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Significant Wardrobe Shift

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Jesse Pinkman in Season 1 (left) and Season 5 (right). Apparently, four years of Character Development and psychological trauma can leave a mark on a person's taste in clothing.

In the visual media, it's common to give important characters some kind of a cool Iconic Outfit or a Limited Wardrobe that lets the audience identify them immediately. Sometimes it's just there to look cool, or sometimes it can speak volumes about said character's personality.

If it's particularly well-entrenched, though, a gradual change in the character's wardrobe can be a convenient way of showing the audience how they're gradually evolving as a character. It doesn't have to be quite as overt as an Evil Costume Switch or a Good Costume Switch, and it may not even involve a character who wears a costume.

Maybe an extroverted teenage character gradually goes from wearing flamboyant, brightly-colored clothing to more conservative dress with muted colors as he starts to mature and calm down. Maybe The Hero gradually starts to wear darker clothing as he goes from optimistic to cynical, or starts to get more in touch with the harsh realities of life as a world-saving badass.


No matter what form it takes, it's a quick, easy way to show the audience that Nothing Is the Same Anymore, and it can add some visual variety to a show that might not otherwise have it.

A Sub-Trope of Costume Evolution.

Super-Trope to the following:

Compare Iconic Outfit and Limited Wardrobe. This trope is one way that a Fanservice Pack may manifest.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the second season of Love Live!, Rin accepting that she can be a Tomboy and feminine is marked with her getting an entirely new training outfit, the most notable change being a switch from parachute pants to a skirt.
  • In the first half of Magic Knight Rayearth, Ferio is dressed in a casual adventuring outfit with no frills and a single pauldron. In the second, he's white-clad, with more extensive and ornamented armor pieces and a huge billowing cape to reflect that he's taken up his responsibilities as Prince in the wake of his sister Emeraude's death.
  • In the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Kai Shiden is a one-note Jerkass who provides comic relief, hardly ever shows any concern for anyone else, and even briefly deserts the crew of White Base before getting cold feet and coming back. When we meet him again in the Sequel Series Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam—as a far more mature investigative reporter with the courage to match — his snazzy white suit and black trench coat instantly tell us that he's grown up since his time on the White Base.
  • Pokémon:
    • In the sixtieth episode of the Pokemon X & Y series, not only does Serena cuts her hair short, but she also begins to wear a different outfit to signal Character Development after losing in her first Showcase.
    • This is subverted with Lillie. In the games, Lillie undergoes this and an Expository Hairstyle Change to signify her separation from her mother Lusamine. However, due to changes in Lusamine's personality and relationship with Lillie, this element of Lillie's character doesn't exist in the anime. Lillie does put her hair in a ponytail when confronting Lusamine, but she goes back to her original hairstyle the next episode. Lillie's "Z-powered form" only appears when she's being really serious. It isn't a permanent change like in the games.
    • Chloe from Pokemon Journeys plays this straight. After becoming an official trainer, Chloe starts wearing a pink blouse with a yellow sweater around her waist, light blue jeans, and pink sneakers.
  • Hinata Hyuga from Naruto wore a baggy hoodie or coat throughout the series to signify her insecurity and shy nature. By the time of The Last: Naruto the Movie she wears a sleeveless sweater, short shorts, and even Zettai Ryouiki as her shinobi attire, which signifies that she has outgrown her shyness and is even more self-confident than she already became in Part II.
    • Back when he was a villain, Gaara's clothing looked like this. But after he reforms, his clothing changes to this.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Zenitsu at the beginning of the story was a meek, whining and reluctant demon slayer, he only became a warrior to show gratitude towards his master Jigoro, who once saved him, wearing a bright yellow haori, given to him by Jigoro which is themed after his own haori. In the very end of the series Zenitsu takes up his master's haori, who died before Zentisu could show how much stronger and courageous he grew to be, but Jigoro could see that from the afterlife, personally congratulating his pupil, thus Zenitsu has successfully inherited his master's will after he has helped to kill the source of all demons.
  • In HeartCatch Pretty Cure!, when we first meet Itsuki, she's constantly wearing the school's male uniform. Once she becomes Cure Sunshine and ends up joining the Fashion Club, she still wears the uniform but now adds a cute sunflower-patterned shirt and jeans, signifying her really loosening up in her ideal that she needs to act like a boy. At the end of the series, finally free of those responsibilities, she's shown wearing the female school uniform and her boyish short hair is grown out to her shoulders.
  • In Assassination Classroom, Irina Jelavic goes from wearing form-hugging outfits that help in her Honey Pot tactics to a more conservative Sweater Girl and Proper Tights with a Skirt combo after her Heel–Face Revolving Door stops on Face and as a way to attract her Love Interest Karasuma who as a somewhat traditional Japanese man, prefers conservative outfits over outgoing ones.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, we have the members of the Resistance pre and post-Heartland invasion. Before, Yuto and Kurosaki were wearing casual jacket - T-shirt combos, Ruri was wearing a long nice dress, and Kaito was wearing a dress shirt with slacks. Afterwards, Yuto switches to a dark dress shirt with a Black Cloak, Kurosaki wears a Purple Badass Longcoat with a Scarf of Asskicking, Ruri wears a dress she tore on purpose for ease of movement with pants, heavy boots, and a jacket, and Kaito also wears a black Badass Longcoat (the same he had in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL). In addition, all of them wear Red scarves of asskicking to signify their alliance, and have notable Clothing Damage; for example, Kurosaki's coat is torn at the edges.
  • For much of Fruits Basket, Yuki Sohma tends to wear tight-fitting, formal clothing outside of school, typically in a distinctly Chinese style. After meeting Kakeru and becoming the Student Council President, he gradually stops wearing Chinese style outfits and leans more towards looser, more casual clothing, showing how he's opening up more to people other than Tohru.
  • After befriending Mimosa and Klaus, having been friendless among his squad because of his peasant background, Yuno in Black Clover switches from wearing his outfit from the clothes he wore when living in Hage to the Golden Dawn uniform.

    Comic Books 
  • The 2006 incarnation of X-Force has the characters in the eponymous team (most of whom do double duty as X-Men and members of X-Force) donning black and grey versions of their regular X-threads, symbolizing their new roles as Darker and Edgier enforcers in the wake of M-Day. This is probably most obvious with Wolverine, who normally wears bright yellow and blue.
  • Grant Morrison's New X-Men has the X-Men swapping out their traditional bright blue spandex for black and yellow leather and grey turtlenecks that could easily pass for civilian dress, just as the team moves in a new direction as a highly visible peacekeeping force that fights for mutant rights worldwide.
  • A few times when The Incredible Hulk changed personality, his outfit changed too.
    • In the 280s, when he has Banner's brain, he goes from shredded purple Magic Pants to purple trunks made of unstable Molecules, which shift in size when he does.
    • Around 350, when he becomes the gray Joe Fixit (a mob enforcer in Las Vegas), he wears three-piece suits tailored to his frame.
    • In issue #377, when he becomes "Professor Hulk", he eschews purple altogether, going for black or dark blue slacks and white or black tank tops.
  • Everything about Harley Quinn's alternate Suicide Squad costume seems carefully crafted to emphasize her newfound independence from the Joker. Her original duds stuck closely to the court jester gimmick (matching the Joker's clown gimmick), and they were red and black to emphasize her evil allegiance, and to match the Joker's playing card theme. Her alternate costume ditches the jester hat, and it has a much more colorful red and blue color scheme that's all her own; it's also noticeably more revealing (with a tight corset and hot pants in place of the original's full-body suit), emphasizing her newfound sexual independence.
  • 100 Bullets:
    • Through most of the series, Lono — an infamously sadistic thug and torturer without a scrap of empathy — stands out for his love of loud Hawaiian shirts in bold colors; though partly a mark of Lono's Hawaiian heritage, they also hint at his staunch individualism, which is appropriate for a criminal who joined the Minutemen for thrills. Later on, after he accepts the position of Warlord of the Trust in the wake of Mr. Shepherd's death, he immediately begins wearing a brown trench coat on top of his Hawaiian shirts, hinting at his willingness to take on greater responsibilities that require a modicum of cleverness.
    • When we first meet Louis "Loop" Hughes, he dresses exactly like you'd expect of an impoverished kid from the inner city of Philadelphia, typically wearing low-hanging jeans and baggy basketball jerseys. Later on, when he agrees to join Lono's faction after Mr. Shepherd arranges his release from prison, his wardrobe gets noticeably swankier (tailored jackets, gold jewelry, color-coordinated outfits, etc.), showing us that he's slowly being seduced by the Trust's massive wealth and power.
    • Much like Loop, Isabel "Dizzy" Cordova starts off as an impoverished ex-gangbanger from the barrios of South Chicago, with the clothing to match (sweatpants, sneakers, tank tops, baggy jackets, etc.). After Mr. Shepherd takes her under his wing to prepare her for joining the Minutemen, her clothing gets noticeably more expensive (turtleneck sweaters, button-up shirts, leather purses, slacks, etc.), likely because Shepherd starts buying her clothes.note 
    • Everyone in the series gets a black suit and tie when they join (or rejoin) the Minutemen, making it all the more noticeable that Milo Garrett initially wears a light tan suit, which almost makes him look like a photographic negative of his younger self. Fittingly, Milo's post-Minutemen life is the polar opposite of the life of a Minuteman; while Minutemen are highly disciplined professional killers who answer to the Trust and follow a strict code of proportionate revenge, Milo is introduced as a thrill-seeking private detective who only cares about himself. Fittingly, he is the only former Minuteman who refuses to join either side in the war against the Trust, instead choosing to let Lono kill him.
  • In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, resident everyman Dwight McCarthy is introduced as a respectable (by Basin City standards) teetotaler who wears white button-up shirts tucked into simple slacks. After he comes back from a brush with death following a reunion with his old flame Ava Lord, he manages to completely revamp his appearance with the help of a plastic surgeon, and he lets his hair grow back. He also gets a new wardrobe to match his new attitude, swapping his old threads for tight black t-shirts and a black leather trench coat with Army-style epaulets.
  • Marvel's Civil War event is kicked off by a tragic explosion caused by a villain that kills several heroes and dozens of schoolchildren. Speedball, the only hero to escape alive, becomes so guilt-ridden that he changes his name to "Penance" and switches from his traditional colorful threads to a drastically different costume lined with metal spikes, intentionally injuring himself to make up for his "failure".
  • In the very early days of X-Men, Professor Xavier's five original students note  initially wore identical black and yellow uniforms meant to show their shared allegiance to Xavier's School. Around 1968, as the kids gradually grew up and became more independent, Xavier eventually decided to give them all their own unique costumes to acknowledge how far they had come since beginning their training note . The individual costumes would come to be a mainstay of the X-books as time wore on, showing Xavier's movement away from the rigidity of boarding school life.
  • DC You changed the outfits of several iconic superheroes, in keeping with its Darker and Edgier atmosphere.
    • Superman's suit is changed to a T-shirt and a pair of jeans, which goes to show his transition from idealistic superhero to dour vagrant.
    • Batman used a Powered Armor with police insignias, showing his closer allegiance to the police instead of being an independent vigilante. Justified because that's James Gordon under the armor, not Bruce Wayne.
    • Wonder Woman puts on a magical armor worn by Hephaestus, accepting her responsibilities as the new Goddess of War.
  • In Knightfall, Jean-Paul Valley's descending sanity level is also tied to how his Batman uniform looks. When he first takes up the Mantle of the Bat, he's in the regular Batsuit. By the time the story ends, he's donned a suit of armor that looks more like Azrael than it does Batman.
  • Ultimate Marvel: Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor are the core members of The Ultimates. Captain America died in Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand, and Thor got lost in the Negative Zone. Stark disbanded the team, unable to continue with it without them. He keeps working as Iron Man in Ultimate FF, but with completely new armor.
  • In 1991, Wolverine dumped the brown and tan uniform he wore since after The Dark Phoenix Saga and returned to his classic yellow and blue tiger-stripe costume, though two comics gave different reasoning - his appearance in Spider-Man had his costume torn up after a tussle with the Wendigo and he switched to the old costume afterwards because of it, though in his own title seems to suggest that a bunch of problems related to his past caused him to somewhat regress.

    Fan Works 
  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers:
    • Following his name change from Every during the aftermath of the Orre arc, Ever dyes his hair and starts wearing all blue.
    • Psyche starts wearing Gardevoir skirts in lieu of her normal Gothitelle skirts in an attempt to distance herself from her Dark and Troubled Past. Once she discovers that some of that past was Fake Memories, however, she starts flipping between the two as she reconciles her past and present.
  • Guardian shows Lulu's in-game outfit in Final Fantasy X as an example of this—she tailors and resews her more comfortable (but still dark) dress into the corset-and-belts ensemble in order to symbolize the bonds of her vow to protect Yuna and determination to keep her own doubts locked inside.
  • Burning Bridges, Building Confidence sees Ladybug change her suit, using her flair as a fashion designer to add more support, padding, and personality to the simple spotted leotard. This symbolizes her coming into her own as Ladybug, as well as her breaking away from Alya and Chat Noir, both of whom immediately criticize the new look in ways that show how self-absorbed they are.
    Alya: And you've changed your suit! I made my blog around that suit! How dare you!
    Chat Noir: [pouting] I have to agree, M'Lady. That does nothing for your figure. And you didn't even ask me for my opinion on it.
    Ladybug: I don't owe either of you any stock in how my suit looks. My suit is mine and mine alone. I made the decision I felt was in my best interests.
  • Doing It Right This Time: Rei moving away from wearing her school uniform at all times in favour of more casual clothes is a major step in her pathway to recovering from the emotional abuse she'd been subjected to for most of her life and in the development of her relationship with her fellow Pilots. The same is true of Shinji, albeit to a lesser extent, as letting himself be talked into varying up his own Limited Wardrobe kicked off a sort of mini-arc that forces him to come out of his shell a bit.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail:
    • Shortly after boarding, Chloe swaps her school uniform with blue anchors to a white beach dress with blue sealife to signify that she's no longer staying in her comfort zone or bound by everyone's expectations of her and is ready to explore the other cars on the Infinity Train.
    • Late in Act 2, following an Important Haircut, she changes her appearance again, donning a yellow dress and adding blue streaks to her hair.
  • Infinity Train: Knight of the Orange Lily: Circumstances force Gladion to change into an all-white outfit before leaving the Pearl Gates Car, reminding him of how he wished to become like the White Knight... and symbolizing how he still wishes to become a valiant defender, despite looking down upon the White Knight for being ignorant and naïve (and refusing to acknowledge his own oversights).

    Film — Animation 
  • Beauty and the Beast:
  • Frozen (2013): In the middle of her song "Let It Go", Elsa magically changes her clothes from stately royal robes to a slinky gown, symbolizing her decision to stop hiding her powers and letting others determine how she will live her life.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame shows Frollo losing his distinctive hat whenever he's having a vulnerable moment. He doesn't wear it for his Villainous Breakdown in the song "Hellfire" and loses it completely in the climax.
  • Inside Out: Riley starts out wearing bright colorful clothes while her family's still in Minnesota. After they move to San Francisco, however, her wardrobe starts getting darker and darker as her mood deteriorates.
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet sees the Disney Princesses swap out their iconic dresses and gowns for more comfortable and modern casual wear, symbolizing how Vanellope's helping them to grow into stronger and more independent role models.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Miles Morales spends most of the movie wearing a cheap Spider-Man suit that he bought at a costume shop. Once he's ready to embrace his role of being Spider-Man, he swaps it out for his iconic black and red outfit.
  • Tangled: Rapunzel swaps her lavender dress for a pink one when she is reunited with her parents, presumably to reflect a famous trope.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In 13 Going on 30 Jenna's adult clothes start off very high-fashion and kicky. As the film goes on and she reconnects with her childhood friend, she wears more pink. The costume designer explicitly points this out on the DVD's special features.
  • Small example in The Blob (1958). Lt Dave's tie disappears and his shirt opens by a couple of buttons around the same time he starts believing Steve about the monster.
  • The Bourne Identity: When Bourne first sets out to find his identity, he is given ill-fitting, ratty clothes by fishermen, and sticks out in his surroundings not simply due to his ignorance of his identity, but visibly by his outfit. Over the course of the movie, as he investigates his past and comes to better understand his skills, his behavior changes. By the time he duels The Professor, his awkward demeanor has transformed into a more heroic self-confidence, symbolized by his new upgraded clothing, complete with a Badass Longcoat.
  • In Bram Stoker's Dracula Mina's corset is loosened and she shows more cleavage as a sign that the vampire in her is taking over.
  • Casino Royale (2006): As a newly-assigned double-0 agent, James Bond starts off wearing off-the-rack business casual outfits. By the end of the movie, Bond becomes a Badass in a Nice Suit with tailored tuxedos and business suits.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    • Jadis' dress. Tilda Swinton describes it as a "mood thermometer" that changes to reflect Jadis' current state. When we first see her, at the height of her reign in Narnia, it's a grand and elaborate gown with a crown of icicles. As her power weakens, the dress becomes less elaborate and the crown shrinks.
    • The Pevensies change out of their regular clothes and into Narnian ones around the time they accept their destiny.
  • In Cursed Ellie starts out wearing business suits with her hair tied back. Jimmy meanwhile wears baggy and nerdy clothes. After getting bitten by the werewolf and gaining a "natural sexual aura" Ellie wears more skirts and lets her hair down, while Jimmy wears more form-fitting clothes and styles his hair too.
  • Rex in The Devil Rides Out begins the film as a skeptic fully suited up. As he comes to have feelings for Tanith and believes in the cult they're up against, the tie and jacket come off and his shirt opens by a couple of buttons.
  • Dirty Dancing. Baby's clothes become visibly sexier from the very second time she visits the staff quarters — a sleeveless shirt as opposed to being covered up with a sweater — and get even moreso as her dance lessons continue, coinciding with her developing sexuality. They revert to plain and frumpy when her Dad finds out about her forbidden relationship with her dance instructor.
  • Enchanted:
    • Giselle arrives in New York in a big Pimped-Out Dress to reflect her fairy tale roots. She then crafts herself a blue dress which is more casual but still quite fairy tale-like. Her next one is a more flowery pink sundress. She then appears at the ball wearing a more typical evening gown - showing how she has found some ground.
    • It's the reverse with Robert. We see him less in suits and ties, and he ends the third act wearing a Prince Charming costume to reflect Giselle tweaking his idealism.
  • Stokeley of The Faculty dresses all in black for the majority of the film. In the epilogue when she's made a love connection with Stan, she's now wearing a bright purple cardigan.
  • In The Fly (1986), Seth initially has a nice but very Limited Wardrobe of five identical suits (and matching pairs of shoes!) because he doesn't like expending mental energy on choosing what to wear. Keep in mind he's a recluse and it wouldn't matter what he wore most of the time. His lover Veronica decides to change that after learning this and goes out to buy him some new wardrobe pieces — a plaid shirt, a brown leather jacket, etc. The next time he's seen he's wearing said shirt and coordinating pants, suggesting he adopted the new look immediately; the suits are never seen again. It's a sign of how his relationship with Veronica is transforming his entire life; in fact, in the same scene he finally successfully transports a living being through his telepods, which he couldn't have done had his relationship with her not led to a Eureka Moment. But later that night he teleports himself and unknowingly undergoes a Teleporter Accident that leaves him fused on a genetic-molecular level with a fly. The early stages of the Slow Transformation that results have him become more virile, sensual, and aggressive, and that's when the audience starts seeing him in the leather jacket — first with the shirt, but later without it.
  • Rhett in Gone with the Wind loses his suit jacket and his shirt becomes looser after he's rescued Scarlett from Atlanta - and decides to join the army.
  • At the end of Grease, Sandy gives up her bobby-sox outfits to dress in leather, to show her love for Danny. Some modern critics feel this has the Unfortunate Implications of implying that she gave up her identity for him. On the flip side, Danny trades his greaser duds for a more wholesome jock outfit to make himself more appealing to Sandy, but he quickly switches back after seeing her new persona (also contributing to the Unfortunate Implications).
  • Sarah in Hitch begins the film wearing sharp pantsuits. As she falls for Hitch, we see her in dresses a lot more.
  • When retired from his job as a Mafiya hit man, John Wick wears simple but neat casual clothes; jeans, T-shirts, leather jackets, and the like. After he's beaten, robbed, and has his puppy killed by his old boss' thuggish son, Wick starts thinking he's back, and switches over to very stylish and expensive suits from then on.
  • In Legally Blonde after Elle resolves to become more serious, she wears black suits all the time in contrast to her previously colourful outfits. The change isn't apparent until after Callaghan makes a pass at her - and she walks into the courtroom wearing a bright pink suit (showing she's back to her old self).
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: In Thor and The Avengers, Clint "Hawkeye" Barton exclusively wears black tactical military clothes that fall squarely under Movie Superheroes Wear Black. In the sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, he wears a more personalized trench coat with purple notes. There's a reason for this: Clint spends most of the first Avengers movie as a garden-variety S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, while the Avengers start out as a glorified S.H.I.E.L.D. task force; by the end of the movie, Clint has been wholeheartedly accepted as an Avenger, and the Avengers themselves have grown into True Companions. Clint's individualized dress is a sign that he's officially become part of the family.
  • Mean Girls has Cady start off wearing t-shirts and jeans. As she's corrupted into 'girl world' she gets a makeover to wear the same clothes as the Plastics. In the end when she has undergone a Heel–Face Turn she's at a balance - casual clothes but femininely styled hair.
  • In Pitch Perfect, the Trebles change from maroon hoodies to blazers under Jesse's leadership, suggesting that they have matured (which they certainly have).
  • In The Sandlot, the nerdy Scotty Smalls starts out wearing khakis and tucked-in polo shirts, with a dorky long-brimmed baseball cap with a fish on it (since it's the only baseball cap that he owns). After the ultra-cool Benny Rodriguez takes him under his wing, though, his clothing gradually gets more relaxed as the movie goes on. First, he trades the fish hat for a Chicago Cubs cap, then he stops tucking in his shirt, then he starts wearing simple shorts, and eventually t-shirts.
  • In the live-action Scooby-Doo movie, Fred and Velma's switch from their standard outfits to beach party gear is a sign they've been possessed. Averted with Daphne, as she's still wearing the same dress (but has been possessed for a shorter amount of time).
  • A Simple Favor: Both of the leading ladies indulge in this.
    • Stephanie starts out wearing brightly-colored, conservative outfits that make her look like a kindergarten teacher. As the film goes on, and she becomes increasingly broken, she starts wearing darker colors and showing more skin.
    • Emily mostly wears black and dresses in a very sexy, elegant manner. She also almost always wears suits. When screwing with Sean and Stephanie at the end, she comes out wearing a bright blue 1950s Housewife-style dress. It's somewhat similar to what Stephanie was wearing earlier, except way more elegant.
  • Star Wars:
    • Luke Skywalker's clothes gradually become darker over the course of the original Star Wars trilogy as he grows into his role as the savior of the Jedi and takes on heavier burdens. In A New Hope, when he's a wide-eyed farm boy dreaming of adventure, he dresses completely in white. In The Empire Strikes Back, he wears a grey military uniform. In Return of the Jedi, when the revelation about Darth Vader's identity has fully set in, he wears black with white underneath.
    • Anakin Skywalker's clothes do the same in the prequel trilogy, climaxing with a full-on Evil Costume Switch when he becomes Darth Vader. In The Phantom Menace, he wears light tan. In Attack of the Clones, when his anger and arrogance start to become obvious, he wears dark brown. In Revenge of the Sith, he begins wearing black (even before he fully becomes a Sith Lord).
    • Leia in A New Hope wore regal white outfits, being the resident princess to rescue. She spends most of The Empire Strikes Back in arctic-themed military attire and Return of the Jedi has her joining a commando raid against the shield generator wearing camouflage gear, which reflects her more hands-on involvement with the action.
    • Padme in The Phantom Menace wore very elaborate clothing and complex make-up and hairstyles, which changed from scene to scene. This was done as part of the story because she was using Body Doubles and this helped keep her identity a secret. Attack of the Clones gave her just as many costume changes but her outfits and make-up were slightly more subdued, and she spends the second half of the film largely wearing the same form-fitting white outfit as she had to engage in more action sequences. Revenge of the Sith sees her return to slightly more elegant clothing because she was hiding her pregnancy.
  • The Stepford Wives of course uses this as code for when someone's been replaced with a robot: the woman in question will suddenly be wearing a traditional 1950s housewife dress with elaborately styled hair and a lot more make-up.
  • In Theodora Goes Wild, Theodora's outfits are extravagant and stylish, showing her newfound personality. Compare this to her modest suits from the beginning before her transition into "wild" Theodora.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: Xavier's attire before and after his encounter with Apocalypse is quite different, and it illustrates a major change in his worldview. He begins with laid-back, '80s-influenced apparel, and he then switches to a conservative, Simple, yet Opulent suit. Charles is naïve at first, but his optimism is later tempered by realism.

  • From the Deryni works by Katherine Kurtz:
    • The relative security of Deryni in Gwynedd (as well as his status as a badass) is reflected in Alaric Morgan's clothing. During his twenties and early thirties as reactionary forces hold sway in the Church and government, he generally wears "sable" (black) riding leathers, with a chain mail shirt that "gleamed openly at wrists and throat, boldly belligerent and just a little too ready for trouble". By the time Kelson had ruled for several years (in The Bishop's Heir), he's described as having transitioned through muted grey with a deep burgundy cloak, followed by deep blues, then greens and golds and particolours — "the rich jewel tones rather than bright shades". For Kelson's accolade in The Quest for Saint Camber, Morgan was "[c]lad in forest green velvet... ducally crowned with gold and with Kelson's sword in his hands, he looked like some elemental godling—sunlight on forest leaves and pine boughs, puissant and vital". Secure at last?
    • Duncan's tenuous position within the Church is reflected in his swapping between secular and sacred garb. Aside from the need for discretion, Duncan reverts to mostly secular dress when his vocation is in doubt or when it's prudent to emphasize his secular role. Even then, there are usually subtle clues to his priesthood: he left to lead the northern army on the Mearan campaign with the sword and crozier crossed en saltire behind the embroidered crest on his clothing and the cross-shaped nose piece on his helm, and he entered Laas with Kelson in ducal coronet and armor with a scarlet bishop's cope.
  • Hester of The Scarlet Letter has spiritual ups and downs over the course of several years which are accompanied by various degrees of subdued wardrobe and effort put into her appearance.
  • Mentioned in Worm as part of Taylor's backstory. Prior to high school, she wore well-fitting jeans and t-shirts in bright colors. Due to constant bullying and her self-esteem nose-diving, Taylor's wardrobe veered into drab and bulky jeans and hoodies as she tried to hide. After joining the Undersiders and gradually regaining her sense of worth, Taylor started to wear dresses, tight jeans, and stomach-baring t-shirts.
  • In Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner's Juggler of Worlds there is a cultural association with wearing brighter colors and being interested in finding romance. At the end of the book, Sigmund, who had always before worn black, changes his clothes to lighter colors to signal that he is interested in his love interest, who in turn shows up to his house wearing the brightest, hottest pink available.
  • In This Other World, younger people dress in dark, somber colors, while people who've gone through Ha-Ran wear bright, patterned outfits to signify the complexity of communal living.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: In the first two seasons, Agent Coulson wears the standard suit and tie of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but in season 3 he starts wearing colored shirts without a tie partially because he hasn't figured out how to tie one with his artificial hand.
  • The costume changes have been symbolic in the Arrowverse as the characters in the shows have evolved.
    • Arrow: Oliver started out wearing grease-paint makeup and a relatively simple green leather outfit (befitting someone assembling a costume on their own in a quasi-realistic setting) as the killer Vigilante/Hood, then as he gains more allies and changes his attitude to be the less-lethal Arrow the costume acquires a slightly more sophisticated look, culminating in trading in the makeup for the standard superhero domino mask. When he finally becomes the Green Arrow in Season 4, and the show's setting having firmly moved out of the "realistic" area with superpowered humans, superscience, magic, and time travel, the costume looks much more like one befitting a superhero.
    • The Flash (2014): Barry's Season One costume was more muted with some differences from the standard comics version of the Flash costume. Come Season 2, when he's firmly established as a respected and beloved superhero, Barry dons the white and gold emblem used in the comics. In Season 4, Cisco Ramon creates a brighter and streamlined suit upon Barry’s return from the Speed Force. A redesigned suit is used for Season 5, created sometime in the future by an unseen Ryan Choi.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Londo Mollari, who started off as a loud, boisterous almost comic character, often wore a purple longcoat. In later seasons, after his deals with Morden and pretty much starting a war, he starts wearing a black one.
    • After seceding from the Earth Alliance, the human main characters all trade in their Earthforce uniforms for a spiffy black ensemble.
  • In The Big Bang Theory Penny wears low cut tops, booty shorts, and loud colors to reflect the fact that she's a very young woman optimistically dressing like what she thinks a hot young woman in LA would wear. In season four, after she's done a little growing up and become a bit more of a cynic, she begins dressing a bit more conservatively and less like a teenager.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • When Jesse Pinkman first appears, he's almost invariably seen wearing loud, eye-catching clothes, including a bright yellow hoodie that he wears in almost every scene. After Season 2, when he goes through a succession of traumatic events including quitting heroin and coping with his girlfriend's death, his personality mellows out considerably, and he begins dressing in a noticeably darker, more muted color palette.
    • The first real outward sign that Walt is beginning to change from Mr. Chips into Scarface is when he shaves his head and dons his trademark Heisenberg hat. After his empire falls apart in Season 5, Walt’s clothes become filthy and disheveled during his self-imposed exile, but he’s back in his normal duds for the finale.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy in early seasons was made to look more like a Valley Girl - with shoulder-length bleached hair, bubble gum-coloured nails, and lots of short skirts. As she went through college and matured, her clothing became much more sensible for slaying.
    • Willow began as a nerd who wore clothes her mother picked out for her. As she comes out of her shell, she wears more colourful outfits and lots of fuzzy sweaters. By the final season where she's a very powerful witch, she wears lots of long skirts and clothing reminiscent of Tara.
    • Giles started off the series predominantly wearing tweed suits, giving the impression of him as a relatively buttoned-up and stuffy mentor figure that contrasted with the younger Buffy, Xander, and Willow. After he gets fired by the Watchers Council in Season 3, he starts to loosen up a bit in wearing non-tweed clothing. It's played up further in Season 4 following the loss of his other job as school librarian due to Sunnydale High blowing up in the Season 3 finale, where he's even shown dressing in casual wear
  • In Charmed Phoebe's outfits become much vampier after her job as the advice columnist kicks off. It also coincides with her divorce being finalized. Perhaps her way of letting the men know she's back on the market?
  • Community: Overlapping with Early Installment Weirdness, Annie is initially characterized as a rather prim and brittle bookworm with a dowdy fashion sense. Over the course of the first season, she quickly shifts into an adorably sweet romantic and starts wearing more modern, fashionable outfits.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Fourth Doctor's outfit gets progressively more Victorian and better coordinated as his character matures while sticking to the same "coat, fedora and unreasonably long scarf" theme. He starts out a Rummage Sale Reject wearing a tacky argyle cardigan with a pocket watch, a clashing green neckerchief, and a red safari jacket; switches to waistcoats, frock coats, and a plain red neckerchief when he becomes a Reasonable Authority Figure; and shifts fully into Byronic Hero with an all-red outfit based on Victorian military formal wear. He also spends most of "The Deadly Assassin" without his trademark scarf, indicating the darker tone his character is treated with in the serial.
    • The Seventh Doctor wore a light blazer in his first two seasons when he was mostly a goofy guy who clowned his way out of stuff as much as planned his way. In his third season, he wore a darker blazer to reflect the fact that he was now a stone-cold planner who would do whatever it took, no matter how dark.
    • The Eleventh Doctor spends the majority of his tenure in a short brown tweed coat with shoulder patches, but after he loses his companions halfway through Series 7, he switches it out for a more Victorian look with a long purple frock coat and a grey or black waistcoat.
    • The Twelfth Doctor changes his shirts a lot from the start, but his costume and hair significantly evolve over his tenure.
      • In Series 8, the contrast between Eleven's whimsical, youthful nature and his old, grouchy, dour one is reflected in his "serious" wardrobe. His curly silver hair is close-cropped and his Crombie coat and coordinating pants are always in crisp condition.
      • In "Last Christmas" and the first three-quarters of Series 9, he has moved past his post-regeneration identity crisis and is more relaxed, traveling with a companion he has known and loved for a long time. He's often seen in a coat, hoodie, and T-shirt, sometimes with plaid trousers ala the Second Doctor. His hair has grown into obvious, fluffy curls.
      • He returns to his pressed-suit look, but with a cozier red velvet Crombie coat, in the Season Finale three-parter as he struggles with Clara Oswald's death and a wrenching imprisonment/torture. He makes an Evil Costume Switch late in the game to a black trenchcoat, having become a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, but after he redeems himself he gives it up in favor of a new Crombie coat.
      • In the follow-up Christmas Episodes and Series 10, he usually has the formal suits of Series 8, but they are not as severe. The hoodie occasionally shows up in his more casual moods. His hair is fluffier than ever.
  • Elementary: Joan's on-the-job clothes changed dramatically from season 1 to season 5. She originally dressed casually but has since begun dressing formally (and somewhat more masculinely) in suit jackets and ties. This shift goes with her Character Development. Joan becomes a better detective and begins becoming more independent from Sherlock.
  • In Farscape John Crichton spends much of the first season wearing parts of his IASA flight suit, but shifts over to darker-colored native clothing similar to Aeryn Sun's as he gets used to being part of Moya's crew and loses some of his innocence.
  • Game of Thrones
    • Sansa Stark starts off with a braided hairstyle wearing dresses that are simple and practical, like everything else in the North, but her clothes are somewhat fancier than Catelyn's or Arya's since she longs to be a Princess Classic in King's Landing. Once she becomes a hostage in King's Landing, she wears sumptuous dresses and an elaborate hairstyle like Cersei, reflecting her status as Joffrey's betrothed and a member of the royal court. However, these dresses are also made of more fragile pastel-colored fabric, reflecting her helplessness. She shifts back to a much more somber style in Season 3 wearing mournful, monochrome colors and loose hair since she has fallen from her status as the King's betrothed and cast aside. It gets worse when, not only has her father been executed, her mother and oldest brother are slaughtered with her two younger brothers believed to have been murdered as well. While in Season 4, she keeps a somber look reflecting her refugee situation, the more she loses her innocence, the darker her wardrobe becomes, until she ends Season 4 wearing a pitch-black feathered gown, along with the dark hair she uses to disguise herself, meaning she's becoming a dangerous player in the game. After finally breaking free from Ramsay and reuniting with her brother, Jon, the first family member she has seen again in a long time, Sansa fully embraces her Stark identity. She reverses to Northern clothing style with the blue gowns and braided hair, but, since she is no longer a little girl like in Season 1, her clothes are very reminiscent of Catelyn's, meaning she has now taken over her mother's role as Lady of Winterfell along with a very much Ned-looking Jon.
    • At the beginning of Season 1, Daenerys wears dresses so sheer and delicate that you practically see through them, reflecting her frailty. Then she switches to more sturdy Dothraki garb as she grows more assertive. She wears elegant blue and white gowns from Season 3 onwards, as she grows into her queenship. Her clothes in season 5 are a drastic change from the blues she'd been wearing for the past two seasons, as she starts exclusively wearing white and light grays. This is meant to make her seem pure and remote to show her over-idealism by thinking she could just end slavery without causing any problems. Both she and her goals are beginning to seem impossible and hollow as the city is consumed by strife between the former slaves and masters. She starts wearing more black and red, her House colors, beginning at the end of Season 6, in contrast to her usual white and blue dresses in previous seasons, signifying the reaffirmation of her status as a Targaryen and conqueror as she begins her invasion of Westeros.
    • Jon Snow also has a significant wardrobe change in Season 6 after leaving the Night's Watch where he switches his black cloak for a sturdy, blue and brown armor, resembling a Stark armor previously worn by his father Ned and brother Robb, signifying him claiming back his roots and foreshadowing his ascension as King in the North in the season finale. In addition, Sansa enforces it by making him a wolf pelt coat explicitly based on Ned's, as we saw in his very first scene in Season 1.
    • At the beginning of the show, Cersei often wore light blues and golds to appear gentler. As time passes and she becomes more paranoid, she begins to wear the Lannister colors, red and gold, more often as well as incorporating metal into her dresses. After Joffrey dies, she starts wearing black clothes with a dagger pattern, and her dress at the end of season 6 is practically armor.
    • Jaime's casual outfit during his command of the Second Siege of Riverrun in Season 6 is a curious composite of Tyrion and Tywin's outfits (the color scheme mostly harkening Tyrion's suit as Acting Hand of the King, while the design of the upper garment is more Tywin's). Quite appropriate, considering his turn into the capable commander and politician Tywin and Tyrion probably wanted him to be.
    • Margaery Tyrell tends to wear more revealing clothing than the noblewomen of Westeros to reflect the more progressive attitude of the Reach. When she is arrested and imprisoned by the High Sparrow, she begins to wear more modest, plain gowns to symbolise her newfound faith.
  • Grey's Anatomy: Meredith retires the ferryboat scrub cap, which was originally Derek's, at the end of Season 14 as she begins to move past his death.
  • Rikki Chadwick in H₂O: Just Add Water is at first presented as a tomboy who wears mainly jeans and baggy pants. As her relationship with Zane blossoms, she'll be shown in short-shorts and skirts a bit more.
  • In one episode of Happy Days Fonzie decides to give up his tough-guy biker attitude to become a calm person. He switches from his trademark white t-shirt and brown leather jacket to a light blue t-shirt and no jacket.
  • Kamen Rider sometimes has the characters go through a wardrobe shift as the show progresses:
    • Kamen Rider OOO is infected with a set of artifacts that start turning him into a monster, not unlike the show's villains halfway through the show, and like them, he starts wearing a lot of his new Medal color.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim has Kouta switch from his Team Gaim blazer to a black leather jacket as the rivalry between the dance teams stops being relevant and he's forced to face more serious antagonists. He also grows out his hair considerably over the course of the show as the city he lives in begins breaking down.
    • Kamen Rider Drive has a subtle one: at the start of the show, the Brilliant, but Lazy main character leaves his tie loose, only tightening it properly when he becomes fully motivated to solve the case at hand. As the series progresses and he recovers the zeal for the life he'd lost, he eventually starts wearing the tie properly at all times.
  • In The Mandalorian, the titular character has spent the past three episodes in dingy, worn armor as he works to get a full suit of beskar, a high-quality Mandalorian metal. After a highly lucrative bounty is turned in, he walks out of the enclave where he got it with a fully-kitted out and shiny suit of armor...right before he storms a bunker owned by the Empire to rescue the bounty he'd just turned in.
  • Merlin:
    • Done with Gwen; in the first season they intentionally dressed Angel Coubly down, only to gradually give her appearance more care and attention as the romance with Arthur progressed.
    • While Morgana is at court, she has the expected elaborate finery of a royally-connected lady. After she's outed as a traitor and retreats to the woods, she only wears black dresses - and they are more simple.
  • In season 1 of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Billy Cranston wore often overalls as a sign of his nerdiness (and to hide David Yost's gymnast physique). In season 2, the overalls were gone, replaced by polos or plaid unbuttoned dress shirts over t-shirts and jeans. By the movie and season 3, the glasses were gone and Zeo had him switch from blue to black after his retirement as a Ranger.
  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is an interesting example in that it occurred at the beginning of every episode. Mr. Rogers entered the house and immediately changed from his businesslike suit coat and dress shoes into a more casual cardigan and sneakers.
  • In Once Upon a Time:
    • Regina's outfits in the flashbacks are a good indicator of what point in her Face–Heel Turn she's at: If it's before she's evil, she has simple hairstyles and riding clothes. If she's learning magic from Rumpelstiltskin, she's wearing some finery but her hair is simple. If it's before Leopold's death, her clothes are bright and elaborate. If she's the Evil Queen, she wears lots of black with Absolute Cleavage and her hair is in elaborate updos.
    • Ruby is shown mainly in her Stripperiffic waitress outfit or otherwise revealing clothes. After her Aesop in the episode "Red Handed", she's shown dressing more modestly and is shown less in her uniform.
    • Cora's change from flowing gowns to sharp pantsuits are half symbolic and half justified - she changes around the time she reveals herself to Regina, so the clothes symbolise how mother and daughter are working together. And also how she no longer has to remain undercover in Storybrooke.
  • In Smallville before it, Clark Kent initially had no costume at all as a high-school student in Smallville. Later after he becomes "the Blur" in Metropolis, he adopts a black Badass Longcoat with the House of El insignia in white on a black T-shirt. Early in season 10, he shifts to a red and blue jacket and trousers as the Blur gradually morphs into Superman, and he finally receives the classic Superman outfit in the Grand Finale.
  • Implied in Sons of Anarchy. At some point before the events of the show, the titular motorcycle club went from wearing light-colored denim cutoff vests to black leather ones, signifying their shift from a brotherhood of freedom-loving outlaws to a violent criminal syndicate who are Only in It for the Money. Notably, the aging co-founder Piermont "Piney" Winston (who founded the gang with Jax Teller's father John shortly after the Vietnam War) is the sole member who still wears the old denim uniform, signifying his opposition to the club's new direction.
  • The season 3 finale of Star Trek: Discovery, has the crew of the titular ship finally dispense with their blue-with-piping uniforms and don the gray uniforms of 32nd century Starfleet, signifying their acceptance of this new world and their role in it.
  • Succession:
    • At the start of the series, Kendall is the heir apparent to Logan and dresses like a typical uber-wealthy finance bro. Once he's ousted from the company and forced to abandon his ambitions, he ditches the bland businessman look and the austere color palette and starts wearing a lot of browns instead.
    • In Season 1, Shiv wears slouchy sweaters and pants in soft colors, because she wants to be seen as an individual outside her family's influence. In Season 2, where she starts vying for leadership of Waystar, her wardrobe is monochromatic and comprised of turtlenecks and button-downs — she wants to be seen as powerful and business-savvy.
    • Doofy, middle-class Cousin Greg eventually starts wearing suits that actually fit him, showing that he's slowly becoming more comfortable in the world of the rich.
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell is never dressed in shabby clothingnote  but as he ascends in Henry's esteem his clothing becomes finer to match. It's still always dark, but starting partway through the third episode fur and velvet become constants rather than occasional.
  • Castiel on Supernatural has several of these despite his Iconic Outfit of the suit with a blue tie and a trench coat, usually signifying either a change in his mental state or his power level. The first time we see Cas without the outfit, for instance, he's an amnesiac going by Emmanuel and wearing a blue sweater and casual pants. When he gets his memory back but goes into the mental hospital, having taken on Sam's Hell induced trauma, the trench coat is back, but instead of the suit, he's wearing hospital issue white scrubs. Upon his return from purgatory, literally the first thing he does after greeting the boys is to go into a bathroom and freshen up, coming back in the Iconic Outfit, showing he's back to normal. In season 9 after losing his powers and becoming human (meaning he can't keep his clothes neat and clean with his powers) he starts wearing casual clothes, including hoodies, t-shirts, and jeans or a simple white shirt and jeans with his work vest for his job at the Gas 'N Sip. Once he gets his powers back, the suit makes a reappearance as he tries to work with his fellow angels against Metatron, but his tie is still conspicuously absent, a signifier that he's not all there - considering his returned powers are actually the result of stealing someone else's, and, subsequently he's also dying. (And that's without bringing in the instances where absence of bits of the outfit mean Cas isn't present in or in control of the body we typically see him in at all- like the trench coats absence on Jimmy when he temporarily leaves Jimmy's body and possesses Claire Novak, or the absence of the trench coat when Lucifer's in control of Cas's vessel. It Makes Sense in Context, really.)

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In general a wrestler changing their style of gear around usually is accompanied by a tweak to their gimmick.
  • Gorgeous George, a basic boots and Underwear of Power wrestler who wrestled good and clean. But really took off as a cheater, and more importantly, when he put on a dress.
  • Konnan initially wore eye-searingly bright, multi-colored jackets with equally bright gloves and bandanas in accordance with him working for television shows for children when not working for LLI/UWA or CMLL but in AAA when he joined Los Gringos Locos, he began wearing darker colors, crusher caps, and business casual attire.
  • His initial NWA\WCW run in the main event saw Sting wear many bright-colored singlets but as he began associating with the more morally dubious Lex Luger and The Four Horsemen he increasingly wore black and as the nWo began taking over and Sting was accused of being a conspirator, despite being one of their first targets, he also took to wearing a trench coat.
  • Test switched from long pants to biker shorts at the wishes of his girlfriend/ business advisor Stacy Keibler - in the hopes of making his fanbase grow.
  • Kane began WWE wearing a full-on bodysuit because he was supposedly scarred in a fire. As his character became less of a monster (and started speaking more) he started wearing less and less clothing. After unmasking, he went topless completely.
  • Chyna in WWE was presented as a Brawn Hilda who only wore black. After making a love connection with Eddie Guerrero, she received a Girliness Upgrade and was seen in dresses with her hair styled.
  • Carly the avenging company savior came to the ring in a wife-beater and sweatpants, emphasizing his lack of concern with much besides jumping right into the fight. When he left Puerto Rico and attempted a Gorgeous George gimmick he went shirtless with tights, and when that didn't work out he got pants and armbands as a "cool" Cabana boy.
  • As Triple H gained the managerial services of Ric Flair, he swapped out his usual t-shirt and jeans attire for suits and sunglasses. His ring gear didn't change much, apart from occasionally wearing purple trunks.
  • Bryan Danielson was given a mask in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, their way of making him a literal "American Dragon". Distaff Counterpart American Angel got a similar deal in LLF.
  • The mask of Delirious seems to reflect his mood. White, angry groaning. Green, loony hyperactive unintelligible Motor Mouth. Red, Ax-Crazy, revenge obsessed. Black, bitter attack dog angry at the world easily directed by Jimmy Jacobs...the exception was Chikara due to UltraMantis Black and the eye of Tyr disrupting things.
  • El Sensational Carlitos wore straw hats, bright unbuttoned shirts, jeans, and went without shoes in his initial start as a Colon family parody. When he started getting popular with the IWA PR crowds though, not only would he find footwear, but he'd advised to wear business attire pants and suit jackets over buttoned-up shirts...and straighten his afro back into a ponytail on his uncovered head. He reverted to his old look in rebellion but teaming with Hiram Tua saw him get boots, tights, and often sleeveless shirts when not shirtless entirely as he became less of a parody and more a wrestler to be taken seriously.
  • When the Lovely Lacey took on Jimmy Jacobs as one of her angels, one of her first orders of business was getting rid of his fuzzy boots. And thus the end of the likable Jacobs had begun, as he would soon dedicate himself to trying to win her love.
  • In Chikara Austin Aries got pink and black trunks, a fur jacket and a cape, no longer being the bitter serious Jerkass but a brash, womanizing Jerkass, A Double, the greatest man who ever lived!
  • The Bella Twins initially wore identical outfits to match their gimmick of Making Use of the Twin in matches. Along with the 2013 Heel–Face Turn, both twins started differentiating their styles and developing their own identities. Brie wore her hair back and favoured outfits with ruffles on the legs - while Nikki opted for a t-shirt, soccer socks, and a backwards baseball cap. Also as the twins started a feud with each other, Brie changed her outfits to tights with slashes on the sides - as well as tying a flannel shirt around her waist as a nod to her husband.
  • Kaitlyn wore less sparkly spandex and a lot more street clothes as her feud with Eve Torres intensified.
  • AJ Lee in her 'Geek Goddess' persona favoured tights with Hello Kitty skulls or plaid prints. After her Face–Heel Turn as part of Dolph Ziggler's entourage, she adopted a now-iconic look of Girlish Pigtails, cut-off denim shorts, and a shredded t-shirt.
  • As Beth Phoenix began her 'Divas of Doom' phase, she changed her usual Glamasuits for an outfit with a skirt. Out of the ring she wore lots more dresses and feminine outfits.
  • A female wrestler will often make the switch from skirts or hot pants to longer tights if she wants to be taken as a serious title contender. Trish Stratus, Melina, Candice Michelle, Mickie James, and Kelly Kelly are examples.

    Video Games 
  • Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite trades her original, school uniform-like clothes for a much darker blue dress with a corset (not unlike the one her late mother had worn) after killing a person for the first time. She does so ostensibly for practical reasons, but it also underlines the rapid loss of her innocence throughout the game. And then she goes for a full-on Femme Fatale outfit in the Burial at Sea expansion.
  • In Dynasty Warriors 7, characters who change factions in-story have an alternate costume based on the faction's "Corporate Color". Like Guan Yu's purple Wei costume (he's from Shu) and Zhen Ji's Yellow Yuan Shao faction costume (her chronological original, she's mostly associated with Wei).
  • Since all party members in Dragon Age II are basically stuck with their default (upgradeable) armor sets for the entire game, changes in their attires are usually tied to Character Development or important events in their lives instead:
    • All of the love interests, except Anders, change their default outfits after the Relationship Upgrade to mark their new relationship with Hawke. Merrill, who goes from tattered khaki rags of an elven hedge mage outcast to an intricate white-and-silver attire sending a clear message to everyone not to mess with the significant other of the Champion of Kirkwall. Fenris wears a red wristband and the Hawke emblem, symbolizing that while he walked away from Hawke after their first time, it is also a fact that this is not a dalliance for him and it is his nonverbal way of Declaration of Protection towards Hawke. Meanwhile, for Isabela, it represents her conflicted feelings between getting tied (symbolized by the red wristband) and her freedom (symbolized by her corset that enhances her already sexy persona) as she develops genuine feelings for someone who will not use her for personal gain.
    • Anders, instead, trades his healer clothes for a much darker set upon completion of his Act 3 personal sidequest, foreshadowing his self-inflicted martyrdom and the sad fact that he chooses his cause more than his relationship with Hawke if he's romanced. Note that he doesn't switch his outfit after his Relationship Upgrade with Hawke during Act 2.
    • Aveline's armor grows more and more ornate with every Act, signifying her rise through the ranks of the Kirkwall Guard, all the way up to Captain.
  • Shows up optionally in Mass Effect. In the first game, when Shepard divides his/her time between serving the Systems Alliance and the Citadel Council, s/he wears a fairly conservative blue crewman's uniform as a default casual outfit when walking the decks of the Normandy between missions. In the sequel, after Shepard is resurrected by Cerberus, the player can choose between several different casual outfits; though some of them are official Cerberus uniforms, one option is a working-class spacer's garb. Donning this outfit can give the impression that Shepard is taking a more independent path after being freed from his/her duties as a soldier—which fits very well with many choices that the player can make. In Mass Effect 3, Shepard has rejoined the Alliance military, and his/her options include two variants of military-style utilities and a more formal service dress uniform.
    • Additionally in Mass Effect 2, each member of the team gains an alternate uniform once you finish their loyalty mission (featuring back and red or black and gold) which gives them a more unified appearance, symbolizing their unity and commitment to Shepard and his/her mission.
    • A special mention should be made about Jack: her initial clothing consists of low-slung pants and a harness top made of straps that barely cover her nipples, quite clearly showing she doesn't give a crap about how she looks to others. After the loyalty mission, she adds a tight black shirt, implying that she has started caring what others think. When she shows up in Mass Effect 3, she's allowed her hair to grow out and while her clothing is still revealing meant to be sexy and edgy, it still is more modest than her original harness and she's added a jacket, indicating she's chosen to fit in more with society while not conforming to all its norms.
  • Partway through Resident Evil 2, Leon and Claire's costumes undergo a change: Leon gets bandages over his uniform when Ada patches up a wound, while Claire gives her vest to Sherry and wears a black T-shirt afterwards. The remake makes some slight changes: Leon loses the long-sleeved shirt under his uniform when Ada uses it to patch him up, while Claire wears a tank top under her jacket. Also in the remake, Ada is introduced wearing shades and a raincoat. She abandons the coat to keep Leon warm after patching his wound and spends the rest of the game in her signature red dress.
  • In Spec Ops: The Line, Walker, Adams, and Lugo's neat, form-fitting Delta Force uniforms become ever more mucky, grimy and tattered as the game wears on, mirroring their increasingly fractured psyches.
  • In Lunar: Eternal Blue Lucia gets a change of wardrobe when she starts to become gentler. Unusually, it changes back to the old one during a tense, climactic moment.
  • When Metal Gear Solid 2 first introduces Raiden as a new protagonist, he wears a "sneaking suit" that's noticeably similar—in design and color palette—to the one that Solid Snake wore in the original Metal Gear Solid. This can't be a coincidence, considering the Patriots' plan to psychologically condition Raiden into Snake's replacement. After Raiden's story arc takes a divergent turn from Snake's around the time of Metal Gear Solid 4, he shows up again in an enhanced cyborg body, which comes with noticeably sleeker, tighter clothes in a much lighter color palette, contrasting with Snake's black battle gear in the same game. Even later, his spinoff game Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has him donning a black version of the same costume as he comes to embrace his new warrior status.
  • In Crusader Kings II, characters of different ranks and cultures wear different clothing in their portraits, and will change clothes accordingly if these change. For example, a Celtic duke wears drab clothing and a brown leather circlet with gold studs, but a Celtic king has brightly colored clothing and a gold circlet. Game mods like Better Looking Garbs can add to this, such as making Catholic bishops shift to the famous red robes upon elevation to cardinal.
  • In Pokémon Sun and Moon, this is combined with Expository Hairstyle Change for Lillie, after the Wham Episode that is the second visit to the Aether Foundation. Lillie puts her hair up in a ponytail and wears a more sporty getup to signify her strengthening resolve.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, most of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn gain brand new outfits to showcase their unity as a team after spending so long apart. Of note are twins Alphinaud and Alisaie, who dump their similar clothing and don outfits that lean more into their true personalitiesnote . Alisaie even mentions that she's glad that it's not a matching outfit because their parents liked to put them in similar clothing and it's lead to a lot of incidents where people have mistaken one for the other.
  • Yuna in Final Fantasy X wears a modest, traditional outfit based on a Miko's robes and shoulder-length straight brown hair. In Final Fantasy X-2, her default outfit involves a low cut shirt and booty shorts, with a long rattail added to her now-layered hair. This reflects both how she has changed since the original game, no longer forcing herself to be an Incorruptibly Purely Pure symbol of hope martyr and instead now trying to live for herself, and also that X-2 is a much more fanservice-y Hotter and Sexier sequel.
  • In Code:Realize Cardia starts out with a highly impractical frilly outfit with a Show Girl Skirt and gets a new, more action-oriented outfit after she's lived in the mansion for a while, signifying her shift in character from passive to active participant in her own fate.
  • In Street Fighter Ibuki went from having a traditional ninja outfit to wearing her school outfit with ninja accessories.

    Web Animation 
  • Volume 4 of RWBY has the main characters change their costumes in at least a minor way, as a visual reminder of the effects of Volume 3's traumatic events. Ruby got a new, more adult costume that in a way resembles her deceased friend Penny and even has a tattered cape like the one worn by her uncle Qrow; Weiss changed her Minidress of Power to something that looks more suited for gala events than battle; Blake became more covered and added a Badass Longcoat to look like a fugitive; Yang starts Volume 4 in civilian clothes, and when she returns to action it's her old outfit, but with a more practical jacket and pants; and the remainder of Team JNPR all get more action-oriented clothes, with at least one red piece (a sash around Jaune's waist, the inside of Nora's jacket, the ropes on Ren's cot) to homage the one missing member, the late Pyrrha.


    Web Original 
  • Used by Philosophy Tube on his video on Domestic Abuse and Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male. The video, which was done in a single take, sees Oliver Thorn starting out in a Superman T-shirt, and explaining the many pitfalls of the double standard trope, including the societal idea that men are able to 'handle it' if they find themselves stuck in an abusive relationship. Halfway through the video, after revealing how he himself had been a victim of domestic abuse and almost killed himself over it and having a breakdown on camera, the camera slowly does a pan away and does a 360-degree overview shot of the studio he films in. By the time the camera has returned to Olly, he has dressed himself up as Clark Kent, representing that he no longer accepts a Superman-type image of men in relationships.
    • Used even more significantly by Abigail Thorn in her video "Identity", in which she comes out as transgender.

    Western Animation 


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