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"Boy, it's been a long time since I've seen him in that yellow. The red and yellow is back!"
Bobby Heenan (about Hulk Hogan), WCW Monday Nitro, August 9, 1999

Perhaps your duds were torn to shreds in the latest showdown with your archnemesis. Perhaps, due to a personal crisis, you just aren't feeling like the classic red and blue. Perhaps you got stupid and put your bright red costume in with the whites. Whatever the reason may be, your Iconic Outfit isn't quite handy right now.

Fortunately, you've got a few old rags lying around...

This trope is for when, whatever the reason, a character opts to wear a little something from yesteryear. While it commonly overlaps with other costume tropes, the most common reason for this particular trope to occur is simple nostalgia rather than a Good / Evil Costume Switch.

Requires Costume Evolution to have occurred. The throwback costume may be a Beta Outfit. See also Still Wearing the Old Colors, as well as Cheap Costume when the character needs an outfit in a hurry and doesn't have an old costume handy.


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    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: During Operation: Galactic Storm Hawkeye gets annoyed at being passed over for one of the away teams and goes and changes into his old Goliath outfit to prove he can still be useful.
  • In the last issue of Avengers Undercover, Rose Red makes a cameo appearance, wearing her old red-cape ensemble from Secret Invasion instead of one of her more recent outfits.
  • Batman
    • In Detective Comics #235, Batman is attempting to bring down gangster Lew Moxon, who had been foiled years earlier by his father Dr. Thomas Wayne while wearing a masquerade costume of a bat. After his own costume is trashed in a fight with Moxon's thugs, Batman dons his father's costume. This startles Moxon so much that he runs in front of a truck.
    • During the Battle for the Cowl, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake used Batsuits from different eras in Batman's history, with Jason Todd using something completely original.
    • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Batman's costume with the yellow oval around his logo is ruined in a fight with the mutant leader, so he goes back to his oval-less costume for the rest of the series.
  • During Countdown to Final Crisis, Adam Strange was deposed as the champion of Rann, and thus lost access to his modern equipment, but his successor ended up being compromised, and thus he had to take up his classic costume to defeat his successor.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: At the end of Guardians 3000, as a consequence of a Time Crash, the Guardians momentarily revert to their original 60s outfits.
  • There have been several times where Iron Man, unable to use his current armor, has to use an older suit (even going as far back as the original Mk. I) to save the day.
    • In one Iron Man story (The Mighty Avengers #9-10, 2008) our hero goes back in time and must impersonate his younger self. This involves retrieving his counterparts' armor, and he groans when he sees that it's the infamous "nose armor" (from 1974, story at Comic Book Legends Revealed here).
  • Spider-Man:
    • After Aunt May is injured by an assassination attempt, Spider-Man switches to his classic black costume for an arc, dubbed "Back in Black".
    • In the one-shot comic Spider-Man versus Wolverine, Spidey is in West Germany without his costume, so he goes to a costume shop, where they're all out of black spandex suits (the black suit was his normal outfit at the time) so he has to settle for a knockoff of his original red and blue costume with "Die Spinne" on the back - the shop owner had made it for his son, who was going to a costume party as Spider-Man.
  • Teen Titans: After losing his "Red Devil" powers, Eddie Blomberg went back to being Kid Devil, even digging up his old costume from when he was Blue Devil's sidekick.
  • Tintin: In Tintin: The Seven Crystal Balls, Haddock has taken to the life of a country squire, wearing monocles and fancier clothes. After Calculus is kidnapped, he disappears into his room, and when he comes out he's back in his nautical Iconic Outfit to start looking for his friend.
  • Wolverine: During Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man run in the early 90s, Wolverine returns to his blue/yellow costume after a fight with Wendigo ruins his brown one. Soon after this story, he goes back to the blue/yellow costume for good.
  • X-Men:
    • In the last part of The Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean (or Phoenix-as-Jean) goes back to her Neal Adams-era outfit for the battle on the Moon.
    • During The Last Annihilation, Boom-Boom and Cannonball join Cable for a mission to Breakworld in their original X-Force outfits, apparently just for the sake of retro.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier Cap uses the unmasked outfit based on his comic book appearance post-Civil War as the S.H.I.E.L.D. Commander Steve Rogers. After escaping from S.H.I.E.L.D. without his new costume, he goes to the Captain America Museum and borrows his classic old costume used in WWII as seen in The First Avenger. His WWII duds also helped to undo Bucky's brainwashing during their final battle.
  • Spider-Man 3: Around 1/3 into the movie, Peter Parker suddenly has a new black version of his Spider-Man costume, courtesy of the symbiote. It makes him stronger, but also more emotionally driven and makes him act less and less reserved, eventually ending with him making Mary Jane angry and humiliating himself in front of people. He then decided to take the suit off (by bashing himself onto a church's bell, as loud noises are one of the symbiote's main weaknesses), but some time later, MJ gets kidnapped by Sandman and a mysterious villain; he goes to wear his old costume and storms out to save her.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming: Peter has been using the enhanced Spider-Man costume from Tony Stark from Captain America: Civil War since the start, but around 2/3 into the movie, Spider-Man unintentionally causes a disaster on a ship while trying to beat up the bad guys, forcing Iron Man to interfere and help; after that, Tony gives Peter a scolding and takes away his suit, thinking that Peter isn't ready yet. In the climax, he has to break out his dingy old costume (that only has the webshooters and less futuristic eye lenses) in order to stop the Vulture.
  • The Terminator in Terminator 2: Judgment Day selects its disguise based entirely on what the original Terminator wore.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: Upon the Seventh Doctor's regeneration, he goes through the outfits of his second, fourth, and fifth incarnations before finally settling on his hat and sweater combo.
  • Married... with Children: Al Bundy often dons his Polk High football jersey whenever he faces some athletic challenge.
  • Red Dwarf: Rimmer spends the first part of "The Inquisitor" in his "Captain Emerald" suit from Series 3 and 4, only changing into his uniform for that Series (a red quilted uniform) once Lister and The Cat are removed from the timeline and replaced.
  • In an example of Actor Allusion, an episode of Two and a Half Men had Alan (played by Jon Cryer) dressing up for Halloween as Ducky (Cryer's character from Pretty in Pink).

  • KISS returned to their iconic makeup and costumes in 1996, after over a decade without wearing them. They've performed in them ever since.

  • It isn't unheard of for NFL teams (usually around anniversaries, or sometimes even to build morale) to use jerseys from days gone by for a game.
  • College football teams will sometimes use an alternate uniform for one game during a season. For instance, for a game being played over Veterans Day weekend 2018, the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, Nebraska wore retro uniforms including helmets designed to look like the old leather helmets.
  • During Heritage Week games, AFL teams will play in old versions of their strip.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick: During the Empire of Blood arc, Elan switches back to his outfit from the early strips, which includes a cape and sash, for a fancy banquet.

    Western Animation 
  • X-Men: The Animated Series: As in the comics, Jean Grey goes back to her old Marvel Girl outfit for the final part of "The Dark Phoenix Saga".