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New Transfer Students in places where school uniforms are a cultural default setting often wear their old ones until the school can provide them with a new one. In fiction, this shows the newcomer or outsider. When they get the current school uniform, this indicates they've been assimilated. If the student is meant to be a Fish Out of Water, they will keep their old uniform throughout the series. In Japanese media, even rebels don't choose to abandon uniforms entirely; in American media they will do this even if the new school doesn't have uniforms. Compare the Nonuniform Uniform.
For characters Trapped in Another World, having this is not just a case of having a Limited Wardrobe, but to remind the audience that this character is not native. Naturally adopting local clothing is a sign of Going Native. A younger version of Still Wearing the Old Colors.
- Haruhi Fujioka is too poor to buy a new school uniform when she first goes to Ouran High, even wearing a boy's uniform because her self-consciousness of her gender isn't as much as that of other people's.
- Also, the boy's uniform was probably easier for her to try to mimic with what clothing she had laying around. Black pants and a white shirt are common pieces of clothing, regardless of your social standing.
- Yusuke from Yu Yu Hakusho distinct green uniform annoys the faculty, since while technically acceptable he wears it just to stand out. Even Kuwabara wears a slightly different shade of blue than the standard uniform. This is anime-only, though; manga color images usually have Kuwabara and Yusuke's uniforms matching, even if the colors aren't always consistent, unless the artist was color-coding them. Keiko calls Yusuke on his green uniform in the dub, but the original doesn't really mention it.
- Utena's "boy uniform" in the Revolutionary Girl Utena TV anime, which includes bright red bicycle shorts, is not worn by any of the boys at her school, but is, according to the plot, an approved style (she helpfully points it out at the very beginning — there's nothing at the school dress code that bars her from wearing the male uniform). One wonders who approved it and if it has ever been worn by any boy in the history of the school.
- It's the same way in the manga, except her "boys' uniform" is entirely pink.
- In the movie and the movie manga, the only difference between Utena's uniform and Ohtori's boys' uniform is the coloring (hers is black-and-white, Ohtori's is green/teal).
- Kino Makoto in Sailor Moon wears an old school uniform throughout her entire junior high career and only switches over in high school. This is technically not so much due to lack of integration in the cast as the school not having one in her size, but it does mirror the fact that, outside of the senshi, Makoto was an outcast in junior high due to her height. Her school uniform had elements (long skirt, type of shoes) that were typically associated with a kind of young female delinquents, sukeban, that were prominent in during 70s-80s Japan. Indeed in early designs, Makoto was supposed to lead a gang of girls, and though she didn't she was still stereotyped this way by others. This lengthened skirt does not appear in the live-action series as the sukeban wasn't as prominent anymore.
- Freesia Yagyuu in Jubei-chan wore a different school uniform. This is curious since she did not go to any other school previously. However, by the very end she is seen wearing the current school's uniform. (Jiyuu herself wore a different one in the first season, and in the second is wearing the standard.)
- Also Trapped in Another World, Hikaru, Fuu and Umi had their respective school uniforms incorporated into their magical armor in Magic Knight Rayearth. The manga even jokes about the impracticality of their outfits.
- Subverted? by Aoba from Code Breaker because she changes into her new Hesei high school uniform even before she starts attending class.
- Subverted by Ranma from Ranma ½ who, despite the pressure of a rules-specific principal, gets into more trouble from his haircut than for not wearing a uniform. This may have something to do with how iconic his usual outfit is.
- Note that Ranma is the only character in the series to never, ever, wear a school uniform, unless it's the female kind in order to pull a prank on Ryoga or fool Kuno for some obscure purpose --in which case, it's always treated as a Wig, Dress, Accent Paper-Thin Disguise. Ironically, the first thing that the majority of FanFics that deal with a split or locked female Ranma do is shove her into a school uniform, ignoring the entire manga.
- Ukyo from the same series generally wears her previous school's boy's uniform while attending Furinkan High, despite being "outed" as a girl in her first appearance. She occasionally wears a girl's uniform in the anime (beginning with a spotlight episode where she deliberately attempts to femininize her image) but was never shown wearing a girl's uniform in the manga (except for gym).
- Subverted again by Yuuri in Kyo Kara Maoh!. While initially Trapped in Another World unexpectedly, on a subsequent visit he's wearing normal casual clothes... but his advisors comment his uniform looks so spiffy they tailored up a perfect replica for him to wear as his royal outfit.
- Mendou from Urusei Yatsura wears a different (all-white) school uniform not because he transferred in, but because he's a rich, arrogant bastard and he thinks it makes him look important.
- Similarly, the rich and arrogant Hokuto in Sakigake Cromartie Koukou wears a white uniform, which turns out to have been a mistake on his part because he transferred to the wrong school.
- When Action Girl Tokiko officially enrolls in Kazuki's school in Busou Renkin, she refuses to wear the school's ballgown-like female uniform, instead holding on to the seifuku-like uniform from her previous school; the old uniform is easier to move in, and because it leaves her legs exposed, she can more easily bring her alchemical weapon (a set of four mechanical blades strapped to her thighs) to bear.
- A variation on this is what happens to Jun Manjyome in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. He's demoted to Ra Yellow, and decides to leave Duel Academy. After a rather long journey he comes back, but since he went to another school he counts as a transfer student and has to start in Osiris Red dorm. Rather than wearing the red outfit, Manjyome wears his own black coat.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Bakura is still wearing his old school uniform in the end (at least a year after he was transferred to Domino High.)
- A-Ko and C-Ko wore their old uniforms pretty much all through the first Project A-ko, but finally changed to the school uniforms in the epilogue.
- Kaere/Kaede from Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei, along with being the only character with a different hair color, is also the only girl in class (excluding Matoi) whose uniform is different than anyone else's — she sports a plaid miniskirt and tie in lieu of the Sailor Fuku every other girl wears.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima, Student #1: Sayo Aisaka, wears a rather different uniform from the other students. When this is initially noticed in the class register, it leads to the assumption that she's a transfer student who never actually got there... but of course, the truth is that she's a ghost, and the uniform she wears was the standard at the time of her death — 60 years earlier.
- The character Itsuki in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya hangs a lampshade on this trope: the fact that he appears in North High's uniform from the beginning is a subtle hint at his transfer being deliberately pre-planned so he could better observe Haruhi.
- In El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, Makoto, Jinnai, and Nanami wear their uniforms for a very long time. In the very end, when Makoto arrives where Ifurita is, his robe implies that he had been studying in El-Hazard long enough to go native.
- Despite having a direct Time Travel Portal Pool to the past in Inuyasha, Kagome and her family seems to think her wearing her school uniform while traveling in the past is required. There are times when her mother has specifically prepared her school uniform just for going back in time. One would think that maybe standing out wouldn't be a good idea, but then everyone has Impossibly Cool Clothes in that series.
- There's a logical reason for this. Part of the reason for school-specific uniforms in Japan ties into group representation--your uniform marks you and identifies you to the rest of society. Ask any Japanese kid or young adult; they'll tell you the very FIRST thing they notice about someone is their school uniform. This is likely the central reason for Kagome usually wearing her seifuku in the past; she's "representing" the future and her school in another age. (Nevermind that the contemporaries of that era wouldn't even begin to understand this--conformist culture in Japan became what it is today chiefly during the Meiji era.)
- Ikuno from Angel Densetsu refused to change her school uniform after transferring to her new school, since she didn't know how long she would be attending, due to her father's job. So she stands out, even when she does not have someone else's blood on it.
- Himari from Omamori Himari keeps her "old" school uniform (or at least a different one) to warn demons who plan to attack Yuuto that she is there to defend him.
- Happens to Nagisa in Strawberry Panic anime, but not the manga.
- In Fushigi Yuugi, each Miko is an Ordinary High School Student who is Trapped in Another World, so... yeah.
- Rei Ayanami appears as a hyperactive transfer student in the episode 26 Alternate Universe of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Two spin-offs set in this continuity — the manga Angelic Days and the Dating Sim Girlfriend of Steel 2 — retain her uniform and personality change.
- The trailer of Rebuild 3.0 shows her in the same uniform while confronting Mari.
- In the recent spin-of manga Neon Genesis Evangelion Gakuen Datenroku, Kaoru is presented as a transfer student who has his own uniform. Much like Rei, he wears it at all times.
- New students start showing up in Medaka Box bearing the uniforms of a prestigious high school; unfortunately they're all Axe Crazy Chaotic Evil people of mass destruction.
- Arisa: A half-Japanese transfer student who was in Europe (possibly Spain or Portugal) prior to his appearance somehow seems to be the Big Bad, or at least very tightly bound to the plot.
- A variation in the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni sound novels. The school doesn't have set uniforms but Shion's uniform is noticeably different from everyone else's, since she sports a uniform that looks more like other schools. It's changed in the remakes and most adaptations though.
- Shogo Kawada in Battle Royale wears a gray uniform, and fellow transfer student Kazuo Kiriyama wears a black one. (The rest of the students wear the school's beige uniform).
- In Rushmore Max Fischer continues to wear the Rushmore uniform when he goes to a public school
- Frank in Catch Me If You Can wears his old public school uniform to his first day of regular American high school and manages to persuade a bunch of students by the way he was dressed that he was actually the teacher.
- Charlie Bartlett wears his private school uniform at his first day at public school. After the first day, he still wears his uniform jacket but with a Fun T-Shirt.
- The Demon Headmaster features this when Dinah starts at her new school.
- Inverted in Ethan Suspended: The title character's grandparents buy him the uniform for the Inner-City School he'll be attending in advance of his arrival in town. Since his mother didn't actually get around to the conversation with him that she thought she did, finding it is what confirms his suspicion that he's there for more than a brief visit.
Live Action TV
- There was an argument behind the scenes of Star Trek: Voyager as to whether the Maquis crew members should wear Starfleet uniforms or keep their outlaw garb. Ron Moore was pushing for the latter, but the former made more sense plotwise (why foster division when the crews are going to have to cooperate?), so they went with it. However, the Maquis crew did have special rank insignia since they weren't really officers.
- This was referenced in later episodes where Reg Barclay makes a holographic version of Voyager as an aid to help him think up plans to get them home. As one of the subtle signs of 'offness', as Reg doesn't know everything about Voyager`s situation, all the Maquis crew members still wear their outlaw garb.
- Another Trek example: Trip Tucker keeps his Enterprise patch for a while after transferring to the Columbia.
- On the other hand, Bajorans on Deep Space 9 kept their Bajoran uniforms and ranks. This was because the Bajorans were not actually part of the Federation.
- T'Pol wore a Vulcan uniform the first two years on Star Trek: Enterprise, in keeping with her status as an officer of the Vulcan High Command. She resigned at the end of Season Two, and switched to civilian clothes. She continued wearing civilian clothes in Season Four after officially joining Starfleet, albeit with proper Starfleet insignia.
- Another Military... IN SPACE! example: On Babylon 5, the major characters who are in Earth Force get a costume change in the third season when Babylon 5 secedes from Earth. Zack Allan and David Corwin who are more loyal to Earth keep their old Earth Force uniforms. Zack gets closer and closer tot he inner circle, and eventually gets one of the new B5 uniforms in season 4 — around the same time he starts getting equal screen time to most of the other regulars.
- A more direct Western example was seen in the Australian live-action series Round the Twist, where the Twist kids wear their old uniforms at the beginning of the series. Later on, when the boy who turned into a merman is first seen, he wears the uniform of his former private school, which is far more elaborate than that worn at the Port Niranda school.
- Hilariously, Gribble mocks his uniform, before learning that it's from the school that he had just been bragging about being sent to should his father win the election.
- On arrival at his snooty new private school in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will the wannabe individualist immediately turns his uniform jacket inside-out (revealing he'd had it modified into a reversable jacket) and wears it that way for the rest of the series.
- He also wears his tie as a headband the first day, because the rules say he has to wear it but not where.
- The Live Action Adaptation (and indeed any other version) of The Demon Headmaster has this in the first episode, with the Headmaster and several students pointing it out (and the Headmaster explicitly stating disapproval). The regular green uniform is the only one seen for the rest of the series (although none of the Five-Man Band or Dinah could be properly seen as being "assimilated").
- On Summer Heights High, transfer student Ja'mie has come from one of the most expensive private schools in Victoria. She's being shown around the school, but insists on wearing her Hillford School uniform and brags to the principal about how much nicer they are.
- Claire in Degrassi wasn't a transfer student — she was introduced as a new freshman — but she wore her old Catholic school uniform for some months before finally adopting street clothes. Alli lampshades this when Degrassi itself implements uniforms some time later.
- Gentaro and Ryuusei in Kamen Rider Fourze
- In Persona 3, Robot Girl Aigis has to wear the winter uniform regardless of the season, the better to hide her very noticeable hip and shoulder joints, as well as her arms and legs (covered in armor rather than skin.)
- Ryoji, a late game transfer student, also wears a different outfit from the school uniform.
- Subverted in that the Main Character, who is a transfer student, is wearing the new uniform the day before school even starts. Could be a Justified Trope, in that as a Wild Card; his personality can instantly change to fit his needs.
- Discussed in Tsukihime during Akiha's route. She transfers in to Shiki's school yet continues to wear her old uniform. When questioned, she states she has absolutely no intention of wearing the new school uniform. Bad things happen before it becomes an issue and afterward irrelevant. Kagetsu Tohya, however, has her getting the new school uniform in the mail.
- Dark Heart High has Yuri wear the uniform from her old school, until her father orders Dark Heart's school uniform as a gift to her. It's also a minor plot point/hint to who the "new" boy is, later on, when Bala is unwrapped for the school competition. In both cases, though, it's a quirk specific to them: while Dark Heart High has a uniform, Yuri and Bala are the only ones who wear either version of it; there doesn't seem to be a rule requiring it.