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"They all wore uniforms, although since no two uniforms were exactly alike they were not, in fact, uniform and therefore not technically uniforms."

Characters who are meant to stand out in some way in a military, school or other place will wear a "uniform" that is different from everyone else. This is separate from rank although it may be implied that they're too Badass for anyone to complain. Also different from a practical reason to be dressed different such as fireproof clothing for a pyrokinetic army. Generally a symptom of Mildly Military.

This may also be a reason for most cop shows to center on plainclothes detectives instead of uniform officers, as even high-ranking brass on the detective side only wear uniforms under specific circumstances.

Compare Transfer Student Uniforms, where the character still stands out, but from wearing the uniform of a previous school or station, and Bling of War where a military uniform is impractically fancy. Also compare Nonuniform Uniform, for modifications to a uniform that's still technically within the uniform's guidelines. For a specific variety of Custom Uniform where the differences are intended to point up the wearer's attractiveness, see Custom Uniform of Sexy.

Often the reason behind this is to get Distinctive Appearances for any characters of importance.

Examples of Custom Uniform include:


  • Shugo Chara: Amu has one with a slightly higher skirt, a loosened tie and a black jacket and shirt combination, complete with "x" hair-clips, of course, rather than the usual Seiyo girl's uniform, which consists of a black jumper, a relatively long skirt, and a straighter, less crooked tie. The other Royal Guardians probably also qualify, as the Royal Cape seems to be the only constant (mostly).
  • In spite of being employed by and holding a rank in the state military, Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist is not required to wear a military uniform, instead traveling in a distinctive red coat. The Amestrian military also seems more than fairly lenient when it comes to how its officers wear their hair.
    • May or may not have to do with if the alchemist in question is currently serving a literal military role. For example: Armstrong and Mustang, while they are intelligent and may do their own research, are generally shown to be involved in military operations and missions, while others such as Edward Elric and Shou Tucker don't regularly wear uniforms (at least on screen in the latter case) and typically engage more in research activities for the military rather than battle.
  • In Naruto, none of the main and few of the secondary characters wear the uniforms of their villages. The closest thing to uniformity is that everyone does wear a forehead protector with the symbol of their village, although not always on the forehead. Shikamaru was the first to graduate to Chuunin, so he's worn the standard uniform, but after the Time Skip, everyone but Naruto graduated to at least that level and no one but Shikamaru and Lee is wearing the uniform.

However, when they all go off to battle in the Fourth Ninja War everyone dons the uniform (except for Naruto, who isn't there).

  • Ranma One Half:
    • Ranma never wears a school uniform in either the manga or the anime, unless it's a girl's uniform as part of a plot to manipulate Kuno, or a disguise to fool Ryouga. (It's worth noting that the boy's uniform for his school seems to be simply a white shirt with black slacks, which he does wear, just in the Chinese style rather than the western.)
    • In the same series, Tatewaki Kuno doesn't wear a school uniform, either. Ukyo Kuonji sometimes does, but it's the boy's uniform from her old school, not a Furinkan High uniform.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, ZAFT uniforms are Color Coded for Your Convenience to differentiate between their respective wearers' ranks (like, red is for pilot aces, black is for ship captains, white is for squad commanders, etc.). However, very cool pilots receive a special right to use a uniform of any color, like orange or white without being a commander. Andy "Desert Tiger" Waltfeld takes advantage of this to indulge his preference for a tiger motif.
    • More subtle variations appear in the Earth Alliance uniforms. Most of them are white with greyish sides and black or greyish shoulders, but a few officers - most notably the villainous William Sutherland and Natarle Badgiruel following her promotion to captain of the Archangel's opposite number - have black shoulders and black sides, and The Captain of the Archangel is the only OMNI officer to have a uniform with red shoulders.
    • And in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, Lunamaria Hawke wears the red ZAFT uniform with a very short skirt and Zettai Ryouiki instead of trousers. The three Extended pilots wear even further-customized versions of the lowest-rank OMNI uniforms, and Neo Roanoke, as Captain of the 81st Autonomous Mobile Group, wears a version of the OMNI officer's uniform that is dark grey and black instead of white and grey.
    • Also nearly every named pilot has a custom pilot suit of some design. Rey wears a white ZAFT pilot suit for despite being a redcoat, and Heine has an Orange suit of the same color as his Prototype GOUF with a Faith emblem on it. Athrun also has a purple flight suit for some reason but it was just given to him when he rejoined Zaft with no hint that he specifically wanted it. Shinn and Luna wear the Elite pilot suits and Shinn later gets a Faith emblem on his. The only named character with a generic suit is Dearka. On the Orb side Kira, Athrun, Cagalli, have a specially colored Orb pilot suit and Mwu gets one with the same markings as his old EA Hawk suit. And Andrew Waltfeld gets a tiger striped pilot suit of undetermined design.
  • The Principality of Zeon in the original Mobile Suit Gundam did not have color-coded uniforms by rank, but the Ace Pilots did get to wear special uniforms, which usually matched their Ace Custom mecha. And each of the ruling Zabi family had their own take on a special purple uniform for formal occasions.
    • This is mentioned to be a serious problem for the Zeon side, as it basically means "individual glory > teamwork" in the worst cases. Specifically, ace pilots can do what they want within limits, and this applies retroactively.
    • The mostly-civilian White Base crew had a few custom uniforms too, mostly because they're handmade stopgaps.
  • Unusually for a Gundam series, Gundam 00 mostly subverts this trope throughout the first season. Only Soma gets a custom pilot suit and that is necessary to stop her Quantum Brainwaves from affecting her in the same way Allelujah's does him.
    • It gets a bit looser in the second series with Graham's "Mr. Bushido" attire and the Innovator's colour coded helmets. Celestial Being also get a uniform but each member has a different colour scheme and some further customise their outfits (Ian, Lasse, Mileina, Linda).
  • In Hana Yori Dango, as well as the anime and drama that are based on it, the four richest and most popular kids in the school, the F4, never wear their uniforms.
  • In One Piece, the higher ranks in the Navy have more or less free-form uniforms, as long as the officer's coat is somehow present.
  • Apparently, Joker and Wendy in Read or Die are so powerful they don't need to wear uniforms while ordering people around.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena, Utena Tenjou wears, instead of the girls' uniform, a recolored (and apparently heavily tailored) jacket from the boys' uniform plus red bicycle shorts, for some reason, even though everybody acts like she's wearing the same uniform the boys are.
    • At the beginning of the movie version, Utena wears a full boy's uniform with close-cropped hair. She's actually mistaken for a boy until her jacket comes open during a fight. Then the acid kicks i ...
      • The said uniform is still black and white, while the standard boys' uniform is teal, and for some reason she also wears a matching hat that is nowhere to seen on other students. Possibly it's supposed to be her previous school's uniform, but one has to wonder what kind of school would have more fancy uniforms than friggin' Ohtori Academy.
        • In the manga, she does take a little bit of flak for her choice of outfit, but since the individual pieces are all from school approved selections, she gets away with it: the shorts are supposedly an option on the gym uniform, and the pink/red boys' uniform jacket is legit, just an extremely unpopular choice amongst the male students.
  • Hokuto from Cromartie High School wears a white uniform instead of the ordinary black due to him having been mistaken about the school he transferred to... I guess he now wears it to stand out of the "normal" people (he gave Mechazawa a white uniform as a birthday gift, too, but I haven't seen him wear it). Freddie and Hiromi-Go don't wear uniforms either [the former dresses to reference Freddie Mercury, the latter is nude presumably because that's how gorillas usually dress], but nobody knows whether they're actually students or not.
  • Paptimus Scirocco, The Man Behind the Man of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam is not officially a member of the Titans task force, and his uniform shows this off, being the Titans uniform but in white and gold rather than black and red. Two other pilots, Psycho for Hire Yazan Gable and artificial Super Soldier Rosamia Badam, also get their own unique uniforms in yellow/black and purple/red respectively.
  • Seras Victoria of Hellsing and her blue (or khaki in the manga/OAVs) uniform with that crazy microskirt and black (or white in the manga/OAVs) stockings.
  • Manjoume/Chazz in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX still wore his North School uniform even after he returned to Duel Academy because he considered the Red uniform from the Slifer/Osiris dorm humiliating.
    • Rei/Blair has an alternate uniform from the original Obelisk Blue girl uniform.
  • Red Garden. The Absurdly Powerful Student Council seems to dictate dress code down to the length of hair, but the main characters seem rather exempt.
  • Team Rocket's Terrible Trio in Pokémon don't use the traditional black uniform that normal mooks use. Instead they made their own white uniform to stand out.
  • Mendou in Urusei Yatsura wears a different uniform just to show off how rich he is.
  • Each member of the Moon/Galaxy Angel and Rune Angels wears a very differentiated uniform. Other members of the White Moon militia wear matching uniforms like normal people.
  • Sailor Moon
    • Sailors Uranus and Neptune are the only senshi to wear short gloves rather than elbow-length ones. Given their Aloof Ally status, this sets them further apart from the others.
    • Creator Naoko Takeuchi originally intended for all the senshi to have wildly different uniforms, including masks, but this was shot down by anime sentaification considerations. Evidence : Sailor V, Sailor Moon early manga chapters (Moon had a mask for a chapter, Jupiter had a belt, etc).
    • In the final arc of the Manga, all the girls receive a final power up giving them uniforms that are completely identical apart from color and hairstyle (Even the unique earrings and foot that the second set of uniforms let them keep are now consistent, though Jupiter Venus and Chibi-Moon do get to keep the items worn in their hair), except Sailor Moon, who has an extremely large angel wings attached at her waist, replace the traditional back bow, though the wings are shaped like it, an extra layer to her skirt (All the other senshi have 2, Moon has 3) a front bow styled to look like another set of 4 wings, A total Lack of a tiara, revealing the Crescent Moon on her head, little wing like accessories on her gloves, And a general hearts and Crescent moons on her uniform while all the other girls have stars. Even Chibi-Moon, who in her Super form wore pink version of the fancier version worn by moon, Gets the same uniform as everyone else and no longer wears a special brooch on her front bow, getting the same Star shaped brooch.
    • Makoto/Jupiter wears the uniform from her old school, but unlike a normal Transfer Student Uniforms case, she has the excuse of the new school not having a uniform in her size.
  • Partial example in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. The Barrier Jackets of most named characters are unique and very different from those worn by the generic Space-Time Administration Bureau combat mage. However, when they're not in battle, they wear the standard military uniform of their branch.
    • Nanoha tends to wear her instructor squad uniform most of the time, and only wears her Section 6 uniform on official business. Signum and Vita occasionally wear the "first class undersuit" as a less restrictive counterpart to the female uniform.
    • After joining the Saint Church, Sister Sein wears a nun outfit with short sleeves, for an unspecified reason relating to the rules.
  • Several characters in Mai-HiME have customized uniforms, mostly the head members of the student council, who wear different colored uniforms, including Shizuru (khaki) Haruka (green) and Reito (black). Natsuki also wears a hooded white sweatshirt with her uniform instead of the usual blouse, and Haruka's blouse is short-sleeved when she wears it with a vest.
    • In Mai-Otome, Arika's uniform has pink trim, unlike the green in most Coral uniforms. The top Pearl wears a white uniform instead of gray, with red trim instead of yellow. Mai, however, wears bright orange trim with her Coral and Pearl uniforms.
  • Alice L. Malvin from Pumpkin Scissors wears a yellow uniform while everyone else in the army wears an olive one.
  • In Strike Witches, the 501st Joint Fighter Wing is a temporary multi-national unit, so the characters all wear the uniforms of their home services. This still doesn't explain why Minna, Gertrude, and Erica wear different style uniforms despite all of them being from the same unit, or why in the anime Yoshika just fights in her school clothes.
    • They're all from the same country, not unit. Minna wears the old Model 1936 tunic while the younger Gertrude wears a later M42 with fewer pockets and no pleats. Erica was presumably drawn from a different service and wears a black SS-style uniform.
    • According to the official website, they're all from the Karlsland Luftwaffe, with Minna from JG3 and Erica and Gertrud from JG52.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: In the Part 3, Jotaro wears a heavily modified version of his school's male uniform. He even hires a tailor to make an exact copy of it when the original is destroyed in a fight.
  • Bleach and the Soul Reaper outfits. Even the Captain's coats fit into this, as most of the Captains have done something different with theirs.
    • Of particular note is Captain Kyoraku Sunsui's. He wears the standard uniform, but over his captain's coat he has a pink, flowery haori.
    • Each Arrancar seems to have a very different individual style of outfit, though they're all based around a similar uniform.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Toji Suzuhara is always wearing a track suit instead of the school uniform.
    • Only two NERV personnel are shown to deviate from the standard light-brown uniform with triangular crest: Misato with her red jacket and Ritsuko with her labcoat. Kaji and Fuyutsuki merely wear a dark-brown version while Gendo has a black jacket.
  • In Code Geass, all Black Knights have an identical uniform, except for Zero and C.C., who aren't exactly Black Knight regulars. In R2, Kallen, Tohdoh and the Holy Swords have a unique pilot suit... which has custom colors for each of them. And also, Lelouch and C.C. also don't wear standard pilot suits - C.C. wears her normal dress, and Lelouch wears a special pilot suit of a different cut than Kallen and Tohdoh's, in Zero's black and gold color scheme.
    • Suzaku also possess a white pilot suit which is different to that of regular soldiers. How fortunate he is that the Knights of Round ALSO have white uniforms that are different from that of their subordinates.
    • Viletta's day uniform as a Britannian Knight of Honor probably isn't regulation. Jeremiah also wears a different uniform, although he gets away with it by being nobility.
  • In Sket Dance, Shinzou, the Kendo club captain, is constantly cosplaying as a samurai, so that even when he's in school he wears the traditional samurai outfit instead of the school uniform. In one episode he is even seen getting chastised by the martinet Student Council vice-president for doing this.
  • Blue Exorcist has Paladin Arthur August Angel, who has an extremely fancy uniform.

 Rin: ...when I'm also a paladin, it'd suck to hafta wear such lame-ass clothes [as yours].

Angel: Unfortunately for you, I had these clothes made-to-order.

  • In Hidan no Aria, Riko modified her school uniform to be more Lolita-like.
  • Itsuki from Heartcatch Pretty Cure wears a white version of the male uniform, not just to show her status as granddaughter of the principal and Student Council President, but also to emphasize her Bifauxnen nature.
  • Yusuke Urameshi from Yu Yu Hakusho wears a green school uniform instead of the standard blue uniform. His reputation as a violent delinquent keeps the staff from trying too hard to enforce the dress code on him.
  • None of the girls in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni wear the same uniform. They all have one set of default idle clothes, so these very-different-for-each-other fuku's are really uniforms.

Comic Books

  • The government-sponsored X-Factor group initially split the difference between custom and uniform - they all shared a common color scheme, with individual variations - Madrox's full cowl and Badass Longcoat, Havok's leather jacket and headgear, Strong Guy's coke-bottle glasses, etc. Quicksilver stuck out because he kept his traditional light-blue with silver lightning outfit. Although it fits his aloof and arrogant demeanor, it belies his grudging acceptance of membership in the group of True Companions that develops.
  • In The DCU, The Legion of Super Heroes franchise has brought twists to this trope twice:
    • In the early issues of the "present day" Prequel comic, L.E.G.I.O.N. '89, characters wore a wide range of clothing styles reflecting culture, alien anatomy, and/or personal aesthetics, but they all shared the standard livery of black underlayer, white overgarments, and the L.E.G.I.O.N. symbol in gold. No two characters, even those in the background, ever wore quite the same outfit: despite this, they were all obviously members of the same force. Later artists got lazy and gave the rank-and-file grunts identical uniforms.
    • In the main title, the Legionnaires had always had individual costumes. However, the early 90s younger versions of the team redesigned those costumes to have unifying elements: a three-part division with a center band of contrast running down the middle, from neck to bootline, and a thick black belt with Gadget Pouches and a very prominent Legion emblem on the buckle. All of these held on through the 1994 Continuity Reboot, and the last through the 2004 "threeboot", and in the Animated Series, even Superman added it to his own classic costume.
  • The bulk of the Green Lantern Corps, at least the humanoids, wear the standard bodysuit, Domino Mask and ring. The ring is the only mandatory part, as the source of their powers, and many of the more far-out members have special uniforms to accommodate their anatomy. One Green Lantern, Mogo, displays his affiliation with the Corps by rearranging his foliage into a massive green stripe around his equator with a Green Lantern symbol in the middle.
  • The Doom Patrol had a nominal uniform (red with a white stripe down the center), but this was hardly obvious because, of the original four members, the leader didn't wear a uniform, the robot didn't wear clothes at all, and of the two remaining, one was female and therefore had to get a skirt (it was The Sixties). It took the addition of a fifth member to have two actually wearing the same outfit.
  • Whenever someone temporarily joins the Fantastic Four, there's no guarantee that they'll adapt the standard uniform. Some do (like Crystal and She-Hulk), while others (like Ant-Man, Storm, and the Black Panther) choose to keep their own costumes instead.
  • The Mildly Military Swedish comic strip 91:an (Which could be described as a Swedish version of Beetle Bailey) have the namesake main character private 91 Karlsson still wearing the same old blue uniform he wore when the comic strip started back in 1932. The rest of the characters however, wear grey uniforms from the 1960s.
  • Judge Dredd. Many of the Street Judges have identical shoulder pads. Judge Dredd is a senior judge and like all senior judges, has a standard shoulder pad on his left shoulder, and on his right shoulder he has an eagle. In the movie, for practical reasons, the eagle was stylised, the body and feet of the eagle was completely removed, the eagle was attached to Stalone's chest not his arm, and the feathers were made flexible, so he could move his right arm.
    • Except that every street judge in the comic wears an eagle on their right shoulder.
    • Depends what period in the comic. There have been a number of arcs where junior street Judges have two normal shoulder pads, and a couple where Dredd has been bereft of that big eagle. The trope tends to get played straight with the Psi Judges though.
    • The SJS uniforms vary from standard judge uniforms in that they get different helmets and only wear an eagle on one shoulder. Also, chief judges wear a massive badge on their chest to denote their status as chief judge.
  • Justified by Dust from the X-Men. She is allowed to continue wearing her veil and abaya (it's not a burqa) as part of the junior team, due to her religion. She is sometimes drawn wearing the X-belt, however.
  • In the WITCH comic and later television adaptation the Guardians each have a different outfit once they transform into their Magical Girl selves; the uniforms do share the same green and purple color scheme with striped socks and can be still considered uniforms, also qualifying for Custom Uniform of Sexy for some. Their predecessors C.H.K.Y.N. (seriously) had the same setup and the WITCH fandom, of course, has created hundreds if not thousands of designs of their own in fanart and fanfiction (and some flash games). Why the girls get different outfits is never really discussed in universe, but they certainly seem appreciative of both the clothes and the assets that come with them.

Fan Fiction

  • The cast of My Immortal all wear lurid costumes that fit what the author considers to be "gothic" and don't in any way fit what Hogwarts uniforms actually look like.


  • In Star Wars: Episode III, Anakin is the only Jedi wearing black leather (except for Aayla Secura, who appears for a few seconds and then dies). Expanded Universe All There in the Manual info notes that the standard Jedi robes are not, in fact, a uniform. Any Jedi is free to wear whatever he/she/it wants, but they tend to wear the standard robes or variations on them to show solidarity. Anakin isn't breaking any rules, just traditions.
    • As for the development of the Jedi appearance, in A New Hope Obi-Wan Kenobi was wearing practical clothes for Tantooine: loose dust-colored robe over loose dust-colored tunic in coarse hard wearing material it would be easy to beat the sand out of. He's in hiding so wearing a Jedi uniform doesn't make sense and nobody in Mos Eisley recognizes it as such. In The Empire Strikes Back Yoda, for how small he is, seems to be wearing something similar. With The Phantom Menace and the massive increase of Jedi characters that outfit seems rather standard for Jedi, although with variations like Mace Windu's knee length robe.
    • One novel has the perspective character musing that they're made of such itchy wool to force Jedi to constantly maintain self-control and discipline. Another story is that Jedi robes were selected precisely because they didn't stand out, effectively making them not uniforms at all. Anyone could wear robes or the cloaks that went over them. With the style Luke wore in the first film (being the non-Jedi ward of similarly dressed and similarly non-Jedi kin), it seems consistent. Of course, things changed.
    • Back in the old days, if Knights of the Old Republic is to be believed, a Padawan walking around the Jedi academy on Dantooine could be reprimanded for not wearing the Jedi robes, so there was some notion of them as a uniform. Though this was thousands of years before the movies. Bastila Shan still had a unique outfit, although for game technical reasons you'd typically see her wearing standard robes anyway (most armor looks the same on different characters, only just plain clothes look unique).
    • As for Aayla Secura, female twi'leks are always required to wear revealing clothing. Seemingly the only exception is Alora.
      • And Yuthura Ban, who goes for a military-style uniform.
    • Darth Vader fitted somewhere outside of but very high up in Imperial Navy's command structure—somewhere below Grand Moff Tarkin—but never wore a uniform. Vader's armor was life support, so he couldn't remove it. And a uniform tailored to fit over it would have made him look like a total dork. In Dark Empire, when Luke briefly goes over to The Dark Side and serves as an apprentice under Palpatine, he gets the same title and position as his father and is dressed in a very similar outfit, missing only the helmet and life support. You could say it's just Palpatine rubbing it in, but maybe it is a uniform.
      • It's more armor than a uniform, since the Vader design was based on samurai armor.
    • Peter Cushing, Tarkin's actor, had a unique Imperial uniform. He wore slippers instead of boots as the boots were uncomfortable for him to wear. This is why you never see Tarkin's feet in the movie.
  • Some of the Star Trek films see our heroes wearing alternative uniforms, that have clearly been designed for Starfleet use, but are typically more casual in look than the standard uniform. In particular, we have Scotty's black "engineers jacket", and the Power Trio all get alternative uniforms in the fifth film as well.
    • Dialogue in the TNG episode Chain of Command indicated that wearing informal clothing instead of a standard uniform is allowed, with the captain's permission (and also that it was mostly commonly granted to senior officers in specialized positions), and the series is relatively consistent in showing that captains and above have a more 'casual' variant of their uniform (sort of an inverse to a dress uniform).
    • Played with in the 2009 reboot movie, where Kirk's uniquely black shirt is less "inexplicable exception" to the other characters' classic colors than a mission moving so far afield so quickly that it's the least of their concerns.
  • Pretty much all of the Colonial Marines in Aliens have this; the only exception is Lieutenant Gorman, who wears a pristine, fresh-out-of-stores uniform, presumably to emphasize the fact that he's completely inexperienced.
  • In the film of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Malfoy spends the whole year wearing a sharp black business suit instead of the usual Slytherin uniform.
    • Only when on the Hogwarts Express and on Hogsmeade trips. Every other instance when on school grounds he was in the standard outfit. Notably, since it was the same black suit he wore at the beginning of Goblet of Fire, this might be a case of Limited Wardrobe.


  • Howard W. Campbell, the American Nazi from Slaughterhouse-Five, wears a gaudy custom outfit instead of the standard German uniform.
  • Olivia from the kids' books series of the same name wears red clothes instead of the color of her school team, because she always wants to be the boss is strong-willed and independent.
  • In the Discworld book Going Postal, as the quote at the top of the page suggests, the postal workers come back from retirement wearing uniforms that are in no shape, form or shade uniform. Moist, in charge of all of them, also wears a rather striking uniform himself.
    • The Ankh-Morpork City Watch is composed of so many different members of different shapes and sizes that being in uniform usually means being in whatever bits of uniform fitted. And since the force has expanded dramatically they are pretty much scrapping the bottom of the armory and pulling out all kinds antique equipment. Funny helmets through the centuries, according to Vimes.
    • In the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, the Good Old British Comp attended by the main characters has a uniform but doesn't enforce it, to the point where only Yo-less wears it. Which, according to Wobbler's logic, means that jeans and T-shires are the real school uniform, which means Yo-less is out of uniform.
  • The Adumari Union pilots in Starfighters of Adumar are, technically, all wearing standard flight suits - although since they're part of a multinational force that has only recently come together, they're all different colors - but have no restrictions on decorations, medals, what have you; their commander had a bank of medals that could double as a bludgeon if it had to.
    • The series also mentions how the Rogues, when they go rogue, enjoy personalizing their X-Wings' color schemes, while Wraith Squadron when masquerading as pirates gets to do the same. And even when working for the Rebellion, Corran Horn's fighter and flightsuit retain their original CorSec colors. Though it probably shouldn't be surprising that a rebels' military has a lax attitude towards standardization...
      • After Corran is declared missing in action and presumed dead (The Krytos Trap), Rogue Squadron has their flight suits changed from the orange seen in A New Hope to dark green with black and white trim, after Corran's X-Wing. It's never stated whether they changed back after he reappears.
    • Another example from the same series is villain Prince-Admiral Delak Krennel, who has designed his own uniform.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • Harrington has had her uniform reinforced to protect her shoulder from Nimitz's claws, although the books make it clear that this is a standard variation in uniform, for personel who have been adopted.
    • Michael Oversteegen and other aristocrats seem to enjoy wearing uniforms modified for less practical reasons.
      • A specially tailored uniform (for reasons other than purely utilitarian ones a la Honor's reinforcements) is one of the Honorverse's stock Upperclass Twit traits; it's not allowed by regs. Therefore powerful aristocrats wear them to flaunt being above the rules. Oversteegan is the only character who wears such a thing and isn't a complete asshole. (Having the Designated Asshole Traits and not actually being one is kind of Oversteegan's schtick).
    • The escapees from the Havenite prison planet of Hades had a lot of time on their hands, and access to programmable uniform manufacturing equipment, so they made themselves uniforms. Since many of them came from defunct militaries from planets that had been conquered by Haven decades in the past, a lot of them wound up wearing totally unique, one of a kind, uniforms.
  • The Wardens of The Dresden Files arguably, as their only uniform is a grey cloak. Aside from that, they wear whatever they like.
  • Craig Lowell, from the WEB Griffin Brotherhood of War series, is an obscenely wealthy, old-money type who was kicked out of college and drafted during WWII, then chose to stay in the army. While all of his uniforms are custom made, they are uniform. However, while most officers have dress blues for formal wear, he went a step beyond and purchased the dress mess uniform, which goes so far as to include a cape. This irritates people.
  • Many of the knights in A Song of Ice and Fire wear distinctive custom-made armor and use distinctive personal weapons rather than any kind of standard-issue equipment... which they wouldn't have had, anyway, being knights, rather than common levies in livery.
  • Miles Vorkosigan of the Vorkosigan Saga wore very expensively tailored custom uniforms, designed to conceal some of his physical deformities, while looking exactly like standard issue uniforms.
  • In A Hero of Our Time by Michael Lermontov, Cadet Grushnitsky chooses to wear a Private's coat over his uniform, much to the chagrin of his peers. Though granted this is more of an example of Nonuniform Uniform.
  • The Heralds of Valdemar, in the books by Mercedes Lackey, all wear white. Student heralds wear grey. Bards and Healers wear red and green, respectively, with students having a variation. This coding is commented on in-story, essentially saying that in stressful situation, such as a riot or fire, the townspeople can look for that color uniform. A few characters avert this in everyday wear, and are allowed to because of their teaching duties (weapon use). One character sort of subverts this plain white uniform (or has it subverted for her) by her uniforms being remade with embroidery and other designs, but all in white.
    • Early in the Collegium Chronicles, we learn that upper-class parents of a Heraldic Trainee often insist on providing their child with a custom-tailored version of the official uniform, in higher-quality fabrics. When Mags is invited to a councilor's home over the Midwinter holidays, a Herald collects enough of these outgrown custom Grays to let Mags dress appropriately for the surroundings. (This may be the "ancestor" of the Formal Grays that we see later in the chronology.)

Live-Action TV

  • In Star Trek the Next Generation, Worf wears a Klingon sash/baldric over his Starfleet uniform and has long hair, quite un-regulation.
    • Troi wears a purplish outfit for much of the series. She was ordered to wear a Starfleet uniform by Jellico in "Chain of Command".
      • And to her credit, after being ordered to wear it, she wears it for the rest of the series.
    • On the other hand, Ensign Ro is told to remove her Bajoran earring when she's assigned to the Enterprise. Picard agrees to let her wear it by the end of her first episode. Similarly, in an episode of Star Trek Voyager, during Tuvok's turn as a Drill Sergeant Nasty, he insists that his Maquis trainees eschew personal affectations.
    • Admirals from The Next Generation on seem to be a straighter example—we see such a wide variety of outfits that either Starfleet Command is constantly changing flag officers' uniforms, or they can wear whatever they want as long as you can tell that it is a uniform.
      • Many of the admirals seem to be wearing similar variants however, that look almost like the modern "mess dress" variants of British Army uniforms. As does Picard, in a number of episodes (that isn't just an open jacket- if you look carefully you'll notice that grey section is an additional panel of the uniform jacket, fastening on the right side).
  • Star Trek the Original Series pre-dated the rest by featuring Kirk's deep green wraparound jacket, worn interchangeably with his usual uniform tunic during the first two seasons. Nobody else aboard was ever seen wearing this alternative uniform (except, bizarrely, Charlie Evans in the episode "Charlie X", who wore a brown version).
  • Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Major Kira's uniform has certain feminine accents uncommon to the standard design. Starting around the 3rd season, Odo's uniform was modified from the standard Bajoran security uniform too, with a higher collar and a belt (which he later discarded).
  • In the original Battlestar Galactica Classic, Adama occasionally added a cape to his standard officer's uniform. Commander Cain, his counterpart on the Pegasus, went for a more Pattonesque look, eschewing the officer's uniform entirely for a fighter pilot's uniform and carrying a riding crop.
    • It's made fairly clear in a number of episodes that the cape is part of a Colonial Warrior's dress uniform (look at the party on Carrolon).
  • Every Sixth Ranger in Super Sentai and Power Rangers has a different style of uniform than the main team. Sometimes it's just a color reversal or adding a chest piece, sometimes it's a full suit of armor or actually being a Humongous Mecha or Metal Heroes. The only real exceptions are when the entire team seems to be particularly diverse already, but they almost always stand out.
    • In Power Rangers at least, not only this, but when the Rangers are part of an organization, the Sixth Ranger's unmorphed uniform will be different in more than the usual colorcoding. (For example, the Space Rangers' uniforms were gray with color-coded T-shirts. The Silver Ranger's was black with a gray t-shirt. In Overdrive, Tyzonn gets two silver stripes going down the middle of his uniform, while the part you'd expect to be silver is orange. It's more representative of his three-toned Judge Dredd-looking Ranger suit than something more matching the other Rangers would've been.) This isn't a universal rule, though.
      • It does apply to unmorphed uniforms in Super Sentai too. In Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, Tetsu's uniform was mainly white with navy accents, the same colours as his morphed suit. The core five's were mainly black with accents in their own colour. In Engine Sentai Go-onger, the Wings wore gold and silver jackets, instead of black motor-racing suits with ranger-coloured writing and trim.
  • Gentaro in Kamen Rider Fourze still wears his blazer and jeans, complete with fire-patterned Chuck Taylors whilst everyone else wears the school uniforms (sometimes with their own adjustments, but they're still the same basic clothing). It doesn't look like he's going to change them any time soon.
  • Jonas is a particularly egregious example. All the main characters have a Custom Uniform while the background extras don't.
  • Disney seems to be fond of it lately; they do the same thing in the "Mackenzie Falls" Web shorts tied in with Sonny With a Chance. Then again, those are supposed to be Lampshade Hanging schlocky teen drama tropes.
  • House very rarely wears the white lab coat required for doctors at his hospital. Vogler, the hospital's chairman at the time, tries to get House to wear one in the first season. Apparently this is in line with Fox's desire for a medical show without "white coats going down the hallway."
  • After the station seceded from the Earth Alliance, the senior command staff of Babylon 5 received custom Minbari-made black uniforms.
  • On The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air While his cousin Carlton and the other students in his prep school wear the blue blazer uniform, Will turns his blue blazer inside out so that it now looks like he's wearing a red silk one with patterns on it. He also wears a baseball cap backwards.
    • In some episodes, he also wears his (neck)tie around his forehead as a type of bandana. Basically, staying within the rules of the dress code while looking nothing like everybody else.
  • Jenny, the title character from the Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Daughter", is a genetically engineered soldier who emerges fully grown (and clothed) from a cloning machine. While her fellow soldiers are dressed in standard drab military fatigues, Jenny arrives in fitted black trousers, a tight green tee shirt (in a vibrant and flattering shade, no less) and flawless makeup, sans bulky coat. The difference in uniform is never explained, and no one seems to question it.
  • Lieutenant Jim Dangle from Reno 911 wears shorts with his uniform, which he states he had to specifically ask the state for permission to do.
  • Peacekeepers on Farscape: They started out with uniforms, and the lower ranking troops continued to wear uniforms, but for anyone with the rank above Senior Officer or Lieutenant the rule seemed to be "As long as it's made out of red and black leather..."
  • In episode of Kenan and Kel, "Bye Bye Kenan part 2", Kel arrives in Kenan's new school wearing a green tracksuit and black leather jacket. The teacher mistook him for Kenan and calls him out about the clothes he is wearing. It is dropped when Kel says he isn't the student she is expecting.
  • Before the accident, crew members on Red Dwarf wore khaki fatigues or boiler suits. Lister wears a jacket with an assortment of badges sewn onto it and a London Jets tshirt along with his Nice Hat. This is mostly because Lister isn't comfortable with anything too military.

Tabletop Games

  • Everyone in Warhammer 40000 who ranks above "grunt" has a custom uniform to some degree, getting more elaborate and shiny as you move up the chain of command.
    • And even then, there can be some subtle variation amongst the rank-and-file. After a few battles Imperial Guardsmen tend to pick up souvenirs or trophies, while members of more pious regiments will attach devotional scripts or lucky relics to their flak armor. Space Marine Marines will all proudly be wearing their chapter's colors, of course, but their armor usually has at least one purity seal on it somewhere, while some members have their own coat-of-arms to display. Chaos Space Marines' (spiky) armor is a patchwork of parts collected across millennia, and with mutations that ensure any two models aren't exactly the same. And the Orks, of course, don't even have a concept of "uniform," only clan colors.
    • This trope is extremely common in war games. Unless a game abstracts an entire large unit to one "block," it is essential to distinguish the leader of a unit for the sake of the players. Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 enforce this trope by requiring in the rules that a unit's leader can be clearly identified and using different models to represent them.

Video Games

  • In Super Robot Wars: Original Generation, only the people in the same team wear close to the same uniforms (mostly the Latex Space Suits), only the Mauve Shirts have a standard uniform, and apparently even that seems different from the ones worn by the Redshirt Army on the same side.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, each of Emperor Gestahl's three generals (Leo, Celes and Kefka) wears a different outfit, none of which resemble any Imperial uniform then in service. (Leo's comes the closest; at least it's approximately the same shade of green as those of the infantry).
  • The 1st Class SOLDIERs in the world of Final Fantasy VII are allowed to use personal equipment, including custom uniforms. They're also "unofficially" allowed to refuse order, presumably on the grounds of: "Hey, do you want to try and get Sephiroth to do it?"
    • Also in Final Fantasy VII, while most of the Turks wear the standard suit, Reno wears his with no tie and with his shirt untucked. Because he's just that Badass. Or lazy. Whatever.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, most SeeDs and SeeD trainees wear uniforms on a daily basis, except for the main cast, who only wear them during official functions like the final exam and graduation ball. At other times they wear civvies, and even when Seifer dons his trainee uniform for the exam, he leaves the jacket open and wears a blue and white vest underneath it. Seifer's buddies Raijin and Fujin, although also trainees, never wear the uniform at all.
  • In Fire Emblem (at least 9 and 10, the others show no variations in battle sprites at all), all named units (your units, potential recruits, and bosses) have a custom colour scheme, while everyone else on the bad side gets their uniforms coloured based on their affiliation. It can get a bit odd in cases where potential recruits start out fighting on the enemy's side; they are the only one aside from their general to wear a custom uniform.
    • You would think that whatever evil empire you're fighting would start to recognize these people and learn to expect their sudden but inevitable betrayal.
  • In Wing Commander III and Wing Commander IV, Blair (the player character) has his last name on the name tag on his uniform, but all other pilots have their callsign on the name tag. As the callsign was chosen by the player, it wasn't practical to allow customized callsigns on the nametag, with Full Motion Video.
  • In City of Villains, the Arachnos Spider and Widow epic archetypes' primary costumes are restricted to standard Arachnos parts, but they can still make themselves look different from the rank and file Arachnos NPC's, and their alternate costume slots don't have those restrictions at all, except for Crab Spiders having to have their trademark mechanical arms in all of them.
  • If the player joins the Imperial Legion in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, he/she is required to wear a uniform Legion cuirass, otherwise fellow legionnaires and their superiors refuse to talk with the PC. However, in the final quests for the Legion, the player acquires the artifact Lord's Mail, which is basically the best heavy armor in the game and also a Legion uniform cuirass, thus being a truly unique Custom Uniform for a legionnaire. It is also justified story-wise by the PC becoming the Knight of the Imperial Dragon (commander of all Legion regiments in the region) at this point.
    • This applies to NPCs too, alot of the named ones wear the chest piece with whatever patchwork of other pieces of armor (imperial chain, imperial steel, imperial leather, iron, steel, netch, even chitin).
    • Not to mention that as Knight of the Imperial Dragon you outrank anyone who would otherwise care about your lack of uniform.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, many of the members of Squad 7 had some variation on their uniform. This would be avoided by Welkin, who wore his commander's uniform exactly as it was meant to be worn, except he is the only person who doesn't have a uniform variation and therefore stands out because of it.
    • In the game's artbook, the character designer refers to this trope (from his end at least) as a "believable lie": How to give characters distinctive appearances while maintaining some semblance of military decorum.
  • In Resident Evil none of the S.T.A.R.S. wear matching uniforms at all. The U.B.C.S. Mercenaries in RE3 have a stricter dress code, but Carlos has a cut down version of a typical uniform.
    • The ones from HUNK's unit however, all wear the same thing.
      • Extra materials reveal that the team wore mismatched uniforms because the R.P.D. didn't have the budget for anything else at the time, and Chris' outfit in Code: Veronica was the prototype for what would have eventually been the standardized S.T.A.R.S. uniform.
      • This doesn't just apply to the S.T.A.R.S., Player Characters Leon and Kevin are members of the normal RPD but still have mis-matched uniforms.
        • That's justified in universe as stating that Leon and Kevin are members of a newly-formed unit that is not quite as elite as S.T.A.R.S. but a cut above the average cop.
  • La Résistance in Mega Man Zero all wear standard green uniforms all except for Ciel, Elpizo, Zero and Alouette.
    • This carries over to Mega Man ZX, where Prarie has a custom uniform from the other Guardians. Partially Subverted in ZX Advent: While Ashe wears the same clothes as the other "normal" hunters, but without a helmet, a number of NPC hunters wear their own uniforms.
  • Colonel Tendon Cobar and Colonel Mael Radek from Killzone (Liberation and 2, respectively) get the awesomest suits you'll see from any Helghast, the lot of whom wear really cool outfits anyway.
  • In the second Jak and Daxter game, the Krimzon Guards have four kinds of uniforms: red for normal ones, yellow for inexplicably stronger ones, one for Errol and one for Ashelin. In the third game, the Freedom League is all blue, though for some reason Ashelin still has the exact same outfit.
  • Most Alliance Marines in Mass Effect appear to wear black armor, in sharp contrast to Ashley's white-and-pink. Also, normal Alliance starships are white and red, while the Normandy is black and white.
    • Though strangely whichever human crew member survives Virmire (or Liara, if she was Shepard's Love Interest in the first game) shows up in the same white-and-pink during the opening sequence of Mass Effect 2, while Shepard sticks with the standard black Alliance armor (plus a red stripe to denote rank).
    • Well the Normandy is explained away by being built by more than one race so maybe it got its own color scheme and in universe I think the white-and-pink was the medic color.
    • Miranda's Spy Catsuit doesn't seem to be standard-issue for Cerberus personnel, especially considering the proportions required to make it work.
  • In The Godfather: The Game, most of your contract hits as well as the four Dons don't wear outfits with the same colour as their Family. Of course, your Virtual Paper Doll man Aldo isn't constrained by the standard colourless Corleone costume, though it's still somewhat limited; you can't, say, go for Alucard-/Dante-esque crimson or the yellow of Spike Spiegel.
  • In Star Trek Online one can create their own uniform out of several different pieces, styles (both from the shows and new), and colour schemes. This is even handwaved by one of the Loading Screens giving the year uniform regulations were relaxed.
  • In Tokimeki Memorial 1 and 2, Rei and Mei Ijuin, as heirs of the filthy rich Ijuin Family, are allowed to wear variants of their respective schools' regular uniform. Becomes a plot point in Tokimeki Memorial 2, as if Mei is in Tokimeki Status with the main protagonist, near the end of the game, he can give her a regular Hibikino School Uniform as a Christmas present, and she'll wear it out of love for him later in one of her special Events.
    • Small variations to the standard uniform - usually a different shirt and/or tie - are common throughout the Girl's Side games, especially on the parts of the more artistic and/or fashionable characters.
  • The Persona series delves into both this and Nonuniform Uniform:
    • In Persona, each of the playable characters have their own personal flair. The protagonist, Maki, Eriko, and Nanjo wear the uniform correctly, but have an earring, compact-amulet, an orange scarf, and a light blue #1 scarf respectively. Yukino also wears the uniform correctly, but wears a much longer skirt. Masao/Mark also has an earring, but he wears a turtleneck shirt, a Nice Hat, and carries around a yellow tagger's backpack. Hidehiko wears a purple longsleeve shirt with his jacket half open, numerous bangles, red boots, and has a pair of sunglasses perched on his head. Yuko wears a skirt that is half the length of the standard skirt and she wears a blue-with-green-stripes jacket and baggy knee-socks. Reiji goes around with his jacket open and no shirt on and wears a pair of American flag motif Fingerless Gloves.
    • In serious contrast to the other Persona games, the Persona 2 duology only has the instance of a one Eikichi "Michel" Mishina, who wears what appears to be a kilt under his jacket over his uniform pants. In Innocent Sin, Tatsuya, Lisa, and Jun wear their uniforms without any changes whatsoever, although Tatsuya has his jacket unbuttoned. Tatsuya foregoes a school uniform entirely in Eternal Punishment, opting for a red motorcycle tracksuit.
    • The only ones that actually wear proper uniforms in Persona 3 (including the PSP version) are the female protagonist and Aigis, and even then, Aigis wears the winter uniform even in summer in order to hide her robot joints. The male protagonist wears his winter uniform blazer unbuttoned and the uniform pants for both versions are slightly above his ankles and he wears a pair of engineer-style boots. Junpei always wears a ball cap and a blue shirt instead of a white one. Yukari wears a choker, a pink sweater instead of the winter uniform jacket and a shorter skirt. Fuuka wears a green turtleneck instead of the white shirt. Akihiko wears a red sweater vest and neither he nor Mitsuru ever wears the uniform jacket. Mitsuru at least has the excuse of "her father pays for this school", but the others don't. Ryoji also wears suspenders instead of a belt, rolls up his sleeves, and wears an absurdly long scarf instead of the uniform jacket.
    • Persona 4 is similar to its predecessor in that only The Protagonist wears the correct uniform, but the winter version jacket is unbuttoned and he has his shirt untucked with both versions. Chie wears a green sports jacket over her winter uniform and wears the summer uniform correctly, with her jacket tied around her waist; she also wears bike shorts under her skirt for both uniforms. Yosuke is always wearing headphones around his neck and foregoes the winter uniform shirt for a longsleeved V-neck shirt, but wears the summer uniform shirt with a shortsleeved V-neck shirt under it. Yukiko wears a red sweater or cardigan over her uniform top, depending on the uniform version she's wearing. Kanji wears his winter uniform jacket like a cape and only wears the uniform pants during the summer. Rise wears the uniform correctly in the summer, but the only variation she makes to the winter uniform is that she wears a white turtleneck under the uniform top. Naoto does wear unaltered winter and summer uniforms...but it's the boy's uniform, which she continues to wear even after her real gender is revealed. The only time she wears a girl's uniform is if she's your Christmas Date and you request her embrace her femininity.
  • Emile in Halo: Reach wears a set of EVA power armor with a skull scratched on the visor. The player character is allowed to customize their armor, and the armors of the rest of Noble Team can't quite be replicated with customized parts.
  • It's not clear if the Thieves' Guild in ~Assassin's Creed~ II has a per se uniform, but Rosa and Antonio's outfits clearly deviate from the ones the generic thieves wear.
  • Although Bully's Jimmy will get in trouble for not wearing the school uniform, the majority of the school go without it - each clique has their own uniform, and only the non-clique students wear the actual school uniform.
  • Serious Sam 3: BFE: Sam doesn't wear the standard military uniform the redshirts do.
  • In Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, Fuka isn't able to become a proper Prinny because Hades ran out of Prinny suits. Thus, they just gave her a Prinny jacket and hat from the gift shop.
  • Possible to an extent in Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 - Michael and Jung wear the same uniform throughout the whole game, while the player character Bishop has all sorts of customization options. However, Michael and Jung's uniforms will emulate any camo options the player sets for Bishop, even if it clearly goes against the environment you're operating in.

Web Comics


 Sarah: Why is she dressed like that?

Justin:Black belts wear whatever they want.

Sarah: Is that a rule?

Justin: Sorta... nobody is brave enough to tell them no.

    • And again later when Tedd and Susan play mix-and-match with their male and female school uniforms to protest Moperville North's strict, sexist (and short-lived, at least if you're on an Archive Binge) school uniform policy.
    • Tedd also seems to think all uniforms should be Custom Uniforms:

 "I mean, I like uniforms, but what's the point if everyone in a group is wearing the same thing?!"

  • The Dogs of War in Cry Havoc all wear different gear over a standard unifrom. This is passed off due to their status as mercenaries who hand-pick their equipment and weapons.
  • In Those Destined, the Quirky Miniboss Squad's uniform consists only of a badge (worn above their regular clothes, as the Big Bad insists), while the standard Mooks uniform is much stricter.
  • In Goblins, one of the Brassmoon city guard officers wears a cape. He stopped when his commander threatened to kill him if he saw him in it again.
  • A mook wearing a medieval suit of armor while his comrades wear high-tech military stealth-suits does not escape the hero's notice in Antihero for Hire. He claims he gets to do whatever he wants because he's an elite, although he actually goes down easier than most of the regular ones.

Web Original

  • A couple of guards in Equestria Chronicles wear unusual armor. Emphasis on "a couple."

Western Animation

  • G.I. Joe wouldn't be able to be what it was—a Merchandise-Driven toy commercial—if it hadn't been for the sweet individualistic "uniforms" each soldier wore. Otherwise you're just buying a bunch of the same guy with different heads.
    • Interestingly, the live action G.I. Joe film chose to go with more standardized uniforms for the main characters.
      • And ten of the thirteen original Joes wore green uniforms with round helmets. The three standing out were Scarlett, Snake-Eyes and Stalker.
  • Kylie and Eduardo from Extreme Ghostbusters wore, respectively, a black leotard with orange football pads, and a green t-shirt with blue jeans with an orange vest.
  • In Pasila, none of the five police officer protagonists have an identical uniform. One wears a full officer's dress uniform, another one wears an indoor uniform, another one wears an outdoor uniform, another one wears a mere uniform vest over his civilian shirt and trousers, and one wears a fricking trenchcoat, t-shirt, jeans and sneakers. Each uniform is worn like that the whole time.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Mauve Shirt clone troopers who have lived longer than the first mission after basic training add some customization to their armor, either as paint, tatoos, or just not having the burn/pistol marks repaired off of it.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Shining Armor, Captain of the Royal Guard, has armor of a slightly different design than his subordinates, the badge on front is his Cutie Mark instead of a star, and it's purple with gold edges instead of all-gold or all-silver.

Real Life

  • Truth in Television. It's only been very recently (in historical terms) that officers have had standardized uniforms, and even more recently that personal touches have been frowned upon. Patton and Montgomery are two of the more notable ones from as recently as World War II. There is a joke in the British Army that if two officers from the Intelligence Corps appear at breakfast wearing identical clothing the junior officer must go and get changed. Somewhat justified, as in pre-modern times it was important that ranking officers be easily identifiable by sight so the common soldier could know who he was supposed to be taking orders from.
    • Montgomery, when he was training officers at the British Staff College in the 1920s, specifically stated that a general should have a distinctive hat.
    • General Douglas MacArthur's innate sense of theatre made him an interesting case. Despite his reputation for flamboyant dress during wartime (his iconic WWII outfit was actually fairly mild compared to WWI when his troops called him "The fighting dude" and he often went into battle wearing Jodpurs, riding boots and his West Point varsity letter sweater armed only with a riding crop he always wore impeccable regulation uniforms in peacetime. Each look was carefully calculated to fit the image he was trying to project and the audience he was trying to impress. The fact that he chose to make his famous farewell address wearing a civilian suit did not go unnoticed.
    • Ulysses S Grant almost never bothered with his own uniform, to the point that he only got into the Appomattox Court House surrender ceremony in his dirty fatigues and splattered with mud because the Confederates knew him by sight. In contrast Robert E. Lee was fully dressed in his best uniform for the surrender, with one observer commenting that if you hadn't known better you'd have thought Lee had won. Lee had been forced to abandon his baggage train earlier that week and he naturally chose to change into the best uniform he had left before ditching all of the others. Lee played into this trope as well by typically wearing the insignia and uniform of a colonel, despite his rank in the Confederate army. Among modern infantrymen, many would think Grant made the right choice - his mud-spattered uniform showed that he was "in the shit," and not just a desk officer who had the time to get clean.
    • To this day, according to United States Army Regulation 670-1 (the document pertaining to the wear of the uniform), Generals of the Army, the Chief of Staff, and former Chiefs of Staff can alter their uniform however they like. They still can't wear medals or ribbons they aren't entitled to though.
      • Only applies to their branch insignia, not the whole uniform. Of course at that high of a rank, and that the Chief of Staff approves uniform changes anyway, they can do whatever they want.
  • Uniform regulations also generally make concessions to religious practices where practical. For example, Sikh turban is RAF uniform and is issued. As is a tube of gel to put on his beard when wearing a gasmask. There have been Sikhs fighting for Britain since at least the 1750s, although prior to 1858 they would have been in a distinct minority, so there's a long history of this.
  • The Soviet Army, relying principally on conscription to supply manpower, inevitably encompassed the dozens of different recognized nationalities within the nation. With conscription being a sort of difficult rite of passage for many young men, when their terms of service ended, the same men were allowed what was informally called a demobilization uniform, if they desired, which would feature whatever items, patches, or other trinkets they had collected. The only requirement was that still vaguely resemble their original service uniforms, and as a result, many men returning to their homes wore some truly gaudy and flashy tunics with extra aiguillettes, shoulder insignia, and more.
  • The Duke of Wellington spent most of the Napoleonic Wars in civvies, as he was the commander of several different nation's armies and didn't want to play favorites. The Iron Duke didn't give a flying fuck about what his officers wore. One cavalry general commanded a charge wearing civilian evening dress and a stovepipe hat, wielding his umbrella instead of a sabre. Although that was because his uniform had not arrived in time for the battle, and his British reserve prevented him from making a fuss about it.
    • That was probably Sir Thomas Picton, famous not only for wearing a stovepipe hat (and getting killed in it at the Battle of Waterloo) but also going into battle in his pyjamas at one point. Not by choice, probably.
  • And there's Hermann Goering's famous ornate uniforms. A joke told in Germany at the time had Adolf Hitler inspecting the latest warship, only to see Goering (who'd turned early) looking out a porthole. Hitler says: "That man's gone too far — now he's draped an entire battleship around his neck!"
  • Particularly when dealing with school uniforms, students do their damnedest to get away with as much as they possibly can. Apparently when they were filming one of the Harry Potter movies, the adolescent extras were told specifically to wear their uniforms how they would normally wear them in such a situation, so some loosened or removed the tie, some hiked up their skirts, etc. In the fifth film when Umbridge takes over she forces the students to look more standardised. or at least tries to.
  • U-Boat crews during World War II wore anything but uniforms while at sea.
    • While they had grey leathers for waterproofing and warmth, they are often seen in captured British Battledress uniforms for working clothes. Come to that, the German rescue services for air raids often wore captured Russian or Danish helmets and uniform as working dress. The Volkssturm also used many and varied uniforms.
  • The British Home Guard, in its early days, was equipped with whatever was left after the already under-equipped regulars had taken first pick. For a long while the only uniform to speak of was a small armband, and enforcement of uniform regulations remained spotty long after proper battledress trickled down.
  • The late William Rehnquist, when he was Chief Justice of the United States, added four stripes to the sleeves of his court robes, because he'd seen Iolanthe and thought it was cool. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor often wear lace cravats with their robes, a tradition started by the first woman on the Court, Sandra Day O'Connor. All this is entirely justified, as the robe is the Justice's personal property, purchased at his or her own expense. Furthermore, the Court's regulations only require that Justices wear black robes in the situations that call for it, but don't say anything else about the subject.
  • Militia type organizations in the United States. Typically, these are groups of local citizens who equip themselves with whatever is at hand. As a result, it's perfectly possible to go to militia practice and see guys in US Woodland BDU's, Vietnam era olive drab, ACU, DPM, CADPAT, Alpenflage, business suits, Multicam, Flecktarn, and Gorod. Weapons are seldom standardized either, so you'll see everything from AR's to AK's to Garands to FAL's.
  • The Texas Rangers (a statewide investigative agency in Texas, for those who don't know)[1] uniform consists of a badge, a visible weapons belt, boots and "Western clothing". Their uniform manual is more a list of suggestions then actual rules. Of course, considering that there's a good reason why they're Rangers...
    • Also justified in that they are not a traditional police force, being more akin to a state-level version of the FBI. When they need traditional cops, they get help from local police departments and the Highway Patrol.
  • Girl Scouts of the USA haven't required girls to wear a full uniform for years now, but they still made them. As of October 2008, they've taken this further:

 Girl Scouts at each level have one required element (Tunic, Sash or Vest) for the display of official pins and awards which will be required when girls participate in ceremonies or officially represent the Girl Scout Movement.

For girls ages 5 to 14, the unifying look includes wearing a choice of a tunic, vest, sash for displaying official pins and awards, combined with their own solid white shirts and khaki pants or skirts. Girl Scouts in high school can also wear a scarf that unites their look with the sisterhood of Girl Scouts around the world.

For adult members the unifying look of the uniform is a Girl Scout official scarf or tie for men, worn with the official membership pins, combined with their own navy blue business attire. Girl Scouts at the Daisy and Brownie levels will continue to have a full uniform ensemble available.

    • There are so many different shades of khaki - never mind that Cadettes' vests often don't match their pants - that it leads to rather a lack of uniformity.
  • Squads and such in Humans Versus Zombies. Normally, it's all up to recognizing faces or maybe a hat or color scheme to tell who's with you and not with you. Aside from generic "we all wear camo jackets", there's a lot of room to maneuver.
  • While Girl Guides of Canada requires full uniforms, there are endless options for clothing that normally result no two girls in a troop look the same. The uniform consists of: long and short sleeved option for t-shirts, e pants or capris, leggings, a hat when camping a hoodie of vest for cold weather, a sash for displaying the badges, a neck scarf (the same as the one described above for girl scouts) and the characteristic stripey socks.
  • Wal-mart only requires its employees to wear blue shirts, brown pants, and their name badge. What shade of blue and what shade of brown is completely irrelevant, and they can be any style of shirt or pants (provided it stays within reasonable dress code). Though most simply choose the standard navy blue, collared shirts. They did away with the uniform blue vests a couple years ago for unknown reasons.
    • Similarly, Target requires its employees to wear tan pants and a red shirt, with no guidance beyond those points.
    • At the American Girl Place in Los Angeles, employees are required to wear black pants, black shoes, and black socks. Shirts can be of any colors so as long it's solid and no logos/patterns, while those working in the cafe have to have white button-down shirts. (Might apply to some of the other stores.)
  • Private Military Contractors usually don't have set uniforms. Most members either wear civilian clothes underneath their tactical gear, or whatever military fatigues the members own.
  • Nurses. Even if you see 100 nurses in one day, you will never see two dressed identicaly. Applies to male nurses as well.
    • Does not, however, apply to nursing students in a hospital. They tend to wear whatever uniform clothes the school requires, usually white.
    • Does not apply to the increasing number of hospitals that are standardizing their dress codes, such that all employees of a certain professional branch (RNs, CNAs, ancillary staff, etc) must wear scrubs of a solid mandated color (frequently either navy or ciel blue). Also does not apply to the OR, where everyone wears the same hospital-issued surgical greens.
    • If you've seen the show Emergency!, you may have noticed that although the uniforms may be similar or identical, you'll be hard pressed to find two hats the same. In that time period, nurses wore the hats they wore for their respective schools.
    • To an extent subverted in the National Health Service. Nurses don't have the various patterns and decorations found elsewhere and have strict uniform guidelines. And that is just for the logo placement.
  • 18th century regiments each had their own uniform, and the only criteria was that it should have as much Bling of War as was compatible with marching through mud and potholes, a difficulty usually ignored as showiness comes before reason. It may not have mattered as much as it sounds as each block of men only has to know how to fire at the block of men in front of it.
    • Even colors of uniforms were not standardized as late as the 19th century. The British had troops wearing green (most famously the Green Dragoons and the Rifle regiments) and blue; almost all nations' Zouave uniforms looked alike, in more or less French colors; in the American Civil War, the First Battle of Bull Run saw an incident where a Union unit in gray uniforms got almost on top of the Confederates before either side realized what was going on. (Or was it a Confederate unit in blue?)
      • It was a Confederate unit in blue running towards a Union artillery unit. The commander on the Union side was asked if they should open fire, but said no because the troops approaching were friendlies. He was wrong.
      • This was brought up in the movie "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", when the leads thought the approaching troops were Confederates in grey, but it turned out to be blue uniforms coated in trail dust.
    • Even when a unit's uniforms were standardised when they were formed, it wasn't unusual for them to return home looking vastly different from even other members of the same unit. Admittedly, this was because not all of their uniforms would be from the same supplier using the same batch of dye on the exact same kind of fabric, and so would not necessarily react in the same manner to weather conditions (rain, sun, etc.). A battalion of "redcoats" might end up marching back to barracks after a campaign with some members in pink coats, and some whose jackets were almost brown.
  • Various modern incarnations of former paramilitary organisation the Legion of Frontiersmen tend to have a rather ... random selection of uniform elements.
  • Ditto for modern Cossacks. Their appearance ranges from "fairly modern military style camo" to "authentic XIX century dress uniform complete with a saber", with anything in between possible.
  • Lord Lovet lead a Commando Brigade on D-Day wearing a custom bright white jumper, carrying his own personal Winchester rife.
  • Two examples from sports:
    • Goalkeepers in association football must wear uniforms that make them distinguishable from other players. This has occasionally led to customized uniforms.
    • Goaltenders in Ice Hockey wear masks attached to their helmets to keep pucks from flying into their faces. These masks and helmets tend to be highly decorated according to the goalie's tastes.
      • Same with Catchers in Baseball, who wear helmets with face masks for the same reason.
  • Roman Legions allowed officers to wear their medallions and medals to battle. Each of them wore a custom uniform, here modelled by a few reenactors. Standardization is a very modern idea.
  1. Not to be confused with the other Texas Rangers, a Major League Baseball team based in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, who have very standardized uniforms