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File:Anne and ice princess.jpg

Anne Boleyn and The Ice Princess

Often a character in a work dresses in an outfit practically identical to an outfit worn by another character or Real Life person, as a kind of Cosplay on the character's part, and a Shout-Out on the part of the costumer, designer, and/or artist.

The Whole Costume Reference is when you take the cosplay part out. The character is just wearing that outfit. There is no indication or clue within the work that this character is dressing as that other person. Also:

  • There's no fan convention.
  • It's not Halloween.
  • It's not a costume party.
  • No one mentions what the costume is based on.

This can include live action works, when the costume actually is the costume worn in an earlier work, as a form of Prop Recycling. Many low budget works do this. But again, there has to be no mention or clue of the work it was reused from.

Compare Historical Domain Character, Serial Numbers Filed Off, Whole-Plot Reference, Clothing Switch, Cosplay Fan Art.

Contrast Dresses the Same (in that wearing the same outfit is seen as bad).

Examples of Whole Costume Reference include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • In House of M, Magneto's costume (and medals, and pose, and backdrop, and... yeah) was taken from, of all people, the Spanish king Juan Carlos.
  • Kefong in The Intimates wears Bruce Lee's tracksuit from Game of Death in his first year at the Seminary... and one with the colors reversed in his second.



  • Discworld
    • In Maskerade, the Discworld parody of Phantom of the Opera, Death himself is wearing Erik's Masque Of The Red Death outfit, with the only explanation being I do like to get into the spirit of the thing.
    • Paul Kidby's sketch of Queen Magrat's complicated dress from Lords and Ladies looks exactly like the dress worn by Elizabeth I in the Darnley portrait.

Live Action TV

  • Land of the Giants had an episode where one of the girls ends up in the skating dress from the beginning of Snow White and The Three Stooges.
  • It was said the reason Klinger stopped crossdressing on Mash was that he had worn just about every dress in the studio wardrobe stock that would fit him. So inevitably many of the dresses would be this trope.
  • In the Firefly episode "The Train Job," the Alliance soldiers are dressed in costumes recycled from Starship Troopers. (To save money.)
    • Similarly, the soldiers' suits were also used in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy.
      • Those costumes show up everywhere. It's a testament to how sturdy the suits actually are. They were used in at least two TV shows and were eventually re-sold back to the production of the sequels.
  • When Tony daydreams about Kate in NCIS, she's wearing Gogo's school uniform from Kill Bill. This is entirely appropriate for film buff and Handsome Lech Tony.
  • All the time on The Amazing Race with locals and Pit Stop Greeters.


Video Games

Web Comics

  • This happens all the time in Erfworld, due to the hundreds of pop-culture references the characters make unconsciously. Significant ones include Ansom fighting while dressed as Evel Knievel, Jillian dressing as Sandy from Grease while Vinny and his group dress as West Side Story thugs, several of Wanda's costumes referencing horror movies, and Jack veiling himself as Kain from Final Fantasy IV. In addition, this is a game mechanic that gives them more bonuses.
  • The man in this & a few following cartoons of The KAMics isn't a Mountie, he just likes dressing as one.
  • Zoe in Sluggy Freelance steels her nerves to join the boys' adventure, dressed as Lara Croft. (Is it possible the other costume changes in the Stormbringer arc were this trope?)

Web Original

Western Animation


"Who the hell is... Jacqueline Onassis?"

    • The scene in question had Dr. Girlfriend playing a party game where the other person had to describe the person whose name was taped on her back. Cue the confusion when the other guest ends up describing her as well as Jackie Kennedy, followed by the above line after it ended.
    • Even stranger, she briefly thought she was hearing herself described anyway.
    • Dr. Orpheus' outfit is specifically based on the good count's in the original Dracula film. The Phantom Limb's design is based on The Phantom.
  • In the very first episode of Static Shock, Static and Richie run through some costume designs. One of them was Black Vulcan's outfit from Superfriends.
  • In Futurama, Fry is almost always seen wearing Jim Stark's outfit from Rebel Without a Cause.
  • The Gender Flip episode of Adventure Time had Fionna wearing Princess Serenity's white gown.
  • Two dresses worn by Courtney in the Total Drama Island animated series (one being a princess dress in Action, and the other being a wedding dress in World Tour) resemble palette swaps of Cinderella's iconic ballgown.
  • The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode It's About Time was apparently an elaborate excuse to get Twilight Sparkle in an Old Snake costume. The only thing missing was a Badass Mustache.