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Symbol Motif Clothing

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"Riddle Me This... What can be smashed, played and worn?" answer 

An outfit is repeatedly and obviously decorated with one or more different symbols, signifying something important about the wearer.

Say a girl wears a floral-patterned dress. That wouldn't mean anything. But if she had a Green Thumb, that would mean the dress is fitting to her nature.

These can be made by choice of the wearer, or be Rule of Symbolism.

This trope is Truth in Television, as some royalty would often wear capes and robes with symbols adorning them.

A Sub-Trope of Motifs. A Super-Trope to Star-Spangled Spandex.

Compare Chest Insignia, Gem-Encrusted, Wearing a Flag on Your Head, Color Motif, Sigil Spam.

Now there isn't a hard minimum to count, but it has to be more than just one or two instances of the symbol on the outfit, even if they are large. One or two does not make a motif.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A Channel: Sato-sensei's goofy marijuana leaf print shirt is his trademark.
  • The King and Queen of Hearts in Code Geass: Nunnally in Wonderland one-up the trope picture by a mile. Even Charles' infamous hair is affected.
    • Code Geass: Akito the Exiled's "mysterious geass girl" (who is possibly God, or the "collective unconscious" that Charles tried to kill in R2 of Code Geass) has Geass symbols everywhere on her. It's on her waist, collar, legs, and even her haircut. (Thanks, CLAMP.)
  • Dear Brother: Fukiko "Miya-sama" Ichinomiya often wears a long and flowing black skirt with a red rose pattern.
  • This pops up a lot in Jojos Bizarre Adventure:
    • The main villain of Stardust Crusaders, DIO, along with his closest henchmen, have Wicked Heart Symbols all over their clothing. Heart symbols also show up on some of the villains' Stands, most notably DIO's Stand, The World.
    • By contrast, Diamond is Unbreakable main character Josuke Higashikata has heart symbols on his clothing and Stand, along with a peace sign on his jacket lapel, that befits his kindhearted (if not somewhat brutish) personality. His best friend Okuyasu Nijimura instead has currency symbols adorning his clothing and Stand, which fits his family's Theme Naming (they are all named after Japanese words for large numbers).
    • Giorno Giovanna, the main character of Golden Wind, has stylized ladybugs on his clothing and Stand; ladybugs are known to symbolise good luck. Other characters in the part with similar patterns include Pannacotta Fugo (who has strawberries on his tie and shoes) and Trish Una (whose choker and skirt have a pattern made up of mathematical symbols).
  • Trafalgar Law of One Piece wears the insignia of the Heart Pirates jolly roger on all of his outfits, including on his own Den-Den Mushi.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-:
    • In many splash pages, the characters wear clothing with a motif resembling the heart-like pattern on Sakura's feathers.
    • In Infinity, some of Sakura's clothing has a queen motif, referencing her role in the Chess game.
    • The clothing of Valeria usually has a motif that looks like swirls of wind. Given Fai's wind symbolism in the series, this is probably not coincidental.

    Card Games 
  • Playing cards, at least the Anglo-American designs popularized by Charles Goodall from the 1850s onward, sometimes feature the queen, king, and jack with their respective suit symbols on their clothes.

    Comic Books 
  • The Riddler of Batman often wears a green outfit with question marks all over it.
    • More minor Batman foes with symbol motif costumes:
      • Doctor Zodiac wears a robe decorated with stars and moons.
      • Polka Dot Man wears a costume covered in polka dots.
      • Signalman wears a costume covered in symbols from a huge variety of disciplines.
      • The Ten-Eyed Man has multiple eyes on his costume.
      • Zodiac Master wears a costume covered with zodiac symbols.
  • Captain America: Minor Marvel villain Everyman, when disguising himself as the hero Zeitgeist, demonstrates how this trope isn't inherently aesthetically pleasing. His costume was more or less a single bodysuit covered in images of clocks.
  • Captain Universe is frequently connected with the stars, and individuals with whom it bonds are usually depicted with prominent stars and constellations added to their costumes.
  • Alchemist Smurf of The Smurfs wears a stars-and-moon wizard hat variation of a Smurf hat.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Queen Desira's outfit repeats the modified Venus symbol (♀ with two extra horizontal lines) she wears on her crown on all of her limbs.
    • Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman: In "Wonder World" one of Riley's friends, who is characterized by her caring nature and support of her friends, wears a lot of hearts including a heart-shaped purse and heart bracelets.
    • Wonder Woman and the Star Riders: This version of Wonder Woman wears her usual star adorned tiara in addition to a cape with stars, a skirt with stars, leggings with stars, a star-shaped cape clasp, and a star-shaped belt buckle.

    Fan Works 
  • Empath of Empath: The Luckiest Smurf wears a black Smurf hat and pants with white stars on it, to match the yellow star birthmark on his forehead.
  • Chloe Cerise usually wears her school attire that has two large anchors, representing her never leaving her comfort zone. In Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail, she swaps the uniform for a white dress with the collar and waist decorated with fish, to show her change to become brand new and explore her surroundings.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Cinderella (2015), Cinderella's ball gown has butterfly designs on the neckline, and on the toes of her glass slippers.
  • The mayor in Jaws wore a blazer covered with boat anchors, fitting for a guy who runs the small Northeast beach town of Amity Island.
  • Hancock incorporated eagles into whatever outfit he wore, even when he was homeless.
  • In Stardust, Septimus has multiple number 7s on his outfit. In fact, each of the Stormhold princes from Primus to Septimus has their respective Roman numeral embroidered into their clothing somewhere.
  • The Phantom Menace: Queen Amidala and her handmaidens wear elaborate costumes decorated with her majesty's private sigil.

  • Kelson Haldane of the Deryni works has in his wardrobe a tunic of red covered with tiny golden Haldane lions. His coat of arms features a single golden lion on a red field.
    • Alaric Morgan often sports his griffin crest and complains about wearing clothes in which it is incorrectly but aesthetically emblazoned.
  • This is a recurring element in many books by Mercedes Lackey. In her Heralds of Valdemar series, the Tayledras will often have a motif repeated in their clothing, usually something to do with birds or feathers. Given their relationship with birds of prey, this is entirely fitting.
  • The sendings at Abhorsen's House in the Old Kingdom books tend to trot out surcoats checkered with symbols related to the powers of whoever they're intended for. So, for example, Sabriel gets given one patterned with the Abhorsen's silver key motif, crown princess Ellimere gets gold royal towers, Lirael gets a mix of Clayr stars and Abhorsen keys, and Sam gets the Wallmakers' gold trowel.
  • Many versions of The Secret Garden feature Mary Lennox in a costume that has a floral design on it somewhere.
  • The Seventh Tower: The Freefolk rebels in the Underfolk Fantastic Underclass cover their uniforms with "F"s to distinguish themselves from the "fatalist" Underfolk who accept their lot. They don't appreciate Tal's observation that "fatalist" also starts with an F.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Each of the Danger Force has a different emblem that appears on their uniforms:
    • Volt: A targeting grid
    • AWOL: A shadowy fist
    • Shout Out: A radio tower
    • Brainstorm: Arrows pointing toward a surface of ground
  • When John Nathan-Turner took over production duties on Doctor Who in 1980, he introduced the idea of incorporating question mark motifs into the Doctor's costume. As such, Four, Five, and Six all wore question mark collars, while Seven had a sweater adorned with a question mark pattern while wielding an umbrella with a question mark handle. The idea was that the symbols would be more favorable towards tie-in merchandise.
  • Game of Thrones. The various Houses tend to Sigil Spam their House symbol everywhere. When Margaery Tyrell (whose House symbol is a rose) marries into House Baratheon (whose symbol is a stag) her crown features a rose with thorns entwined around stag antlers, showing how she's getting her hooks into the King. Some of Daenerys' more intricately woven garments represent the scaled hides of her family's sigil, such as her Dothraki riding top and aquamarine wrap dress.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Queen Miriel often wears clothing with applications resembling fish scales and fishnets, which are references to Numenor being a maritime power.

    Video Games 
  • The Umbran Elder from Bayonetta on her shoulders there is also a crescent moon shape, on its side so the points are facing the sky.
  • Trish, Dante's long-staying partner in Devil May Cry, has electricity-based powers, and so her tank tops throughout the games always have a lightning bolt shape over the cleavage.
  • The 3D remake of Final Fantasy III differentiates each character's model for a given job by adding accessories (or splashes of color) from their default outfit. Luneth, for example, typically gets either the belt-vest (or a 3x3 emblem), his turtleneck collar, and/or a splash of purple.
  • In The King of Fighters, Rose Berstein's outfits have roses or feature decorative rose flower patterns. Special mention goes to her light blue dress and headband from XIII.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Cerebella, from Skullgirls, is from the Cirque des Cartes, where each member of the troupe is associated with a type of card. In her case, it's the diamond suit. Her rival, Beatrix, is associated with the clubs suite and so on and forth.
    • Every character actually has these in a way, usually associated with skulls. Like Filia's cufflinks, or Squiggly's corset. Yes, her cufflinks.
  • Super Mario Bros.' Rosalina, guardian/mother of the cosmos, has a star motif going on for her — Her crown, earrings, wand, and brooch are star-shaped, and in Super Smash Bros. she has glittery stars in the bottom of her gown.
  • Touhou Project:

    Web Animation 
  • Most plot-important characters in RWBY each have an emblem that appears on their main outfit, weapons or semblance.

    Web Comics 
  • In Homestuck, some of the ancestors' clothing is drawn with repeating patterns reminiscent of their symbol. For example, Orphaner Dualscar's symbol is the Aquarius wavy lines, and his outfit includes a lot of wavy lines.
  • In Huckleberry, superheroes often have thematically appropriate outfits, such as Morning Star's star-patterned robe. Huckleberry himself, a fruit-themed Plant Person, has many orange fruit shapes on his costume.
  • In chapter one of Never Satisfied, all the contestants who made it to the third round have trim with a unique pattern on it. Some characters, such as the triangle-themed Tetsu, take this farther than others.
  • Sleepless Domain: Magical Girls each have a unique Power Tattoo called a sigil somewhere on their bodies; when a girl transforms, her sigil design is typically incorporated into her magical girl costume. Some examples include:
    • The five girls of Team Alchemical are each associated with one of the Classical ElementsAir, Fire, Earth, Water, and Aether — and each have that element's symbol as their sigil. All five girls have their sigil on their earrings and on the waist of their frilly dresses, and they crop up in other places, too: Alchemical Fire wears her sigil as part of her hair bows, while Alchemical Earth has a pair of gauntlets in the shape of hers.
    • Heartful Punch's defining motif, as you might have guessed from her name and powers, is hearts. Her sigil, a pink heart with a starburst shape inside, appears on her hairclip and the soles of her boots; she also wears a heart-shaped breastplate, gauntlets, and kneepads, as well as a heart-patterned skirt. To top things off, she also has a heart-shaped Scarf of Asskicking that emits a trail of smaller hearts behind it as it flutters through the air.

    Western Animation 
  • Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic tends to be associated with stars, and most of her dresses have at least have one star.
  • Steven Universe:
    • The Crystal Gems, a trio of Magical Girl Warrior protagonists, have a collaborative star theme, usually on their shirt, though Amethyst, the team's least conventional and most immature member, has them as holes in the knees of her leggings. Steven also has a yellow star on his shirt.
    • Furthermore, Homeworld Gems all wear diamonds, with the color of the Diamond representing who they work for. When Peridot ends up switching sides, she wonders if she'll have to start wearing a star, and where she'd put it. The Season 5 finale reveals that she put one on each leg, one on her chest, and her Triangular Shades plus her hair emulate a third one.

    Real Life 
  • The Fleur-de-lis symbol on the robes of French royalty. Napoleon went with eagles and bees.
  • The robes in Tsarist Russia were gold with eagles embroidered on them. When Catherine the Great was crowned, she wore a silver dress with the Russian gold eagles embroidered on it.
  • The royalty of Sweden decided to be blunt with their symbolism, and have crowns embroidered on their royal robes.
  • Queen Elizabeth I of England and her courtiers used all kinds of symbols in their clothing as jewelry or embroidery, including the Tudor Rose for the Tudor dynasty, the queen's cipher of two "E"s back-to-back, the fleur de lis for her claim to parts of France, the ermine and the sieve for her virginitynote , the pillar and imperial crown for her ambitions toward empire, the pelican for her role as head of the church and mother of her countrynote , the olive branch for the peace of her reign, and the armillary sphere representing the universe ordered according to the word of God.
  • In Italy two white stars on the collar of the uniform, referencing the Star of Italy, is an easy way to recognize military personnel-or changes in status of a particular police or paramilitary unit, as shown by the police losing the stars upon going from military to civilian and Benito Mussolini's Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale wearing fasces on the collar until the fall of his regime, at which point they were ordered to switch to stars.