Mulder: How embarrassing!
A woman buys an outfit to wear to some event, and is humiliated when she sees another woman wearing the same thing. Cue death glares and scoffing at each other.
Truth in Television, at least for some women. It doesn't matter if she bought her dress at the snooty boutique or the local Walmart (though if it is from Walmart, then both suffer the humiliation of knowing that another woman knows she got her dress from the bargain bin), wearing the same dress is undeniable proof that she's bought a mass-produced consumer item, breaking any illusion of the dance taking place in a Jane Austen novel where all the dresses have to be hand-made. She might also be self-conscious because the other woman upstages her, having a body type (taller, thinner, curvier, etc.) that better fits it or whose complexion/accessories/hairstyle/makeup better compliments it and is generally able to look better in it.
When someone is conscious about their appearance, buying clothes that look and fit juuuuust right can be a long and painstaking process. Seeing someone else in the same outfit is akin to an artist having their style copied. See Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast, since two men in the same outfit are far more likely to laugh over it and move on (probably aided by the fact that men's fashion isn't nearly as varied; in most formal events, all men will be wearing identical tuxedos) Contrast Whole Costume Reference (in that wearing the same outfit is considered a good thing). Contrast also with Coordinated Clothes where characters intentionally wear matching clothes to show that they belong together.
- One of Hoyle's Rules of Dragon Poker rule changes makes players wearing the same clothes duel against each other.
99. If two players arrive wearing the same clothes, the next hand will be played just between them. They will have to share the same cards up cards, but their hole cards will be their own.
- Classic John Callahan comic panel: A woman at a funeral is leaning over the coffin and thinking, "That BITCH!" The deceased is wearing an identical dress.
- Often happens to Veronica in Archie Comics.
- In one story, Betty and Veronica appear at a party in the same dress, and they both act as if it must be a dream, because the thought of them wearing identical dresses is so outrageous, so terrible, that they refuse to believe it can be true. When they finally realize that it isn't a dream, not only do they destroy each other's dresses, but they wreck the entire place. Can you say Serious Business?
- In another story, Veronica asks Betty to make her a one-of-a-kind swimsuit, even asking if she's made any other girl a swimsuit out of a particular bolt of fabric. Turns out Betty used that fabric to make swimsuits for a bunch of guys.
- In yet another story, Veronica is so mortified when she sees Midge wearing the same "original" designer dress as hers that she asks Chuck to make her an "original original" dress, only for other girls to see Chuck's signature on her dress and ask him to make similar dresses for them.
- Katy Keene has done this with Katy and Gloria.
- In one Legion of Super-Heroes story Monstress, who has recently become self-conscious that her altered skin colour makes her look like a Khund, discovers she's wearing the same dress as Leland McCauley's Khundian assistant, Ms Crugg.
- In "Stitch Pitch" in Mad House Comic Digest #5 Super Sally and Dynamic Doll slap their tailor because he made them the exact same superhero costume, then walk out arm-in-arm to find a super-tailor who can understand them.
- Subverted in the sixth of the Adventure Time Graphic Novels, Masqued Mayhem. The usually bad-tempered and bitchy Lumpy Space Princess and her frenemy Melissa both wear Seashell Bra mermaid costumes to LSP's fancy dress party, but they end up complimenting each other with apparent sincerity instead of fighting.
- In the New 52, Catwoman once worked for the mayor. One of her duties: at any formal event, she was to pick out any guests wearing the same outfit as the mayor's wife. To avoid this faux pas, said guest would then be brought to a special closet filled with expensive clothes, and was allowed to pick out anything that she wanted as a replacement outfit.
- The Far Side:
- Parodied in a cartoon, where a cowboy wearing a flowery, decorated hat balks at entering a saloon where another cowboy is wearing an identical hat. All the other cowboys, of course, are wearing the usual style of cowboy hat, all alike. Although if you look closely, none of them are identical other than the decorated hats.
- One cartoon has two chameleons in the same color at a party.
- In a psychic convention, they not only wear the same dress but the exact same hair and makeup. The punchline is that it was completely unforeseen.
- Variation in this Dilbert comic.
- Pondus strip: Pondus' wife demands that they leave the party because someone else is wearing the same dress as her. Pondus tries to convince her that it's no big deal, until he sees that the person wearing the same dress is a transvestite. Then he cries out for a taxi.
- In one early Tank McNamara strip, tennis player Barb was going to play Chris Evert, and wanted an edge. Her boyfriend suggested she wear a tennis dress identical to Chris's. Barb said angrily that "even in jest that's an asinine, sexist, stupid, dumb, male idea ... and it really disgusts me that I'm going to try it." The last panel of the next strip showed Evert missing a shot while wondering frantically, "Where'd she get it? Where'd she get it?"
- In a series of FoxTrot comics, Andy forces Peter to wear a dorky shirt on the first day of school: "I'm asking you to dress nicely for one day. How bad can that be?" When he gets to school, he discovers, to his horror, that super geek Morton Goldthwait is wearing the same shirt. Hilarity Ensues.
- A political cartoon example from the 2008 US presidential election which depicts all of the then-Republican Party primary candidates dressing up as Ronald Reagan for a Halloween party. The cartoon parodied both the influence that Reagan's legacy continues to have on the GOP as well as the general popularity of wearing president masks as Halloween costumes.
- Parodied in Not Another Teen Movie, where two girls separately appear at a party naked and one complains that the other has worn the same outfit.
- Happens in Freaky Friday (2003); Lindsay Lohan's character and another girl wear the same shirt to school. Lindsay turns her shirt inside-out to avoid looking the same and looks...well, actually, stupider than if she had just left the shirt as it was.
- In My Fair Lady at Ascot, there are two women with the same outfit (including hats). Cue frosty looks and consequent ignoring of each other.
- In Unfaithfully Yours, Daphne avoids this by asking her sister what fur she will be wearing so that she wouldn't wear the same one.
- Accidental in 1988 Big Business. Separated at Birth/Switched at Birth twins* (played by Bette Midler) behave the same way and end up buying identical dresses and wearing them for the climactic shareholders meeting. Their paths cross in a restroom shortly before the meeting, resulting in this Mirror Routine. Their sisters, another pair of separated/misplaced twins (played by Lily Tomlin) also dress similarly to each other.
- Used as a Batman Gambit in The Transporter Refueled. The women involved in The Caper all dress the same to create confusion about their numbers and who they are.
- In Mystery Men, two women at the superhero audition get in a fight over their matching costumes; both are dressed like Wonder Woman.
- Those tongue-in-cheek internet lists on "Why it's Great to be a Guy" usually include this subversive chestnut: If another guy shows up at a party wearing the same outfit as you, the two of you just might become best friends for life. As one comedian put it, if a guy sees someone else wearing the same as him, he just figures "hey, I got it right!"
- Demonstrated by the story accompanying this image.
- Les Dawson used to complain of having to wear hand-me-downs from his older sisters. One day he went to school in the same dress as the teacher.
I couldn't tell who was more embarrassed - him or me.
- There is a joke that a woman is only afraid of two things; identical ones.
- A wedding joke concerns a Bride who discovers her divorced mother and her younger, prettier step-mother are planning to wear the same dress to the wedding. The Bride warns her mother, who says she will buy a new dress to wear for the event. "But mother, aren't you going to return the dress you bought first? You don't really have anything else to wear it for..." "Yes I do, sweetheart," the mother replies. "I'm wearing it to the rehearsal dinner the night before."
- In the children's book Ruby the Copycat, Ruby wants to be friends with classmate Angela so she keeps dressing up in the same clothes and eventually copies every single thing the other girl does. Angela gets annoyed and doesn't want anything to do with her, and when the teacher tries to talk to Ruby about her behavior, she does the same thing to the teacher instead. She finally learns that she should just be herself
- A male variant: in Dodger; when Dodger gets invited to a posh dinner party, Solomon insists he spends some of his reward money at a top Saville Row tailor. Since the reward isn't that much, they get a relatively cheap suit, which Solomon's friend Izzy explains was a bespoke suit for a top client, but the tailor got the measurements wrong. Naturally, said client is at the dinner, wearing the correctly measured version of the same suit, and turns out to be Sir Robert Peel. Dodger is embarrassed about this, partly because it draws attention to the fact he got the suit cheap, and partly because it's never a good idea to attract a Peeler's attention, and Sir Robert is King of the Peelers.
- In one Elemental Assassin novel, Gin goes to a party at the local museum in a dress her foster brother got for her, only to find that her ex is there on the arm of a girl wearing the same dress. Oddly, it's the men in the story who get worked up over it, as it means that the store had sold two of an allegedly one of a kind designer dress. This inadvertently saves Gin's life - when thieves raid the museum, they make a point of assassinating Gin first so she can't go Die Hard on them, only they accidentally kill the other girl, who bore a superficial resemblance to Gin and was wearing an identical dress.
- In Glee's Prom episode, a girl walks past Santana wearing the same dress as her. She rolls her eyes and carries on enjoying the night, the implication being character development in that she didn't start a fight over it.
- There's an I Love Lucy episode about this happening to Lucy and Ethel. After ignoring Fred and Ricky's (actually pretty logical) argument that, since they're performing in a talent show, dressing the same as a kind of sister act would be cute, decide that neither would wear the dress and they both promise to take the dress back. Of course they don't, and it climaxes with them tearing decorations off each other's (highly) overdone dresses◊, while singing a song called "Friendship."
- There's a Sister, Sister episode about their senior prom. The girls had bought a dress they liked each but Lisa had made them some too, in order to not hurt her feelings the girls planned to change in the back of the Limousine. When they did, and went to the prom, all the girls there were wearing either Tia's dress or Tamera's dress. They go back to the Limo but they're locked out, when Ray and Lisa show up Lisa's miffed initially but in the end it all works out.
- Lizzie McGuire: Kate and Miranda wear the same outfit on Picture Day.
- Played with on a Halloween episode of Roseanne. Jackie is dressed as Morticia Addams and Crystal is dressed as Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark - but their costumes are identical. Even better, later on, another friend of theirs comments that she can't believe they both came dressed as Cher.
- Monk: In "Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa," Randy shows up to a Christmas party with a sweater he claims his aunt made for him by hand... until he sees a Japanese-American detective wearing the exact same sweater. The other detective says he got his at Wal-Mart for 15 bucks. Randy is convinced his aunt copied that design, until Natalie points out the tag on Randy's sweater.
- Used in the Wings episode "The Waxman Cometh." When Casey goes to the grand opening of Lowell's new wax museum, she is mortified to see that the museum's wax figure of Eva Gabor is not only wearing the same dress as her, but also has better jewelry.
- A variation appears in the Mama's Family episode "There's No Place Like...No Place." When Thelma is mistaken for being a vagrant and arrested, she asks the cop, "Do I look like a homeless person?" Just then, an actual bum is brought in behind Thelma, wearing the same housedress as her. The newcomer comments, "Cute dress. You get yours at the mission too?"
- An episode of the 90s sitcom Living Single features the ladies going out to the club. Regine sees other women wearing her dress, and proceeds to go up to them and "accidentally" spill her drink on them so they'll leave to go change.
- On The Golden Girls, Dorothy and Blanche buy the same dress for an occasion. Each takes her dress back without telling the other, trying to be the nice one. After a brief scare that they've bought the same dress again, they reveal two totally different dresses, only to have Sophia emerge wearing the same dress as Blanche.
- In another episode, when Rose and Sophia are competing against Dorothy and Blanche in a bowling tournament, Rose and Sophia invoke this trope by buying the same bowling shirt as Blanche, in order to throw her off her game.
- In the 30 Rock episode "Goodbye, My Friend," Jenna gives Kenneth a picture of her dress for her birthday party, telling him to make sure that no one else wears it...Only to have Cerie show up wearing it.
- 'The Big Bang Theory'':
- The geeks initially show up all dressed as The Flash. Sheldon comments "See? This is why I wanted to have a costume meeting."
- Judging by their disappointed reactions to Leonard "calling" Frodo, it might have happened a second time. Perhaps they all had Frodo as their second choice.
- One episode features the gang dressed up as superheroes from the Justice League for a New Year's Eve party in a comic book store. Too bad there were several gangs with the same idea, but Leonard and co's costumes were the coolest and they won the competition.
- In the episode "Angel", Cordelia spots a girl wearing a dress identical to her own, and accuses her of wearing a cheap knockoff of her designer original. "This is exactly what happens when you sign these free trade agreements!"
- In "Lie to Me" Angel bitches about Vampire Vannabes thinking they know how vamps think, act and dress. Cue one of the said vannabes walking by dressed exactly as Angel.
- Played With when Cordelia complains when she sees a woman at a homeless shelter wearing her one-of-a-kind blouse — unaware that Angel gave away her blouse to the shelter.
- In "Couplet" Angel thinks that Groo is taking over his life. Wesley assures him they are two completely different people — only to bump into Groo with Angel's Spiky Hair and Badass Longcoat.
- In the Look Around You episode "Maths", one of the problems is to compute the probability that Queen Elizabeth III, Queen Elizabeth IV, and Queen Elizabeth V all show up at a party wearing the same dress. The answer: the party is canceled.
- On an early episode of Murphy Brown, Murphy is shown getting ready for work as "Devil With A Blue Dress" plays. When she gets to work, she discovers Corky is wearing the same blue dress she has on.
- In an opening of The Amanda Show, Amanda and Nancy Sullivan were embarrassed to find out they were wearing the same dress to the show, as were Drake, Josh, the Camera men and the Dancing Lobsters.
- During The Tag at the end of an episode of Community. Abed and Troy both spoke in unison with and dressed the same as Jeff. Annie apparently wanted in on the gag too, but got stuck in traffic and arrived just after the joke had ended. The joke had apparently taken months to prepare.
- Season 3 opened with a big song-and-dance number - Shirley makes a grand entrance in a sparkly purple gown - then the Dean enters wearing the exact same thing. Shirley is creeped out.
- In the second All Star edition of The Amazing Race (Unfinished Business), this was deliberately invoked as a joke by Zev & Justin, when they showed up to the starting line wearing the same Globetrotter gear worn by Harlem Globetrotters Flight Time & Big Easy when they originally raced together on a previous season.
- At the 61st Academy Awards, Martin Short and Carrie Fisher show up to present the award for Best Short Film wearing the same Little Black Dress.
- Rachel and Phoebe take Ross shopping for new clothes to wear on his date. Later Rachel tells him that she'll just buy something nice but their bags get mixed up. Not only does Ross wear a pink flowery shirt on his date, but his date is wearing it as well. They are both very uncomfortable and leave abruptly.
- Ross and Rachel's ex-boyfriend Tag own the very same red sweater and they meet on a street wearing it. Being men, they are not embarrassed and do not react hostile to each other because of it.
- In the Leonardo episode "The Betrothal Ball", Lisa and Angelica, daughter of the Duke of Pisa, are wearing identical dresses to the titular ball. Lisa tries to make a joke about it, but gets icily told "Yours is a copy. And a cheap one at that."
- The X-Files played with this trope in the episode "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas". Agents Mulder and Scully go ghost-busting to a Haunted House and a couple of ghosts play tricks on them to get Mulder and Scully re-enact their suicide pact. The agents discover two decomposed corpses under the floor who have the same clothes as the agents. They are supposed to represent them which means that the pair of ghosts Invoked it.
Scully: Mulder, she's wearing my outfit.
Mulder:: How embarrassing!
Scully: Yeah, well, you know what? He's wearing yours.
- An episode of America's Next Top Model had this as one contestant's photo shoot theme.
- Played for Drama in Dollhouse when Sierra sits down next to a woman on a train dressed exactly the same as her, including hairstyle. Her eyes widen in surprise until Sierra jabs a knockout hypo into her thigh. Turns out she works for the National Security Agency and Sierra is stealing the woman's identity to infiltrate them.
- In season 8 of Scrubs, Elliot gets annoyed when fellow doctor Veronica shows up to work every day in the same dress she does. When Elliot gets her dress dirty and has to change clothes, Veronica also changes into the same clothes Elliot has on.
- Gus from Psych shows up at a department store wearing the same outfit as a mannequin. He insists the mannequin stole his look.
- Ru Pauls Drag Race:
- In the first episode of the Season 3, as all the drag queens make their grand entrances and get to know one another, the room goes silent when India Ferrah walks in and notices that fellow contestant Phoenix has a very similar punk-inspired look. Both queens proceed to stare daggers at each other.
- Taken to the extreme in Season 8 during the Madonna-themed runway, when FOUR queens out of eight decided to wear Madge's kimono from "Nothing Really Matters" in what has since been dubbed "Kimonogate" by fans. Even better, three previously-eliminated queens had also planned on wearing a red kimono for that challenge had they gotten that far, as did Chi Chi DeVayne, who realized her mistake and put together an acceptable substitute based on the cone bra from the Blonde Ambition Tour (the only "Classic Madonna" look; the other non-kimono queens went with more obscure choices). So yes, had the eliminations gone differently, we could have very well had eight kimonos on the runway that episode. The psychology behind this is interesting; you could tell that the queens were trying to avoid this trope. With the exception of Chi Chi, no one else did Madonna's iconic outfits such as the wedding dress from "Like a Virgin" or the French ballgown from her MTV performance of "Vogue" because they thought someone else would. Meanwhile, the kimono is one of Madonna's more obscure looks but also one of her most elegant, so the queens who picked it each thought they were being unique and that backfired so hard.
- In Season 10, this fuels the rivalry between contestants Miz Cracker and Aquaria. As they are both thin, white, twinkish queens from New York City with a similar aesthetic, they're often mistaken for each other, and Aquaria has long accused Cracker of copying her style.
- A male example in the Zorro TV series: during a costumed party, both Sergeant García and the governor ends up dressed identically as Emperor Nero, to the sergeant's embarrassment and the governor's annoyance.
- In The Honeymooners episode "The Safety Award", Alice and Trixie end up buying the same dress to wear to Ralph's award ceremony.
- Played for laughs in an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, in which Jake goes undercover wearing a ski mask to try and find out who hired the hitman he's posing as. He's slightly taken aback to find that when he meets the employer, they're both wearing the exact same ski mask.
Employer: Don't worry about it. Happens all the time.
- Male example: In the beginning of an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will shows up in a nice suit. Ashley comments that it "has way too many buttons and the color is very '95". Will boasts that he knows what good fashion is, until Carlton walks into the room, wearing the exact same suit and giving a thumbs up to Will for their shared taste.
Will: I'm gonna go ahead and change.
- The trope appears in the music video for the Reel Big Fish song "She Has a Girlfriend Now," in which the identically-bedressed girls get into a knock-down-drag-out chick fight.
- "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore:
having the same [shirt] as six other people in this club is a hella don't!
- In Sequinox, this joke is made when Spring and Antares both show up wielding whips.
- "Paris Original" from the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying takes this to its logical extreme, as each secretary enters in succession, and reacts in horror as she sees every other one wearing the same dress: "Some irresponsible dress manufacturer just didn't play fair!"
- Tedd and Elliot both showing up in girl's school uniform for a gender-swapping birthday party in El Goonish Shive. Tedd invokes it for his (her?) own reasons; Elliot calls it as he (she?) sees it.
- Parodied in this Sluggy Freelance strip where Zoe dresses as a sexy French maid for a Halloween party, forcing Torg to change out of his sexy French maid costume.
- Happens in College Roomies from Hell!!!. It ends badly.
- Parodied in Rhapsodies here where this makes a run in with a high ranking society lady, Kate had accidentally insulted in the past, worse.
- Happened between Ki and Trudy at a party on General Protection Fault. Nick doesn't see what the fuss is, as all of the guys are wearing the same outfit. Then he realizes that he's talking to Fooker, who is the only person present whose tuxedo is plaid.
- Cute variant in Girls with Slingshots, where Thea worries that her top is too old-fashioned; cue her girlfriend's mother in the same outfit.
- At one point early on, Jamie and Darren show up to a party wearing identical underwear.
- Parodied in a Skin Horse guest story in which multiple temporal duplicates of Tip are created by a malfunctioning time machine, and are horrified that they're wearing the same dress.
- Shows up in Johnny Wander based on a real life incident. And happens again but inverted after an attempt to avert it.
- In this The Non-Adventures of Wonderella strip, Dana and Petri show up in the same dress. Then, because they were weaved with evil incarnate, the two dresses begin to merge.
Dana: Do you still have your receipt? I think this counts as one item now.
- Family Guy:
- One gag had Peter and Lois wearing the same dress, and Peter expected Lois to change.
- During a costume party, Stewie and Brian both come as Snoopy.
- Happens once in Jimmy Two-Shoes, where Heloise actually gets Jimmy's attention by wearing a fancy dress at a premier.
Jimmy: Oh, Heloise, nice outfit.
Heloise: (coy) It's an original. (sees a girl wearing the same thing and tears it to shreds)
- In Phineas and Ferb episode "De Plane! De Plane!", Candace finds a girl who wears the same swimsuit as her, only hotter.
- A Halloween Episode variation: In "Druselsteinoween", both Candace and Stacy come to Vanessa Doofenshmirz' party dressed as a vampire queen. On top of it, Vanessa is wearing the same costume. Candace decideds to keep hers, but Stacy leaves the party to change into a The Scarlet Pimpernel costume instead. When she comes back, she discovers that five other people are dressed as the Scarlet Pimpernel, including Vanessa's date.
- Parodied in Beverly Hills Teens, where Bianca and Larke wore the same outfit to a costume party (save for some color differences), and then both got changed into new outfits, that are still the same.
- In the Ed Eddn Eddy Picture Day episode:
Johnny: (holding out Plank) Hey, Jimmy! You and Plank ordered clothes from the same catalog! (Jimmy is horrified)
- Done in an episode of Kappa Mikey. Lilly and Mitsuki see each other and gasp... Then pan out to Mikey, Gonard, and Guano, all three also wearing the same dress.
- In a Totally Spies! episode, Clover is humiliated when she sees Mandy wearing the same outfit as her. She keeps on trying to switch to different oufits she thinks Mandy will never think to wear throughout the episode, but it backfires every time.
- In the episode of "Make War Not Warcraft" in South Park, Butters showed up with an avatar identical to Cartman's. Cartman ordered him to change right away.
- In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Mask of Matches Malone!", Black Canary, Catwoman, and the Huntress pretend to be Bodyguard Babes for Batman's "Matches Malone" gangster persona. Catwoman arrives wearing the same dress as Black Canary, and the two snipe at each other until "Malone" arrives.
- In The Loud House episode "Brawl in the Family", a fight breaks out when Lori and Leni buy the same dress.
- The Hey Arnold episode "Miss Perfect" has Rhonda wanting to impress the sixth grade girls with her new outfit. But Lila ends up wearing the exact same outfit that the sixth grade girls are instantly impressed by since they think Lila pulls it off better than Rhonda.
- A small gag in the Halloween Episode shows Ernie and Mr. Hyunh attending a Halloween party both dressed as Frankenstein.
- Anne Hathaway defied this during the 2013 Oscars: Just hours before the ceremony, she found out her dress looked too similar to the one worn by her co-star, Amanda Seyfried, and thus dropped it for another dress that ended up getting her criticized left and right.
- Played for laughs during the MTV Video Music Awards one year. Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey (who were believed to have disliked each other) emerged from opposite sides of the stage to present an award together, in identical brown silk gowns. There was an awkward silence as a cat fight was anticipated, until Mariah and Whitney revealed it was all a gag, and each ripped their gowns (actually just removed the extra fabric) to make them different by altering the hemlines.
- An ice hockey game in Illinois multiplied this problem by twenty. The women's team from Lake Forest College met the high school girl's team from Lake Forest Academy, and both teams showed up wearing similar uniforms. The end result? A bench-clearing brawl.
- The source of the "Who Wore it Better" articles in several tabloid magazines.
- Apparently (I cannot for the life of me find a picture), two women at Prince Harry's wedding wore the same hat.