super update of Street Fighter IV was in development, the team behind it considered putting Cody back into his white shirt and blue jeans from the Final Fight series, but fans preferred his blue-and-white prison jumpsuit from Street Fighter Alpha 3. Thus, the "striped prison uniform and handcuffs" apparel became his default outfit for all of his appearances outside of the beat-em-up trilogy he debuted in, including the crossover games and the Street Fighter UDON comics. Like Sakura, Cody's costume changes in Street Fighter V into business attire with his hair slicked back because he's now the mayor of Metro City.
  • In the opening of Chuck Rock, Chuck's Loincloth is in the wash, so he puts on some leaves instead. He's still wearing those leaves in the sequel, which takes place years later.
  • In Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army Raidou Kuzunoha is 17 and was, until his current apprenticeship/cover, a student, hence his school uniform. Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon may or may not take place 3 years later (A character that loves to break the fourth wall says you haven't met for 3 years and the games have a release gap of 3 years and the characters all act like noticeable time has passed), but Raidou still wears the uniform.
  • While the fact that most of the characters in Persona 4: Arena wear school uniforms is odd for other reasons, The Hero Yu Narukami wears his school outfit from the first game, despite the fact that he has since transferred schools.
  • BlazBlue: Jin Kisaragi continues wearing his NOL uniform throughout the series, even though he defected from that organization at the end of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. Contrast with Noel Vermilion, who defected at the same time and switched to civilian clothes for the rest of the series.

    Web Comics 
  • Deliberately averted in The Order of the Stick: Haley claims that, as the comic's leading lady, she's obligated to change her costume or look at least once per volume so they can sell more action figures. Of course, she has the most costume changes, but of the six in the order, only Belkar has had no significant costume changes since the beginning of the comic (barring art upgrades, of course).

     Real Life 
  • Brazilian comedian Sérgio Mallandro was the host of a kids game show during The '80s and wore clothes such as flamboyant colorful blazers and proppler hats during it. He kept wearing those kind of clothes after the show ended and still wears them ocassionally as part of his performances, even though he's already in his 60s and his jokes are not quite appropriate for kids.