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File:StockCostumeTraits 3075.jpg

Guess the trait!

Tertiary Sexual Characteristics occurs when stereotypical female elements are added to a character to demonstrate she is a woman. If you have a yellow circle, and you stick a bow on it, you instantly recognize the circle is a girl.

Stock Costume Traits is that concept, except as related to characteristics or professions rather than gender. You add some costume element onto a character, and that is the visual signal they have adopted that characteristic. For example, if the circle has a pipe and deerstalker hat, we know the circle is a detective; if it wears a monocle and top hat, we understand that yellow circle belongs to high society.

Most of these are Dead Horse Tropes by now. Closely related to Hollywood Dress Code, but approached from a different perspective. See Clothes Make the Legend for a similar idea, but related to one specific character.

Compare Expository Hairstyles, when a character's hair is used to indicate personality, background, or other traits.

Tropes with their own pages:

Other examples:

  • Amateur Sleuth: A pipe and a deerstalker hat; thank Sherlock Holmes.
  • Artist: Beret
  • Astronaut: Puffy white moon-landing style spacesuit.
  • Beatnik: Black turtleneck, Cool Shades, beret, goatee.
  • Bodyguard, CIA, or government agent: Sunglasses, a black suit and tie, possibly an earpiece.
  • Biker: Spiky helmet, leather jacket, leather or denim pants, spiky combat boots, tattoos, sunglasses and facial hair.
  • Butler: Men's formal daywear, generally a morning suit.
  • Clown: Puffy one-piece jumpsuit with pompon buttons, oversized shoes, cone-shaped hat, and a big red nose.
  • Disco Dan: Dapper suit, usually mostly in white. (This was being parodied as early as 1980, in Airplane!)
  • Disc Jockey (DJ): A pair of headphones and the optional Cool Shades.
  • Farmer: Gingham and overalls.
  • Fairy Tale Princess: Large poofy gown of pink, blue, or purple and a sparkly tiara.
  • Gangster: (old style) Fedora and zoot suits; (new style) Hoodies, and saggy jeans.
  • Hardboiled Detective: A fedora and Badass Longcoat; in Film Noir, they're usually wearing a tie, a white button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and suspenders.
  • Hippie: Tie-dyed clothing and headband. Long hair. Beard on the men.
  • Janitor: A jumpsuit or boilersuit.
  • Judge: Black robe and gavel. Powdered wig in Commonwealth nations.
  • Knight: Suit of full plate armor, visored helmet with or without tassel on top.
  • Leprechaun: Bright green clothing, usually appearing to be from the late 18th or early 19th centuries.
  • Mad Scientist: White lab coat; goggles and Einstein Hair optional.
  • Magician: White tie and tails or tuxedo, often with a cape, white gloves, a slick handlebar mustache or an imperial beard, a white-tipped baton, and a black top hat with a bunny in it. Often there will be star and/or moon designs incorporated.
  • Maid: Stereotypical maid uniform; French Maid-style optional.
  • Medieval Executioner: Dons a black hood that covers the head partially or whole. Wields either an axe, sword or a noose.
  • Mime: Striped shirt, white face with heavy rouge, beret.
  • Ninja: Black kabuki stagehand outfit with face-concealing mask and/or headband.
  • Nurse: White dress and nurse hat with a red cross on it.
  • Pilot: Goggles over a leather cap, generally with a scarf and a leather bomber jacket.
  • Pirate: Tricorne or cavalier hat, parrot on the shoulder, peg-leg and/or hook, Eyepatch of Power.
  • Policeman (the Theme Park Version): Laughably outdated "bobby"-style uniform, complete with cylindrical blue hat. Often will have a "Prussian"-style mustache, too.
  • Professional Wrestling: Lucha libre-style mask, colorful cape and tights, and Underwear of Power. (Never mind that, except for the underwear, most American wrestlers don't dress like this.)
  • Punk / Emo: Dyed messy hair, black printed t-shirts, body piercings, tattoos.
  • Reporter: A button-down with sleeves rolled up, tie at half-mast, and fedora with a card stuck in the band that says "media" or "press"; cigar optional.
  • Spy: Fedora, Badass Longcoat, and sunglasses, although that's a Dead Horse Trope by now. Spy Catsuit is more modern. James Bond-esque spies prefer a Tuxedo and Martini.
  • Superhero: The stereotype is a cape [1], spandex, and underwear on the outside. May have a good physique.
  • Surfer: Long blond hair, tanned skin, Cool Shades, lotioned nose, cowrie-shell necklace, and baggy shorts.
  • Teacher (male): Tweedy jacket with patches on elbows, glasses.
  • Teacher/Librarian (female): Severe long dark dress, hair in tight bun, glasses.
  • Televangelist: Ice-cream suit.
  • Transvestite: Fishnets, high heels, corset (Optional), a noticeable amount of make up, jewelry of some sort (usually a necklace or earrings) and often (but not always), a dress.
  • Valley Girl: Garishly colorful clothing, often vaguely "punk" in appearance.
  • Venetian gondola drivers: A flat straw hat and striped shirt.
  • Witch: Pointy black hat, black dress, warts. Green skin optional.
  1. So much so we named the trope about a stereotypical superhero "The Cape"